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Dietrich Epen: Dietrich Epics. Theodoric the Great, King of the Ostrogoths (d. 526), known as Dietrich von Bern (= Verona), is the most famous hero of the German-speaking area in the Middle Ages. The earliest written mention of the Dietrich saga, which was mainly passed on orally, is found in the "Hildebrandslied" heroic epic from the 9th century. In the Middle High German era, Dietrich appeared for the first time in the Nibelungenlied. The first truly literary form of the Dietrich saga first appeared in the 13th century with the D. E. which originated in Bavaria and Austria and were mainly passed on anonymously. The Dietrich epics are divided into historical and more adventurous versions. The historical versions include "Dietrichs Flucht" (Dietrich's Escape), "Die Rabenschlacht" (The Battle of Ravenna) and "Alpharts Tod" (The Death of Alphart); they deal with Dietrich's expulsion from Italy by Ermenric (d. 375) from where he fled to the court of Attila the Hun (Etzel) (d. 453) and his attempts to return to Italy. The incongruent dates are not the only elements that demonstrate a lack of historical correctness typical of (Epics); Dietrich was not driven out of Italy, but murdered his historical enemy Odoacer. The structure of the adventurous Dietrich epics demonstrates the influence of the courtly narrative (Courtly Epics) and has features similar to those of fairy tales: Dietrich battles against giants ("Eckenlied" and "Sigenot"), dwarves ("Goldemar", "Virginal", "Laurin", the last one a Tyrolean fairy-tale figure) and the heroes of the Nibelungen saga ("Rosengarten", "Biterolf und Dietleib"). The Ortnit and the Wolfdietrich sagas are also related to the Dietrich Epics.
Literature: J. Heinzle, Mhd. Dietrichepik, 1978; J. Bumke, Geschichte der dt. Lit. im hohen MA, 1990.