Snake pit

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Ragnar Lodbrok in the Snake Pit

The snake pit is found in legends and fairy tales as a place of horror, torture and death.

The Viking prince Ragnar Lodbrok ( 9th century ) is said to have died harp-beating after the English King Ælle had thrown him into a snake pit, as did the Burgundian king Gundahar (Gunther), who was thrown to snakes by his brother-in-law Atli ( Etzel ) to reveal a treasure.

In Grimm's fairy tale The White and the Black Bride , the king orders "the coachman to be thrown into a pit full of otters and snakes-bred," and there he lies "deep among otters and snakes."

In Jean Paul's short story Das Kampaner Tal from 1797, the snake pit is a metaphor for emotional distress: "But before that he was locked in the gloomy, cold snake pit of stabbing pains, they broke down and wrapped him up to the heart."

It can be ruled out that snake pits were actually maintained and used for torture and execution in the Middle Ages or at other times. There is no evidence for this. The effort and risks would also have been too great and the effect would have been difficult to predict and control reliably.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Normans . In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon . 6th edition. Volume 14, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1908, pp.  784–786 .
  2. Dominik Waßenhoven, There is the middle of the world. An Icelandic pilgrim guide of the 12th century, in: Donated Future in Medieval Europe. Festschrift for Michael Borgolte on his 60th birthday, ed. v. Wolfgang Huschner and Frank Rexroth. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag 2008, ISBN 3050044756, page 46 in the Google book search
  3. The Edda: The Great Stories of Mankind , by Arnulf Krause, page 125
  4. s: The White and Black Bride (1815)
  5. ^ Jean Paul Richter: The Kampaner Valley in the Gutenberg-DE project