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Kaiser von Deutschland! Dich grüßt mein Lied.
Ihr Kämpfer aus dem heil'gen Streit,
Ihr Freiheitssänger hochgemuthet,
Die du gelitten und geblutet,
Erfüllt sind eures Lebens Träume,
Bald wird der Bau vollendet sein,
Der Kaiser alle Brüder ein.
Du Held warst Führer uns zur Macht,
THE Visigoths (Westgothen) had been conducted into Italy by their brave and politic king Alaric; in the year 410 they had sacked Rome and carried off immense booty. Gibbon, who relates this at great length in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. XXXI., gives the following account of the event which forms the subject of Platen's ballad: "The whole design [of crossing to Sicily] was defeated by the premature death of Alaric, which fixed, after a short illness, the fatal term of his conquests. The ferocious character of the Barbarians was displayed in the funeral of a hero, whose valour and fortune they celebrated with mournful applause. By the labour of a captive multitude they forcibly diverted the course of the Busentinus, a small river that washes the walls of Consentia. The royal sepulchre, adorned with the splendid spoils and trophies of Rome, was constructed in the vacant bed; the waters were then restored to their natural channel, and the secret spot, where the remains of Alaric had been deposited, was for ever concealed by the inhuman massacre of the prisoners who had been employed to execute the work."
We subjoin also the account found in the Historia Miscella (p. 313, II ss. ed. Eyssenh.): Gothi Basentium amnem de alveo suo captivorum labore derivantes, Alaricum in medio eius alveo cum multis opibus sepeliunt amnemque meatui proprio reddentes, nequis locum scire possit, captivos qui interfuerant extinguunt.
I. The shades of the Goths are here represented as wandering ever up and down, near the spot where their king was buried. Dumpf (muffled) and lispeln (to mutter, lisp) refer to the spectral singing, which is reechoed by the waters of the river.
2. Wirbel, the eddies of the river.-Observe the indefinite subject 8. We are left to imagine that the king's own shade sends up the
4. In prose: den besten Mann, der ihrem Volke je durch den Tod entrissen
5. The more usual construction is fern von der Heimat.
6. Jugendlocken=jugendliche Locken.—In prose we should employ the plural Schultern.
7. Observe that the poet has changed the original account, according to which captives were employed to do the work.―um die Wette= wetteiferno, vying with one another.'
9. wogenleer, free from water (after the river had been turned into another channel).—Höhlung denotes the deep bed of the river.
II. seine stolze Habe, the proud trophies buried with Alaric.
Stromgewächse, river-plants, e.g. rushes and reeds.—wüchsen, subj. preter. of wachsen (ich wuchs).
14. schäumen, to rush foaming into, etc.
There is emphasis in the expression Männer, which involves the notion of 'stout men and true.'
16. dir, dativus ethicus, commonly left untranslated in English.— versehren verlegen, verunehren.
17. Observe the omission of the personal pronoun sie, which is, however, peculiar to poetry and a higher style of composition.
Chlodewig or, as he is commonly called, Clovis conquered the greater part of Gaul (his victory over Syagrius, the Roman ruler, was obtained A. D. 486), and established the rule of the Franks over that country; he then beat the Alemanni, a Germanic tribe that dwelt on either side of the Rhine, from its sources to its conflux with the Maine and the Moselle. Gibbon relates, "Clovis encountered the invaders of Gaul [the Alemanni] in the plain of Tolbiac [Zülpich] about twentyfour miles from Cologne [this is, however, a controverted statement]; and the two fiercest nations of Germany were mutually animated by the memory of past exploits and the prospect of future greatness. The Franks, after an obstinate struggle, gave way, and the Alemanni, raising a shout of victory, impetuously pressed their retreat. But the battle was restored by the valour, the conduct, and perhaps by the piety of Clovis, and the event of the bloody day decided for ever the alternative of empire or servitude. In the distress of the battle of Tolbiac, Clovis loudly invoked the God of Clotilda [his queen] and the Christians; and victory disposed him to hear with respectful gratitude the eloquent
Remigius, bishop of Rheims, who forcibly displayed the temporal and spiritual advantages of his conversion. The king declared himself satisfied of the truth of the Catholic faith. The important ceremony was performed in the cathedral of Rheims." (Chap. XXXVIII.)
I. In prose we say exclusively, die Schlacht von or bei Zülpich.
3. More commonly as a compound, das Kampfgedränge, the throng of battle.
4. Troß, 'train,' especially of menials. See also note on Kohlrausch, P. 77, 3.
7. mein Gemahl is poetical and archaic instead of meine Gemahlin. Luther often says Gemahl instead of Gemahlin, e.g. St Matth. i. 20, 24, Joseph, fürchte dich nicht, Mariam, dein Gemahl, zu dir zu nehmen, and in his smaller Catechism, daß...ein Jeglicher sein Gemahl liebe und ehre. [Here Gemahl denotes both husband and wife.] In Old High German the current forms are gemahela and gemalu. Clotilda possessed such influence over her husband that he had allowed his two sons to be baptized even before his own conversion.
8. So wenn; in the same manner so is used in Early English. so, 'then'; if that condition be fulfilled.
After the verb lehren we often find the infinitive without zu.
Virgil, and pa κal in Homer.
16. siegesmuthig, confident of victory.
Comp. dixit et in
17. We say both der Schreck and der Schrecken. The plural is tie Schrecken and Schrecknisse (from das Schreckniß).—It is more common to employ the reflective form sich wenden of fleeing enemies (terga vertunt). 19. zugleich, i.e. with him.
20. vor, like the Latin prae, above.
Gelimer, the last king of the Vandals in Africa, had long held out, in the mountain fastness of Papua, in the inland country of Numidia, against Phiaras, an officer employed by Belisarius. See the account of
Gibbon, chap. XLI.
5. Maurusii is in Latin less common than Mauri, the aboriginal Numidians. The Greeks say Mavρovσiol.
6. In prose: weder Brod noch Wein.
II. der Griechen Heer, the army sent by Justinian, the 'Roman' Emperor at Constantinople. The Greek Emperors retained the name
of 'Roman' ('Pwuaîo) to the very last, and hence the Greeks of the middle ages styled themselves 'Pwμaîol.
13. er is the Vandal king; in the next line, er denotes of course the enemy.
17. der Hüter des Heeres is an unusual expression; in prose we should say, der Führer or Anführer des Heers.
18. "From the Vandal messenger, Pharas was informed of the motives of this singular request." Gibbon.-The sense of the line is: Did not Gelimer add his motives for this strange request?'
21-32 contain the explanation given by the messenger.
24. The first foot of this line (In die Bérg-) is an anapæst.
25. han is the archaic form of the infinitive instead of haben, of which it is originally a contraction.
26. sein is the gen. of the personal pronoun, just as in er gedenket sein, he remembers him.' Comp. the Greek Toùs ¿plaλμovs avtoû. In prose we should employ the possessive, seine Augen. Comp. 5, 13, 50.
28. Als, but, except.
31. barein accompanying (the music). Comp. Und gellende Hörner schallen darein. Körner, Lützow's wilde Jagd (37, 4).
The Merovingian kings in Gaul soon sank to the disgraceful position of mere puppets-rois fainéants, as the French call them-and the actual power of rule fell into the hands of their Majores domus. Pepin of Landen became the founder of a family of Majores domus, who succeeded in uniting all the royal prerogatives in their hands long before the royal title was assumed by them. Pepin II. of Heristall († 714) was recognised as dux et princeps omnium Francorum; his son, Charles Martel, obtained a splendid victory over the Saracens at Tours, in 732, and left at his death (A. D. 741) his power to his two sons Pepin, surnamed the Short, on account of his small stature, and Karlmann, who died A. D. 747, thus leaving the whole to Pepin. In 751 Pope Zacharias (comp. v. 13 in the present poem) pronounced Pepin to be lawfully entitled to the royal name and dignity, and in 752 the nobility of the Franks, congregated at Soissons, deposed the last Merovingian, and proclaimed Pepin king of the Franks. The ballad given by us recounts a feat of prowess performed by Pepin.