Sie sind auf Seite 1von 6

Venusberg (Sage)

John Collier: Tannhäuser im Venusberg. (1901)

Der Venusberg ist ein seit dem Mittelalter bekanntes Sagenmotiv, das vor allem im
Zusammenhang mit dem Minnesänger Tannhäuser erscheint und neben volkstümlichen Texten
zahlreiche künstlerische Bearbeitungen erfahren hat. Frau Venus, die mit Nymphen und Nixen im
Inneren des nach ihr benannten Bergs luxuriös Hof hält, lockt durch ihre Schönheit Menschen zu
sich herein, die dort ein dem Eros ergebenes, sündiges Leben führen und so der Verdammnis
zum Opfer fallen. Ähnliche Sagenstoffe finden sich in verschiedenen Kulturen, so etwa in der
Odyssee, wo Kirke und Kalypso den Odysseus verführen und mehrere Jahre bei sich behalten.

Herkunft und Verbreitung

Der Venusberg erscheint bereits 1437/38 im Formicarius des Johannes Nider oder 1614 in
Heinrich Kornmanns Mons Veneris. Intensiv wird das Motiv zusammen mit der Tannhäuser-Sage
während der Romantik behandelt. Es findet sich bei Ludwig Tieck (Erzählung Der getreue Eckart
und der Tannhäuser, 1799), Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brentano (Sammlung Des Knaben
Wunderhorn, 1806), den Brüdern Grimm (Sammlung Deutsche Sagen, 1816), Joseph von
Eichendorff (Erzählung Das Marmorbild, 1819), Ludwig Bechstein (Sammlung Die Sagen von
Eisenach und der Wartburg, dem Hörselberg und Reinhardsbrunn, 1835), Heinrich Heine (Essay
Elementargeister, 1837), Ludwig Uhland (Sammlung Volkslieder, 1844). Am bekanntesten ist die
Umsetzung in Richard Wagners Oper Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg von 1845.
Zeitgenössisch bezeichnet Hannes Anderer den Ort einer sexuellen Initiation in einem luxuriösen
Ambiente als Venusberg, in seinem Roman Begegnung mit Melusine.

Die traditionelle Volksballade vom Tannhauser (mit „au“ als Unterscheidung zum Minnesänger
mit „äu“), mit Belegen seit etwa 1500, bearbeitet in eigener, origineller Weise die Venusberg-
Sage und verbindet sie mit einer vorreformatorischen Kritik am Papst, der dem bußfertigen
Sünder die Absolution verweigert und dafür verdammt wird.

Die Anwesenheit einer antiken Gottheit fern von ihrem Ursprungsgebiet Italien oder
Griechenland erklärt die Sage bzw. volkstümliche Überlieferung damit, dass es sich hier um ein
Refugium der vor dem Christentum geflohenen Gottheit handele. Die Brüder Grimm haben auf
eine Verbindung zur germanischen Totengöttin Holda hingewiesen, deren Namen in der Sage
zuweilen anstelle desjenigen der Venus erscheint. Ein weiterer Erklärungsversuch leitet Venus
von ihrem germanischen Pendant, der Liebesgöttin Freya ab. Die Transformation des
Götternamens und eines heidnischen Sagenstoffes in eine antikisierend-christliche Erzählung
habe sich seit dem Hochmittelalter unter dem Einfluss der höfisch-bürgerlichen Dichtung
ergeben.

Lage verschiedener Venusberge


Als Venusberg identifiziert werden häufig die Hörselberge bei Eisenach oder andere Berge
nördlich der Alpen. Der nördlichste Venusberg ist der Finisberg beim Flensburger Volkspark.
Venusberg wird zudem in Bonn eine Hochebene genannt, auf der sich der gleichnamige Stadtteil
befindet.

Act 1

The Venusberg, (the Hörselberg of "Frau Holda" in Thuringia, in the vicinity of Eisenach), and a
valley between the Venusberg and Wartburg

Scene 1. Wagner's stage directions state: "The stage represents the interior of the Venusberg...In
the distant background is a bluish lake; in it one sees the bathing figures of naiads; on its
elevated banks are sirens. In the extreme left foreground lies Venus bearing the head of the half
kneeling Tannhäuser in her lap. The whole cave is illuminated by rosy light. – A group of dancing
nymphs appears, joined gradually by members of loving couples from the cave. – A train of
Bacchantes comes from the background in wild dance... – The ever-wilder dance answers as in
echo the Chorus of Sirens": "Naht euch dem Strande" (Come to the shore).[30] In the "Paris"
version this orgiastic ballet is greatly extended.

Scene 2. Following the orgy of the ballet, Tannhäuser's desires are finally satiated, and he longs
for freedom, spring and the sound of church bells. He takes up his harp and pays homage to the
goddess in a passionate love song, "Dir töne Lob!" (Let your praises be heard), which he ends
with an earnest plea to be allowed to depart, "Aus deinem Reiche, muss ich fliehn! O Königin!
Göttin! Lass mich ziehn!" (From your kingdom must I flee! O Queen! O Goddess, set me free).
Surprised, Venus offers him further charms, but eventually his repeated pleas arouse her fury
and she curses his desire for salvation. (In the "Paris" version Venus's inveighing against
Tannhäuser is significantly expanded).[31] Eventually Tannhäuser declares: "Mein Heil ruht in
Maria" (My salvation rests in Mary). These words break the unholy spell. Venus and the
Venusberg disappear.

Scene 3. According to Wagner's stage directions, "Tannhäuser...finds himself a beautiful valley…


To the left one sees the Hörselberg. To the right...a mountain path from the direction of the
Wartburg ...; in the foreground, led to by a low promontory, an image of the Virgin Mary – From
above left one hears the ringing of herder’s bells; on a high projection sits a young shepherd
with pipes facing the valley".[32] It is May. The shepherd sings an ode to the pagan goddess
Holda, "Frau Holda kam aus dem Berg hervor" (Lady Holda, come forth from the hill). A hymn
"Zu dir wall ich, mein Jesus Christ" (To thee I turn, my Jesus Christ) can be heard, as Pilgrims are
seen approaching from the Wartburg, and the shepherd stops playing. The pilgrims pass
Tannhäuser as he stands motionless, and then, praising God, ("Allmächt'ger, dir sei Preis!"
(Almighty God, to you be praise!)) he sinks to his knees, overcome with gratitude. At that
moment the sound of hunting-horns can be heard, drawing ever nearer.

Scene 4. The Landgrave's hunting party appears. The minnesingers (Wolfram, Walther, Biterolf,
Reinmar, and Heinrich) recognise Tannhäuser, still deep in prayer, and greet him ("Heinrich!
Heinrich! Seh ich recht?" (Heinrich! Heinrich! Do I see right?)) cautiously, recalling past feuds.
They question him about his recent whereabouts, to which he gives vague answers. The
minnesingers urge Tannhäuser to rejoin them, which he declines until Wolfram mentions
Elizabeth, the Landgrave's niece, "Bleib bei Elisabeth!" (Stay, for Elizabeth!). Tannhäuser is visibly
moved, "Elisabeth! O Macht des Himmels, rufst du den süsssen Namen mir?" (Elizabeth! O might
of heaven, is it you that wakes me with that sweet name?). The minnesingers explain to
Tannhäuser how he had enchanted Elizabeth, but when he had left she withdrew from their
company and lost interest in music, expressing the hope that his return will also bring her back,
"Auf's Neue leuchte uns ihr Stern!" (Let her star once more shine upon us). Tannhäuser begs
them to lead him to her, "Zu ihr! Zu ihr!" (To her! To her!). The rest of the hunting party gathers,
blowing horns.

Act 2

The Wartburg in Eisenach

The minnesingers' hall in the Wartburg castle

Introduction – Scene 1. Elizabeth enters, joyfully. She sings, to the hall, of how she has been
beset by sadness since Tannhäuser's departure but now lives in hope that his songs will revive
both of them, "Dich, teure Halle, grüss ich wieder" (Dear hall, I greet thee once again). Wolfram
leads Tannhäuser into the hall.

Scene 2. Tannhäuser flings himself at Elizabeth's feet. He exclaims "O Fürstin!" (O Princess!). At
first, seemingly confused, she questions him about where he has been, which he avoids
answering. She then greets him joyfully ("Ich preise dieses Wunder aus meines Herzens Tiefe!" (I
praise this miracle from my heart's depths!)), and they join in a duet, "Gepriesen sei die Stunde"
(Praise be to this hour). Tannhäuser then leaves with Wolfram.
Scene 3. The Landgrave enters, and he and Elizabeth embrace. The Landgrave sings of his joy,
"Dich treff ich hier in dieser Halle" (Do I find you in this hall) at her recovery and announces the
upcoming song contest, at which she will preside, "dass du des Festes Fürstin seist" (that you will
be the Princess of the Festival).

Scene 4 and Sängerkrieg (Song Contest). Elizabeth and the Landgrave watch the guests arrive.
The guests assemble greeting the Landgrave and singing "Freudig begrüssen wir edle Halle"
(With joy we greet the noble hall), take their places in a semicircle, with Elizabeth and the
Landgrave in the seats of honour in the foreground. The Landgrave announces the contest and
the theme, which shall be "Könnt ihr der Liebe Wesen mir ergründen?" (Can you explain the
nature of Love?), and that the prize will be whatever the winner asks of Elizabeth. The knights
place their names in a cup from which Elizabeth draws the first singer, Wolfram. Wolfram sings a
trite song of courtly love and is applauded, but Tannhäuser chides him for his lack of passion.
There is consternation, and once again Elizabeth appears confused, torn between rapture and
anxiety. Biterolf accuses him of blasphemy and speaks of "Frauenehr und hohe Tugend"
(women's virtue and honour). The knights draw their swords as Tannhäuser mocks Biterolf, but
the Landgrave intervenes to restore order. However, Tannhäuser, as if in a trance, rises to his feet
and sings a song of ecstatic love to Venus, "Dir Göttin der Liebe, soll mein Lied ertönen" (To thee,
Goddess of Love, will my song be raised). There is general horror as it is realised he has been in
the Venusberg; the women, apart from Elizabeth, flee. She appears pale and shocked, while the
knights and the Landgrave gather together and condemn Tannhäuser to death. Only Elizabeth,
shielding him with her body, saves him, "Haltet ein!" (Stop!). She states that God's will is that a
sinner shall achieve salvation through atonement. Tannhäuser collapses as all hail Elizabeth as an
angel, "Ein Engel stieg aus lichtem Äther" (An angel comes to us from the realm of light). He
promises to seek atonement, the Landgrave exiles him and orders him to join another younger
band of pilgrims then assembling. All depart, crying Nach Rom! (To Rome!).

In the "Paris" version, the song contest is somewhat shortened, possibly because of the lack of
suitable soloists for the Paris production.[citation needed]

Wagner

Act 3

The valley of the Wartburg, in autumn. Elizabeth is kneeling, praying before the Virgin as
Wolfram comes down the path and notices her

Scene 1. Orchestral music describes the pilgrimage of Tannhäuser. It is evening. Wolfram muses
on Elizabeth's sorrow during Tannhäuser's second absence, "Wohl wusst' ich hier sie im Gebet zu
finden" (I knew well I might find her here in prayer) and her longing for the return of the
pilgrims, and expresses concerns that he may not have been absolved. As he does so he hears a
pilgrims' prayer in the distance, "Beglückt darf nun dich, O Heimat, ich schauen" (Joyfully now
my homeland I behold). Elizabeth rises and she and Wolfram listen to the hymn, watching the
pilgrims approach and pass by. She anxiously searches the procession, but in vain, realising
sorrowfully he is not amongst them, "Er kehret nicht züruck!" (He has not returned). She again
kneels with a prayer to the Virgin that appears to foretell her death, "Allmächt'ge Jungfrau! Hör
mein Flehen" (Almighty Virgin, hear my plea!). On rising she sees Wolfram but motions him not
to speak. He offers to escort her back to the Wartburg, but she again motions him to be still, and
gestures that she is grateful for his devotion but her path leads to heaven. She slowly makes her
way up the path alone.

Scene 2. Wolfram, left alone as darkness draws on and the stars appear, begins to play and sings
a hymn to the evening star that also hints at Elizabeth's approaching death, "Wie Todesahnung
Dämmrung deckt die Lande...O du mein holder Abendstern" (Like a premonition of death the
twilight shrouds the earth... O thou my fair evening star).

Scene 3. It is now night. Tannhäuser appears, ragged, pale and haggard, walking feebly leaning
on his staff. Wolfram suddenly recognises Tannhäuser, and startled challenges him, since he is
exiled. To Wolfram's horror, Tannhäuser explains he is once again seeking the company of Venus.
Wolfram tries to restrain him, at the same time expressing compassion and begging him to tell
the story of his pilgrimage. Tannhäuser urges Wolfram to listen to his story, "Nun denn, hör an!
Du, Wolfram, du sollst es erfahren" (Now then, listen! You, Wolfram, shall learn all that has
passed). Tannhäuser sings of his penitence and suffering, all the time thinking of Elizabeth's
gesture and pain, "Inbrunst im Herzen, wie kein Büsser noch" (With a flame in my heart, such as
no penitent has known). He explains how he reached Rome, and the "Heiligtumes Schwelle"
(Holy shrine), and witnessed thousands of pilgrims being absolved. Finally he approaches "ihn,
durch den sich Gott verkündigt'" (he, through whom God speaks)[a] and tells his story. However,
rather than finding absolution, he is cursed, "bist nun ewig du verdammt!" (you are forever
damned!), and is told that "Wie dieser Stab in meiner Hand, nie mehr sich schmückt mit
frischem Grün, kann aus der Hölle heissem Brand, Erlösung nimmer dir erblühn!" (As this staff in
my hand, no more shall bear fresh leaves, from the hot fires of hell, salvation never shall bloom
for thee). Whereupon, absolutely crushed, he fled, seeking his former source of bliss.

Having completed his tale, Tannhäuser calls out to Venus to take him back, "Zu dir, Frau Venus,
kehr ich wieder" (To you, Lady Venus, I return). The two men struggle as a faint image of dancing
becomes apparent. As Tannhäuser repeatedly calls on Venus, she suddenly appears and
welcomes him back, "Willkommen, ungetreuer Mann!" (Welcome, faithless man!). As Venus
continues to beckon, "Zu mir! Zu mir!" (To me!, To me!), in desperation, Wolfram suddenly
remembers there is one word that can change Tannhäuser's heart, and exclaims "Elisabeth!"
Tannhäuser, as if frozen in time, repeats the name. As he does so, torches are seen, and a funeral
hymn is heard approaching, "Der Seele Heil, die nun entflohn" (Hail, the soul that now is flown).
Wolfram realises it must be Elizabeth's body that is being borne, and that in her death lies
Tannhäuser's redemption, "Heinrich, du bist erlöst!" (Heinrich, you are saved). Venus cries out,
"Weh! Mir verloren" (Alas! Lost to me!) and vanishes with her kingdom. As dawn breaks the
procession appears bearing Elizabeth's body on a bier. Wolfram beckons to them to set it down,
and as Tannhäuser bends over the body uttering, "Heilige Elisabeth, bitte für mich!" (Holy
Elizabeth!, pray for me!) he dies. As the growing light bathes the scene the younger pilgrims
arrive bearing a priest's staff sprouting new leaves, and proclaiming a miracle, "Heil! Heil! Der
Gnade Wunder Heil!" (Hail!, Hail! To this miracle of grace, Hail!). All then sing "Der Gnade Heil ist
dem Büsser beschieden, er geht nun ein in der Seligen Frieden!" (The Holy Grace of God is to the
penitent given, who now enters into the joy of Heaven!).[27][25][33]