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Ortnit fights against the dragon — from the Heidelberger Handschrift

Ortnit, or Otnit, a Nordic and German hero of romance, was originally Hertnit or Hartnit, the elder of two brothers known as the Hartungs, who correspond in Germanic mythology to the Dioscuri.[1]

The story[edit]

Ortnit's seat was at Holmgard (Novgorod), according to the Thidrekssaga (ch. 45), and he was related to the Russian saga heroes. Later on his city of Holmgard became Garda, and in ordinary German legend he ruled in Lombardy. Hartnit won his bride, a Valkyrie, by hard fighting against the giant Isungs, but was killed in a later fight by a dragon. His younger brother, Hardheri (replaced in later German legend by Wolfdietrich), avenged Ortnit by killing the dragon, and then married his brother's widow.[1]


Ortnit's wooing was corrupted by the popular interest in the Crusades to an Oriental Brautfahrtsaga, bearing a very close resemblance to the French romance of Huon of Bordeaux. Both heroes receive similar assistance from Alberich (Oberon), who supplanted the Russian Ilya as Ortnit's epic father in Middle High German romance. Karl Friedrich Neumann maintained that the Russian Ortnit and the Lombard king were originally two different persons, and that the incoherence of the tale is due to the welding of the two legends into one.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911, p. 341.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ortnit". Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 341.  Endnotes:
    • Heldenbuch (various editions)
    • Lindhausen, J.L. Edlen von (1906), Ortnit and Wolfdietrich, Tübingen 
    • Müllenhoff, Karl (1867), "articles in", Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum  xii. pp. 344–354, 1865; xiii. pp. 185–192.
    • Seemuller, J. (1882), "article in", Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum, xxvi: 201–211 
    • Meyer, E.H. (1894), "article in", Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum, xxxviii: 85–87 
    • Neumann, F. (1882), "article in", Germania, Vienna, xxvii: 191–219 
    • See also the literature dealing with Huon of Bordeaux.