Richard Wagner's Operas and the Law: Myth, Covenant, and Religion

7 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2019

Date Written: December 17, 2017


Indeed, there have been many comparisons of Hebrew mythology and Wagner's-and generally Nordic mythology-evoking Biblical imagery. Scholar H.C. Washington has described the comparison and even gone as far to suggest that Biblical imagery has inspired Nordic myths, "a wide-ranging ethnographic argument for the universality of sacral warfare among "Naturvölker," and draws parallels between Hebrew sacral war motifs and those of Old Germanic mythology. The Hebrew celestial hosts, צבאות‎, who accompany Yhwh in battle are compared to the wild heavenly army of Wotan, to the ghostly troops of the war-god Skanda, and to the Valkyries. Schwally likens the Hebrew military banners, דִּגְל֤וֹ (Num. 2:2; Ps. 74:4,9), or הוָ֥ה (Num. 10:14), to those of the Old Germans who, because they also "knew no divine images," used an attribute like Wotan's spear or Thor's hammer to depict the divinity on the battle flag. He compares the rampages of Samson to those of the Berzekers in Nordic lore."

Keywords: Wagner, Law, Myth, Religion

Suggested Citation

Lincoln IV, Charles Edward Andrew, Richard Wagner's Operas and the Law: Myth, Covenant, and Religion (December 17, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV (Contact Author)

University of Groningen, Faculty of Law ( email )


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