In AD 1280 Wernher der Gärtner penned Meier Helmbrecht and gave the world a medieval (late medieval for us hairsplitters) update of the prodigal son. A peasant farmer’s son named Helmbrecht is given a hat that signifies nobility to the public. This wakes desires in him for the easy and comfortable life of a noble knight, and a new name, because who would want to have the name Helmbrecht. The one he chooses for himself is even worse: Slintezgeu – go ahead, say it out loud. Right? Slintezgeu-née-Helmbrecht runs away, puts together a band of thieves, plunders and marauds as a noble knight is wont to do, and all the while mimics noble greetings and sayings.
Werder Bremen’s star player Diego is also a runaway. He’s gone to the Olympics in Beijing to play for Brazil’s national junior squad. Diego was banned by his club from leaving his job for the Olympics. At first he agreed to stay, but then he absconded and Bremen are now taking legal action against him.
Like Helmbrecht, Diego has run off to play something he’s not. Helmbrecht’s hat signified nobility; Diego’s Olympic hat signifies amateur youth sport and up-and-comer status. But he’s already a multimillionaire in the Bundesliga, the league with the most fans per game on average in Europe. It appears that Diego is a noble who has run away to play the humble peasant.
Hopefully the outcome of Diego’s getaway will also be the inverse of the outcome for Helmbrecht. Helmbrecht was easily caught, had an eye gouged out, returned to his parents for scorn and derision, then hung by a mob of other peasants. By inverse logic Diego will return to the good life in Bremen.
Works Mentioned (chronological)
- Merseburger Zaubersprüche
- Armer Heinrich by Hartmann
- Das Nibelungenlied
- Parzival by Wolfram
- Meier Helmbrecht by Wernher
- Sendbrief by M. Luther
- Fräulein Sternheim by S. La Roche
- Die Räuber by F. Schiller
- Egmont by J. W. Goethe
- Wilhelm Meister by J. W. Goethe
- Wahlverwandtschaften by Goethe
- Peter Schlemihl by A. v. Chamisso
- Ottokar by F. Grillparzer
- Romeo und Julia by G. Keller
- Geburt der Tragödie by F. Nietzsche
- Irrungen Wirrungen by T. Fontane
- Anatol by A. Schnitzler
- Der Tod in Venedig by T. Mann
- Morgens mitternachts by G. Kaiser
- Berlin Alexanderplatz by A. Döblin
- Katz und Maus by G. Grass
- Katharina Blum by H. Böll
- Kassandra by C. Wolf
- Stille Zeile Sechs by M. Maron