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Drama on 3

The Last of the Volsungs

Duration: 1 hour, 29 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC Radio 3Latest broadcast: on BBC Radio 3

Available for years

Drawn from one of the best-known Icelandic sagas, a powerful dramatisation of the tragic story of Sigurd Volsung and Brynhild, the woman he loves, With an introduction by the author.

By Melissa Murray

Sigurd ..... David Sturzaker
Regin ..... David Schofield
Gunnar ..... Carl Prekopp
Hod ..... Gerard McDermott
Gudrun ..... Lyndsey Marshal
Brynhild ..... Abbie Andrews
Sadhbh ..... Isabella Inchbald
Arvid ..... Clive Hayward
Alf ..... Rupert Holliday-Evans
Hjordis ..... Kath Weare
Warriors ..... Tayla Kovacevic-Ebong, Gary Duncan, Philip Bretherton

Directed by Marc Beeby

The Last of the Volsungs is based, at times loosely, on part of the 13th-century Icelandic Volsunga Saga. The sagas are an extraordinary rich and varied cultural treasury. In style they can be domestic, historical, heroic, funny and tragic and can claim with a lot of justification to be the earliest European novels or at least the precursors to them. The Volsung saga falls within the heroic tradition and it has been the inspiration for many - William Morris, Tolkien and of course Wagner.

At the bedrock of the heroic saga is the idea of Ragnarok, the doom of the Gods. At the end of time the Gods go out and fight a last battle with their enemies, the Frost Giants and their allies, and in the conflict the universe is destroyed. The Gods die. This is not a Last Judgement; there are no morally justified winners and damned sinners. It's just the end - the inevitable, organic end of everything. What's deemed admirable - although post apocalypse there's actually no one left to admire it - is the stoicism, the courage of the warriors as they rally round Odin All Father facing certain annihilation in that final battle. It's a stark enough philosophy. It leads to a warrior class more than half in love with bloody death, their own as much as their enemies. Show less

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