|Pied Piper of Hamelin by Gustave Spangenberg|
In 1384, the town records of Hamelin records:
"It is 100 years since our children left."That is our earliest documentation of the "Pied Piper" incident of the German town of Hamelin. Details regarding a piper, the infestation of rats, and the fate of the children get introduced in later eras. For instance, the Lueneburg manuscript (c. 1440-50) documents:
In the year of 1284, on the day of Saints John and PaulThat's more detail, but it remains vague. What does the text mean by "seduced"? How were the children "lost"? Moreover, it's nearly two centuries after the event. Given the standards of the era, can their history be trusted?
on 26 June
130 children born in Hamelin were seduced
By a piper, dressed in all kinds of colours,
and lost at the place of execution near the koppen.
|Pied Piper of Hamelin by Kate Greenaway|
Regardless of the historical particulars, the story has been a source of inspiration of writers and artists over the centuries.
One of the most famous narratives of the story is the poem by Robert Browning. Here are a couple vids, reciting the poem along with the iconic images by Kate Greenaway.
Among modern works, I'm fond of China Miéville's King Rat. It's a novel of dark urban fantasy that bases it's conflict around the Pied Piper story within a contemporary setting, the London club scene of the late '90s. Unlike his later work, King Rat is a tight and compelling read. Fun stuff.
Here's a link to the Pied Piper Wikipedia page.
Here's a link to the Storynory website, where this reading of the Pied Piper is only one of many fairy tales available for free download.
Here's a link to China Miéville's Wikipedia page.