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Ondine (mythology)

Ondine (mythology)

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Undines also called ondines, are elemental
Elemental
An elemental is a mythological being first appearing in the alchemical works of Paracelsus in the 16th century. Traditionally, there are four types:*gnomes, earth elementals*undines , water elementals*sylphs, air elementals...

s, enumerated as the water elementals in works of alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

 by Paracelsus
Paracelsus
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist....

. They also appear in European folklore as fairy
Fairy
A fairy is a type of mythical being or legendary creature, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural.Fairies resemble various beings of other mythologies, though even folklore that uses the term...

-like creatures; the name may be used interchangeably with those of other water spirits. Undines are said to be able to gain a soul by marrying a man and bearing his child. The German folktale of Ondine, a water nymph who curses her unfaithful husband to cease breathing if he should ever fall asleep again, is the basis for "Ondine's Curse," the historical term for congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, in which the afflicted lose autonomic control
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils,...

 over breathing, placing them at greatest risk when they are asleep.

Characteristics of the Undine


According to a theory advanced by Paracelsus
Paracelsus
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist....

, an Undine is a water nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

 or water spirit, the elemental
Elemental
An elemental is a mythological being first appearing in the alchemical works of Paracelsus in the 16th century. Traditionally, there are four types:*gnomes, earth elementals*undines , water elementals*sylphs, air elementals...

 of water
Water (classical element)
Water is one of the elements in ancient Greek philosophy, in the Asian Indian system Panchamahabhuta, and in the Chinese cosmological and physiological system Wu Xing...

. They are usually found in forest pools and waterfalls. They have beautiful voices, which are sometimes heard over the sound of water. According to some legends, Undines cannot get a soul unless they marry a man and bear him a child. This aspect has led them to be a popular motif in romantic and tragic literature.

In 18th century Scotland, Undines were also referred to as the wraiths of water. Even then, they were not feared as other wraiths such as the kelpie
Kelpie
The kelpie is a supernatural water horse from Celtic folklore that is believed to haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland; the name may be from Scottish Gaelic cailpeach or colpach "heifer, colt".-Description and behaviour:...

.

Sleep of Ondine


In a German tale known as Sleep of Ondine, Ondine is a water nymph
Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads or Naiades were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks....

. She was very beautiful and, like all nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

s, immortal. However, should she fall in love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

 with a mortal man and bear his child, she would lose her immortality.

Ondine eventually falls in love with a handsome knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

, Sir Lawrence, and they are married. When they exchange vows, Lawrence vows to forever love and be faithful to her. A year after their marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, Ondine gives birth to his child. From that moment on she begins to age. As Ondine’s physical attractiveness diminishes, Lawrence loses interest in his wife.

One afternoon, Ondine is walking near the stables when she hears the familiar snoring of her husband. When she enters the stable, she sees Lawrence lying in the arms of another woman. Ondine points her finger at him, which he feels as if kicked, waking him up with surprise. Ondine curses him, stating, "You swore faithfulness to me with every waking breath, and I accepted your oath. So be it. As long as you are awake, you shall have your breath, but should you ever fall asleep, then that breath will be taken from you and you will die!"

Ondine's curse



The tale is the basis for "Ondine's Curse," the historical name for Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS), a serious form of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Similarly, each abnormally low...

. CCHS causes patients to lose autonomic
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils,...

 control of breathing, resulting in the need to consciously initiate every breath. If untreated, patients with CCHS will die—like Ondine's unfaithful spouse—if they fall asleep and can therefore no longer consciously breathe.

Cultural reproductions


  • Fantasy
    Fantasy
    Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

     authors will sometimes employ undines in their fiction, often as elementals rather than another type of water spirit, such as in in China Miéville
    China Miéville
    China Tom Miéville is an award-winning English fantasy fiction writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" , and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist Workers Party...

    's New Crobuzon
    New Crobuzon
    New Crobuzon is a fictional city-state created by China Miéville and located in his fictional world of Bas-Lag. It is prominently featured in both Perdido Street Station and Iron Council, and serves as a plot device and background for The Scar....

     trilogy.
  • In the Mana video game series
    Media franchise
    A media franchise is an intellectual property involving the characters, setting and trademarks of an original work of media , such as a film, a work of literature, a television program or a video game. Generally, a whole series is made in a particular medium, along with merchandising and endorsements...

    , water spirits are typically referred to as "Ondines" as is the water-based summoning spirit in the game Tales of Symphonia
    Tales of Symphonia
    is a video game first released for the Nintendo GameCube and later for the PlayStation 2 in Japan. It debuted in Japan on August 29, 2003, selling 953,000 copies, in Canada and the United States on July 13, 2004, and in Europe on November 19, 2004. The game received a Japanese-only PlayStation 2...

    .
  • In Hart Crane's
    Hart Crane
    -Career:Throughout the early 1920s, small but well-respected literary magazines published some of Crane’s lyrics, gaining him, among the avant-garde, a respect that White Buildings , his first volume, ratified and strengthened...

     poem, Voyages II, from his 1926 collection, White Buildings, the poet, in describing the Sea, writes, ...Her undinal vast belly moonward bends,....
  • Genesis' 1973 song "Firth of Fifth
    Firth of Fifth
    "Firth of Fifth" is a progressive rock song by progressive rock band Genesis, from their 1973 album Selling England by the Pound. The title is a pun on the estuary of the River Forth in Scotland, commonly known as the Firth of Forth....

    " makes reference to "Ondinal Songs."
  • Hans Werner Henze
    Hans Werner Henze
    Hans Werner Henze is a German composer of prodigious output best known for "his consistent cultivation of music for the theatre throughout his life"...

    /Frederick Ashton
    Frederick Ashton
    Sir Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton OM, CH, CBE was a leading international dancer and choreographer. He is most noted as the founder choreographer of The Royal Ballet in London, but also worked as a director and choreographer of opera, film and theatre revues.-Early life:Ashton was born at...

    's ballet Ondine
    Ondine (ballet)
    Ondine, ou La naïade is a ballet with choreography by Jules Perrot and music by Cesare Pugni, with a libretto inspired by the novel Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. Pugni dedicated his score to the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Augusta, a long-time balletomane and patron of the arts in...

    about a water nymph, was choreographed for Margot Fonteyn
    Margot Fonteyn
    Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias, DBE , was an English ballerina of the 20th century. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of all time...

    . The ballet and the operas of the same name by Albert Lortzing
    Albert Lortzing
    Gustav Albert Lortzing was a German composer, actor and singer. He is considered to be the main representative of the German Spieloper, a form similar to the French opéra comique, which grew out of the Singspiel.-Biography:Lortzing was born in Berlin to Johann Gottlieb Lortzing and Charlotte Sophie...

     and E. T. A. Hoffmann are independent adaptations of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué novella.
  • One of the sections of Maurice Ravel
    Maurice Ravel
    Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

    's Gaspard de la nuit
    Gaspard de la nuit
    Gaspard de la nuit: Trois poèmes pour piano d'après Aloysius Bertrand is a piece for solo piano by Maurice Ravel, written in 1908. It has three movements, each based on a poem by Aloysius Bertrand...

    is titled "Ondine".
  • Piano music composed by Cécile Chaminade. Op. 101 titled "l'ondine"
  • The film Ondine
    Ondine (film)
    Ondine is a 2009 Irish romantic drama film directed and written by Neil Jordan and starring Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda.The film mixes themes from Irish mythology into contemporary settings.-Plot:...

    starring Colin Farrell
    Colin Farrell
    Colin James Farrell is an Irish actor, who has appeared in such film as Tigerland, Miami Vice, Minority Report, Phone Booth, The Recruit, Alexander and S.W.A.T....

     as a fisherman who discovers an apparent selkie called Ondine.
  • Audrey Hepburn received a Tony Award for her theatrical performance in the 1954 Broadway play Ondine.
  • Undine appear in the Fantasy RPG
    RPG
    RPG may refer to:* Rocket-propelled grenade, a shoulder-launched anti-tank weapon* Role-playing game, in which players act out the roles of characters in a narrative game** Role-playing video game, a type of computer or video game-Organisations:...

     Riviera: The Promised Land
    Riviera: The Promised Land
    is a console role-playing game originally produced in 2002 by Sting Entertainment for WonderSwan Color as the first episode of the Dept. Heaven series of games. The game was later introduced to Nintendo's Game Boy Advance in 2004, which Atlus USA released in North America in 2005...

    , although they more resemble mermaid
    Mermaid
    A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

    s.

See also



External links