Learn about Wotan king of the gods in Richard Wagner's The Ring
“I set hands on Alberich’s ring, grasped in greed at the gold. The curse that I fled has fastened on me. Though I love him, I must forsake him; murder the son I love so”

Greer Grimsley

Clan/Family: God
Relatives: Fricka, wife; Siegmund and Sieglinde, son and daughter; Brünnhilde and Valkyries, daughters; Siegfried, grandson
Appears in: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre and Siegfried
Main Leitmotif: Valhalla
Performed by: Greer Grimsley

Wotan is the king of the gods and one of the most prominent characters in the Ring. He is extremely charismatic—some may say irresistible. Before the cycle starts, two important acts have taken place. First, in order to drink from the spring of wisdom, Wotan sacrificed one of his eyes. Second, Wotan fastened a spear from a branch he tore from the World Ash-Tree, which then withered and died. On the spear, he engraved the contracts and treaties that gave him power. If he breaks any of the compacts carved on his spear, he risks losing his power and causing the downfall of the gods.

Although Wotan rules by the treaties inscribed on his spear and takes his responsibility to protect the gods seriously, he has an insatiable appetite for power and wealth—as well as for the love of women. He tasks the giants Fafner and Fasolt to build him the extravagant fortress Valhalla as a secure home for the gods. He uses the schemes of the trickster Loge, god of fire, to steal the ring from Alberich. Once Alberich curses the ring, Wotan realizes that his power is in danger, and does everything he can to reverse the gods’ fate. But the forces of doom already set in motion lead him to forsake children he loves—Siegmund and Brünnhilde—and ultimately bring the gods to their end.