Tales and Legends of the Tyrol | Annotated Tale

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Giants Heimo and Thürse, The

OUT of the Neustädter-Thor of Innsbruck leads the Brenner-Strasse, close by the beautiful and rich Abbey of the Premontaries Wilten, called also Wiltau. On each side of the principal façade of the magnificent church of this ancient cloister are still to be seen the enormous stone statues of two giants who bear the names of Heimo and Thürse. Both giants belong to that age in which their huge race first began to conform their rough nature to the ideas of civilization, when Christianity entered into the then impenetrable valleys of the Tyrol.

               One of these enormous mountain giants of the country was called Heime or Heimo, who was so tall that he was obliged to raise the roof of his house so that he could stand upright in it, and of the most cruel and savage nature. The inhabitants of the surrounding country dreaded him beyond measure, and begged him to spare their farms and homesteads, offering to cede to him as much of their ground as he liked to decide upon, and then, should he ask it all, they would retreat and cultivate other parts of the country. In answer to this proposition, Heimo yelled, while pointing out an enormous rock, “As far as I run with that stone upon my shoulders so far is the ground my own.” And saying so, he seized the rock, walked up the little river Sill, turned on the left to the Patscherkofl, went down through Igels and round Wilten, and after having arrived again at the point from which he had started, he threw the stone with enormous force westward. Then he began to build himself at the outlet of the Sill valley, opposite the river Inn, an enormous stronghold, for which he carried up huge rocks from the mountain clefts.

               At that time there lived in the same valley another giant who was still taller and stronger than Heimo, and he had his abode high over Zirl, behind the jagged, bare, and steep peak of Solstein, upon the plateau of Seefeld, which he was the first to cultivate, and where now stands the hamlet of Tyrschenbach. Thürse, this was the name of this giant, hated Heimo, and took pleasure in always secretly destroying his newly commenced building; and when Heimo discovered who caused him all this damage, his gigantic fury awaked in him, and he went to attack Thürse, clad in light armour, and carrying an enormous sword. Thürse hearing the approach of Heimo, seized a ponderous beam, and then commenced such a terrible fight that the earth trembled, and rocks as huge as a tower detached themselves from the Solstein, and rolled down into the valley below. Blows fell as thick as hail, and at last the better armed Heimo was victor, for the savage Thürse succumbed to his enemy.

               Just at that period (it was about the middle of the ninth century) a monk was preaching Christianity in the valleys of the Sill, whom Heimo also went to hear, and he felt sorry and repented having slain Thürse. He became a Christian, and was baptized by the Bishop of Chur. Then after having built the existing bridge over the Inn, from which the city of Innsbruck has taken its name, he renounced worldly life, and instead of finishing his stronghold, he built a monastery which is the still standing Wiltau or Wildenau, commonly called Wilten.

               This was a terrible disappointment to the devil, who sent a huge dragon, of which there were already at that time a great many in the Tyrol, to stop the building of the monastery; but Heimo attacked the dragon, killed him and cut out his tongue. With this huge tongue in his hand he is represented in his statue; and the tongue, which is a yard and a half long, has been preserved in the cloister up to the present day. Heimo became a monk at Wilten, lived a pious life, and on his death was buried in the grounds of the monastery. The stone coffin in which his gigantic bones repose is still to be seen there, and it measures twenty-eight feet three inches. Upon the coffin used to be his statue carved in wood, which has since decayed, but there is still hanging above it an ancient granite slab on which is recounted his history.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Giants Heimo and Thürse, The
Tale Author/Editor: Günther, Comtesse Marie A. von
Book Title: Tales and Legends of the Tyrol
Book Author/Editor: Günther, Comtesse Marie A. von
Publisher: Chapman and Hall
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1874
Country of Origin: Austria
Classification: unclassified

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