THE PIED PIPER Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a legend about the abduction of many children from     
the town of Hamelin (Hameln), Germany. Famous versions of the legend are given       
by the Brothers Grimm and, in English, by Robert Browning.                           
In 1284, while the town of Hamelin was suffering from a rat infestation, a man       
dressed in colourful garments appeared, claiming to be a rat-catcher. He             
promised the townsmen a solution for their problem with the rats. The townsmen       
in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The man accepted, and       
thus played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser river,       
where all of them drowned. Despite his success, the people reneged on their         
promise and refused to pay the rat-catcher. The man left the town angrily, but       
returned some time later, on June 26, seeking revenge.                               
While the inhabitants were in church, he played his pipe again, this time           
attracting the children of Hamelin. One hundred and thirty boys and girls           
followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a cave and never seen       
again. Depending on the version, at most two children remained behind (one of       
whom was lame and could not follow quickly enough) who informed the villagers of     
what had happened when they came out of the church.                                 
Other versions (but not the traditional ones) claim that the Piper lured the         
children into the river and let them drown like the rats or that he returned the     
children after the villagers paid several times the original amount of gold.