Woglinde awaited a soul worth of claiming the Rinegold that would grant fame and honor to its holder. She was to test the character, wit, and skill of all who approached, for it would be impossible to reach the bottom of the turbulent river where the treasure slept without those qualities. Those foolish enough to enter the raging rapids without her approval would undoubtedly meet their doom.
The Rhinemaidens are the three water-nymphs (Rheintöchter or "Rhine daughters") who appear in Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. Their individual names are Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde (Floßhilde), although they are generally treated as a single entity and they act together accordingly. Wagner created his Rhinemaidens from other legends and myths, most notably the Nibelungenlied which contains stories involving water-sprites (nixies) or mermaids. The key concepts associated with the Rhinemaidens in the Ring operas—their flawed guardianship of the Rhine gold, and the condition (the renunciation of love) through which the gold could be stolen from them and then transformed into a means of obtaining world power—are wholly Wagner's own invention, and are the elements that initiate and propel the entire drama.
Artwork by Bruno Wagner.