Tannhäuser was the name of a wandering poet who lived in Germany during the A.D. 1200s. This historical figure became the subject of a famous legend.

pagan term used by early Christians to describe non-Christians and non-Christian beliefs

According to the story, Tannhäuser one day came across an underground cave that happened to be the home of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. He remained with Venus for a year but eventually came to yearn for the life he left behind. When Venus agreed to let him return to the world, he went to Rome to ask Pope Urban IV to forgive him for making love to the pagan goddess. However, Urban said that Tannhäuser could no more be forgiven than the pope's wooden staff could produce fresh flowers. Three days later, the staff began to blossom, and Urban, realizing his mistake, sent messengers to find Tannhäuser. However, denied forgiveness, Tannhäuser had already returned to Venus's cave to spend the rest of his days with her. Richard Wagner's opera Tannhäuser from 1845 is based on this story.

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