Wotan, the chief of the gods, and Alberich, the Nibelung, once contended for mastery of the world. Unlike the god, the dwarf was prepared to fulfil a condition which brought him power and riches: he forswore love. Having robbed the Rhinemaidens of the "Rhine gold" he made the host of dwarfs at his command, the Nibelungs, work it into gold ingots, a "ring of power" and a cap of invisibility, the Tarnhelm. In his efforts to gain possession of these treasures and bring the upstart Alberich to heel, Wotan became progressively more entangled in a net of constraints and obligations, deceit and self-deceit. In the end, the god was as much the loser in the power game as the dwarf. Alberich placed a curse on the ring, of which neither he nor Wotan after him was able to keep possession. Suffering and the recognition of his impotence have made the father of the gods wise at last. He no longer fears the downfall of his own kind, and puts his hope in the rise to power of a new, free race that he himself, the "least free of all", could not father. Alberich, the "loveless", on the other hand, bought a woman's favours with gold and begot "the fruit of hatred": Hagen, the Nibelung's son, is destined to continue the struggle to win back the power and the gold.