In Teutonic and Scandinavian folklore, the king of the elves. He is said to work mischief, especially to children, and even deceives men with his seductions. He is reputed to haunt the Black Forest, Germany.

Dem Vater grauset's, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in den Armen das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Müh' und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.
"The father shudders, he rides swiftly,
He holds in arm the groaning child,
He reaches the farmhouse with effort and urgency;
In his arms, the child was dead."
Goethe. Erlkönig.



  • Bonnerjea, Biren. (1920). A Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology. Thomson Gale.
  • Cobham Brewer, E. (2001). The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Cassell reference.