QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
did Glorfindel play after the incident at the Fords of Bruinen? I don't remember any
further mention of him and it seems strange that such a noble Elven Lord would not be
involved at all in the War of the Ring.
- Quinton Carr
He wasn't. But if you think about it, many "noble Elven lords" did not
do anything *active* in the War after the Fellowship left Rivendell or
Lorien. Elrond, Celeborn, noble Elven ladies like Galadriel, Arwen . . .
their roles were peripheral. Not to mention the fact that I'm sure both
Elrond and Celeborn had a goodly number of strong, well-armed Elves at their
disposal, who didn't go with the Fellowship *or* down to the battles in
Gondor. But the answer is actually pretty simple, and Elrond gives it to
us in "Fellowship:" "The number must be few, since your hope is in speed
and secrecy. Had I a host of Elves in armour of the Elder Days, it would
avail little, save to arouse the power of Mordor." So that explains why
none of them went with the Fellowship. Why did none of these mighty Elves
save Elrohir and Elladan ride down to Gondor once it was clear that there
would be battle? My answer has a couple of parts. Firstly, Elrohir and
Elladan, according to the Tale of Years, were born after the wars at the
end of the Second Age when Sauron
was thrown down, and were not a party to them as their father was. They'd
never gotten their "chance," so to speak. As for the rest of them, they had
all gone to war against Sauron at the end of the Second Age. They felt
their time had passed, and moreover that the hour of the Secondborn was
striking. They knew that the power of their Rings would fade if Frodo was
successful, and that Men would rise and Elves would dwindle. They must have
felt it was right for the men, i.e. the armies of Gondor and Rohan, to earn
for themselves the privilege of ushering in the Fourth Age.
Now, I don't know how long Glorfindel had been alive at this point. Whether
he was around at the first overthrow of Sauron, I can't say. All I know is
that he, like Elrond and Celeborn and Erestor and Cirdan and all, elected
not to go down to the war this time. Turgon says that there is some
speculation about an earlier elf, also named Glorfindel, who had been killed
in battle. The question revolves around whether or not this is the same
guy, somehow returned to life and to Middle-earth, or is it a namesake? I
haven't delved into the History of Middle-earth volumes, but Turgon tells me
more Glorfindel information can be found in the Peoples of Middle-earth,
volume 12 of the History, on pages 377-384.
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I want to know if Bilbo was Frodos cousin or uncle.
- Heather Mackie
Chestnuts, chestnuts! The answer to this is in The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I,
Chapter 1, page 1:
"Mr. [Bilbo] Baggins was generous with is money,
But he had no
close friends, until some of his younger cousins began to grow up.
The eldest of these, and Bilbos favourite, was young Frodo Baggins."
If you take a look at Appendix C, "Family Trees" at the end of The
Return of the King, youll see that Frodo was the Great-grandson of one
Largo Baggins, whom Bilbo saw only as a Granduncle, if you can imagine such a thing.
Now, according to modern American standards this familial relationship might seem quite
thin, but in the Shire cousins are held very close to the heart, no matter how
distantly related (unless of course youre a Sackville-Baggins). Hobbits
held great interest in their own genealogy, as Tolkien wrote, and the operative
term "cousin" would probably be liberally applied to any of a number
of different relatives.
Your answer about Bilbo and Frodo being "cousins" is accurate, as far as it goes.
But their relation is slightly more complex than that, since they are related not
only on the Baggins side, but on the Took side as well. But to explain it properly
I have to refer to the technical names of different types of cousins, which most
Americans, at least, do not understand.
A quick refresher course for those who do not share a Hobbitish interest in
genealogy: the ordinal number before "cousin" (as in "first cousin", "second
cousin", "third cousin") refers to how many generations back you have to go before
you reach siblings. If I had a son, he would be a first cousin with my sisters'
children. His children would be second cousins with my sisters' grandchildren, and
so on. Another way of looking at it is that first cousins share grandparents,
second cousins share great-grandparents, and so on.
"Removed" refers to a difference in generation. Suppose I have a first cousin,
and she has a daughter. That child is my first cousin once removed, the "removed"
signifying that she and I are one generation apart. If she then had a son, that
child would be my first cousin twice removed, and so on. If you think of a genealogical
chart, you will notice that all first, second, third, etc. cousins will be on the
same level horizontally; if you go one step down, you will get a "remove."
All right: let's apply this to Frodo and Bilbo. Looking at the chart in
Appendix C, we find the common ancestor, Balbo Baggins. Among his children are
Mungo and Largo; they are siblings. Mungo begat Bungo, and Largo begat Fosco;
Bungo and Fosco are therefore first cousins. Bungo begat Bilbo, and Fosco begat
Drogo; Bilbo and Drogo are second cousins. Finally, Drogo begat Frodo; therefore,
Frodo and Bilbo are second cousins once removed -- on the Baggins side.
But they're also related on the Took side. Look at the Took family tree on
the next page. You'll see that Bilbo's mother Belladonna Took was the sister of
Mirabella Took, Frodo's maternal grandmother. So (are you following this?) on the
Took side, Frodo and Bilbo are *first* cousins once removed.
So while the short and easy answer is that Frodo and Bilbo are just cousins, the
long answer is that, as the Gaffer explains on the third page of A Long-Expected
"Mr. Frodo is his first *and* second cousin, once removed either way, as the
saying is, if you follow me."
I have no idea whether the readers of the Green Books would have any interest
in this... but here it is, all the same.
Yes, indeed we ARE interested, and I appreciate the clarification! Youve made easy work of this complicated family tree! And I really have no excuse for not knowing my trees. :-P
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Does Saruman survive after he is killed? Sauron was killed three times before
he actually died. They were both Maia and they both had the same master Aulë
the smith. So is it possible that Saruman lived?
Very, very good question. Let me start by quoting you the passage
that is also in my second "Counterpoint;" it is Saruman's death scene.
"To the dismay of those that stood by, about the body of Saruman a
grey mist gathered, and rising slowly to a great height like smoke from a fire,
as a pale shrouded figure it loomed over the Hill. For a moment it wavered, looking
to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh
dissolved into nothing." [Excerpted from Return.]
To me, this seems final as regards Saruman's demise, but let me first interject
an interesting thought: Was Sauron ever actually killed before the War of the Ring?
When was the last time he had a corporeal body? He "perished" once in the drowning
of Númenor, and beyond that, I don't know to which other two times you are
referring, unless you refer to him fleeing Angband for Mordor, then at the end of
the Second Age when the Ring was taken from him. As far as that last time, does it
say he was killed, or merely that the Ring was taken and he was defeated? Sauron had
long ago lost the ability to keep a corporeal body, but it seems obvious to me that
his spirit was never dissolved before the Ring was destroyed. His own folly in
putting the majority of his original power into an object outside himself was his
undoing, in that when *that* "corporeal body," the Ring, perished, the part of his
spirit/power that was in it was dissolved, and the rest of his spirit could no longer
survive. And on a final note about Sauron, he had long ceased to acknowledge Aulë
as his master, and had been Melkor's servant for as long as anybody could remember.
So, the point I'm making is that Maiar, good or evil, do not "die," no matter what
the state of their corporeal bodies, until their spirits are dissolved. I think it's
safe to say that Gandalf's original corporeal form was killed in the battle with the
Balrog. But at the end of the day, it was the spirit of the Balrog that was
dissipated, not Gandalf's, and those in charge (i.e., Valar) saw fit to allow
him to take on another body. Sauron did not have the power, after the theft of
the Ring, to take a body any more, and Saruman still had his own body. Well and
good. Well, when Saruman's body was destroyed, then what was left was the spirit,
and the hobbits witnessed this being blown away on the West Wind. I feel that this
was the final destruction of the Maiar spirit that had been Saruman, and that he
would not have survived this. On a final note, my fellow Green Books staffperson
Turgon mentioned that he had always thought of the breeze that blew away the mist
as the Breath of Manwë. Talk about your poetic justice!
A reader has written in to direct me to be more specific about the "death," before
the return, of Gandalf...
In your answer to the question about Saruman's death, you make a reference to Gandalf
being returned after death by the Valar. That's not exactly correct.
Gandalf's words and a couple of letters by Tolkien (I can look up the exact references if
you're interested) indicate that when he was killed in his battle with the Balrog, Gandalf's
spirit left this world entirely, going beyond even the Valar's ability to interfere. He was
returned and imbued with new power by none other than Eru Ilúvatar Himself, the One.
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Do Tolkien's Elves have pointed ears? (I've never found any reference to this
in any of his writings, and many artists portray them without pointed ears...)
This is a tough question that has baffled many Tolkien-readers for years and years.
The only evidence there is, and it can be interpreted in several ways, comes from a
letter Tolkien wrote to the American publishers of The Hobbit, sometime around March
1938. This letter, a response to a request for some drawings of hobbits in various
attitudes, is published in Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Letter no. 27, p. 35). Part
of the description reads as follows: "A round, jovial face; ears only slightly
pointed and elvish." The quotes around "elvish" are
Tolkiens own, so what does he mean? Elvish, as in his own Elves? Or
"elvish" as in what the recipient of the letter might think of as
"elvish"i.e., a more public idea of "elvish"? I suspect
Tolkien meant the latter, but the remarkable thing here is that Tolkien does imply
that Hobbits have ears which are "slightly pointed".
Carl F. Hostetter pointed (no pun intended) us to another consideration
that really makes a much stronger case that Tolkien intended his elves to have
pointed ears. In "The Etymologies", a very important work for the study of
Tolkien's Elvish languages, first published in The Lost Road (1987), the two
entries given for the elvish element "las" show that "las", as in the Quenya
*lasse, meaning "leaf", is possibly related to "las" meaning "listen", and
*lasse meaning "ear". Tolkien wrote: "The Quendian ears were more pointed
and leaf-shaped than [?human]" (The reading of the last word is uncertain
in the lightly pencilled manuscript.) Fascinating!
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What's the deal with the "stone giants" that are mentioned in The Hobbit?
Are they chronicled anywhere in the history of Middle Earth? Are they allied with
good or evil? Did they have any part in the War of the Ring?
To answer you in order: No, neither, and no. The singular mention of them anywhere
seems to be only in The Hobbit, during that thunderstorm as the travelers
attempted to cross the high pass through the Misty Mountains. They were given neither
names nor station in the vast Tolkien legendarium, though most beasts and creatures were.
Then again, not every single denizen of Middle-earth is revealed plainly. There was
the slimy, tentacled Watcher in the Lake that assaulted Frodo and the Fellowship as
they stood just outside Morias East Gate. Consider it one of those occurrences
where the mystery of the thing is an important storytelling device. Gandalf gives no
details, no history, to the frightened and inquisitive Hobbits, and that leaves the
readers mind to wander. What on earth could it be? Who set it there to guard
the Gate? And why did it attack the Ringbearer first? By keeping some of these
monsters/creatures more obscure, Tolkien makes them more fantastical, and thus they
carry more of a wallop to the imagination.
Also, it has been suggested throughout the years that Professor Tolkien wrote
The Hobbit directly for his children. My guess is that the inclusion of
these Stone Giants could have been to add fairy-tale flavor to the proceedings, as
you will find throughout The Father Christmas Letters.
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You mentioned Glorfindel, what race was he, how awesome was he and what was he
to do to help Elrond?
Well, I think this question (or questions) is best answered with the words of
"'This is Glorfindel, who dwells in the house of Elrond,' said Strider.
'Hail, and well met at last!' said the Elf-lord to Frodo. 'I was sent from
Rivendell to look for you. We feared that you were in danger upon the road.'"
[Excerpted from Fellowship.]
So far so good. His race is Elven, and he dwells in the house of Elrond.
"'There are few even in Rivendell that can ride openly against the
Nine; but such as there were, Elrond sent out north, west, and south.
was my lot to take the Road
three of the servants of Sauron were upon the
Bridge, but they withdrew and I pursued them westward.'
With his last failing senses Frodo heard cries, and it seemed to him that
he saw, beyond the Riders that hesitated on the shore, a shining figure of white
'I thought that I saw a white figure that shone and did not grow dim like the
others. Was that Glorfindel then?'
'Yes, you saw him for a moment as he is upon the other side: one of the mighty
of the First-born. He is an Elf-lord of a house of princes.'" [Ibid.]
As for how "awesome" he was, there you have it. He is a mighty Elf-lord with
power to intimidate even Black Riders. Gandalf also says of him:
"Caught between fire and water, and seeing an Elf-lord revealed in his
wrath, they were dismayed..."[Ibid.]
What was he to do to help Elrond? It seems clear that he obeyed Elrond's
orders, since it was Elrond who ordered riders into the wilderness to search for
Frodo. It seems likely that whatever Elrond needed him to do, he would undertake.
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Who is Tom Bombadil anyway? Is he a Valar, Maia, or something else entirely?
Does anyone even really know?
We have had a few major discussions in Barliman's about this... Who was
eldestFangorn or Tom Bombadil? Fangorn is said to be "eldest" in one
spot, and Bombadil is known as "oldest" and "fatherless". The folks at Barliman's
would love your insight on this matter!
Tom Bombadil is another really tough person to place and define in the whole
scheme of Tolkiens legendarium. This topic also has been debated for many
years. About the best answer one can give, and it is still only a speculation, is
that Tom Bombadil was some lesser form of Maia. After all, Tom refers to having been
around Arda from very early on-- "He knew the dark under the stars when it
was fearlessbefore the Dark Lord came from Outside." And the reference
to the Dark Lord must to refer to Morgoth, rather than Sauron. Treebeards
title as "Eldest" must be some sort of honorific, for he and the Ents as
a race seem likely to be slightly younger than Tom Bombadil.
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Who was Aragorn I destroyed by?
Aragorn I was a mighty chieftain of the Dúnedain and a direct
descendant of Isildur. He was the Great-great-great-great-great-great-
great-great-great-grandfather of Aragorn II (a.k.a. Strider, and later
crowned King Elessar in The Return of the King). According to
Tolkiens record, Aragorn I was killed not by a whom but by a
"Aragorn I, it is said, was slain by wolves, which ever after
remained a peril in Eriador, and are not yet ended."
Please see his notes in Appendix A; "Annals of the Kings and
Rulers" at the very end of the trilogy.
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Maybe I misread the Fellowship, but in the scene at the Barrow-Down was
Frodo actually wearing the princely white outfit like Merry and Pippin? When he
was captured, he immediately looked in his pocket for the Ring. Now why would he
search in his pockets for the Ring if he was wearing a different outfit? Also,
Frodo said to the other Hobbits that their clothes were probably lost forever.
So if Frodo was wearing something else, and the missing clothes were gone for
good, wouldn't the ring be in his old Shire pants and not in his new white outfit?
Was Frodo in his normal outfit while the others were dressed up?
I won't try to quote directly from Fellowship on this, as the
passages involved are rather lengthy, so I'll just paraphrase. The short answer is
yes, you did misread just a bit. Here's the sequence of events:
- Frodo becomes separated from Sam, Merry, and Pippin in the darkness and fog at the end of the day. He hears cries, his friends calling out for him in distress and alarm, but he cannot find his companions in the dark. So Merry, Sam, and Pippin were captured first.
- Frodo hears a deep voice coming out of the ground, feels a freezing touch, and falls unconscious.
- Frodo wakes up in the barrow. He is lying on his back and his hands are on his chest, but this seems to be the only thing the Wight has done with him. There is no mention of his clothes being different.
- Frodo looks around and sees Sam, Merry, and Pippin all laid together, dressed in white with gold jewelry, with weapons laid at their sides, and across their three necks, "one long naked sword." [Shiver!]
- It's obvious at this point that the other three were captured together in a bunch and dressed up like this, and laid there with spells on them. It becomes apparent later that the spells laid on them to keep them unconscious also gave them dreams in which they were forced to re-enact some of the battles that took place in those lands during the rule of Angmar. You remember that Merry speaks of the attack of the men of Carn Dûm, etc., once they wake up. Frodo was captured later, and laid down with lesser spells upon him and his clothes were not touched. The conclusion that he had fewer or even *no* spells laid upon him is evidenced by the fact that he woke up before the other three, had not been touched except to be brought into the Barrow and laid down, and did not have these dreams about battles.
- He at first thought of putting on the Ring and trying to escape the Barrow, but decided he could not leave his friends. He hacked off the hand of the Barrow Wight, pitch black instantly fell, and he called for Tom Bombadil, who almost immediately appeared, bringing the walls and ceiling of the Barrow crumbling in, dissipating the Wight, and releasing Merry, Sam, and Pippin from the spell. Merry, Pippin and Sam wake up, look in amazement at the clothes and gold they are wearing, and wonder where their clothes are. Tom tells them that clothes are a small loss for people who escape drowning. JRRT goes on to tell us that Sam, Pippin, and Merry were soon too warm, for they had to put on in place of their clothes some of the heavier garments they'd brought with them to prepare for the winter. It says nothing about Frodo needing to change his clothes.
So there you have it, I hope that helps. The only other question that
this brings up for me is: Why didn't the Barrow-Wight take the Ring?
My only guess is that he was too weak a spirit to use ithe was
bound in his Barrow and had no influence outside of it. This is clear from
the fact that Tom is easily able to dissipate him as soon as the Barrow is
demolished. I think he was too bound to the Barrow to be able to make any
use of the Ring, but that's just speculation for fun on my part.
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In The Two Towers, Aragorn states that Sauron does not allow his name
to be spelt or spoken. So why in The Return of the King does Sauron's
Lieutenant clearly state "I am the Mouth of Sauron?"
Also: Aragorn states (Two Towers, p. 18 hardback) that Sauron
never uses the name "Sauron", nor does he "permit it to be spelt or spoken".
Reconcile this text with the text of Return of the King, p. 164 hardback,
where the Lieutenant of Barad-Dûr clearly states, "I am the Mouth of Sauron."
The passage on p. 18 of The Two Towers (hardcover), after Aragorn,
Gimli and Legolas have seen some goblin-soldiers with S-runes on their shields,
reads as follows:
S is for Sauron, said Gimli. That is easy to
Nay! said Legolas. Sauron does not use the
Neither does he use his right name, nor permit it to be
spelt or spoken, said Aragorn.
By implication, it appears that Aragorn is referring to the name
Sauron as his right name, but that might not
necessarily be the case (Who in fact knows what Saurons true name was?).
But it may be that Aragorn misstated the case, or misunderstood it slightly.
Certainly the lowest of the hierarchy of Mordor were not allowed to speak
Saurons name, but perhaps those higher-ups in fact were. Or it could
be, too, that the "Mouth of Sauron" was speaking his masters
name in a way which the gathered hosts would recognize, or he might have used
the name even as a show of pride in his own position as the "Mouth of
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This is in response to your answer concerning the names of the Nazgûl.
At the siege of Gondor, after the death of the Witch King, Gothmog leads the
army of Sauron. He is described as "the lieutenant of Morgul." I had always
assumed he was a Nazgûl. My question, therefore, is: Of what race was
Gothmog if he was not a Nazgûl?
Sharp eyes and quick wits! My first answer was going to be very short: He was a
Balrog. There is ample evidence for this, as it is stated in Lord of the
Rings encyclopedias and in excerpts from The Silmarillion
that he is a Balrog. But, like any good researcher, I checked another source, and
in the index to Sil, it states the following: "Gothmog: Lord of Balrogs,
high-captain of Angband, slayer of Feanor, Fingon, and Ecthelion." Quite a
résumé for one very long-lived Balrog, wouldn't you say? But,
reading on in the same source: "(The same name was borne in the Third Age by
the Lieutenant of Minas Morgul; The Return of the King V 6.)" Oops!
So while my answer was correct, that the *original* Gothmog was a Balrog, the
question now becomes: is the Lieutenant of Minas Morgul, who would not seem to
be the same spirit, since it makes a point of saying the name was ALSO borne,
etc., a Balrog or a Nazgûl? I have to say I'm with you on this one, Balin,
that all my reading leads me to believe that Minas Morgul was the Nazzie
headquarters, so to speak, and that the Lieutenant would naturally be the
second head-honcho Black Rider. So the conclusion is that the name Gothmog
applied first to the leader of the Balrogs in the time of the power of Angband,
and later to the second-in-command of the Nazgûl, during the War of the Ring.
A few eagle-eyed readers have noted a discrepancy between Anwyns comment about Gothmog, and my (Turgons) comment in an answer from 9/5/99. Technically, Gothmog is described as the "Lieutenant of Morgul," and this doesnt tell us whether Gothmog is a Nazgûl, an Orc, or even a Man. Anwyn has interpreted that Gothmog is a Nazgûl. She may be correct, but it is not certain. In any case, a Captain can have more than one Lieutenant, so if Gothmog is a Nazgûl, and Khamul is the second to the Chief, Gothmog could have been the name of another Nazgûl.
Update! In a question from LONG LONG AGO, in September 1999, I got myself in trouble with the wording of my answer to a question about Gothmog. Because he was called "the Lieutenant of Morgul," I referred to him as "second in command of the Nazgûl," and not only got into hot water with lots of readers but into discrepancy with another answer given by Turgon. I wish to set the record straightI have no clue what his place was within the Nine. I simply mean to say that I believeand I could be wrong, of coursethat Gothmog during the War of the Ring was the Nazgûl who was in charge at the tower of Minas Morgul. Thus he was the "Lieutenant" of that towerhe held it at the pleasure of the boss Nazgûl. I do not mean to imply I believe he is above Khamul in the ranks of the Nine or whatever. Thanks for all those who wrote in, anxious to be sure Khamul got his rightful place! J
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I was just wondering did they ever explain the origin of hobbits in Middle-earth?
The records do not seem to say much on this point, other
than that the hobbits were more nearly akin to Men than any of the other races of
Middle-earth. Though obviously their origins were earlier, they seem to have lived
quite unobtrusively in the Vales of the Anduin until early in the Third Age.
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