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Old 03-01-2017, 05:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
The only issue I have with the otherwise attractive Varangian theory is that the Varangian Guard were the Norse (and Anglo-Saxon) expats in service to the Byzantine Empire
I suppose the response to this would be what the article points out - that the word "varangian" and its relatives (such as "variag") does not necessarily refer to the Varangian guard:
Varangian means primarily a “denizen” or [Greek spelling], and took its rise among the Scandinavians to denote the Swedish settlers in Russia. The name was afterward given to the imperial body-guard at Constantinople, which was at first mainly a Scandinavian corps.
Thus the use to refer specifically to the guard came later. One assumes Professor Tolkien knew of this.

If we solely connect the term "variag" to the Varangian guard, then the Variags of Khand might not be Northmen because that might be taking the historical analogy too far; as you point out, we'd expect them to be in the service of Gondor if they were meant to be totally equivalent to the Byzantine Variags. However, it's also worth pointing out this other quote:
Hence Varangians were historically seen as outsiders settling among (and being accepted among) the Slavic peoples of the region that later became Russia.
Thus "variag" can also have connotations (at least, perhaps, to Professor Tolkien) "Scandinavian in Russia, not exclusively "Scandinavian in the Byzantine Empire". Of course, we have no evidence to suggest that Khand was meant to be in any way equivalent to Russia beyond the fact that Professor Tolkien suggested in a note that "variag" was representing a word from a non-Western language in Middle-earth.

That's how it seems to me, at least.
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