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Old 10-08-2019, 05:57 AM   #3
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I must admit that the hypothetical science behind the question makes my brain hurt, at least until I've had a pint or three of 1420.

However, I was tangentially curious as to whether or not rainbows actually appear in the books. I seem to remember at least one reference to one created in ground water, but not in the sky. I'm due for a reread before long anyway...
... huh. I think you're right. Beleriand has the Rainbow Cleft, so named because the sea-spray forms rainbows. Legolas talks about rainbows on the falls of Nimrodel, and Frodo sees them over Rauros. The Ents manage to make one during the drowning of Isengard, and... that's it, as far as I can see. The only reference to a rainbow that's not explicitly linked to water spray or steam is the House of the Heavenly Arch in Gondolin.

You know, there might be a religious justification for the omission. The Bible described the first rainbow as being set after Noah's flood, as a sign that it won't happen again. Given that Tolkien said the Third Age was six thousand years ago, and given that he doesn't describe a Great Flood anything like the Noachian one anywhere in the Legendarium, it's possible he thought of everything as taking place in a literal antediluvian setting. Therefore, there couldn't be any rainbows in the sky, because Iluvatar hadn't yet set the first one.

Would that be reading too much Catholicism into the books? Maybe. But he definitely had Finrod and Andreth discuss the birth of Jesus, so the idea that he imagined the Legendarium to have a specific, Biblical time and place isn't beyond all reason. The space between Adam and Noah is pretty vague; it's basically all passed over in Genesis 5.

... and it's also territory which was rich pickings for the biblical apocrypha. There are all sorts of tales of demons and half-angels bobbing around in the antediluvian period. I'm sure Tolkien didn't need inspiration from the likes of the Book of Enoch (which, I must note, is completely insane), but he may have seen it as license to inject his own subcreation into the same timeframe.

This does lead to the conclusion that everything we know from Middle-earth - Minas Tirith, the Shire, the Line of Kings and the Hobbits - was all wiped out in the Flood. That's a bit grim, and directly contradicts the Prologue. But maybe Tolkien held a more local view of the Flood - it's not like he was averse to wiping out the wicked with them himself!

Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
PS- Rainbows In Valinor is a great name for a New Age musician (assuming the Estate would approve).
On this point I agree wholeheartedly. ^_^

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