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Old 02-02-2006, 03:27 PM   #41
Feanor of the Peredhil
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A Resurrection

I had an epiphany of sorts in class the other day, hit Search just now, and found this lovely thread that I decided died too early.

I'm reading Dante's Inferno. I'm seeing parallels. I thought I'd share them.

Y'all make mention of where hell is on Middle Earth. The Paths of the Dead. Inferno. Let me compare:

Outside the entrance:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Muster of Rohan
On the threshold sat an old man, aged beyond guess of years; tall and kingly he had been, but now he was withered as an old stone [...] The way is shut. The way is shut, his voice said again. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canto III
Then, at the river-- an old man in a boat: white-haired, as he drew closer shouting at us [...] And you there-- leave this place, you living soul, stand clear of these who are dead!
An old man on the borders of the lands of the Dead warning the living that they are not suffered to pass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Passing of the Grey Company
'It is not madness, lady,' he answered; 'for I go on a path appointed.'
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canto III
Thus it is willed where everything may be simply if it is willed. Therefore, oblige, and ask no more.
When questioned of the journey inside, those entering the lands of the Dead explain that they are following an order from Higher Up. Aragorn's path has been foreseen and Dante's was willed by those whose will is not up for debate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Passing of the Grey Company
Then Aragorn led the way, and such was the strength of his will in that hour that all the Dunedain and their horses followed him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Passing of the Grey Company
The horses would not pass the threatening stone, until the riders dismounted and led them about.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canto III
Then, with good cheer in his expression to encourage me, he placed his hand on mine: so, trusting to my guide, I followed him among things undisclosed.
The companions were terrified to enter, but based on confidence of the leader, entered the most fearful place imaginable willingly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Passing of the Grey Company
"But the oath that they broke was to fight against Sauron, and they must fight therefore, if they are to fulfil it."
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Passing of the Grey Company
'And when all this land is clean of the servents of Sauron, I will hold the oath fulfilled, and ye shall have peace and depart forever. For I am Elessar, Isildur's heir of Gondor.'
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canto III
This is the sorrowful state of souls unsure, whose lives earned neither honor nor bad fame. And they are mingled with angels of that base sort who, neither rebellious to God nor faithful to Him, chose neither side, but kept themselves apart-- now Heaven expels them, not to mar its splendor, and Hell rejects them, lest the wicked of heart take glory over them.
Once inside, they found the tormented spirits of those who refused to pick a side/fight. The fence-sitters, so to speak.

The Paths of the Dead reflect Dante's first circle of Hell.

Or I'm insane. Take your pick and discuss, if you will. You never know, I might use some of your thoughts in a paper I'm planning to write.
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Old 02-02-2006, 03:41 PM   #42
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The main difference I see between the two tales is that the king of the mountains's accursed people are a singular (mostly irrepeatable in itself) and temporary case - though your comparison makes for a vey interesting reading .

[As a side note, the case of the forgotten people seems rather problematic to me: did Isildur indeed have the power to alter the design of other Men, in a rather significant manner? Only the valar could do that, Imo, and they thoroughly avoid it.]
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Old 02-02-2006, 03:48 PM   #43
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What fascinated me was a line of somewhat irreverent thought: Is Aragorn supposed to be a parallel to Jesus? Wow, allegories are bad, says Tolkien. And yet his "Hell" is parallel to that of a clearly allegorical story.

The descendent of one for whom the dwellers of the place did not fight is one given the power to descend into the place and release them from their fate.

The Harrowing of Hell.

It made me think a lot. The King of Men.
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Old 02-02-2006, 04:09 PM   #44
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I'm not sure that the Paths of the Dead was a strict allegory of Hell. In 'The Rivers & Beacon Hills of Gondor' Tolkien gives some background to the place:

Quote:
The Men of Darkness built temples, some of great size, usually surrounded by dark trees, often in caverns (natural or delved) in secret valleys of mountain-regions; such as the dreadful halls and passages under the Haunted Mountain beyond the Dark Door (Gate of the Dead) in Dunharrow. The special horror of the closed door before which the skeleton of Baldor was found was probably due to the fact that the door was the entrance to an evil temple hall to which Baldor had come, probably without opposition up to that point. But the door was shut in his face, and enemies that had followed him silently came up and broke his legs and left him to die in the darkness, unable to find any way out.
So, it was originally the site of a temple of Sauron (Morgoth?) worship. Of course, this was a later writing, & so we can't necesarily take this as being in Tolkien's mind when he wrote LotR. We do know that Tolkien expressed a dislike of Dante's theology (whether William's obsessive love of Dante played a part in this is anyone's guess...)

And what reason Baldor had for wanting to get in there (did he know there was such a temple beyond the door?) is another question...
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Old 02-02-2006, 05:27 PM   #45
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Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The main drawback as I see it is that the Men of Dunharrow were not 'fence-sitters', they were oath breakers and as such had done wrong. Given what Tolkien wrote later about "evil temple", maybe he wanted to show that these Men had been engaged in worship of Sauron/Morgoth and that it was this that led them astray and made them break their oaths.

There is just one major drawback to this theory - that Baldor must have lived quite some time after Isildur. Perhaps there were still Men who wanted to follow this 'cult', worshipping the dead, even?
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Old 02-02-2006, 06:09 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
The main drawback as I see it is that the Men of Dunharrow were not 'fence-sitters', they were oath breakers and as such had done wrong.
What of the angels that chose not to fight with God that also inhabit that land between the Evil Forest and the river Acheron?

Talk about breaking an oath.

And yes, I'm arguing to inspire discussion and fun of that sort.
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Old 02-03-2006, 12:56 AM   #47
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Quote:
Given what Tolkien wrote later about "evil temple", maybe he wanted to show that these Men had been engaged in worship of Sauron/Morgoth and that it was this that led them astray and made them break their oaths
It is stated in The passing of the grey company that they did serve Sauron:
Quote:
But when Sauron returned and grew in might again, Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfil their oath, and they would not: for they had worshipped Sauron in the Dark Years.
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Old 02-03-2006, 02:22 AM   #48
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Silmaril

How coincidental. My World Lit class is just finishing up with Inferno, too, and I also searched this thread to see if it can help me with my paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fea
The descendent of one for whom the dwellers of the place did not fight is one given the power to descend into the place and release them from their fate.

The Harrowing of Hell.

It made me think a lot. The King of Men.
Ooh, that gave me shivers.

But in the Harrowing of Hell, Jesus supposedly took only selected people from Limbo with Him to Heaven. Meanwhile all of the Dead were granted release from their oath, assuming of course that none of them opposed their king and chose to stay behind and have tea parties instead of fighting with Aragorn.

Just noting a simple observation.

Fea, why don't we engage in mutualism for our respective papers?

Last edited by Lhunardawen; 02-03-2006 at 02:25 AM.
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Old 02-03-2006, 08:09 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lhunardawen
Just noting a simple observation.
Tolkien's third volume is called The Return of the King.

Just noting another.

Aragorn also has powers to heal. Eowyn lay as though dead. Aragorn brought her back. The little girl who died... Jesus said she was merely sleeping.

Just noting another.

Quote:
Fea, why don't we engage in mutualism for our respective papers?
I'm perfectly okay with that.
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