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Old 09-02-2002, 09:21 AM   #1
ElanorGamgee
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Silmaril Wormtongue a cannibal?

After reading the new theme on Saruman, I have a question concerning the following passage of The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire:"

Quote:
Wormtongue halted and looked back at him, half prepared to stay. Saruman turned. "No evil?" he cackled. "Oh no! Even when he sneaks out at night it is only to look at the stars. But did I hear someone ask where poor Lotho is hiding? You know, don't you, Worm? Will you tell them?"

Wormtongue cowered down and whimpered: "No, no!"

"Then I will," said Saruman. "Worm killed your Chief, poor little fellow, your nice little Boss. Didn't you, Worm? Stabbed him in his sleep, I believe. Buried him, I hope; though Worm has been very hungry lately. No, Worm is not really nice. You had better leave him to me."
So, did Wormtongue really eat Lotho? Although the passage is chilling, I always assumed that Saruman's comment about Wormtongue being hungry lately was only a sick joke, probably out of jealousy at the hobbit's pity on the man, and when Worm says "You told me to; you made me do it," "it" is referring to the actual stabbing. What does everyone think? Was Wormtongue capable of such an act?

[ September 02, 2002: Message edited by: ElanorGamgee ]
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Old 09-02-2002, 09:27 AM   #2
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Yep, Wormtongue et Lotho. No two ways around it, I'm afraid.

I heard he served him up with some fava beans and a nice "kee-yan-tee". (slurp-slurp-slurp!)
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Old 09-02-2002, 09:33 AM   #3
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BIRDIE!!!!!! That's gross!!!!
I really hope Worm didn't eat Lotho. I'm still trying to understand my feeling toward Worm. I knda like him, pity mostly. I'm still wondering wether I would have let him stay if the other Hobbits hadn't made Grima-kabobs out of him with their arrows.
Hobbit-eating *shudders* *sniffle*

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Old 09-02-2002, 09:41 AM   #4
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Some people have already given their thought on this question in the Saurman Theme Topic.
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Old 09-02-2002, 09:51 AM   #5
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I think that is sick. But to soften the blow it really wasn't cannibalism. Since Wormtounge was a man and Lotho was a hobbit. There different speices so tecically its not canibalism.

But it's still sick. I hope Lotho was buried.
Of course if Saruman hadn't wasted the Shire there might have been enough food for Wormtounge.
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Old 09-02-2002, 09:55 AM   #6
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Actually, hobbits were Men, only a different breed (like the difference between Great Danes and Dachsunds, I guess [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]) so if Wormtongue did indeed feast on poor Lotho, it would have still been categorized as cannibalism.
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Old 09-02-2002, 09:56 AM   #7
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There's no explicit confirmation of Saruman's words, but it isn't unlikely that Gríma should do such a thing, poor debased creature that he was. My suspicion is that Saruman had been forcing him to find his own food, possibly as a punishment for throwing away the Palantír of Orthanc, and that hunger might well have driven him to eat Lotho. I suspect, however, that Wormtongue's words were a reference to the murder itself: I doubt if he would admit to the other crime before a group of armed and angry Hobbits. The point is that whatever Wormtongue had done, Saruman had forced him to it. Normally I would regard this as a pathetic excuse, but Saruman was more than capable of controlling the thoughts of one as weak-willed as Gríma even in his diminished state.

I should perhaps point out that Gríma wouldn't technically have been a cannibal even if he had eaten Lotho, since they weren't of the same species. In a moral sense, though, the line is a very fine one indeed.
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Old 09-02-2002, 10:00 AM   #8
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We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat.
Saruman's Uruk's bragged how he fed them man-flesh, so perhaps he had also converted the broken Wormtongue to such debased dining.

[ September 02, 2002: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Old 09-02-2002, 11:12 AM   #9
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We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat.
Perhaps Tolkien had another motive in mind when turning Wormtongue into a cannibal. Saruman first accuses Wormtongue of feasting on the remains of Lotho, if this was meant as an insult or truth I do not know. But it is ironic how in the end the White Hand (the hand that feeds them) is eaten by his pet, Grima, a man who he treated very badly.

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Wormtongue halted and looked back at him, half prepared to stay. Saruman turned. "No evil?" he cackled. "Oh no! Even when he sneaks out at night it is only to look at the stars. But did I hear someone ask where poor Lotho is hiding? You know, don't you, Worm? Will you tell them?"
Wormtongue cowered down and whimpered: "No, no!"

"Then I will," said Saruman. "Worm killed your Chief, poor little fellow, your nice little Boss. Didn't you, Worm? Stabbed him in his sleep, I believe. Buried him, I hope; though Worm has been very hungry lately. No, Worm is not really nice. You had better leave him to me."
Although this may sound mean, I believe the way Wormtongue killed Saruman was to add to the cruelty of the White Hand. After all his chances to redeem himself, Saruman kept refusing and in the end it was one of his servants, not an Uruk but a man - someone with concious who finally decided that Saruman was beyond help.

If you add up the parts, you can clearly see a Christian theme that is potrayed (intentional or not) - Saruman was given a chance to be forgiven but he refused and he suffered the consequences of his actions. The irony is that it wasn't one of the 'Good Guys' who finished him off, but one of his own servants and one with free-will at that.

[ September 02, 2002: Message edited by: Shadowstrife911 ]
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Old 09-02-2002, 03:52 PM   #10
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However crazy it may sound but it seems to me Saruman knew quite well what he was doing while accusing Wormtongue of cannibalism, even if that wasn't true. Thus he made Wormtongue look the meanest of all creatures beyond redemption and pardon. And the cornered rat, you know, fights back most fierously.
I see this scene as Saruman's suiside. His fight was lost. He couldn't ask for mercy (was too proud for that and too used to dominating others). He wouldn't be ever accepted back to Valinor after his treachery. I don't think he was willing to spend the rest of his eternal life in M-E in the shape of an old man despised by everyone.
But getting a wretched creature to kill him, or better say his body, and making all the good guys feel guilty and full of foreboding after his 'prophesy' - that was his style to get out of the situation with all his pride and wits.
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Old 09-02-2002, 08:43 PM   #11
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"He wouldn't be ever accepted back to Valinor after his treachery."
I'm not sure if I would agree with you on this one point. It is certainly true--he would never have been accepted back to Aman, but I'm not sure if he knew this to be definite at the time of his death.
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"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 to nothing."
From this quote, it would appear as if Saruman had an inkling to what his fate would be, but wasn't fully sure about it--hence his "wavering" as he looked towards the West. I also wonder whether the word "sigh" is merely describing the sound of the wind, or something more.
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Old 09-03-2002, 03:35 AM   #12
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I believe the "sigh" was not only literal, but figurative...a lament for lost chances, wrong turns taken on the road that goes ever on and on...
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Old 09-03-2002, 03:37 AM   #13
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Quote:
I see this scene as Saruman's suiside.
I'm not so sure myself. True, his words are enough to set Gríma up as the most despicable of creatures; but I think it's significant that he only attacks his master after Saruman's imperious summons. Nobody else calls the poor fellow "Worm", not even the Mark, whom he betrayed most of all. Here's Saruman, robbing him of his last chance to settle down somewhere and make something of his life again, solely in order to maintain him as a servant and target for his spite and treating him with utter disdain in the process. I think that he hears that name and he just sees red. In one instant, he remembers all of the evils that he's suffered because of Saruman, and takes his revenge.

As for Saruman, I think his contempt for Gríma and his belief that this servant at least would always be loyal, if only through fear were so complete that the sudden attack came as a total surprise. I'm almost certain that Saruman's name for Gríma was a deliberate reference on Tolkien's part to the phrase "the worm has turned": another example of his ironic punning.

Quote:
From this quote, it would appear as if Saruman had an inkling to what his fate would be, but wasn't fully sure about it--hence his "wavering" as he looked towards the West. I also wonder whether the word "sigh" is merely describing the sound of the wind, or something more.
That's exactly how I read that passage, although I was more certain that the sigh was nothing to do with the wind. I can just imagine Curumo, released of the burden of flesh that had been Saruman, suddenly realising the depth of his failure and the completeness of his rejection; and expressing in one brief sigh his despair and regret.
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Old 09-03-2002, 04:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
As for Saruman, I think his contempt for Gríma and his belief that this servant at least would always be loyal, if only through fear were so complete that the sudden attack came as a total surprise.
Could it be that Saruman, known for his great power over Men's minds, skilled in manipulating others, had lost all his sences and didn't see what Worm had been driven to? Well, I can't see it this way.

And yet another thought. I've read that it's believed by Christians that anyone who was murdered goes straight to heaven, no matter how and why it happened. This is used as one of the arguments for banning death penalty. If I'm mistaken here please don't take offence and correct me. But to me this explains the shadowy figure was looking to the west, perhaps believing that by his death he could get a pass home.
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Old 09-03-2002, 06:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
From this quote, it would appear as if Saruman had an inkling to what his fate would be, but wasn't fully sure about it--hence his "wavering" as he looked towards the West. I also wonder whether the word "sigh" is merely describing the sound of the wind, or something more.
Its probaly describing the sound of the wind but the 'sigh' could also be figurative, perhaps expressing Saruman's dismay at his rejection from the blessed west. Maybe the poor devil finally realized that in the end he was reduced to nothing, bullying around those poor little hobbits and scouring the Shire.
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Old 06-04-2017, 05:23 PM   #16
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One topic from 2002?

Thought this would be more of a thing
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Old 06-04-2017, 05:53 PM   #17
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I agree with the topic starter.

Saruman was showing his contempt for Wormtongue both by calling him "Worm", and by insinuating the cannibalism. Wormtongue's protest that Saruman "made him do it" referred only to the actual murder of Lotho in his sleep.

Debased as Wormtongue was, I wouldn't think he was fallen enough to eat a Hobbit out of an Orcish evil, or that the food situation at Bag End was that bad.
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Old 06-04-2017, 05:57 PM   #18
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Saruman was skilled in treachery and lies. So I'm on that side more, however Grima was so ill used so corrupted such a pitiful thing a pet, that I could see him doing it. Not out of malice, just out of pure hunger and survival...
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:26 PM   #19
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Saruman was skilled in treachery and lies. So I'm on that side more, however Grima was so ill used so corrupted such a pitiful thing a pet, that I could see him doing it. Not out of malice, just out of pure hunger and survival...
It's hard to imagine that Wormtongue could have been that desperate.

Granted, he'd been ordered apparently to stay out of sight and do his dirty work at night, but surely there was some sort of wretched food he could subsist on. There were the Shirrif-houses, and local Hobbit-holes and houses would have had gardens he could raid.
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Old 06-05-2017, 08:32 AM   #20
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Good question. It has been noted that the appetizers known as "finger food" originated in the Shire.
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:16 AM   #21
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I agree that Wormtongue's confession is to the murder of Lotho, not eating him.

It is a great topic though, because it's the skill of Tolkien to leave questions like this up to the freedom of the reader. You could easily argue yes, as you could no.

Putting myself in as Grima's defense attorney for a moment, the confession to the murder is undeniable. But the evidence of cannibalism is so slim there's no way he would be convicted in a court of law

It's solely based on the word of a liar, and quite an effective liar as this blast from past will show. A liar trying to save his own skin and use a "mob's moral outrage" against the only victim he had left to blame.

*takes off defense attorney hat*

I do agree that cannibalism is as low that the poor and mean characters in the story can fall. It's a sign of complete moral depravity (as noted with Saruman's orcs getting fed "man-flesh.") There is another character that has fallen so low, there's also accusations of cannibalism:

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The Wood-elves tracked him first, an easy task for them, for his trail was still fresh then. Through Mirkwood and back again it led them, though they never caught him. The wood was full of the rumour of him, dreadful tales even among beasts and birds. The Woodmen said that there was some new terror abroad, a ghost that drank blood. It climbed trees to find nests; it crept into holes to find the young; it slipped through windows to find cradles.~The Shadow of the Past
And in this wonderful thread, SpM and I have it out, where I and a few others again put on a defense attorney hat and try to get Gollum off baby-eating charges.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:02 AM   #22
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I agree that Wormtongue's confession is to the murder of Lotho, not eating him.

It is a great topic though, because it's the skill of Tolkien to leave questions like this up to the freedom of the reader. You could easily argue yes, as you could no.

Putting myself in as Grima's defense attorney for a moment, the confession to the murder is undeniable. But the evidence of cannibalism is so slim there's no way he would be convicted in a court of law

It's solely based on the word of a liar, and quite an effective liar as this blast from past will show. A liar trying to save his own skin and use a "mob's morale outrage" against the only victim he had left to blame.

*takes off defense attorney hat*

I do agree that cannibalism is as low that the poor and mean characters in the story can fall. It's a sign of complete moral depravity (as noted with Saruman's orcs getting fed "man-flesh.") There is another character that has fallen so low, there's also accusations of cannibalism:
Quote:
The Wood-elves tracked him first, an easy task for them, for his trail was still fresh then. Through Mirkwood and back again it led them, though they never caught him. The wood was full of the rumour of him, dreadful tales even among beasts and birds. The Woodmen said that there was some new terror abroad, a ghost that drank blood. It climbed trees to find nests; it crept into holes to find the young; it slipped through windows to find cradles.~The Shadow of the Past


And in this wonderful thread, SpM and I have it out, where I and a few others again put on a defense attorney hat and try to get Gollum off baby-eating charges.
I too am inclined to think the cannibalism accusation is just Saruman being a colossal jerk (as usual). Perhaps- given the nature of Isengard's catering- his mind tended to run along those lines anyway?

Not sure it's comparable to the case against Gollum, though, which I'd say is a good deal stronger- and from a skim of that thread, you and Sauce aren't so much concerned with disputing the alleged baby-eating as with pleading insanity on behalf of the accused.
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Old 06-09-2017, 07:28 PM   #23
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So, did Wormtongue really eat Lotho? Although the passage is chilling, I always assumed that Saruman's comment about Wormtongue being hungry lately was only a sick joke, probably out of jealousy at the hobbit's pity on the man, and when Worm says "You told me to; you made me do it," "it" is referring to the actual stabbing. What does everyone think? Was Wormtongue capable of such an act?
Hmm.... I think way back to the first time I read it, I just thought Saruman was berating Wormtongue by throwing the possibility of him eating Lotho out there. But maybe he did eat him. I'm sure Wormtongue thought about eating Eowyn back in his days at Meduseld....
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Old 06-09-2017, 07:52 PM   #24
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I'm sure Wormtongue thought about eating Eowyn back in his days at Meduseld....


That is all.
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Old 08-21-2017, 07:21 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ElanorGamgee
I'm sure Wormtongue thought about eating Eowyn back in his days at Meduseld....


That is all.
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Old 08-21-2017, 08:36 PM   #26
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I would say Wormtongue at that stage was capable of cannibalism but only as a last resort, and once the murder victim disintegrates enough to be unrecognisable. I see him more as feeding on rotten stuff, being forbidden to touch Saruman's food, which would prompt the comment.
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Old 08-22-2017, 05:54 AM   #27
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I would say Wormtongue at that stage was capable of cannibalism but only as a last resort, and once the murder victim disintegrates enough to be unrecognisable. I see him more as feeding on rotten stuff, being forbidden to touch Saruman's food, which would prompt the comment.
And a nice little means for Saruman to assert his superiority in a twisted way. Wormtongue was already debased in having that as his new name. Leave it to Saruman to find a way to further knock him down.
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Old 08-22-2017, 06:57 AM   #28
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And a nice little means for Saruman to assert his superiority in a twisted way. Wormtongue was already debased in having that as his new name. Leave it to Saruman to find a way to further knock him down.
Actually, now I begin to wonder how much my interpretation was influenced by the Russian translation of his name, Rot-mouth (and Saruman calls him Rot at the end). But in any case I still imagine him feeding off inedible quality food.
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Old 08-22-2017, 08:53 AM   #29
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Granted, he'd been ordered apparently to stay out of sight and do his dirty work at night, but surely there was some sort of wretched food he could subsist on. There were the Shirrif-houses, and local Hobbit-holes and houses would have had gardens he could raid.
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And in this wonderful thread, SpM and I have it out, where I and a few others again put on a defense attorney hat and try to get Gollum off baby-eating charges.
The parallel to Gollum really is quite striking.
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Old 08-22-2017, 09:03 AM   #30
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The parallel to Gollum really is quite striking.
The degree of desire is not comparable, since the One Ring had a power to cause obsession beyond one's ability to resist, but it seems greed and a wanting for something he did not have (Éowyn) could indeed have put Wormtongue into a similar state as Gollum.
Bending all one's will toward "possession" has a degrading effect, regardless of the initial motives behind the want.
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Old 08-22-2017, 11:08 AM   #31
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The degree of desire is not comparable, since the One Ring had a power to cause obsession beyond one's ability to resist, but it seems greed and a wanting for something he did not have (Éowyn) could indeed have put Wormtongue into a similar state as Gollum.
Bending all one's will toward "possession" has a degrading effect, regardless of the initial motives behind the want.
Quite right.

I primarily meant in the behavioral and physical outcome sense. Their behaviors in their degraded states had a resemblance.

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Old 08-25-2017, 12:48 PM   #32
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I primarily meant in the behavioral and physical outcome sense. Their behaviors in their degraded states had a resemblance.
Hm. Both Wormtongue and Gollum had had occasion to be around Orcs, and possibly observe their culture. Cannibalism seems to have been something they practiced. Curiously, it's presented as something of an insult, as in the quarrel between Saruman's Uruk-hai and the Orcs of Mordor:

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'Swine is it? How do you folk like being called swine by the muck-rakers of a dirty little wizard? It's orc-flesh they eat, I'll warrant'
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or, a threat to induce compliance, as with Shagrat to Snaga at Cirith Ungol:

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'You must go, or I'll eat you.'
ROTK The Tower of Cirith Ungol

Perhaps hearing of, or maybe even watching Orcs eat one one another could have helped inure both to such an act, if it was down to either that or starving.
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Old 08-25-2017, 04:11 PM   #33
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Hm. Both Wormtongue and Gollum had had occasion to be around Orcs, and possibly observe their culture. Cannibalism seems to have been something they practiced.
I wonder how often that happened.

Was it something used as a punishment?
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