The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-26-2006, 12:52 PM   #1
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Pipe Thuringwethil

I've just dragged up an old thread here. Why? I was looking at a design for a Sim based on the character of Thuringwethil and got to thinking what a fabulous costume this would make (no time for Oxonmoot though ).

Anyway, reading this old thread it seemed to dismiss the idea that Thuringwethil was a vampire of the form that could transform from bat to human (as in the Dracula story). However, my opinion is why wouldn't Tolkien draw from that source? He was known to be an avid reader of fantasy and sci-fi and I'm sure that Dracula can't have escaped his attention. As anyone else knows, tales of vampires are incredibly attractive and that image of the vampire is one etched on our minds ever since Bram Stoker wrote his novel.

Looking at the Sil:

Quote:
He turned aside therefore at Sauron's isle, as they ran northward again, and he took thence the ghastly wolf-hame of Draugluin, and the bat-fell of Thuringwethil. She was the messenger of Sauron, and was wont to fly in vampire's form to Angband; and her great fingered wings were barbed at each joint's end with an iron claw. Clad in these dreadful garments Huan and Luthien ran through Taur-nu-Fuin, and all things fled before them.
Beren seeing their approach was dismayed; and he wondered, for he had heard the voice of Tinuviel, and he thought it now a phantom for his ensnaring.
and:

Quote:
By the counsel of Huan and the arts of Luthien he was arrayed now in the name of Draugluin, and she in the winged fell of Thuringwethil. Beren became in all things like a werewolf to look upon, save that in his eyes there shone a spirit grim indeed but clean; and horror was in his glance as he saw upon his flank a bat-like creature clinging with creased wings. Then howling under the moon he leaped down the hill, and the bat wheeled and flittered above him.
The 'skin' of Thuringwethil is clearly a bat-like shape, and it must also have fit human/elf form if Luthien was able to wear it and be so well disguised. I don't see much here to detract from the 20th century image of the vampire - a human form with bat wings.

Thuringwethil also means 'Woman of Secret Shadow'. A reference to vampires, in modern myth, not having shadows?

I think Tolkien was like a lot of us and was inspired by that image of the scary vampire. And there's plenty of info here to inspire a cool costume too.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2006, 02:35 AM   #2
Macalaure
Fading Fëanorion
 
Macalaure's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: roaming the forests of Nan Elmoth unmindfully
Posts: 2,749
Macalaure is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Macalaure is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwende
The 'skin' of Thuringwethil is clearly a bat-like shape, and it must also have fit human/elf form if Luthien was able to wear it and be so well disguised. I don't see much here to detract from the 20th century image of the vampire - a human form with bat wings.
Since Draugluin evidently didn't have human/elf form, I don't think Thuringwethil necessarily had to. She maybe roughly had the same size, in order for Lúthien to fit in, and the rest is left to 'the arts of Lúthien' - however we may exactly picture this.
Given the few information we have about her (your two quotes are all we have, if I'm not mistaken, so we don't even know how she died!) we seem to be quite free to imagine her in whatever way we want.
__________________
D'ici bas je perçois ma demeure, ses prairies éternelles perdues dans les nuées.
Lŕ oů naissent les couleurs nouvelles,
Lŕ oů mon coeur et mon âme sont restés.
Macalaure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2006, 06:39 AM   #3
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
Since Draugluin evidently didn't have human/elf form, I don't think Thuringwethil necessarily had to. She maybe roughly had the same size, in order for Lúthien to fit in, and the rest is left to 'the arts of Lúthien' - however we may exactly picture this.
Given the few information we have about her (your two quotes are all we have, if I'm not mistaken, so we don't even know how she died!) we seem to be quite free to imagine her in whatever way we want.
I don't know if Luthien had the ability to alter her form though, even her mother Melian had to 'fix' into an elf shape in order to marry Thingol, so I'm not so sure we could even say that she may have inherited any ability like that.

I could see though that the 'skin' of Thuringwethil may have been of a shifting, mercurial nature as Tolkien seems to describe it that way. Firstly he says "vampire's form" which suggests a human shape, then "bat-like" which might be a form which would merely suggest a bat and then finally "bat" as Luthien in this 'skin' is in the air. This is actually very like the mercurial nature of the vampires of 20th century literature, so maybe it was the 'skin' which could change shape rather than Luthien?

It would have been funny if Thuringwethil had battled Gandalf as then we would have had an additional Balrog style debate to get our fangs into.

Actually, could Balrogs also have possessed the ability to alter their form?
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2006, 08:32 AM   #4
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,038
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Good to see this topic brought up again, Lal, as there is always room to expand upon previous discussions.

I will be back later with more (not much time these days for online stuff), but for now I pass on this idea: Are winged creatures in Tolkien more often associated with the dark side?

Angels traditionally had/have wings, but I don't think the Ainur did/do. Or the Valar. My Silm is shakely, so I could be wrong, but would Tolkien omit this simply to give his mythology a more independent status or did he tend to ascribe wings to evil creatures? Other than the Eagles, who of course are winged (comes with the genes), how did Tolkien treat wings? Were they something to be feared? Crows were nasty spies. Is there something about flying that inspires fear or at least great discomfort?

For a costume, I can envision a little something in black leather, svelte, with a few assessories to complement the metal claws. Hold the ugly face unless you're really going for authenticity. And while Oxonmoot might be a bit tight, Hallowe'en might fit the schedule more plausibly.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2006, 09:45 AM   #5
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Are winged creatures in Tolkien more often associated with the dark side?

Angels traditionally had/have wings, but I don't think the Ainur did/do. Or the Valar. My Silm is shakely, so I could be wrong, but would Tolkien omit this simply to give his mythology a more independent status or did he tend to ascribe wings to evil creatures? Other than the Eagles, who of course are winged (comes with the genes), how did Tolkien treat wings? Were they something to be feared? Crows were nasty spies. Is there something about flying that inspires fear or at least great discomfort?
There are the Eagles in LotR & The Sil, but there are also gulls, & a couple of ravens & a thrush in TH on the good side. Most birds are on the 'good' side. Apart from the Crebain & some flies with the eye of mordor on them, I can't think of any natural flying creatures that are evil. It is only 'monsters' like dragons, Thuringwethil & the Fell Beasts which can fly & are 'evil' - & one assumes they were bred to be so.

There are many more four-(& two-) legged & wingless creatures on the side of evil.

As an aside, Angels weren't always depicted with wings, & where they are shown as having them it is symbolic of their role - they move (as 'messengers', angeloi) between heaven, symbolically 'above', & earth, symbolically 'below' - hence in the 'vertical' plane.

Valar & Ainur were originally akin to the Pagan gods - very few of whom had wings (only Mercury springs to mind), so its not surprinsing they are wingless.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2006, 10:23 AM   #6
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
Angels traditionally had/have wings, but I don't think the Ainur did/do. Or the Valar. My Silm is shakely, so I could be wrong, but would Tolkien omit this simply to give his mythology a more independent status or did he tend to ascribe wings to evil creatures? Other than the Eagles, who of course are winged (comes with the genes), how did Tolkien treat wings? Were they something to be feared? Crows were nasty spies. Is there something about flying that inspires fear or at least great discomfort?
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
There are the Eagles in LotR & The Sil, but there are also gulls, & a couple of ravens & a thrush in TH on the good side. Most birds are on the 'good' side. Apart from the Crebain & some flies with the eye of mordor on them, I can't think of any natural flying creatures that are evil. It is only 'monsters' like dragons, Thuringwethil & the Fell Beasts which can fly & are 'evil' - & one assumes they were bred to be so.
Neatly leaving Balrogs out of it due to not having wings, that's still a substantial amount of winged beasts that are on the side of darkness, especially given their size and potential for damage. I seem to remember reading a letter of Tolkien's where he associated planes with bad things, possibly written during WWII to Christopher? Wasn't he a bit worried about him having joined the RAF? So maybe Tolkien did indeed associate most large winged beasts with evil. Certainly unnatural or supernatural winged creatures, as vampires, dragons and fell beasts were, unlike the Eagles.



Quote:
Originally Posted by bethberry
For a costume, I can envision a little something in black leather, svelte, with a few assessories to complement the metal claws. Hold the ugly face unless you're really going for authenticity. And while Oxonmoot might be a bit tight, Hallowe'en might fit the schedule more plausibly.
That might indeed be more suitable for Hallowe'en as I think I'd look less like one of the Ainur and more like a DFS sofa. It could be an easy costume for anyone with goth outfits left from a mis-spent youth (or indeed in current wardrobe rotation). The claws could be those pointy finger ring thingys that are like long silver claws.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2006, 11:04 AM   #7
Rune Son of Bjarne
Odinic Wanderer
 
Rune Son of Bjarne's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Under the Raven banner, between tall Odin and white Christ!
Posts: 3,879
Rune Son of Bjarne is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Rune Son of Bjarne is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Send a message via AIM to Rune Son of Bjarne Send a message via MSN to Rune Son of Bjarne
I think the skin change is of a magical sort more than just simple disguises. I cannot say how Luthien and Beren transform into these creatures, because it is not told. But "magical" skin change is not an unknown thing. In alot of the old legends and in Norse Mythology you see this happen and are never told exactly how it is done.

In the Volsunga Sage (Vřlsung Saga) Fafnir turns into a dragon after killing his brother out of greed. In other stories we are told how the god Freya posses a swan skin, wich enables her to become a swan and fly. Or how ordinary people puts on wolf skins and becomes a wolf (or werewolfs).

So I am kind of agreeing with Macalaure
__________________
No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical - Niels Bohr

Rune Son of Bjarne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2006, 08:11 PM   #8
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,038
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Apart from the Crebain & some flies with the eye of mordor on them, I can't think of any natural flying creatures that are evil. It is only 'monsters' like dragons, Thuringwethil & the Fell Beasts which can fly & are 'evil' - & one assumes they were bred to be so.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal
Neatly leaving Balrogs out of it due to not having wings, that's still a substantial amount of winged beasts that are on the side of darkness, especially given their size and potential for damage. . . . So maybe Tolkien did indeed associate most large winged beasts with evil. Certainly unnatural or supernatural winged creatures, as vampires, dragons and fell beasts were, unlike the Eagles.
Perhaps the clue does not lie in wingedness per se but in unnatural wingedness or wingedness of gigantic proportions. The first might be seen as a kind of worshipping of false mechanical power, a denial of an animal's proper sphere and an appropriating to themselves the power and agency that four limbed critters should not have. The second might be related in that it defies laws of gravity. Just how big would a dragon's wings have to be to lift him? What size of muscles and weight of bone?

In contravening a natural order lies at least the beginning of taint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
the rest is left to 'the arts of Lúthien' - however we may exactly picture this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune
I think the skin change is of a magical sort more than just simple disguises. I cannot say how Luthien and Beren transform into these creatures, because it is not told. But "magical" skin change is not an unknown thing. In alot of the old legends and in Norse Mythology you see this happen and are never told exactly how it is done.
This takes us into the conflicted territory of elven 'magic' versus 'elven art.'

But I really ought to take a peek at The silm references myself. The very fact of having the phrase "vampire form" suggests that the author of The Silm assumed his readers would understand the word. Otherwise, why not simply say "bat form"? It's sort of like having your cake and eating it too.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.

Last edited by Bęthberry; 08-27-2006 at 08:28 PM.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2006, 12:38 PM   #9
ninja91
Shade of Carn Dűm
 
ninja91's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Chozo Ruins.
Posts: 439
ninja91 has just left Hobbiton.
Is it known if Thuringwethil had any offspring? Sorry for the thread interruption, I do that alot...
__________________
Quote:
The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dűr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it...
ninja91 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 02:04 AM   #10
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune
In the Volsunga Sage (Vřlsung Saga) Fafnir turns into a dragon after killing his brother out of greed. In other stories we are told how the god Freya posses a swan skin, wich enables her to become a swan and fly. Or how ordinary people puts on wolf skins and becomes a wolf (or werewolfs).
So in the latter cases, its the skin which possesses the qualities of the beast it suggests? That to me suggests that its not the wearer but the skin which has the 'powers'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
The very fact of having the phrase "vampire form" suggests that the author of The Silm assumed his readers would understand the word. Otherwise, why not simply say "bat form"? It's sort of like having your cake and eating it too.
Indeed. A vampire is a very specific creature or being. It is at once both human and bat. We wouldn't say 'werewolf' when we meant 'wolf', after all. I also find that Tolkien had a very good awareness of the Gothic form, evident in his depictions of Moria, the Nazgul and the high, dark adventures and perils of Beren and Luthien in Angband.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninja91
Is it known if Thuringwethil had any offspring? Sorry for the thread interruption, I do that alot...
Don't be sorry! In fact, that could be a very good basis for some fan fic or an RPG character!

We've pondered where the Fell Beasts came from, what sort of creatures they were, there's always the possibility they are some kind of cross-bred vampire/dragon/drake.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 07:29 AM   #11
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,038
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
A contemplation of bones

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
I also find that Tolkien had a very good awareness of the Gothic form, evident in his depictions of Moria, the Nazgul and the high, dark adventures and perils of Beren and Luthien in Angband.
There's Goths and then there's Goths.

Tolkien certainly was aware of the Germanic/Swedish traditions of Goths, those barbarians at the gate. It is in fact interesting that for a profoundly devout Catholic he had such a fascination for the northern barbarian cultures and mythology.

Then there's the 19C version of Gothic, which has led to the 20C goth cults, that mix of horror and romanticism. I think we'd be hard put to find camp menace and the predatory femme fatale (well, Eowyn is pale but ... ) in Tolkien--unless we think Shelob. Nor is there much theatricality or self-dramatisation in Tolkien. However, it is fascinating to see what other features of Gothic romanticism Tolkien exudes. Graveyards, ruins, curses and cursed peoples, nightmares and dark visions, a brooding preoccupation with eternity and loneliness, a direct encounter with horror, morbidity, death and the macabre. Tolkien is even apolitical, as much of goth culture is. Would this arise from his familiarity with Catholic aesthetics?

The only thing which Tolkien has which post 19C gothic romanticism does not have is hope.

But you've got my rpg sense tingling, Lal.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 08:03 AM   #12
ninja91
Shade of Carn Dűm
 
ninja91's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Chozo Ruins.
Posts: 439
ninja91 has just left Hobbiton.
Lalwende, or anyone else, what is the difference between dragon and drake? And if they were a crossbreed with vampires, where are all the pureblood vampires and dragons? (besides smaug?)
__________________
Quote:
The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dűr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it...
ninja91 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 09:15 AM   #13
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Tolkien is even apolitical, as much of goth culture is. Would this arise from his familiarity with Catholic aesthetics?
Indeed. Certainly a lot of the 20th (and beyond) century popular Goth culture (right from its origins in Bram Stoker) is drawn with a heavy debt to Catholicism. Not only images of crucifixes but also elements in aesthetics taken from decadent mortuary masonry, use of latin, robes, incense, choirs, ritual. Take a look at the Alchemy Gothic range of whatnots and thingummyjigs for Goths and its like looking at a Catholic apparatus/supplies catalogue.

Interestingly Pugin, high priest of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, still influences Gothic design today. He linked his taste in design to his own Catholic faith - and designed the Hall in the village where I grew up, for the Catholic lords of the manor. He influenced William Morris, who in his turn also influenced Tolkien, so there must be a shared taste for the Gothic.

And an interesting aside - another well known Catholic with a taste for the Gothic, Scott, designed the monumental (and I mean that - it's like Gormenghast) Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, whereas the starkly Modernist Catholic Cathedral was designed by Lutyens, an Anglican.

Now I personally think that Gothic has never really gone out of fashion since the late 18th century as interest in horror and fantasy and elaborate 'northern' design is always with us, despite Modernism. There could be a case for giving Tolkien a place on the continuum of great Gothic Art, especially if we think abut his pre-occupation with death, fate, destruction, and creations such as Morgoth (hey, the clue's in the name ), Shelob, Balrogs and Saruman locked in his high tower engaged in Light Breaking experiments. Yes there may not be the Byronic hero figure (or is there???) but then sex is generally glossed over in favour of romance and doomed love.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninja91
Lalwende, or anyone else, what is the difference between dragon and drake? And if they were a crossbreed with vampires, where are all the pureblood vampires and dragons? (besides smaug?)
Drakes are more or less interchangeable with dragons. Cold Drakes don't make fire, but fire-drakes do.

The dragons could have been driven back into the Northern wastes, although we don't know what sort of creatures are hidden in the lands under Sauron's control. Tolkien never says if Smaug was the last of all dragons, and he only mentions an actual vampire once, in the form of Thuringwethil, though I think Sauron once appeared as a vampire?
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 09:27 AM   #14
Anguirel
Byronic Brand
 
Anguirel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: The 1590s
Posts: 2,825
Anguirel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
especially if we think abut his pre-occupation with death, fate, destruction, and creations such as Morgoth (hey, the clue's in the name ), Shelob, Balrogs and Saruman locked in his high tower engaged in Light Breaking experiments. Yes there may not be the Byronic hero figure (or is there???) but then sex is generally glossed over in favour of romance and doomed love.
Ooo, ooo, Noldor Noldor Noldor! Admittedly these are only really represented by Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings, but otherwise Feanor and the brood are as Byronic as it gets...which is why I love them, or partly why. Yes, I agree Italian mistresses are thin on the ground in Tolkien, but Celegorm has urges enough for eight, and Celebrimbor beats Ada Lovelace hollow...

Interesting your bringing up of Saruman; certainly the film cultivated a certain "Dr Frankenstein" feel about him.
__________________
Among the friendly dead, being bad at games did not seem to matter
-Il Lupo Fenriso
Anguirel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 07:10 PM   #15
Rune Son of Bjarne
Odinic Wanderer
 
Rune Son of Bjarne's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Under the Raven banner, between tall Odin and white Christ!
Posts: 3,879
Rune Son of Bjarne is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Rune Son of Bjarne is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Send a message via AIM to Rune Son of Bjarne Send a message via MSN to Rune Son of Bjarne
sorry if I am talking about something which is considered a finished part of the conversation, but I at times I get easily confused.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
So in the latter cases, its the skin which possesses the qualities of the beast it suggests? That to me suggests that its not the wearer but the skin which has the 'powers'.
Yes in the later cases it is the skin which possesses the powers, but that doesn't really matter does it? Unless you mean that because the skin possesses the power then the humans shape won't change. I am of that opinion that the skin might be capable of changing the shape of the human/elf when they were it. It might not be the case every time, but I am not sure that the skin had human/elven shape.

This might be kind of irrelevant, but it is on a level where I can participate so I thought I would add it.

about Goths. . . It has always fascinated me with all these different kinds of Goths. There was the tripe people who may/may not have been inspiration for the Rohirim , then there is the Goth that came with black romanticism as you have already said. We must not forget the inhabitancies of the Swedish isle of Gotland. When this island was under Danish rule the Danish King took the title of: Lord of the Goths. . . again not that relevant, but kind of fun.
__________________
No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical - Niels Bohr

Rune Son of Bjarne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 04:08 AM   #16
Huinesoron
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Huinesoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: The Fair City of Nargothrond
Posts: 510
Huinesoron is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Inspired by comments on this thread, I've just gone looking for a thread on vampires, and this seems to be the closest the Downs has had. So... what did Morgoth's vampires actually look like? Quote collection time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silm: Of Beren and Luthien
And immediately [Sauron] took the form of a vampire, great as a dark cloud across the moon, and he fled, dripping blood from his throat upon the trees...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silm: Of Beren and Luthien
[Huan] took thence... the bat-fell of Thuringwethil. She was the messenger of Sauron, and was wont to fly in vampire's form to Angband; and her great fingered wings were barbed at each joint's end with and iron claw. Clad in these dreadful garments... Lúthien....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silm: Of Beren and Luthien
By the counsel of Huan and the arts of Lúthien he was arrayed now in the hame of Draugluin, and she in the winged fell of Thuringwethil. Beren became in all things like a werewolf to look upon, save that in his eyes there shone a spirit grim indeed but clean; and horror was in his glance as he saw upon his flank a bat-like creature clinging with creased wings. Then howling under the moon he leaped down the hill, and the bat wheeled and flittered above him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silm: Of Beren and Luthien
casting back her foul raiment [Luthien] stood forth, small before the might of Carcharoth, but radiant and terrible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silm: Of Beren and Luthien
Lúthien was stripped of her disguise by the will of Morgoth
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto X
A vampire shape with pinions vast
screeching leaped from the ground, and passed,
its dark blood dripping on the trees;
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XII
the other was a batlike garb
with mighty fingered wings, a barb
like iron nail at each joint's end -
such wings as their dark cloud extend
against the moon, when in the sky
from Deadly Nightshade screeching fly
Sauron's messengers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XII
His dreadful counsel then they took,
and their own gracious forms forsook;
in werewolf fell and batlike wing
prepared to robe them, shuddering.
An elvish enchantment Lúthien wrought,
lest raiment foul with evil fraught
to dreadful madness drive their hearts;
and there she wrought with elvish arts
a strong defence, a binding power,
singing until the midnight hour.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XII
a look of horror as he sees
a batlike form crawl to its knees
and drag its creased and creaking wings.
Then howling undermoon he springs
fourfooted, swift, from stone to stone,
from hill to plain - but not alone:
a dark shape down the slope doth skim,
and wheeling flitters over him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XII
upon its back there folded lay
a crumpled thing that blinked at day.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XIII
and o'er it batlike in wide rings
a reeling shadow slowly wings.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XIII
But what is this that crawls beside,
slinking as if 'twould neath thee hide?
Though wingéd creatures to and fro
unnumbered pass here, all I know.
I know not this. Stay, vampire, stay!
I like not thy kin nor thee. Come, say
what sneaking errand thee doth bring,
thou wingéd vermin, to the king!
Small matter, I doubt not, if thou stay
or enter, or if in my play
I crush thee like a fly on wall,
or bite thy wings and let thee crawl.'
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV
a form bat-wingéd, silent, flew
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV
thou foolish, frail, bat-shapen thing,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV
Slow-wheeling o'er his iron crown,
reluctantly, shivering and small,
Beren there saw the shadow fall,
and droop before the hideous throne,
a weak and trembling thing, alone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV
'Liar art thou, who shalt not weave
deceit before mine eyes. Now leave
thy form and raiment false, and stand
revealed, delivered unto my hand!'

There came a slow and shuddering change:
the batlike raiment dark and strange
was loosed, and slowly shrank and fell,
quivering. She stood revealed in hell.
What does all that tell us? It's abundantly clear that Luthien takes the form of a large, iron-clawed bat; her form, flight, and raiment are all described as 'batlike'. (Amusingly, the wings are also described as a dark cloud... #DoVampiresHaveWings.) Tolkien paints a clear picture of her 'creased and creaking wings', the screeching cry of the vampire (Morgoth calls Luthien 'thou shrieking waif'), and the pitiful, crumpled shape of her. She also has trouble with daylight.

(Incidentally, I had forgotten just how beautiful the Lay of Leithian can be - and how much Luthien and Huan tell Beren off when they catch up with him. ^_^)

There is no indication in either text that the vampires (Sauron, Thuringwethil, or Luthien) ever take a non-bat vampire form - on the page. But there do seem to be hints that they can. The bat-fell is repeatedly described as 'raiment', ie, clothes; moreover, Luthien has to take steps to counter its evil effects, lest it drive her to 'dreadful madness'. This could be purely the fact that it's the skin of an evil creature (and the same is said of Draugluin's fell, which we have no indication is anything other than his skin), but it gives us space to wonder.

The next indicator is the description of Thuringwethil herself: she 'was wont to fly in vampire's form to Angband'. That suggests that she had another option - and Morgoth kind of supports this. (I know, I know - who looks to Morgoth's words for evidence?!) He is very clear that Luthien should remove her 'form and raiment false' - two separate items. Yes, it could be poetry - but it could also indicate that she had to use the transformative power of the bat-fell, and then take the thing off.

Staying with the testament of the evil powers: Carcharoth doesn't recognise 'Thuringwethil', and neither does Morgoth, who instantly knows she's lying about who she is. Unfortunately, this is only attested in the Lay, where Thuringwethil's name doesn't appear until Luthien uses it - it may be an invention of hers. But if we can assume that there was also a vampire named Thuringwethil, then Carcharoth's claim that he knows all the vampires means that Luthien's bat-guise looks different to Thuringwethil's.

Another point: when Morgoth's power removed Luthien's bat-raiment, it 'slowly shrank and fell'. Fell is obvious, but shrank? Unless we are to assume Morgoth's word has dessicatory powers, I think the logical assumption is that it also earlier grew to cover Luthien - and that indicates some kind of innate enchantment, not merely a flayed skin.

Finally: there is a previous instance of elves disguising themselves as the enemy - Finrod. The Silm says this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silm: Of Beren and Luthien
they came upon a company of Orcs, and slew them all in their camp by night; and they took their gear and their weapons. By the arts of Felagund their own forms and faces were changed into the likeness of Orcs
The Lay is even more explicit:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto VIII
The poisoned spears, the bows of horn,
the crooked swords their foes had borne
they took; and loathing each him clad
in Angband's raiment foul and sad.
They smeared their hands and faces fair
with pigment dark; the matted hair
all lank and black from goblin head
they shore, and joined it thread by thread
with Elvish skill. As each one leers
at each dismayed, about his ears
he hangs it noisome, shuddering.

Then Felagund a spell did sing
of changing and of shifting shape;
their ears grew hideous, and agape
their mouths did start, and like a fang
each tooth became, as slow he sang.
Finrod and company didn't wear their enemies' skin: they took their weapons and armour, and tied the Orcs' hair into their own. But for the rest, they used face-paint to darken their skin, and enchantment to change their appearance. Shape-shifting by what could almost be called sympathetic magic - using just enough of the creature you want to become to support the change - is the clear pattern here. (Also: Professor, what exactly do 'hideous' ears look like? Do you just... have a thing about ears?)

So: there is at least some support for the idea of shapeshifting vampires. But what form do they shift into? For that, we have absolutely no evidence. The simplest conclusion might be that a 'vampire' is actually anyone who has worn a bat-fell long enough to be driven to evil madness by it (shades of the Nazgul here, which could be evidence in support), but on the other hand, that isn't exactly Morgoth's style. On the other other hand... the only forms of shapeshifting fully attested in Middle-earth are a) Ainur (mostly Sauron), and b) elves wearing their enemies' kit and using magic to disguise the rest of them. If we want a shapeshifting vampire, then the most 'canonical' form she can take is a woman who dons batlike raiment and flies from Taur-nu-Fuin to Angband, darkening the moon and striking terror into the hearts of Elves and Men.

hS
Huinesoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2018, 10:36 AM   #17
Victariongreyjoy
Animated Skeleton
 
Victariongreyjoy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 39
Victariongreyjoy has just left Hobbiton.
Thuringwethil

I always envision her bat form something like this:

Victariongreyjoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-28-2018, 01:55 PM   #18
denethorthefirst
Haunting Spirit
 
denethorthefirst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 63
denethorthefirst has just left Hobbiton.
It was always my impression that Thuringwethil was simply a Maia of Melkor, obviously less powerful than the first (Ungoliant, Gothmog, Sauron) or second tier (the Balrogs), maybe on par with the Boldogs. The "Bat" was simply the form she chose, nothing more, nothing less. Tolkien may have been inspired by vampire-folklore, even Sauron has a brief stint as a vampire in the First Age, but Tolkien only borrowed some characteristics and outward appearances. Neither Thuringwethil nor Sauron were "Vampires" as we commonly understand them and as they appear in modern horror fiction. I also think that such "vampires" wouldn't fit in Tolkiens world, it just feels completely alien to Middle-Earth, but thats just my feeling.

Last edited by denethorthefirst; 04-28-2018 at 02:01 PM.
denethorthefirst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 12:08 AM   #19
Nerwen
Wisest of the Noldor
 
Nerwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ˙˙˙ssɐןƃ ƃuıʞooן ǝɥʇ ɥƃnoɹɥʇ
Posts: 6,477
Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Nerwen
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron
There is no indication in either text that the vampires (Sauron, Thuringwethil, or Luthien) ever take a non-bat vampire form - on the page. But there do seem to be hints that they can. The bat-fell is repeatedly described as 'raiment', ie, clothes; moreover, Luthien has to take steps to counter its evil effects, lest it drive her to 'dreadful madness'. This could be purely the fact that it's the skin of an evil creature (and the same is said of Draugluin's fell, which we have no indication is anything other than his skin), but it gives us space to wonder.

The next indicator is the description of Thuringwethil herself: she 'was wont to fly in vampire's form to Angband'. That suggests that she had another option - and Morgoth kind of supports this. (I know, I know - who looks to Morgoth's words for evidence?!) He is very clear that Luthien should remove her 'form and raiment false' - two separate items. Yes, it could be poetry - but it could also indicate that she had to use the transformative power of the bat-fell, and then take the thing off

Another point: when Morgoth's power removed Luthien's bat-raiment, it 'slowly shrank and fell'. Fell is obvious, but shrank? Unless we are to assume Morgoth's word has dessicatory powers, I think the logical assumption is that it also earlier grew to cover Luthien - and that indicates some kind of innate enchantment, not merely a flayed skin.
Quote:
Finrod and company didn't wear their enemies' skin: they took their weapons and armour, and tied the Orcs' hair into their own. But for the rest, they used face-paint to darken their skin, and enchantment to change their appearance. Shape-shifting by what could almost be called sympathetic magic - using just enough of the creature you want to become to support the change - is the clear pattern here. (Also: Professor, what exactly do 'hideous' ears look like? Do you just... have a thing about ears?)

So: there is at least some support for the idea of shapeshifting vampires. But what form do they shift into? For that, we have absolutely no evidence. The simplest conclusion might be that a 'vampire' is actually anyone who has worn a bat-fell long enough to be driven to evil madness by it (shades of the Nazgul here, which could be evidence in support), but on the other hand, that isn't exactly Morgoth's style. On the other other hand... the only forms of shapeshifting fully attested in Middle-earth are a) Ainur (mostly Sauron), and b) elves wearing their enemies' kit and using magic to disguise the rest of them. If we want a shapeshifting vampire, then the most 'canonical' form she can take is a woman who dons batlike raiment and flies from Taur-nu-Fuin to Angband, darkening the moon and striking terror into the hearts of Elves and Men.

hS
What Tolkien is using here is a very common myth/folklore motif- the idea of magical shapeshifting that requires a material component, typically something worn, such as a skin, cloak, helmet, belt etc. This has been mentioned further up the page, but only in connection with Norse myth, whereas it's actually pretty much universal. He seems to employ it in the usual way, too- I don't see any reason to doubt that the "vampire's form" referred to is the bat-like shape resulting from such a transformation.

In support of this, "Vampire" can be short for vampire bat- that is, the real-world animal. This usage can be found in most dictionaries, and was more common formerly- even in the last place you might expect to find it-
Quote:
"I have not seen anything pulled down so quick since I was on the Pampas and had a mare that I was fond of go to grass all in a night. One of those big bats that they call vampires had got at her in the night..."
Bram Stoker, Dracula.

The speaker is comparing the death of his horse, victim of a mundane vampire bat, to that of Lucy, unbeknownst to him the victim of a supernatural, undead vampire (Dracula himself, as a matter of fact). Dramatic irony, and all that. But it shows both usages co-existing in the same novel. Not, of course, that it is simple as Lúthien or Thuringwethil or Sauron transforming into a copy of a real-world vampire bat- the descriptions are clearly of something larger and more monstrous- but to me it indicates the "bat-like creature" could be enough in itself to account for that word "vampire".
__________________
"Even Nerwen wasn't evil in the beginning." –Elmo.
Nerwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 03:31 AM   #20
denethorthefirst
Haunting Spirit
 
denethorthefirst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 63
denethorthefirst has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë View Post
Anyway, reading this old thread it seemed to dismiss the idea that Thuringwethil was a vampire of the form that could transform from bat to human (as in the Dracula story). However, my opinion is why wouldn't Tolkien draw from that source? He was known to be an avid reader of fantasy and sci-fi and I'm sure that Dracula can't have escaped his attention. As anyone else knows, tales of vampires are incredibly attractive and that image of the vampire is one etched on our minds ever since Bram Stoker wrote his novel.
[...]
The 'skin' of Thuringwethil is clearly a bat-like shape, and it must also have fit human/elf form if Luthien was able to wear it and be so well disguised. I don't see much here to detract from the 20th century image of the vampire - a human form with bat wings.

Thuringwethil also means 'Woman of Secret Shadow'. A reference to vampires, in modern myth, not having shadows?

I think Tolkien was like a lot of us and was inspired by that image of the scary vampire. And there's plenty of info here to inspire a cool costume too.
It seems that Thuringwethil was an incarnated Maia, i.e. she was completely bound to her form/hroa and no longer able to leave or change it. After her "death" Luthien then simply skinned her body like a hunter would do with a big animal. Luthien then wore the fur and the head of Thuringwethil like a fur-coat. If we take a bit of acting, absence of harsh daylight and Luthiens "magic" into account, then its altogether plausible that she was able to fool the Orc-Guards or some Boldog-Captain at Angbands Gates that she was Thuringwethil. Yes, its still a bit of a stretch, but its a mythic tale after all.

Last edited by denethorthefirst; 04-29-2018 at 03:47 AM.
denethorthefirst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 04:46 AM   #21
Nerwen
Wisest of the Noldor
 
Nerwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ˙˙˙ssɐןƃ ƃuıʞooן ǝɥʇ ɥƃnoɹɥʇ
Posts: 6,477
Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Nerwen
Quote:
Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
It seems that Thuringwethil was an incarnated Maia, i.e. she was completely bound to her form/hroa and no longer able to leave or change it. After her "death" Luthien then simply skinned her body like a hunter would do with a big animal. Luthien then wore the fur and the head of Thuringwethil like a fur-coat. If we take a bit of acting, absence of harsh daylight and Luthiens "magic" into account, then its altogether plausible that she was able to fool the Orc-Guards or some Boldog-Captain at Angbands Gates that she was Thuringwethil. Yes, its still a bit of a stretch, but its a mythic tale after all.
Lúthien could fly in vampire form, so it is clearly more than a mundane disguise- but see my last post re:shapeshifting in folklore and Huinesoron's with the quotes from the Silmarillion and Lay of Leithian.

I think it pretty clear that Lúthien actually transformed, using "the bat-fell of Thuringwethil" as a basis. Could Thuringwethil herself shapeshift at all? Hard to say, but possibly implied. Does that mean she had a humanoid form resembling the conventional modern idea of a "vampire"? Highly unlikely, I'd say.
__________________
"Even Nerwen wasn't evil in the beginning." –Elmo.
Nerwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 05:39 AM   #22
denethorthefirst
Haunting Spirit
 
denethorthefirst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 63
denethorthefirst has just left Hobbiton.
Well, one could also interpret the "Lay of Leithian" that Thuringwethil wore some kind of elaborate flying apparatus that Luthien then took off her and used for herself ... that would be a somewhat technical explanation but one that would fit with what we know about Arda. The description of the "garb" ("iron nails") seems to point in that direction. Luthien can't change or "transform" (as you put it) her form/hroa no matter how powerful she is, it is not in her nature. So she either took Thuringwethils flying apparatus OR she skinned Thuringwethil and wore her fur. How she would be able to fly while wearing a fur with wings is a bit less believable, but maybe she worked some kind of spell, that would certainly be in her power.
denethorthefirst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 06:28 AM   #23
Inziladun
Gruesome Spectre
 
Inziladun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Heaven's doorstep
Posts: 7,436
Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Quote:
Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
Well, one could also interpret the "Lay of Leithian" that Thuringwethil wore some kind of elaborate flying apparatus that Luthien then took off her and used for herself ... that would be a somewhat technical explanation but one that would fit with what we know about Arda. The description of the "garb" ("iron nails") seems to point in that direction.
I think the point against that idea is the lack of any similar 'apparatus' described in the books. Surely, if such a rig was available, Morgoth (and later, Sauron) would have made some use of it in their wars against the West.
__________________
Music alone proves the existence of God.
Inziladun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 06:52 AM   #24
Nerwen
Wisest of the Noldor
 
Nerwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ˙˙˙ssɐןƃ ƃuıʞooן ǝɥʇ ɥƃnoɹɥʇ
Posts: 6,477
Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Nerwen
Quote:
Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
Well, one could also interpret the "Lay of Leithian" that Thuringwethil wore some kind of elaborate flying apparatus that Luthien then took off her and used for herself ... that would be a somewhat technical explanation but one that would fit with what we know about Arda. The description of the "garb" ("iron nails") seems to point in that direction. Luthien can't change or "transform" (as you put it) her form/hroa no matter how powerful she is, it is not in her nature. So she either took Thuringwethils flying apparatus OR she skinned Thuringwethil and wore her fur. How she would be able to fly while wearing a fur with wings is a bit less believable, but maybe she worked some kind of spell, that would certainly be in her power.
Ah... Okay, denethorthefirst, I've got to say that- respectfully- I totally disagree with this interpretation, don't think it fits at all with "what we know about Arda" (flying machines? Since when?) and am honestly not sure where you're getting these rules about what characters can and can't do. (I think you may perhaps have fallen into the "Tolkien Trap" of believing the "rules" of the Professor's sub-creation to be more finalised and absolute than they actually were).

Anyway, as I said before, shapeshifting which is magical, yet relies on a skin, cloak etc, is very common in folklore worldwide and (I'd say) does fit with the "dark fairytale" quality of the story in question.
__________________
"Even Nerwen wasn't evil in the beginning." –Elmo.
Nerwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 07:23 AM   #25
denethorthefirst
Haunting Spirit
 
denethorthefirst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 63
denethorthefirst has just left Hobbiton.
Well, the Numenoreans are supposed to have Airships and Rockets (HOME 9) and a lot of the Silmarillion actually feels a bit like Science-Fiction when you read between the lines ... the decline in Arda is also technological, the Third Age is medieval and primitive compared to the First and Second Age. But that was not what i meant when i wrote that the "flying apparatus" would "fit" Arda. I meant that this interpretation believably explains how Luthien can "transform" (as you put it) herself and fly even though she does not possess the ability to change her hröa. Luthien is an elven woman and Elves are (like the Dwarves, the Humans, the Orcs, etc.) Incarnates that are bound to their body/hröa and are not able to change them. We may mock the tendency of the Fandom to invent and establish "rules" but that is one of the few hard laws of Ea, established by Tolkien himself in his writings. But: the "rules" can be handwaived away in this particular instance, because the whole Luthien-Beren-tale is (like the rest of the Silmarillion) mythological in nature, embellished and expanded upon by later generations. Over the centuries the tale grew with every generation until Luthien took Thuringwethils fur and actually flew away. Its not meant to be taken altogether literal. The Silmarillion is supposed to be the mythology of Middle-Earth and not an historical account.

Last edited by denethorthefirst; 04-29-2018 at 08:40 AM.
denethorthefirst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2018, 09:49 PM   #26
Nerwen
Wisest of the Noldor
 
Nerwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ˙˙˙ssɐןƃ ƃuıʞooן ǝɥʇ ɥƃnoɹɥʇ
Posts: 6,477
Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Nerwen
Quote:
Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
Well, the Numenoreans are supposed to have Airships and Rockets (HOME 9) and a lot of the Silmarillion actually feels a bit like Science-Fiction when you read between the lines ... the decline in Arda is also technological, the Third Age is medieval and primitive compared to the First and Second Age. But that was not what i meant when i wrote that the "flying apparatus" would "fit" Arda. I meant that this interpretation believably explains how Luthien can "transform" (as you put it) herself and fly even though she does not possess the ability to change her hröa. Luthien is an elven woman and Elves are (like the Dwarves, the Humans, the Orcs, etc.) Incarnates that are bound to their body/hröa and are not able to change them. We may mock the tendency of the Fandom to invent and establish "rules" but that is one of the few hard laws of Ea, established by Tolkien himself in his writings. But: the "rules" can be handwaived away in this particular instance, because the whole Luthien-Beren-tale is (like the rest of the Silmarillion) mythological in nature, embellished and expanded upon by later generations. Over the centuries the tale grew with every generation until Luthien took Thuringwethils fur and actually flew away. Its not meant to be taken altogether literal. The Silmarillion is supposed to be the mythology of Middle-Earth and not an historical account.
But what is the source for incarnates not being able to change their hröa under any circumstances? This is directly contradicated in a number of places, including published material, so if Tolkien said that at a later stage, he certainly wasn't taking everything he'd written into account.

As for your flying apparatus theory- no, I don't find it "believable" at all, in fact in seems decidedly forced to me- sorry.

Edit: I meant to post this before, but seems it got deleted- look, it's true the "Translator Conceit" and allied concepts can, technically, get one out of almost any difficulty- but that's precisely why it needs to be used with discretion, else it just becomes an arbitrary way to dismiss any inconvenient bits of evidence- and I think you're running the risk of that here.
__________________
"Even Nerwen wasn't evil in the beginning." –Elmo.

Last edited by Nerwen; 04-30-2018 at 01:01 AM.
Nerwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2018, 02:22 AM   #27
Huinesoron
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Huinesoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: The Fair City of Nargothrond
Posts: 510
Huinesoron is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerwen View Post
But what is the source for incarnates not being able to change their hröa under any circumstances? This is directly contradicated in a number of places, including published material, so if Tolkien said that at a later stage, he certainly wasn't taking everything he'd written into account.
Concur. From the Lay of Leithian (technically quoted earlier, but I had a lot of quotes up there):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lay of Leithian: Canto VIII
The poisoned spears, the bows of horn,
the crooked swords their foes had borne
they took; and loathing each him clad
in Angband's raiment foul and sad.
They smeared their hands and faces fair
with pigment dark; the matted hair
all lank and black from goblin head
they shore, and joined it thread by thread
with Elvish skill. As each one leers
at each dismayed, about his ears
he hangs it noisome, shuddering.

Then Felagund a spell did sing
of changing and of shifting shape;
their ears grew hideous, and agape
their mouths did start, and like a fang
each tooth became, as slow he sang.
That's genuine shapeshifting, and in the same source as Luthien's transformation. (I'm curious, though, Nerwen: what published material are you thinking of? Nothing springs to mind, assuming you mean 'published in Tolkien's lifetime'.)

As to the Numenorean airships and missiles (and Ironclads!), I've loved those since the moment I found out about them. ^_^ They're an early (late? I think early) exploration of the themes of industrialisation that Tolkien delved into with Saruman and Orthanc.

But... they're also based on a single passage, in a story which was rejected in other particulars (I believe it's the one that features pro-Pharazon Isildur), and shown as a late flowering of Numenor. So projecting them back to the First Age would be highly problematic. You could maybe argue that they were introduced by Sauron, but in that case, why didn't he do the same in the War of the Ring?

... and this is the point where I remember the existence of the Mordor Special Mission Flying Corps Emblem, which means Sauron did have an air force. But the point still stands: where were they during the fighting in Gondor? Either it was just a term for the Nazgul, or they were unable to move around during daytime - which suggests that the Flying Corps were actually vampires/vampire bats. We know bats are part of the forces of darkness from The Hobbit, and Nerwen's note that 'vampire' can be short for 'vampire bat' suggests the possibility that these were in fact the debased vampires of the Elder Days.

In which case... could they shapeshift?

hS
Huinesoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2018, 02:41 AM   #28
Nerwen
Wisest of the Noldor
 
Nerwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ˙˙˙ssɐןƃ ƃuıʞooן ǝɥʇ ɥƃnoɹɥʇ
Posts: 6,477
Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Nerwen
I rather think The Hobbit was published in Tolkien's lifetime, don't you?
__________________
"Even Nerwen wasn't evil in the beginning." –Elmo.
Nerwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2018, 02:55 AM   #29
Huinesoron
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Huinesoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: The Fair City of Nargothrond
Posts: 510
Huinesoron is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerwen View Post
I rather think The Hobbit was published in Tolkien's lifetime, don't you?
:O Perhaps you've uncovered a deep conspiracy to misrepresent the publication date of the very foundation of Middle-earth!

Or perhaps I just can't figure out who you're OH it's Beorn and now I feel silly.

Anyway, yeah: shapeshifting is a thing.

Does this mean that if Galadriel went and skinned Beorn - or, for the sake of propriety, one of the later, less-Good beornings - she'd be able to duplicate her old friend's trick and turn herself into a bear...?

hS
Huinesoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2018, 03:24 AM   #30
denethorthefirst
Haunting Spirit
 
denethorthefirst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 63
denethorthefirst has just left Hobbiton.
Beorn is the exception from the rule, he is an enigma like Tom Bombadil. The essentially unexplainable existence of Beorn does not mean that every human in Middle-Earth possessed the ability or the potential to shapeshift. Luthien is a children of Iluvatar and as such not able to change or "transform" her hröa. But: maybe she took the fur of Thuringwethil, worked some spell and wore it like an animated suit. That way she "transforms" and is able to fly without really changing her hröa (under the suit she is still Luthien).

The question remains if and how much of Tolkiens writing (like the Lay of Leithian or HOME in general) is actually "canon". If we accept the Lay of Leithian, then powerful Elf-Lords like Felagung obviously possessed the ability to change their hröa or the hröa of others in small (non-fundamental) ways (length and shape of teeth and ears, etc.). The change in skin-color on the other hand was achieved via make-up/face paint. All in all a rather miniscule change that doesn't alter the hröa in a fundamental way. In my opinion it would be a stretch to call Felagunds lengthening of ears and teeth "shapeshifting" and i don't think that this instance can compare to Luthiens transformation/appropriation of Thuringwethils body.

Last edited by denethorthefirst; 04-30-2018 at 03:56 AM.
denethorthefirst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2018, 05:39 AM   #31
Huinesoron
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Huinesoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: The Fair City of Nargothrond
Posts: 510
Huinesoron is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
I mean... Beorn isn't that much of an enigma. Here's what Gandalf says about him:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalf
He is a skin-changer. He changes his skin: sometimes he is a huge black bear, sometimes he is a great strong black-haired man with huge arms and a great beard. I cannot tell you much more, though that ought to be enough. Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North. I cannot say, though I fancy the last is the true tale.
Okay, Gandalf doesn't know for sure (he's more into elves and hobbits; Men and their ways are Saruman's field), but he thinks it pretty likely that Beorn is a Man who learnt to change his shape (he says a couple of lines on that 'he is under no enchantment but his own'). That means that, regardless of what Beorn is, Gandalf the Grey - Istar, Maia, Ainu - thinks it's possible for a mortal Man, and not even one of the Edain, to learn the trick of transforming himself, and not even with a bear-skin to put on!

We know that Finrod was able to transform himself, Beren, and the Ten well enough to fool Sauron (to a point). We know that, when confronting Sauron, Finrod sang a song "of changing and of shifting shape", which line is quoted directly in the published Silmarillion. We know that Luthien was able to fly wearing Thuringwethil's bat-fell, but that she was also affected by the sun while wearing it. We know that Beren was a convincing enough werewolf to briefly fool Carcharoth while wearing Draugluin's skin. I'm pretty sure that can't have been Beren crawling along under a rug!

All of these last examples come from the Lay of Leithian, but they persist in later texts, and paint a consistent picture: shapeshifting by way of 'sympathetic magic', incorporating part of another creature as a basis for your change, is entirely possible for at least high-ranking Eldar (Luthien is part-Maia, which gives her an advantage, but Finrod is 'just' a Noldo of the Blessed Realm). Innate shapeshifting, whether inborn or learnt, is also possible, and for Men as well as elves - but may be somewhat frowned upon, as the only person we know of who does it is the morally-ambiguous Beorn.

Random thought: could Beorn have learnt his skin-change from Radagast? We know they get on, and Radagast is known to be a 'master of shapes and changes of hue'. Obviously he wouldn't be able to teach a Man the way a Maia might change form... but so far as we know, the Istari couldn't do that any more anyway. Could Radagast have spent his time studying the Enemy's transformation enchantments (that 'no enchantment but his own' implies the possibility that someone could have put it on him), and teaching 'cleaned-up' versions to the locals? (... this is straying a bit far afield, isn't it?)

hS
Huinesoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2018, 08:32 AM   #32
Nerwen
Wisest of the Noldor
 
Nerwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ˙˙˙ssɐןƃ ƃuıʞooן ǝɥʇ ɥƃnoɹɥʇ
Posts: 6,477
Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Nerwen
1420!

Beorn is definitely a Man. There is a direct word-of-author statement to this effect, in The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien: "Though a skin-changer and no doubt a bit of a magician, Beorn was a Man". Enigmatic he may be in other ways, but his species isn't.

And denethorthefirst, in your last post you state flatly that it is impossible for a Child of Ilúvatar to alter its hröa, then in the very next paragraph you admit that Felagund "obviously" could, at least according to The Lay of Leithian, but then you say that doesn't count because it's in "non-fundamental ways". Don't you think your reasoning here is a bit all over the place? I mean, either the thing is a absolute, categorical impossibility or it isn't. I don't think there's a middle ground on that one.
__________________
"Even Nerwen wasn't evil in the beginning." –Elmo.

Last edited by Nerwen; 04-30-2018 at 09:03 AM. Reason: Added comment
Nerwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2018, 10:05 AM   #33
denethorthefirst
Haunting Spirit
 
denethorthefirst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 63
denethorthefirst has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerwen View Post
Don't you think your reasoning here is a bit all over the place?
Yes, quite a bit all over the place But let me explain.

Tolkien stated in his writings (Osanwe-Kenta, among others if i remember correctly) that Elves have a higher degree of control over their hröa than men and other Children of Iluvatar. I always interpreted this higher degree to be the product of their immortality, more powerful spirits, better healthcare, better education, and so on. But, if we take the Lay of Leithian into account, this higher degree of control over the body/bodily functions also allowed powerful elven Lords to change aspects of their hröa (maybe only for a specific amount of time). Is that "shapeshifting"? One certainly can't compare this to the shapeshifting abilities of naturally discarnate beings (like for example the Ainur) who can discard their "raiments" at will, change them fundamentally, form new ones or completely do without one. Be that as it may, I maintain my position that the Lay of Leithian is problematic in this regard. It does not fit what Tolkien wrote in later years and, as it is a very early writing (written in the late 1920s), if it can be considered "canon" is, in my opinion, questionable.

In the Silmarillion the aforementioned passage from the Lay of Leithian reads as follows:

"By the arts of Felagund their own forms and faces were changed into the likeness of Orcs; and thus disguised they came far upon their northward road, and ventured into the western pass, between Ered Wethrin and the Highlands of Taur-nur-Fuin. But Sauron in his towers was ware of them [...] Thus befell the contest of Sauron and Felagund which is renowned. [...] Then Sauron STRIPPED from them their DISGUISE, and they stood before him naked and afraid." (SIL, Page 154).

Oxford Dictionary of English:

strip |strɪp|
verb (strips, stripping, stripped) [ with obj. ]
remove all coverings from: they stripped the bed.
• remove the clothes from (someone): [ with obj. and complement ] : the man had been stripped naked.

disguise |dɪsˈɡʌɪz|
verb [ with obj. ]
give (someone or oneself) a different appearance in order to conceal one's identity: he disguised himself as a girl | Bryn was disguised as a priest | (as adj.disguised) : a disguised reporter.
noun
a means of altering one's appearance to conceal one's identity: I put on dark glasses as a disguise.
• [ mass noun ] the state of having altered one's appearance in order to conceal one's identity: I told them you were a policewoman in disguise.

Following these definitions: a "disguise" only changes the outward appearance, but not the nature of the body and you can't "strip" someone of his body or his face, etc., a "strip" removes outer layers that conceal the body.

So, if Felagund actually changed the hröa of himself and his companions is left quite ambiguous by Tolkien. But it seems that Felagund only worked some kind of spell that created a disguise i.e. an illusion, to create the appearance of orcs without actually changing the hröa. That actually makes a lot more sense, in my opinion.

If high elven Lords can change aspects of their hröa, than why didn't the Istari do the same, or Sauron? Why didn't he grow his missing finger back? If a mere Elf Lord can change the size of his ears, it should be easy for a powerful Ainu like Sauron to recreate a missing finger! Why couldn't Morgoth heal his Scars? And so on. Yes, the permanent scarring, the loss of the finger is of course also symbolical, but still, my point stand. The Istari, Sauron and Morgoth could not do that because they were, at this point in the story, fully INCARNATE just like the Elves, Humans and Dwarves, and because of that no longer able to change their hröa, even if they, because of their greatness, spiritual superiority and their origin, still possessed a significantly higher degree of control over their hröa and its bodily functions, changing it or "shapeshifting" was no longer in their power.

We may have to agree to disagree here, but i dont think that the idea that incarnates can shapeshift or change aspects of their hröa fits Tolkiens world. Regarding Beorn, i always interpreted him, like the giants and talking foxes, to be nothing more than folklore ... yes i know, the translator conceit ...

Last edited by denethorthefirst; 04-30-2018 at 11:47 AM.
denethorthefirst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2018, 11:59 AM   #34
Rhun charioteer
Haunting Spirit
 
Rhun charioteer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 70
Rhun charioteer has just left Hobbiton.
I always did wonder what was Thuringwethil exactly? A Maia? A creature come from Morgoth's discord in the void?
Rhun charioteer is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:51 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.