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Old 12-15-2014, 05:38 PM   #81
denethorthefirst
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Originally Posted by Nerwen View Post
denethor, it's been been pretty well established that Tom is *meant* to be an enigma, so I don't think it makes much sense to claim that he's "really" any given thing.

Or are you just suggesting this as a way he could *theoretically* fit into Middle-earth? I mean without that being "the answer"?
Yes. (That's the short answer )

Of course I know his real world history. See also my post #59

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Originally Posted by denethorthefirst
I think it is quite believable that Elrond forgot about Bombadil, they lived in the same region (the north-west of ME) for roughly 6000 years and maybe met once (maybe only shortly) earlier in that time when Bombadil wasn't as reclusive as later. It's also obvious that they have very different Personalities: why should the worldly, active and engaged leader-politician Elrond "remember" some strange eccentric he met sometime maybe 4000 years ago, when he hasn't seen him since and we take in account everything that happened during that time! Another thing: 6000 years may sound old but compared to Gandalf, Saruman, or even Elves like Cirdan, Galadriel and other Exiles Elrond is rather "young"; everything he knows about the creation and cosmology of ea and arda and a large part of the prehistoric history he knows from second hand sources: of course Bombadil is a "strange creature" for him, Elrond is not all-knowing.
Tolkien didn't explain Bombadil because he understood that a believable mythology needs loose ends and inconsistencies (like the real world Greek and Germanic myths that inspired him - they grew over time and don't always fit together, different parts contradict each other, or make.no sense, there are differences and changes in tone, and so on.)
But there is only one logical in-universe explanation for Bombadil: he has to be an unaffiliated Ainu - nothing else makes sense. The real mistery however is Goldberry. Who is the mysterious "River-Woman"? Just an elven Woman that lived by the River sometime during the great journey westward, or maybe an Ainu of Ulmo that dwelled inside the river and mated with one of the passing Elves (like Melian and Thingol) - eventually her partner died and she returned to Valinor leaving her Daughter with Bombadil?
But whatever his outside history, Ea is supposed to be a fairly consistent world with its own rules and laws. Forget for a moment that were talking about a work of fiction, suspend your disbelief; we are all in middle-earth, learned and cultured Dunedain or Elves: knowing what we do about the cosmology, what would we think about Bombadil? What would be our most logical conclusion regarding his nature? That he must be an unaffiliated/independent Ainu, it's the ONLY in-universe explanation that makes any sense.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:46 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
I never wrote that he's one of those. "Vala" and "Maia" are job descriptions, but both are Ainur (their "race" so to speak). I think hes an unaffiliated Ainu ... Maybe he was a Maia in the beginning, but it's also possible that he was pretty independent from the start.
There's a subtle distinction here.

The Ainur were created first and participated in the Music, then they entered into the world at the beginning of time.

That's not necessarily the case for the other spirits. They need not have been created first and they need not have participated in the Music, and this would make them not-Ainur. Since we know these other spirits did exist, they could just as easily have been created as part of the Music (the Ents definitely were; recall Yavanna's "yet it was in the Song ... some sang to Iluvatar amid the wind and the rain").

That makes them neither Ainur nor Children, and - if they were created as part of the Music - they would also have been already a part of the world when the Valar and the Maiar entered into it, which would also nicely satisfy Tom's claim to be "first"/"eldest"/etc.
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Old 12-15-2014, 06:33 PM   #83
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That's a good point ... So he's not necessarily an Ainu, but he may be a Spirit (Ealar) that became fully incarnated? It's not as neat as the Ainu-explanation because his origin and purpose is still unclear. If he's an Ainu he has a clear origin and maybe even purpose (shape/build arda and guard the children) even if he's a bit negligent in that regard. Or he is some kind of a rogue/neutral Ainu and came to Arda independently and of his own accord, then he may not identify with the purpose of the other Ainu (but he seems to love the creation, so he can't be completely nonchalant about its fate).
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:43 PM   #84
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To be honest I don't think Bombadil is "anything" really. I don't think there's an "in-universe" explanation that causes him to conform to some other established race/species/whatever.

I think he's just Bombadil.
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Old 12-15-2014, 08:34 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
If he's an Ainu he has a clear origin and maybe even purpose (shape/build arda and guard the children) even if he's a bit negligent in that regard.
Of course if he wasn't an Ainu then his apparent negligence wouldn't need to be explained away - because he wouldn't be negligent.

I don't see why he even needs to have a purpose within Ea, to be honest - or at least a purpose that's relevant to the main action of the stories that Tolkien was writing.
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Old 12-16-2014, 01:37 AM   #86
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I don't see why he even needs to have a purpose within Ea, to be honest - or at least a purpose that's relevant to the main action of the stories that Tolkien was writing.
But he did serve purpose to the plot and atmosphere. Without Tom, the hobbits would be stuck in a barrow, or imprisoned by Old Man Willow. The Witch King would not have been defeated without the swords found in the barrows, which was part of Tom's section in the story.

If you are referring to the journey of the Ring to Orodruin as the main action of the stories, then Tom is a lot less important, but his impact on the story was meaningful.

Plot aside, Tom's purpose was adding to the atmosphere of the Old Forest, and to exhibit classical magic.
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Old 12-16-2014, 03:07 AM   #87
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I can't recall right now, but I wonder if the Northern Sea-Kings were familiar with Bombadil, at least as familiar as he seemed with them. I don't think Aragorn spoke much of him, if at all, at the Council.
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Old 12-16-2014, 04:24 AM   #88
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I can't recall right now, but I wonder if the Northern Sea-Kings were familiar with Bombadil, at least as familiar as he seemed with them. I don't think Aragorn spoke much of him, if at all, at the Council.
I don't think Aragorn spoke about him at all. The Northern Sea-kings don't seem like they would have known about him because he wasn't the sort of person to venture anywhere outside of the Old Forest.
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Old 12-16-2014, 08:42 AM   #89
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You could easily satisfy me with an answer that I would accept.
An answer that you would accept? Perhaps you should start referring to yourself in the pompous plural, the "royal we".

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We are told that he is fatherless, much the same as we are told this of Beleg.
No, it is not the same and you know it. Like Beleg, one could say Legolas was "motherless", however, that does not mean that, like Athena, Legolas sprang fully formed from the skull of Thranduil.

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Or it means Tom actually had no father.
Yes, if you remove all nuance, ignore all else Elrond said and adhere to a literal definition so severe as to preclude any other sense of the word; in other words, parsing out pieces in a vacuum. "Oldest and fatherless" doesn't mean poor Tom was an orphan, nor does it mean that dear old Mrs. Bombadil had a virgin birth.

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But Tom, in The Lord of the Rings, is a strange creature. You ignore that, pretending that an Elvish loremaster would not say this, when the book attributes these words to him. Seems to me that Tolkien is more trustworthy than you are in these matters. If Tom was not one of the People of the Valar, he would not properly be called a Maia, though possibly of the same origin. And maia seems to mean one of the People of Morgoth. If so, that name would not do. Tom seems to be unique, and the term strange creature does well enough for me, and apparently did well enough for Tolkien.
Elrond, as a loremaster, would use the term "strange creature" to denote a being he cannot classify, lacking the knowledge to assert anything with certainty, as you yourself just plainly stated. Yes, you stated it quite clearly here.

And with that, I am done with this conversation. But by all means, continue to beat a dead horse into bloody equine particulates.
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Old 12-16-2014, 09:07 AM   #90
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I can't recall right now, but I wonder if the Northern Sea-Kings were familiar with Bombadil, at least as familiar as he seemed with them. I don't think Aragorn spoke much of him, if at all, at the Council.
Tolkien pretends to translate some northern names in Middle-earth, by Norse (Scandinavian) names, whence the Dwarf names and Gandalf. On page 265 Elrond says:
But many another name he [Bombadil] has since been given by other folk: Forn by the Dwarves, Orald by northern Men, and many other names beside.
Hammond and Scull, in their The Lord of the Rings: A Readers Companion, page 128, write:
In Nomenclature (under Orald) Tolkien states that Forn and Orald are meant to be the names in foreign tongues (not Common Speech). Forn is actually the Scandinavian word for (belonging to) ancient (days). Orald is an Old English word for very ancient, evidently meant [in The Lord of the Rings] to represent the names of the Rohirrim and their kin.
This makes it clear that Bombadil was at one time more widely known, spoken of in many tongues. But nowhere is any mention made of this figure in connection with the Northern Sea-kings, which itself proves nothing.
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Old 12-16-2014, 09:27 AM   #91
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Forn is actually the Scandinavian word for (belonging to) ancient (days). Orald is an Old English word for very ancient, evidently meant [in The Lord of the Rings] to represent the names of the Rohirrim and their kin.
That's interesting. I'd always assumed that 'Forn' was a Khuzdul word for some reason. Of course it obviously isn't, given that it lacks a triconsonantal word structure - I think that soft 'r' wouldn't count as one if it was Khuzdul. Similarly, of course, the name 'Durin' was given to the Dwarven ancestor retroactively in the tongue of Northern Men long after Durin the Deathless' own time so I really shouldn't be surprised at the Dwarves using Mannish names of their own choosing for people who pre-dated their use of Mannish. I am of course assuming the Dwarves knew of Bombadil before they adopted Northern Mannish as their public naming language, however.
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Old 12-16-2014, 12:26 PM   #92
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I am of course assuming the Dwarves knew of Bombadil before they adopted Northern Mannish as their public naming language, however.
Possibly the Dwarves knew of Bombadil before adopting Northern Mannish and possibly they didn’t. The name Forn is presumably a current name for Bombadil originating among Dwarves who took names of translated Norse.

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Similarly, of course, the name 'Durin' was given to the Dwarven ancestor retroactively in the tongue of Northern Men long after Durin the Deathless' own time …
In The Peoples of Middle-earth (HoME 12), page 304, J. R. R. Tolkien attributes the name Durin to the Men of the North of the Second Age, and states the name was a word for ‘king’ in that language. But Durin in Old Norse is not related to a word for ‘king’ so far as I know. It may be from dyrr ‘door’ and be intended to mean ‘Door Warden’ or from the stem drr- slumber, sleep’ and mean ‘Sleeper, Sleepy’.

In a note on this statement Christopher Tolkien notes that his father here seems to accept Durin as the ‘real’ Mannish name of the Father of the Longbeards, but that name is a name derived from Old Norse, so it must be a translation. But I’m not sure that J. R. R. Tolkien did not, in this case, understand it as a genuine name meaning ‘king’ that by coincidence was the same as the genuine Old Norse Dwarf name Durin.

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Old 12-18-2014, 05:31 PM   #93
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To take this more seriously than is necessary, I am reasonably sure (although others may know better) that the term 'Maiar' was not even used by Professor Tolkien to refer to the lesser Ainur until after the composition of The Lord of the Rings. Certainly Gandalf still refers to "Fionw son of Manw" in drafts of the confrontation with the Balrog if I recall correctly, which were composed after the Bombadil sections were written (and I believe they were not substantially altered afterwards). In fact I have a rather firm impression that the very concept of the 'Maiar' as we now understand it was not solidified by that point, where there were still 'children of the Valar' and 'folk of the Valar'.
The concept of the Maiar actually does pre-date Lord of the Rings, although the name "Maiar" itself certainly doesn't.

The precursors first appear in the earliest Annals of Valinor given in HoME4, and are fleshed out a teensy-weensy bit in the Old English versions, but I'll skip over those and jump straight to the second version of these Annals (AV2, in HoME5) where they suddenly appear:
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With these great ones came many lesser spirits, beings of their own kind but of smaller might; these are the Vanimor, the Beautiful. And with them also were later numbered their children, begotten in the world, but of divine race, who were many and fair; these are the Valarindi.
There are two main notable things about this passage. First is that the Vanimor are portrayed as an order of beings distinct from the old Children of the Valar concept. Second is that the translation given for Vanimor ("the Beautiful") is the same as that later used for Maiar.

It's possible to trace this passage through subsequent development in the Annals of Aman and it's various revisions, and the conclusion is that the Vanimor are the Maiar: it was only the name that had changed. At the same time the Children of the Valar were dropped.

There are other connections in the AV2 text too, including:
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Thereafter the night of the world was beautiful, and some of the Vanimor strayed into Middle-earth. Among these was Melian, whose voice was renowned in Valmar.
The formations Vanimor/Uvanimor and Maiar/Umaiar are also notable.

None of which says anything about Bombadil, of course.
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Last edited by mhagain; 12-18-2014 at 05:33 PM. Reason: quote tag screw-up
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:31 PM   #94
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A very interesting JRRT letter on Bombadil has recently come to light, written to fellow Inkling Nevill Coghill shortly after the publication of FR. It was posted on Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull's blog (with Estate permission), and I think it is well worth reading as Tolkien's considered comments on Bombadil to an intelligent and sympathetic reader:
But Tom Bombadil is just as he is. Just an odd fact of that world. He wont be explained, because as long as you are (as in this tale you are meant to be) concentrated on the Ring, he is inexplicable. But hes there a reminder of the truth (as I see it) that the world is so large and manifold that if you take one facet and fix your mind and heart on it, there is always something that does not come in to that story/argument/approach.......
More at http://wayneandchristina.wordpress.c...da-corrigenda/
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