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Old 06-03-2006, 10:53 AM   #41
Estelyn Telcontar
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As far as I know, only stars are mentioned in Middle-earth, though some of them may correspond with planets. Eärendil is the best example that occurs to me - he and his ship were set in the sky as the Morning Star. The morning/evening star of our world is Venus, a planet, as we know nowadays. But in the far past, people could not explain why there were some stars that came and went, since they had no concept of planets.

There may be references in HoME of which I am not aware. Does anyone else know anything about planets on Middle-earth?
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Old 06-03-2006, 07:41 PM   #42
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Este,

I agree.

The one "star" that I've heard mentioned as possibly being a planet is Elemmirë. This was one of the lights that Varda used to welcome the Elves to Arda upon awakening. The Encyclopedia of Arda says this may actually be the planet Mercury. However, they don't list a source for their statement other than to refer generically to Tolkien's notes. I can't find any reference to this in the Letters and I have temporarily misplaced my index to HoMe so can't check it there.

(If you could see the state of my house, you'd know why I am having difficulty locating this index! )
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:54 AM   #43
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There's a note in HoMe X where Tolkien seems to equate several of the Elvish star-names with planets:

Karnil = Mars
Lumbar = Saturn
Alkarinque = Jupiter
Elemmire = Mercury
Nenar = Uranus
Luinil = Neptune

But Christopher surmises that these cannot have been meant seriously, since Nenar and Luinil, which are supposed to be "great lights in the region of Ilmen" would then refer to the very faint Uranus and Neptune - the latter of which is not even visible without the aid of a telescope. His conclusion is that Karnil and Alkarinque were indeed meant to be Mars and Jupiter but that the other equations represent nothing more than a whimsical extension of the idea by his father.

It's interesting that there's no indication that the planets were distinguished from the fixed stars - with the conspicuous exception of Earendil (Venus), whose wandering was given a substantial aetiology.
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Old 06-04-2006, 12:10 PM   #44
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I may be dense but, since nothing in the world containing Middle Earth corresponds to anything in our world, geographically or historically, why should any of the astronomical bodies bear any resemblance to anything in our solar system, galaxy or universe? I wouldn't even have considered looking for, or expecting to find, Mars, Venus or Polaris any more than I'd expect to find New York or the Matterhorn.
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Old 06-04-2006, 12:46 PM   #45
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nothing in the world containing Middle Earth corresponds to anything in our world, geographically or historically
I don't think that this is trivially true. It seems to me that Middle-earth is our world in a fictional past.
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Old 06-04-2006, 02:57 PM   #46
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I don't think that this is trivially true. It seems to me that Middle-earth is our world in a fictional past.
Aiwendil's observation is asserted by Tolkien himself when he rejects the descriptor 'nordic' in his vetting of Charlotte and Denis Plimer's article based on an interview with him for the Daily Telegraph. It is Letter #294. Tolkien states that Rivendell is at about the same latitude as Oxford and Minas Tirith at that of Florence (P. 376 in my paperback edition).

I also have another recollection that Tolkien actually makes a statement in another letter that Middle earth is our world back in time, but time precludes my finding it.

Here at the Downs we have developed our own readerly conceit of the absolute separation between the Primary World and Tolkien's Sub-created World, but like all conceits, that is just an extended metaphor masking a theory available for discussion, disproving, modification, etc. There is also a joy in exploring the consistencies between those two worlds even if they need not be considered in any one particular reading of Tolkien's works.
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Old 06-05-2006, 10:34 AM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
But Christopher surmises that these cannot have been meant seriously, since Nenar and Luinil, which are supposed to be "great lights in the region of Ilmen" would then refer to the very faint Uranus and Neptune - the latter of which is not even visible without the aid of a telescope.
But Aiwendil you are not taking into account that these stars would all have been identified by Elvish eyes. There are numerous examples of Elves being able to see things that humans could only see with the aid of a telescope -- given the greater powers of perception attributed to Elves by Tolkien, it would not make sense for them NOT to be able to see Uranus and Neptune, which become visible through even the most modest telescopes.

With vision as good as I think they possess (i.e. equivalent to a small refractor telescope), they would easily be able to pick out the differences between stars and planets and maybe even distinguish some features of planetary bodies. Galileo, with his telescope (the equivalent power of a decent pair of modern binoculars) could make out Uranus, Neptune, the rings of Saturn and the four largest moons of Jupiter!
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:23 AM   #48
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Don't have my FotR book, and so this is strictly from memory:

Why does Gandalf arrive last when the Fellowship makes to depart Rivendell? He remains closeted with Elrond to the last minute. Where they making higher level secret plans? Did these two Ring bearers know something of the Road ahead? With the two months that Gandalf spent at Rivendell with Elrond, what was so important that they had to meet up to the moment of departure?

Did Elrond see Gandalf's fall, and so they made plans in case of that eventuality?

Surely this is not a case of the 'first being last, that being the place of honor.'
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:25 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by alatar
Why does Gandalf arrive last when the Fellowship makes to depart Rivendell?
I guess their making last-minute plans or debating over the route or debating over some world politics issue or just chatting like old gammers. You never know...
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:48 AM   #50
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I think this might be to set up the growing tension throughout this chapter concerning their path -- over Caradhras or through Moria? I always thought how smart Tolkien was to solve the problem of this portion of the book as well as he did. They had to travel a long way, so how to narrate it? A quick "and they went a long way south" or put in something to make the journey more memorable and interesting? He throws in a Wolf attack, which is good for a couple of pages, but it does not generate a sustained tension heading toward climax that a good narrative demands. So instead he has this slow build -- unseen at first by the hobbits -- toward the fateful decision to go into Moria. Having Gandalf arrive last after prolonged and secretive conversations with Elrond introduces the idea that there is something that needs to be talked about still, something that has yet to be resolved, something that is -- for whatever reason -- best left a secret to all but the most powerful and Wise. The journey ahead is a lot more than a long walk along a dangerous road: it is a long walk along a dangerous and uncertain road.
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Old 01-08-2008, 10:43 AM   #51
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Mountain 1: Fellowship 0

What was, presumably to me on the first read, very unexpected was that at the end of this chapter, the mountain wins. We have our Fellowship meet their first real obstacle, and you'd think that Gandalf or one of the others would 'do something' that would let them pass over the mountains, but no. The Fellowship has to retreat.

Quite unexpected.
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Old 04-23-2008, 03:44 AM   #52
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Another of the now long chapters, and one almost does not know where to start about it. I am going to skip the things Esty mentions in her first post in this thread and note just the things which stand out on me, or which affected me this time.

I will start by negation. It is not true that the "Sitting by the fire" song is the only one in this chapter. Right at the beginning, we have a short poem, which, nevertheless, always comes into my mind by the end of autumn. It is short, but I quite like it, and it's not to be omitted just for that.

Have you noticed Sam's remark after Bilbo puts forward his suggestion of the end "and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after"? He pragmatically (as is his habit) adds "Ah! And where will they live? That's what I often wonder." Referring just to the Fellowship as a group, this question will be quite appropriate: at least when it comes to Frodo and Sam, definitely. If I were to put it in a very extreme words, the ultimate good end would have to ensure that the Sackville-Bagginses give up the Bag End back to the original owners. Now just look - it really ends like that, and it's very tragic perspective, actually. But let's leave the grim future for the appropriate time.

There is also one thing which really caught my eye this time, and that's these Bilbo's words about good endings.
Quote:
"What about helping me with my book, and making a start on the next? Have you thought of an ending?"
"Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant," said Frodo.
"Oh, that won't do!" said Bilbo. "Books ought to have good endings."
Now I could not help but think - maybe it was because I read On Fairy-Stories recently - that Bilbo's response represents Tolkien's point of view, at least how presented in OFS. "Books ought to have good endings." Isn't that the Professor himself speaking here? Or having an inner dialogue with his own Frodo, who sees the world around, the threat of war and such? (Or when did he write this part?) I find this interesting, indeed.

From a different cup, I always wondered about the odd countings of "dead" Riders at the Fords. The scouts find eight dead horses, which means one horse probably survived. Also they find a tattered black cloak. Is that the cloak of the Witch-King? But then, as he was the first to ride into the water, his horse was the first one to get drowned, i.e. one of the first three horses found. Why to put the cloak away then? Legolas could surely tell us about that: A Rider escapes both from the flood and from the attacking Aragorn and Glorfindel. He leaves his horse dead, while another of his companions still has his horse unharmed. Being pleased with this, he then sits down and takes off his cloak! That at least is enough to show that he was either in serious shock after the encounter, or that he was mimicking Gandalf with the uncloaking.
In any case, I thought this time, doesn't it look a little like that the Fellowship could meet one Rider still right after they leave Rivendell? Maybe a little pressure on our feelings, to think about a possible threat when the Company leaves.

Anyway, to the rest of the chapter. A few points about equipment. The mithril-coat indeed saves Frodo in the future and had he not had it with himself, he would have died about four times, if not more (for the last time, even by the hands of Saruman by the very door of Bag End!). Another thing about equipment which returns several times in the future are Sam's words about a rope. This will return like a refrain and it kind of culminates on Emyn Muil, when the elven rope unties itself on asking.

I find it very funny how Sam thinks that Caradhras is already Mount Doom. It will be very nice, wouldn't it? Poor Sam

Legolas and Gimli are given quite a lot of space in this chapter, Gimli commenting the mountains (also in Dwarven language) and Legolas commenting Eregion and later, running around on the snow.

And Caradhras, yes, the ultimate mystery. There have been whole threads devoted to solving what Caradhras is (if it is anything), and I am not going to start even about my personal beliefs here. Let me just add this: in a way, I find Caradhras more sinister than let's say the Balrog, because it is an alien power which is not quite identified, only we know that it is an enemy.

Well, so what - does anyone have anything to say about this chapter? Don't be shy! It can be just a few lines, or a few thoughts, what you like, or what you don't like.
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:20 PM   #53
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I may be dense but, since nothing in the world containing Middle Earth corresponds to anything in our world, geographically or historically, why should any of the astronomical bodies bear any resemblance to anything in our solar system, galaxy or universe? I wouldn't even have considered looking for, or expecting to find, Mars, Venus or Polaris any more than I'd expect to find New York or the Matterhorn.
Tolkien mentions the sickle being the plough..
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:27 AM   #54
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Compared to the dramatic crescendo of Howard Shore's music rising in the movie as Elrond declares "you shall be the Fellowship of the Ring" at the end of the council, the book's selection of the Fellowship is a lot more perfuntory: Elrond chooses who will go and mostly does it offscreen--and largely separate from the council.

In a way,this is the opposite of the movies where the choice to go is dramatic, but their number means nothing--here, nine is explicitly Elrond's goal.

The departure by night from Rivendell is one of those iconic mental-pictures-uncolured-by-the-movies, including the blowing of Boromir's horn and Gimli trading sayings with Elrond,
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Old 08-19-2018, 12:20 PM   #55
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This is one of my favorite chapters.

Even before Frodo leaves Rivendell, there's a seeming portent he notes (due to his near-wraith-turn?).

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But low in the South one star shone red. Every night, as the Moon waned again, it shone brighter and brighter. Frodo could see it from his window, deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye that glared above the trees on the brink of the valley.
"in the South", the very direction he must go! Nice.

After the Fellowship sets out, one gets to watch the various personalities we've already come to know interact with the unknowns. The reader may have an idea what to expect from Gimli (though he has his surprises later), and maybe Legolas, but Boromir would be a blank slate.

Even after multiple readings, I like the sense imparted of the cold, cheerless journey between Rivendell and Moria, with the growing menace of avian spies.
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Old 08-25-2018, 09:11 AM   #56
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1420!

The Ring Goes South keeps on following a similar pattern as Book I, Three is Company.

Now that the previous chapters in Book I and II had a lot of exposition where the Ring was discussed, and where Frodo had to go with it. Both Chapter 3s the decision of what to do with the Ring gets underway. And there's more similarities than I originally noticed on previous readings.

-Frodo's not going alone. Both Chapter 2s ended with Sam "eavesdropping" and joining Frodo.

-Both Chapter 3s the rest of the Fellowship is formed, but mostly "off screen," so to say. Merry and Pippin are secretly "conspirators," and it's not revealed in the story yet, but they're determined to leave with Frodo. The 9 walkers are determined, secretly (in a way) and revealed only after the fact by Elrond.

-There is a delay in the Frodo leaving. Three is Company, Frodo is waiting for Gandalf, who had gone off and later revealed he was trying to gather news on the Ringwraiths. Now, the Fellowship is waiting until Elrond's scouts find out what happened to the Ringwraiths after the flood.

-Merry and Pippin's role is most interesting. Frodo was set to leave the Shire with just him and Sam. Unbeknownst to Frodo, Merry and Pippin were conspiring to join him. As Elrond is off screen determining the members of the Fellowship, we peak in this time to Merry and Pippin "conspiring" to join.

Which got me thinking about the back-and-forth between Elrond and Gandalf about what's to become of Merry and Pippin. Elrond seems set to keep the two back and return to the Shire to do what they can in warning and preparing the Shire. First time readers won't know what Elrond's worried about, but his determination makes it feel like he foresees trouble in The Shire. Trouble that might be prevented by keeping Merry and Pippin back.

This is a display of the wisdom of Gandalf and Elrond, and again how the very wise cannot see all ends. To Pippin's shock Gandalf sticks up for them by reminding Elrond:

Quote:
"Neither does Frodo," said Gandalf. unexpectedly supporting Pippin. "Nor do any of us see clearly. It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom. Even if you chose for us an Elf-lord, such as Glorfindel, he could not storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire, by the power that is in him."
In the previous Chapter, Elrond is marveled by Frodo's accepting the Ring, and says he only knows 2 hobbits, Frodo and Bilbo, both have surprised him. Gandalf knows more about hobbits and is able to persuade Elrond to his POV. Even if Elrond foresees trouble coming to the Shire, and Merry and Pippin might be able to prevent it. He cannot see all ends, and perhaps keeping them out of the Fellowship does more harm to the quest in a way Elrond cannot foresee. (And maybe Merry and Pippin aren't able to keep out the evil that has already come into the Shire), Maybe, if Glorfindel is in the Fellowship, it is him that decides to stand against the Balrog and therefor Gandalf's important death and return does not happen? So many, scenarios and what ifs Elrond got his way, instead of Gandalf. But good thing Elrond trusted Gandalf's words that friendship will be more important in picking the Fellowship, because "power" would not make Frodo's job any easier.

My last point on the chapter is we see, if nothing else, Boromir's purpose is to supply the muscle. Merry and Pippin were critical in navigating Frodo through the dangers in the Shire and Old Forest. But here they are not strong enough to get through Caradhras. And literally they probably feel a lot like Bilbo, early on in his adventure, they're being carried around like a sack by Aragorn and Boromir. I don't think it's mentioned yet, but Merry and Pippin are probably feeling like maybe they should have listened to Elrond (but don't be hasty my young hobbits! )
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Old 08-26-2018, 08:07 PM   #57
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Reading your post, Boromir, made me realize very strongly again that the main role of the two hobbits was to be Frodo's friends: a you could say a complicated form of emotional support. We cannot judge Gandalf's decision by the what-ifs, only by history as it happened. Could he have anticipated hobbit ambassadors to Rohan, Gondor, Fangorn, other lands? Possibly. But more immediately and explicitly he mentions friendship. Frodo is already surrounded by everything that is strictly required: strength, skill, wisdom, and representatives of every race present at the Council. The only thing he lacks is "normal people", people whom he can trust absolutely (ahem, Boromir), talk normally and unrestrainedly with (Gandalf, Aragorn), be close with (Legolas, Gimli), and who would be a piece of home on his way and a reminder of his purpose. Sam fits just about every point except arguably the last. Though he talks about home all the time, he is himself too much an atypical hobbit and too closely tied with Frodo. Pippin and Merry are less close with Frodo, and as such represent to him a view from the side of the silly ignorant hobbits that he so wants to save. At the same time, their presence is a comfort (though maybe a nuisance to the rest of the Fellowship). People to aid the unseen will battle part of the quest.
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