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Old 08-11-2014, 05:18 PM   #1
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Pipe Farmer Maggot's Dogs

Farmer Maggot kept ferocious dogs to help protect his family, and his farm. But was he really entitled to allow these large dogs to savage anyone who was caught trespassing his land without leave? He even used them to try and frighten off a Nazgul, which nearly got him killed. Should he have been more reasonable or cautious in his approach, or was he right to be heavy handed?
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:01 PM   #2
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First off, there's no evidence that the dogs ever "savaged" anyone. As Frodo said:

Quote:
'I daresay the beasts knew their business and would not really have touched me.'
And as Pippin noted,

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'But after all, folk down here are near the border and have to be more on their guard.'
So yes, I think Maggot was reasonable to keep dogs for that alone, mushrooms aside.

As for the Ringwraith encounter, it was hardly likely to end in death. They were in the Shire covertly, and I can't see them killing any hobbits just for grins.
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:20 PM   #3
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First off, there's no evidence that the dogs ever "savaged" anyone. As Frodo said:



And as Pippin noted,



So yes, I think Maggot was reasonable to keep dogs for that alone, mushrooms aside.

As for the Ringwraith encounter, it was hardly likely to end in death. They were in the Shire covertly, and I can't see them killing any hobbits just for grins.
I think Maggot makes it clear to Merry that he was going to set his dogs on anyone who was caught trespassing after the encounter with the Nazgul, of whom he also said nearly ran him over with his horse had he not got out of the way at the last moment. Lucky for Maggot that this was not the Lord of the Nazgul. He was never going to frighten a Nazgul with his three dogs.

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Old 08-12-2014, 07:03 AM   #4
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I think Maggot makes it clear to Merry that he was going to set his dogs on anyone who was caught trespassing after the encounter with the Nazgul, of whom he also said nearly ran him over with his horse had he not got out of the way at the last moment. Lucky for Maggot that this was not the Lord of the Nazgul. He was never going to frighten a Nazgul with his three dogs.
Well, Nazgûl were a bit out of Maggot's experience, so he can be forgiven for not appreciating the danger. I don't think the wraith meant to kill him by running him down: just a friendly was of telling him "thanks for nothing".

Then again, Maggot is credited by both Merry, and more importantly, Bombadil, as being more aware and knowledgeable than the usual hobbit. Think of the way he was quick to connect the Nazgûl with Bilbo's adventure decades before. Maggot almost certainly didn't know the nature of the Ringwraiths, but he knew or intuited that they were evil, and not merely nosy about Baggins gossip.
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:31 AM   #5
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Well, Nazgûl were a bit out of Maggot's experience, so he can be forgiven for not appreciating the danger. I don't think the wraith meant to kill him by running him down: just a friendly was of telling him "thanks for nothing".

Then again, Maggot is credited by both Merry, and more importantly, Bombadil, as being more aware and knowledgeable than the usual hobbit. Think of the way he was quick to connect the Nazgûl with Bilbo's adventure decades before. Maggot almost certainly didn't know the nature of the Ringwraiths, but he knew or intuited that they were evil, and not merely nosy about Baggins gossip.
It is admirable that Maggot did stand up to the Nazgul. But it was foolish, and if it not were but for the fact that they were still absent of the Ring, they may well have killed him, or even used the morgul blade on him. The Lord of the Nazgul may not have been as merciful as that other Nazgul, but neverthless they had more pressing concerns than seeing Maggot dead. The dogs were of little defence. Perhaps Maggot had learned something from the power of Bombadil that may have had some part to play in sending the Nazgul on his way without too much fuss. It is said that the Nazgul had little physical power over the fearless.

I can suggest that the dogs may have unsettled, and even wounded, the steed which the Nazgul rode, but that was the limit of their use. It is still questionable whether Maggot had the right and authority to threaten anyone with his dogs, even if trespassing by mistake.

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Old 08-12-2014, 09:02 AM   #6
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Lucky for Maggot that this was not the Lord of the Nazgul. He was never going to frighten a Nazgul with his three dogs.
Oh, I don't know about the Witch-king. There was that ol' prophesy about him, "...and not by the hand of man shall he fall." which potentially could been applied by any of the three dogs or their master.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:43 AM   #7
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First off, there's no evidence that the dogs ever "savaged" anyone. As Frodo said:



And as Pippin noted,



So yes, I think Maggot was reasonable to keep dogs for that alone, mushrooms aside.

As for the Ringwraith encounter, it was hardly likely to end in death. They were in the Shire covertly, and I can't see them killing any hobbits just for grins.
There is such a thing as drawing fire with fire, and Maggot and his three large dogs would have been over matched by an enemy eventually if they openly threatened anyone who entered his land. I think he would have been wiser to use a more subtle approach on the outskirts of the Shire.

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Oh, I don't know about the Witch-king. There was that ol' prophesy about him, "...and not by the hand of man shall he fall." which potentially could been applied by any of the three dogs or their master.
I can't see how the dogs could successfully defeat the Witch-king. The prophecy was only a prediction by Glorfindel, not necessarily a reality, but Maggot was not Tom Bombadil. Who knows what he could do?

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Old 08-12-2014, 10:52 PM   #8
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There is such a thing as drawing fire with fire, and Maggot and his three large dogs would have been over matched by an enemy eventually if they openly threatened anyone who entered his land. I think he would have been wiser to use a more subtle approach on the outskirts of the Shire.
It depends whether you're talking about the Ringwraiths specifically or trespassers in general. Wolves or trespassing Big Folk might have been seen as a possible threat, but Orcs had not entered the Shire in nearly three hundred years. The dogs would probably be enough to keep troublemakers at bay, which was probably the extent of his or indeed many hobbits' thinking on the subject, as wise as Maggot himself was. Maggot obviously had no knowledge of the Ringwraiths so I fail to see how he could be expected to take any other plan of action except one according to his own wisdom and knowledge of the situation. It may not have been effective, but he can hardly be expected to have taken a Ringwraith-specific plan of action given that he didn't know what they were.

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It is still questionable whether Maggot had the right and authority to threaten anyone with his dogs, even if trespassing by mistake.
Given that there was no real government Maggot, much like any other hobbit, had the right and authority to do as he pleased, constrained more by the bounds of common sense than any law or constitution.

Perhaps Aragorn ought to have arrested him for keeping such large and dangerous animals?
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Old 08-13-2014, 09:20 AM   #9
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It is still questionable whether Maggot had the right and authority to threaten anyone with his dogs, even if trespassing by mistake.
As master of his lands, Farmer Maggot had complete authority to drive trespassers off his lands, with dogs or with weapons, for matter. Up until very recent times in Britain, poachers were summarily shot or hanged. Property rights trumped personal liberties for centuries, laws supporting landlords were harsh, and considering Maggot lived on the marches of the Shire, there was practically no law save for what he considered proper to protect his interests.
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:23 AM   #10
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Morth, where did you find that? Poaching hasn't been a capital offence in England for nearly 200 years. Are you an elf?
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:11 PM   #11
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As master of his lands, Farmer Maggot had complete authority to drive trespassers off his lands, with dogs or with weapons, for matter. Up until very recent times in Britain, poachers were summarily shot or hanged. Property rights trumped personal liberties for centuries, laws supporting landlords were harsh, and considering Maggot lived on the marches of the Shire, there was practically no law save for what he considered proper to protect his interests.
Maggot is what I would like to think of as a gentleman, and not a brutal enforcer of punishment. His friendship with Bombadil would go out of the window if the dogs were used to effect as he threatened to on hobbits or the big folk unmercifully. Sooner or later the tables would turn and his own farm would be attacked by a greater enemy and all his kindred slain if he had killed a trespasser previously. Did he have the right to protect his land? Yes. Did he have the right and authority to kill trespassers at unawares with his dogs? In my book absolutely not.

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Old 08-13-2014, 12:18 PM   #12
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Maggot is what I would like to think of as a gentleman, and not a brutal enforcer of punishment. His friendship with Bombadil would go out of the window if the dogs were used to effect as he threatened to on hobbits or the big folk unmercifully. Sooner or later the tables would turn and his own farm would be attacked by a greater enemy and all his kindred slain if he had killed a trespasser previously.
Again, there is no evidence that the dogs ever killed, or even injured, anyone. Pippin and Merry were friends of Maggot's, knowing full well that he had dogs guarding his land. Obviously, that was not out of the ordinary, at least for that part of the Shire near the Old Forest.
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:25 PM   #13
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Morth, where did you find that? Poaching hasn't been a capital offence in England for nearly 200 years. Are you an elf?
I've read of instances occurring in the mid-19th century, Mith. In fact, in Cornwall there is a sign that reads the following:

Take notice that as of from today's date poachers shall be shot on first sight and if practicable questioned afterwards. By order: J.R. Bramble, Head Gamekeeper to His Grace the Duke of Gumby. 1st November 1868

Humorous, I know, but even after death sentences were repealed for poaching, the Night Poaching Act of 1828 provisioned as a sentence transport to Tasmania. In any case, the "recent times" I was referring to is in contrast to when the Shire existed, which would be distant indeed.
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:28 PM   #14
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When you say "savage" what do you mean?
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:45 PM   #15
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Again, there is no evidence that the dogs ever killed, or even injured, anyone. Pippin and Merry were friends of Maggot's, knowing full well that he had dogs guarding his land. Obviously, that was not out of the ordinary, at least for that part of the Shire near the Old Forest.
Nevertheless Maggot had to be careful not to bite more than he could chew. The dogs should have been used only as a last resort to defend his family, and as a means to remind trespassers that stealing from his land would not be tolerated. One slain hobbit and it would have been all over for Maggot and his reputation.

What became of Farmer Maggot in the end? He was not involved in the Scouring of the Shire.

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Old 08-13-2014, 07:45 PM   #16
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Moonraker, why do you believe Maggot would be going around killing hobbits with his dogs? I didn't get the impression he meant, "I'll have my dogs tear strangers to pieces".
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Old 08-14-2014, 02:39 AM   #17
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Moonraker, why do you believe Maggot would be going around killing hobbits with his dogs? I didn't get the impression he meant, "I'll have my dogs tear strangers to pieces".
He gives that impression strongly with Merry after the encounter with the Nazgul. I think he obviously misunderstood that your average trespasser was never going to be as formidable as a Nazgul.
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Old 08-14-2014, 04:06 AM   #18
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Perhaps Aragorn ought to have arrested him for keeping such large and dangerous animals?
I was going to ask the same question before I saw your post.
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Old 08-14-2014, 04:33 AM   #19
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I was going to ask the same question before I saw your post.
I think the Council, and other great powers like Lorien and Gondor, had better things to do than arrest Maggot for killing a trespasser with his dogs. But he may have been tried by the highest power available in the Shire?
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Old 08-14-2014, 04:50 AM   #20
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It is clear to me from the scouring of the shire that the vilent death of hobbits in their own land was pretty much unheard of. Also that Magots dogs were not truly dangerous from Frodos words - alarm and deterrent not offensive weapons. To suggest that Buckland was some lawless violent and anarchic badland is ludicrous. Had Maggot been a danger to the community, no doubt the Master would have taken action but really this sort of extrapolation is the realm of speculative fan fic.
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Old 08-14-2014, 05:05 AM   #21
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the highest power available in the Shire?
There was no power. There was no government. Both the Mayor and the Thain were, at least by that point, almost purely ceremonial positions.
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Old 08-14-2014, 05:18 AM   #22
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It is clear to me from the scouring of the shire that the vilent death of hobbits in their own land was pretty much unheard of. Also that Magots dogs were not truly dangerous from Frodos words - alarm and deterrent not offensive weapons. To suggest that Buckland was some lawless violent and anarchic badland is ludicrous. Had Maggot been a danger to the community, no doubt the Master would have taken action but really this sort of extrapolation is the realm of speculative fan fic.
I think you have got carried away here. The visit by the Nazgul had made Maggot exceptionally sensitive to trespassers, and the dogs would be used unmercifully from then on, that is the impression he gave to Merry.

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Old 08-14-2014, 07:03 AM   #23
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He gives that impression strongly with Merry after the encounter with the Nazgul. I think he obviously misunderstood that your average trespasser was never going to be as formidable as a Nazgul.
Yes, well, that was precisely the part I was talking about, that "didn't give me the impression". Honestly, I think you're reading into it.

As for the Nazgul- well, I know others have said this already, but he didn't know he was dealing with a Nazgul (or even what one was, presumably).
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:20 AM   #24
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Yes, well, that was precisely the part I was talking about, that "didn't give me the impression". Honestly, I think you're reading into it.

As for the Nazgul- well, I know others have said this already, but he didn't know he was dealing with a Nazgul (or even what one was, presumably).
The Nazgul sent his dog sprinting as though he was stung, so Maggot may have realised this was no ordinary trespasser. Also the Nazgul would have radiated a foul presence of fear and coldness that he would have sensed.
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:21 AM   #25
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The Nazgul sent his dog sprinting as though he was stung, so Maggot may have realised this was no ordinary trespasser. Also the Nazgul would have radiated a foul presence of fear and coldness that he would have sensed.
He did, in fact he was thoroughly creeped out by the stranger, hence his stepping up precautions. However, it seems clear from the passage in question that Maggot had no idea he was actually dealing with a supernatural being rather than just a sinister weirdo.
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:39 AM   #26
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He did, in fact he was thoroughly creeped out by the stranger, hence his stepping up precautions. However, it seems clear from the passage in question that Maggot had no idea he was actually dealing with a supernatural being rather than just a sinister weirdo.
Maggot was friends with Bombadil, and may have heard of Gandalf (not sure). These are what I would describe as supernatural creatures. The Nazgul was just an old man turned wraith, poisoned by one of the Nine Rings of Power.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:02 AM   #27
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Maggot was friends with Bombadil, and may have heard of Gandalf (not sure). These are what I would describe as supernatural creatures. The Nazgul was just an old man turned wraith, poisoned by one of the Nine Rings of Power.
It's undead. I wouldn't call that "natural", would you? Besides, how does this help your case? I don't get it.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:01 AM   #28
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The Nazgul was just an old man turned wraith, poisoned by one of the Nine Rings of Power.
Ummm....the word "understatement" would, in this case, be an understatement. I cannot begin to construe how profoundly you have misjudged the Nazgul. This dialogue just keeps getting stranger.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:35 AM   #29
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Ummm....the word "understatement" would, in this case, be an understatement. I cannot begin to construe how profoundly you have misjudged the Nazgul. This dialogue just keeps getting stranger.
I was, of course, generalising. And I am broadly correct in what I said. The Nazgul that Maggot met was indeed once an ordinary man (a king) turned wraith, a transition brought about by being consumed to evil by one of the Nine Rings of Power given to him by Sauron. Obviously a Nazgul would have other powers to protect him, with the power of Sauron being in him. Nevertheless I don't see a Nazgul elevated to the level of a ''supernatural'' being as with Sauron.

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Old 08-14-2014, 12:35 PM   #30
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You have profoundly misjudged the Nazgul, and the entire discussion thus far certainly has an air of absurdity.

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I was, of course, generalising. And I am broadly correct in what I said. The Nazgul that Maggot met was indeed once an ordinary man (a king) turned wraith, a transition brought about by being consumed to evil by one of the Nine Rings of Power given to him by Sauron. Obviously a Nazgul would have other powers to protect him, with the power of Sauron being in him. Nevertheless I don't see a Nazgul elevated to the level of a ''supernatural'' being as with Sauron.
The Nazgul had, by the time of the War of the Ring, existed for thousands of years. They were men of power before they succumbed to the lure of the Rings -- sorcerors, warriors and kings -- and invested with Rings of Power, their innate abilities were enhanced to the point that the WitchKing destroyed the Northern Numenorean kingdoms, and felt inherently powerful enough to challenge Gandalf himself (whether he was, in fact, powerful enough is improbable but never proven). If that isn't supernatural enough for you, I would suggest you look up the definition of said word.
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:45 PM   #31
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You have profoundly misjudged the Nazgul, and the entire discussion thus far certainly has an air of absurdity.

The Nazgul had, by the time of the War of the Ring, existed for thousands of years. They were men of power before they succumbed to the lure of the Rings -- sorcerors, warriors and kings -- and invested with Rings of Power, their innate abilities were enhanced to the point that the WitchKing destroyed the Northern Numenorean kingdoms, and felt inherently powerful enough to challenge Gandalf himself (whether he was, in fact, powerful enough is improbable but never proven).
The Nazgul that Maggot met was the only one I was discussing, I believe, not the Witch-king. The term ''supernatural'' is better reserved for creatures of a far higher stature in the world of Middle Earth, such as Sauron, the Balrog, and the Istari. A Nazgul is powerful, however, but not in this company, and not even in the company of Aragorn or any creature that does not fear a Nazgul. I therefore classify a Nazgul as an evil power that is governed and fuelled by the supernatural power of Sauron, and not more.

The original thread was about Farmer Maggot and his dogs, and his right to defend his land in an appropriate fashion. The appearance of a Nazgul completely altered his stance and his guard, to the peril of all trespassers.

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Old 08-14-2014, 12:46 PM   #32
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This may be only semi-relevant, but in early drafts of FOTR Maggot was considered by Tolkien to be something of a kindred spirit of Tom Bombadil, and wasn't a true hobbit. Some of that may have survived in the way he dealt with the Ringwraith, having the sense that it was not a mere specimen of the "big people", as supposed by others in the Shire.
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:53 PM   #33
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This may be only semi-relevant, but in early drafts of FOTR Maggot was considered by Tolkien to be something of a kindred spirit of Tom Bombadil, and wasn't a true hobbit. Some of that may have survived in the way he dealt with the Ringwraith, having the sense that it was not a mere specimen of the "big people", as supposed by others in the Shire.
This is what I implied earlier, but I felt Maggot had learned much lore from his friendship with Bombadil so as to indirectly somehow deal with the Nazgul effectively, and without too much fear.

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Old 08-14-2014, 01:34 PM   #34
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I have taken the liberty of cleaning up the posts above. I suggest a friendlier tone going forward.

If you reach an impasse, just move on. There's plenty to talk about!
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Old 08-14-2014, 01:55 PM   #35
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I have taken the liberty of cleaning up the posts above. I suggest a friendlier tone going forward.

If you reach an impasse, just move on. There's plenty to talk about!
Do you believe Maggot was justified in his threat to set his dogs unmercifully on trespassers, as he implied to Merry? A farmer will have his way in his own farm, I guess.
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Old 08-14-2014, 02:07 PM   #36
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The original thread was about Farmer Maggot and his dogs, and his right to defend his land in an appropriate fashion. The appearance of a Nazgul completely altered his stance and his guard, to the peril of all trespassers.
Your idea of "appropriate fashion" is revisionist to be sure. Farmers/landowners have been chasing trespassers off their lands with dogs for millenia. This does not make them or the dogs "vicious", nor does it necessitate maiming or death. That Maggot was more on guard after the incident with the Nazgul is only natural, and also the increased wariness regarding the influx of brigands who were to become "Sharkey's men". Danger was imminent in the Shire at that time, and Maggot was a no nonsense sort of fellow. However, Maggot was as wise as he was wary, and he would certainly handle Sharkey's Men in a different manner and more harshly than a couple Hobbit boys stealing corn or cabbages (and it was obvious Maggot knew of Hobbit boys' thieving ways).
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Old 08-14-2014, 02:15 PM   #37
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Your idea of "appropriate fashion" is revisionist to be sure. Farmers/landowners have been chasing trespassers off their lands with dogs for millenia.
This is Middle Earth, not the UK or any other civilised nation with laws to protect farmers and the public alike.

Maggot was in a foul and shaken mood after the encounter with the Nazgul (not too many of these have been seen in England), and he upped his security stance to the highest level when he said to Merry he nearly set his dogs on the trespassing Frodo and company. The Nazgul was seen as the last straw, as though Maggot had encountered many other trespassers before (Frodo was one of them, but some years go). It is not known whether the dogs would have been used to merely chase trespassers off from then on, if indeed that was all Maggot trained them for. If the trespasser presented any retaliation, then the guard dogs would of course attack without hesitation.

Ultimately, I think Maggot would not have used his dogs to kill anyone or anything, not unless he could clearly see it was life vs death situation. The encounter with the Nazgul may have just made him extra paranoid and anxious, and angry almost to breaking point. He suspected the Nazgul would return, and was not far away.

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Old 08-14-2014, 03:03 PM   #38
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Do you believe Maggot was justified in his threat to set his dogs unmercifully on trespassers, as he implied to Merry? A farmer will have his way in his own farm, I guess.
Living in a rural area myself, I know almost everyone around and everyone knows me. We all know what belongs to whom, etc.

I suspect the Shire was much the same. Everyone knew everyone's business, which nearly drove Bilbo mad once he began adventuring. Furthermore, a farm is a clear and obvious piece of property, and almost every bit is covered in his product - animals, crops, etc. In a way, when you walk onto his farm, you are walking into his warehouse - and just so happens his family lives there too.

Any harmless passerby, even a hobbit that didn't know Maggot, would (should) have the courtesy to approach properly, right down a main path to the farmer's door. You did say 'without leave' - implying that he could grant leave. I don't think he meant to have no visitors whatsoever. He lived on the border, near scarier lands, so had every right to look out for himself.
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Old 08-14-2014, 03:30 PM   #39
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This is Middle Earth, not the UK or any other civilised nation with laws to protect farmers and the public alike.
You do realize what you said on the other thread about Aragorn arresting Gandalf? I'm not sure how you can say this here to other posters after you implemented laws of our world into M-E.
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Old 08-14-2014, 04:00 PM   #40
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You do realize what you said on the other thread about Aragorn arresting Gandalf? I'm not sure how you can say this here to other posters after you implemented laws of our world into M-E.
I believe I said I was not saying Middle Earth had a widespread legal system with lawyers. Rohan and Gondor did have formal laws, however. And stealing the One Ring is a major crime, in any world. That is a different thread, little point trying to merge it with Maggot and his dogs.

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