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Old 10-13-2000, 02:44 PM   #1
Sharkū
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There are many motifs, events, persons and places and myths from the 'real' world which inevitably remind of Tolkien's works. Whether intentional by the author or not is another question, but what I want to do hereby is to collect all such possible inspirations, connections etc.


One of the clearest motifs I know is the connection between Beren Erchamion and Tyr (or Tķw, Ziu, Tiwaz), Norse god of war and battle.
Beren had his right hand bitten of by the greatest wolf of all, the infernal Carcharoth, when trying to gain a Silmaril as a price, a dowry, for Lśthien, as a guarantee proving of his valour and strength and love for Lśthien and as a proof that his motifs were just. A Wild Hunt for the wolf follows.

Tyr had his right hand bitten off by the greatest wolf of all, the infernal Fenriz, when he laid his hand in the wolf's mouth as a guarantee that he would not be tricked when the Aesir captured Fenriz and bound him. But indeed they cheated the wolf and nailed his jaw to the ground with a sword and bound him with heavy chains to a rock on a desolate island. There the angry wolf bit off Tyr's hand before he could withdraw it.

So, we have a wolf biting of the right hand of someone who has to guarantee something in both cases... and we have a Wild Hunt for the villain like in Norse belief... and we have the chaining of a fiend like the chaining of Melkor.


Please feel free to add other such connections you noticed or comment on this humble one.

<h6> Like yapping dogs
Blind lead the blind
Those who chain the future
Are those time leaves behind
Is glory now gone?
A friendship worth of fiends
Is a rose without thorns. </h6></p>
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Old 10-13-2000, 03:28 PM   #2
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

Just the other night, when I was reading UT, I couldn't help but think of the similarity between Ulmo, Lord of Waters, and the Greek god Poseidon (or Neptune, for those that know him by that name).

The effect was heightened by the fact that the cover illustration portrays Ulmo with fins on his shoulders and a triton, but there are other similarities as well. Of course, both are powerful kings of the sea, both command the tides, both are among the most powerful Valar or gods (Ulmo is ranked third in the Aratar, Poseidon was one of the three most powerful gods -- Zues, Hades, and Poseidon) and both dwell almost alone.

I believe that this was intentional. After all, Tolkien insisted that his world developed into the modern world.

Usually keeping a lookout over http://pub24.ezboard.com/bmountgundabadMount Gundabad</a> and http://www.barrowdowns.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi The Barrowdowns</a> Middle-Earth Discussion Boards</p>
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Old 10-13-2000, 07:27 PM   #3
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

When you think about it, most mythology can be linked to other, completely unrelated mythology. In fact, most modern fiction can be linked to other fiction (does any-one else who's read anything by David Eddings get the impression that it's one big rip-off of Tolkien?), so it's very likely that most elements of Tolkien's mythology are similar to other myths.

The book Tolkien's Ring by David Day is all about links between Tolkien mythology and other mythology. Although I don't agree with everything it says, it's certainly interesting to read.

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Old 10-14-2000, 07:45 AM   #4
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

Another funny thing is that the name of the Babylonian Aquarius, correspondent with Poseidon/Neptune (and Njoerdr), is &quot;Ea&quot;...

<h6> Like yapping dogs
Blind lead the blind
Those who chain the future
Are those time leaves behind
Is glory now gone?
A friendship worth of fiends
Is a rose without thorns. </h6></p>
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Old 10-14-2000, 03:12 PM   #5
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

I think one of the things that makes JRRT's world so effective and believable is that we can recognize elements in it -- but they're mostly different enough that they seem fresh and new. Besides the ones listed, there are the obvious Judeo-Christian elements (Eru/Illuvatar, the exodus of the Noldor) Arthurian elements (wizardry, the sword which proclaims a king, the chivalrous sensibility of Aragorn, Faramir, and others... even the wandering Dunedain recall the knights of the Grail Quest), and Shakespearian elements (the forbidden Beren-Luthien romance, for one thing; the attack of the Ents for another).

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Old 10-14-2000, 04:06 PM   #6
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

The attack of the Ents was intentional as a Shakespeare reference anyway. JRRT said he was very disappointed when the Great Birnam wood did not really march to war, and he wanted a story where that happened for real.
Besides, as I mentioned aforehand, this is not a thread I'd want to discuss origins of connections in, nor do I want to discuss the questions of allegory or myth reception.
It's just that I discovered a couple of parallels myself and would like to discuss sucha and others you might come up with.

<h6> Like yapping dogs
Blind lead the blind
Those who chain the future
Are those time leaves behind
Is glory now gone?
A friendship worth of fiends
Is a rose without thorns. </h6></p>
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Old 10-14-2000, 04:09 PM   #7
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

and the uttermost west of irish saga and more and more and more.

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Old 10-14-2000, 04:14 PM   #8
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

Sorry... did I somehow foul up the thread? I was just noting down a few parallels that I saw that hadn't been mentioned yet, too. Never heard that story about JRRT wanting a real Birnam Wood to march to war. That's interesting.

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Old 10-14-2000, 04:21 PM   #9
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

One thing I estimate highly is that the Valar bear only very few resemblances to real world gods.
Oromé is a bit Odinistic (the wild horn-blowing hunter), but else...
And no, no fouling up, I always appreciate your sound comments Mr Underhill.

<h6> Like yapping dogs
Blind lead the blind
Those who chain the future
Are those time leaves behind
Is glory now gone?
A friendship worth of fiends
Is a rose without thorns. </h6></p>
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Old 10-14-2000, 04:31 PM   #10
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Sharku

Sharku, do you remember us discussing some points of downfall of numenor? Since you seem to be well educated in Norse and German mythology, it would be great to hear your comments on the problem of the Ban from that point of view. I am really interested if there are any parallels. thx in advance <img src=smile.gif ALT="">

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Old 10-14-2000, 04:36 PM   #11
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Sharku

Thanks for your confidence in me, Heren.
Give me some time and I'll try to dig up what could be found, but what I can say now is that there was no immediate parallel which met my eye.

<h6> Like yapping dogs
Blind lead the blind
Those who chain the future
Are those time leaves behind
Is glory now gone?
A friendship worth of fiends
Is a rose without thorns. </h6></p>
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Old 01-31-2001, 12:49 PM   #12
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> That was about enough time ;-)

But I did not discover anything.
Well, nothing good, that is.
The two main motifs of the drowning of Nśmenor are Man challenging God's will; and Man trying to overcome mortality by force. Both attempts are doomed to fail and lead to desaster.
The apparent connection is of course Atlantis, and as we know from Letters, it inspired JRRT concerning Nśmenor.

Yet, the Atlantean myth did never reach Teutonic mythology. It did, however, reach Germany in an unpleasant way. The 3rd Reich-esoterics version of it is that the Germans are the descendants of the priest-magician-caste of Atlantis, who escaped from the drowning. The magical abilities of these Übermenschen got lost due to blood-mingling with lower humans. This also caused the downfall; the pure-blooded survived while the bastards died.
I won't even try to compare this 'theory' with JRRT. It is utter crap not worth thinking about; Arda does not deserve being compared with such a proofless, silly and most of all ignorant 'myth'; left alone its 'morals' which are as unsupportable as the rest of the 3rd Reich's ethics.

<h6> A furore Normannorum / libera nos domine / summa pia gratia / nostra conservando / corpora et custodia / de gente fera / normannica nos / libera quae nostra / vastat deus regna </h6></p>
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Old 01-31-2001, 05:19 PM   #13
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Motifs of Myth

Tom Bombadil has always struck me as a version of Pan, from Greek/Roman mythology. OK, he's lost the goat horns, hoofs, and fur. But he's still a powerful supernatural being with great concern for Nature and to a lesser extent, for friendly, harmless people who venture out into the wilderness. (In &quot;The Wind in the Willows,&quot; in the chapter &quot;The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,&quot; Kenneth Grahame shows Pan rescuing a young animal, but then singing a song to wipe the witnesses' memory of his presence.)
Like Tom, Pan is faintly comical-looking and acting, belying strong powers over living creatures. He seems to be equal to the Olympian gods, but is not part of their family tree, and shows up in mythology with some vague explanation of having &quot;just been here all the time.&quot; (In later classical times some esoteric philosophies considered Pan the Universal God, symbolic of the chaotic universe, because his name sounds like the Greek word for &quot;all.&quot
Pan is a wilderness god, uninterested in technology even in the Bronze Age forms practiced by the Olympian gods (e.g. forging metal, weaving, pottery, house-building, horse-taming, growing grain and olives). Tom seems to set the barrier higher, around the Renaissance -- yes to farming, pottery, metal implements, tidy houses with clean sheets on the beds, and trained ponies, but no to clockwork, gunpowder, mills, towns, artificial light, etc.
The main difference between Pan and Tom seems to be the sedate bourgeois lifestyle. Instead of chasing nymphs through the woods all night, Tom hurries home to dinner with the wife. (Goldberry herself seems to be half Rhinemaiden and half classical demigoddess -- almost as unusual in the Middle-Earth cast of characters as Tom is. But even she has to do her autumn-cleaning!)

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Old 01-31-2001, 08:43 PM   #14
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

As mentioned in another thread, I see Bombadil as a sort of Adam Unfallen.

Otherwise, Orome=Neptune, Yavanna=Demeter, Manwe=Zeus, Tulkas=Thor=Hercules, Melkor=Loki=Satan, Mandos=Hades, etc.

The entire Creation account has much of the Judeo-Christian about it.

Numenor=Atlantis=Noah's Flood is fairly obvious (and intentional!)

Goblins, Trolls, Giants are pretty straightforward.

Wizards=angels, balrogs=demons.

Elves=elves=faeries

Dwarves=dwarfs

Men die and have an afterlife = judeo-christian, muslim

Finally, there is a Ragnarok/Apocalypse hinted at.



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Old 02-01-2001, 02:37 PM   #15
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

Yes, Pan is a nice idea. I think there is a similar tree-spirit in Slavonic lore called Leshy who is a defender of the trees and who shuns men.

Personally, I would, however, not go as far as to attribute to a Vala a corresponding deity of the 'real' world as those connections cannot be held upright when taking the full field of the respective deities in account.


<h6> What still of desease in me found sleep / I tore it out with my firm hand / And threw it, laughing, steep and deep / Down into the snow-covered land </h6></p>
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Old 02-01-2001, 07:47 PM   #16
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Motifs of Myth

Gilthalion, a good point you have made. But I believe it has some major flaws. Maybe I will elaborate some other time, but now, I really must be going. I have work to do and I have already been on here to much today.

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Old 02-01-2001, 10:45 PM   #17
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Romeo and Juliet - Narn

To bring up a fresh point; Our first assignment this year was to right an analysis/synopsis of Romeo and Juliet, and I couldn't stop noticing the similarities between it and the Narn i Hin Hurin. For example, all though the roles are reversed; Niniel, thinking Turin is dead and throwing herself into the Teiglin; and Romeo thinking Juliet is dead, poisoning himself. Paris, fighting Romeo; Brandir, fighting Turin; both the former dying. Dorlas identifies to some extent with Balthasar; simple connections, and even simpler put in my words, <img src=wink.gif ALT=""> but connections nonetheless.

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Old 02-02-2001, 12:00 AM   #18
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Re: Romeo and Juliet - Narn

I think there are several parallels to Shakespeare, isn't that what they were just saying?

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Old 02-02-2001, 12:38 AM   #19
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Re: Romeo and Juliet - Narn

Except... Tolkien never really liked Shakespeare:

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> Macbeth is indeed a work by a playwright who ought, at least on this occaision, to have written a story, if he had the skill or patience for that art.
-&quot;On Fairy Stories&quot;<hr></blockquote>

He then goes on to say a bit about drama, and how 'regular' stories are better.

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Old 02-02-2001, 12:54 AM   #20
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Valar =Angels

Sharku : &quot;One thing I estimate highly is that the Valar bear only very few
resemblances to real world gods. &quot;

lindil- this was I think purposeful as the Ainulindale and the entire conception of the Valar was tied to Eru Iluvatar and their obedience to his will [through pure use of co-creation] or disobedience.
It only became more pronounced in Finrod and Andreth where JRRT virtually incorporates 'the Fall' and more radically the Incarnation of Christ [expicitly as God ] as an absolute necessity to repair Morgoth's marring.

Lindil

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Old 02-02-2001, 09:08 AM   #21
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Re: Valar =Angels

HA! <img src=biggrin.gif ALT=""> Tolkien ripping on Shakespeare, I like that.

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Old 02-02-2001, 10:32 AM   #22
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<blockquote>Quote:<hr> Tolkien never really liked Shakespeare<hr></blockquote>

a bit incorrect - in 'On Fairy-Stories&quot; tolkien says he dislikes drama as (considered) a branch (may I use the word?) of literature, which fails to make a spectator suspend disbelief, not Shakespeare in particuliar.

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Old 02-02-2001, 07:27 PM   #23
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Re: old plywright

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> ...and when taught, it [English Literature] was confined chiefly to a study of Shakespeare's plays, which Ronald soon found that he 'disliked cordially'.
- J R R Tolkien: A Biography, Humphry Carpenter<hr></blockquote>

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> ...while in a debate on the authorship of Shakespeare's plays he 'poured a sudden flood of unqualified abuse on Shakespeare, upon his filthy birthplace, his squalid surroundings, and his sordid character.'
- J R R Tolkien: A Biography, Humphry Carpenter<hr></blockquote>



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Old 02-02-2001, 08:59 PM   #24
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I wonder why?

Tolkien DID dislike drama as a branch, the same way he disliked conventional fairy stories of old England, that made fairies out to be tiny creatures in frilly frocks. But I don't remember reading why he singled out Shakespeare as a target. Anyone know why?

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Old 02-02-2001, 09:45 PM   #25
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Re: I wonder why?

I would guess because Shakespeare is famous and in every English class.

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Old 02-02-2001, 10:06 PM   #26
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Re: I wonder why?

Also, he never really liked Macbeth, for reasons someone else has mentioned. Perhaps, based on that, he ended up not really liking Shakespeare.

(Can you tell that I don't have a clue here? <img src=wink.gif ALT=""> )

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Old 02-02-2001, 10:25 PM   #27
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Heh heh

Heck, I started it all and I don't have a clue. <img src=wink.gif ALT="">

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Old 02-03-2001, 08:56 AM   #28
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Re: Heh heh

So why should Tolkien mind if Shakespeare is famous and in every english class? And yeah, I kinda got that you don't have a clue Z. Nor do you huh kiddo? <img src=wink.gif ALT=""> <img src=wink.gif ALT="">

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Old 02-03-2001, 02:17 PM   #29
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Re: Heh heh

What I meant was that he probaly didn't hate Shakespeare any more than any other playwright, but since Shakespeare is everywhere he would have more opertunities to complain about him and less for the others.

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Old 02-04-2001, 12:22 AM   #30
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Re: Heh heh

Ohhhhhh... *grins sheepishly*. I thought you meant the Prof was jealous.

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Old 02-04-2001, 03:11 AM   #31
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Re: Heh heh

It's ironic if the prof really was down on old Bill S., since his work is often described as being &quot;Shakespearian&quot;.

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Old 05-11-2001, 01:51 PM   #32
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Another fascinating motif

Théoden, King of the Riderfolk, old, but with a regained vigour the dawn of battle has brought him, charges headlong into the standard bearer of the Southrons, the Haradrim, the proud, dark people from the south-east, whose scimitars gleam in the sun, and, singing stave-rhymes, slays him...

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> That family [i.e. the Tolkiens] told (as families do) stories of past glory, such as that of a noble ancestor who with high courage captured the standard of the Turkish Sultan at the siege of Vienna in 1683. (C. Moseley, Writers and their Work: J.R.R. Tolkien<hr></blockquote>

I couldn't help but think of a mythological elevation or transfiguration of the Tolkiens' family myth by JRRT in the story of the charge of Théoden.


'I heed no call of clamant bell that rings / Iron-tongued in the towers of earthly kings. / Here on the stones and trees there lies a spell / Of unforgotten loss, of memory more blest / Than mortal wealth...'</p>
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Old 05-13-2001, 05:39 AM   #33
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Re: Another fascinating motif

well. maybe, may well be even <img src=smile.gif ALT="">

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Old 05-13-2001, 07:56 AM   #34
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inspiration

Sharku startet this tread as ex. of Tolkien bieng inspired by Myth or proberly ever history...

Here is something quite vague and unclear:


Tolkien has the spouse of Namo/Mandos, Varie??? - anyway - she weaves the history of Arda onto the halls of Mandos if I remember right.

In norse Myth (I hate it being called norse! Should be nordic or scandinavian myth <img src=smokin.gif ALT=":smokin"> as it was the myth of both Norwegian, Danish and Swedish (and Islandic) Vikings) Well as I said - In Scandinavian Myth, among the Gods you also have weavers (Nornerne, if I remember right) that weaves &quot;The fate of men&quot; (one string for each living soul).
I know its not a perfect match, but I could be a source of inspiration.

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Old 05-13-2001, 08:28 AM   #35
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Re: inspiration

Yes, of course! That is a theme which is quite frequent in European myth, there are also the three weavers of fate in Greek mythology, called Moires I believe, transcened into Roman myth as the wicked fatae, who, just like the Nornr, pulled and wove the thread of fate.
History as a fabric, woven by (entities of) fate, seems to ba a pan-European idea.

'I heed no call of clamant bell that rings / Iron-tongued in the towers of earthly kings. / Here on the stones and trees there lies a spell / Of unforgotten loss, of memory more blest / Than mortal wealth...'</p>
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Old 05-14-2001, 05:52 AM   #36
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Re: Valar =Angels

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> HA! Tolkien ripping on Shakespeare, I like that. <hr></blockquote>

Like a satyr ripping on Hyperion -- to paraphrase Shakespeare.

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Old 05-14-2001, 06:10 AM   #37
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Re: Valar =Angels

Then of course Iluvatars Intervention against the rebellion of the numenorians, still saving a few good guys. Comparet to the old Testament and the story of Noas Ark. (both being the second fall of men).

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Old 05-15-2001, 03:33 AM   #38
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Re: Valar =Angels

Also we have the typical God vs. Satan and Iluvatar vs. Melkor.

Satan was a fallen angel cast for paradise - like a evil version of Michael. Not as powerfull as God, but still allowed to live outside paradise. Satan lived under ground.

Melkor was a Valar, an angelic creations of the mind of Iluvatar, Melkor fell into evil and was still allow to &quot;be/live&quot; - later cast out of Arda (Melkor chose to live under ground)

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Old 06-12-2001, 03:56 AM   #39
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Goethe's 'Erl-King' and 'Flight To The Ford'

Yesterday I sudddendly realized what the chapter ‘Flight To The Ford’ had always unconsciously reminded me of --- it does bear an obscure, but if observed, clearer resemblance to the classical German ballad ‘The Erl-King’ by J.W. von Goethe.

You can find both the original and a very good English translation http://graham.main.nc.us/~bhammel/erlkng.html#scott here</a>.

Most parallels are quite obvious: in the Erl-King we have the sick son; in LOTR’s ‘Flight to the ford (FTTF)’ we have the sick Frodo. Both need to be carried as fast as possible by horse to their shelter.

The child in the Erl-King imagines / perceives the ethereal Erl-King, a mischievous apparition who seduces the child to come to his spirit-world (to play with him, see the beauties of his realm, and his daughters). In FTF we have the mischievous Nazgūl who, with promises of power and glory, seduce Frodo to enter their spirtitual plane and come to their evil realm.

The woodland in which the environment becomes animated in the eyes of the child echoes the woodland passage Frodo and company ride through.

The down-to-earth and wise appeasements of the father who explains to his son the apparitions he sees is the same voice of reason and wisdom, and experienced leader, as Aragorn is to the hobbits.

The willows which come to life before the son’s eyes as the daughters of the Erl-King seem like a dark memory of the entrance of Old Man Willow Frodo experienced.

The shelter of Frodo is the house of Elrond the elven lord. The Erl-King is no less an elven lord, too, for the word ‘Erl’ is but a faulty translation from Danish, meaning ‘Elf’.

In the end, the powers of the Elves decide the outcome of the flight. The father reaches his home, but the child is dead, struck by the Elf-King. Elrond uses his powers to rescue Frodo and maim the Nazgūl in the Bruinen. In both cases, the rider finally reaches the realm of the Elf – the netherworld one side, Imladris on the other.

Here the fundamentally different nature of elves in European folklore and Tolkien’s myth is of course evident. The evil-intented seductions of the Erl-King indeed are like those of the evil Nazgūl, not the work of the good elves of Rivendell and Middle-Earth. This is only at first glance a contradiction to the parallel motif.
Tolkien no doubt knew the poem; one can specualte that he wanted to use its motif for his own fiction; or that he wanted to set a counterpart to that piece of Andersen-style fairy tale (whom JRRT disliked, as he said) where the Elf-King is good, and victorious over the evil seducers.
On the other hand, one should probably not go as far as that with specualtion – it may be even more likely that Tolkien used the motif unconsciuosly, as something impressive, lingering in a corner of his mind waiting to be brought to paper; he himself admitted that such things were sometimes the case in his fiction.
Conclusively, both texts stand perfectly on their own as impressive pieces of literature (Flight to the ford naturally within the larger context of the book). What we can gain from comparing both is an image of the event had Frodo not had the power to resist the Nazgūl long enough – the departure to the spiritual plane, death.


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Old 06-12-2001, 08:47 AM   #40
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Babylon 5

The show Babylon 5 has some things taken from Tolkien's languages. A lot of the names of places and things of the sort are actually words from Quenya* and Dwarfish. I just thought something like this should be brought up in this.

There is also at least one part I know of where some of the plot related to that word is in one way put into the show. (I can't remember right now exactly what it was, but it was something Dwarvish I remember)

*Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if there are words from Quenya, but I know for a fact that Dwarvish words are used. <img src=rolleyes.gif ALT=":rolleyes">

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