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Old 10-15-2000, 09:20 PM   #1
Mithadan
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I understand that athelas, or Kingsfoil in english, unlike some other plants named by JRRT in his books,is a real herb. Has anyone ever come across it and are there any uses for it? Where is it found?

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Old 10-16-2000, 12:23 AM   #2
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Re: Athelas

Where did you come across `kingsfoil` in the real world, Mithadan? It is not in the two volume Shorter OED.

Look into the http://www.fortunecity.co.uk/library/classiccourt/77/Mirror of Desire.</a> </p>
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Old 10-16-2000, 07:22 AM   #3
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Re: Athelas

Looked it up many, many years ago and found a reference to it. I also have the Compact Oxford and note there is no listing for kingsfoil. I'll try to look it up again.

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Old 10-16-2000, 07:30 AM   #4
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Re: Athelas

On the web, amid numerous RPG entries, I found a single reference to kingsfoil in an herbal remedies guide. I'll keep looking.

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Old 10-16-2000, 11:40 AM   #5
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Re: Athelas

My mother in law got a huge herb-book.
I couldn't find anything in there...

And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom</p>
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Old 10-16-2000, 12:05 PM   #6
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Re: Athelas

i think i just assumed it was a fictional herb. have never heard of such.

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Old 10-16-2000, 12:12 PM   #7
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Re: Athelas

I'll keep looking. I have a friend who is a professional herbalist and will ask.

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Old 10-17-2000, 11:24 AM   #8
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Re: Athelas

hmmm. strange. Maybe there are other herbs you guys know of that exist IRL?

My tolkien favorites are <a href="http://www.tolkientrail.com/"target="web">the Tolkientrail</A>(michael martinez loved it!), http://www.barrowdowns.com/The Barrow-downs</A> and its http://www.barrowdowns.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi/forum</a> ,http://pub24.ezboard.com/bmountgundabad/Mount Gundabad</A>, http://pub11.ezboard.com/bbagend16025/bag end</a> and <a href=http://pub20.ezboard.com/bdunedainscamp/">dunedains camp</a>,where I'm an RPG moderator
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Old 10-17-2000, 05:08 PM   #9
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Re: Athelas

Like what? Hmmmmm? Still looking by the way. The web was singularly unhelpful except as described above.

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shone like stars that in the North
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Old 01-21-2001, 10:50 PM   #10
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Re: Athelas

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> It was low and dusky, windowless, fragrant with herbs that hung drying from the crosspole of the roof, mint and moly and thyme, yarrow and rushwash and paramal, kingsfoil, clovenfoot, tansy and bay.
- A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula le Guin<hr></blockquote>
If athelas is a made-up herb, it's used by more authors than just Tolkien.

'Athel' means 'Noble; illustrious or A lord, chief' (according to the OED), which would suggest that the words athelas and kingsfoil mean much the same thing, and furthermore, athelas isn't elvish (or maybe it is, but it has meaning in english).

I can't find any other references to kingsfoil/athelas.

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Old 01-21-2001, 11:30 PM   #11
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Re: Athelas

Nope; it was real.
It can be traced back to the attempt at reducing poaching in the Middle ages that allowed Deer and other wild animals to cause Kinsgfoil to become extinct as they found the herb a delicacy.

With the loss of Kingsfoil, we now have diseases without cure.

Conservationalists, Environmentalists, and Animal Rights Activists have been finger pointing ever since.

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Old 01-22-2001, 12:47 AM   #12
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Re: Athelas

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> Conservationalists, Environmentalists, and Animal Rights Activists have been finger pointing ever since.<hr></blockquote>
<img src=smile.gif ALT=""> As they are wont to do...

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Old 01-22-2001, 03:34 AM   #13
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athelas

does anyone have resource to culpeppers herbal? or any of the olde english herbals ?
I checked my herb books but they are mostly more recent productions .



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Old 01-22-2001, 04:50 AM   #14
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Re: athelas

The only herb book I can find makes no mention of kingsfoil or athelas, but then, it's more about herbal remedies rather than different varieties of herbs. Maybe next time I'm at a library I'll try finding a proper herb book. (Yes, this topic has made me curious.)

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> In Middle-Earth, a healing plant brought from Numenor. It grew only in places where Numenoreans had lived or camped. In the hands of Aragorn, or other heirs of Elendil, it had potent powers of restoration
-Entry for 'athelas' in The Tolkien and Middle-Earth Handbook, by Colin Duriez<hr></blockquote>
I'm not sure where the stuff about only growing where numenoreans had lived or camped came from. I can't remember that being in the LotR... (don't tell me my memory is going already, at age 14!)

Perhaps HoME XIII, 'Myths Transthorned, annals of the plants, (including herbs) and animals of the Middle-Earth' would be of more use? <img src=wink.gif ALT="">



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Old 01-22-2001, 05:35 AM   #15
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In the FotR?

I believe aragorn states this at weathertop.


lindil

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Old 01-22-2001, 06:01 AM   #16
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Re: In the FotR?

:grabs her book:
He does too. Maybe my memory is deserting me. <img src=wink.gif ALT="">

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Old 01-22-2001, 08:54 AM   #17
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Re: In the FotR?

Zoe, I also recently came accross a non-Tolkien reference to Kingsfoil. Saul, are you serious about the medievel reference? I let this thread go because I couldn't get any farther than I did when it started.

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Old 01-22-2001, 12:02 PM   #18
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Re: athelas

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> HoME XIII, 'Myths Transthorned, annals of the plants, (including herbs) and animals of the Middle-Earth' would be of more use<hr></blockquote>
But of course! Where else did you think my information came from? It was indeed in the Myths Transthorned: Annuals of Middle Earth; Perennial Edition. I had to add in the information gleaned from the author notes, but I didn't think that was all that important.
Section 8: Of Eldarberry Wine And &gt;Stewed&lt; Hamsters

There Mithadan; I made the last line dual reference even clearer and more tasteful. Pass the salt and pepper please.

</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://www.barrowdowns.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_profile&u=00000133>Saulotus </A> at: 1/22/01 2:57:28 pm
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Old 01-22-2001, 12:37 PM   #19
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Re: athelas

*Mithadan slumps back in his chair, stunned by the evil pun. His eyelids flutter as the poison of Nazsaul's bad breath begins to leech his life away. A tall, rascally-looking figure clad in a well-made grey cloak fastened by a broach in the form of an eagle adorned with a bright green stone leaps through the door of his office. He lights a cheap aromatherapy candle in a plastic wrapper bearing cryptic runes which read &quot;1/2 off, close out, athelas&quot;. Waiting to ensure that Mithadan is reviving, the figure leaps out the window, falling 10 floors only to have his fall broken when he lands full atop a balrog bearing a sign proclaiming &quot;Out of work. Wings Stolen. Please help.&quot; Leaving some change behind, the grey-clad figure disappears into the deep underbrush in front of the building. In a rare moment of sychronicity, both Mithadan and the balrog murmur, &quot;I've got to get out more,&quot; and return to their respective duties.*

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Old 01-22-2001, 01:34 PM   #20
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Re: athelas

NAZSAUL!!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE it!

I think you've hit upon the very unique sobriquet I would need, if I chose one at 500 posts. I'll have to consider that one. Maybe a combonation of the two: Nazsaul; Ghost Prince..... ?

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Old 01-22-2001, 03:59 PM   #21
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Re: athelas

What is with the refferance to Monty Python, Saul? Wasn't it you that said to keep these out of here?

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Old 01-22-2001, 04:43 PM   #22
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Re: athelas

Hardly.

I would never commit such a unappreciative gesture concerning humor.

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Old 01-22-2001, 07:05 PM   #23
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Re: athelas

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> It was indeed in the Myths Transthorned: Annuals of Middle Earth; Perennial Edition<hr></blockquote>
Lol <img src=smile.gif ALT="">
<blockquote>Quote:<hr> Section 8: Of Eldarberry Wine And &gt;Stewed&lt; Hamsters<hr></blockquote>
Stewed hamsters?! (I only ever thought they were smelly. How wrong I must have been.)


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Old 01-22-2001, 11:28 PM   #24
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looking for athelas

I just posted the kingsfoil question to the online forum at eastwest herbs we will see if they be wiser than we in this regard.

lindil

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Old 01-23-2001, 05:18 AM   #25
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Re: looking for athelas

Well, I couldn't find anything at the library. But then, most of the plant books there seemed to be about Australian wildflowers, for some reason.

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Old 01-25-2001, 12:15 PM   #26
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an answer it would seem


I give here in full [almost] the entirety of my post from the East/west school of herbology director

:Planet Herbs Forum:: TITLE: Has anyone heard of/know literary sources of kingsfoil?

By***********. on Monday, January 22, 2001 - 10:28 pm:

Greetings! Glad I finally made it to this excellent forum.

I have a question re: the herb kingsfoil. I can't find any textual report of it's existence or uses.
It appears in older Oxford dictionaries and more recently in the writings of JRR Tolkien and Ursuala
k. Le Guin.
Any help would be much appreciated.

david ryan

By Michael Tierra on Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - 10:12 am:

&quot;Don't know about Kingsfoil but there is a &quot;king's spear and another word for spear I think is foil. It
is asphodel Ramosus. It is in the lily family. Not used very much these days. The root is used and
it is acrid, heating and diuretic. for relieving spasms, swollen glands, and for menstrual
obstructions. If you get more info on this herb i.e. its genus and species name let us know. &quot; end

-----------------
Any of the brits [or others] able to comment on the foil = spear business?




Lindil is often found on posting on the New Silmarillion Canon Forum at the Barrowdowns discussion board. 'The dwindling Men of the West would often sit up late into the night, and awaken early before dawn- exchanging lore and wisdom such as they possessed , so that they should not fall back into the mean and low estate of those , who never knew or more sadly still, had indeed rebelled against the Light.' </p>
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Old 01-25-2001, 12:46 PM   #27
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Re: foil

I've often heard the term 'foil' used as the blade of a fencer.
Dictionary.com had this:

foil3 (foil)
n.

A fencing sword having a usually circular guard and a thin, flexible four-sided blade with a button on the tip to prevent injury

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Old 01-25-2001, 01:37 PM   #28
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foils and spears

I thought of the foil/sword thing also , I am wondering if old or middle enlish etc, used foil as spear.

re: local herb names however , this could be something that a local wisewoman of JRRt's youth used and was a name distinct to a few districts.

herblore is often full of name changes and endless lists of obscure refernces and attributed properties , often going back 1000 or more years in the west [and much longer in China].

Lindil is often found on posting on the New Silmarillion Canon Forum at the Barrowdowns discussion board. 'The dwindling Men of the West would often sit up late into the night, and awaken early before dawn- exchanging lore and wisdom such as they possessed , so that they should not fall back into the mean and low estate of those , who never knew or more sadly still, had indeed rebelled against the Light.' </p>
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Old 01-25-2001, 02:56 PM   #29
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Re: Kingsfoil

Searching the web for 'kingsfoil' has led me to another author's use of the word as a plant:

http://www.powells.com/biblio/118600...886776244.htmlwww.powells.com/biblio/11...76244.html</a>
A book titled Wordl Without End by Sean Russel
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Old 01-27-2001, 05:54 PM   #30
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Re: Kingsfoil

I found numerous web references to kingsfoil in various RPG herbals.

I found one person who said it was the herb basil. No reason given.

&quot;Viburnum&quot;,&quot;opulus&quot;,&quot;King 's Crown&quot; was the closest I found in the herbals.


I wonder if Tolkien didn't deliberately choose a name that was not actually ever used, at least not in any common fashion.

<center> ~~~http://www.geocities.com/robertwgardner2000My Bare Bones Webpage</a>~~~ </center></p>
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Old 01-28-2001, 07:19 AM   #31
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Athelas

Like the person thinking it was basil, I have no real reason, but I always thought it must be Monarda didyma, bergamot or Oswego tea. I thought so because of the way the scent was described. The leaves are shaped like a spear point as well.
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Old 02-08-2001, 01:19 PM   #32
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Athelas

Concerning the 'foil' part, I always assumed it meant 'leaf'. One of the meanings of foil in the New Oxford dictionary is 'thin leaf of metal'. IMHO that makes more sense than looking for a connection with a sword... So the word 'foil'might be used to indicate a shiny leaf or a silver grey leaf, which makes my theory of Monarda go down the drain.<img src=smile.gif ALT="">


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Old 02-08-2001, 02:15 PM   #33
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Re: Athelas

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> Quote:
It was low and dusky, windowless, fragrant with herbs that hung drying from the crosspole of the roof, mint and moly and thyme, yarrow and rushwash and paramal, kingsfoil, clovenfoot, tansy and bay.
- A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula le Guin

If athelas is a made-up herb, it's used by more authors than just Tolkien<hr></blockquote>

I read that Ursula le Guin put kingsfoil into her novel as a subtle homage to Tolkien. You know, that might make a good thread...

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Old 02-09-2001, 01:34 AM   #34
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Re: Athelas

So my quotation may not have any meaning? Well, there goes that line of investigation... <img src=wink.gif ALT="">

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Old 03-11-2003, 07:30 PM   #35
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I had a friend ask me if athelas is a real plant, or a plant just invented by Tolkien. Searching the forum, the question seems to have left unanswered so I'll dredge up this old topic again to see if anyone has further insight. I was unable to find anything but came up with my own theory.
As noted earlier in this topic "Athel" is a male given name meaning "noble". There is also the word "atheling"(n.) meaning "man of royal blood", this word is probably derived from the King of England -Athelstan (925-940 AD)who is generally regarded as the first "King of England" for many reasons which I will not list here. Getting back to my theory- I suspect Tolkien took the name Athel and (A.S.)-the accepted abbreviation for "Anglo-Saxon" to create "athelas", or "noble anglo-saxon". Of couse, I could be way off base (as if oft the case). If so, I will blame this ramble on the long-term effects of glue inhalation.
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Old 03-12-2003, 12:17 AM   #36
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Quote:
I will blame this ramble on the long-term effects of glue inhalation
It's just a high time to start "noble A.S." inhalations instead
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Old 03-12-2003, 09:08 AM   #37
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Im quite sure it is the herb basil (not sure if its the right translation. In German its name is Basilikum). Basil means in Old Greek "king", Ive heard the plant is called so in Britian and Tolkien was - as far as I know - professor for Old Greek. So its more than likely that Tolkien translated the name into Elvish/English and added some healing powers.

"las" means "leaf", maybe a leaf formed like a blade or the tip of a spear (like Elven ears, "las" is also used in terms with "ears", "listen" etc.). Is there someone who can post the description of atheles of the book an da picture of basil?

[ March 12, 2003: Message edited by: Malva Headstrong ]
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Old 03-12-2003, 10:10 AM   #38
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That would explain this passage in an earlier draft of RotK:

Quote:
I will judge that when I see, said Aragorn to Ioreth. One thing also is short -- time for speech. Have you pesto?
[img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

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Old 03-12-2003, 10:17 AM   #39
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Was it not presto? Ioreth was known for her tardiness.
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Old 03-21-2003, 09:11 AM   #40
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Some information about the etymology of the word 'athelas' is found here.
Unpublished Manuscripts page informs us that this is the "Etymology of the word athelas, reported on the usenets by William Cloud Hicklin based on information sent to him in a letter from Christopher Tolkien. One of these messages was reprinted in Tyalie Tyelellieva, No. 15:31."
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