Discussion in 'Debates' started by Confusticated, Nov 10, 2003.
I don't have a topic confirmed yet, but you two guilds can go ahead and post your teams here.
Right, here's the mighty Periaur team:
-snaga1 - The lean, mean debating machine
-Legolam - The lean, mean, drinking machine
-Niniel - The lean, happy, luvvin' machine
-Celebthôl - The quite lean, quite mean, Nom-bribing machine
Could I be really presumptious and request a good-going controversial LOTR or Hobbit topic for our last debate of the current tournament? Quite a few of us aren't as well versed in the other books and it would be great to finish with a bang!
Bring it on
Well you guys beat the heck outta me with that Numenorean topic that used a zillion books.
Hehe... but sure, if OiE is okay with the request then you can have such a topic.
If OiE is not okay with it, I'll give one anyhow and remark about it being a coincidence.
From the looks of it, the Guild of O-i-E are fielding this team:
And we are of course hoping from some topic from the more obscure parts of Tolkien's works
We are looking forward to debating against the Periaur once again, and I will use this opportunity to wish both teams good luck, and an intense but fair debate.
Ta, you're a gem (wink wink )
EDIT: Dammit, OiE posted just before me. Think of this post before their's and this makes more sense
Oooh YAY! This is gonna be the best debate, your going down OiE!
OK then, how about a little chat about what the "Fire of Orthanc" is and where it really came from.
Lets just save time and assume you're obviously wrong on that (or any other topic)!
Periaur have the choice of sides.
The debate ends exactly a week from the time of the opening post.
From The Hobbit...
Did Thorin's company deserve all that Bilbo did for them?
Thank you Nom. I'll be firing our opening salvo shortly.
The Periaur will be saying that the dwarves did deserve the help of Bilbo. Let me present the reasons why this should be so.
The first, and primary reason why Thorin's Company deserved his help was the same reason that they deserved Gandalf's help, Elrond's help... anyone's help. They deserved it because they cause was good.
- Erebor was their's by right. They had every justification in seeking to regain it.
- The defeat of Smaug would remove an evil from Middle Earth, and a threat hanging over many people.
If the cause is good, then they deserved any support and assistance that Bilbo is prepared to give them.
Which leads me to my second point. They deserved his help because they were prepared to pay him well, and treat him fairly and professionally. A fourteenth share of the treasure is a very considerable sum, and so Bilbo stands to do very well from the quest.
And thirdly, Bilbo's willingness to help shows he felt they were deserving of help. And as the help is his to give, who has the right to say they didnt deserve it.
Against this position, our opponents may throw many arguments. Let me see what I can anticipate, and answer.
I imagine they will characterise the dwarves attitude to Bilbo as rude and disrespectful. There is some truth to this, although in fact they were for the most part very polite. We will, if called to, be able to show that the dwarves had great cause for scepticism about the ability of hobbits to help against a dragon, and moreover that Gandalf had allowed them to go to Bag End under mistaken pretences about Bilbo (ie thinking he was a professional burglar when he was not). Little wonder if they were somewhat concerned about taking him along. The rest may be put down to Thorin's haughtiness, which while unappealing may be forgiven by us, since Bilbo didn't let it rankle with him either.
And no doubt the affair of the Arkenstone will be introduced at some point, to say that Thorin's attitude at this stage was undeserving of help. But I want to argue very clearly that at this point Bilbo STOPS helping Thorin, clearly thinking that Thorin no longer deserves help, or needs it. Bilbo has fulfilled his agreement, and decides to help Bard the Bowman instead. So what Thorin does or doesnt deserve at the end is irrelevant, since no help is given after Smaug is killed.
The question is, "Did Thorin's company deserve all that Bilbo did for them?" Bilbo helped Thorin's company get to the Lonely Mountain, and helped them gather information about the dragon, including the information that Bard used to kill Smaug. All of this help was well-deserved, and given willingly, because the cause was just and reward was both fair and generous. They did deserve to be helped to return to Erebor to reclaim the Kingdom Under the Mountain, that was what Bilbo helped with, and it did a great deal of good to Middle Earth.
Did Thorin's company deserve all that Bilbo did for them?
Two of the main reasons for this can be found in Unfinished Tales - The Quest of Erebor:
1) Thorin and his companion only cared for their own cause, not of the Free Peoples as a whole.
2) Thorin and his company didn't want to bring Bilbo (or any Hobbit for that matter) along in the first place!
First of all, Thorin planned to retake Erebor through battle and war.
And Thorin's thoughts to see the end of Smaug wasn't just because he himself had found out that Smaug must be killed:
Now to the thougths of Thorin concerning Bilbo:
The 'other strange chance' was that Gandalf produced the map and the key. And that really saved bilbo's participation in the quest.
And then comes an interesting part:
But still Gandalf had to persuade Thorin to bring Bilbo along.
Gandalf said that without any hope of persuading Thorin, but it was the best thing he could have said. Dwarves understand devotion to friends and gratitude to those who help them. So Thorin accepted the company of Bilbo after some thought. But he demanded that Gandalf should join them and look after Bilbo, which Gandalf promised to do until Bilbo had proven his worth.
So far, we have proven that there are two reasons that the dwarves did not deserve all that Bilbo did for them:
1) The Dwarves only cared about Smaug in the way that he occupied their old mansion, and kept their treasures. They didn't care one bit for the other complications that Smaug represented as a threat to the west.
2) The Dwarves didn't want Bilbo to come along. Gandalf had to persuade and threathen Thorin before he accepted Bilbo as a companion.
I think we can quickly tackle these two objections.
The first reason: "Thorin and his companion only cared for their own cause, not of the Free Peoples as a whole."
It is of course uncontraversial that Thorin was mostly interested in the fate of his own people. After all, he was their chieftain, their leader. The responsibility of Durin's people rested upon his shoulders. If anyone sees something shameful or wrong in the dwarves wanting to look after their own interests, let them post the reasons!
But in any case, Erebor was theirs AS OF RIGHT! Their cause was, regardless of wider implications JUSTIFIED, and RIGHT. IF Thorin was full of thoughts of revenge, it was because Smaug had slain many of his people, and brought his grandfather's realm to ruin. Imagine, oh Ost-in-Edhil, how your grandchildren would feel!
But let us consider Gandalf's reaction to Thorin's desires? Did he say: 'this dwarf is being selfish, in wanting to put an end to Smaug; therefore he does not deserve help?' Of course not! He said that his cause was of wider benefit, as well as being deserving in its own right! Bilbo was of course rather less strategically aware, but his feel for justice was good.
The second objection is:"Thorin and his company didn't want to bring Bilbo (or any Hobbit for that matter) along in the first place!"
The answer to this point is of course that they changed their mind! Gandalf persuaded Thorin that he should take Bilbo along.
The implication of your position is that Bilbo should have guessed that Thorin had previously not wanted him to go and refused to help him on the basis that Thorin didnt instantly think him suitable. It pains me to point out the obvious, but Bilbo himself had rather grave doubts on the subject.
"Sorry! I don't want any adventures, thank you. Not today!"
"Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"
Gandalf says of him: "There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself."
Which probably explains why, after hearing all about the quest: "The Tookishness was wearing off, and he was now not so sure that he was going on any journey in the morning."
But he does, largely through not wanting be thought of as 'not good enough' decide to go. In which case, the dwarves doubts can be seen as part of Bilbo's motivation for setting out at all.
I suppose it depends on how you think is good to react to other people's doubts. Should you get in a sulk, and refuse to help; or would you be determined to prove yourself? Bilbo chose the latter path, and the dwarves came to respect him. Why would he do this? A major reason was that the dwarves had every reason to be sceptical about Bilbo. He shows no sign of being prepared for the expedition, and at one point shrieks and faints with fright... at a story! Bilbo knew he had no right to expect to be thought of as suitable for the journey, he knew he had something to prove. So he didn't blame the dwarves, but instead set about proving them wrong. It was an admirable attitude, that lies at the heart of his heroism.
To summarise: it is unreasonable to say the dwarves didnt deserve Bilbo's help because they were skeptical about his ability to help, when he was entirely unproven. Gandalf persuaded them to include him despite their doubts, and on that basis Bilbo's judgement that they deserved his help was correct.
Ok lets take these one at a time.
No argument from me that the Dwarves had the right to try to regain their ancestral home. However their motives for doing so were primarily selfish. They wished to regain their wealth and prestige, and to get revenge upon Smaug.
Greed , pride and revenge, it must be said are not particularly laudable motives to inspire unlimited help.
This was not the reason of the Dwarves. It was entirely down to Gandalf.
This is certainly a worthy cause, but as I said, it is not that of the Dwarves and therefore cannot really be used as justification for all Bilbo's help.
In addition, Bilbo at the time knew little or nothing of these higher matters and therefore they would not have influenced him.
Again, very true that payment was to be made and that it was a fair recompense for the service agreed upon. However, what was the payment to be for?
It was for Bilbo's services as a BURGLAR! Not as a rescuer from every eventuality!
Obviously , as part of the company, Bilbo would be expected to help out in sticky situations which arose. But in almost every situation, apart from those in which Gandalf was present, it was Bilbo alone who rescued the others. He saved them from the spiders; he got them out of the Elven King's dungeons. And what did they do when he was lost under the mountains, they sat and grumbled about him being a more trouble than he was worth!
This was well over and above what the agreed payment was for, and therefore the help rendered was far in excess of what the payment deserved.
Finally let us turn to Bilbos willingness.
Two points here.
1/ Just because someone is willing to help someone else does not necessarily mean that that person is deserving of that help, simply that the helper wishes to help.
2/ Self interest. This surely plays a part in Bilbo's help. After all, without the Dwarves, especially after Gandalf's departure, how much hope had Bilbo of getting home again?
The fact that Bilbo does in fact rescue the Dwarves time and again, completely unaided does not interfere with the fact that he had to rescue them in order to help himself.
Obvously this is not his only motive, but it does play a part and has nothing to do with whether or not the Dwarves deserved the help.
In summation. Whilst the payment secured Bilbo's help with the actual burglary. The sheer amount of help which he in the end provided went far beyond what was deserved, being in a large part inspired by self preservation and also, as Snaga states in his second post
He wanted to prove that the Dwarves were mistaken in thinking that he was useless. What has that got to do with them deserving the help?
Very little I would say.
What a purist you are! How dreadfully selfish, to try to regain your home which was taken by force! This is absolute nonsense. Lets be clear: 13 dwarves set out, heroically, to regain Erebor ON BEHALF OF ALL THE FOLK OF DURIN!! They risked their lives, against horrendous odds!! And you want to label them as selfish? Shame on you!
Now Bilbo may not have been Middle Earth greatest political strategist, but I can tell you without too much room for doubt that he would know that dwarves are generally decent, and dragons are generally not. So when a group of dwarves come to your house, and tell you how their great realm was taken from them by dragons, and they would like you to help them regain it, what goes through your head? What went through Bilbo's head was a lot of fear at the prospect of adventures, and a certain amount of excitement too... but not a shred of doubt that their cause was a just and deserving one. Perhaps you are the sort of person that thinks 'Bah! You are so selfish, thinking only of your own home when there are geo-political complexities to consider. You don't deserve my help!' If so, I daresay you don't help people very often!
Now you turn to the payment, which you consider to be "fair recompense" for his "services as a burglar" but "not as a rescuer for every eventuality". This is bizarre! You think he should have renegotiated for a bigger share? Perhaps when he found Thorin in the elven jail, he should say "Sorry Thorin, I could get you out but its not my job description? But if there's any burgling to be done, just say the word". What is the going rate for rescuing your companions? I thought you were all against being selfish?!
Yes, when he got lost in the goblin tunnels, they did grumble about him. Mind you at that stage, he hadn't performed any of those resues you listed there, had he? Very sneaky of you to try to reverse the order of events in the book in order to try to prove your so-called point! Meanwhile at various points the dwarves have to carry Bilbo, help him into trees etc etc... That's not exactly convenient (or contracted for!), but they do it!
Whichever way you look at it, a fourteenth share of the hoard was ample reward.
Was that really not enough? Only in the highly-priced world of Ravenna!
Please pay attention! Your colleagues argued that because the dwarves were not convinced of Bilbo's usefulness, they didnt deserve the help. I replied (and you should feel free to read my post again as many times as you need) that they had every reason to doubt Bilbo's worth, and Bilbo had not concluded that they didnt deserve his help, he had wanted to prove them wrong.
No, and of course I never said that. But I did say that Bilbo judged they deserved his help. And I will say that Bilbo's help is for him to give to those that he wishes, and therefore his judgement is highly relevant. It may not be crucial, but unless you can prove he was actually wrong to help, that his help was harmful, evil or malicious, then he is entitled to decide for himself who deserves his help. He thought the dwarves deserved his help, and I see no reason to disagree with him.
Sorry snaga, but we don't need to prove that Bilbo was wrong in helping the Dwarves. This debate is about whether or not the Dwarves deserved all the help that Bilbo gave them.
Nice try, but that one is a non-starter.
The Dwarves wanted Bilbo as a Burglar, nothing else. That was what was discussed, and that was what was mentioned in the letter from the Dwarves to Bilbo, btw written on Bilbo's writing-paper...
It was the Dwarves that started to expect things that was not a part of the deal from Bilbo:
From The Hobbit - Flies and Spiders
And how did the Dwarves thank Bilbo when he had rescued them from the cellars of the Wood-elves? Take a look at this. First, Thorin thanks Bilbo after being released from his cell, stating
And when Bilbo explained what his plan was, then the Dwarves reacted such:
This reaction alone show that the Dwarves did not deserve what Bilbo did for them.
Now to Bilbo's motives.
snaga claims that the Dwarves deserved Bilbo's help because Bilbo gave it to them. That is a very strange argument indeed. Bilbo was a very honest hobbit, and that is why he helped the dwarves out of their misery, although he could perfectly well have turned his back on them both when they were caught by the spiders, and when they where caught by the Wood-elves. No-one could expect that Bilbo should be able to help thirteen Dwarves out of such miserable situations. If he had given up and returned home, then nothing could prevented him from doing that. Insted, Bilbo went ahead, and did the unthinkable. And the reward for this was loud grumbeling inside the Halls of the Wood-elves! And later when Bilbo had given the Arkenstone to Bard, Thorin called him all the terrible things that he could think of:
Even calling Bilbo a descendant of rats!
And then Thorin withdrew Bilbo's reward. Do not forget that.
Thorin wanted to trade the Arkenstone against one fourteenth of the share of silver and gold, setting the gems aside. But that 'ransom' was Bilbo's share. Thorin said it straight. So what he wanted, was to get the Arkenstone back, with less cost than what it would have been if he had been true to his promise to Bilbo:
- One fourteenth of all profits.
Now it is one fourteenth, minus the gems. And this is now a ransom for the Arkenstone, and where Bilbo should try to get his share.
Does such behaviour show that Thorin and his company deserved what Bilbo did for them? No.
If it wasn't for Bilbo, then they wouldn't even have got as far as the Lonely Mountain!
I say that Bilbo's help was for him to decide who deserved it or not. Unless you can find an over-riding reason why he morally wrong to help them, then I don't doubt that he was right. Of course you will disagree with that, but I put it to the judges that this point is true. And since I have shown beyond any doubt that he was RIGHT to help them, and their cause did deserve all the support that he was prepared to give, I am very happy with this position.
But instead you wish to contest each and every piece of help that Bilbo gave. I don't see that this will get you anywhere, but I'm game.
You argue in a legalistic tone that Bilbo was only contractually obliged to perform tasks as a burglar, and thus the dwarves did not deserve his help. Well the letter itself, addressed to 'Burglar Bilbo' says: "for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance." Now of course exactly what is within the scope of "professional assistance" is not at all spelt out. Neither the dwarves nor Bilbo thought of it in these terms. It is facile to think in these terms. Are you really saying that Bilbo should down tools when confronted with situations requiring him to do more than just burglary? It is too ridiculous! The point is of course, that Bilbo knew that his reward was very fair. As he felt he was being treated fairly he felt that the dwarves did deserve his help.
Look at the opposite view: once the dwarves were lost in the woods, and captured by spiders, would they have deserved to have been left there to die by Bilbo? Or would they have deserved to have been left to rot in the elven king's dungeon? Of course not! But Arvedui thinks so. Why? Because the dwarves "grumbled" at having to be stuffed into barrels. They grumbled, and Bilbo admonished them for it, and they decided to go along with the plan. I suppose if they had outright refused to go along with the plan you could say they deserved to left in prison. But for a little grumbling? It sounds harsh to me! If you think about it, if Bilbo, at the first grumbles had lost his temper and refused to help them any further, you would say that was completely undeserved. After all they were only expressing their dislike of the idea of being stuffed into barrels! If in the cantankerous world of Ost-in-Edhil this is a grave offence, then you must be a grouchy group!
Of course, Ost-in-Edhil in their haste to say the dwarves did not deserve any help from Bilbo, want to forget any help the dwarves gave Bilbo. How about the dwarves carrying Bilbo on their backs through the goblin tunnels because he wasnt fast enough to escape on his own feet? Or how about helping him up into the trees so the wolves didnt catch him? One good turn deserves another, as the saying goes, and it is undeniable that the dwarves did get Bilbo out of trouble. Therefore the dwarves deserved Bilbo's help too.
Of course, predictably, the matter of the Arkenstone is raised. I was waiting for this! I'll address it in my next post!
I am afraid that you are misreading us a little, dear snaga.
The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil are NOT saying that the Dwarves did not deserve any help from Bilbo. Very clever of you to try and give us other opinions than we have, but this is obviously wrong. Nice try
Again: the topic is NOT if the Dwarves deserved any help. The question is if they deserved all that Bilbo did for them. You see, it is not even limited to help. It is what he DID.
So what did Bilbo do?
-He gave them food and beverages when they came stumbling uncalled for through his door. Yes, his polite manner and probably upbringing made this the right thing to do for Bilbo. But if someone had stumbled through your door like that, snaga, I doubt if you would have done what Bilbo did.
- He tried to pick William's pocket, leading to the horrible result that all of the Dwarves were caught, and nearly ended as a late supper. I honestly think that they didn't deserve that!
- He saved them from the spiders. This was quite nice of him, and as I personally dislike spiders, I am inclined to say that noone deserved to be spider-food. Others may disagree.
- He released them from imprisonment with the Wood-elves. I think that noone deserves to be held as prisoner just because they don't want to tell what they are up to, or because they are of another race. But I still claim that the Dwarves were ungrateful towards Bilbo.
- He provided a method of transportation to Lake-town. Not intentionally, and certainly not comfortable, but still a transportation, and the only one that was good, at that.
And again Thorin was grumbling
- He was the one to pay attention, and hailed the others when the conditions were right for the secret entrance to be opened, therefore allowing Thorin to be there with the key.
- He let the Dwarves keep the biggest part of his promised payment. This was also something that Bilbo did for them. After all they had been through, after all the times they had been saved from serious trouble by Bilbo, did they really deserve that Bilbo only brought with him two small chests? I don't think so.
Finally, I would like you to make up your mind.
Twice now, you have stated that the Dwarves deserved Bilbo's help, because Bilbo wanted to give them that help:
But you have also said twice that Bilbo went along to prove the Dwarves wrong:
How can one argue against a team that has two completely different opinions on one matter. Even in the same post! (Your third, if you are interested...)
Just a few points i'd like to bring up; the small matter of the Mithril coat; Bilbo recieved something that was most likely more than the 14th he was promised. This Mithril coat was in total value more of the entire Shire and all things within it. This by far compensated for all that he did for the Dwarves, and even when he was discovered for what he did with the Arkenstone, he got to keep the coat, and ontop of that, he was still given the 14th he was promised, which was traded for the Arkenstone AND he was given the chests of gold and silver by Dain. So how then can the dwarves not deserve all that Bilbo did for them? He was given what was more like 1/10th of (by my reconing) of the total gold. He also earnt the friendship and respect of the Dwarves of Erebor AND the gold from the Trolls lair, although he did give that up (as he thought it wasnt rightly his because it came from thieves), he still had it and I haven't read anywhere that the Dwarves saw any of it.
Our opponents seem to believe that we are suggesting that the Dwarves deserved no help at all.
This is blatantly untrue, please reread my previous post. I have already stated that in any such venture mutual help in difficult situations would obviously be expected. What we are saying is that the sheer amount of help that the Dwarves expected of Bilbo, went far beyond what could reasonably be expected from any small Hobbit out in the wide world for the first time, whereas the help they gave to him was no more than that which they would have given to each other in a similar situation.
Add to this the fact that it was in Bilbo's best interest to help the Dwarves as much as possible. Without them, he would have had little or no chance of getting home again
This last has little to do with how deserving the Dwarves were, but is more about Bilbo's own character and needs.
One small comment on the payment issue. Snaga gives us a quote showing how much one fourteenth share actually was, and says that for that amount of wealth, Bilbo should have done anything and everything that was demanded of him. Now who is trying to reverse the order of the book to prove a point?
When Bilbo aided the Dwarves in their various predicaments, he had no true idea of precisely how much the share was going to be, (if any were to be had in the end at all).
There was no guarantee of ANY profit at all at the time Bilbo did the things he did.
your quote came after the whole adventure was over.
Separate names with a comma.