The Resolution of Inconsistencies

Discussion in 'Other Works by J.R.R. Tolkien' started by Azrubêl, Apr 17, 2017 at 11:28 PM.

  1. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    Hello everyone! I'm creating this thread as a place to mull over puzzles, mysteries, and apparent contradictions in Tolkien's works. As those of you who have read the Histories of Middle-earth know, this can be difficult because most of Tolkien's mythology went through multiple versions, and it is not always clear what his final intention was. However, this is the place to get to the bottom of any loose ends or holes!
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017 at 11:35 PM
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  2. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    To start:

    The West-gate where Gandalf leads the Fellowship into Moria for the first time has this inscription:

    "Ennyn Durin Aran Moria. Pedo Mellon a Minno. Im Narvi hain echant. Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant i thiw hin."


    Gandalf translates the inscription as this:

    "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter. I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs."

    I have found multiple sources on the internet that claim that Moria was only called "Moria" after it fell into darkness in the Third Age when the Balrog emerged there. Moria means "black chasm". The original name of the place is Khazad-dûm, meaning "Dwarrowdelf".

    The apparent contradiction is this: The doors are said to have been made in the Second Age and inscribed by Celebrimbor. If this is the case, it would appear that the name "Moria" had not yet been given, despite it appearing in the inscription.

    Ready, go!
     

  3. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Here's one, hotly debated:

    Possibly the most noticeable inconsistency in The Lord of the Rings is that both Tom Bombadil and Treebeard are referred to as the eldest being in Middle-earth. Tom says that about himself, and Elrond mentions that the Elves knew Tom as "oldest and fatherless". However, Gandalf tells Theoden that Treebeard is "the oldest of all living things" and Celeborn addresses Treebeard as "Eldest".

    ???????????

    CL
     
  4. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    To further complicate this conundrum, in the Lord of the Rings, Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin that the Elves originally woke up the Ents! This would mean that the Ents were created after the elves!
     

  5. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I know right!?

    To put the final straw on the camel... We have no blooming idea who or what Tom Bombadil is! :confused::confused:

    CL
     
  6. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    I'll take a stab at my own post:

    The Lord of the Rings is a translation from the Red Book, composed by Bilbo Baggins. While it may not be overly satisfactory, a possible answer to this contradiction is that either Bilbo, or whomever relayed the events at the West-gate to Bilbo, mistakenly attributed the contemporary name "Moria" rather than "Khazad-dûm" to the inscription, and that the inscription on the West-gate is actually "Khazad-dûm".

    Tolkien intentionally created a string of fictional translators for his works, and the individuals were not purely neutral but impacted their output according to who they were (the Valar relayed some of the events of the Silmarillion to the Elves who in turned relayed the events to Bilbo; various loremasters like Rúmil acted as scribes, etc). So, this may be a matter of imperfect transcription.

    Alternatively, perhaps Tolkien was mistaken about the origin of the name "Moria" and that the name existed at the time of the gate's construction.
     
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  7. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    So it appears that to decide who came first, we have to figure out exactly what types of beings the Ents and Tom Bombadil are!
     
  8. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    That's always a possibility, it's like the telephone game: The information changes as it goes down the line. Also, Tolkien was always trying to work his creation to perfection, so he changed his mind at a lot of things.

    CL
     
  9. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Wanna take a stab at opening Middle-earth's Pandora's Box then? :D:D:D:p;)

    My idea:
    Maybe Tom is not "alive" as Treebeard is (though he seems to be). On this subject, Gandalf, Saruman, and Sauron have existed far longer than Treebeard, as they are Maiar, but they haven't been alive (in a physical body) as long.

    But that's all I have. :confused:

    CL
     
  10. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    That's true, Tolkien himself talked as if he was "receiving" these stories from a "lost past", and he kept trying to hone his account to make it better and better.
     
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  11. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    I think your idea about Tom being "alive" in a different way from Treebeard is similar to what I've thought when I've tried to figure out exactly what the heck Bombadil is in the past! It seems to me as if Tom is a nature-spirit, intrinsically tied to the physical natural environment. He is utterly unconcerned with the concerns of the world beyond his woodland domain, and he is indeed the "Master" of those woods.

    Treebeard as an Ent, on the other hand, seems more like the Children of Iluvatar overall! But I'm not sure what to make of the conflicting accounts about Ents coming before or after the Elves.
     
  12. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Especially since the Elves were known to teach the Ents how to speak!

    As far as Tolkien Gateway says, it's not known for certain. I wonder if Tolkien ever knew surely himself? (I'm sure he did, but I am still wondering.)

    CL
     
  13. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    So maybe, Bombadil is as old as Middle-earth, which makes him the "eldest" in the sense that he was here before all the Children.

    As for Treebeard, I wonder if it's possible that he existed as a "tree" and then was woken up by the Elves?? Treebeard was the first Ent to awake, so maybe this makes him the "eldest" in that way? :confused:
     
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  14. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    That's a good point, because language is so important in Tolkien's writings. The Ents didn't already know language like Maiar or other spirits, but they had to learn it just like the Elves did.
     
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  15. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Possibly.

    The origin of the Ents:
    We can thank Yavanna for the Ents existence. Whether they were created before, during, or after the Eldar, we do not know for certain.
     
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  16. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    Tom Bombadil is a special snowflake, and no mistake. We can probably leave it at that and have everyone totally comprehend it, haha.

    Truthfully, Tom Bombadil smacks of a "Father Time" figure to me, to go alongside Goldberry's "Mother Nature" sort of role. Yavanna, of course, holds the "Mother Nature" title, but the point still stands. It could be argued that Bombadil was meant to be the enduring loremaster of ME, who would carry on all the tales- great and small- down the Ages to the present day. Time, as a concept, has no real beginning and no real end. Only our perception of it does. Thus, it makes sense to me if Tom Bombadil is meant to be Father Time- or the person who inspired the concept. (Especially with the "oldest and fatherless" bits- can't have a father if you've always been there, right?)

    "This thing all things devours:
    Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
    Gnaws iron, bites steel;
    Grinds hard stones to meal;
    Slays king, ruins town,
    And beats high mountain down."​

    As to the Ents, Treebeard being referenced as the "Eldest" probably means that he was the eldest of the Ents- the first to wake after they were created. This is the Occam's Razor answer, but it does seem to be as good a theory as any. What do you guys think?
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017 at 11:58 PM
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  17. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    First off, love that rhyme.

    Second, that is a really great way to look at it. Tom Bombadil does sound like a "Father Time" figure.
    Also, doesn't Goldberry refer to him as "He Is"? (Tolkien stressed that this doesn't mean he's Eru Iluvatar). This adds credence to the theory that Tom has always been there, and always will be.

    Your Treebeard theory is sound. I would agree with it.

    By the by, has anyone seen or heard or met Tom lately? I mean, if he's always been, doesn't that mean he's still around??? o_Oo_Oo_O

    CL

    P.S. Good theories people!
     
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  18. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    Actually, I think I might have met him, lately. He goes by "Don". :)

    I love that rhyme, too. That one, and Gollum's rhyme about darkness. (Though that one, I can't read without hearing that creepy song from the Rankin Bass Hobbit movie from way back when. That was the first Tolkien video adaptation I ever saw as a kid.)

    Thank you! I think she does refer to him in the present tense.

    Treebeard is probably the easiest of the two to figure out. Like I said, Tom is... special.
     
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  19. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    I don't think that anywhere in Tolkien is there a strict "Father Time" or "Mother Nature" character, just like the Valar don't really line up with any gods in other mythologies.

    But I don't think it fits to say that Bombadil is primarily associated with Time. He doesn't actually keep memory of tales of Middle-earth; rather, he is entirely unconcerned with anything accept his woods, which he is tirelessly interested in and constantly interacting with. However, I think it is certainly true that Bombadil is "timeless" in the sense that he is himself not affected by the flow of time in Middle-earth.

    Interesting idea! I hadn't thought of that, but it certainly seems plausible.
     
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  20. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    This is true. Tolkien's works have many parallels with many different religions, which makes it so that anyone can read his works and find something spiritual in them. It's probably why they appeal to so many people. None of the Valar or Maiar line up with anything in any "real-life" mythologies (the closest I can get to a near-exact representation is Eru, who seems to align with God/Allah/Yahwe), so Bombadil also does not truly fit the strict "Father Time" role, at least in the part of lorekeeper.

    So, perhaps he would better fit the role when paired with his wife, Goldberry, who seems to represent the seasons. Bombadil is timeless, while Goldberry represents the passage of time and the renewal of life. Perhaps together, they could be representative of time, rather than as individuals?
     
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