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Thread: Mithril and Orichalcum

  1. #1
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    Mithril and Orichalcum

    There is a metal mentioned in a dialogue of Plato's concerning Atlantis called orichalcum, which was said to be more precious than any other except gold.

    Mithril was more precious than silver, which is second only to gold. I read in Unfinished Tales that mithril could be found in Numenor, which was Tolkien's version of Atlantis.

    Any comments on the similarity?
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    I wouldn't be surprised if it was more than a coincidence. Can you give the quote from Plato's works?
    'But this I will say to you, Celegorn the fell, by the sight that is given me in this hour, that neither thou nor any son of Fëanor shall regain the Silmarils ever unto world's end. And this that we now seek shall come indeed, but never to your hands. Nay, your oath shall devour you, and deliver into other keeping the bride-price of Lúthien.'

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    Here's a quote from the dialogue Critias :

    In the first place, they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there, solid as well as fusile, and that which is now only a name and was then something more than a name, orichalcum, was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island, being more precious than anything in those days except gold.
    "He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; . . ." - Ecclesiastes 3:11
    "Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; . . ." - The Silmarillion

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    It seems possible, yes. Oreichalkos means 'mountain-copper'; and at least in Middle-Earth mithril was found in the mountain of Khazad-dűm.
    Mithril is sometimes referred to as 'magic metal' or the like, iirc. Orichalcum was supposed to be sustained by magic; without it, the metal could not exist.
    But whereas mithril was a bright silver in colour, orichalcum was a shining red.

    But it seems more than just a coincidence.. Thank you, LoreMaster and welcome to TTF!
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  5. #5
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    There is only one inherent problem in this idea. In plato's works, he described orichalcum as a precious metal second only to gold. However, throughout Tolkien's works, he emphasizes the supreme value of mithril. It was the dwarves in Moria who mined not for gold or silver, but for the most precious of all metals: mithril. despite this, perhaps plato did influence tolkien in some way.

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    I always wondered if there was some mitril-platnum connection, to tell you the truth. . .but I know nothing about metalergy.
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    Re: Mithril and Orichalcum

    Mithril was more precious than silver, which is second only to gold
    Mithril was also a lot more precious then gold too. It was also less "corrupt"-Silver was less tainted then gold-but Mithril was coveted by Sauron.
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    Re: Mithril and Orichalcum

    NautilusVW, a member of my home forum put forward a very interesting, though surprising theory about the nature of mithril. Let me will quote it here:

    What metal could have actually been the Dwarvish "true-silver", the mithril? Tolkien doesn't give much detail - just outlines its chief features: strength, lightness, silver-shine. And, last but not least, impossible to tarnish. Various "crackpot" theories have equated mithril with aluminium(which unfortunately can't be extracted directly), or other exotic materials like an yttrium-silver compound. I'd say the metal that fits best the description(light but harder than steel, chemically inert hence impossible to tarnish) it's nothing more than titanium. Twice stronger than steel and with higher melting point, just slightly heavier than aluminium, immune to corrosion, it can be deemed the noblest of metals.

    And further:

    Pure titanium is about as strong as steel yet nearly 50% lighter. When added to various alloys, its hardness, toughness and tensile strength can be increased dramatically.

    Titanium is immune to corrosive attacks by saltwater and marine atmosphere and exhibits exceptional resistance to a broad range of corrosive gases, acids and alkalis. Titanium is immune to microbiologically influenced corrosion and is physiologically inert and hypoallergenic. Titanium is virtually non-magnetic, making it ideal for applications where electromagnetic interference must be minimized.

    Light weight:

    Titanium weight: 4500kg/cubic meter
    Iron weight: 7870kg/cubic meter

    Titanium is a lustrous grey metallic element

    The original discussion is here: http://b2.ezboard.com/fmordor69452fr...icID=228.topic

    I hope I have not bored you to death with this, but there apparently are lots of similarities between mithril and titanium.

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    Re: Mithril and Orichalcum

    Think about it. Mithril is more of a metal in the way we think about it. I mean now we use copper, nickel and aluminium in coins but they would have used gold and silver. They wouldn't have used silver and gold in the forging of weapons and armour, likewise with mithril, it wouldn't have been used in coinage making.

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    Re: Mithril and Orichalcum

    As an RPG geek, I'm acquainted with orichalcum as being the magical material associated with the Sun. Mythril feels more connected to the Moon or possibly the Stars. In any case, both orichalcum and mythril have a celestial essence to me, but I would never equate the two.
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