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Subject: Tolkien: Less Frequently Asked Questions (1/1)
This article was archived around: 07 May 2006 04:18:07 GMT
Posting Frequency: 28 days
Last Updated: 1994/03/28
The Tolkien Less Frequently Asked Questions List (LessFAQ), is the
second of two informational files on J.R.R. Tolkien and his writings,
the other being the Frequently Asked Questions List (FAQ). The division
of questions follows several general criteria. The FAQ leans towards
questions of interest to people who have read only _The Lord of the
Rings_ and _The Hobbit_, together with most questions on Tolkien himself
and on topics which seem fundamental to his worldview (his linguistic
games in particular). The LessFAQ contains questions of a more obscure
nature, most questions arising from posthumous works, and in general
aspects of the nature and history of Middle-earth which are important
but tangential to _The Lord of the Rings_. There is also an element of
personal arbitrariness. All available sources have been used for both
lists. Criticisms, corrections, and suggestions are of course welcome.
William D.B. Loos
TOLKIEN LESS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST
Questions numbered thusly: 1) are in their final form.
Questions numbered thusly: 1] remain unrevised.
Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last
** are new since the last release.
Table of Contents
I. Changes Since the Last Release (*)
III. Note on References and Conversion Table
IV. Commonly Used Abbreviations
V. Less Frequently Asked Questions
A) Tolkien And His Work
1] Was there a change of tone between Book I and the rest of _The
Lord of the Rings_ ?
2] Why did Tolkien fail to publish _The Silmarillion_ during the
eighteen years which followed the publication of _The Lord of
the Rings_ ?
B) General History Of Middle-earth
1] What exactly happened at the end of the First Age?
2] In terms of the larger worldview, what exactly took place at
the Fall of Numenor?
1] Did Frodo and the others (Bilbo, Sam, and Gimli) who passed
over the Sea eventually die, or had they become immortal?
2) In _The Hobbit_, Bilbo called the spiders Attercop, Lazy Lob,
Crazy Cob, and Old Tomnoddy. What do the words mean?
1] Were Elves reincarnated after they were slain?
2) Was Glorfindel of Rivendell (whom Frodo met) the same as
Glorfindel of Gondolin, who was slain fighting a Balrog?
3) How were Eldar in Valinor named?
1] What brought on the sinking of Numenor?
2] How could Ar-Pharazon of Numenor defeat Sauron while Sauron
wielded the One Ring?
3] What happened to the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
4] Where did the Southrons come from? Were they part of the Atani?
1] What were the origins of the Dwarves?
2] If, as has been told, only Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were
created, how did the race procreate?
1] What was the origin of the Orcs?
2] What was the origin of Trolls?
1] Who was Queen Beruthiel (who was mentioned by Aragorn during
the journey through Moria)?
CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE
There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.
The following individuals made suggestions and contributions to these
Wayne.G.Hammond@williams.edu (Wayne Hammond Jr)
Aelfwine@erols.com (Carl F. Hostetter)
paul@ERC.MsState.Edu (Paul Adams)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Taylor)
email@example.com (Craig Presson)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Simen Gaure)
abalje47@uther.Calvin.EDU (Alan Baljeu)
email@example.com (SAHDRA KULDIP)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Sherman)
email@example.com (Mark Gordon)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter Hunt)
email@example.com (Robert Rosenbaum)
NOTE ON REFERENCES
There is a certain amount of cross-referencing among the questions
on both the FAQ and the LessFAQ lists. Any questions so referred to are
specified by the list, section, and question number. Thus, the first
question in the Hobbit section of the FAQ, "Were Hobbits a sub-group of
Humans?" would be referenced as (FAQ, Hobbits, 1). Note that the
section "Tolkien And His Work" is referred to merely as "Tolkien" and
the section "General History of Middle-earth" is referred to merely as
"General". E.g. the question "Who was J.R.R. Tolkien anyway?" is (FAQ,
Tolkien, 1) and the question "What exactly happened at the end of the
First Age?" is (LessFAQ, General, 1).
Sources for quotations have been provided in the form of volume
and page numbers; the specific editions utilized are listed in the next
paragraph. For those occasions when the proper edition is not available
(and the conversion table below is not applicable) the page numbers have
been roughly located according to chapter, sub-section, or appendix,
whichever is appropriate. For example, RK, 57-59 (V, 2) refers to
pages 57-59 of Return of the King and further locates the pages in
chapter 2 of Book V. PLEASE NOTE the distinction in the case of _Lord
of the Rings_ between *Volumes* and *Books*. LotR is comprised of three
Volumes (FR, TT, and RK) and of six Books (I - VI), which are the more
natural divisions of the story into six roughly equal parts. There are
two Books in each of the Volumes. Other sample references are below.
References to _The Hobbit_ are from the Ballantine paperback (the
pagination has been the same since the 60's. All other references are
to the HM hardcovers. Sample references follow:
Hobbit, 83 (Ch V) == Hobbit, chapter V
RK, 408 (App F, I, "Of Men", "Of Hobbits") ==
p 408 in Part I of Appendix F, the sections
entitled "Of Men" and "Of Hobbits"
Silm, 57 (Ch V) == Silmarillion, chapter V (BoLT and _The
Annotated Hobbit_ treated similarly)
UT, 351 (Three, IV, iii) == Unfinished Tales, Part Three,
Chapter IV, sub-section iii
(the Biography treated similarly)
Letters, 230 (#178) == letter number 178.
RtMe, 53-54 (3, "Creative anachronisms") ==
The Road to Middle-earth, in Chapter 3,
sub-section "Creative anachronisms"
In _The Atlas of Middle-earth_, Karen Wynn Fonstad provided a
Houghton-Mifflin-to-Ballantine conversion table, which is reproduced
below. The "table" is actually a set of formulae by which HM page
numbers may be converted to Ballantine page numbers via arithmetic
involving some empirically determined constants. Since these are
discrete rather than continuous functions the results may be off by
a page or so.
[NOTE: in the Fall of 1993, Ballantine issued a new edition of the mass
market paperback of LotR in which the text has been re-set, thereby
changing the page on which any given quote is located. Thus, the
following table will no longer work with the latest printings, which may
be identified by the change in the color of the covers (the pictures are
unaltered): in the previous set of printings all the covers were black;
in the new set FR is green, TT is purple, and RK is red.]
HM Page Subtract Divide By Add
------------- -------- --------- -------
FR 10 to 423 9 .818 18
TT 15 to 352 14 .778 16
RK 19 to 311 18 .797 18
RK 313 to 416 312 .781 386
H 9 to 317 8 1.140 14
Silm 15 to 365 14 .773 2
Reference: Atlas, p. 191 (first edtion), p. 192 (revised edtion)
COMMONLY USED ABBREVIATIONS
JRRT J.R.R. Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
CT, CJRT Christopher Tolkien (son; editor of most posthumous
A&U, AU George Allen & Unwin (original British publisher)
UH Unwin Hyman (new name for A&U c. 1987(?))
HC HarperCollins (purchased UH c. 1992; current British
HM Houghton Mifflin (American publisher)
SA Second Age
TA Third Age
SR Shire Reckoning
H The Hobbit
LR, LotR The Lord of the Rings
FR, FotR The Fellowship of the Ring
TT, TTT The Two Towers
RK, RotK The Return of the King
TB, ATB The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
RGEO The Road Goes Ever On
Silm The Silmarillion
UT Unfinished Tales
Letters The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
HoMe History of Middle-earth
BLT,BoLT Book of Lost Tales
Lays The Lays of Beleriand
Treason The Treason of Isengard
Guide The Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings
(published in _A Tolkien Compass_)
FGH Farmer Giles of Ham
TL Tree and Leaf
OFS On Fairy-Stories
LbN Leaf by Niggle
HBBS The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son
SWM Smith of Wootton Major
SGPO Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo
FCL The Father Christmas Letters
Biography J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography; by Humphrey Carpenter
(published in the US as Tolkien: A Biography)
Inklings The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles
Williams, and Their Friends; by Humphrey Carpenter
RtMe The Road to Middle-earth; by T.A. Shippey
Scholar J.R.R. Tolkien, Scholar and Storyteller: Essays in
Memoriam; edited by Mary Salu and Robert T. Farrell
Atlas The Atlas of Middle-earth; by Karen Wynn Fonstad
TOLKIEN AND HIS WORK
1) Was there a change of tone between Book I and the rest of _The Lord of
the Rings_ ?
Yes. Originally, the world of the Hobbit was not the same as the world
of the Silmarillion (Tolkien threw in a few names from it, like Gondolin and
Elrond, for effect, but there was no explicit connection). Thus, when he
began LotR, he thought he was writing a sequel to _The Hobbit, and the tone
of the early chapters, especially Ch 1, reflect this (it has the same
"children's story" ambience as _The Hobbit_). With the coming of the Black
Riders and Gandalf's discussion of Middle-earth history and the Ring a change
began towards a loftier tone and a darker mood, though much less serious
elements remained (e.g. Tom Bombadil). After the Council of Elrond LotR
was overtly a sequel to the Silmarillion.
Oddly, Tolkien added new details but never changed the overall tone of
Book I. He later claimed that the change in tone was intentional, that it
was meant to reflect the changing perceptions of the hobbits as they became
educated about the Wide World. This was certainly not his intention as he
was writing. On the other hand, the tone of "The Scouring of the Shire" is
very different from that of "A Long-expected Party", possibly indicating the
altered perspective of the observers.
2) Why did Tolkien fail to publish _The Silmarillion_ during the eighteen
years which followed the publication of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?
No definitive answer is possible, but a several serious obstacles can be
listed. They included:
a) Technical difficulties. Tolkien's unmethodical habits of revision had
made the manuscripts chaotic; it seemed impossible to make everything
consistent. Characters introduced in LotR had to be worked in. Beyond
these detailed questions, he contemplated many alterations, even to
fundamental features of his mythology.
b) The problem of depth. In LotR, his references to the older legends
of the First Age helped produce the strong sense of historical reality.
In the Silmarillion, which told the legends themselves, this method
wouldn't be available.
c) The problem of presentation. LotR had been basically novelistic,
presenting the story sequentially from one character or another's
point of view. But the Silmarillion was and was meant to be a bundle
of tales which had more in common with the ancient legends he studied
than with LotR. He feared that if he presented it as an annotated
study of ancient manuscripts that probably many readers would have
difficulty enjoying the tales as stories.
d) No Hobbits. He feared (correctly) that many people expected another
_Lord of the Rings_, which the Silmarillion could never be.
GENERAL HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH
1) What exactly happened at the end of the First Age?
The Noldorin Elves had made war on Morgoth (referred to as "the Great
Enemy" by Aragorn in "A Knife in the Dark") to recover the three Silmarils,
which he had stolen, and had been totally defeated. The Valar then used
their full power against Morgoth. In the resulting cataclysm Beleriand,
the land in which the tales of the Silmarillion took place, was destroyed
and sank under the Sea. There are thus various references to "lands under
On the LotR map, Beleriand would have been far to the west, beyond the
Blue Mountains (Ered Luin), which also appear at the far right of the Silm
map. It is difficult to make an exact correlation because the mountain
range was much altered, having been split when the Gulf of Lune created.
Nogrod and Belegost, the ancient dwarf-cities, are located on the Silm map,
and existed as ruins in the Third Age, but where they fall on the LotR map
is not known (they were said to be "near Nenuail", which is only slightly
helpful). Lindon was definitely the same land as Ossiriand, where Beren
and Luthien once dwelt. [_The Atlas of Middle-earth_ includes a map showing
how Eriador and Beleriand lay relative to each other.]
2) In terms of the larger worldview, what exactly took place at the Fall
The world was changed from a flat medieval world to the round world of
today. Middle-earth was meant to be our own world (see FAQ, Tolkien, 6),
and Tolkien's overall conception was of a progression, with "Mythological
Time" changing into "Historical Time". The events accompanying the Fall of
Numenor were a major step in the process.
Originally, the "fashion" of Middle-earth was the flat world of the
medieval universe. Valinor (the equivalent of Heaven in that the "gods"
dwelt there) was physically connected to the rest of the world and could be
reached by ship. When Numenor sank (see LFAQ, Humans, 1) "the fashion of
the world was changed": the flat world was bent into a round one, with new
lands also being created; and Valinor was removed "from the circles of the
World", and could no longer be reached by ordinary physical means. The
Elves alone were still allowed to make a one-way journey to Valinor along
"the Straight Road". (An elven ship on such a journey would grow smaller
and smaller with distance until if vanished rather than sinking over the
horizon as a human ships do.)
References to "bent seas", "bent skies", "the straight road", "straight
sight", "the World Made Round", and the like all refer to the change in the
world's "fashion". (The palantir at Emyn Beriad "looked only to the Sea.
Elendil set it there so that he could look back with 'straight sight' and
see Eressea in the vanished West; but the bent seas below covered Numenor
for ever." (RK, p. 322)
1) Did Frodo and the others (Bilbo, Sam, and Gimli) who passed over the
Sea eventually die, or had they become immortal?
They remained mortal. Tolkien's conception was that a creature's natural
lifespan was intrinsic to its spiritual and biological nature, and that this
could not be altered save by a direct intervention of the Creator. There
were three occasions when this did happen (Luthien, Tuor, Arwen), but it did
not in the cases of Frodo & Co. Tolkien stated explicitly in more than one
letter that Frodo's journey over the Sea was only a *temporary* healing, and
that when the time came he and the others would die of their own free will.
2) In _The Hobbit_, Bilbo called the spiders Attercop, Lazy Lob, Crazy
Cob, and Old Tomnoddy. What do the words mean?
Notes in _The Annotated Hobbit_ identify Attercop, Lob, and Cob as
being taken from similar words in Old and Middle English for "spider"
(indeed, the word for "spider" in modern Norwegian is "edderkopp").
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of Tomnoddy is given as "a
foolish or stupid person." (Annotated Hobbit, 170-171)
As is well known, Tolkien used "Lob" again later. During the
writing of Book IV he wrote to Christopher: "Do you think Shelob is
a good name for a monstrous spider creature? It is of course only
'she + lob' ( == 'spider' ), but written as one, it seems to be quite
noisome... Letters, 81 (#70)
References: Hobbit, Ch VIII;
Annotated Hobbit, 170-171 (Ch VIII, notes 8,9,10);
Letters, 81 (#70).
Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams, Simen Gaure
1) Were Elves reincarnated after they were slain?
Yes. In addition to a number of general statements to this effect at
least two Elves are specifically said to have been "re-embodied" after being
slain: Finrod Felagund and Glorfindel (see LFAQ, Elves, 2). ("Re-embodied"
is used rather than "reincarnated" because in the case of Elves (unlike
what's usually meant in a human context) the spirit was reborn in a body
resembling the original and furthermore all its former memories would be
2) Was Glorfindel of Rivendell (whom Frodo met) the same as Glorfindel
of Gondolin, who was slain fighting a Balrog?
This has been a matter of great controversy. It was unplanned by
Tolkien, and therefore was something he had to decide after the fact.
The only direct information in any of the books is a comment by
Christopher in _The Return of the Shadow_ (HoMe VI):
Some notes that were scribbled down at Sidmouth in Devon in the
late summer of 1938 (see Carpenter, _Biography_, p. 187) on a page
of doodles evidently represent my father's thoughts for the next
stages of the story at this time:
Consultation. Over M[isty] M[ountains]. Down Great River
to Mordor. Dark Tower. Beyond(?) which is the Fiery Hill.
Story of Gilgalald told by Elrond? Who is Trotter?
Glorfindel tells of his ancestry in Gondolin.
... Very notable is "Glorfindel tells of his ancestry in Gondolin".
Years later, long after the publication of _The Lord of the Rings_,
my father gave a great deal of thought to the matter of Glorfindel,
and at that time he wrote: "[The use of Glorfindel] in LotR is one
of the cases of the somewhat random use of the names found in the
older legends, now referred to as The Silmarillion, which escaped
reconsideration in the final published form of _The Lord of the
Rings_." He came to the conclusion that Glorfindel of Gondolin, who
fell to his death in combat with a Balrog after the sack of the city
(II. 192-4, IV.145), and Glorfindel of Rivendell were one and the
same: he was released from Mandos and returned to Middle-earth in
the Second Age.
The Return of the Shadow, 214-215
["Trotter" was the original name of the mysterious stranger later
called "Strider" (who at this stage of the composition was a
hobbit); II and IV refer to other volumes in the HoMe series.]
A number of reasons have been advanced for not taking this at face
value. Since Christopher's report of Tolkien's conclusion was not
part of the rough drafts, the question of whether rough drafts can be
canonical does not arise in this case. The suggestion that lack of
premeditation is grounds for rejection also seems inadequate, since
many elements were introduced with little thought of future conse-
quences yet later became important parts of the mythos.
It is true that we have no examples of any other elf journeying
eastwards *to* Middle-earth during the Second Age (though some did
visit Numenor), but this is not enough to disprove the possibility of
Glorfindel's having done so. There were in fact no direct statements
either way, which means that Tolkien could have established whatever
background he wanted to any story he might have written. The previous
lack of specific information on this matter was no constraint.
The strongest objection is that the way Christopher presents this
insprires less confidence than it might because he doesn't provide any
direct quotes -- rather, he merely describes a "conclusion" that his
father eventually "came to". Evidently, Tolkien never actually wrote
his conclusion down. The matter therefore reduces to a question of
how much one trusts Christopher, and whether one supposes that he
might attach too much importance to a casual statement. The majority
of readers appear to accept that this was indeed a thoughtful
conclusion that Tolkien reached only after long deliberation (we do
know that he and Christopher discussed the matter of Middle-earth
often). A significant minority continue to reject it.
In the last analysis, of course, certainty either way is impos-
sible, since no evidence beyond the above exists. On the one hand, we
can at least say that Tolkien apparently saw no objection to the idea
that a re-embodied Glorfindel could have returned. On the other hand,
the usual caveats concerning unpublished material are even stronger
than usual in this case, since he not only might have changed his mind
before publishing but also might have done so before he wrote the
story, or while he wrote it (not an unusual occurrence). Still, there
seems a good chance that he would have stuck to the one Glorfindel
idea, since he seems not to have come to the decision lightly.
References: Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 214-215 (First Phase, XII).
Contributors: WDBL, Robert Rosenbaum
3) How were Eldar in Valinor named?
They had two given names ('essi'), one bestowed at birth by the
father, the other later by the mother:
... and these mother-names had great significance, for the mothers
of the Eldar had insight into the characters and abilities of their
children, and many also had the gift of prophetic foresight. In
addition, any of the Eldar might acquire epesse ('after-name'),
not necessarily given by their own kin, a nickname -- mostly given
as a title of admiration or honour; and an epesse might become the
name generally used and recognised in later song and history (as was
the case, for instance, with Ereinion, always known by his epesse
On why 'Ereinion' ('Scion of Kings' (UT, 436)) was given this epesse:
It is recorded that Ereinion was given the name Gil-galad 'Star
of Radiance' 'because his helm and mail, and his shield overlaid
with silver and set with a device of white stars, shone from afar
like a star in sunlight or moonlight, and could be seen by Elvish
eyes at a great distance if he stood upon a height'.
[ Gil-galad's "device of white stars" is shown in entry 47 of Pictures.]
The other epesse most familiar to readers of LotR was 'Galadriel',
whose father-name was 'Artanis' ('noble woman') and mother-name
'Nerwen' ('man-maiden') (UT 229, 231). As for 'Galadriel', which
was the Sindarin form of 'Altariel' (Quenya) and 'Alatariel' (Telerin)
In the High-elven speech her name was Al(a)tariel, derived from
_alata_ 'radience' (Sindarin _galad_) and _riel_ 'garlanded maiden'
(from a root rig- 'twine, wreathe'): the whole meaning 'maiden
crowned with a radiant garland', referring to her hair.
References: UT, 217, 229, 231, 266 (all Two, II), 436 (Index);
Silm, 360 (Appendix, root -kal);
Pictures, entry 47.
Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams
1) What brought on the sinking of Numenor?
The Numenor story was Tolkien's re-telling of the Atlantis legend (the
tale publshed in _The Silmarillion_ was entitled "The Akalabeth", which may
be translated as "Downfallen"). Numenor was an island far to the West, a
"land apart" given to the heroic Edain (humans) of the First Age who had
aided the Noldor in the wars against Morgoth (see LFAQ, General, 1). [The
Line of Kings of Numenor was descended from Elrond's brother Elros, who
chose to be mortal; it led indirectly to Elendil the Tall, first King of
Arnor and Gondor, and thus eventually to Aragorn son of Arathorn.]
The theological situation was the "standard" one of a Ban and a Fall.
The Numenoreans, despite having been granted a longer lifespan than other,
humans, nevertheless had to remain mortal. They had also been ordered not to
sail West to the Undying Lands (Valinor). After awhile (perhaps inevitably,
as their power and wealth grew) the Numenoreans began to envy the Elves and
to yearn for immortality themselves (so as to enjoy their situation longer).
They managed to convince themselves that physical control of the Undying
Lands would somehow produce this result (it would not have); however, they
also retained sufficient wisdom not to attempt any such foolish action.
Significantly, the more obsessed they became with death the more quickly it
came as their lifespans steadily waned.
Near the end of the Second Age King Ar-Pharazon the Golden pridefully
challenged Sauron for the mastery of Middle-earth. The Numenoreans won the
confrontation (see LFAQ, Humans, 2) and took Sauron to Numenor as a prisoner.
Still wielding the One Ring, he swiftly gained control over most of the
Numenoreans (except for the Faithful and their leaders, Amandil and his son
Elendil). As King Ar-Pharazon's death approached ("he felt the waning of
his days and was besotted by fear of death"; RK, p. 317) Sauron finally
convinced him by deception to attack Valinor. This was a mistake. A great
chasm opened in the Sea and Numenor toppled into the abyss. (Tolkien had a
recurrent dream about this event; in LotR he gave it to Faramir, who
described it in "The Steward and the King".) (See also LFAQ, General, 2).
2) How could Ar-Pharazon of Numenor defeat Sauron while Sauron wielded the
He did not actually defeat Sauron himself. The invasion fleet of the
Numenoreans was so powerful that Sauron's *armies* deserted him. Sauron
merely pretended to humble himself; to be carried back to Numenor as a
supposed hostage was exactly what he wanted. His plan was to weaken Numenor
as a war power by maneuvering them into sending a fleet to attack Valinor,
where it would presumably be destroyed.
He succeeded up to a point, but the result was disastrously more violent
than he foresaw, and he was caught in the Fall of Numenor. Only his physical
body perished since by nature he was of the spiritual order. Tolkien: "That
Sauron was not himself destroyed in the anger of the One is not my fault: the
problem of evil, and its apparent toleration, is a permanent one for all who
concern themselves with our world. The indestructibility of *spirits* with
free wills, even by the Creator of them, is also an inevitable feature, if
one either believes in their existence, or feigns it in a story."
(Letters, p. 280).
3) What happened to the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
Nothing. Sauron carried it back to Middle-earth, though there might be
some question as to how he managed it. Tolkien said he did, and Tolkien
should know: "Though reduced to 'a spirit of hatred borne on a dark wind', I
do not think one need boggle at this spirit carrying off the One Ring, upon
which his power of dominating minds now largely depended." (Letters, p. 280).
In fact, as far as we know all the spiritual beings (Valar and Maiar) were
perfectly capable of manipulating physical objects.
4) Where did the Southrons come from? Were they part of the Atani?
Yes. All humans, East, West, North, or South, were. Humans first
appeared in the east and spread westwards, with some eventually crossing
the Blue Mountains into Beleriand. The entry for Atani in the Silmarillion
Atani 'The Second People', Men (singular Atan). Since in Beleriand for
a long time the only Men known to the Noldor and Sindar were those of
the Three Houses of the Elf-friends, this name (in the Sindarin form
Adan, plural Edain) became specially associated with them, so that it
was seldom applied to other Men who came later to Beleriand, or who
were reported to be dwelling beyond the Mountains. But in the speech
of Iluvatar the meaning is 'Men (in general)'.
[Humans were 'the second people' because Elves were the Firstborn.]
1) What were the origins of the Dwarves?
They were made by Aule, the smith and craftmaster of the Valar. This was
against Eru's Plan: Aule had neither the authority nor indeed the power to
create other souls (the result of his efforts was a group of what amounted to
puppets). However, because he repented his folly at once and because his
motives had been good (he desired children to teach, not slaves to command)
Eru gave the Dwarves life and made them part of the Plan. The Elves were
still to be the "Firstborn", though, so the Dwarves had to sleep until after
the Elves awoke.
2) If, as has been told, only Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were created,
how did the race procreate?
In the _Silmarillion_ account of the making of the Dwarves, only the
Seven Fathers are mentioned. In Letter no. 212 (p 287), however, Tolkien
speaks of thirteen dwarves being initially created: "One, the eldest, alone,
and six more with six mates." Thus, it seems that Durin really did "walk
alone" as Gimli's song said.
1) What was the origin of the Orcs?
A fundamental concept for Tolkien (and the other Inklings) was that Evil
cannot create, only corrupt (the Boethian, as opposed to the Manichean,
concept of evil). In Letter 153 he explained that to a first approximation,
Treebeard was wrong ("Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the
Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves." TT, p. 89) and
Frodo was right ("The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make:
not real new things of its own. I don't think it gave life to Orcs, it only
ruined them and twisted them ..." RK, p. 190). (Tolkien: "Treebeard is a
*character* in my story, not me; and though he has a great memory and some
earthy wisdom, he is not one of the Wise, and there is quite a lot he does
not know or understand." Letters, p. 190; "Suffering and experience (and
possibly the Ring itself) gave Frodo more insight ..." Letters, p. 191.)
("To the first approximation" [above] because in that same letter Tolkien
made some subtle distinctions between "creating" and "making", which cannot
be gone into here.)
Tolkien stated explicitly in that letter (and several other places) that
the Orcs are indeed "a race of rational incarnate creatures, though horribly
corrupted". Also that "In the legends of the Elder Days it is suggested that
the Diabolus subjugated and corrupted some of the earliest Elves, before they
had ever heard of the 'gods', let alone of God." (Letters, p. 191). In fact,
_The Silmarillion_ does state that Orcs were Avari (Dark Elves) captured by
Morgoth (p. 50, 94), though strictly speaking, the idea is presented as the
best guess of the Eldar, no more. Some have rejected the statements on those
grounds, that the Elvish compilers of _The Silmarillion_ didn't actually
*know* the truth but were merely speculating. But since Tolkien himself,
speaking as author and sub-creator, more-or-less verified this idea, it's
probably safe to accept it, as far as it goes.
It has been widely noted that this conception leaves several questions
unresolved. 1) Re: procreation, _The Silmarillion_ says that "the Orcs had
life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar" (p. 50),
but nevertheless people continue to raise questions. For one thing, there
was never any hint that female Orcs exist (there were two apparent references
to Orc children, but both were from _The Hobbit_ , and therefore may be
considered suspect). 2) There is the question of why, if Orcs were corrupted
Elves, their offspring would also be Orcs (rather than Elves -- a somewhat
horrifying thought). This question leads to discussions of brainwashing vs.
genetics, which are not altogether appropriate to the world of Middle-earth.
3) Finally there is the question of whether Orcs, being fundamentally Elves,
go to the Halls of Mandos when they are slain, and whether, like Elves, they
are reincarnated. (This last would explain how they managed to replenish
their numbers so quickly all the time.) There is also some reason to think
that Orcs, like Elves, are immortal. (Gorbag and Shagrat, during the conver-
sation which Sam overheard, mention the "Great Seige", which presumably
refers to the Last Alliance; it is possible to interpret this reference to
mean that they were there and actually remembered it themselves.)
2) What was the origin of Trolls?
No one seems to know. Apparently, though, they were "made" (as opposed
to "created" -- see LFAQ, Enemies, 1) by Melkor. Said Tolkien: "I am not
sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits', and hence ... they
return to mere stone images when not in the dark. But there are other sorts
of Trolls, beside these rather ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which
other origins are suggested." (Letters, p. 191) "Counterfeits" here means
more-or-less that the Trolls have no independant life of their own but are
puppets animated in some way by an external Evil Will. As for the other kind
of Troll, the Olog-hai, no reference to their origin has been found, except
for Appendix F: "That Sauron bred them none doubted, though from what stock
was not known." However, they were definitely true Trolls, not large Orcs.
The Troll adventure in _The Hobbit_ should probably not be taken too
literally as a source of Troll-lore -- it seems clear that it was much
modified by the translator's desire to create familiarity. Thus, it seems
unlikely that Trolls in Middle-earth spoke with Cockney accents, just as
it seems unlikely that one of them would have been named "William".
1) Who was Queen Beruthiel? (Aragorn mentioned her during the journey
The reference is to Book II, Ch 4 "A Journey in the Dark": " 'Do not be
afraid!' said Aragorn. There was a pause longer than usual, and Gandalf and
Gimli were whispering together; ... 'Do not be afraid! I have been with him
on many a journey, if never on one so dark; ... He is surer of finding the
way home in a blind night than the cats of Queen Beruthiel.' " (FR p. 325).
This is a striking case of Tolkien's creative process. It seems that
the name meant nothing when it first appeared: it just "came" as he was
writing the first draft of the chapter. Later, however, he "found out" whom
she "actually" was, his conclusions being reported in UT.
She was the wife of King Tarannon of Gondor (Third Age 830-913), and was
described as "nefarious, solitary, and loveless" (Tarannon's childlessness
was mentioned without explanation in the annals). "She had nine black cats
and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories,
setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor,... setting the white
cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them. No man in Gondor dared touch
them; all were afraid of them, and cursed when they saw them pass." Her
eventual fate was to be set adrift in a boat with her cats: "The ship was
last seen flying past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat at the masthead
and another as a figure-head on the prow." It is also told that "her name
was erased from the Book of the Kings (`but the memory of men is not wholly
shut in books, and the cats of Queen Beruthiel never passed wholly out of
men's speech')." (UT, pp 401-402)