Tolkien Lectures: Week Three


These notes were originally written by Erik Tracey, transcribed to MS Word by Erik Tracey, and HTMLized by Scott Powers. Enjoy!


Origin of term "middle-earth" ->Germanic "midgard"

[professor draws a tree: Tree of Life - top portion -> Realm of Gods/Heaven, middle portion -> Realm of Man (middle-earth) , Roots ->Realm of Demon/Giants and the dead]

Professor aside: The song Loc-Loman -> you take the high road and I'll take the "low" road => Celtic lore: one road is the road to fairie land (low road- fairie is underground).

Compare this to the "straight road" of ME that the elves take back to Valinor.

Compare Elven Kingdom of Doriath (protected by the Girdle of Melian) to the Celtic tradition of Fairie: how one can not gain entry into fairie unless they are admitted.

Doom = Judgement ( in Old English) did not originally carry the modern dark meaning.

Turin; acts of free will or predestined to Doom?
could he have chosen to alter his fate?
are you fated or have a choice?

Eru lives in aeternum
The Valar live in aevum
The people of ME live in tempus

Joseph Cambell completely overlooked Tolkien in discussions of myths and heroes [what a dork!]

"worm" - orm - serpent in Germanic languages
"dragon" - word derived from contact w/ Mediterranean cultures the concept of dragon in the European sense was derived from Oriental cultures.

[Tolkien used both in ME; worms/great worms and dragons but they are different]

What destroyed Numenor?

  1. Progress/technology -> power to invade the holy land (Tolkien's negative outlook on technology)
  2. Aldarion is produful and closed; which causes problems. If only people were less haughty and more open; less pride more humility hubris -> pride before a fall
  3. They were fearful of death - even w/ their long lifespans they wanted longer life/immortality.
  4. Illuvatar instilled a spirit of restlessness in man (greed?)

Aside: procreation: why arent the elves more prolific? Tolkien chose to ignore it - his view of sex.

Only mention of religion in all of his works as overt religious ceremony on Meneltarma in Numenor.

Notice differences in names:

Tolkien had no sympathy for paganism which is what Numenor reverts to when they take up the worship of Morgoth under Sauron <- sacrifices!

Akallabeth(Andunaic) = Atalante(elvish) = Atlantis (english)
from Tolkien's dreams of the drowning wave

Avallone(elvish) = Avalon (english) the undying land in Arthurian legend

Aside: prof states that dragons ended w/ Smaug [wrong: see letter #144]


This page is maintained by:

Scott Powers
NCSA X Mosaic Lead