- J. R. R. Tolkien's influences
In his writings, in particular the fantasy novel "
The Lord of the Rings" as well as the related novel " The Hobbit" and the posthumously published collection of stories " The Silmarillion", J. R. R. Tolkienis cited as having had a number of influences. Many parts of his work were, as he freely admitted, influenced by other sources. ["The Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme. They owe more to William Morris and his Huns and Romans, as in "The House of the Wolfings" or "The Roots of the Mountains"." " The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien". Letter #19, 31 December 1960] Some of the influences include philology(his field), religion(particularly Roman Catholicism), fairy tales, Norse mythology. Tolkien was also influenced by his and his son's personal military service experiences during World War Iand World War II, respectively. [cite web|url=http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngbeyond/rings/influences.html|title="Influences of Lord of the Ring"|accessdate=16 April |accessyear=2006]
One of the greatest influences on Tolkien was the Arts and Crafts polymath
William Morris. Tolkien wished to imitate Morris's prose and poetry romances, [ME-ref|letters|#1] along with the general style and approach, he took elements such as the Dead Marshes in "The Lord of the Rings" [ME-ref|letters|#226] and Mirkwood. ["The Annotated Hobbit", p183, note 10] Edward Wyke-Smith's "Marvellous Land of the Snergs", with its 'table-high' title characters, strongly influenced the incidents, themes, and depiction of Frodo's race in "The Hobbit". [Anderson, "The Annotated Hobbit" (1988), 6-7]
Tolkien also cited
H. Rider Haggard's novel "She" in a telephone interview: 'I suppose as a boy "She" interested me as much as anything—like the Greek shard of Amyntas [Amenartas] , which was the kind of machine by which everything got moving.' [cite journal | last = Resnick | first = Henry | year = 1967 | title = An Interview with Tolkien | journal = Niekas | pages = 37–47] A supposed facsimile of this potsherdappeared in Haggard's first edition, and the ancient inscription it bore, once translated, led the English characters to She's ancient kingdom. Critics have compared this device to the Testament of Isildur in "The Lord of the Rings" [cite journal | last = Nelson | first = Dale J. | year = 2006 | title = Haggard's "She": Burke's Sublime in a popular romance | journal = Mythlore | issue = Winter-Spring | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0OON/is_3-4_24/ai_n16418915/pg_1 | accessdate = 2007-12-02] and Tolkien's efforts to produce as an illustration a realistic page from the Book of Mazarbul. [cite book | last = Flieger| first = Verlyn | year = 2005 | title = Interrupted Music: The Making Of Tolkien's Mythology | publisher = Kent State University Press | pages = 150 | isbn 0-87338-814-0 | url = http://books.google.com/books?id=Q6zgmCf_kY4C&pg=PA150&dq=Tolkien+%22Red+Book%22+Haggard&ei=M9JSR8T4LZDgoAK-qdGuCw&sig=BxCnRRog4MZyWQlZME6hq-nE-MQ | accessdate = 2007-12-02] Critics starting with Edwin Muir[cite book | last = Muir | first = Edwin | title = The Truth of Imagination: Some Uncollected Reviews and Essays | publisher = Aberdeen University Press | pages = 121 | ISBN 0-08-036392-X] have found resemblances between Haggard's romances and Tolkien's. [cite book | last = Lobdell | first = Jared C. | year = 2004 | title = The World of the Rings: Language, Religion, and Adventure in Tolkien | publisher = Open Court | pages = 5–6 | isbn 978-0-8126-9569-4] [cite book | last = Rogers | first = William N., II | coauthors = Underwood, Michael R. | year = 2000 | title = J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-Earth | chapter = Gagool and Gollum: Exemplars of Degeneration in "King Solomon's Mines" and "The Hobbit" | editor = George Clark and Daniel Timmons (eds.) | pages = 121–132 | isbn 0-313-30845-4] [cite web | last = Stoddard | first = William H. | date= July 2003 | title = Galadriel and Ayesha: Tolkienian Inspiration? | publisher = Franson Publications | url = http://www.troynovant.com/Stoddard/Tolkien/Galadriel-and-Ayesha.html | accessdate = 2007-12-02]
It is also worth mentioning that Tolkien wrote of being impressed as a boy by S. R. Crockett's historical novel "The Black Douglas" and of basing the Necromancer (
Sauron) on its villain, Gilles de Retz. ["Letters", p. 391, quoted by Lobdell, 6.] Incidents in both "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" are similar in narrative and style to the novel, [Anderson, "The Annotated Hobbit" (1988), 150] and its overall style and imagery have been suggested as an influence on Tolkien. [Lobdell, 6–7.]
Tolkien was much inspired by early Germanic, especially Anglo-Saxon literature, poetry and mythology, which were his chosen and much-loved areas of expertise. These sources of inspiration included
Anglo-Saxon literaturesuch as " Beowulf", Norse sagas such as the " Volsunga saga" and the " Hervarar saga", [As described by Christopher Tolkien in "Hervarar Saga ok Heidreks Konung" (Oxford University, Trinity College). B. Litt. thesis. 1953/4. [Year uncertain] , "The Battle of the Goths and the Huns", in: Saga-Book (University College, London, for the Viking Society for Northern Research) 14, part 3 (1955–6) [http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/bibl4.html] ] the " Poetic Edda", the " Prose Edda", the " Nibelungenlied" and numerous other culturally related works.cite book|first=David|last=Day|authorlink=David Day (Canadian)|date= 1 February 2002|title= Tolkien's Ring|location = New York|publisher=Barnes and Noble|id = ISBN 1-58663-527-1]
The Lord of the Rings
name = The Lord of the Rings
image_caption = Cover designs for the three volumes of one edition of "The Lord of the Rings"
J. R. R. Tolkien
country = flagcountry|United Kingdom
language = English
High fantasy, Adventure novel, Heroic romance
Allen & Unwin
release_date = 1954 and 1955
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 1216 pp (total pages)
Tolkien once described "The Lord of the Rings" to his friend, the English Jesuit Father Robert Murray, as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision." Carpenter, Humphrey (1995). "The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien", Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-05699-8, Letter no. 142, page 172] There are many theological themes underlying the narrative including the battle of good versus evil, the triumph of humility over pride, and the activity of grace. In addition the saga includes themes which incorporate death and immortality, mercy and pity, resurrection, salvation, repentance, self-sacrifice, free will, justice, fellowship, authority and healing. In addition the Lord's Prayer "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" was reportedly present in Tolkien's mind as he described Frodo's struggles against the power of the One Ring.
Non-Christian religious motifs also had strong influences in Tolkien's Middle-earth. His Ainur, a race of angelic beings who are responsible for conceptualising the world, includes the Valar, the pantheon of "gods" who are responsible for the maintenance of everything from skies and seas to dreams and doom, and their servants, the Maiar. The concept of the Valar echoes Greek and Norse mythologies, although the Ainur and the world itself are all creations of a monotheistic deity — Ilúvatar or Eru, "The One". As the external practice of Middle-earth religion is downplayed in "The Lord of the Rings," explicit information about them is only given in the different versions of "Silmarillion" material. However, there remain allusions to this aspect of Tolkien's writings, including "the Great Enemy" who was Sauron's master and "Elbereth, Queen of Stars" (
Morgothand Vardarespectively, two of the Valar) in the main text, the "Authorities" (referring to the Valar, literally "Powers") in the Prologue, and "the One" in Appendix A. Other non-Christian mythological or folkloric elements can be seen, including other sentient non-humans (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits and Ents), a "Green Man" ( Tom Bombadil), and spirits or ghosts ( Barrow-wights, Oathbreakers).
Tolkien's Elves and Dwarves are by and large based on Norse and related Germanic mythologies [Shippey, T.A. (2005  ). The Road to Middle-earth, 3rd ed., HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-261-10275-3.] [T.A. Shippey: Tolkien, Author of the Century HarperCollins, 2000] as well as the Celtic [ [http://www.hi.is/Apps/WebObjects/HI.woa/wa/dp?detail=1004509&name=nordals_en_greinar_og_erindi Terry Gunnell, "Tívar in a timeless land: Tolkien's Elves"] (Retrieved 2008-04-04).] . Names such as "Gandalf", "Gimli" and "Middle-earth" are directly derived from Norse mythology.
Gandalf, which means "wand elf" or "magic elf" in Old Norse, appears in the "Catalogue of Dwarves" in the Voluspa, a poem in the Norse epic the Poetic Edda. [Bellows, Henry Adams trans. "The Poetic Edda: The Mythological Poems". Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2004. Pg 7.] The figure of Gandalf is particularly influenced by the Germanic deity Odin[cite book|title=Tolkien and the Invention of Myth: A Reader By Jane Chance |year=2004 |publisher=University Press of Kentucky |pages=p169 |isbn=0813123011] in his incarnation as "The Wanderer", an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff; Tolkien stated that he thought of Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer" in a letter of 1946, nearly a decade after the character was invented. Specific influences include the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.Shippey, Tom (2000). "J. R. R. Tolkien Author of the Century", HarperCollins. ISBN 0-261-10401-2]
Tolkien may have also borrowed elements from the "
Völsunga saga", the Old Norse basis of the later German " Nibelungenlied" and Richard Wagner's opera series, " Der Ring des Nibelungen", also called the Ring Cycle — specifically a magical golden ring and a broken sword which is reforged. In the "Völsungasaga", these items are respectively Andvarinautand Gram, and very broadly correspond to the One Ringand Narsil/Andúril. Finnish mythologyand more specifically the Finnish national epic " Kalevala" were also acknowledged by Tolkien as an influence on Middle-earth.cite news | first = Brian | last = Handwerk | title = "Lord of the Rings" Inspired by an Ancient Epic | url = http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/12/1219_tolkienroots.html | work = National Geographic News | publisher = National Geographic Society | pages = 1–2 | date = 2004-03-01| accessdate = 2006-10-04 ] In a similar manner to "The Lord of the Rings", the "Kalevala" centres around a magical item of great power, the Sampo, which bestows great fortune on its owner, but never makes its exact nature clear. Like the One Ring, the Sampo is fought over by forces of good and evil, and is ultimately lost to the world as it is destroyed towards the end of the story. In another parallel, the latter work's wizard character Väinämöinenalso has many similarities to Gandalf in his immortal origins and wise nature, and both works end with their respective wizard departing on a ship to lands beyond the mortal world. Tolkien also based elements of his Elvish language Quenyaon Finnish. [cite web|url=http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngbeyond/rings/language.html|title="Cultural and Linguistic Conservation"|accessdate=16 April |accessyear=2006]
Specific literature influences on "The Lord of the Rings" from European mythologies include the Anglo-Saxon poem
Beowulf, which influenced the figures of the Rohirrim. Another Anglo-Saxon poem, "The Wanderer," is paraphrased by Aragorn as an example of Rohirric verse. Tolkien may have also borrowed elements from the " Völsunga saga" (the Old Norse basis of the later German " Nibelungenlied" and Richard Wagner's opera series, " Der Ring des Nibelungen", also called the Ring Cycle), specifically a magical golden ring and a broken sword which is reforged. In the "Völsungasaga", these items are respectively Andvarinautand Gram, and very broadly correspond to the One Ringand Narsil/Andúril.
Macbeth" also influenced Tolkien in a number of ways. The Entattack on Isengardwas inspired by "Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane" in the play; Tolkien felt men carrying boughs were not impressive enough, and thus he used actual tree-like creatures. [Carpenter, Humphrey (2000). "J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography", Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-05702-1]
Due to the common use of the same textual sources employed by Tolkien and Wagner there are a large list of close parallels between "The Lord of the Rings" and the
Der Ring des Nibelungen. Several critics have made the assumption that the novel was directly derived from Richard Wagner's opera.
Despite the similarities of his work to the "Volsunga saga" and the "Nibelungenlied", which were the basis for
Richard Wagner's opera series, Tolkien dismissed critics' direct comparisons to Wagner, telling his publisher, 'Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases.' According to Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, the author held Wagner's interpretation of the relevant Germanic myths in contempt. [ME-ref|Carpenter]
In the contrary sense, some critics hold that Tolkien's work borrows so liberally from Wagner that Tolkien's work exists in the shadow of Wagner's. [ [http://www.newyorker.com/critics/atlarge/articles/031222crat_atlarge?031222crat_atlarge "The Ring and the Rings".] Alex Ross. Posted
December 15 2003. Retrieved January 27 2007.]
Others, such as
Tom Shippey[ Tom Shippey,The Road to Middle Earth, page 296 ] and Gloriana St. Clair [ [http://shelf1.library.cmu.edu/books/gloriana/ CMU Libraries: Book: Tolkien's Cauldron ] ] , attribute the resemblances to the fact that Tolkien and Wagner have created homologue works based in the same sources.
However, other researchers have an intermediary position, stating that both the authors, indeed, "used" the same source materials but that Tolkien was, in fact, indebted to some of the original developments, insights and artistic uses made upon those sources that first appeared in Wagner, such as the pivotal "concept of the Ring as giving the owner mastery of the world that was Wagner's own contribution to the myth of the Ring" [http://tolkienonline.de/etep/1ring5.html 5. Tolkien's Ring and Der Ring des Nibelungen ] ] Wagner, probably, developed this element by combining the ring with a magical wand mentioned in the Nibelungelied that could give to its wearer the control "over the race of men. ["The source for this quality seems to have been a relatively insignificant line from the Nibelungenlied, which says that the Nibelung treasure included a tiny golden wand that could make its possessor the lord of all mankind"http://www.viking.ucla.edu/volsungs/wagner.html.] [In "it was nothing other / than gold and jewels rare.And if to every mortal / on earth were dealt a share,Ne’er ’twould make the treasure / by one mark the less.Not without good reason / forsooth would Hagen it possess.""The wish-rod lay among them, / of gold a little wand.Whosoe’er its powers / full might understand,The same might make him master / o’er all the race of men.Of Alberich’s kin full many / with Gernot returned" http://www.authorama.com/nibelungenlied-22.html] .Several of the characteristics possessed by the One Ring, its inherent malevolence and corrupting power upon the minds and wills, were not present in the mythical sources but have a central role in Wagner's opera.
Edward.R. Haymes [ [http://journal.oraltradition.org/authors/show/247 Oral Tradition Journal ] ] [ [http://www.wagner-dc.org/haymes04_lec.html The Two Rings ] ] , states that "Tolkienians are fond of saying that the similarities between the two cycles can be explained by their use of the same medieval sources" but "that Tolkien must have absorbed Wagner’s notion of the ring even though he probably knew the Icelandic sources Wagner had used better than the composer himself" and that "there are too many aspects of Wagner’s specific adaptation of the ring motif that show up in Tolkien for this to be an accident". He also adds that "the Icelandic versions of the story do not provide any characteristics of the ring (the
Andvarinaut) besides its ability to create riches for Andvari and the curse he places on it. (...)It does not have any mysterious effect on anyone. In Wagner and Tolkien the ring has virtually the same mysterious effect. It draws men and women to desire the ring, even at the cost of their own lives. It affects everyone who touches it in some way, although some more than others"." These elements were part of the original contribution of Wagner to the "Ring" mythos and were incorporated by Tolkien in his work.Therefore this opinion, shared by Jim Allan ( AKA "Jallan") [ author of Tolkien Language Notes, published in 1974] [ [http://forums.theonering.com/viewtopic.php?t=78519&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight= LOTR a retelling of another story?? - The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien - The One Ring ] ] [ [http://forums.theonering.com/viewtopic.php?t=63774&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight= Tolkien views on Wagner - The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien - The One Ring ] ] . and "Spengler", columnist of the Asian Times [ [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/EA11Aa02.html Asia Times ] ] [ [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/ID24Aa01.html Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy - Tolkien's Christianity and the pagan tragedy ] ] , reflects the fact that Wagner gave to the cursed ring's motif a prominence that was absent of his ( and Tolkien's) Norse and Teutonic sources using it in order to "fill-in" the gaps of the mythological narratives in such a way that seems to have influenced Tolkien.
Edward Haymes also states based in reports included in Tolkien's Biography and The Inklings's book, both written by
Humphrey Carpenter, that:"If Tolkien had never heard of Wagner; if the Ring of the Nibelung had not been a part of every young man’s education in the first quarter of the twentieth century; if his best friend ( C. S. Lewis) had not been a powerful Wagnerian; then we might believe that Tolkien had derived some, if not all these aspects from other sources, but the evidence is overwhelming"
Consequently, there is evidence that Tolkien's denial of a relationship between his Ring and Nibelungen Ring "was an overreaction to the statements of"
Ake Ohlmarks, Tolkien's Swedish translator that, in his introduction to his much criticized translation of Lord of the Rings,"mixed material from various legends, some which mention no ring and one which concerns a totally different ring " Tolkien was infuriated by this fact and, thus, used the often quoted "one sentence rebuttal" [ [http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q1-Wagner FAQ of the Rings ] ] that "wasn't strictly accurate".
Spengler argues that "Tolkien well may have written his epic as an "anti-Ring" to The Ring of the Nibelungs" that "gave resonance to National Socialism during the inter-war years of the last century as well as Tolkien does the same for Anglo-Saxon democracy". This analysis complements the observations made by Dr. Bradley J. Birzer [ in the Lecture Title: "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance eases": Tolkien, Wagner, Nationalism,and Modernity", Professor of History at Hillsdale College [http://www.isi.org/lectures/text/pdf/birzer.pdf] ] that put emphasis in Tolkien and Wagner's divergent political and religious ideas and agendas.
David Harvey argues that " [i] n terms of creative background, both Rings have a common ancestry and, as ingredients of a mythological setting, have certain symbolic similarities. But it is quite clear that Tolkien's work owes nothing to Der Ring des Nibelungen, and it is impossible to draw comparisons between the two works. The few similarities that there are operate as faint and disparate echoes of one another, coming from a distant and common source." Harvey points out that both rings are fundamentally different despite superficial similarities: "...Wagner's Ring is about the power of love juxtaposed against the love of power. It has also been described as the rape of the purity of Nature in the pursuit of power. Whatever power the Ring has, any evil associated with it comes from without, or from the curses. Unlike Sauron's Ring, it does not have or possess the evil power of its maker. ... [Wagner's] Ring is not inherently evil. But whoever takes the Ring takes it subject to its curses. In addition, the Ring functions as a means to power. It is the love of power that attracts. It does not have the addictive qualities that are manifested in Gollum, Bilbo and Frodo. But it does have power inherent within it. But that power must be evil, for there is no love associated with it. The power that is given by the Ring could not be used for a beneficial or altruistic purpose, since such purpose requires love as a pre-condition."
On a more personal level, some locations and characters were inspired by Tolkien's childhood in
Sareholeand Birmingham.ME-ref|Letters|#178 & #303] It has also been suggested that The Shire and its surroundings were influenced by the Iron Age and Roman mineral workings and remains which Tolkien saw in 1929 when working with archaeologist Mortimer Wheelerat Lydney Parkin the Forest of Dean[cite web|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire/films/tolkien.shtml|title="Tolkien's tales from Lydney Park"|accessdaymonth=22 August |accessyear=2008] ; or alternatively were based on the countryside around Stonyhurst Collegein Lancashirewhere he frequently stayed during the 1940s. [cite web|url=http://www.travellady.com/Issues/Issue64/64E-hobbits.htm|title="In the Valley of the Hobbits"|accessdaymonth=5 October |accessyear=2006]
In addition "The Lord of the Rings" was crucially influenced by Tolkien's experiences during World War I and his son's during
World War II. The central action of the books — a climactic, age-ending war between good and evil — is the central event of many mythologies, notably Norse, but it is also a clear reference to the well-known description of World War I, which was commonly referred to as "the war to end all wars".
After the publication of "The Lord of the Rings" these influences led to speculation that the One Ring was an
allegoryfor the nuclear bomb. ["The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power," (Revised Edition, by Jane Chance, copyright 2001). University Press of Kentucky, cited in cite web |url=http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngbeyond/rings/influences.html |title=INFLUENCES ON "THE LORD OF THE RINGS" | publisher=National Geographic Society] Tolkien, however, repeatedly insisted that his works were not an allegory of any kind. [Tolkien, J. R. R. from "Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics". Macmillan Reference USA. Cited in cite web |url=http://www.bookrags.com/research/tolkien-j-r-r-este-0001_0004_0/ |title=J. R. R. Tolkien Summary |publisher=BookRags] He states in the foreword to "The Lord of the Rings" that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one.cite book |last=Tolkien |first=J.R.R. |title=The Lord of the Rings |id=ISBN 0-261-10238-9|year=1991 |publisher=HarperCollins] Instead he preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times. Tolkien had already completed most of the book, including the ending in its entirety, before the first nuclear bombs were made known to the world at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
Nevertheless there is a strong theme of despair in the face of new mechanized warfare that Tolkien himself had experienced in the trenches of World War I. The development of a specially bred Orc army, and the destruction of the environment to aid this, also have modern resonances; and the effects of the Ring on its users evoke the modern literature of drug addiction as much as any historic quest literature.
It is also clear that the Ring has broad applicability to the concept of absolute power and its effects, and that the plot hinges on the view that anyone who seeks to gain absolute worldly power will inevitably be corrupted by it. Some describe the element of the passing of a mythical "Golden Age" as influenced by Tolkien's concerns about the growing encroachment of
urbanisationand industrialisationinto the "traditional" English lifestyle and countryside. [ME-ref|Letters|#19] The concept of the "ring of power" itself is also present in Plato's "Republic", Wagner's Ring Cycle, and in the story of Gyges' ring (a story often compared to the Book of Job). Some locations and characters were inspired by Tolkien's childhood in Sarehole(then a Worcestershirevillage, now part of Birmingham) and Birmingham. It has also been suggested that The Shire and its surroundings were based on the countryside around Stonyhurst Collegein Lancashirewhere Tolkien frequently stayed during the 1940s. [cite web|url=http://www.travellady.com/Issues/Issue64/64E-hobbits.htm|title="In the Valley of the Hobbits"|accessdate=5 October |accessyear=2006]
Infobox Book |
name = The Silmarillion
image_caption = 1977 George Allen & Unwin hardback edition.
J. R. R. Tolkien
language = English
Alternate history, Fantasy
Allen & Unwin
release_date = 1977
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 365
isbn = 0048231398"The Silmarillion" is a complex work exhibiting the influence of many sources.
A major influence was the Finnish epic "
Kalevala", especially the tale of Kullervo. Tolkien admitted that he had been "greatly affected" by Finnish mythologies, [Harv|Carpenter|1981|loc=#131] and even credited Kullervo's story with being the "germ of [his] attempt to write legends". [Harv|Carpenter|1981|loc=#257] Tolkien attempted to rework the story of Kullervo into a story of his own, and though he never finished, [Harv|Carpenter|1981|loc=#1, footnote 6] similarities to the story can still be seen in the tale of Túrin Turambar. [Harv|Chance|2004|pp=288-292]
Greek mythologyis also apparent. The island of Númenor, for example, recalls Atlantis. [Harv|Carpenter|1981|loc=#154, 227] Tolkien even borrows the name "Atlantis" and reworks it into the Elvish name "Atalantë" for Númenor, [Harv|Silmarillion|1977|loc=p. 281|Ref=Silmarillion] thus furthering the illusion that his mythology simply extends the history and mythology of the real world. [ME-ref|fotr|"Note on the Shire Records"]
Greek mythology also colours the Valar, who borrow many attributes from the Olympian gods.cite book
last = Purtill
first = Richard L.
authorlink = Richard Purtill
title = J. R. R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, and Religion
Harper & Row
year = 2003
location = San Francisco
pages = 52, 131
isbn = 0-89870-948-2] The Valar, like the Olympians, live in the world, but on a high mountain, separated from mortals; [cite book
last = Stanton
first = Michael
title = Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards: Exploring the Wonders and Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
publisher = Palgrave Macmillan
year = 2001
location = New York
pages = 18
isbn = 1-4039-6025-9]
Ulmo, Lord of the Waters, owes much to Poseidon, and Manwë, the Lord of the Air and King of the Valar, to Zeus. But the correspondences are only approximate; Tolkien borrows ideas from Greek mythology, but does not model the Valar and Maiar on Greek deities.
Similarly, the Valar also contain elements of
Norse mythology. Several of the Valar have characteristics resembling various Æsir, the gods of Asgard. [cite book
last = Garth
first = John
title = Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth
publisher = Houghton Mifflin Company
year = 2003
location = New York
pages = 86]
Thor, for example, physically the strongest of the gods, can be seen both in Oromë, who fights the monsters of Melkor, and in Tulkas, the physically strongest of the Valar.Harv|Chance|2004|p=169] Manwё, the head of the Valar, exhibits some similarities to Odin, the "Allfather". Tolkien also said that he saw the Maia Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer". [Harv|Carpenter|1981|loc=#107]
The division between the
Calaquendi(Elves of Light) and Moriquendi(Elves of Darkness) also echoes Norse mythology, which has its own Light elvesand Dark elves. [Harv|Flieger|2002|p=83] The Light elves of Norse mythology are associated with the gods, much as the Calaquendi are associated with the Valar. [Harv|Burns|2005|pp=23-25]
Bibleand traditional Christian narrative probably contribute the deepest influence on "The Silmarillion". Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic. The conflict between Melkor and Eru Ilúvatar parallels that between Lucifer and God. [Harv|Chance|2001|p=192] Further, "The Silmarillion" tells of the creation and fall of the Elves, as "Genesis" tells of the creation and fall of Man. [cite book
last = Bramlett
first = Perry
title = I Am in Fact a Hobbit: An Introduction to the Life and Works of J. R. R. Tolkien
Mercer University Press
location = Macon, Georgia
pages = 86
isbn = 0-86554-851-X] As with all of Tolkien's works, "The Silmarillion" allows room for later Christian history, and one version of Tolkien's drafts even has Finrod, a character in "The Silmarillion", speculating on the necessity of Eru's (God's) eventual
Incarnationto save humankind. ["Morgoth's Ring", Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, pp. 322, 335]
Though Tolkien wrote of "a certain distaste" for Celtic legends, "largely for their fundamental unreason",Harv|Carpenter|1981|loc=#19] "The Silmarillion" betrays some Celtic influence. The exile of the
Noldorin Elves, for example, borrows elements from the story of the Tuatha Dé Danann.cite web
last = Fimi
first = Dimitra
title = "Mad" Elves and "Elusive Beauty": Some Celtic Strands of Tolkien's Mythology
date= August 2006
url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2386/is_2_117/ai_n16676591/pg_1
pages = 6-8
accessdate = 2007-09-01] The Tuatha Dé Danann, semi-divine beings, invaded Ireland from across the sea, burning their ships when they arrived and fighting a fierce battle with the current inhabitants. The Noldor arrived in Middle-earth from Valinor and burned their ships, then turned to fight Melkor. Another parallel can be seen between the loss of a hand by
Maedhros, son of Fëanor, and the similar mutilation suffered by NuadaAirgetlám ("Silver Hand/Arm") during the battle with the Firbolg. Nuada received a hand made of silver to replace the lost one, and his later appellation has the same meaning as the Elvish name " Celebrimbor": "silver fist" or "Hand of silver" in Sindarin ("Telperinquar" in Quenya).
Another similarity between the Silmarillion and the
Lebor Gabála Érenncan be seen by comparing Nuada and Lugh(who possessed a famed magic spear, the Spear Luin) and the outcome of their respective confrontations against Balorof the Evil Eye with the events surrounding Celebrimbor and Gil-Galad(whose weapon is the spear Aeglos [ [http://www.glyphweb.com/ARDA/a/aeglos.html Encyclopedia of Arda: Aeglos (Aiglos) ] ] ) and their conflicts with Sauron of the Lidless Red Eye in the Second Age.
There is a striking similarity between Tolkien's description of Gil-galad (and the origin of his name):
"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 they stood upon a height." — "Unfinished Tales", Note 24 of
Aldarion and Erendis
T.W. Rolleston's description of Lugh in "Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race" (1911):
"So equipped, he appeared one day before an assembly Of the Danaan chiefs who were met to pay their tribute to the envoys of the Formorian oppressors; and when the Danaans saw him, they felt, it is said, as if they beheld the rising of the sun on a dry summer's day"." [ [http://www.celtic-twilight.com/celts/rolleston/chapter_iii.htm Rolleston's Myths and Legends of the Celts ] ]
The Mabinogion itself was part of the
Red Book of Hergest, which the Red Book of Westmarchprobably imitates. [David Day in Tolkien's Ring (1995) page 79: "Besides those elements already mentioned, Celtic mythology has played a fundamental part in the shaping of Tolkien's world. When we learn that the most important source of Welsh Celtic lore was preserved in the fourteenth-century Red Book of Hergest, we realize that Tolkien is making a small scholarly joke in naming his 'source' of Elf-lore the Red Book of Westmarch"] [Hooker, Mark T. "Tolkienian mathomium: a collection of articles on J. R. R. Tolkien and his legendarium", "The Feigned-manuscript Topos", pgs 176 and 177: "The 1849 translation of The Red Book of Hergest by Lady Charlotte Guest (1812-1895), which is more widely known as The Mabinogion, is likewise of undoubted authenticity (...) It is now housed in the library at Jesus College, Oxford. Tolkien's well-known love of Welsh suggests that he would have likewise been well-acquainted with the source of Lady Guest's translation. For the Tolkiennymist, the coincidence of the names of the sources of Lady Charlotte Guest's and Tolkien's translations is striking: The Red Book of Hergest and The Red Book of Westmarch. Tolkien wanted to write (translate) a mythology for England, and Lady Charlotte Guest's work can easily be said to be a 'mythology for Wales.' The implication of this coincidence is intriguing".] This fact suggests that The Silmarillion might have been conceived using the Mabinogion as one of its inspirations, a source of both its name and its structure.
Tolkien wrote that he gave the Elvish language Sindarin "a linguistic character very like (though not identical with) British-Welsh ... because it seems to fit the rather 'Celtic' type of legends and stories told of its speakers". [Harv|Carpenter|1981|loc=#144]
Other authors, such as
Tom Shippey[Tom Shippey, "The Road to Middle Earth", pp. 193–194: "The hunting of the great wolf recalls the chase of the boar Twrch Trwythin the Welsh "Mabinogion", while the motif of 'the hand in the wolf's mouth' is one of the most famous parts of the "Prose Edda", told of Fenris Wolf and the god Tyr; Huan recalls several faithful hounds of legend, Garm, Gelert, Cafall."] and David Day[ David Day in Tolkien's Ring, page 82:"In the Celtic tradition, when these radiant beings — these 'ladies in white' — take on mortal heroes as lovers, there are always obstacles to overcome. These obstacles usually take the form of an almost impossible quest. This is most clearly comparable to Tolkien in the Welsh legend of the wooing of Olwyn. Olwyn was the most beautiful woman of her age; her eyes shone with light, and her skin was white as snow. Olwyn's name means 'she of the white track', so bestowed because four white trefoils sprang up with her every step on the forest floor, and the winning of her hand required the near-impossible gathering of the 'Treasures of Britain'"."In Tolkien, we have two almost identical 'ladies in white': Lúthien in The Silmarillion, and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings". ] have pointed out the similarities between Beren and Lúthien, one of the main storylines of the Silmarillion, and Culhwch and Olwen, one the tales collected in the Welsh Mabinogion. There are, indeed, several notable close parallels between the two narratives. [ [http://home.comcast.net/~mithrandircq/Silmarillion_sources.htm Silmarillion sources, by "mithrandircq"] ]
In both, the male heroes make rash promises after having been stricken by the beauty of non-mortal maidens; both enlist the aid of great kings,
Arthurand Finrod; both show rings that prove their identities; both are set impossible tasks that include, directly or indirectly, the hunting and killing of ferocious beasts (the wild boars, Twrch Trwythand Ysgithrywyn, and the wolf Carcharoth) with the help of a supernatural hound (Cafall and Huan). Both maidens possess such beauty that flowers grow beneath their feet when they come to meet the heroes for the first time, as if they were living embodiments of spring.
last = Burns
first = Marjorie
title = Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth
University of Toronto Press
year = 2005
location = Toronto
isbn = 0-8020-3806-9
last = Chance
first = Jane
title = Tolkien's Art: A Mythology for England
University Press of Kentucky
year = 2001
location = Lexington, Kentucky
isbn = 0-8131-9020-7
last = Chance
first = Jane
title = Tolkien and the Invention of Myth: A Reader
publisher = University Press of Kentucky
year = 2004
location = Lexington, Kentucky
isbn = 0-8131-2301-1
last = Flieger
first = Verlyn
title = Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
Kent State University Press
year = 2002
location = Kent, Ohio
isbn = 0-87338-744-9
last = Turner
first = A.
title = The Silmarillion: 30 years on
Walking Tree Publishers
year = 2007
isbn = 978-3-905703-10-8
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