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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tom Bombadil

'Eldest, that's what I am. Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless — before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'”
Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, 
Chapter 7, “In the House of Tom Bombadil”

{Frodo tells Tom his story, and lets him look at the Ring.}
It seemed to grow larger as it lay for a moment on his big brown-skinned hand. Then suddenly he put it to his eye and laughed. For a second the hobbits had a vision, both comical and alarming, of his bright blue eye gleaming through a circle of gold. Then Tom put the Ring round the end of his little finger and held it up to the candlelight. For a moment the hobbits noticed nothing strange about this. Then they gasped. There was no sign of Tom disappearing!.”
{Tom plays with the Ring a bit, then returns it. Frodo checks that the Ring is still working normally by putting it on and attempting to slip away.}
'Hey there!' cried Tom, glancing toward him with a most seeing look in his shining eyes. 'Hey! Come Frodo, there! Where be you a-going? Old Tom Bombadil's not as blind as that yet. Take off your golden ring! Your hand's more fair without it. Come back! Leave your game and sit down beside me! We must talk a while more, and think about the morning.'”
Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, 
Chapter 7, “In the House of Tom Bombadil”

{Elrond says:}“'... But I had forgotten Bombadil, if indeed this is still the same that walked the woods and hills long ago, and even then was older than the old. That was not then his name. Iarwain Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless. But many another name he has since been given by other folk: Forn by the Dwarves, Orald by Northern Men, and other names besides. He is a strange creature, but maybe I should have summoned him to our Council.'
'He would not have come,' said Gandalf.
'Could we not still send messages to him and obtain his help?' asked Erestor. 'It seems that he has a power even over the Ring.'
'No, I would not put it so,' said Gandalf. 'Say rather than the Ring has no power over him. He is his own master. But he cannot alter the Ring itself, nor break its power over others. And now he is withdrawn into a little land, within bounds that he has set, and he will not step beyond them.'
'But within those bounds nothing seems to dismay him,' said Erestor. 'Would he not take the Ring and keep it there, for ever harmless?'
'No,' said Gandalf, 'not willingly. He might do so, if all the free people begged him, but he would not understand the need. And if he were given the Ring, he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it way. Such things have no hold on his mind. He would be a most unsafe guardian.'”
{Glorfindel notes that it is too late to send the Ring to Tom Bombadil unnoticed.} “...'Soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place and would bend all his power toward it. Could that power be defied by Bombadil alone? I think not. I think that in the end, if all else were conquered, Bombadil would fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come.'
'I know little of Iarwain save the name,' said Galdor; ... 'Power to defy our Enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself. And yet we see that Sauron can torture and destroy the very hills. What power still remains lies with us, here in Imladris, or with Círdan at the Havens, or in Lórien.' ...”
Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, 
Chapter 2, “The Council of Elrond”

Belenos                    (belenosstormchaser.magic)
Shawn Daysleeper 
Lihan Taifun           
AelKennyr Rhiano 

Tom Bombadil is a mysterious figure the hobbits meet just outside the Shire. He has a great deal of authority within his own territory – the Old Forest, and takes no interest at all in events outside the Forest. He is unaffected by the Ring: it holds no temptation for him, and people wearing the Ring are not invisible to him.

Tolkien deliberately left him as a mysterious character. There have been many theories about his race and origins.

Reasons why Tom might be an ainu:
From his description of how old he is, “ainu” is the only race that fits. Unless Tom might be Eru in disguise.
why Tom might be Aulë in diguise:
Tom's wife Goldberry fits well with Yavanna.
against Aulë:
Aulë never showed this much interest in living things, in the past.
why he might be Manwë:
Manwë was “first” among the Valar.
Tom's favorite color – blue – makes sense for Manwë as patron of the sky. The blue feather in Tom's hat fits with Manwë's Eagles.
It makes sense for Manwë to be watching but not interfering with events in Middle Earth.
against Manwë:
It would be a very deep disguise for Manwë to be dancing around and singing nonsense songs.
Or perhaps Tom is some generalized embodiment of “the earth” or “nature”, without being specifically “ainu.”

When Tom says he is “Eldest,” does that mean “eldest of his own race”, or “eldest of the beings currently living in this part of Middle Earth”?

If Tom were an Ainu, would Gandalf be aware of that fact? Probably. Would Gandalf tell the hobbits?

What function does Tom Bombadil serve in the story? The episode of the four hobbits meeting Tom is a fun scene, but it seems hardly connected to the story of the Ring (which is why Peter Jackson, among others, left it out). One suggestion is that Tolkien, writing at the beginning of WWII, wanted to show that the forces of life and nature go on, unaffected by wars and politics.

Belenos:                     ok then.. Tom Bombadil.. :)
Lihan Taifun:            Tom Bombadil ... Belenos, do you know anything about him? You haven' t ready LotR yet
Belenos:                     only that is what the breeder called the daddy siamese of a couple of cats I own?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  lol!
Lihan Taifun:            lol
Shawn Daysleeper:  smiles. kittties hehe
Belenos:                     that's about it.. :)
Lihan Taifun:            he is a mysterious figure that the hobbits meet in their travels
Belenos listens with interest
Lihan Taifun:            he lives in the Old Forest just outside the Shire. he is quite powerful within the Old Forest -- he rescues the hobbits from Old Man Willow. and he takes absolutely no interest in events outside the Forest
Belenos:                     powerful how?
Lihan Taifun:            Old Man Willow had trapped several hobbits, and Tom came up and just told the willow to let them go, and he did
Shawn Daysleeper:  his singing seems to have an effect on the trees and other living things in the Forest too
Belenos:                     so he had authority
AelKennyr Rhiano nods listening
Lihan Taifun:            yes, a lot of authority, within his very limited sphere of influence. the Ring had no effect at all on him
Belenos:                     did he have the ring at one point?
Lihan Taifun:            he could see Frodo when Frodo was wearing the Ring
AelKennyr Rhiano:  how was that possible?
Lihan Taifun:            good question. and the Ring had no appeal or interest for Tom. he made the comment that is was just a silly trinket. and from other things Gandalf said, that was literally true -- Tom wasn't affected or interested in the Ring
Belenos:                     btw.. what was he?. human, hobbit?.. elf?
Lihan Taifun:            THAT, Belenos, is a question Tolkien never answered. he left it deliberately mysterious
Belenos:                     okayyyy
Lihan Taifun:            let me quote what Tom said about himself, when the hobbits asked him
Lihan Taifun:            "'Eldest, that's what I am. Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless -- before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'"
Belenos:                     he sounds like an ainur..
Lihan Taifun:            that quote makes more sense if the "Dark Lord" he is referring to is Morgoth
Shawn Daysleeper:  nods
Lihan Taifun:            "ainur" is one of the the more common theories
AelKennyr Rhiano:  he does
Belenos whispers: there are other dark lords?
Lihan Taifun:            Sauron; Sauron is the "Dark Lord" that would come to Frodo's mind
Belenos:                     oh ok
Lihan Taifun:            some people figure Tom for some kind of nature spirit
Belenos:                     ok
Lihan Taifun:            (whether that makes him a Maia, or not); some people think he might be Aule, in disguise
Shawn Daysleeper:  that sounds strange
Belenos:                     as i don't know tom's story i cannot really comment
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Why would he be Aule? Aule is not a nature spirit by definition is he?
Lihan Taifun:            why might be be a Vala? or why, if he were a Vala, would he be Aule?
Shawn Daysleeper:  Aule does not seem to care much about living natre, at least that is my impression
Lihan Taifun:            true, if he is Aule, then Aule has extended his interests since we last saw him
Belenos:                     oh gods no... not with how he spoke to yavanna about it
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes to both
Lihan Taifun:            though I can can certainly imagine Tom's wife, Goldberry, as Yavanna
Shawn Daysleeper:  yes that is true. I can imagine that
Lihan Taifun:            I think the people who see him as a Vala, do so because he says he was "first"
Belenos:                     yes.. that makes logical sense, unless he's Eru himself
Lihan Taifun smiles. There are people who think that, too
AelKennyr Rhiano: that IS interesting
Lihan Taifun:  
Shawn Daysleeper:  could also be Manwe and Varda
Lihan Taifun:            it might depend on how literally "first" is meant
AelKennyr Rhiano:  What do you mean?
Lihan Taifun:            is he saying he is the very first, or (since he is speaking to some hobbits) might he mean he was in the first group of being, and a lot older than anyone the hobbits have ever met. "first" among the Valar, or "older than hobbits or elves or anyone else around here"
Shawn Daysleeper:  right which is why I thought he could be Manwe
Lihan Taifun:            would Manwe and Varda be living in a forest, looking after trees?
Belenos:                     well when you look at what else he said about what he was there before?
Lihan Taifun:            but it would be a way to keep track of what is going on in Middle Earth
AelKennyr Rhiano:  IT would
Lihan Taifun:            if Manwe is dancing around, singing silly songs and carrying flowers home to his wife, it would be a VERY good disguise
Shawn Daysleeper:  hehe ya it would
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Who was the first Maiar?
Shawn Daysleeper:  I am just thinking hehe
AelKennyr Rhiano:  He could mean that
Lihan Taifun:            nobody can prove you wrong ;)
AelKennyr Rhiano:  oh, no, Shawn, it was a good thought.
Belenos giggles as she pictures Shawn playing Manwe dong that..
Lihan Taifun:            it would be quite a change for Manwe! a nice vacation, maybe
Shawn Daysleeper:  hehe
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I could see him being Manwe before I could envision him being Aule.
Shawn Daysleeper:  I know his blue feather was significant; it could be a reference to Eagles
AelKennyr Rhiano:  It could be. And the blue for the color of the sky?
Lihan Taifun:            oh right, he did have a blue feather, and a blue coat
Shawn Daysleeper:  was Manwe's colour, blue?
Lihan Taifun:            it should be, anyway
Shawn Daysleeper:  or do the Vala have colours associated with them? Manwe's realm is the air or sky so it makes sense
Belenos:                     and I believe yavanna was usualy robed in green?
Lihan Taifun:            it does make sense. Manwe and Varda were the first of the "good" Valar to arrive. I don't know whether Melkor arrived in Arda before or after them. or whether Tolkien might have written different versions of when Melkor arrived
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Phoenix used to dress in blue in Arda. He looked like Merlin to me, and we nicknamed him "BB" for "Big Blue."
Shawn Daysleeper:  ‚ú¶‚úßHaHaHa‚ú¶‚úß
Belenos giggles
Lihan Taifun:            oh, I had forgotten that!
AelKennyr Rhiano:  heh heh That is why I asked about who was the first Maia? he could be that Maia?
Lihan Taifun:            that is a possibility
AelKennyr Rhiano:  exactly
Shawn Daysleeper:  I am not sure Vala fall into the maia classification?
Lihan Taifun:            "the first Ainu" ?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes
Shawn Daysleeper:  to those that do not understand the higher spirits I would think they would consider Gandalf a Valar
AelKennyr Rhiano nods in agreement with Shawn.
Lihan Taifun:            would Gandalf have recognized a Vala?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I would think he would.

AelKennyr Rhiano:  Why did Tolkien create Tom? It could have had the hobbits rescued in any variety of ways? Why him?
Lihan Taifun:            I have read that Tolkien wanted to show that there were some beings -- possibly those associated with "the earth" -- who were unaffected by the politics and powers that were so important to the other characters
AelKennyr Rhiano thinks on that
Lihan Taifun:            he would have been writing this at the beginnings of WWII -- so I can imagine it being important to him that "life goes on", in spite of the wars and politics that seem so important at the time
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Tom could represent a lot of things, taken in that view....nods
Lihan Taifun:            that's just something I read
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I think it is important to consider.
Lihan Taifun:            the whole episode with Tom is very strange, and sort of not connected to the rest of the plot. it's more like something that could have happened to any adventurous hobbits who were going to Bree and got lost
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I think that is why I have trouble wrapping my head about the purpose for him.
Shawn Daysleeper:  yes, which is why it was not in the films
Lihan Taifun:            yes, both Peter Jackson and the BBC radio edition leave out those 3 chapters, and I can see why
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Now that has a lot of people upset, doesn't it?
Shawn Daysleeper:  I would have liked to seen it in the films but I see why it was left out
Lihan Taifun:            it's a fun episode, but I have trouble connecting it to the rest of the story
AelKennyr Rhiano:  nodnodnod
Belenos:                     and which book does it appear in?
Lihan Taifun:            Fellowship of the Ring, end of Chapter 6 through beginning of Chapter 8. and really all you need to know to read that part is that Frodo and his 3 friends are trying to escape the Shire, and are getting themselves lost like idiots
AelKennyr Rhiano:  heh heh
Shawn Daysleeper:  nods
Lihan Taifun:            so, also this episode shows how inept the hobbits are on their own
Belenos:                     well.. as they don't usually leave the shire i imagine finding one's way in teh world is a new skill to learn
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Very much so
Lihan Taifun:            never mind the Black Riders -- these hobbits can hardly survive overnight in the Old Forest
Shawn Daysleeper:  with out their 2nd breakfast lol
Lihan Taifun:            right, so in the next scene, when Strider/Aragorn shows up and offers to be their guide, there really is something at stake
Belenos:                     such a hardship for htem.. *grins at Shawn*
Lihan Taifun:            yeah, poor hobbits could starve between lunch and supper!
AelKennyr Rhiano:  lol

Lihan Taifun:            ((is the conversation running out now?))
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I guess...belenos and I have to duck out. We have rp tonight.
Lihan Taifun:            ok
AelKennyr Rhiano:  And I think we all need to think alot more about Tom
Shawn Daysleeper:  nods
Lihan Taifun:            we will get back to Tom when the Book Club gets to that part
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I thought it was just me that had trouble making him fit into things.
Lihan Taifun:            not at all
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Well, that makes me feel alot better
Shawn Daysleeper:  he's a strange bloke for sure
Lihan Taifun:            he is!
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Always has been for me
Shawn Daysleeper:  nods
Belenos:                     well, I'll look forward to reading his story.. but yes.. we have RP today..
Lihan Taifun:            yes, you need to be going
Shawn Daysleeper:  thank you Lihan
Lihan Taifun:            thank you all for the discussion