Author Topic: Ask a Tolkien question  (Read 3239 times)

comrade_general

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2014, 04:43:16 PM »
When Sauron disguised himself as a vampire, what exactly is a vampire in Tolkienology and what does it look like?

Glaurung

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2014, 11:13:32 PM »
In The Return of the Shadow and The Peoples of Middle Earth. I'm just researching it on the wiki following the sources they cite.
Thanks for the pointer; that's enough for me to find it.

In The Return of the Shadow, chapter 12 ("At Rivendell", covering what became "Many Meetings" in the published LotR), pages 214 - 215 have a paragraph on the subject:
Quote from: Christopher Tolkien
... long after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, my father gave a great deal of thought to the matter of Glorfindel ... He came to the conclusion that Glorfindel of Gondolin ... and Glorfindel of Rivendell were one and the same: he was released from Mandos and returned to Middle-earth in the Second Age.

The Peoples of Middle-earth returns to the subject: chapter 13 ("Last Writings") starts with six pages on Glorfindel, including two essays, which are evidently Tolkien's "great deal of thought" on the subject. These seem to have been written in the last year of Tolkien's life.

It also says that Tolkien decided Elf names were unique
The second essay in The Peoples of Middle-earth includes this:
Quote from: J.R.R. Tolkien
This repetition of so striking a name, though possible, would not be credible. No other major character in the Elvish legends as reported in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings has a name borne by another Elvish person of importance.
As I read this, Elf names are not necessarily unique, but Tolkien decided (very late in his life) all the important ones are. I think Glorfindel is the only case affected by this.

Morgoth was more powerful than Sauron and Fingolfin managed to slice that guy pretty bad. Even if he did kind of get stomped as well.
Morgoth was the single most powerful Vala, and hence the most powerful being in Middle-earth. So I think Fingolfin was doing pretty well to wound him even once, let alone eight times.

When Sauron disguised himself as a vampire, what exactly is a vampire in Tolkienology and what does it look like?
I think you're thinking of Thuringwethil (Sauron's messenger) rather than Sauron himself. She only appears in "Of Beren and Luthien" (when Luthien takes her shape to enter Angband) and is described as "a bat-like creature ... with creased wings" and as having "great fingered wings ... barbed at each joint's end with an iron claw". Basically a big, scary bat.

Clockwork

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2014, 12:07:41 AM »
RE: Names, ah ok. Wikis are as fallible as the people that write them, perhaps I'm the fool for putting too much stock in them.

RE: Fingolfin. Yeah that's what I thought, which means that if no Elf could match Sauron then these new elves kind of suck :P
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comrade_general

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2014, 01:36:46 AM »
When Sauron disguised himself as a vampire, what exactly is a vampire in Tolkienology and what does it look like?
I think you're thinking of Thuringwethil (Sauron's messenger) rather than Sauron himself. She only appears in "Of Beren and Luthien" (when Luthien takes her shape to enter Angband) and is described as "a bat-like creature ... with creased wings" and as having "great fingered wings ... barbed at each joint's end with an iron claw". Basically a big, scary bat.
I do remember a single sentence somewhere that states in fact that Sauron took the form of a vampire, among other things. But if Thuringwethil is what a vampire is in Tolkienology then that answers my question.

Glaurung

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2014, 11:20:55 AM »
CG: you might well be right; I have some vague memory of this myself. Unfortunately, either that reference is not indexed as such in the Silmarillion, or I missed it when I was scanning through the book yesterday. If you can remember where it was, I'd like to know.

More generally, I'd expect a 'vampire' in Tolkien's world to be a kind of bat; the 'Dracula' type doesn't seem to fit, somehow. The only creatures that survive physical death are Elves and Maiar (because they are naturally immortal, and get re-embodied), and one or two special cases of Men (by divine intervention). I suspect that the modern idea of vampires conflicted with Tolkien's religious sensibilities.

Jubal

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2014, 11:42:54 AM »
Glaurung, It depends what you mean by survive death surely - wights, wraiths, and the army of the dead spring to mind?
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comrade_general

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2014, 12:46:16 PM »
It should be in "Of Beren and Luthien". It was just briefly mentioned.

Glaurung

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2014, 01:40:22 PM »
It should be in "Of Beren and Luthien". It was just briefly mentioned.
Many thanks - I'll try to re-read it in detail this evening.

Glaurung, It depends what you mean by survive death surely - wights, wraiths, and the army of the dead spring to mind?
Hmmm, I think I was rather hasty there. Unfortunately such counter-examples don't readily come to my mind when I've come up with an idea like that.  :(
I think some analysis is called for, but that too will have to wait for this evening.

RE: Names, ah ok. Wikis are as fallible as the people that write them, perhaps I'm the fool for putting too much stock in them.
I wouldn't worry - Tolkien could easily have said something different elsewhere in his writing. Consistency doesn't seem to have been one of his strong points, and he spent a lot of his later years trying to ret-con stuff he'd done earlier. These essays about Glorfindel are a good example, and one where he succeeded in working things out well. The theological status of orcs was much more difficult.

Also, thanks very much for getting me to look into this. "One Glorfindel or two" is a long-standing controversy amongst Tolkien fans - I'm surprised a definite opinion from Tolkien has been available for so long, and yet doesn't seem to have percolated through fandom enough for me to have heard about it.

Clockwork

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2014, 06:53:02 PM »
I don't think they actually died (as in brain activity/consciousness ceased), I think their bodies just change state.
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Glaurung

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2014, 09:52:22 PM »
It should be in "Of Beren and Luthien". It was just briefly mentioned.
I found it, I think - amidst a section I scanned through last night. It's just after the combat of Sauron (in wolf form) with Huan, when Sauron yields to Luthien:
Quote from: J.R.R. Tolkien
And immediately he took the form of a vampire, great as a dark cloud across the moon, and he fled, dripping blood from his throat upon the trees
So that implies to me at least something large and flying.

Later on, the paragraph mentioning Thuringwethil says specifically
Quote from: J.R.R. Tolkien
She was the messenger of Sauron, and was wont to fly in vampire's form to Angband
and the following description clearly indicates that "vampire's form" is bat-like.

Oddly enough, I don't think there's any other mention in the Silmarillion or LotR of anything having "vampire's form" (or it could just be my dodgy memory again).

comrade_general

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Re: Ask a Tolkien question
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2014, 11:24:32 PM »
That's why it was odd to me and I always wondered about it.