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Letter 211

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| #=211
 
| #=211
 
| to=[[Rhona Beare]]
 
| to=[[Rhona Beare]]
| date=[[1958#October|October 14]], [[1958]]
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| date=[[14 October]] [[1958]]
 
| subject=Languages, [[Gondor]], [[Númenor]]
 
| subject=Languages, [[Gondor]], [[Númenor]]
 
}}{{Letter|211}}
 
}}{{Letter|211}}
 
==Summary==
 
==Summary==
Covering more than six pages, Tolkien replies to several questions asked by [[Rhona Beare]]. A draft of this letter was included as [[Letter 212]].
+
Covering more than six pages, Tolkien replied to several questions asked by [[Rhona Beare]]. A draft of this letter was included as [[Letter 212]].
  
* [[Samwise Gamgee|Sam]] chants ''O Elbereth Gilthoniel'' in "[[The Choices of Master Samwise]]", whilst the rest of the book uses ''[[A Elbereth Gilthoniel]]''. Tolkien admits that it is an error on his part, but can be explained as Sam's mistake, as he did not know [[Sindarin]].
+
* [[Samwise Gamgee|Sam]] chanted ''O Elbereth Gilthoniel'' in "[[The Choices of Master Samwise]]", whilst the rest of the book used ''[[A Elbereth Gilthoniel]]''. Tolkien admited that it was an error on his part, but can be explained as Sam's mistake, as he did not know [[Sindarin]].
* Miss Beare enquires about the meaning of ''A Elbereth Gilthoniel'' and the other phrase, ''Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima''. Tolkien translates both phrases.
+
* Miss Beare enquired about the meaning of ''A Elbereth Gilthoniel'' and the other phrase, ''Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima''. Tolkien translated both phrases.
* Despite the earlier enquiries, this is only dubbed "Question 1", and involves [[Glorfindel]]'s horse, [[Asfaloth]]. He was said to have a "bridle and bit", while later in the book, it is mentioned Elves ride without saddle, bridle and bit. Tolkien admits it is an error, as the chapter was one of the earliest written. He promises to correct "bridle and bit" to "headstall" in later editions.
+
* Despite the earlier enquiries, this was only dubbed "Question 1", and involved [[Glorfindel]]'s horse, [[Asfaloth]]. He was said to have a "bridle and bit", while later in the book, it was mentioned Elves rode without saddle, bridle and bit. Tolkien admitted it was an error, as the chapter was one of the earliest written. He promised to correct "bridle and bit" to "headstall" in later editions.
* Question 2 concerns the [[One Ring]]. If [[Sauron]] had the Ring, how could [[Ar-Pharazôn]] have defeated him? Tolkien explains most of it would be mentioned in the unpublished ''Downfall of Númenor'', and cannot yet fully answer it. However, he does tell her that the Ring of Power feeds the ''potency'' and ''potentiality'' of a ruler. Without subjects, there is nothing to rule. Ar-Pharazôn had no knowledge of the Ring, so once he had subjects, Sauron's power increased again.
+
* Question 2 concerns [[the One Ring]]. If [[Sauron]] had the Ring, how could [[Ar-Pharazôn]] have defeated him? Tolkien explained most of it would be mentioned in the unpublished ''Downfall of Númenor'', and could not yet fully answer it. However, he did tell her that the Ring of Power fed the ''potency'' and ''potentiality'' of a ruler. Without subjects, there was nothing to rule. Ar-Pharazôn had no knowledge of the Ring, so once he had subjects, Sauron's power increased again.
* Question 3 concerns the [[Blue Wizards|two wizards]] of the [[Heren Istarion|order]] that had not been mentioned yet. Tolkien gives a vague answer that he knows little about them.
+
* Question 3 concerns the [[Blue Wizards|two wizards]] of the [[Heren Istarion|order]] that had not been mentioned yet. Tolkien gave a vague answer that he knew little about them.
* Question 4 is about the clothing of Middle-earth, and especially the crown of Gondor. Beare wanted to know whether it was like a classic Gaulish or Viking helmet as portrayed in popular culture. Tolkien instead likens it to the Egyptian pharaohs. Like the Númenorean realms, its [[Arnor|North Kingdom]] had a diadem of Kingship, and its [[Gondor|South Kingdom]] a loft crown.
+
* Question 4 was about the clothing of Middle-earth, and especially the crown of Gondor. Beare wanted to know whether it was like a classic Gaulish or Viking helmet as portrayed in popular culture. Tolkien instead likened it to the Egyptian pharaohs. Like the Númenorean realms, the [[Arnor|North Kingdom]] had a diadem of Kingship, and the [[Gondor|South Kingdom]] a loft crown.
* Still as part of Question 4, Miss Beare asks what the difference is between ''El'' "Elf" and ''El'' "Star", and whether inhabitants of Middle-earth would know the difference. Tolkien replies that the two words come from the same root,  but that outside of personal names, the difference is distinct as both are shortened forms.  
+
* Still as part of Question 4, Miss Beare asked what the difference was between ''El'' "Elf" and ''El'' "Star", and whether inhabitants of Middle-earth would have known the difference. Tolkien replied that the two words came from the same root,  but that outside of personal names, the difference was distinct as both were shortened forms.  
* Also as part of Question 4, Tolkien gives the translation of ''[[Legolas]]'' as "Green foliage".
+
* Also as part of Question 4, Tolkien gave the translation of ''[[Legolas]]'' as "Green foliage".
* Miss Beare asked about the [[Fell beasts|winged steed]] of the [[Witch-king]], and whether it was like a pterodactyl. Tolkien replies that it wasn't, but that it may have been a survivor of older geological eras.
+
* Miss Beare asked about the [[Fell beasts|winged steed]] of the [[Witch-king]], and whether it was like a pterodactyl. Tolkien replied that it wasn't, but that it may have been a survivor of older geological eras.
* Question 5 concerns the mention of the "Elder King"; was he [[Eru|the One]]? Tolkien tells her that it was a nickname of [[Manwë]], and most [[Valar]] were addressed by such nicknames. Eru himself did not inhabit any part of Eä.  
+
* Question 5 concerned the mention of the "Elder King"; was he [[Ilúvatar|the One]]? Tolkien told her that it was a nickname of [[Manwë]], and most [[Valar]] were addressed by such nicknames. Eru himself did not inhabit any part of Eä.  
  
Tolkien ends the letter that he intended to write a mythical story, not some sort of new religion or vision. He had based Middle-earth on the mythical concepts ''Middan-geard'' and ''oikoumenē'', that is, world in which Men live as opposed to higher powers. Theologically, it is more a collection of various concepts than an outright allegory of anything.  
+
Tolkien ended the letter saying that he intended to write a mythical story, not some sort of new religion or vision. He had based Middle-earth on the mythical concepts ''Middan-geard'' and ''oikoumenē'', that was, a world in which Men lived as opposed to higher powers. Theologically, it was more a collection of various concepts than an outright allegory of anything.  
  
 
{{letters}}
 
{{letters}}

Latest revision as of 03:19, 21 August 2012

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 211
RecipientRhona Beare
Date14 October 1958
Subject(s)Languages, Gondor, Númenor

Letter 211 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Covering more than six pages, Tolkien replied to several questions asked by Rhona Beare. A draft of this letter was included as Letter 212.

  • Sam chanted O Elbereth Gilthoniel in "The Choices of Master Samwise", whilst the rest of the book used A Elbereth Gilthoniel. Tolkien admited that it was an error on his part, but can be explained as Sam's mistake, as he did not know Sindarin.
  • Miss Beare enquired about the meaning of A Elbereth Gilthoniel and the other phrase, Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima. Tolkien translated both phrases.
  • Despite the earlier enquiries, this was only dubbed "Question 1", and involved Glorfindel's horse, Asfaloth. He was said to have a "bridle and bit", while later in the book, it was mentioned Elves rode without saddle, bridle and bit. Tolkien admitted it was an error, as the chapter was one of the earliest written. He promised to correct "bridle and bit" to "headstall" in later editions.
  • Question 2 concerns the One Ring. If Sauron had the Ring, how could Ar-Pharazôn have defeated him? Tolkien explained most of it would be mentioned in the unpublished Downfall of Númenor, and could not yet fully answer it. However, he did tell her that the Ring of Power fed the potency and potentiality of a ruler. Without subjects, there was nothing to rule. Ar-Pharazôn had no knowledge of the Ring, so once he had subjects, Sauron's power increased again.
  • Question 3 concerns the two wizards of the order that had not been mentioned yet. Tolkien gave a vague answer that he knew little about them.
  • Question 4 was about the clothing of Middle-earth, and especially the crown of Gondor. Beare wanted to know whether it was like a classic Gaulish or Viking helmet as portrayed in popular culture. Tolkien instead likened it to the Egyptian pharaohs. Like the Númenorean realms, the North Kingdom had a diadem of Kingship, and the South Kingdom a loft crown.
  • Still as part of Question 4, Miss Beare asked what the difference was between El "Elf" and El "Star", and whether inhabitants of Middle-earth would have known the difference. Tolkien replied that the two words came from the same root, but that outside of personal names, the difference was distinct as both were shortened forms.
  • Also as part of Question 4, Tolkien gave the translation of Legolas as "Green foliage".
  • Miss Beare asked about the winged steed of the Witch-king, and whether it was like a pterodactyl. Tolkien replied that it wasn't, but that it may have been a survivor of older geological eras.
  • Question 5 concerned the mention of the "Elder King"; was he the One? Tolkien told her that it was a nickname of Manwë, and most Valar were addressed by such nicknames. Eru himself did not inhabit any part of Eä.

Tolkien ended the letter saying that he intended to write a mythical story, not some sort of new religion or vision. He had based Middle-earth on the mythical concepts Middan-geard and oikoumenē, that was, a world in which Men lived as opposed to higher powers. Theologically, it was more a collection of various concepts than an outright allegory of anything.