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Paths of the Dead

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| othernames=Dwimorberg Pass
 
| othernames=Dwimorberg Pass
 
| etymology=
 
| etymology=
| type=Pass
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| type=Mountain Pass
 
| location=[[White Mountains]], [[Dwimorberg]]
 
| location=[[White Mountains]], [[Dwimorberg]]
 
| inhabitants=[[Dead Men]]
 
| inhabitants=[[Dead Men]]
 
| realms=
 
| realms=
 
| description=Haunted road
 
| description=Haunted road
| events=Passing of the [[Grey Company]]
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| events=Death of [[Baldor]]</br>Passing of the [[Grey Company]]
| references=''[[The Passing of the Grey Company]]'', ''[[The Last Debate]]''
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| references=
 
|}}
 
|}}
The '''Paths of the Dead''' was a haunted pass through the [[White Mountains]].  The Paths of the Dead started at the [[Dark Door]] at the end of the long valley of [[Harrowdale]], beyond the [[Firienfield]] and the forest of [[Dimholt]], wedged in between the mountains [[Irensaga]] (Iron Saw), [[Starkhorn]], and the [[Dwimorberg]].
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The '''Paths of the Dead''' was a haunted pass through the [[White Mountains]] and the route by which [[Aragorn]] traveled from [[Rohan]] to[[Gondor]].  
  
After the Dark Door, the Paths went under the Dwimorberg, past another door where [[Aragorn]] and company found the remains of [[Baldor]], son of the second [[Kings of Rohan|King of Rohan]].  The Paths then continued past forgotten cities, emerging at the southern end of the White Mountains in [[Morthond]] vale, near the [[Stone of Erech]].
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==Description==
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The northern entrance to the Paths of the Dead was marked by lines of ancient stones leading to [[Dimholt]], a wood of black trees wedged in between the mountains [[Irensaga]] (Iron Saw), [[Starkhorn]], and the [[Dwimorberg]]. In a hollow stood a single mighty stone, before a sheer rock wall and the [[Dark Door]].  Here the path began in earnest, in a pitch-dark tunnel emanating fear.  Within the tunnel could be heard a continuous whisper of voices in an unknown language.  The wide road stretched on until it entered a great empty space.  Within this cavern lay the skeleton of a man, richly garbed, with a golden helm.  Before him were a stone door, shut fast where the man once attempted to enter; his notched, broken sword lay near and his bony hand still clutched at the cracks.  The road continued past this point until finally a rill of water broke the silence and ran next to the path to the southern exit, which was broad and high arched.  From this opening the path fell steeply between sheer cliffs until finally it issued sharp as a crack in a wall into [[Morthond]] Vale.<ref name="Grey">{{RK|V2}}</ref>
  
In the [[Second Age]], a people related to the [[Dunlendings]] had lived in the White Mountains, and they had for a time served the Dark Lord [[Sauron]]. They later swore allegiance to [[Isildur]] of [[Gondor]] and [[Arnor]], but betrayed him during the [[Last Alliance of Elves and Men]] and refused to fight on either side. For this reason, Isildur cursed them, proclaiming that, if the Alliance triumphed, they would linger in the mountains until one of his heirs called them again to fight against Sauron.
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==History==
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In {{SA|3320}} the realm of Gondor was founded.<ref name="SA">{{App|SA}}</ref>  At that time [[Isildur]] set upon the crown of the hill of [[Erech]] a black stone and called upon the [[King of the Dead|King of the Mountains]] to swear allegiance to him, which he did.<ref name="Grey"/>  However, when [[Sauron]] attacked Gondor in {{SA|3429}}<ref name="SA"/> and Isildur called upon the [[Oathbreakers|Men of the Mountains]] to honor their oath, they refused.  Isildur then cursed them and their king, proclaiming that they would have no rest until the oath was fulfilled.
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The Men of the Mountains fled before Isildur's wrath, hid in the mountains away from other men, and dwindled away.  Thereafter their haunts, the hill of Erech and the Paths of the Dead, became places of terror to living men.<ref name="Grey"/>
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In {{TA|2569}} Prince [[Baldor]] of [[Rohan]], celebrating the completion of the great hall of [[Meduseld]], vowed to traverse the Paths of the Dead. He never returned and his father, King [[Brego]], died of grief a year later.<ref>{{App|Mark}}</ref>
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In the days of [[Arvedui]], the last king of [[Arthedain]], there lived [[Malbeth]] the Seer who foretold the following:
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<poem style="font-style:italic; margin-left:20px;">
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Over the land there lies a long shadow,
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westward reaching wings of darkness.
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The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings
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doom approaches.  The Dead awaken;
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for the hour is come for the oathbreakers:
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at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again
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and hear there a horn in the hills ringing.
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Whose shall the horn be?  Who shall call them
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from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
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The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
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From the North shall he come,need shall drive him:
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he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.<ref name="Grey"/>
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</poem>
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On [[8 March]] [[Aragorn]], [[Legolas]], [[Gimli]] and the [[Grey Company]] took the Paths of the Dead.  A few days before Aragorn had told his two companions that he had used the [[Orthanc-stone]] and seen a grave threat to [[Gondor]] coming from the South. From [[Elrond]] Aragorn had received a reminder concerning the paths of the dead, and he related to them the prophecy of Malbeth.
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Before the Door only Aragorn's strength of will enabled his companions to overcome their fears and enter the Paths of the Dead.  In the central cavern they came upon Baldor's remains, which they left behind as Aragorn summoned the Dead to follow him.  Stumbling onward in the dark, Aragorn and the others emerged from the Paths above Erech, where they hurried to the Stone.
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At the Stone of Erech, at midnight, Aragorn unfurled his banner, declared himself the heir of Isildur, and commanded the Dead to aid him.<ref name="Grey"/>  They obeyed and defeated the armies of the [[Corsairs of Umbar]] who were attacking the landings in southern Gondor.  When those foes were defeated and Aragorn could claim the black ships of the Corsairs for his own, he declared that the curse was lifted and the dead departed forever.<ref>{{RK|V9}}</ref>
  
Isildur's curse succeeded: their people dwindled and eventually died out, until only their ghosts remained at the end of the [[Third Age]]. When Aragorn and company took the Paths of the Dead and, deep within the mountains, summoned them to the Stone of Erech, their shades followed him.  At the Stone at midnight, Aragorn unfurled his banner, declared himself the heir of Isildur, and commanded the dead to aid him; they obeyed, and defeated the armies of the [[Corsairs of Umbar]] who were attacking the landings in southern Gondor.  (Supposedly, the only weapon that they required was fear, driving their enemies to cast themselves madly into the sea.)  When those foes were defeated and Aragorn could claim the black ships of the Corsairs for his own, he declared that the curse was lifted and the dead departed forever.  When the dead had gone, the men of southern Gondor joined Aragorn in the ships and sailed to the aid of Minas Tirith.
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==Portrayal in adaptations==
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'''2003: ''[[The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King]]'':'''
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:In the film the battle with the Corsairs occurred off-screen and the Army of the Dead accompanied Aragorn to Minas Tirith to defeat Sauron's orcs, after which Aragorn declared their curse lifted.
  
In [[Peter Jackson's The Return of the King]] film the battle with the Corsairs occurred off-screen and the Army of the Dead accompanied Aragorn to Minas Tirith to defeat Sauron's orcs, after which Aragorn declared their curse lifted.
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{{references}}
 
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The fell riders of the "Furious Host" of the restless dead, the "[[Wild Hunt]]" that may burst upon the unwary traveller in lonely places, is the theme from northern European folklore that Tolkien evoked, vividly realized and builded upon. Horses, knights, hounds are among the restless spirits in the inhuman train. [[Hans Sachs]]' poem, "Das wutend heer der kleynen dieb" (1539) describes the furious host in gruesome detail, accompanied by ravens who were plucking out the eyes of the roving dead, till at last "there came one behind, who had been hanged the same day, had still his eyes and saw me." [http://www.vinland.org/heathen/mt/wildhunt.html]  It is a measure of Aragorn's heroic nature that he dares summon the dead to account in this manner, and a superhuman sign that the rightful king has indeed returned.
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[[Category:Roads]]
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[[Category:Passes]]
 
[[Category:Passes]]
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[[Category:Roads and streets]]
 
[[Category:White Mountains]]
 
[[Category:White Mountains]]
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[[de:Pfade der Toten]]
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[[fi:Kuolleiden kulkutiet]]
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[[fr:encyclo:geographie:routes:chemins_des_morts]]

Revision as of 01:10, 5 May 2013

Darrell Sweet - The Paths of the Dead.jpg
Paths of the Dead
Physical Description
TypeMountain Pass
LocationWhite Mountains, Dwimorberg
InhabitantsDead Men
DescriptionHaunted road
General Information
Other namesDwimorberg Pass
EventsDeath of Baldor
Passing of the Grey Company

The Paths of the Dead was a haunted pass through the White Mountains and the route by which Aragorn traveled from Rohan toGondor.

Contents

Description

The northern entrance to the Paths of the Dead was marked by lines of ancient stones leading to Dimholt, a wood of black trees wedged in between the mountains Irensaga (Iron Saw), Starkhorn, and the Dwimorberg. In a hollow stood a single mighty stone, before a sheer rock wall and the Dark Door. Here the path began in earnest, in a pitch-dark tunnel emanating fear. Within the tunnel could be heard a continuous whisper of voices in an unknown language. The wide road stretched on until it entered a great empty space. Within this cavern lay the skeleton of a man, richly garbed, with a golden helm. Before him were a stone door, shut fast where the man once attempted to enter; his notched, broken sword lay near and his bony hand still clutched at the cracks. The road continued past this point until finally a rill of water broke the silence and ran next to the path to the southern exit, which was broad and high arched. From this opening the path fell steeply between sheer cliffs until finally it issued sharp as a crack in a wall into Morthond Vale.[1]

History

In S.A. 3320 the realm of Gondor was founded.[2] At that time Isildur set upon the crown of the hill of Erech a black stone and called upon the King of the Mountains to swear allegiance to him, which he did.[1] However, when Sauron attacked Gondor in S.A. 3429[2] and Isildur called upon the Men of the Mountains to honor their oath, they refused. Isildur then cursed them and their king, proclaiming that they would have no rest until the oath was fulfilled.

The Men of the Mountains fled before Isildur's wrath, hid in the mountains away from other men, and dwindled away. Thereafter their haunts, the hill of Erech and the Paths of the Dead, became places of terror to living men.[1]

In T.A. 2569 Prince Baldor of Rohan, celebrating the completion of the great hall of Meduseld, vowed to traverse the Paths of the Dead. He never returned and his father, King Brego, died of grief a year later.[3]

In the days of Arvedui, the last king of Arthedain, there lived Malbeth the Seer who foretold the following:

Over the land there lies a long shadow,
westward reaching wings of darkness.
The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings
doom approaches. The Dead awaken;
for the hour is come for the oathbreakers:
at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again
and hear there a horn in the hills ringing.
Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them
from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come,need shall drive him:
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.[1]

On 8 March Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and the Grey Company took the Paths of the Dead. A few days before Aragorn had told his two companions that he had used the Orthanc-stone and seen a grave threat to Gondor coming from the South. From Elrond Aragorn had received a reminder concerning the paths of the dead, and he related to them the prophecy of Malbeth.

Before the Door only Aragorn's strength of will enabled his companions to overcome their fears and enter the Paths of the Dead. In the central cavern they came upon Baldor's remains, which they left behind as Aragorn summoned the Dead to follow him. Stumbling onward in the dark, Aragorn and the others emerged from the Paths above Erech, where they hurried to the Stone.

At the Stone of Erech, at midnight, Aragorn unfurled his banner, declared himself the heir of Isildur, and commanded the Dead to aid him.[1] They obeyed and defeated the armies of the Corsairs of Umbar who were attacking the landings in southern Gondor. When those foes were defeated and Aragorn could claim the black ships of the Corsairs for his own, he declared that the curse was lifted and the dead departed forever.[4]

Portrayal in adaptations

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

In the film the battle with the Corsairs occurred off-screen and the Army of the Dead accompanied Aragorn to Minas Tirith to defeat Sauron's orcs, after which Aragorn declared their curse lifted.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Last Debate"