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Woses

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Ted Nasmith - The Aid of the Wild-men.jpg
Drúedain
Race
DominionsDrúadan Forest
LanguagesDrúadan language
Average heightShort
Hair colorDark
DistinctionsGood stoneworkers, mysterious powers, glowing red eyes
LifespanShorter than most Men
MembersAghan, Ghân, Ghân-buri-Ghân

Woses is a name for the Drúedain, used mainly by the Rohirrim. They were the race of Men that lived in the Drúadan Forest at the end of the Third Age. They were one of the least numerous and most mysterious races in Middle-earth.

Contents

History

First Age

The Drúedain were part of the Edain who left Hildórien for the West. They were harried and persecuted by other Men and remained secretive and suspicious. They wandered west seeking a land where they could be hidden and have peace.[1]

Historians in Gondor believed that they came from lands south of Mordor, perhaps Khand and before reaching the coasts of Haradwaith they turned north into Ithilien, and eventually were the first to cross the Anduin (probably near Cair Andros). Then they settled in the northern vales and wooden lands of the White Mountains in both sides, later known as Púkel-men.[1]

They were joined by the ancestors of the Haladin and stayed on friendly terms. When the core of their team was pressed to wander on, some Drúedain accompanied them to Beleriand.[1]

The other remained in the Mountains, in spite of their persecution by later-arrived tall Men of Darkness from the East, who hunted the Drúedain and brought them almost to extinction. They fled into the forests of Anórien and down the Cape of Andrast into Drúwaith Iaur.[1]

Groups of remaining Drúedain became numerous but were troubled by a barbarous fisher-folk which dwelt in the marshlands between the mouths of the Gwathló and Isen[2][3]

The Drúedain of Beleriand lived among the Second House of Men, the Haladin, in the First Age in the forest of Brethil.

Second Age

A number of the Drúedain were present in Númenor but started leaving the island during the time of Tar-Aldarion, foreseeing the evil that would come. No Drúedain were present before the Downfall, as had the Púkel-men of Dunharrow.[1]

Those between Isen and Gwathló and Isen were reduced to a few tribes of fishers and fowlers.[3] They began to fear the Númenóreans and when their occupation of the coastlands began, the Woses survived in the mountains of the promontory of Andrast, which was never occupied by the Númenóreans.[1] They were the reason why the Pre-Númenóreans hunted by the Sea Kings did not cross the Isen nor take refuge in the Cape, because they were afraid of the Pukel-men.[4]

At the end of the Third Age they still lived in the Drúadan Forest of the White Mountains, and at the long cape of Andrast west of Gondor. The region north of Andrast was still known as Drúwaith Iaur, or "Old Drûg land".

Though the Drúedain largely held themselves apart from the troubles and calamities of Middle-earth, they were clearly a good-hearted people: their most significant contribution to the Free peoples was showing the Rohirrim paths through their forest. Without their aid, the Rohirrim would have arrived at the Pelennor Fields much later, suffering losses from an Orc army that was waiting for them. The Woses then used poison-darts and arrows to hold off an army of Orcs searching for the Rohirrim.

Beyond that, though, their contribution to the history of Middle-earth is little. Even after the War of the Ring, when King Elessar granted the Drúadan Forest to be theirs forever, they never showed their faces again, nor was any alliance or trading system struck up between them and Gondor.

There is no record of their acts in the Fourth Age, but it is clear that they never mingled with the Free Peoples, content to live their mysterious life in the Drúadan Forest, until they faded away into the mists of history and legend.

Characteristics

In appearance, the Woses were short, stumpy-bodied men, possibly related to the Pukel-men of ancient Rohan. They had disproportionate bodies and small, sunken eyes that glowed red when they were angry or suspicious. Elves described them as 'unlovely', and it is clear that they were, though not evil, as their appearance led many to believe.

Names

  • Drughu: the Drúedain's own name for themselves. Drughu is ultimately the source of the Sindarin 'Drú' and many of the other names they are known by.
  • Drú/Drúin: Simple Sindarin term for the Drughu, singular and plural.
  • Drúath: An earlier Sindarin collective (that means, plural) term for the Drúedain, modified as early as the First Age when it became known that they were enemies of the orcs. Later used to refer to a large number of the Drúedain as opposed to 'Drúin' which was a simple pluralisation (As 'Woses' to the singular 'Wose') and Drúedain, used to refer to the race as a whole.
  • Drúadan/Drúedain: Meaning 'Drú-men'. It also has possessive qualities as in the case of Drúadan Forest
  • Drûg-folk: Rarely used collective term.
  • Róg/Rógin: Rohirric terminology, singular/plural respectively (as in 'Drúg'/'Drúedain'. In Tolkien's text it is translated as Wose(s).
  • Wose/Woses: A term borrowed from Old English by Tolkien as a translation of the Rohhirric 'Róg'. This is perhaps the most common term used by readers of the text.
  • /Rúatani: Quenya terms for the Drughu, derived from their Sindarin counterparts. Singular/plural respectively.

Etymology

The word Wose represents Tolkien's translation of the actual word róg of the Rohirrim into archaic English.

"Woses" is Anglicized (modernized) from the Old English word wāsan meaning "wild, neglected". It is seen in the name Wuduwasas (who are the direct inspiration of the Woses) and means "Wild men of the woods".

Inspirations

In Western folklore, the "wuduwasa" or "wood man" is a hairy, troll-like being supposed to inhabit woods and forests; the figure was used on coats-of-arms and illuminations during the middle-ages up to the renaissance.

Both the description of Woses, as well as the word "Wose" itself, derives from this folkloric figure. According to Tolkien his idea was to show the actual existence of wild folk, remnants of former peoples driven out by invaders, living a debased and savage life in forests and mountains.[5]

See Also

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 764-5