Flies and Spiders

From Tolkien Gateway
Flies and Spiders
Chapter of The Hobbit
EventThorin and Company traverse Mirkwood, encounter Spiders and eventually are arrested by Thranduil.
Date19 July—late August[1] T.A. 2941
LocationMirkwood (Enchanted River, Elvenking's Halls)
J.R.R. Tolkien - Wilderland map (Mirkwood).png
Preceded byQueer Lodgings
Followed byBarrels Out of Bond

Flies and Spiders is the 8th chapter of The Hobbit.


Bilbo and Thorin and Company entered Mirkwood[2] following the Elf-path. The Forest Gate was like an arch leading into a gloomy tunnel made by two great old trees with a few blackened leaves leaning together, strangled with ivy and lichen.

The path was narrow and wound in and out among the trunks. Inside the forest the quiet was deep and all the trees leaned over the dwarves forming a sort of darkened green glimmer around them. Occasionally a thin sunbeam slipped in through some opening or tangled boughs and matted twigs. There were black squirrels and dark dense cobwebs with thick threads often stretched from tree to tree or tangled in the lower branches on either side. For some unexplained reason, there were none stretched across the path. There was no movement of air under the roof, and it was still, dark and stuffy even for the dwarves.

In the nights it then became pitch-dark except for pairs of yellow, red or green eyes appearing and fading. The dwarves slept all closely huddled together with watchers in turn. They had tried lighting watch-fires, but it seemed to bring hundreds of eyes and thousands of big dark-grey and black moths or huge bats.

Bilbo was hungry, as they were extremely careful with their provisions, but days after days, the food was beginning to get low. They wasted many arrows shooting at the squirrels, before they managed to bring one down only to find that it had horrible taste. They were thirsty too when one day they found their path blocked by a gloomy stream, the Enchanted River Beorn had warned them about; so they did not drink from it but only took with their emptied skins.

There had been a wooden bridge across, but it had rotted only the broken posts were left, but Bilbo, who had the best sight, noted a black little boat against the far bank. Fíli, who was the youngest and with the best sight, threw an iron hook (for catching the packs to the straps about their shoulders) according to Bilbo's instructions. It caught but Fíli pulled in vain since the boat was tied. Kíli, Óin and Glóin came to his help until suddenly they all fell over on their backs. Bilbo and Balin stopped and seized the boat before it floated off down the current.

Thorin, Bilbo, Fíli and Balin went across the river first by using another rope and hook to pull the boat back across. As they were crossing, Bombur fell in the river. The rest of the company made it safely across, but they were stuck carrying Bombur. The boat then drifted away along the stream. Soon after the crossing, some white deer appeared on the path. Thorin tried to stop the dwarves from firing at them, but it was too late. Not only did they miss the deer, but they also lost their arrows.

Around a week later, Thorin suggested that "Someone" (obviously Bilbo) should have a look around at the treetops. Bilbo climbed up, saw a group of "Black Emperor" butterflies, but he could see no end to the trees. When he got down and told the dwarves, they were quite hopeless, when suddenly, Bombur awoke! He had been dreaming that he was having a feast with a Woodland King. Bombur was quite unhappy to find that there was no food, But Balin saw far off a twinkle of light. They followed it and saw a feast of Wood-elves, With the very Woodland King Bombur had described. As they were all starving, they ran in, but all the lights went out, and the Wood-elves vanished.

Thorin decided it was best to send Bilbo in alone to talk with them. when Bilbo went in, he fell into the very same sleep Bombur caught. had Dori not tripped on him, he would never have been found. They managed to wake Bilbo, when the Elves started an even more magnificent feast than before. This time Thorin stepped out, and the lights went out again. Bilbo was calling to look for the others, but the cries got fainter, so he laid down at a tree and slept.

He woke up the next morning to a hideous surprise! He was tied up by a spider! He killed the spider with his sword, which he would now call Sting. He put on his ring and wandered towards the company. When he saw that the dwarves were to become food for these malicious creatures, he threw stones at the Spiders, before luring them away with an insulting song. The spiders tried to close him in with a web, but he cut through it and ran back to free the dwarves. He had taken off his ring for this, and when the Spiders came back, they saw him. A big battle began, and in order to fend the spiders off, he told his friends he would "disappear" before putting on his ring and fighting the Spiders. Then Balin led an attack with the dwarves, sending showers of stones at the Spiders. The dwarves then ran while Bilbo fought the Spiders. When Bilbo was getting too tired, the Spiders gave up.

When Bilbo caught up, Balin asked for an explanation of the Ring. Bilbo gave an untruthful tale of the Riddle Game. Eventually everyone started to go to sleep. Once everyone was asleep, Dwalin realized Thorin was missing. Thorin had fallen asleep when he barged into the feast, and the Wood-Elves took him to their halls to testify to their king. Since Thorin would not tell of the purpose of their quest, he was imprisoned.


In this chapter, it is mentioned that "they started their journey that May morning long ago". This contradicts the chapter Roast Mutton where it is mentioned that they departed "one fine morning just before May".


  1. "A few leaves came rustling down to remind them that outside autumn was coming on"
  2. The date is July 18 or 19 of T.A. 2941