Flies and Spiders

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Ted Nasmith - The Spiders of Mirkwood.jpg
Flies and Spiders
Chapter of The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien - Wilderland map (Mirkwood).png
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)
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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.


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