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Tolkienology Chapter 7: All About Hobbits


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#1 richsabre

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:13 AM

Hello and welcome to chapter 7-All About Hobbits. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a chapter- due to studying I haven’t had much time; however I’ve managed to piece this one together for you all.

This chapter is all about hobbits- I actually started writing it before the Hobbit pack news release, so it’s turned out to be a happy coincidence. Seeing as many of you know about hobbits, there may not be much new here, but hopefully this will hold some fresh insight to the race, instead of just being a repeat of what you all already know.


Hobbits are naturally core to Tolkien’s work. In fact they are pretty much the central race in the Trilogy (one could argue that in The Hobbit, dwarves were central, but you could argue either way I suppose). Keeping this in mind, you would think there’d be hoards of information out there, but this isn’t necessarily true. For one thing, we don’t really know the main aspect of the hobbit race; what they are. This enigma will be dealt with in the second part of this chapter, but for now, let me focus on what we do know.

The hobbit race first showed up in middle earth history in the year 1050 of the 3rd age. Mysteriously nothing is known of them before this time. It is said in legend that they dwelt near the banks of the Anduin, between the vales of Greenwood the Great (later to be Mirkwood) and the Misty Mountains. At the year 1050 the first of the Hobbit clan, the Harfoots, are said to have came to Eriador. It is not known for sure why the migration of the Hobbit people began, however it is generally believed to be the darkness that fell upon Greenwood the Great that drove them from their homes to take the perilous crossing over the Misty Mountains.

Whilst in the lands of the Anduin, the Hobbits had already divided in three clans- the Harfoots, the Stoors and the Fallohides. The Harfoots were the first to come west. They were browner of skin, shorter and more nimble. They preferred the hillsides and mountains as homes. Friends of the dwarves, they were longest of the three clans to preserve their love for living in holes and underground (most likely from their dwarven friends).

The Stoors came after the Harfoots and on the other hand were broader with larger hands and feet, preferring the riversides as homes. Many of them dwelt in the area of Dunland before moving further west. It was a Stoor named Deagol that found the One Ring, only to be murdered by his friend Smeagol, who became the pitiful creature known as Gollum.

Lastly came the Fallohides. They crossed north of Rivendell and were thus friendly with the elves. They were taller and fairer skinned than the others, and were lovers of trees and woodlands. More skilled in woodcraft and hunting than their counterparts, they were often the more adventurous, and thus became leaders of the Hobbit race, later to be known as Tooks and Brandybucks.

It was here in the west of Eriador that the Hobbits settled, befriending the Dunedain, whom they learnt much from. However it was not until the year 1601 that the migration continued to what became known as The Shire. Gaining permission from the current king of Arnor - Argeleb II, Marcho and Blanco, two brothers of the Fallohides, set out from Bree to settle further west. All that was demanded from the king in return was for them to keep the roads in repair, to speed the king’s messengers (a bit of a good deal if you ask me!).

Thus the years of the Shire Reckoning began, and the crossing of the Brandywine became known as the first year of the Shire. Despite being under the rule of the king of Arnor, in reality the hobbits lived in a secluded world, being under the rule of their own Thain. In fact, so peaceful and secluded was the Shire, that the hobbits eventually forgot all about the outside world, and after the fall of the North Kingdom, the outside world forgot all about Hobbits.

Despite Hobbit’s love for tunnels and holes, this became a scarcer thing in the time of Bilbo and Frodo. It was in this age that only the very rich, or very poor lived in holes. The rich lived in Smials- great tunnels with dozens of round windows, with the room to accommodate many families. The poor on the other hand lived in very basic holes, usually with one or no windows at all.

The Hobbits were a very peaceful race, and only a very few times had they gone to war. The battle of the Greenfields was the last battle in Shire memory (before the battle against Saruman of course), where Bandobras Took (Bullroarer) lobbed off the head of Golfimbul - the leader of an orc invasion. It is said the head fell down a rabbit hole leading to the game of golf!


Here I will ‘attempt’ to shine some light upon the origin of Hobbits. I do not try to pretend I am right, however hopefully at the very least this will spark an interesting discussion.

In the prologue of the Fellowship, we are given this quote

“Hobbits are relatives of ours, far nearer to us than elves, or even than dwarves.”

So what does this tell us? Well firstly that Hobbits at the very least are more closely related to men than any other race on middle earth. But how does this come about? Without going into any sticky details, we have two choices. 1. there must have been some cross inter-marriage with another race at some point. Or 2. the Hobbits evolved into a race of shorter, stockier men.

So which one seems most likely? Well let’s take a look at what we know. Firstly the Hobbits crop up near the Anduin. It is here that they are said to have interacted with the Eotheod- the ancestors of the Rohirrim (this is shown by the Rohirrim having a name for the Hobbits- Holbytla). However it is unlikely this interaction went any further. We certainly don’t see any reason to assume any Hobbits permanently settled near Rohan, nor do the Rohirrim remember the Hobbits in any form other than legend when they meet Merry and Pippin. In any case, the Hobbits were obviously a unique, individual species well before the time of Rohan.

Secondly we know of no race similar to Hobbits in earlier middle earth history. There is no mention of them in the Silmarillion. Now admittedly we can’t rule this out immediately. The reason I say this is that the Silmarillion is one of Tolkien’s oldest works of fiction, and just because Hobbits do not feature, it does not mean they weren’t there. However this is much like saying that a Starbucks has a chance of existing in middle earth, just because we aren’t told otherwise- in which case we have to be sensible and say the most likely wasn’t a Starbucks. Can we say the same for Hobbits? Well that I shall leave up to you, however be assured the word ‘Hobbit’ never once crops up in any edition of the Silmarillion, nor are they mentioned as one the three Children of Illuvatar. However we do know that the creator did not create any other children, and this only leaves Maiar, Valar, creatures (horses, eagles etc) and whatever it is that Bombadil is….and Hobbits are most certainly not any of them.

So therefore we are back where we started! Hobbits are men- we just don’t know how they separated. I am afraid i shall rather embarrasingly have to leave it here for now….

I shall leave you all with a question. How is this so? I shall be perfectly honest and say I have not the slightest idea!

stay tuned for the series to continue where it left off (weekly…or at least fortnightly :D)

Till next time….happy gaming
Rich

 

 

 


 


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#2 lleimmoen

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:14 AM

Let me be first to congratulate you on this wonderful chapter. Keeps being greater and great (with more stuff accumulating).



#3 Budgernaut

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:17 AM

 Very good stuff and quite intriguing. I'm very glad to see you included the reference to the origin of golf!

I think the most interesting question regarding hobbits is where they fit in the plan of Illuvatar. I think I have to agree with you, Richsabre, that hobbits must be men that have been separated through time and become their own unique race (or species). But what was his purpose for them? The age of men came about and hobbits disappeared, as evidenced by the fact that we don't see hobbits today. So why were hobbits created if they were not to share in the glory and dominion of man? Or phrased a different way, why did Illuvatar allow them to become a distinct race when the result was that they seemingly lost their place among his 2nd creation, mankind?

Now obviously, the hobbits had a huge role to play at the end of the third age and the ring would not have been destroyed if not for hobbits. This raises other questions in my mind. For instance, how could hobbits and men be close relatives when the hallmark of men is their quickness to fall into corruption while hobbits are particularly resistant to evil influences? I guess that's not really a good question at all. As an evolutionary biologist, I know lots of examples where sister groups cover a wider range of characters than distantly-related groups. But I still think it interesting to consider that hobbits and men are both of the same origin when they appear to be polar opposites.


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#4 richsabre

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 06:27 AM

thank you both for your kind words

as for the plan, thats a great point, and as you say, if hobbits and men shared just a little likeness it would be easier to understand….however it seems that much of hobbits 'human' knowledge came frominteractions with the north kingdom, and not from passing down from child to child….so therefore i would conclude that it was a very long time (come the third age) since hobbits and men were alike……and for that matter what was the 'missing link' as it were? perhaps at some point in thier evolutionary history both co-existed?


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#5 Mattr0polis

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:37 AM

Another really interesting one, Rich. Thanks! And already some great comments too.

I agree with some of what Budgernaut said, in that, the Hobbits probably came to be because of their needed role in destroying the Ring, and are no longer around presently because that role was completed. Even Smeagol, while tragic, his role you could argue was helpful/crucial in many ways as well.

Maybe the answer to the discrepancy is in how they put emphasis on the Hobbits and the Shire becoming more secluded and even forgotten, thus not as corrupted by the evils of the outside world? But yet they still interacted with Humans and even had wars, so even that doesn't seem right.

So then maybe it's something deeper. Is it possible that even though Illuvatar didn't create any more 'children', maybe someone like Aule or Yavanna created the Hobbits as an offshoot and they were given sapience by Illuvatar like some of the other races/creatures? Thus letting the Hobbits still be 'a relative' to Humans while not being as closely tied to them? Though this would be entirely speculative, plus like Rich said, why wouldn't it be in the Silmarillion then?

 

I apologize if some of this is completely wrong, my Tolkien knowledge is nothing compared to some of you guys (someday maybe! I'm working thru more of the books as of late, mainly because of this game and posts like these!) Keep it up though! I love reading this stuff!



#6 cordeirooo

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:40 AM

Another of your wonderful jobs!
You keep giving me more and more ideas to custom cards.


Zwerg - a brilliant BGG user - recently created a LEGO model of Henneth Annun (hidden Outpost) and uploaded it to LEGO CUUSOO. Simply click on the link below the picture, register with CUUSOO (it's free of charge, and LEGO does not send spam). Then click on the green SUPPORT button.

http://lego.cuusoo.c...deas/view/45646

Zwerg is the guy who made those nice reports with LEGO pieces.

 


#7 richsabre

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:52 AM

thank you both for your kind words

@mattropolis: i think theyre some great ideas…i particularly like your idea of the seclusion giving rise to thier strength of will and lack of corruption…pretty much the nail on the head there….as for the sub-creation of the hobbits through one of the valar, i suppose its possible, after all the legend of the silmarils are legend after all….it cannot possible include everything that happens in the 1/2nd ages….another interesting point is the 'dark ages' of middle earth. ie the 2nd age…there isnt alot of history here, i mean compared to the third and first, so perhaps they came along in this age..afterall they had to be fully formed hobbits by the 1050 3rd age, and 1000 years isnt long on the evolutionary scale……all interesting thoughts guys….keep 'em up 


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#8 Ted Sandyman

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 07:49 PM

Brilliant rich, thanks for spending the time and effort again to do another in your series. Looking at Tolkiens thoughts from outside of Middle Earth, maybe he wanted the hero to be the most innocent, peaceful, unnoticed character he could create. (Even the smallest person can make a difference!!) During the war years he was obviously influenced that all these ordinary gardeners, bakers, millers etc (all keeping themselves to themselves and getting on with their peaceful lives) were sent off to this terrible war that would shape the future of Europe. I dont think he wanted an ordinary tall, strong man or an amazing elf to win the day, he wanted to show all his readers that the most unlikely person could change the course of history. As you say, the hobbit history is not complete but i believe his idea of a hobbit came from the stereotypical country folk; not that intelligent but strong, hard working, peaceful and only interested in making their own little community go round. Another "quirky" thing i remember seeing a while ago was when reading through hobbit family history, (i think) it was frodos cousin was called Viggo, and the only other Vigo ive ever seen in my life is Vigo Mortensen. Silly but weird! Well done again rich and these certainly kickstart my thoughts, cheers mate.



#9 richsabre

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 01:44 AM

cheers ted, and you're certainly right….i think the deepest running theme in the works of tolkien is that the non-heros become the heros….i mean take sam for instance…..he became my least favourite character (during the early fellowship chapters) to one of my favourites by the end of the two towers….just so much respect for his willpower and strength

 


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#10 Ted Sandyman

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 04:58 AM

Yeh i agree. He showed his importance in the storyline by being a ringbearer, granted only temporarily, but nevertheless he never strayed from the path even though he carried the ring.



#11 lleimmoen

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 02:59 AM

As for the origins, I find it safe to assume Hobbits indeed are a branch of men, just as the Lossoth or Drúedain who are also much different in stature from the Edain or the most of the lesser men with the height similar to Hobbits.



#12 richsabre

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 03:33 AM

lleimmoen said:

As for the origins, I find it safe to assume Hobbits indeed are a branch of men, just as the Lossoth or Drúedain who are also much different in stature from the Edain or the most of the lesser men with the height similar to Hobbits.

thats a good point…whilst im writing me next chapter, ill have a quick look into the druedain in the unfinished tales, see if i can find any clues there

 


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#13 Mannix00

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 10:35 AM

 Hi,

Long time (long time) lurker, first time poster. I have been reading these boards for many months now and playing the LCG since May last year. I usually post on BGG however I find the community on here a bit more familiar, for want of a better word. I feel I have been reading for so long that I can recognise a post without even looking at the user name.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to Rich for doing these posts, they are really interesting. I'm find Tolkien lore fascinating and the world he created a constant source of interest, please keep them coming (you have no idea how much you guys keep me entertained at work). I especially liked your could have beens and what-if posts. Keep up the good work, I look forward to the next chapter. 



#14 richsabre

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 10:45 AM

Mannix00 said:

 

 Hi,

Long time (long time) lurker, first time poster. I have been reading these boards for many months now and playing the LCG since May last year. I usually post on BGG however I find the community on here a bit more familiar, for want of a better word. I feel I have been reading for so long that I can recognise a post without even looking at the user name.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to Rich for doing these posts, they are really interesting. I'm find Tolkien lore fascinating and the world he created a constant source of interest, please keep them coming (you have no idea how much you guys keep me entertained at work). I especially liked your could have beens and what-if posts. Keep up the good work, I look forward to the next chapter. 

 

 

thanks very much mannix00 - im hoping to get back into the chapters at some point, however im intending to keep the lore threads coming regularly- that way the entire forum can all input and it allows me to get my tolkien lore fix without having to put my degree on hold!

rich


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