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Do we actually know anything about the Ents? I don't believe that there is anything in the Lord of the Rings about the actual history of the Ents. Did Tolkien write in length about he Ents?
Ents, I believe, came into being shortly after the Elves, before Men or Dwarves, to protect the trees. With this in mind, we can hazard a guess that Yavanna played a part in their origins. The Entwives disappeared at the end of the Second Age; I think Sauron scattered them in the War of the Last Alliance (maybe someone can verify this). I think Ents are mortal, but far more long lived than any other mortal species, including the trees over whom they preside. As concerns the nature of their being, I am unsure whether the Ents were merely spirits inhabiting trees (Maiar of Yavanna maybe? Or possibly something of the same enigmatic nature of Tom Bombadil?), or a race in their own right; I suspect the latter.
I believe the origins of the Ents are mentioned in the Silmarillion. In the beginning. That they were created at roughly the same time (if we can speak of time back then) as the Eagles.
Hold on, I will look into it.

/me grabs his copy of The Silmarillion, and looks through the pages...

I found it, right were I expected it to be. On page 41 (at the end of chapter 2 [Of Aule and Yavanna]). On the end it says: "But in the forests Shall walk the Shepherds of the Trees".
Maybe some-one with more books by Tolkien, like maybe HOME, can shed more light upon this matter. This is the only thing I know about the Ents, not mentioned in LOTR.
In the LoTR, after the battle of Helms deep, Gandalf answer when questioned about the sudden apperance of living trees: (freely translated from german, that I for reasons not clear to myself chose to read it in) "...a power, that already walked the earth before the elves sang and the dwarfs hammered."

So that would be before the elves then?
Prior to the Elves awaking, Aule impatiently created the Dwarves. Although they were put into a sleep so they would not awake before the Elves, who were supposed to be the Firstborn, Yavanna was upset because she realised her husband had created something that would use her trees as fuel. With the aid of Manwe, she asked Eru for something to protect her trees. His response....

From the Silmarillion - of Aule and Yavanna

Quote:
Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared.


To me, this implies that Maiar spirits were summoned by Yavanna which entered the trees to become the ents. Although it does not specifically mention the spirits being Maiar, at the time only Valar and Maiar resided in Ea, so those spirits must have been Maiar.

In addition to the creation of the ents, Yavanna's thoughts also mingled with those of Manwe, and from these thoughts came the Great Eagles.

Further to the history mentioned in LotR, we also know that the Ents originally lived in Beleriand for they aided Beren's attack on the Dwarves from Nogrod, who had just killed Thingol.

It is a mystery what happened to the Entwives. They became estranged from the Ents and moved to the area of the Wold which became the Brown Lands. There they taught Men the art of farming and horticulture. Sauron, however, destroyed this land, burning and scorching it. Whether the Entwives were wiped out in this attack, Tolkien does not say. They have been reported as being missing ever since, however.
Quote:
To me, this implies that Maiar spirits were summoned by Yavanna which entered the trees to become the ents. Although it does not specifically mention the spirits being Maiar, at the time only Valar and Maiar resided in Ea, so those spirits must have been Maiar.

I don't think Yavanna sent those spirits, i thought that Yavanna went for advice to Eru, because she feared the trees would be destroyed/damaged by the Dwarves' axes and Eru then ensured her he would do something to protect the trees. He then ensured her that he'd send spirits as soon as the Firstborn'd awake.

Quote:
Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared.

I interprete this quote as Yavanna giving Eru a sign that it is time to send spirits to Arda, as they agreed to do. 'from afar' could point out that the spirits are sent from the Halls of Eru.

I wonder : was Old Man Willow an Ent who completely fell asleep long time ago and so developed a hatred towards all walking things? a corrupted Ent ?
Quote:
I wonder : was Old Man Willow an Ent who completely fell asleep long time ago and so developed a hatred towards all walking things? a corrupted Ent ?


I always took Old Man Willow to be a Huorn.

Yavanna wanted to give life to the trees but i don't think it was in response to the creation of the dwarves.

we see in the chapter of Aule and Yavanna,

Yavanna tells Manwe how she wants to give life to the trees so they might defend themselves

'this is a strange thought' said Manwe

'yet it was in the song.' said Yavanna 'for when thou wert in the heavens and with ulmo built the clouds and poured out the rains, i lifted up the branches of great trees to receive them, and some sang to Illuvata amid the wind and the rain.'

which suggests that it was planned from the start to give life to the trees.

What a lovely thought Rana. I think that in Arda the trees are sentient and alive. However most of them simply move so slowly that we cannot tell. The Elves held more reverence for the trees than Mortals did. Perhaps they knew what we don't. The Huorns perhaps were awoken by The Ents in some way, sped up perhaps. Another Tolkien mystery. Therefore Yavanna's part of the song was heard by Eru.

i don't think they're as old as elves but they're pretty old!

 

john greystoke

Another big mistery.... lovely to think that trees can hear, speak and even move!!! Sometimes we should think that trees and plants are really alive so please take care of them! I see daily how people behave as if they were only decoration or just a thing, they live and die as we do. It would be pretty beautiful to find an ent in the woods and chat a bit with it.... even if it takes hours just to say a whole sentence. Daydreaming....

Supposedly, Greenwood the Great and the Old Forest used to be part of one larger forest right?  So, in the beginning of the Lord of the Rings, in the Green Dragon pub, when Gaffer Gamgee says that he had heard of walking trees near the Shire borders....      Could those possibly be the Entwives?  Or just a separated group of Ents?

when Gaffer Gamgee says that he had heard of walking trees near the Shire borders....      Could those possibly be the Entwives?  Or just a separated group of Ents?

I always just assumed this was probably some tree from the old forest.  I doubt Old Man Willow was the only Ent there, and even if he was, he may move around occasionally,the forest still moves and has some will in it, so I think he must still be herding the trees to a degree.

Maybe Hal was a bit drunk and saw an Elm somewhere, not realizing that he himself was the one doing the walking!

Wink Smilie

There was nothing that Illuvatar  did not put in to the music one way or another since He was all knowing and knew the beginning from the end. This was already done in His mind before the beginning of the music. All contingencies were covered and this segment of trees anyhow I think was always going to be alive as guardians. Because Illuvatar was well aware of the thought of everyone and everything and knew all about evil but planned that it should not win. The Ents were just one of the players as Bilbo said.

Lee Lee!!! you are back! Ive missed you as Im sure many here have...

looking forward to reading your beautiful words again soon.

Brego

My theory is that the Ents are affected by the "alteration" of the world just like the Elves are. The Elves experience weariness as time passes in Middle Earth, that's why they eventually have to go to Valinor.

In the case of Ents they eventually turn into Huorns and then eventually into simple trees.

Either that or they all perished.... Just like The Ent Wives.  Maybe Yavanna called them back to The Undying lands as she had given up.... We'll never know....