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Just a few quotes from Tolkien on Tom Bombadil:
From Letter #144
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I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function. I might put it this way. The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control, and if you have, as it were taken a vow of poverty, renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing, then the questions of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power and control quite valueless.`

Letter #144
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Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron.

Letter #153
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But many have found him an odd or indeed discordant ingredient. In historical fact I put him in because I had already 'invented' him independently and wanted an 'adventure' on the way. But I kept him in, and as he was, because he represents certain things otherwise left out. I do not mean him to be an allegory -- or I should not have given him so particular, individual, and ridiculous a name -- but 'allegory' is the only mode of exhibiting certain functions: he is then an 'allegory', or an exemplar, a particular embodying of pure (real) natural science: the spirit that desires knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are 'other' and wholly independent of the inquiring mind, a spirit coeval with the knowledge...Also T.B. exhibits another point in his attitude to the ring, and its failure to affect him. You must concentrate on some part, probably relatively small, for the World (Universe), whether to tell a tale, however long, or to learn anything however fundamental -- and therefore much will from that 'point of view' be left out, distorted on the circumference, or seem a discordant oddity. The power of the Ring over all concerned, even the Wizards or Emissaries, is not a delusion -- but it is not the whole picture, even of the state and content of that part of the Universe.

Letter #144
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And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).

Using the following definitions
:Enigma is a mystery, something that seems to be unrelated or out of place, but isn't.
An anomaly is a mystery, something that is unrelated, out of place.
Tolkien has told us that Tom Bombadil is an enigma and does have a place in LOTR. Screen and stage writers appear to have treated Tom Bombadil more of an anomaly in LOTR.
So was the encounter with Tom Bombadil out of place in LOTR?
If you think Tom is important to the plot, then what is his role?
Nice post, Nell, though I do not have much time at present to attempt an answer that it deserves.

I have always argued that Tom is a Maiar spirit, possibly a servant of Yavanna. By the time of the War of the Ring few Maiar remained in Middle Earth, and although Middle Earth is still a magical, fantasy world, it is lacking the magic of Valinor. Tom's presence is largely unnecessary in Lord of the Rings, as has been evidenced by the various film maker's decisions to omit him from the tale. At a glance he is an anomaly, something out of place with the story and the world. He isn't, however. By including Tom in his story, Tolkien is demonstrating to his readers that the Valar and Maiar were not just mythical, religious beings, but were very real.

Some people read that Tom being an enigma means he is unique and not a Maiar. They take it to mean that he is an enigma to the entire history of Ea. I think what Tolkien was refering to, however, was that Tom was an enigma to Middle Earth at the time of the War of the Ring. In this land, long abandoned by the Valar and Maiar, someone like Tom would appear to exhibit tremendous power. Here Tolkien very cleverly lets us see that the Maiar are real, are extremely powerful, but also that their thoughts are so different to those of Elves and Men. I see many of the Maiar as being embodiments of the elements; waves, wind, clouds, rain etc. While very powerful in their way, they are also very self focused, an attribute almost alien to minds of Men. Like Gandalf says when it is suggested Tom be given the Ring, while he is someone beyond its power of corruption, because its sphere of influence does not come within Tom's focus, he would soon forget about it and lose it.

Unfortunately, films have strict schedules they must adhere to. Tom is an obvious candidate to be edited away, because even as Tolkien says, he is just an adventure along the way. For those who read the book, however, he provides so much mystery , whatever level you are reading the story from. He is that little piece of Valinor in Middle Earth.

And I think he is a necessity to the plot as I've said elsewhere, towards providing a rest time between the stressful encounters with Old Man Willow and the Barrow Wight, as well as providing the hobbits with their Blades of Westerness for use later on in the story. I think this worked much better in the book than in the film where Strider just hands them over from a hidden stash in the ruins of Amon Sul on Weathertop.

Tom Bombadil has some of the same or similar attributes of The Hobbit's Beorn, in that he also was a mysterious enigma in that we know not his origins and he also was used for a rest spot between stressful encounters. Though Tom was from first glance onwards seen to be a friendly entity, as he had no fear of the hobbits, whilst Beorn appeared to be a gruff threatening character, who only later proved a friend of the dwarfs and hobbit after he learned Gandalf's story was true.

Tom was a stay at home type and limited his wanderings to the close proximity of the Old Forest, for he had a Golberry to look after, or to be looked after. While Beorn ranged throughout the northeastern area of the upper Anduin. Of course Beorn's animal friends/servents could probably make do without his presence for longer periods of time.

(Anyway, while I was thinking about Rednell and Val's posts, I saw the above similarity and thought I'd share it. If it should be in a separate thread then one of the other moderators can ask me to move it and I'll comply.)
Tom is very important! I always thought that Tom was the worlds response to the threat of the ring-Sauron would use the ring to kill and destroy, so Tom was there to nuture and care for those who needed his help. When Sam is trying to find them a way out of Shelobs' lair he doesn't think of Gandalf, or any other member of the fellowship, he thinks of how they were saved by Tom, and wishes that he was there.....and then he remembers Galadriels gift for Frodo. Tom represents a stranger who is willing to help anyone who needs him, and is overall a symbol of what will be lost if the fellowship fails.
I don't think Tom is a Maia or a servant from any Vala :

"'Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'"

The Dark Lord that came from Outside is Melkor, obviously, and it is said in the Silmarillion that Melkor was the first Ainu who travelled in Arda. So even before the Valar travelled to Arda and even before they built the mountains, rivers, before they built Almaren, before everything Tom was there. So he was there even before the Valar + the servants who aligned to them arrived in Arda. In one word: Tom doesn't belong to them.

Tom is perhaps an Ainu, sent by Eru to Middle-Earth with a task which is completely different from the Valar. Only Eru and Tom knows about this task. In LOTR, Tom is basically bound to his land, never leaves it and always stays within the confines of it. Yet, he knows everything that happens outside his land nd even knows the entire history of Arda, yet he doesn't care for that. He doesn't take part in it! He never did. His task has nothing to do with "politics" or the "fight of good vs evil" which is the theme of LOTR and the Sil.

That's indeed why Tom is called an 'enigma' because his character is so different from all the other characters in Tolkien's books, who are on the path of good vs evil, and act according to that path. Tom is on another path, has an another task, which we don't know or understand. Yet, we try to explain it, inserting elements from the LOTR and Sil theme. This doesn't suffice. If i have to give a definition of Tom Bombadil, i'd say he is the direct representative, ambassador if you will, of Eru on Arda. He just observes what's going on, and meanwhilst enjoys of everything on Arda, the plants, trees, forests.... perhaps Tom is the embodiment of Eru on Arda. As Goldberry mentions : "He is Master". If Goldberry is a Maian spirit (highly likely) who would she call master? Manw? Aul? Eru?

Perhaps the fact that Tom Bombadil stands totally aside from the regular LOTR story is the fact that the Ring doesn't affect him at all : he doesn't disappear of course, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the Ring doesn't effect him. If Aragorn, Gandalf, Galadriel or Elrond would put the One Ring on, they wouldn't disappear themselves. Their power would just be increased, they'd become pretty much omnipotent. Yet, the power of the One Ring itself would effect them as well and make them corrupt.

With Tom, none of the above is the case : the Ring doesn't effect him at all, the Ring's power is unable to corrupt him. This is proven by the fact that Tom MAKES THE RING DISAPPEAR : "Tom laughed again, and then he spun the Ring in the air and it vanished with a flash." I doubt any Maia would be able to do such a thing... perhaps a Vala could , though.

But i believe Goldberry -the Daughter of the River- is a Maian spirit. We know she was found by Tom long time ago 'by the pool', so i believe she was a Maian spirit, probably a servant of Yavanna or Est, who at one point desired to see Middle-Earth and one day wandered through Tom's lands... and there she met Tom and decided to stay with him.

About Tom's importance in the story (I won't argue about a Tom Bombadil in the movies, as the movies have little or nothing to do with the LOTR story anyway) :

a) obviously, saving the Hobbits from Old Man Willow and the Barrow Wight, nd delivering the Barrow blades.

b) showing the Hobbits that the world outside the Shire, which the Hobbits see as 'dark, dangerous and unknown' (including inhabitants) isn't quite as dark, dangerous, unknown as they thought : there are forces of good outside the Shire, which are mysterious and unknown to them, which they don't understand, but which are still able to withstand Sauron, which are unharmed by Sauron.

c) Tom has perhaps something to do with the dreams Frodo has : Frodo sees Gandalf on top of Orthanc, being taken away by Gwaihir + Frodo has a vision of distant shores = Frodo's future arrival at Valinor.

I think the chapters with Tom Bombadil in are one of the best parts of the entire trilogy. At least for me.

Cool Elf Smilie Watch it Virumor, your above post is also POTW quality, but it isn't my turn this week. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie

Somewhere in one of these threads, I've jokingly postulated that Tom was the disguised Eru, enjoying a well earned and lengthy vacation on Middle-earth. Teacher Smilie
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I have always argued that Tom is a Maiar spirit, possibly a servant of Yavanna.


I agree, he's so mysterious.
That's a convincing argument, Virumor. I might have to adjust my own way of thinking about this one. The "Dark Lord coming from Outside" is the keystone of the argument, in my opinion. Being Lord of the Rings, I always interpreted the Dark Lord to be Sauron, and the Outside, a simple euphanism for the West, but looking at it again, Melkor coming from the Void does seem more appropiate.
I thought Tom may have been something caught up when Iluvatar created Ea, sparked by the Flame Imperishable and so created within the world as part of the world. I was quite disappointed to read Tolkien's writings on Tom (quoted by Rednell above) especially -

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Tom Bombadil is not an important person - to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment'. ... he is just an invention ... and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely
.

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I don't think Tom needs philosophyzing about, and is not improved by it. But many have found him an odd or indeed discordant ingredient.
Tom also has the effect, in my opinion, of adding an element of the amaranth to the forces of Good in general. When I read about him, I can imagine no way that he would ever be touched by evil, so in that way, he is a hope that will always be there, never diminishing, a sign that Good will eventually prevail over Evil. I think he's a maia, btw.
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I think he's a maia, btw.

And why do you think that? What do you base your opinion on?
It just seems probable. To say that he is some kind of spirit that was created with E seems too much like needless conjecture to me, because Tolkien doesn't give detail on things like that in the way that he does on the Maiar. To me, Tom fits the description of a Maia, and it's one of the only things that we can define him as without merely making up something to cohere with our uncertainty.
Well, i think Tom is something else. He is probably an Ainu, but one that is on an entire different path than any of the other Ainur who came to Arda. As he himself mentions he was already on Arda before Melkor came, and Melkor was the first to arrive on Arda.... so i believe he is no Maia, as all Maiar alligned themselves to a Vala, and Tom seems to be just his own boss.

I think everyone has his/her own special view on Tom, which makes his character so interesting.
I think that Tom Bombadil's presence in LotR represents something that isn't intimately tied to what he actually is. As to the question of what he actually is, I was quite impressed and convinced by Virumor's argument and think he is probably an Ainu. But I think that his effect on the story is not that he is of a higher power. I think he is simply an ambassador of the good and simple world that the Ring and Sauron would destroy. He seems to me to be a sort of Nature Guardian, representing the love Tolkien felt for the natural world. Even though I can definately see how he could be a spirit like an Ainu, I don't think that he was meant to be anything more than a powerful and easily-related-to reminder of how much was at stake with the Ring.
I haven't yet formed an opinion on what exactly Tom is, but the most important reason, to me, that he was in the book was to add the air of mystery. The little hobbits hadn't encountered anything that they weren't familiar with (the expected elves). It was like a reality slap: there are new and not yet understood things out there. It gave the hobittses ferver to march forward and see where the road would take them (very unusual trait for hobbitses, and really only Frodo had such unction, but the rest followed, so maybe they, in actuality, wanted to go. Something to think about). To me, Tom's mystery was the driving factor for his inclusion.

Cno
I belive Tom is a Maiar, but one who is nuetral. Neither good nor evil just himself a force of nature. I don't belive he is meant to be the Eru as Gandalf points out that he had forgotten about Tom. As the five wizards were sent to middle earth to help the free races combat Sauron would the Eru be known to them? No the Eru on earth would not be known to any of the divine race, even Manwe or Mandos. As it would be too much of a temptation for them to seek him out in order to request his council. When he says he was the first maybe he means he was the first of the Maiar to seek Endor as his residence and put forth his power into shaping a part of it into his will. Who knows what he means by he was the first. Lets face it it could have just been added by Tolkien to confuse and invoke debate by his readers and friends while he can smile knowingly that it means nothing. Lets not forget here that Tolkien was a cantancerous individual who delighted in riddles and the vexing of others.
That could be right, Ross. Maybe JRRT just included Tom Bombadil - who in fact was a toy of his children - in the books to offer a 'lighter' moment for the readers, perhaps for his children? Maybe he just included him as a family-inside joke.
Why thanks Vir. I'm not used to people agreeing with me.
Tom's importance for me is that he adds to the theme of hope. The books deal with very dark things (in all senses) and he represents the lighter side. He shows the hobbits that there is good beyond The Shire, as someone already mentioned, but also because he isn't affected by the ring he shows that evil isn't all pervading and that there are things that can resist or are wholly separate from darkness.

I've always thought that he was there before Melkor etc (can't remember who I'm agreeing with) and so can't be a maiar. I don't know what he is but he has always seemed slightly unconnected with these events that are so important to elves, men etc. To me he's like mountains: things happen around him, he sees them but remains unaffected and largely unchanged. I vaguely recall him saying something along the lines of not being involved in wars and stuff but could be imagining it.

I like the idea that Tolkien put him in to make us all scratch our heads and wonder what he was for but I think it's likely he didn't have any major purpose and that, as was quoted from one of his letters, he was put in because Tolkien wanted him to be involved in the adventure.

So, to wrap up my ramblings, yes Tom Bombadil was important. To me at least, if not to the greater scheme of things on Middle Earth.
Elanor Posted Wednesday 30th June 2004 (05:49am) in "Fans over Forty"

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Vee, Tell me that was a trick question?

Was Bombadil important? Were the three eleven rings adorned with stones and untouched by the hand of Sauron? Yes, absolutely, not to be pushing the story forward but in the scheme of things, more of a character than even Sauruman the White, at least as important as a moving force.. (even if that is a contradiction) as Treebeard... because what he does is save the ring three times... even if he doesn't do anything proactive.

He was the only thing - living creature - in the book with power over the one ring,... he laughs at it and makes jokes about it, can take it from Frodo and give it back to him...more than Gandalf, Elrond or even Galadriel can do

Elrond referers to him as something even he has half forgotten... Irwain ben Adar (unusual language for Tolkien) which he translates as the first of things... - and knows little about him (and he the big Lore master!)

Gandalf says he might take the ring and preserve it, if all the free folk of the world begged him, but would also most likely cast it aside, and forget about it... and if not, if all else failed, Bombadil would be the last as he was first.

Gandalf, Butterbur and Farmer Maggot seem to have contact with him...

The Tooks of Tookborough may owe more, as do the Brandybucks to their contacts with the old forest.....and are wary but not scared (Bombadil?)

The Forest is one of the last remnants of the OLD Forest (Fangorn/Treebeard expresses his suprise and interest in the place) ... we are told that once it was conjoined with Mirkwood... and thus on scanty topography.... part of the forest that wasn't drowned after the changing of the world at the end of the first age?

And Bombadil is right at home there....

During the general dicussion in Rivendell the suggestion of earth magic, i.e. the magic of squirrels and roots and small trees and badgers etc, is put forward...- a very Hobbit like magic, rather than Man, Elf or Dwarf thing......

Bombadil is respresentative (my interpretation) of the grass that won't grow in Mordor.... the birds and herbs which can keep to Ithilien , but stay away from the morgul vale....

Also he seems to know of the power and growth of things, beyond time and evil... he saves a brooch for Goldberry from the weights, which implies that to him in a recent past, he knew the Dunedain that combatted the Witch King of Arnor

plus .. Bombadil can sing old man willow to sleep, combat wrights, and sees a lot of what is troubling Frodo, plus has the wit to arm the hobbits with numenorean daggers...he sings things... just like Galadriel signs but of a lesser, but (we are coming to the 4th Age afterall) perhaps more enduring things

To Bombadil, the whole ring story is only a hiccup in time...

So... we are free to draw conclusions...

As Gandalf says, the ring is forged, man/elven made and it is not enough that they loose it in the sea, and leave it for another age to deal with...
It is the age of pre machinery... or even... machinery... (Barad Dur and Orthanc...) Magic is weak, it is a time of men, and men's deeds... (cf the deviliry of the orcs, the battering rams, the breaches at Helms Deep... gunpowder?)

Bombadil is an anachronism, but also a catalyst, can stand for all the Shire stands for... which in the new age will as Gimli and Legolas discuss... "both flower and come to might have beens" - the age of men, if you like but men with a very slight touch of dwarf, elf and numeroean, when riled, but mostly men like Hobbits, our Barliman (sorry) or Farmer Maggot.

It's never anywhere that I can think of made explicit, but if as Elrond says he is Irwain ben Adar. and was there in MIddle Earth before even the elves awoke... I can only think of him as a Maia, servant probably of Aule and Yavanna... (either or... dwarfs or growing things... as Aule... if if if, because I don't have my Silmarilion for reference... but... a protector of both the growing things, Yavanna... probably responsible for ents, and Aule the smith, responsible for those who wishes to work and delve and create wonderful things....)

So, is Bombadil significant... ? well, bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow,
can you think at all of him, without a yell..O
Hey ho Bombadil we are still here singing
Do you have a role to play, or am I only winging?

Should you be there in the flm, or was it just an oversight?
Anyone with bravery could perhaps defeat a weight
What you did and could have done, with hobbits ponies and the ring
Would have taken much more time than Enya had her song to sing...

And etc. Love Elanor

Scuse my spelling and typing... sometimes I say signs when I mean sings... and should all hope you know the power of song...

They do say that Merlin restored Stone Henge by singing up the stones....

etc.

and...

Yes, Bombadil is essential to the story.
As simple as my opinion seems, Tom is very important because:

- Amidst all of the strife and negativity in the book, he is a positive bastion in a very bad place and time

and

-Reminds the hobbits and readers that The Ring isn't the ultimatum and that there are greater powers in arda
Tom Bombadil is... Tom Bombadil. thats the only to describe him. maybe he is supposed to be one of the Ainu, or Maiar, or something like that, but i will forever and always simply think of him as Tom Bombadil. to get so confused about his origin and importance is to disregard the simplistic way of life that he emanates. he seems almost child-like in his carefree, singsongy attitude about almost everything. thats how i like to think of him: an enigma that maybe has no other explanation than that he is the only one of his kind.

Goldberry, i think, is very much like the nymphs in ancient Greek and Roman mythology.
I agree with your theory on Goldberry, Astaldo-at least her cultural background-but also she could have been a Druid or a Celtic spirit or a nymph or something along those lines(maybe an Atlantean because she springs from water?).

As for Tom Bombadil, these are my feelings:

If we look at the stories alone as solitary tales, unrelated in any way, then a lot of the places or characters do not seem to fit in with each particular story; i.e. Beorn, Bombadil, the Ents, or even Old Man Willow. However, we know that these tales were related in that they convey a larger picture: the whole of Middle Earth, its history, its races, its gods, its enemies, etc. The fact that they are not all cohesive or complete is very logical-no history is ever all-encompassing. Certain facts and events are non-intentionally omitted because to include EVERYTHING would be impossible, because by the time the recorder finished recounting a certain era, said era would have passed. Does that make any sense?

If we look at Bombadil as a detail, rather than an anomolie, then he becomes essential to the recounting of the history of Middle Earth, regardless of his relevance to Lord of the Rings. He is as important as any of the other details-colors, scents, armor, architecture, poems/lays/songs, the different tribes of men, locations, etc. and so forth. Without any of these details, you would be left with a hollow story, and one not half as good as it is. It is the details of a story or history that make it both interesting and accurate. A detail examined by itself has no meaning, but when looked at in a broader scope in relation to the Big Picture, it becomes not only important, but inherent to the story's power to hold our interest.

What I am trying to say (in a very rambling manner) is that the recounting of the story of the War of the Ring, and all that precedes it or follows it, and Middle Earth itself, would not be complete without Tom as he lends richness of detail to FOTR. Also, as I believe was mentioned before, he does serve to give both the hobbits and the reader a rest-all of the events prior to and after they meet Tom are quite anxiety-ridden; Tolkien knew this and probably wanted to ease our reading a bit.

As for Tom's origin, I don't have a clue, but the most logical theory that I've heard so far is (Grondy's?) the idea that TB might be a corporeal incarnation of Eru. That, to me, makes the most sense.Smile Smilie
i think very much that i agree with Laurelinde about Tom's importance. if seemingly small unrelated details were left out of history (ie. the conditions of the South during the Civil War; and the colors and wear-and-tear of uniforms in said War) things would get jumbled up, we wouldnt really understand what was going on, and we definetly couldnt imagine being in the situation of people in historical times. wow, im babbling like i have been all day. if Tom was left out of the books (the movies are rather different) then, where would the hobbitses swords come from? who would save them from Old Man Willow, or the Barrow Wight?

and that thought about Goldberry possibly being an atlantean is very neato!
I think he is more important than just another detail.

One thought I have always pondered is...

Why did gandalf need to have a long talk with Tom at the end of the books?
Unless you want a Barrowwight Dark Lord, yes, he's essential. Good authors don't present extraneous details, as the first post indicates. Lessee here, what was it Merry jammed in the Nazjuls knee? And where did he get it?
Of course...
The sword from Tom Bombadil. Another important detail.

Good point
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The sword from Tom Bombadil. Another important detail.

That wasn't Bombadil's sword. It was a sword of Westernesse, taken from one of the Barrowdowns.

Bombadil's obvious importance in the books is that he saved the Hobbits from Old Man Willow and from the Barrow Wights later on.
That's where I was going with "unless you want a Barrowwight Darklord." Though in a way one could say he got it from Tom, since Tom was the one that thought to lay out the Barrowdowns treasure so the wight couldn't come back again. Regardless, Merry never gets the sword (dagger really, but it was a sword for Merry) if he doesn't make it out of the Barrowdowns.
I really dont think Tom Bombadil could have been a maiar as Gandalf was one too and he did not have the power to weild the one ring without it affecting him, yet we see Tom handle it like a mere trinket. Tom must have been a very powerful spirit possibly a valar I would say Aule and Goldberry being yavanna but that still cant explain why he is 'oldest and fatherless' which made me think he was Illuvatar but Tolkien has denied that when asked. Anyway I havent gone in to much detail about the reasons but what do you think

WHO IS TOM BOMBADIL?
Tom Bombadil is an enigma, who cannot be rationally explained within the content of Tolkien's works.

Like Tom Bombadil himself says in FOTR, "he is", and that's just it.

I have already given my view on Tom Bombadil earlier in this thread, but unfortunately when i lost my Virumor account, that post together with the rest, was deleted.

JRRT wrote about him in letter #144 from Letters :

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Tom Bombadil is not an important person to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment'. I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an invention (who first appeared in the Oxford Magazine about 1933), and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely. I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function. I might put it this way. The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control. but if you have, as it were taken 'a vow of poverty', renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing, then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless. It is a natural pacifist view, which always arises in the mind when there is a war. But the view of Rivendell seems to be that it is an excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in fact things with which it cannot cope; and upon which its existence nonetheless depends. Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron.
He has no connexion in my mind with the Entwives. What had happened to them is not resolved in this book. He is in a way the answer to them in the sense that he is almost the opposite, being say, Botany and Zoology (as sciences) and Poetry as opposed to Cattle-breeding and Agriculture and practicality.


And in letter #153 :

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I don't think Tom needs philosophizing about, and is not improved by it. But many have found him an odd or indeed discordant ingredient. In historical fact I put him in because I had already 'invented' him independently (he first appeared in the Oxford Magazine)3 and wanted an 'adventure' on the way. But I kept him in, and as he was, because he represents certain things otherwise left out. I do not mean him to be an allegory or I should not have given him so particular, individual, and ridiculous a name but 'allegory' is the only mode of exhibiting certain functions: he is then an 'allegory', or an exemplar, a particular embodying of pure (real) natural science: the spirit that desires knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are 'other' and wholly independent of the enquiring mind, a spirit coeval with the rational mind, and entirely unconcerned with 'doing' anything with the knowledge: Zoology and Botany not Cattle-breeding or Agriculture .
I still think he was Eru or one of the Valar on holiday, enjoying the fruits of their creation. His just happening to be there to provide the helping hand to the hobbits as they started their long journey was also a big plus.
While it is not impossible that Tom is Eru, it is impossible that he was one of the 14 Valar who descended into Arda, as Tom himself says in chapter 7 'In the house of Tom Bombadil', FOTR :

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'Eh, what?' said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. 'Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'
A shadow seemed to pass by the window, and the hobbits glanced hastily through the panes. When they turned again, Goldberry stood in the door behind, framed in light. She held a candle, shielding its flame from the draught with her hand; and the light flowed through it, like sunlight through a white shell.

The Dark Lord who came from Outside was Melkor, who was the first Vala to descend into Arda, according to the Silmarillion (there's nothing contradictory here, as the Elven lore masters who recorded the history of Middle-Earth obviously had no knowledge of Tom Bombadil, and hence didn't write about him).

I believe Tom was an Ainu spirit - either Maia or Vala - who was independent, meaning he took no sides in the battle for dominion over Arda. Just like Ungoliant, he did what he himself wished to do, and answered to no one, but unlike her, Tom was benevolent.

The fact that the Ring didn't affect him, is imo due to the fact that he didn't have a part in the strife between good and evil, as power and control were meaningless to him.

I don't believe it's possible for Tom to be Eru himself, as JRRT himself writes that Tom is dependent on the victory of the West to survive (Gandalf mentions Tom to be "the last to fall" should Sauron be victorious), and if Tom were Eru, Tom would be completely impregnable by Sauron, which is obviously not the case.

I myself once believed that Goldberry and Tom were Est and Irmo in disguise, because of Est's apparent love for plants and nature, and due to the visionary dreams Frodo had in Tom's house. But that is unfortunately contradicted by what's in the books.
I do realize he is an enigma, and that Tolkien made no explanation for him....but, it is still fun to think about...and...
It seems most reasonable that Tom is somewhat of a "Father Nature" figure. Whether that is Valar, Ainur, or Illuvitar, which all have been discussed thoroughly. There is no "Father Nature" figure mentioned in any of Tolkiens other writings to my knowledge. But my reasoning is this...

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Power to defy our Enemy is not in him[Bombadil], unless such power is in the earth itself.

From Galdor in The Council of Elrond

Why is Bombadil compare to the power of earth? If the earth had such power so would Tom?
I can not think of any other interpretation of this phrase other that what I have stated.
If you have a more valid interpretation, please share.

(I don't think I read this previous in this thread. If so I agree with the writer. Big Laugh Smilie )

Also,

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Why did gandalf need to have a long talk with Tom at the end of the books?
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Why did gandalf need to have a long talk with Tom at the end of the books?

Because apparently, Gandalf's rolling days were over :
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'But if you would know, I am turning aside soon. I am going to have a long talk with Bombadil: such a talk as I have not had in all my time. He is a moss-gatherer, and I have been a stone doomed to rolling. But my rolling days are ending, and now we shall have much to say to one another.'

Imo, this means that Gandalf wanted to learn some wisdom from Tom Bombadil, something for which he didn't have time during his days in Middle-Earth until after Sauron's defeat.

Twas typical for Gandalf, who was the wisest Maia in Valinor, to wish to learn from anyone. That's why he often visited the House of Nienna in Valinor, and had such a keen interest in the culture of the hobbits.

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If you have a more valid interpretation, please share.

I have already expressed my views on the subject in my previous posts. Whether my view is more "valid" than yours, i don't know.
Aha -- I found the thread about Tom Bombadil -- I knew there had to be one somewhere.

After reading through everyone's posts, it occurs to me that tom is very much like the hobbits as far as culture is concerned. Perhaps he even had a hand in influencing the hobbits to settle in the Shire, right next to "his" land. He likes them. They are, like him, nature lovers, unconcerned with the outside world (for the most part). Doesn't Rosie's comment to Sam say it all: "If you've been looking after Mr. Frodo all this while, what d'you want to leave him for, as soon as things look dangerous?" Absolutely no concept of what's been going on! And probably no real interest in most of it, either. Remember Frodo and Bilbo, Merry, and Pippin are rather strange as far as hobbits go, involving themselves with Gandalf and the wide world's affairs. Sam follows Frodo, not the quest: I imagine Tom would follow Goldberry in much the same way, were she somehow involved in the Ring's affairs.

If I, as a reader, were somehow able to get "inside" the story, I imagine myself being Bombadil-like. I'd sound crazy to the characters; I wouldn't be affected by the Ring, not being a character "of" middle earth; yet I love ME and am, in a sense, "Eldest" to all the characters I read about -- I exist before, I can "see" all the previous history in a moment, and, not being a character, I have no real influence over the storyline and am, in a sense, not really an essential part of the story. On the other hand, I'm un-Bombadil like in the sense that if Sauron wins, I go on living outside the books; I'm not a spirit of science or zoology or botany or whatnot; and while I'd be "immune" to the Ring's temptation, I would be highly interested in all it's history, even as I am interested in the story itself.
To me it always seemed the solution for who Tom Bombadil truly is was not to be found inside the books but in the man who wrote the books. There are several reasons why Tom Bombadil is no-one more or less then J.R.R. Tolkien himself (or visa-versa).
Like all people, Tom Bombadil is several things all at the same time. At one level he's just Tom Bombadil of the very early poem that Tolkien wrote...just a silly nonsense poem about an imaginary character based on a childs doll. So yes, that's "all" he is in one sense. In the other sense, I think Tom is much larger.

I think Tom Bombadil is Tolkien and is Beren, all in one. In fact, those things are all the same thing. Am I nuts, here? I dont think so, and heres why.

The first Vala to enter ME was Melkor/Morgorth. So that leaves out Vala. Tom was in ME before the Dark Lord came from the Outside.
Well, the complete quote is:
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"But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and teh graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless--before the Dark Lord came from outside."

It doesn't actually say that Tom was in Middle-earth before Melkor came, just that Tom knew what it was like before Melkor came to ME, so he could have been one of the Valar. But Tom is older than all. When the firstborn awoke, Tom was there. Well, so that makes either Tom the first thing within Arda or something from before Arda that entered it. Or maybe he was first because he was the creator of all, the professor himself... or was he Eru?

I personally do not think that Tom is Eru because Tolkien wrote:
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"The incarnation of God is an infinintly greater thing that anything I would dare to write" - Letter 181

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"The One does not physically inhabit any part of Ea." - Letter 211

So in essence; no, Tom isn't Eru.

So why would Tom Bombadil be Tolkien himself?
Writers who create complex societies often cast themselves in a cameo role. They just can't resist putting themselves into their beloved worlds. Sometimes the choice is a very private one, part of a personal fantasy that is jealously guarded from public knowledge. Others can't resist calling attention to the fact that a particular character represents themselves, by making that character a casual observer, who stands clear of the actual action. In the case of Tolkien an other aspect should be remembered. Tolkien really got stuck just before Tom Bombadil showed up. Tom Bombadil is sort of a Deus Ex Machina to get the story moving again: the little help of the writer himself to safe the story?

It is also true that Tolkien chose to have the names of two Middle-Earth characters, Beren and Lthien, on his and his wife's tombstones. I believe this is more a secret wish to also be be a character who actively and nobly participated in the history of Middle-Earth. While Tom is fun, Beren is who Tolkien would choose, if he were a role-player.

So Tolkien is entering his own stories from two angles, first, as a casual observer, and secondly, by the inscription on his tombstone. Leave it to Tolkien to have a complex history of his own, LOL!

And last but not least, Tolkien wrote another story "leaf by niggle" where almost everyone who reads it is convinced Niggle is Tolkien. So if he did it once, why not in his key work?


I do not really think Tom Bombadil is Tolkien in LOTR; from his Letters, JRRT makes it clear that he included Tom Bombadil to represent an idea of his (see above).

i think in LOTR, Tolkien was either Aragorn or Faramir (i think he wrote this in Letters as well, but i cannot check it atm).
I agree with Miruvor on this. If Tolkien were to have put himself into LOTR, it would have been as a hobbit, particularly Bilbo. Remember, he based The Shire on Sarehole where he was young. And all the idiosyncrasies of hobbits remind one of the English of bygone days. Bilbo is an old professor/squire, just as Tolkien himself was before his end.

There is another thread around here somewhere in which we discussed just what Bombadil might be. I think it was called "Bombadil vs. Treebeard," or something like that.
Still i am convinced if anything TB is Tolkien... ofcourse in every race and even in every character there is a bit of Tolkien inside. And in any of us should be a bit of TB. It would make the world a lot better!
I think you are right, Beren. There is a little of us in everything we make. And you are right about the world being a better place if there were more Bombadils around. Come to that, it would be better with almost any of the good characters from LOTR. But is the world ready for that many honest people?
Morambar posted this in the Poll : Tom Bombadil thread :

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"He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless - before the Dark Lord came from Outside."

It's an interesting choice of terms, yes, but all it really means is that he was in Middle-earth before Melkor was released from Angainor, before, in fact, Feanor named him Morgoth. Recall that even as the Edain woke with the first sunrise, the Eldar woke with the first stars, the first sight they beheld and the source of their name. And there were many Maiar running around Middle-earth rather than Valinor at the time, such as, most famously, Melian. Orome also went often to Middle-earth at that time, and IIRC some have even theorized HE was Bombadil. Bottom line: I already knew he names himself Oldest, a name the other denizens of Middle-earth accept, but all of the Ainur date from before Ea, and all those within it, except for Tulkas, have been so from its creation. If anything, it's an argument FOR his being Ainur, or Iluvatar, and of the two, I think the former more likely.


I must confess that I previously only concentrated on the "Dark Lord coming from Outside" part fo the aforementioned quote, without even looking at "under the stars" - which made me believe that it referred to Melkor descending into Arda from the Timeless Halls. Yet, at that point there were no stars, for Varda only placed them in the sky not long before the awakening of the Firstborn. Hence this quote needs to be reassessed : "the Dark Lord coming from Outside" indeed refers to Melkor returning to Beleriand after the Darkening of Valinor.

That, imo, makes it very much possible that Tom Bombadil is an Ainu spirit (like I already postulated in this thread : see above). He is an independent, benevolent Ainu spirit who takes no part in the affairs out of his realm, which is the reason why the Ring does not affect him, and why he would be the last to fall.
No it does not mean that I am afraid.

"Before the Elves past west"

This means that Tom was there before the Avari passed west to Aman. Therefore Tom was in Arda before the chaining of Melkor.
Yet it says also:

'He walked under the stars when it was fearless' (something like that)

Therefore he was in Arda before Melkor was chained in Mandos, yet he had walked on the Earth before Melkor came when it was fearless. Therefore Tom was there before Melkor ever came to Arda as there can be no other result from these two points. Work it out it makes sence.
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This means that Tom was there before the Avari passed west to Aman.

The Avari never passed west. The Avari refused to join the great journey; instead it were the Eldar who journey into the west.

Anyway, I've checked the Silmarillion and I need to correct my aforementioned post a bit : Varda already put stars in the sky during the first labours of the Valar in E; shortly before the Awakening of the Firstborn she only put new stars :

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But as the ages drew on to the hour appointed by Ilъvatar for the coming of the Firstborn, Middle-earth lay in a twilight beneath the stars that Varda had wrought in the ages forgotten of her labours in Eд.


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Then Varda went forth from the council, and she looked out from the height of Taniquetil, and beheld the darkness of Middle-earth beneath the innumerable stars, faint and far. Then she began a great labour, greatest of all the works of the Valar since their coming into Arda. She took the silver dews from the vats of Telperion, and therewith she made new stars and brighter against the coming of the Firstborn; wherefore she whose name out of the deeps of time and the labours of Eд was Tintallл, the Kindler, was called after by the Elves Elentбri, Queen of the Stars. Carnil and Luinil, Nйnar and Lumbar, Alcarinquл and Elemmнrл she wrought in that time, and many other of the ancient stars she gathered together and set as signs in the heavens of Arda: Wilwarin, Telumendil, Soronъmл, and Anarrнma; and Menelmacar with his shining belt, that forebodes the Last Battle that shall be at the end of days. And high in the north as a challenge to Melkor she set the crown of seven mighty stars to swing, Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar and sign of doom.
(sorry for the Cyrillic letters, I have no idea where they come from?!)

So in fact, the "under the stars" part in the aforementioned quote does make this matter quite ambiguous; "coming from Outside" meaning "coming from beyond the confines of Arda" would be the most logical though, but I can see that some ppl take it as "coming from outside Middle-earth".
I was typing on two different forum at the same time then. Yes I meant the Quendi.

But what I said still makes sence. Tom bombadil walked on the Earth before it was Fearless, so you could assume that means before Melkor returned from Valinor.
But then it says Tom was here before the Elves past west which happened just after Melkor was chained. Therefore the only option is that Bombadil was around before it was fearless, before Melkor returned from Valinor, before Melkor descended.
I don't argue about that, but I can understand that other ppl might interpret those quotes otherwise.

'The Elves passed westward', could refer to the Noldor returning to Valinor after the First Age, for instance.

There are various essays on this topic, each supporting various theories, and there'll most probably be no final word on this, ever.

For anyone interested, here's two thorough essays which cover every possibility :
Who is Tom Bombadil?
What is Tom Bombadil?
"Hence this quote needs to be reassessed : "the Dark Lord coming from Outside" indeed refers to Melkor returning to Beleriand after the Darkening of Valinor."

I did not know you had changed your view since. Glad you agree. Yes I can aslo see why people may think that it mean coming from 'beyond middle-earth' but with the few quotes we have its not difficult to see that Tolkien meant 'Beyong Ea' if you spend the time to link those quotes together..

Morambar
Posted Tuesday 23rd May 2006 (03:56am)


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Sorry, LoA, the quote just seems inconclusive to me. Tantalizing, but inconclusive. "Dark Lord" seems less an inherited title than a generic one, which seems to derive from the English rendering of "Morgoth" (a name, ya'll wil recall, that he did not take, but was given.) And once again, even if it IS Morgoth who's meant (which would be surprising in the Trilogy context, as it would be the only mention of Morgoth, and by an indirect reference using a title then used for Sauron) Morgoth came to Middle-earth from outside of it on two separate occasions. Falling back on my Great Chain of Being argument, I also find it problematic we would have a life form in Middle-earth that wasn't created by Eru and in stasis (such as the Children and, indirectly, the Dwarves) nor created by the Valar as the kelvar and olvar seem to be. That only leaves two options: an Ainur, who entered Ea at the same time as the others, or a projection of Eru who could then predate them in Ea. Otherwise there's no species of which he can be a member.

Further, you state that the quote goes back progressively further in time, but lets reexamine it:

"'Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless - before the Dark Lord came from Outside."

OK, let's put the following events in chronological order (I'll list them in the order Tom cites them: )

1) the river
2) the trees;
3) the first raindrop
4) the first acorn.
5) before the Big People
6) the little People arriving.
7) the Kings
8) the graves and the Barrow-wights.
7) the Elves passed westward
8) before the seas were bent. He knew
9) the dark under the stars when it was fearless - before the Dark Lord came from Outside.

I believe it goes 3, 1, 4, 2, 9, 5, 7, 8, 6. Though I could be wrong; I don't well remember when, in relation to Arnor and Gondor, the Stoors and Harfoots (IIRC) crossed the Baranduin, and the dating of "the first acorn" and "the river" are educated guesses only. However, I think it's clear that the list doesn't begin with 1 or end with 9; the chronology is, in fact, all over the place, and serve to do little more than place Tom as "ancient, but of indeterminate age." The Professor clearly WANTED him to be an enigma, and you can't have an enigma whom you can date with certainty to before the entry of the Ainur into Ea.

For the purposes of our poll, enigma is the only really legitimate option for the question as framed, but in the broader sense, it's clear Ea was empty except for the unconscious Children of Iluvatar until the entry of the Ainur. So once again we're left with "he was here before the Ainur; he's a form of Eru" or "he entered with the Ainur as one of them."


Lord of all
Posted Tuesday 23rd May 2006 (09:26am)


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Right firstly I will anylise your first point Moramber:

'Before the Dark Lord cam From Outside'.

NOT

'Before the Dark Lord came back from outside'

Crucial difference. Thus we can easily interpret he means the first time Melkor descended into Ea.

Now for you second point:

'Before the Elves past west'
This is the oldest in his examples, except melkor descending which he says next:

'Before the Dark Lord came from outside'This is the oldest example.

So Tom was in Ea before the Elves past west, when they were still over in the East of Middle-earth. However it was most definately not fearless at this time, so Tom must have been in the World, before the Elves completely (becuase anytime the Elves are in Arda it was not fearless). So a time before the Elves when it was fearless. Well no time when Melkor was in ME thats for sure, and Melkor does not get chained up until later on. So it must have been either before Melkor came back from fleeing from Tulkas, or before he descended into Ea in the first place.
But it cannot be the former becuase of the example I give at the top of this post - 'Dark Lord came from outside', not 'Dark Lord came back from outside' - crucial difference.

Its up to you if you agree but it is definately most likely that he means that he was in Ea before anything else.

I would forget the 'Dark lord' meaning Sauron part, as its completely out of place in the quote.



Morambar
Posted Tuesday 23rd May 2006 (11:01am)


Quote:
Quote:
Right firstly I will anylise your first point Moramber:

'Before the Dark Lord cam From Outside'.

NOT

'Before the Dark Lord came back from outside'

Crucial difference. Thus we can easily interpret he means the first time Melkor descended into Ea.


Sure we CAN. We're under no obligation to do so, but it is possible, certainly a tenable postion. It's a bit of a Catch-22 though; Tom is being self referential throughout the quote, so if he arrived after the Chaining of Melkor that unworthys return would have been new to him.


Quote:
Now for you second point:

'Before the Elves past west'
This is the oldest in his examples, except melkor descending which he says next:

'Before the Dark Lord came from outside'This is the oldest example.


It's only the oldest example if we accept the meaning you're arguing. You can't use your argument to prove your argument.


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So Tom was in Ea before the Elves past west, when they were still over in the East of Middle-earth. However it was most definately not fearless at this time, so Tom must have been in the World, before the Elves completely (becuase anytime the Elves are in Arda it was not fearless). So a time before the Elves when it was fearless. Well no time when Melkor was in ME thats for sure, and Melkor does not get chained up until later on. So it must have been either before Melkor came back from fleeing from Tulkas, or before he descended into Ea in the first place.


Actually, I took that quote to mean the trip to Valinor, though I suppose it was on that trip that the Moriquendi came to Beleriand. Naetheless, the first acorn, the River (Sirion? or Anduin? He doesn't say) the first raindrops, the trees, all these predate even the Awakening by Cuivenen. The list is out of order, with what I take to be the oldest events first, then events of the Third Age, and finally the passage of the Elves (early in the Years of the Trees,) the curving of the Straight Road (at the end of the Second Age) and the coming of the Dark Lord from outside (for which there are four possiblities, two involving Morgoth and two Sauron.)


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But it cannot be the former becuase of the example I give at the top of this post - 'Dark Lord came from outside', not 'Dark Lord came back from outside' - crucial difference.


Again, it's crucial if we take Tom to be referring to Morgoths first arrival in Ea as an event he witnessed; if his arrival was subsequent to that he would react to Morgoths return after his release in much the way Eol reacts to the return of the Noldorin lords shortly thereafter. Note Tom doesn't speak of a world that never knew fear, but a world that was fearless, as it largely was in Morgoths absence. As an aside, I'd also like to note that if he predates the Ainur in Ea it's remarkable he completely ignores the arrival of the rest of the Ainur at the same time. And of course, many of them were motivated by concern that, unopposed, Morgoth would make Ea his prison, hence it's not to great a stretch to think Tom was among their number. And this really makes the most sense unless we are to believe the inexplicable creature (if creature he is) represented by Bombadil was in the lifeless world before its stewards were there to populate it. To believe otherwise almost takes "enigma" off the table, as we are confronted with life not originating with the Valar, and what other source presents itself save Eru?


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Its up to you if you agree but it is definately most likely that he means that he was in Ea before anything else.


I take your point, and you make a compelling case, but it's not absolutely conclusive. It's really difficult for me to imagine anything but in animate matter in the world before Yavanna came along with her olvar and kelvar, and I think that's what keeps restraining me.


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I would forget the 'Dark lord' meaning Sauron part, as its completely out of place in the quote.


Occurring in the Trilogy it's difficult to imagine it meaning much else. That's what I took it to mean at the time, and, indeed, it's what I think pretty much everyone takes it to mean when they first encountered it (what did YOU think it meant the first time you read it?) How, given the Professor despaired of ever publishing the HoME (both rightly and understandably, as we've seen,) do you think he meant it? If it's a reference to Morgoth, it's an vague one, probably the most oblique of the few references to the First Age in the whole Trilogy. We have some inkling (pardon the pun) of whom Earendil is, and Luthien, but who, if not Sauron, is a first time reader of the Trilogy to take as "the Dark Lord?"
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Occurring in the Trilogy it's difficult to imagine it meaning much else. That's what I took it to mean at the time, and, indeed, it's what I think pretty much everyone takes it to mean when they first encountered it (what did YOU think it meant the first time you read it?)

Aragorn does mention the 'Great Enemy' in the story he tells to the Hobbits on Weathertop later on, so some readers could draw a link with that.

But inside LOTR, 'Dark Lord' indeed makes one think of Sauron.

Tom Bombadil says :
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'Eh, what?' said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. 'Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'
A shadow seemed to pass by the window, and the hobbits glanced hastily through the panes. When they turned again, Goldberry stood in the door behind, framed in light. She held a candle, shielding its flame from the draught with her hand; and the light flowed through it, like sunlight through a white shell.

When we consider this quote within the context of LOTR, then Tom seems to only refer with 'here' to his house and his small parcel of land and the immediate vicinity of it (hence he refers to the Barrow-wights and the Little People), not to the entirety of Arda or Middle-earth.

In that case : 'the Elves passed westward', means the Eldar passing his land on the Great Journey, and 'the Dark Lord coming from Outside' could both refer to Morgoth returning to Beleriand or Sauron entering Eriador to start war upon the High Elves (but considering Tom Bombadil doesn't have a global view, and is only interested what happens in the immediate vicinity of his land, I'd go for the latter).

With 'first drop of rain', etc. he means the first drop of rain on his land, not the very first drop of rain on Arda.

Hence, it all depends how one wishes to consider this quote - 'globally' using the Silmarillion which indeed makes it possible to interpret 'here' as 'Arda', etc. OR 'locally' using LOTR which makes 'here' referring to Tom Bombadil's house & land only; considering Tom Bombadil's character and his view on events as described in FOTR, I tend to go for the local view, which is not the view I previously had (just read through this thread).

P.S. : again, I'll post the links to two Tom Bombadil essays which are quite enlightening :
Who is Tom Bombadil?
What is Tom Bombadil?
"But you are young and I am old. Eldest, thats what I am."
A small point but he says he was the Eldest. That seems pretty convincing to me.

Vir - The quote in no way implies that when TOm says 'Here' he is confining it to his own land.

Moramber - I will admit that its not certain, but many things in Tolkiens world are not and still we accept them for what they are most likely, and in this case, although its not certain, its very likely that Tom was the First thing on Arda for he is 'Eldest'.
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