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Who is older Tom Bombadil or Treebeard?
I read somewhere that Treebeard was there when the first raindrops fell. But Tom Bombadil is ,i think, a Maiar. Help me.
Click on Was Tom Bombadil important to. That should help a bit.

(Grondy enabled the link.)
You see, this is why Hollywood is so twisted.....

I should think Tom B is older....Although PJ and New Line portray Treebeard as the oldest thing on the face of Middle-Earth....
Orc Smiling Smilie
But then again I could be wrong... I
If tom is a Maiar then he must be older than Treebeard since Maiars served the Valar (I think) before some were sent to help the peoples of middle-earth.
aiya:

tom,mellian,gandalf, saruman, they were all maiar, adn yes they were before time existed in the midle earth. since treebeard is an ent, and ents, eagles and dwarves were the dream of Yavana,Manwe and Aule, they had to be born after the first borns came to the world. on the other hand, maiar were here before elves, so that would prove that tom is a lot older than Treebeard, even though treebeard is older than any live elf that appears in the movies.

I was shocked when treebeard calls gandalf "young master gandalf" in the movie. so i might presume that not even treebeard knew who gandalf really was.
First of all; where does it actually say Tom is Maiar??? I always thought JRR never actually said what/who Tom actually was..??

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since treebeard is an ent, and ents, eagles and dwarves were the dream of Yavana,Manwe and Aule, they had to be born after the first borns came to the world.

Although Aule DID make the dwarves BEFORE the first born came, but Eru put them to sleep so they wouldn't "interfere" with his plans (thus they were not a dream of Aule, they were a creation)

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I was shocked when treebeard calls gandalf "young master gandalf" in the movie. so i might presume that not even treebeard knew who gandalf really was.

oh please please please please DON'T go with what the movie says about characters/happenings or anything and use that as a reference.... If in doubt, trust the movies to be wrong!!! Wink Smilie
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First of all; where does it actually say Tom is Maiar??? I always thought JRR never actually said what/who Tom actually was.

Indeed, Tolkien never said that Tom was Maiar, whereas, he did say that the others mentioned were. Tolkien merely called Tom and egnima, which, I suppose could mean just about anything your imagination could come up with, as long as it is older than Middle Earth itself. Smile Smilie
Of Tom Bombadil, Elrond said during his Council in FotR
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But I had forgotten Bombadil, if indeed this is still the same that walked the woods and hills long ago, and even then was older than the old. That was not then his name. Iarwain Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless. But many another name he has since been given by other folk: Forn by the Dwarves, Orald by Northern Men, and other names beside. He is a strange creature, ...
doesn't really answer the question "who was older?" though.... Wink Smilie
If Tom and Fangorn would be both of the race of the Ainur, as previously suggested in this thread, they would be of the same age, as all Ainur came into being when Eru spoke "E". That's the conclusion when we look at their absolute age.

As for relative age (age bound to Arda), Tom would be the oldest, as he himself says " '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.' "
In the chapter "the White Rider" in TTT, or "Book three", Gandalf tells Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli that Treebeard is "the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-Earth".

Does this imply that Tom, being the "Eldest", is NOT a "living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-Earth", and if so, how is it possible that Tom is not alive, is nothing, is not walking, is not beneath the Sun, and/or is not upon Middle-Earth at the time of Gandalf the White's statement? Did Gandalf meet Tom during his brief leave of absence from thought and time, when he "wandered on roads that [he would] not tell"? Does Tom exist in a plane outside of thought and time?

Or has Gandalf just temporarily forgotten about Tom when he's explaining who Treebeard is?
Well, Tom Bombadil is the eldest living being in Middle-earth, but he never leaves the confinement of his home and the piece of land around it, and has probably never done so in the past.

Treebeard, though, has ventured all over Middle-Earth.

That's what Gandalf the White means, imo. Another possibility is that Alzheimer was rearing its ugly head.

It's also possible that Gandalf and the Wise were never given the information about himself that Tom Bombadil gave to the Hobbits. They might not know that Bombadil was already present in Middle-earth "before the Dark One came from Outside" and that he is "Oldest", etc.
I agree with Thingol above, that Tom is likely a Maia, and therefore must be older than Treebeard. Gandalf's statement could be taken to mean, although Tolkien does leave this open, that Treebeard is the oldest creature "of Middle Earth." But since Tom is not "of Middle Earth" but of an order that is older, he is not included in the statement.

If it was an alzheimer's slip, Miruvor, then it was on the part of Tolkien.
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since Tom is not "of Middle Earth" but of an order that is older, he is not included in the statement.

I think that must be true, because otherwise Gandalf's words about Treebeard to be:
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the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-Earth.

mean that he had some memory problems forgetting Saruman, Sauron and humble himself.

And conserning the main question, Tolkien said in some interview or in Letters being asked if Bombadil was one of Eru's incarnations that he surely wasn't, but he added that he won't answer other questions about Tom's origin as he wants it to be a mystery.
So the mystery it is.
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I agree with Thingol above, that Tom is likely a Maia, and therefore must be older than Treebeard.

If Bombadil is a Maia, then Bombadil and Treebeard are equally old, as Treebeard is a Maia as well.

Bombadil is 'eldest' of all creatures because he was the very first to descend into Arda.

The Elven lore-masters who wrote the Valaquenta had no knowledge of Bombadil, and hence wrote that Melkor was the first to descend into Arda.

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But since Tom is not "of Middle Earth" but of an order that is older, he is not included in the statement.

If Tom is an Ainu who descended into Arda, then he is bound to Arda's fate, just like all other Ainur who descended into Arda. So he is a part of Middle-Earth all right.
I do not know how you can say that Treebeard is a Maia, Miruvor. There was in Treebeard's description of ents and trees an indication that there was much "traveling" between the two groups--ents becoming treeish and trees becoming entish--hence the huorns. This does not seem to be Tolkien's depiction of the spiritual order being confined in a body, such as the Valar, Maiar, and Istari. "Descended into Arda" is not the same as "lived in Middle Earth," as the two names are not interchangeable. Arda refers to the entire world, mainly before the "bending" of the seas. Middle Earth refers to that part east of the great sea and south of Beleriand. (At least, this is what I have understood from the books and maps.) So Bombadil must be older than Treebeard, although I think neither of them would quibble over a few millenia.
Gandalf the Grey said at the Council of Elrond:
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... I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come.'
And as far as I'm concerned, that's a wrap.
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I do not know how you can say that Treebeard is a Maia, Miruvor. There was in Treebeard's description of ents and trees an indication that there was much "traveling" between the two groups--ents becoming treeish and trees becoming entish--hence the huorns.

I think it's clear that Treebeard's a Maia, based on some elements from JRRT's works (see below).

The key factor here is the difference between 'trees' and 'Ents'. Huorns are not Ents, just trees with black hearts. Ents are not trees, and trees are not ents, even though they look much alike :

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'The trees and the Ents,' said Treebeard. 'I do not understand all that goes on myself, so I cannot explain it to you. Some of us are still true Ents, and lively enough in our fashion, but many are growing sleepy, going tree-ish, as you might say. Most of the trees are just trees, of course; but many are half awake. Some are quite wide awake, and a few are, well, ah, well getting "Entish". That is going on all the time.


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'Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them; and they speak only in whispers. But some of my trees are limb-lithe, and many can talk to me. Elves began it, of course, waking trees up and teaching them to speak and learning their tree-talk. They always wished to talk to everything, the old Elves did. But then the Great Darkness came, and they passed away over the Sea, or fled into far valleys, and hid themselves, and made songs about days that would never come again. Never again. Aye, aye, there was all one wood once upon a time: from here to the Mountains of Lune, and this was just the East End.


From TTT :

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After some time the hobbits heard him murmuring again. He seemed to be counting on his fingers. 'Fangorn, Finglas, Fladrif, aye, aye,' he sighed. 'The trouble is that there are so few of us left,' he said turning towards the hobbits. 'Only three remain of the first Ents that walked in the woods before the Darkness: only myself, Fangorn, and Finglas and Fladrif to give them their Elvish names; you may call them Leaflock and Skinbark if you like that better. And of us three Leaflock and Skinbark are not much use for this business. Leaflock has grown sleepy, almost tree-ish, you might say: he has taken to standing by himself half-asleep all through the summer with the deep grass of the meadows round his knees.


From the Quenta Silmarillion :

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And Manwл said: 'O Kementбri, Eru hath spoken, saying: "Do then any of the Valar suppose that I did not hear all the Song, even the least sound of the least voice? 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. For a time: while the Firstborn are in their power, and while the Secondborn are young." But dost them not now remember, Kementбri, that thy thought sang not always alone? Did not thy thought and mine meet also, so that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the clouds? That also shall come to be by the heed of Ilъvatar, and before the Children awake there shall go forth with wings like the wind the Eagles of the Lords of the West.'


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'Nay,' he said, 'only the trees of Aulл will be tall enough. In the mountains the Eagles shall house, and hear the voices of those who call upon us. But in the forests shall walk the Shepherds of the Trees.'


The Ents that became 'treeish' are comparable, imo, to the Istari who forgot their task that the Valar had bestowed upon them -- Radagast the Brown for instance, and perhaps the Blue Wizards.
You will pardon me for being thick-headed, but I do not see how these quotes prove that Treebeard was a Maia. He was certainly a guardian, but that is what the ents were. His memories of the Elder Days indicate his great age. It never surprised me that he could remember the First Age and knew the forest as something much larger than it was in LOTR. But this still does not place him on the level as an embodied spirit. He is a unique kind of being, but LOTR is full of such beings. Bombadil, however, can only be a spirit, for he is in a "man" body, but is clearly not a man.

I never saw Radaghast as having forgotten his mission. Each of the wizards would have done their works according to the talent of each. Radaghast was a shape-shifter and could communicate with anything. It would seem to me that during the WOTR he had his hands full. Tolkien brought in many characters that could not continue in the main plotline, and this is one of them. But I suppose this is subject matter for another thread, too.
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You will pardon me for being thick-headed, but I do not see how these quotes prove that Treebeard was a Maia.
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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 believe this is the key phrase in Miruvor's above quote that covers both the Great Eagles and the Ents as being maia.
Does Tolkien himself interpret these words in this manner? I wonder, since I have never heard this interpretation before now. What do the Letters say?
JRRT doesn't write about what Ents really are in his Letters, but this excerpt from letter 248 comes closest :

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No one knew whence they (Ents) came or first appeared. The High Elves said that the Valar did not mention them in the 'Music'. But some (Galadriel) were [of the] opinion that when Yavanna discovered the mercy of Eru to Aul in the matter of the Dwarves, she besought Eru (through Manw) asking him to give life to things made of living things not stone, and that the Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees. (Not all were good [words illegible]) The Ents thus had mastery over stone. The males were devoted to Orom, but the Wives to Yavanna.

Besides this, JRRT wrote about the Entwives in a few other letters, and about the language of the Ents, but this has nothing to do with our current discussion.

What JRRT wrote in the above excerpt, seems to be in line with what's in the Silmarillion.
What may be confusing is that the words Spirits or Souls are used in Tolkien's text instead of Maiar specifically. I have always considered them to be Maiar, however, as at that time only the Maiar and Valar are present on Ea. There were a lot of Maiar, and not all of them were as strong as Sauron, Eonwe etc. It is perfectly feasible in my opinion that some of the lesser ones chose to inhabit tree-form at Yavanna's bidding to protect the trees. In Morgoth's Ring there is a piece Tolkien wrote in which he is deliberating the origin of Orcs. One of his several explainations was that the earliest orcs may have been Maiar themselves. This idea may have been totally changed later, but it does show Tolkien's own viewpoint on the hundred and one uses you may have for a Maiar spirit.
Thanks for the quote. I would have to comment that in Tolkien's lexicon, "soul" would have a different connotation from "spirit." What makes me wonder is the scene in which the ents have finally come to a decision and are marching on Isengard. Treebeard says to the hobbits: "Of course, it is likely enough...that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents. But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later...Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song. Aye...we may help the other peoples before we pass away..." Of course this is not definitive, but this seems to be indicating some kind of mortality, not in consonant with the immortality of the Maiar.
'The body is weak but the soul endures,' or some such words. Just as Gandalf the Grey's body was mortal his spirit wasn't; I believe when Beechbone went up in a cloud of smoke and fire, he lost his body, but his spirit went back from whence it came. Of course I could be wrong
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I was shocked when treebeard calls gandalf "young master gandalf" in the movie. so i might presume that not even treebeard knew who gandalf really was.


Knowing something, as I do, about script writing, this was simply a plot device to give away to a unknowing audience that treebeard was older than gandalf. The movie is full of moments like this; and they're very nessacery to a film that had to work for those who haven't read the books. It's also a line which suggests that there are older and more powerful things around than Gandalf, who could easily appear to be the oldest and most powerful thing on middle earth bar sauron to the untrained observer.
While it may be true that Grondy, with others, has the right interpretation of what Treebeard is, I don't think we should look to the movies for confirmation of the fact. As much as I think PJ was devoted to Tolkien, I don't think that in every instance he knew what he was doing. So this line, "Young Master Gandalf," is gratuitous padding as far as I'm concerned. What are we now saying? That the Maiar-Istari are younger than the posited Maiar-spirits of the ents? But I believe the discussion was about Treebeard and Bombadil. If they were both Maiar, then they are both Maiar. But if not, as I believe, then Bombadil predates Fanghorn.
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So this line, "Young Master Gandalf," is gratuitous padding as far as I'm concerned.

I didn't even know Treebeard said this in the movies, until you posted it. Nice one from PJ. He actually gave Treebeard a sense of humour.
Thingol meantioned that movie quote above.
I've always considered Tom to be one of the Maiar, but Miruvor's insistance to be otherwise is making me think twice. I don't go along with the theories that he is Aule (or any of the other Valar), or Eru. What is he then. An enigma certainly.

Eru gave his vision to the Valar. They then sang together the First Great Music, after which the Earth was formed and the Valar entered therein to shape it. So if he is not Valar or Maiar, where could Tom fit into that picture?

I'm beginning to think that Tom is actually a lingering physical manifestation of part of what Eru contributed to the music and the vision. Eru conjured the Valar and Maiar from his thoughts, which would explain why Tom is so similar to them, as in this theory Tom is a similar conjuration. Where the Valar and Maiar were conjured as Valar and Maiar, however, to serve their purpose as free entities, Tom was not created specifically as Tom, but formed accidentally during the creation of Ea. This would explain why Tom is the First in Ea and the oldest etc.

Sorry if that is the same theory you postulated long ago, Mir. I read your post at the time, but cannot remember the full details off hand.
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Sorry if that is the same theory you postulated long ago, Mir. I read your post at the time, but cannot remember the full details off hand.

Me neither.

I think though, that it was something in the line of what you posted - I believe i called Tom the "projection" of Eru in Arda/Middle-Earth.

Maybe though, JRRT introducted Bombadil into LOTR as a sort of wink towards his children, as Tom Bombadil was a doll of one of his children, i believe.
Yes, the origin of Tom Bombadil was something to do with JRR's children. I cannot remember if it was the name of a doll one of them owned, or a story he used to read them at bedtime.... possibly both. However, having introduced Tom into LotR, Tolkien obviously developed the character far beyond its origins into the character in its own right. This introduction of Tom is possibly why he is such an enigma. Tolkien over the years developed the Maiar and Valar, and on parallel lines Tom too. This development took a long time and they changed a fair bit over the years. It is quite possible when he wrote such lines as "the oldest/first" he had forgotten it was the Valar/Maiar alone that entered Ea at the start. He does frequently contadict himself in small ways. I would stick to Tom being a Maiar if the counter-reasoning was just one such slip-up, but on several occasions Tolkien does write small things that seem to set Tom apart from the other Maiar.
I'm quite sure I read somewhere that Tom Bombadil was a doll, but I forgot where. I believe it was on a biographical Tolkien site, which was taken down a while ago.
I had read that too: I just searched The Letters, but didn't find it there; nor did I find it in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. It might even have been in that short film/TV interview he did.
I read about the Tom Bombadil doll in J R R Tolkien: A biography by Humphrey Carpenter. It seems that the doll met an unfortunate end in a flush.
Useless Detail : Bombadil means Bomb Tongue in Turkish.

Hopefully i've helped you solve your problem Smile Smilie
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Useless Detail : Bombadil means Bomb Tongue in Turkish.

Guess that toy didn't have a CE label then.

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It seems that the doll met an unfortunate end in a flush.

Of course. That's how Bombadil found the Sewer Daughter.