Login | Register
 
Message Board | Latest Posts | Your Recent Posts | Rules

Thread: Why "middle" earth?

Is this discussion interesting? Share it on Twitter!

Bottom of Page    Message Board > The History of > Why "middle" earth?   
OK, so I get to reply to my own thread cuz I hit enter instead of shift (how embarrassing). Anyway. Does anyone know why Tolkien chose the term "middle" earth? Why not "center" or "bottom" "left" or any other arbitrary title. is it cuz it was in the middle of the seas or some such?
On the West there was Valinor, on the East were the unexplored lands filled with Savage people, on the North was Beleriand and the lands from the lore of Silmarillion, in the South were the Black Numenoreans. All these lands have not been dealt with. And "Centre Earth" sounds as if something were happening in the core of the Earth and isn't very catchy. Hence, Middle-Earth prevailed.
Tolkien borrowed the name Middle Earth from Norse mythology. There the world is flat (as was Tolkiens ME, until the humans beacame naughty). In the center of the world lived the Gods (Ňsgard), around their world was the human world, Middle Earth (Midgard), and outside of Middle Earth lived the giants and various scary beasts, enemies of humans and gods (Utgard). So sailing too far out to sea wasn't good idea.

Middle Earth is the whole planet/world isn't it? Maybe it is Middle Earth because it is in the middle of nothing.
Quote:
So sailing too far out to sea wasn't good idea.

Until a certain Viking party came to America.
Vinland, little brother. Wineland.
Yes, but not exactly a place of the various giants and Evil Creatures, eh? No enemies of God were found there. And America is Vinland. Or rather, Vinland would be called America many centuries afterwards after a certain misguided Mr.Vespucci because of whom we Indians, who have nothing to do whatsoever with America, are called Native Americans.
"I'm an Indian!"
"You mean Native American?"
Pah!
AmariŽ is right saying Middle-Earth is based on Midgard. JRRT has mentioned this in one of his Letters. I'll give the quote in the evening, if i'm sober enough... (:-P

Quote:
Yes, but not exactly a place of the various giants and Evil Creatures, eh? No enemies of God were found there.

I'm not so sure about that... (;-)
No, Middle Earth is not the name for the whole "planet ". The world itself is called Arda or Ea.
Its a pretty good asumption that Middle-Earth is based on the nordic mythology. Or at least it has a lot of similar parts.
You should get "The Tolkien's Middle-Earth" by Karen Wynn Fonstad. If you want to know how Middle-earth really looked like, maps, pathways, thematic maps, estimated campsites, dates and distances, then you really MUST get this book, its superb. And everything they did was gather every last bit of information Tolkien ever wrote about LOTR. Pieace of cake,eh?
From letter #165 (To the Houghton Mifflin Co.) :

Quote:
'Middle-earth', by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in (like the Mercury of Eddison).4 It is just a use of Middle English middel-erde (or erthe), altered from Old English Middangeard: the name for the inhabited lands of Men 'between the seas'. And though I have not attempted to relate the shape of the mountains and land-masses to what geologists may say or surmise about the nearer past, imaginatively this 'history' is supposed to take place in a period of the actual Old World of this planet.


Quote:
Middle Earth is the whole planet/world isn't it? Maybe it is Middle Earth because it is in the middle of nothing.

Middle-Earth is only the western part of the continent Endor, hence the north-western part of Arda (=the world).

Eš is not Arda, but the vastness (hence the universe) in which Arda was made, and in which Melkor sought the Flame Imperishable.
of course, i may be wrong but this is what i thought, please correct me if i am wrong. Ea is includes the void, Arda is the earth and ME is where LOTR takes place. i belive i read somewhere that English explorers called England ME or something like it which Tolk used. i know alot of LOTR was based on mythology, especialy Norse, so it probably was from Norse.
Quote:
Ea is includes the void, Arda is the earth and ME is where LOTR takes place. i


Almost correct. Ea comprises Arda and the heavens (Ilmen), but not the Timeless Halls or the Void.

Arda is the earth, containing the land masses of Aman and Middle Earth, which are separated by the Belegaer Sea.

Geographically Middle Earth is the land to the East of the Belegaer Sea, exstending south to Harad and East to Rhun. Prior to the Third Age when the land was changed, Cuivienen and the lands to the north of Beleriand were also part of Middle Earth.

In one of his letters (I cannot remember which one), Tolkien did describe Middle Earth to someone as being Europe. I think as his stories developed over time, however, this conception may have changed.
In "Farmer Giles" and (I believe) in "Sir Gawain" it refers to their region (Britian) as M.E..

But I have also read that tolkien originally meant for it to be Europe.
Maybe it's called Middle Earth because it always stands between the two forces: the Good and the Evil and it is always a battle scene between these two.
No, JRRT called it Middle-earth because he based himself on Germanic mythology, where there is mention of Midgardr (Old Norse), Midjungards (Gothic), Middangeard (Old English) and Mittilagart (Old High German), which became Middelerde in Middle-English and finally became Middle-earth in modern English.
Although, you must agree that Erebwn's theory has some merit. I find that an intruiging possibility, and it may indeed have occured to Tolkien at one point. The peoples of Middle Earth often find themselves fighting the remnants of the Valar's war all through the Trilogy- Sauron was a high ranking servant/creation of Morgoth
In one of his letters, JRRT explains why he chose the name "Middle-earth".

From letter #165 :
Quote:
'Middle-earth', by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in (like the Mercury of Eddison).4 It is just a use of Middle English middel-erde (or erthe), altered from Old English Middangeard: the name for the inhabited lands of Men 'between the seas'. And though I have not attempted to relate the shape of the mountains and land-masses to what geologists may say or surmise about the nearer past, imaginatively this 'history' is supposed to take place in a period of the actual Old World of this planet.

It is clear that JRRT did not choose the name "Middle-earth" for any philosophical reason, just for linguistic, historical and geographical reasons.

From letter #183 :
Quote:
I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century and still in use) of midden-erd > middel-erd, an ancient name for the oikoumenē, the abiding place of Men, the objectively real world, in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by the enchantment of distance in time.
i think that it comes from the nordic religion (thor e.t.c) where the gods lived was called middle-earth
No, the gods in Nordic mythology lived in Asgard; the humans lived in Midgard = Middle-earth.

See above.
Quote:
Until a certain Viking party came to America.


actually one of the earlyist viking parties to make it to the americas (named after an italian beleive it or not) was chased from the beach by a group of men dressed in white and wielding long white pikes - which to many people sounds a lot like a party of irish druids! Indeed the man who lead them to shore was himself irish.
Shor'n it must have happened just like Grep said. Elf Sticking Tounge Out Smilie
Quote:
actually one of the earlyist viking parties to make it to the americas (named after an italian beleive it or not) was chased from the beach by a group of men dressed in white and wielding long white pikes - which to many people sounds a lot like a party of irish druids! Indeed the man who lead them to shore was himself irish.

I never heard about that, but there is some evidence to back it up, example, there are records from as early as 400 A.D. of an Irish ships reaching distant shores to the west, leaving people behind. And the vikings found evidence of these colonies.
Quote:
And the vikings found evidence of these colonies.

Empty pints and shamrock badges?
...and also broken shillelaghs and crushed skulls.
HaHaHa. No, the usual, ruins of colonies long abandoned.
ahh, vikings, my forefathers, i'm swedish you knowModerator Smilie
Quote:
"I'm an Indian!"
"You mean Native American?"
Pah!

It amazes me that the English language haven't done anything about this mistake. The people themselves have to make up a new name and force people to use it. Strange... In Norway a person from India is an "inder" and a native american is an "indianer".

Yes, the vikings. About the only thing Sweds and Norwegians will admit that we have in common. Wink Smilie Orc Smiling Smilie
After the downfall of the Pillars of light, Illuin and Ormal, thw world was ever after split into 3 and then 4 continents.

Aman in the far west, Endor (Middle-earth) in the 'MIDDLE', then the Dark south lands in the east then the Lands of sun in the furthest East. Each of these continents were seperated by sea. The Dark south land and the Land of Sun did not contain 'Savage people' as they contained no peoples whatsoever as they are called the empty lands.

Middle earth is in the middle, ands its proper name is Endor. Middle-earth extends all the way from Forechel to the nether drakness. It does not end at Haradwaith. I suggest this map of the world:

Entire of Arda

This contains maps of Arda in all three ages.

With the downfall of Numenor Valinor was taken out of the world and new lands unexplored were put in its place. The lands East of Middle-earth were cast back to form a larger eastern sea.

Thats about all I can think of to aid you.
Quote:
About the only thing Sweds and Norwegians will admit that we have in common.

Those little competitions are so odd and amusing... like the Belgians & the Dutch, the French & the English, the French & the German, the Greeks & the Turks, the Serbs & the Croats, the Czechs & the Slovaks, the Armenians & the Azeri, the Spanish & the Portuguese,... it surely spices European politics up a bit now and then.
But sometimes I'd like to say that in Scandinavia, the Swedes are the square ones, the Danes are completely round and the Norwegians are egg-shaped (Oval). If not in real figures, so in talk and thinking.
French and German? Vir, surely you must be mistaken... doesn't everyone love Germany right now? Though I admit that France is rather...ah, let's say...fond of teasing (or in other words, picking a quarrel).

And Belgium and the Netherlands! you should hear my Belgian friend...("They're just so Dutch...I'm Flemish.")

I suppose it is only natural for Scandinavians to taunt each other gleefully, though I've never really thought that they come out of their hiding to do anything at all (except rolling away money with their mysterious products like Nokia and Ikea, oh, and the cookies).
Miruvor got it right, It is a compilation of language, especially old norse/viking.