Thread: A Matter of Height
Also if ELendil is 7 and a 1/2 foot tall then that would make Sauron in the film opening sequence well over 10ft tall!
Galadriel is supposed to be over six feet tall and her husband Celeborn, whose name (in later versions) translates as "Silver Tall" is also meant to be huge. In general the elves in the film are all portrayed as very similar in height, yet those who lived in the Blessed Realm before the Silmirils debacle are known to be much taller.
The Rohirrim are said to be notably shorter (with the exception of the royal line associated by marriage to Morwen of Lossarnach). So Aragorn should have towered over the average rider.
Personally, I'm glad Jackson didn't turn everyone into basketball players.
I agree, and I don't think that's what Tolkien had in mind.
In Medieval Europe malnutrition and disease stunted the growth of most peasants. Only the "Nobility" escaped such a fate, usually through exploitation and appropriating the resources for themselves. I expect this is the reason for equating height with Kingliness.
Still, as most people were shorter back then, anyone over 6 feet would appear enormous. Applying this to Middle Earth, I suspect the notion of 8 foot tall people may be based on a relative scale. So Aragorn could have appeared tall as the Kings of Old without being outrageously tall.
This 8 foot figure is getting thrown around so much in this thread that I feel compelled to point out that the [b:3ik9of6u]tallest[/b:3ik9of6u] person in Numenorean records after the fall was [i:3ik9of6u]almost[/i:3ik9of6u] 8 feet tall. Nowhere is it stated that the Numenoreans were all 8 feet tall; in fact, most were about [i:3ik9of6u]man-high[/i:3ik9of6u], or 6'4". Aragorn was probably about this height.
[quote:ro0y0u0u][b:ro0y0u0u]Russ Howlett--University of North Carolina:[/b:ro0y0u0u]
In Anglo-Saxon England (before the Norman conquest of 1066), short distances seem to have been measured in several ways. The inch (ynce) was defined to be the length of 3 barleycorns, which is very close to its modern length. The shaftment was frequently used, but it was roughly 6.5 inches long. Several foot units were in use, including a foot equal to 12 inches, a foot equal to 2 shaftments (13 inches), and the "natural foot" (pes naturalis, an actual foot length, about 9.8 inches). The fathom was also used, but it did not have a definite relationship to the other units.
When the Normans arrived, they [b:ro0y0u0u]brought back[/b:ro0y0u0u] to England the Roman tradition of a 12-inch foot. Although no single document on the subject can be found, it appears that during the reign of Henry I (1100-1135) the 12-inch foot became official, and the royal government took steps to make this foot length known. [/quote:ro0y0u0u]
This quote isn't the only source I've read on the matter, but it confirms my memory of the subject. Though it states that the 12 inch unit was also in use between the Romans and the Normans, it does make clear that it wasn't the common standard in the Anglo Saxon period.
I did also check the Wikipedia page on the subject, but it only relates the 13" (2 shaftments) measurement to the term "Foot", so I don't think that particular article is as thorough as it could have been. My memory of the subject from past studies is that most people in Anglo-Saxon Britain would have used the "Natural Foot" measurement.
Note that I am NOT saying that this is definitively Tolkien's view of the situation, but it is an important point to consider given Tolkien's focus on the culture of that period.
I suppose its [i:1pomcoyw]possible[/i:1pomcoyw], but I find it unlikely, since the entire purpose of the note I mentioned earlier was to compare Numenorean units to our own (presumably to give a frame of reference). Tolkien does at least acknowledge that it is possible that the "equivalence", as he puts it, between Numenorean units and ours was different due to body size and changes to units of that sort, but he is pretty clear that the "[i:1pomcoyw]ranga[/i:1pomcoyw] was slightly longer than [b:1pomcoyw]our yard[/b:1pomcoyw], approximately 38 inches" (emphasis added).
Whilst the points you make GB about measurement are true and interesting they don't apply here, Tolkien clearly sets out the measurements. I would be surprised if after a reread of the passages on measurement you don't concur with Eldo.
Where can I find the passage in question? If I don't have the right book available I may ask one of you to post the passage for my perusal.
If you don't have it to hand I can always post it.
I think petty does a good job of summing it up. I can't think of any reason why Tolkien, when explaining his measurements for modern readers (as any readers of his work would be) would use out-dated units without stating so.
[quote="Unfinished Tales":1ba6q7sb]Measures of distance are converted as nearly as possible into modern terms. "League" is used because it was the longest measurement of distance: in Numenorean reckoning (which was decimal) five thousand [i:1ba6q7sb]rangar[/i:1ba6q7sb] (full paces) made a [i:1ba6q7sb]lar[/i:1ba6q7sb], which was very nearly three of our miles. [i:1ba6q7sb]Lar[/i:1ba6q7sb] meant "pause," because except in forced marches a brief halt was usually made after this distance had been covered [see note 9 above]. The Numenorean [i:1ba6q7sb]ranga[/i:1ba6q7sb] was slightly longer than our yard, approximately thirty-eight inches, owing to their greater stature. Therefore five thousand [i:1ba6q7sb]rangar[/i:1ba6q7sb] would be almost exactly the equivalent of 5280 yards, our "league:" 5277 yards, two feet and four inches, supposing the equivalence to be exact. this cannot be determined, being based on the lengths given in histories of various things and distances that can be compared with those of our time. Account has to be taken both of the great stature of the Numenoreans (since hands, feet, fingers and paces are likely to be the origin of names of units of length), and also of the variations from these averages or norms in the process of fixing and organising a measurement system both for daily use and for exact calculations. Thus two [i:1ba6q7sb]rangar[/i:1ba6q7sb] was often called "man-high," which at thirty-eight inches gives an average height of six feet four inches; but this was at a later date, when the stature of the Dunedain appears to have decreased, and also was not intended to be an accurate statement of the observed average of male stature among them, but was an approximate length expressed in the well-known unit [i:1ba6q7sb]ranga[/i:1ba6q7sb]. (The [i:1ba6q7sb]ranga[/i:1ba6q7sb] is often said to have been the length of the stride, from rear heel to front toe, of a rull-grown man marching swiftly but at ease; a full stride "might be well nigh a [i:1ba6q7sb]ranga[/i:1ba6q7sb] and a half." It is however said of the great people of the past that they were more than a man-high. Elendilw as said to have be "more than man-high by nearly half a [i:1ba6q7sb]ranga[/i:1ba6q7sb];" but he was accounted the tallest of all the Numenoreans who escaped the Downfall [and was indeed generally known as Elendil the Tall]. The Eldar of the Elder Days were also very tall. Galadriel, "the tallest of all the women of the Eldar of whom tales tell," was said to be man-high, but it is noted "according to the measure of the Dunedain and the men of old," indicated a height of about six feet four inches.[/quote:1ba6q7sb]
I think that's the relevant portion (it's first paragraph of the appendix, not counting Christopher Tolkien's three-line introduction.). It is the main part of the Appendix that discusses modern units, with a brief later mention of Hobbit sizes.
In any event, as I'm sure you can see, Tolkien does discuss impreciseness, but I think he is talking about our lack of certain knowledge about the Numenorean system, not about previous versions of our modern units. Note the first sentence: Tolkien is trying to give conversions to modern units.
No - and I was never sold on eight foot Numenoreans either...
I love the fact that Tolkien also discusses the historical human basis of measurement units.
Indeed; part of the appendix that I didn't quote states that "the Hobbits of the Shire were in height between three and four feet, never less and seldom more." One [i:2cxt127n]ranga[/i:2cxt127n] falls into this range, near the low end.