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

Thread: Tom Bombadil

Is this discussion interesting? Share it on Twitter!

Bottom of Page    Message Board > Characters > Tom Bombadil   [1] [2] >>
Welcome to the forum Curufinwe. Smile Smilie Elrond, during the council, gave Tom's three other names, but they don't help us with the problem. Sad Smilie

Is there anymore info on this subject in HOME or Tolkien's letters, anyone?
There is quite famously no other explanations of Tom's origins anywhere, except for the rumour posted here once that he was one of Tolkien's children's favourite dolls, that just had to be put in somewhere.
It is generally accepted now that he was a Maiar (as was Goldberry) though not one of the Istari, more a wayward type like Melian who just liked Middle Earth.
Unfortunately, Tolkien himself never explained Tom's origins anywhere, so it's all just speculation.
Erm... Fortunately Tolkien never explained this Smile Smilie
Depends on your point of view really. Would save a lot of time spent arguing about it, a lot like Balrogs and wings really Wink Smilie
Well it wouldn't at all be as much fun though... I mean it's the discussion that keep Middle-Earth so alive...
No, it is JRR Tolkien's vivid imagination and the words he used to portray his vision that keeps Middle Earth alive. Our continuing to read those words is secondary; our discussion about them is, at best, tertiary. Big Smile Smilie
His imagination and talent with the written word is of course an important part, but it would not be enough to make people read his books ten twenty times... It's those enigmas and oddities that does that... (of course making enigmas can be seen as a proof of imagination and thus both our statments would be correct Smile Smilie)
Hey! Someone started a thread on me! Big Smile Smilie
But it's too difficult for me to follow... Sad Smilie
Since I haven't read the Sil, I don't know what you're talking about, Curufinwe, sorry... It sounds convincing though... Smile Smilie

I'm with Iago here. What fun would we have discussing Tolkien's works if everything was explained in detail? We would have nothing left to discuss. And as long as we continue reading Tolkien, he will be remembered as a great postAuthorID. The more we discuss him, the more he'll be remembered... Big Smile Smilie
I don't think that Tom will be forgotten. Many people may be seeing the movie without him in it, but the movie is also increasing sales of the book no end, and some of the people who buy the book may actually read it as well...Wink Smilie
After watching the film, the lack of Tom was one of the most debated topics discussed among my group of friends.

Although Tom was almost certainly Maiar, Master of the Old Forest (which until the Numenorians converted it into ships, was once much larger), and one of the first beings in Middle Earth, Tolkien gives very little away about his origins. Could this be because he predates elven written history, and not living in Valinor, was unable to aquaint himself with the elves when they gathered before the Valor?

Whatever, I like to think Gandalf was correct when he said Old Tom would one day be forgotten.... There is a whole generation of people who will see the film, but will perhaps never read the books. To them, Tom has disappeared from memory.
It will be a sad, sad day when it arrives. Very Sad Smilie
Tom who....?
Very Sad Smilie I don't wish to be forgotten you know. No nice thoughts at all. And did somebody say something, by the way? I'm hearing funny voices now... :P

I personally think Tolkien left all explanations on Tom behind, because he knew his readers weren't interested in those things at the time. He didn't get to publish the Sil for that same reason. And of course he didn't give a d*mn about explanations... Shaking Head Smilie
Aaah... Thanks 42, I needed that! Animated Wink Smilie
I´m little bit late... but...

Tom Bombadil is my favorite character in the Book...I love those kind of questions....I don´t know what or who Tom is but don´t want to know...I want to dicuss of it and think it in my little head...I´m very sad for Peter Jackson because he left Tom from the movie....I waited that meeting between the hobbits and Tom. But there is nothing what we could do to that thing...
Yay! Thanks Sam! Someone who likes me! Tongue Smilie

He's my favourite character too, yeah. Suppose you could have guessed that. Big Smile Smilie I don't know why I like him so much. Think it's because he's a bit of a comic figure, sth you can't understand. He fascinates me. Smoke Smilie
Tar-Aldarion and any other interested members: Read Curufinwe's above question posted on 14/3/2002 and Plastic Squirrel's and Valedhelgwath's answers posted on 15/3/2002 at 12:45 and 24/4/2002 at 23:16 respectively. Cool Elf Smilie

If you don't find any acceptable answers there or if you have still have the question or a have an additional comment or answer, feel free to post it here. Happy Elf Smilie

(And remember, no matter what anyone thinks or what one of us tells you, we council members don't really know everything and aren't really experts; we are just a group of amateur Tolkienites who have re-read many of his books and are building a concensus about what we have read. We also find this website a fun place to share what we know and to learn even more from others with differing insights. We always are finding things new under the Sun.) Elf Rolling Eyes Smilie Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
Tar-Aldarion posted on 6/12/2002 at 14:24

Question about Tom Bombadil: Who is he, and where is he from? What race is he? I am under the impression that he is one of the Istari. Old appearance and all.

Thus ends the counsel of Tar-Aldarion, 6th King of Numenor. LIVE straight from the halls of Mandos!!!
I have said it before but i was disappointed that Tom wasn't in the film. It would have been good to have him in and just to tell some people.He would not have been another Jar Jar Binks Mad Smilie Mad Smilie Cyclops Smilie
Tom Bombadil is a?

1) Maia
2) Vala
3) An unknown creature
From what has been written about him, Tom is an unknown, but I strongly suspect he was a maiar, possibly a servant of either Yavanna or Orome.
Welcome to our forum Lurtz.

For more info on Tom Bombadil, you might wish to check out the transcript from Week 10 - Tom Bombadil under Tolkien Weekly Courses near the bottom of the forum. Happy Elf Smilie

[Edited on 19/1/2003 by Grondmaster]
I don't think Tom Bombadill is a Maia, 'cause when he wore the Ring, the Ring didn't affect him at all! And we know that the Ring affects Maiar -- Gandalf for instance didn't dare to touch the Ring. But, of course we don't know how the Ring would affect other, more powerful Maiar like Eonwë or Ilmarë of course. So, he could've been a Maia. (but not in my opinion)

It has been suggested that Tom is Aulë and Goldberry Yavanna, but what would those two do in Middle-Earth??

According to me, Tom is not one of the Valarr, 'cause he mentions himself that 'he was here already before the Dark Lord came to the spheres of the Earth' , so he's no Vala as he came before Melkor (who is as we know the first of the Valar to come to Earth);

Tom could be Eru Illuvatar himself, of course but i don't think Eru is married...

No, according to me, Tom is just an Enigma!
Tolkien, himself, says that Tom Bombadil is an enigma.
I think he is, for lack of a better description, a Nature Spirit.
In FOTR/The Council of Elrond, Glorfindal says, " I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come."
Galdor says, "Power to defy our Enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself."
This indicates to me that Tom is uniquely connected with the earth itself.
Also, he did not leave Middle Earth with the other Maiar for the Undying Lands.

So an Enigma Nature Spirit then. Big Smile Smilie
Tom forgotten?! I know JRR wasn't much for allegory, but I think when he doesn't explain things in a story so full of description it is a way to highlight the subject, or in this case the character. Tom, over whom the ring had no power, lived confined in a world of his making. His merriment and control, suited only for his cage. I don't find it a strech that hobbits and Tom lived in such proximity, for in Jrr's M.E., men are consumed with power, elves and dwarves with contempt for each other. Tom represents the pastoral, the something that makes all things one, even when they forget they are. We all in our personal lives speculate who and what we are, whether it be a little or a lot. What depresses me is that those thoughts are tuned today so far away from what "living" is about. I am an idealist, I know life today is easier on many basis, but I lament the loss of the "Tom Bombabil Feeling", as I call it. How do you see your world, more importantly, how does the world see you. "Nature" looks back at you and its appearance is the reflection of your soul. I think that's what Tom is about. I think that's what we've forgotten?! Smoke Smilie

This indicates to me that Tom is uniquely connected with the earth itself.
Also, he did not leave Middle Earth with the other Maiar for the Undying Lands.

correct me if i'm wrong I haven't read ROTK in a while but euhm... didn't Tom leave with Gandalf on the last ship?
correct me if i'm wrong I haven't read ROTK in a while but euhm... didn't Tom leave with Gandalf on the last ship?
Well, even though Tom was a ring bearer, for however so short a time, he did not make that journey with the rest of them. Teacher Smilie

He may have made that final journey with Sam, but that of course is mere conjecture on my part. Elf Winking Smilie
I can't find any reference to Tom's journey to the Grey Havens.
When Gandalf leaves the Hobbits on the journey back to the Shire, he heads to the Old Forest to have a nice visit and chat with Tom. That is the last time Tom is mentioned. "Last as he was First" would indicate that he would remain in ME until the end of time.

I am moved by your observation. I don't think JRR would have a problem with your "allegory", in fact, he probably would see it more as "applicability". I, too, lament the loss of the "Tom Bombadil Feeling". I think this may be one of the reasons that Tom is such a favorite character with Tolkien readers.
Nice post elemuel. Although times were harder pre-industrial revolution, there is a certain feel about the unspoiled countryside that appeals to many of us. Whenever I get in a nice wood and smell the pine needles, and hear the birds, I get a rush of adrenalin and cannot help but take deep breaths.

Tom still lingers in few places, his home ever shrinking, but while there is still a bit oif woodland left, he'll be around. When he disappears with the last trees, so will mankind. His forests will return though and Tom truely will be the last.
Tom was a Maiar and what he most likely means when he says he was there before anyone, is that he was in that part of the world before anyone else started to reside there. It's like when they go on about Fangorn saying was old even when the earth was young. We know he can't be older than the elves. I don't think he will have left for the undying lands as not all maiar or elves did. I think you all konw how I felt about him being missed out of the film pahh.
Well, here i go.

Dwarfes had name for Tom, that was "Forn", but the elves used the name Iarwain Ben-Adar. I can see lot of things out from it.

a. Iarwain Ben-Adar means Oldest and Fatherless, the oldest creature is Eru so what do you say?

b. Tom´s dwarf name was Forn, in Icelandic (witch Tolkien knew´d) Forn means old, or Ancient. So that means he is very old, witch eru is.
We know he can't be older than the elves.
"Who is this we, Kemo Sabi?" (Tonto expression from 'The Lone Ranger' when they were surrounded by bands of warpathing indians). Why do we know Fangorn can't be older than the Elves? For Manwë said to Yavanna,
"... 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 the Secondborn are still young." - from the end of Chapter 2 of the Quenta Silmarillion
I figure these spirits from afar were the Ents and Entwives for the trees and plants, the olvar; and maybe even Beorn for the animals, the kelvar. I think they already had to be in existence for her thought to summon them. I think "summon" here, is different from create. Cool Elf Smilie

I'm with Amon on his idea that Tom is Eru (Ilúvatar), I always figured he was just taking a short, by his reckoning (actually a couple score millennia or so), vacation on Middle-earth where, now that the music was going on, he could relax in his forest hide-away, yet pop out to The Shire for the occasional tankard of ale when his throat got dry. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie

Tom was necessary to get the hobbits out of a couple jams and to see that they were outfitted with their Númenórean blades, so that Merry's blade could hinder the Chief Nazgűl long enough that Eowyn could relieve his headache. Eru's hand was written all over those three chapters, I just don't believe in coincidences. Elf Winking Smilie
My saying Tom was Eru on vacation was tongue in cheek. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie

If Tolkien in his letters says, "Tom Bombadil is an enigma," then by golly an enigma he shall remain. But speculating about him is fun and we can safely do so because Tolkien himself didn't know. Cool Elf Smilie
Tom can't be the Eru because Gandalf knew who he was and said that even he wouldn't be able to hold out against Sauron for ever!

The Eru made the Children of Aule and Yavanna wait until the elves were born before he would allow them to wake into the earth.
Wow, great stuff everybody! I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading what everyone had to say. I tend to agree with Val (and others who share a similar view) in that Tom was most likely a Maiar, and probably was a servant of Yavanna, or Orome, because that just seems to make the most sense to me. Like everyone else, I too have often wondered about Tom’s identity, and origins, and all of you have provided me with wonderful insight, and plenty of food for thought about one of Tolkien’s most intriguing, and mysterious characters. The kind of discussion in this thread is a shining example of what makes PT so great!
Happy Elf Smilie
read this.


good stuff (I haven't cos I'm a busy guy, but what I've flicked through seems to cover pretty much everything.)
Thanks for that post Plastic I enjoyed reading the essay. Gene Hargrove certainly makes a very persuasive argument, and his essay does seem to examine all of the points of view brought up in this thread. After reading what Hargrove had to say, it’s very hard for me not to think that there is a strong possibility that Tom is Aule, and Goldberry is Yavanna. Given the clues, and descriptions that Hargrove uses to back up his argument, that theory really seems to fit. I’m still not sure exactly what I personally think who, or what Tom is, but after reading that essay, I feel pretty certain that Tom was definitely one of the Ainur.

BTW Grondy, my wife and I were discussing this topic last night, and I was telling her what you had said, and she really feels the same way as you (although she has not yet read the Silmarillion, or Hargrove’s essay). After examining some other facts, and really taking a closer look at your point, as well as some points my wife brought up, I was starting to lean a little bit to that side of the fence. However, after hearing about Tolkien’s denial of the possibility of Tom being Illuvatar (I haven’t read the letter myself), I have to take J.R.R. at his word. Again, the only thing I personally feel certain of at this point is that Tom was of the Ainur. Whether he was Vala, Maia, or even possibly Aule of the Aratar (for those reading this thread that don’t know, the Aratar were the eight most powerful Valar) is a debate I think will continue to rage for quite a long time to come (thankfully).
Elf Smilie
Plastic, that essay looks really interesting, but I'm way too tired to read the whole thing now... Sleeping Smilie

I like to think of Tom as the personification of Arda, i.e. he is THE Earth Spirit. Smoke Smilie
Now you may ask yourself: "If Tom is Arda personified, wouldn't he be more powerful than Sauron and wouldn't he be able to withstand or defeat him in the end?"
Oh contrare - these days Man seems to be doing a pretty good job of destroying the earth all by themselves. Sad Smilie
i like Tom Bombadil. I was really mad when they cut him out. GO TOM!!!!!
Aurora posted in "Tom Bombadil" under "The Fellowship of the Ring" under "Movies" on 4/3/2003 at 05:09
So, i'm wondering if anyone can tell me who exactly is Tom Bombadil? I mean is he one of the Valar or what? or do we never find out, and if we don't what does everybody think he is?

Val added... And to answer that, Aurora, start scrolling up. I think that question was pretty thoroughly discussed.

[Edited on 4/3/2003 by Valedhelgwath]
I`ve finally came to the part in FOTR, where Tom. is introduced. I was really anxious to meet him, in the books and my imagination. (In other words, read about him.) I even made up a tune to the song he sings! Big Laugh Smilie

In the description of him, it gives you the impression of him being dwarf-like, for some strange reason. The reason behind that is: In the first film, you see a pic of the whole fellowship together, at the council, gimli is the size that`s inbetween a hobbit and a human. That`s the same size as the dwarves. Well there you go.

Sheryl xx
Right Sheryl.
... he was too large and heavy for a hobbit, if not quite tall enough for one of the Big People, though he made noise enough for one, ... - from FotR, Book I, Chapter 6 entitled the 'The Old Forest'.
That doesn't make him a Dwrarf though, but what he actually was remains an enigma, even Tolkien was unsure according to his published Letters. Cool Elf Smilie
I thought that Fangorn was the oldest living creature to walk the face of the world.....Isn´t it so?
Is Tom Bombadill the oldest creature???
I don`t know. I`m not sure who Fangorn is, but I`ll let my book tell me that when the time comes. Please don`t tell me. (Even though the suspence will soon kill me. Big Laugh Smilie
I thought that Fangorn was the oldest living creature to walk the face of the world.....Isn´t it so?
Is Tom Bombadill the oldest creature???
Elrond says Tom was old when the Elves awoke in 'The Council of Elrond', while in The Silmarillion, Chapter 2, it implies that the Ents didn't start walking Middle-earth until the Dwarves awoke, which happened after the Elves.
You know who Fangorn is you've seen him in the movie! Wink Smilie
Have I? I`ve seen Fangorn Forest but that`s a forest.
Fangorn is Treebeard.
Okey thanks Grondy!
I didn`t know Fangorn was Treebeard. Cool, another way to confuse me. But not now, because I know. Very Evil Smilie
  [1] [2] >>