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Thread: Rivendell / Imladris

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Fair point. But don't you think that anything regarded as valuable would go for money in ME? I mean, there can't be sth like a Euro in ME, a currency that went for money everywhere. Smile Smilie
No matter what the coins were made of, they were still money. That is, they could be exchanged for goods and/or services. Gold only has value if people think of it as valuable and want it. It's not really very useful in itself, ie: you can't eat it or build houses out of it.

Valuable, yes. Money... not exactly. Or at least not in the modern sense. Early medievalists like myself hit this problem a lot, and it may be applicable here (since Tolkien was a medievalist too). Bear in mind that I rarely venture further than the 11th century in my work, so none of this necessarily applies after that.

The late Roman Empire was largely a monetary economy, and after its collapse, Roman coins remained in circulation. Gradually, however, they lost their value as "money", a (mostly) fixed unit of exchange, and became a barter good like jewels or cattle or grain. Merovingian, Carolingian, Anglo-Saxon, etc. etc. kings often minted coins of their own, but they did so not because they expected their people to start paying for goods with them but because minting coins was part of what kings did (and they pointed to Rome as an example).

Coins are often mentioned in the payment of dowries and ransoms, as part of tributes from noble and client kings, as payment for land, prayers, military support, and a number of goods and services that could be considered "bought" in the modern sense. However... they really weren't. Coins were included in these transactions because they were valuable as objects made of gold and silver, not because they were the physical representation of a complex economy backed by a nation and its government (like paper money- paper isn't valuable, but what it represents is). So the dowry of a Visigothic princess might include gold coins, jewelry, crowns, animals, servants, armed men, cities and provinces. The coins are important and valuable, but they aren't really money.

And on a humbler level, pennies (silver usually, sometimes lesser materials) often turn up in Old English and Old Norse texts- a couple of pennies could buy a sheep in the time of Edgar (late tenth century) or his grandson AEthelraed II, the last Anglo-Saxon king. But there weren't really enough of these pennies in circulation /in England/ for the English economy to have been considered monetary. I emphasize the "in England" part because pennies were far more important as a method of dealing with the Vikings than they were as a means for buying sheep. There had been a single coined currency in England since the early tenth century (under Aethelstan), but daily life was barter-based. The arrival of the Vikings brought an explosion in coin production, since the Danegeld (tribute to get the Vikings to go away) was paid in coins. Some of these were probably older coins (clever, really. what better way to get rid of old money?) but most were newly minted for the occasion. This is arguably still treating coins as a barter-good and tribute item, rather than as money. Much the same effect could likely have been achieved by giving the Vikings big piles of silver shaped as Monopoly houses rather than coins. The important aspect of coins wasn't what they meant (like modern money) but what they were.

It's much the same in Middle Earth. The money we see stands out because there isn't very much of it, and because most of it is silver and gold. A gold coin buys information because it's gold, not because it's a coin. A gold nugget or a piece of gold jewelry would probably work too. It seems likely to me that as the Fourth Age progressed, a monetary economy may have developed and become commonly accepted, because that seems like something Aragorn would have supported (enlightened fella that he is). But it seems to me that at the point in the Third Age when LOTR takes place, ME has a barter economy in which coins make an appearance as hoard goods, trade goods and even markers of nobility, but not as coins in the modern economic sense.

The end. Big Smile Smilie
it must be a sort of castle do not forget it was besieged by an army under Sauron. sauron invaded eriador and eldrond pulled his forced back to a refuge then it was siged so i has to be a castle. i have never seen a cozy stand up to thousands of elves
You have a good point there Best.

Elronds house /mansion /castle must have been enormous to house so many people. I am not too sure about the exact population of Rivendel, but it at its peak, it should have numbered in the thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, just after the fall of Eregion.

I wonder where did Elrond put evrybody? Large sections of the House must have been empty at the time of TLOtRs, given the exodus of elves westward and the departure of Galadriel and her people.
I think part of the 'Elf Magic' was that the 'Last Homely House' was like the TARDIS: it was larger on the inside than on the out. Cool Smilie
Good point here. There must have been more room than you'd think in Rivendell, otherwise it can't have been liveable. What other options are there? Tents in the gardens? No gardens at all (which can't be true)? 20 people lodged together in the same room? Smile Smilie
Maybe since Elves didn't need to sleep (at least not very much) they shared rooms in shifts? Kind of like the way they share bunks on a submarine. Smile Smilie Wink Smilie Or maybe some of them lived in trees like the elves of Lorien? The Tardis idea is interesting though, and would explain Sam's comment of "always just a bit more to discover".

Seriously though. I think Rivendel must have been somwhat palatial, in order to support itself. Much like a medieval manor house.

...which takes us back to elven servants.....
My dear peoples, its elementary: Elrond's servants at Rivendell were members of that unique subspecies of elf known as the elfin domesticus otherwise known as your "common house elf". That is the reason why everyone was happy and no one was stuck doing the menial scuttwork against their natural desires. Now we know where JK Rowley got her ideas for the servants at her institute of higher learning. Cool Smilie
lol - I want a common house elf!
That's kinda like the slaves in the Roman time, only the common house elves are treated better... That's your point, right, Grondy? Smile Smilie
I wouldn't let Hermione hear you saying that House Elves are treated well Tommy... :o
The point being, that by my way every elf could do their thing and be happy, rather than the worker elves having to slave away whilst their cousins fiddled into the night. The House Elves loved doing domestic work and to them it was an honor, not a millstone.
Oho, so I must be a House Elf! Wink Smilie
In that case, I'm with you Grondy.

About Rivendell being more like the Ted Nasmith paintings. I didn't see Rivendell between the paintings in the Art Gallery? What does it look like? Cat Smilie

[Edited on 22/4/2002 by Grondmaster]
In the Northwestern Middle-Earth Gazetteer, which is an aid for the game MiddleEarth Roleplaying and not actually written by Tolkien, but nevertheless very well researched, the population for Rivendell is given as 125 Elves and Elf-friends. I think this population is based on male members of the population who are of fighting age, and thus eligiable for war. The actual population is therefore perhaps in the region of 250-300.
It also describes Rivendell as such,
The Elves of Imladris are, for the most part, refugees from the ruin of Ost-in-edhil. Determined to avoid the mistake of their predecessors, the people and lodgings at Imladris are humble and comfortable, rather than proud and majestic. The House of Elrond is a place of feasting and song.

Artwork shows the house to be like a large ski lodge, but airy, and with wide lawns, gardens etc. There are forges and stables out back.
Yeah, a ski lodge is what I mean way back when I said the main building resembled a chalet. Cool Smilie
That's about the way I pictured it, I think Val. Big Smile Smilie
Rivendell or Imladris does have houses with walls. Look to the Elrond’s part when he remembers and tells Gandalf of Issildurs failure and you will see the walls behind him. Look at the room where Frodo rests for healing a moment before (both in FoTR part). Also when Arwen is returning to Rivendell from the woods after the vision for her son (RoTK part) the houses seen from above are quite beautiful. Now Jackson’s movie does miss some good moments and does make some ’unforgivable’ changes of the original script, but still the effects and d’cor are most of the time good.

I prefer elven homes like Caras Galadhon, open, no walls, only stairs and platforms. This is why I call my place in Middle Earth- Ossar Loominen, for only shadows are the walls of my home under and upon the trees.

Anyway, that’s the beauty of fiction- you can have it the way you want it! Both Genius and practical concept.
Rivendell is one of my favorite places....... Happy Elf Smilie for Writing,Eating and Thinking.......
Rivendell is nice, but I prefer Lothlorien. Rivendell is too "human" in organization with all statues, and buildings etc.
Just been re-watching the movies with my children (Isn't it lovely when they reach the age of conversion to Tolkie-ism?) and I noticed the definate elf/human mixture in the decor. I don't think this was an accident. Elrond was half-elven after all. Perhaps he had mixed taste? Big Laugh Smilie Elf Confused Smilie

I still don't like Hugo Weaving as Elrond though. Too severe by far.
I did not thought on it that way... Now, that you said it, Lord Elrond was half-elven, and yet I still do not like Imladris more than the Golden woods... I like to believe that elven way is more "bound" to nature (living in the woods, on and beneath the trees etc). I thing all this "urban" idea is destructive, because leads to aggression against nature and changes environment. Too naturalistic that may sound, but it is how I feel it.
Hey Allyssa, welcome back. Happy Elf Smilie I hope life has been treating you better than it did earlier in this decade. Are you still writing?

Rivendell was not an urban habitation; it was a lodge and a few chalets hidden in a wooded gorge, away from inhabited land, where all kinds of refugees could safely be hidden from the prying eyes of the servants of Darkness by the power of Elrond's ring,
Although it was called the last homely house, I never saw that he, JRR meant it like that. I see it as being the marriage of faerie with the perfection of carvings and silver smithing, etc, adorning something quite ancient Swedish or Norse-Germanic grandness, with marbelled hallways, huge fireplaces and plenty of bedchambers and grande rooms enough to house five times the number of elves left.
I think the 'homeliness' aspect was the love and care put into the adornments, the woven things, the candelabra, the beautiful beds and bedding, all creating a safe, comfortable protected feeling. Added to that the kindness of Elrond and the other inhabitants, the great and majestic hospitality extended to those who were friends or would be friends.
And I certainly did imagine walls, walls, walls. Smile Smilie
I think that Rivendell was well made. For once when you look at the "building" itself it really is beautiful and wants to make you stay there. And the setting in which it is set really gives you a feeling of peace and quietness.

So i think that Rivendell comes very close to Tolkien's description of the last homely home.
After the downfall of Arnor, Rivendell was the last place of safety in the north, other than C’dran's Elven foot-hold far to the west at the Grey Havens. Elrond's ring hid it from the enemy and he and his Elven friends made it homey (comfortable) for travelers who stopped there to rest.
This is a wonderful old thread and is quite entertaining. I guess with new films due soon we will get to see much more of Rivendel, at least I hope. Re the design of Imladris in the film. It is nothing like I see in my minds eye. My Imladris is tall, wood and panelled in ancient beams. I do love the rather Art Nouveau naturalist architecture achieved by the hand of Alan Lee though, beautiful design. It is rather breathtaking and very Elvish. I'm just hoping we see the hall of fire and some singing.... And Elf children in the new films.

Ah  Grondy dear, I can 'hear' your voice and look out your window and see the gathering of the eagles. I wonder what delights your beautiful eyes now?


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