Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:32 pm

I was very very very disappointed Tom wasnt in the film. (and Farmer Maggot) I hope one day they tell us he was actually filmed and they put it into another EE.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Orwell on Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:41 pm

Bluebottle wrote:
Pettytyrant101 wrote:Thtas pretty much how I see it Blue, and as the world was sung into being it makes sense to me that he was in the music conceived by Eru from the very start, so was always there.

I love how Tolkiens basically wrote his creation myth as a glorious piece of music ruined by Melkors introduction of dissonance. That certainly has some relevance to the evolution of church music and the use of dissonance by people like Palestrina.  


Very different to the Catholic Myth. And far better. That's why I believe fully in Eru Illuvatar but can't blieve in that pale and violent Cave-Man, Jehovah - that hideous Demiurge.  

'That certainly has some relevance to the evolution of church music and the use of dissonance by people like Palestrina.' Utter twaddle, of course, Blue, but an imaginative stretch which I very much approve of.  cheers

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Orwell on Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:51 pm

As to Tom. Tolkien had already created him. In a stuck moment he thought, "Hey! I'll throw him into the new Bilbo story as I'm not sure what to write next." Once he was there he couldn't really drop him - the Tom stuff stayed because it was so good, so resonant.

Oh well. Sometimes creative sparks have a power of their own to bind people - including the Author himself.

This by the way is why I would argue The Hobbit is the better work - more imagination - more natural interest - more resonance - less spelling out and more hinting of things deeper. The Poetic Sphere is what I'm saying. The Sphere where Eru abides.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:37 pm

Orwell wrote:
'That certainly has some relevance to the evolution of church music and the use of dissonance by people like Palestrina.' Utter twaddle, of course, Blue, but an imaginative stretch which I very much approve of.  cheers

Haha. Well, Tolkien was very religious. So one could speculate that he had some kind of relationship with the evolution of church music.

Still, it would be utter speculation on my part. So it might have been quite welcome in the science of literary anlysis, where one doesn't like to lean to heavily on the authors thoughts at all.  Laughing 

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Radaghast on Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:54 am

Tom Bombadil seems like not only an anomaly but also an anachronism, which is an odd regarding a fictional work. Also, this is not to say that I don't think TB should be in the story.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Orwell on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:01 am

[quote="Bluebottle"]
Orwell wrote:Haha. Well, Tolkien was very religious. So one could speculate that he had some kind of relationship with the evolution of church music.

Still, it would be utter speculation on my part. So it might have been quite welcome in the science of literary anlysis, where one doesn't like to lean to heavily on the authors thoughts at all.  Laughing 

Just so.... And don't let me stop you madly speculating... This is Forumshire!  Very Happy 

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Orwell on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:03 am

Radaghast wrote:Tom Bombadil seems like not only an anomaly but also an anachronism, which is an odd regarding a fictional work. Also, this is not to say that I don't think TB should be in the story.

The Hobbit and LotR are set in a Middle Ages X Nineteenth Century world. It is all based on an anachronism writ large, my friend. And I'd have it no other way. cheers

Potatoes are an example of Tolkien's littler anachronisms, if you see Middle Earth as an earlier 'Europe' of our own world.  Very Happy 

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Radaghast on Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:13 pm

True. Hobbit culture/society has also seemed farther along (which is not to say more advanced) than other parts of Middle-earth to me.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Bluebottle on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:41 pm

Orwell wrote:
Orwell wrote:Haha. Well, Tolkien was very religious. So one could speculate that he had some kind of relationship with the evolution of church music.

Still, it would be utter speculation on my part. So it might have been quite welcome in the science of literary anlysis, where one doesn't like to lean to heavily on the authors thoughts at all.  Laughing 

Just so.... And don't let me stop you madly speculating... This is Forumshire!  Very Happy 


You do say such smart things Orwell.  Nod Laughing

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by chris63 on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:26 am

In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien describes Goldberry as the seasonal changes in nature, and Tom Bombadil as the nature spirit of the English countryside.[4]
Tolkien based his mythic personages on Eurasian myth and cosmology. The Great Goddess who is mother of all things was, before Time existed, the element of water, undifferentiated. Time begins when her first offspring is born, and, according to Tom Bombadil, he is the Eldest, the firstborn. The River is the local manifestation of the primal Great Goddess, and Goldberry is her daughter, the spirit of all local waters existing in Time, alive and embodied.
Both Tom and Goldberry are primal spirits of nature, he of the land and its produce and she of the water. In early Eurasian myth, the element of water is feminine and the land or earth is masculine; therefore, Goldberry represents the female principle of life while Tom represents the male. Together as husband and wife they are the totality of primal Nature, endlessly proceeding in an eternal circle from season to season forever.
In The Fellowship of the Ring Sourcebook, for the Lord of the Rings role-playing game, Goldberry is listed as a nature-spirit and is closely connected to the weather of the Old Forest. "She is the rain and snows that arise from the waters and replenish them again." In The Fellowship of the Ring (novel), Tom Bombadil describes the rain as Goldberry's washing day and her autumn cleaning.
It is also possible that Goldberry is the Ainu Varda in a sort of disguise. Several things hint to this; however, if so, Bombadil must be Manwë, Varda's husband. While Goldberry and Tom Bombadil may be other Ainur this is unlikely because none of the Ainur, save the Istari (Wizards), were bidden to dwell in Middle-Earth. If they are in fact Ainur then the best guess as to who they are would be Varda and Manwë because of what is stated before and also the fact that Varda and Manwë were the only ones among the Valar to live and dwell in Middle-Earth though they lived atop the highest mountain not the Old Forest. None of this can be proven though and the origin of Goldberry and her husband, Tom Bombadil, may remain a mystery that will never be solved.

Goldberry



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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by chris63 on Wed May 07, 2014 5:33 am


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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Kenelm on Wed May 07, 2014 10:34 am

Tom Bombadil is given a number of titles by the various peoples of Middle-earth, including, by Men, the title Orald, meaning "most ancient". This is cognate with German Uralt, and Frisian Wr-alda - this latter being the title given to the creator god in the Frisian manuscrpt known as the Oera Linda Book, which describes a forgotten European history stretching back 4000 years. Does this mean that Tom Bombadil is Iluvatar? The Frisian term Wr-alda is also cognate with the English term "world", meaning the whole cosmos as it was conceived in ancient times.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 7:16 pm

Considering that Iluvatar is pretty clearly based on the Christian God, I kind of doubt that he would incarnate himself as a forest-dwelling hippie. scratch
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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by malickfan on Wed May 07, 2014 9:01 pm

Tolkien explicitly denied T Bomb was Illuvatar anyway there is no 'embodiment' of the Creator anywhere in this story or mythology (Letter 181 I think).

Personally I consider discusions about him kinda pointless, Tolkien never saw fit to explain who he was, so likely there isn't any need for an naswer. That said a personification of the music of the aniur, or a metaphor for nature are the two most sensible solutions to me.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by chris63 on Mon May 19, 2014 3:50 am


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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon May 19, 2014 10:19 am

Tom is NOT a forest dwelling hippie  Mad he doesnt live in the forest, and he doesnt wear tie-dyed kaftans n beads.


Although tie-dyed kaftans n beads are nice.  Very Happy 
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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Eldorion on Mon May 19, 2014 5:08 pm

While that article is clearly satire, I do feel the need to point out that many of the Hobbits of the Shire were actually aware of Bombadil, and that he visited the Shire himself. There were plenty of other reasons to be afraid of the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs, as the books make clear. I believe the information about Bombadil's exploits is limited to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, however. That volume is a collection of in-universe Hobbit poetry, but it makes it clear that the Hobbits had an awareness of Bombadil, although mostly through folklore.
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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Music of the Ainur on Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:53 pm

I was hunting around  in the encyclopedia of Arda and found this which to me feels like it makes the most sense of Jolly Tom.

http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/t/tombombadil.html

These quoted parts are near the bottom of the page.

...the 'mischievous outsider'. This refers to a god or other being who in some sense does not 'belong' with the others ....

..It is not our concern here to discuss why this figure should be so universally represented, only to note that he is. (The word 'he' is used advisedly - this role always seems to be filled by a male).

... Such characters may be meddlesome and irritating (like the Norse Loki, or the original form of the Arthurian Cei or Kay), but more usually they are simply jolly, frolicsome creatures (Egypt had Bes, the baboon-god, while the Greeks 'borrowed' Bacchus from the people of Thrace). There are many other examples who fulfil this archetype: Coyote in North America, Ueuecoyotl in Mexico or the eastern monkey-god variously called Hanuman or Sun Hou-tzu....

...Is Tom Bombadil a 'mischievous outsider'? He is certainly 'mischievous' (or, more precisely, joyfully unconcerned with the world at large), and we've seen that he is emphatically an 'outsider', in that he doesn't fit easily with the rest of Tolkien's universe. What we're suggesting here is that these elements are not in any sense objections to his inclusion in The Lord of the Rings; in fact they are recommendations: they help to add an inherent sense of 'myth' to the book, that would otherwise be far less evident...

This role seems to fit him and perhaps is near the mark in my opinion.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:00 pm

Anansi springs to mind.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:39 pm

Ah yes, the spider man, the trickster.

Orwell wrote:The Hobbit and LotR are set in a Middle Ages X Nineteenth Century world.

Funny how that juxtiposition had never struck me before!  Waistcoats and ironmongery were probably never before in the same story.

Chris wrote:
In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien describes Goldberry as the seasonal changes in nature, and Tom Bombadil as the nature spirit of the English countryside.
...
Both Tom and Goldberry are primal spirits of nature, he of the land and its produce and she of the water. In early Eurasian myth, the element of water is feminine and the land or earth is masculine; therefore, Goldberry represents the female principle of life while Tom represents the male. Together as husband and wife they are the totality of primal Nature, endlessly proceeding in an eternal circle from season to season forever.

I think this strikes best at the heart of the matter.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Music of the Ainur on Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:56 pm

I have seen this Halfwise but the letter predates LotR so while what you say certainly is strongly possible it appears that JRR s feelings and development of him evolved.
He had chances to set the record clear but chose not to which in fact supports the points I linked in my feelings.

I was Not trying to define Who or what he was as a being. More like Why he was.
 The authors points make sense to me. A purposefully nebulous character that doesn't quite 'fit' inserted to add depth and fog to the lore. =)

For unstated reasons Tolkien purposely didn't fit him in. Which is quite odd in itself considering his exhaustive work to give details.

I feel the points raised by the author at the link make a lot of sense as to Why this most Unusual character was included in LotR.
Ultimately for me I don't need to have a conclusive explanation. I'm just glad ' he is'

He surely has caused much thought and debate. An accident? Or just another device the Master of tales calculated correctly to enrich the broth?

No one appears to Know.  Peace and health to all.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Eldorion on Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:23 pm

The mischievous spirit idea is an intriguing explanation for why Tolkien thought Bombadil was worth including in LOTR.  However, I remain more interested in the proposed in-universe explanations of what Bombadil was.  I think that the nature spirit and/or unaffiliated Ainu explanations are the most convincing.  "Nature spirits" aren't an explicit category of beings in Tolkien's lore but Bombadil is not the only unexplained entity of great age that doesn't seem to fit into any known category.  The alleged sentience of Caradhras and the "nameless things" below Moria both fit into this category, and both are stated to be older than Sauron, implying that they are integral parts of Arda (perhaps "echoes of the Music of the Ainur" as is sometimes proposed) rather than Maiar.

FOTR, II, The Ring Goes South wrote:‘We cannot go further tonight,’ said Boromir. ‘Let those call it the wind who will; there are fell voices on the air; and these stones are aimed at us.’

‘I do call it the wind,’ said Aragorn. ‘But that does not make what you say untrue. There are many evil and unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that go on two legs, and yet are not in league with Sauron, but have purposes of their own. Some have been in this world longer than he.’

‘Caradhras was called the Cruel, and had an ill name,’ said Gimli, ‘long years ago, when rumour of Sauron had not been heard in these lands.’

TTT, III, The White Rider wrote:‘Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin’s Bridge, and none has measured it,’ said Gimli.

‘Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,’ said Gandalf. ‘Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.

‘We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin’s folk, Gimli son of Gloin. Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dum: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.’
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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Music of the Ainur on Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:31 pm

I suppose I didn't express myself accurately when I said Why he was included...probably the largest part of the why he was included is that when trying to come up with a new story he pulled from his old writings to get the new story going because he was unsure what to write.

My previous comments were more about why he left him in when he didn't quite fit and why he left him nebulous and not explained in the larger framework of the lore.

I didn't mean to imply that from the start he purposely wrote Tom to be the mysterious anomaly which he ended up being.

Certainly though Tom was an important character to him being that at the end of the story he again evokes him when Gandalf says now that his mission is done he is going to go hang out with him and how the very end of the work is tied back to Frodos dream at Toms house.

Of course JRRs real motivations will always be a mystery and may be as simple as He liked him and didn't care if others thought him silly =)

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by Music of the Ainur on Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:01 pm

I hadn't read your post before I added my last Eldo.

I find your points good ones as always.

Certainly he mentions beings or spirits that he left unexplained. Perhaps these were left nebulous for the same reason, to add depth and fog.
But these were quick passing comments I believe unless my memory fails me.

Tom is not, he is in several chapters and holds unique traits. Perhaps the most unique is that he was the one character who appeared Beyond the power of the ring.
Perhaps this outside the norm quality is why he is one of the most interesting characters to me.

Everone else is scared of or desires it. But Tom just plays with it and makes light of it.

I have no idea what or who he is. I used to guess he was Maia but that seems inconsistent with the other Maiars fear and interests about it and their vulnerability to it.
Tom just appears beyond its power.

I suppose the spirit of nature view  of him being built into the world from the start makes the most sense. But, if it was in fact his view why didn't JRR just say that definitively.

Perhaps what he was Tolkien himself didn't ever decide upon and he just simply liked him.

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Re: Who the heck is Tom Bombadil?

Post by halfwise on Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:01 am

Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he.

I never thought to relate this passage to Tom Bombadil, but I'm beginning to see the connection to things that Tolkien left out of his mythology, yet nods his head to them.  This seems to feed into the basic human feeling that there are always things out there we will never understand; and will be forever beyond the grasp of myth, religion, even science.  I think for all Tolkien's blend of religion and rationality, as an artist he had to acknowledge these depths.

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