Origin of term "dragon sickness"

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Post by halfwise on Tue Oct 27, 2015 12:15 pm

The term "dragon sickness" was used in the movies, and I thought it had been made up until I was reading Rateliff's History of The Hobbit where he uses the term several times with the apparent assumption that the reader would be familiar with it. It needs no explanation, but I couldn't find it in the Hobbit, so I'm wondering where it comes from?

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Post by Radaghast on Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:31 pm

I thought I remembered it being used in regards to the Master of Lake-town.

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Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:34 pm

I wonder were the origins of dragons being associated with a lust for gold came from.

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Post by Radaghast on Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:59 pm

That goes at least as far back as Norse myth (Sigurd and Fafnir).

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Post by halfwise on Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:54 pm

Radaghast wrote:I thought I remembered it being used in regards to the Master of Lake-town.

I just searched through all those chapters, but still no luck. It may have been baked up by the Coven, but I still have a nagging feeling it's a genuine Tolkien term.

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Post by Radaghast on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:12 pm

I don't know the page number but this looks like the reference. It's probably in the last chapter, where Gandalf and Balin visit Bilbo:

The old Master had come to a bad end. Bard had given him much gold for the help of the Lake-people, but being of the kind that easily catches such disease he fell under the dragon-sickness, and took most of the gold and fled with it, and died of starvation in the Waste, deserted by his companions.

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Post by halfwise on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:16 pm

Aha! thanks. Didn't try looking that late in the story.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:18 pm

Its from near the end of the book recountng the fate of the Master of Lake Town-

'The old Master had come to a bad end. Bard had given him much gold for the help of the Lake-people, but being of the kind that easily catches such disease he fell under the dragon-sickness, and took most of the gold and fled with it, and died of starvation in the Waste, deserted by his companions.'

Tolkiens use of it is not like PJ's use of it- to Tolkien it was just a way to describe the greed and often accompanying desire and madness for more and more gold. Its not an actual sickness.

PJ nicked the use of it here and mixed it with another passage about Thorin underestimating the effect of gold on a dragon thats been brooding a long time over it and came to the conclusion gold sat upon by a dragon for any length of time becomes 'poisonous' and will cause dragon sickness in anyone who comes near it or tries to possess it.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:19 pm

Simu post Raddy! Yeah what he said Halfy!

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Post by Radaghast on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:33 pm

It's synchronicity!

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Post by Radaghast on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:34 pm

halfwise wrote:Aha!  thanks.  Didn't try looking that late in the story.
That happens to me a lot. I sometimes try to go back and find something I remember reading but usually look in the wrong part of the book.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:41 pm

Yeah well, with how Jackson and Co. take things from one spot and plop it down in another, that's no surprise!

One point though Petty, in Jackson's use of this dragon-sickness, it only effects on single dwarf for whatever reason. It's not whomever comes into contact with the gold that is affected, but only Thorin for consistency with his views in the book. This was parodied rather well in the Honest Trailer for the BOFA.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:48 pm

Yeah in the book the effect is interesting- the passage of the Master is a good example of Tokiens view on it- its having gold for the sake of it- with no other worth of value and to become obsessed by it to the point of blindness to all else- hence the Master who has a small fortune on him dies of sickness in the wastelands where his wealth means nothing to him- you cant eat it!

Its also not entirely clear I don't think if Tokien thought there was a 'magic' property to gold a dragon has been brooding on for a long time- he does imply it that it makes people want it more- however it doesn't seem to be something that the gold itself possesses as after the Battle the gold is used to rebuild very successfully and no ill seems to come of it. Which would imply that there was nothing inherently 'wrong' with the physical gold itself.
Perhaps more what Tolkien was getting at is that wealth hoarded by someone is coveted more because other petty emotions like jealousy enter the mix alongdisde greed and desire for it.

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Post by halfwise on Tue Oct 27, 2015 4:10 pm

I didn't have any problems with the movie assigning dragon sickness to Thorin, it's not too far from his lack of judgement in the books, and his change of character once inside the mountain. Other things were fupped up much worse than that aspect.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:41 pm

I just seems typical of Pj- he takes something fairly subtle from the book and turns it into a completely overblown whack you over the head with it Thorin going ape-shit mad and swimming about in a giant sea of not very convincing cgi gold- subtlety is not PJ's thing sadly.

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Post by Radaghast on Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:58 pm

I wouldn't minded it so much if a good movie was build around it. Heck, I wouldn't have minded so much if Thorin didn't look like Rob Zombie.

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Post by malickfan on Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:08 pm

Radaghast wrote:I wouldn't have minded so much if Thorin didn't look like Rob Zombie.

Or a Grumpy Klingon with piles Twisted Evil

I get that Thorin's a arrogant grumpy sod at the best of times, but you didn't have spend half the film showing him glowering into camera every five seconds Evil or Very Mad

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Post by malickfan on Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:16 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I just seems typical of Pj- he takes something fairly subtle from the book and turns it into a completely overblown whack you over the head with it Thorin going ape-shit mad and swimming about in a giant sea of not very convincing cgi gold- subtlety is not PJ's thing sadly.

At least he didn't turn him into a dragon! Rolling Eyes

I actually like the idea behind the sea of gold swallowing him vision-they needed something visually dramatic to show Thorin snapping out of his madness so suddenly, the CGI was awful but the symbolism behind it was kinda cool in a ape shit nonsense sort of way, it was also one of the rare moments I actually got an idea of the 'depth' Armitage supposedly brought to the role, if he spent less time titting about in slow motion and mistaking glowering grumpily for serious acting, I may have actually cared when he died. As it stands I'll take the arrogant git from the book-at least that Thorin seemed to have some personality...

Subtlety isn't necessarily one of Jackson's trademarks, but he certainly does overblown symbolism in a pretty striking manner.


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Post by Radaghast on Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:20 pm

malickfan wrote:
Radaghast wrote:I wouldn't have minded so much if Thorin didn't look like Rob Zombie.

Or a Grumpy Klingon with piles Twisted Evil
That comparison is equally valid Very Happy

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Post by Eldorion on Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:54 pm

halfwise wrote:I didn't have any problems with the movie assigning dragon sickness to Thorin, it's not too far from his lack of judgement in the books, and his change of character once inside the mountain.  Other things were fupped up much worse than that aspect.

My issue with Thorin's "dragon sickness" in the movies is that it's made out to be a supernatural corruption that is causing him to act against his true nature. In the book, he was always greedy, and somewhat self-centered, and kind of an asshole. Those qualities got turned up to 11 once they reached the Mountain but it didn't come out of nowhere, but was a natural part of his character development. In the movies, it's more like he's possessed. Then when he snaps out of it, it's not so much that he's seen the error of his ways but that a spell was broken.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:03 pm

Quite agree- especially the bit where he snaps out of it- there is no real sense of a moment of self awareness, of true understanding, besides its too soon to put it before the battle and takes away entirely from his deathbed scene with Bilbo if you do it early- as usual PJ shoots his wad in excitement far too soon and ruins it for everyone involved.

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Post by Radaghast on Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:48 pm

Also, Thorin was motivated by more than mere greed. Pride went before his fall more than anything else. The "dragon-sickness" angle served no good purpose at all. PJ missed the point yet again.

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Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Oct 29, 2015 12:00 am

yep it was a cop out. its probably because they wanted Thorin to be the noble hero, they made Thranduil the greedy a-hole instead. It does neither character any justice it misses the whole point of the message of the book. or it mangles it out of recognition. they made Alfrid greedy and gave him a horrible end but he wasn't allowed to see the error of his ways at the end or repent his greed. there's no redemption. all we got was an 'oh shit' look on his face, theres nothing there but gross out comedy instead of a serious message. those clips were appallingly bad.

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Post by azriel on Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:30 am

The whole film was appallingly bad Mad

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Oct 29, 2015 2:43 pm

Well on the plus side the extra scenes fit in perfectly with the rest of the film then! Very Happy

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