As a sort of New Years Resolution, I’ve decided to elliptical my way from Hobbiton to Mordor, following Frodo and Sam’s path from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Each day, I do a few miles and then read about the same miles the hobbits covered, before writing about the whole thing in the blog. Here’s today’s entry:
Taking it a bit slower today – only did four miles. But they were an exciting four miles! The creepy-crawly Black Rider scurried away due to the coming of Elves down the road. Sam is ecstatic. They talk to Frodo for a bit and are able to deduce that the Enemy is after them for some reason. The Elves invite our hobbits for a walk. Let’s go!
Thoughts on the Passage – p 78-81 (of the 50th Anniversary Edition)
This is our first introduction to Elves in the Lord of the Rings. Though no Elves live in the Shire, Frodo explains to Sam and Pippin that “one can meet them sometimes in the Woody End” in the Spring and Autumn.
After hearing them sing of Elbereth, Frodo understands that these are high elves. It’s true, these are Noldor, described by Tolkien in a 1954 letter as those “who became immensely enhanced in powers and knowledge.” I have no real great desire to retell the Silmarillion here, but the Noldor had rebelled against the Valar, left the West, came to Middle-Earth as exiles, and were barred for ages from ever returning. Through that time, however, they changed their ways and became rather lofty (Galadriel is a Noldor). They were High Elves in every respect.
In this passage, you can tell that this is true by their song, and because they know Frodo on sight (High Elves are like that, you see). We meet Gildor, who is surprisingly not mentioned in the Silmarillion. Elves seem to always be a little bit smug and sort of dickish, and here it’s no different. When Frodo first suggests that he, Sam and Pippin should walk with them, they reply, “But we have no need of other company, and hobbits are so dull.” Queue laughter.
This is a strange echo back to Bilbo’s meeting with Elves in The Hobbit. They too were singing (though Elves usually are), and asking where Bilbo and company were going. Like the High Elves, they knew their names and a bit about their quest. “Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn’t it delicious!” A little later, they call to Thorin: “Don’t dip your beard in the foam, father!” It might seem strange, but how could these not be the same Elves? At any rate, I like to think they are.
There’s another echo as well, but this is a call back to a few pages prior. When the Elves first stop to greet Frodo, they say “Three hobbits in a wood at night! We have not seen such a thing since Bilbo went away. What is the meaning of it?”
A few miles back, you might remember the fox. ‘“Hobbits!” he thought. “Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There’s something might queer behind this.” He was quite right, but he never found out more about this.’
Seldom, Mr. Fox? Would you have, perhaps, last heard of this when Bilbo was passing through? And while the fox would never figure out why our hobbits were tramping along, the Elves would. Incidentally, the Elves indicate that they actually saw Bilbo, lending a bit of proof that the Elves meeting Bilbo in The Hobbit were the same Elves meeting Frodo in Lord of the Rings.
I also wanted to talk about the phrase Elf-Friend. This is, I think, the first mention of it in the Lord of the Rings, and it’s brought up in (again) a sort of dickish way. Frodo speaks a Quenyan greeting, to which Gildor replies, talking to his fellow Elves: “‘Be careful, friends,’ cried Gildor laughing. ‘Speak no secrets! Here is a scholar in the Ancient Tongue. Bilbo was a good master. Hail, Elf-friend!’ he said, bowing to Frodo.”
It was good-natured ribbing, I suppose, but still…. Anyway, here, Elf-friend seemed to be just tossed out as another word for “pal.” As we go on in the story, however, we’ll learn its true meaning.
I don’t mean to be harsh on the Elves. Like Tolkien said: “Still elves they were and remain, and that is good people.”
“But we have no need of other company, and hobbits are so dull.”
Thoughts on the Exercising
My legs had been feeling mostly fine since I started this adventure, but today, they hurt a bit, so I did only four miles. It was easier, of course, but not really as rewarding. I elliptical while watching TV, and for the past few days, commercials for DailyBurn.com have been airing while I exercise. This commercial shows people much older than me (allegedly) doing exercises that my body could never do in a million years. Actually, there was never a point in my life, even as a kid, when I could coax my body into such torture. You can view a version of this commercial here.
Basically, no. Absolutely not. I cannot envision a scenario in which I would find myself swinging a large iron weight between my legs, and metcon thing looks seriously dangerous. One gal claims it was “the best decision she ever made in her [obviously uneventful] life.” Daily burn? No thanks. I’d rather be ellipticaling to Mordor.
- Miles today: 4
- Miles thus far: 42
- 21 miles to Farmer Maggot’s
- 93 miles to Bree
- 198 miles to Weathertop
- 416 miles to Rivendell
- 1,737 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: As they continued east on the road to Woodhall. (Map)