When Elrond stopped talking – just for a second – Boromir stood up to say his piece. Elrond had given a quick history of Gondor and Arnor in the Third Age, but left out more of the recent history. Here is where Boromir came in to set matters straight.
This only made sense. Elrond was pretty knowledgeable on most of the comings and goings of Middle-earth, but Boromir had just come from Gondor and he thought that “it would be well to know what passes there.” He figured that even though Elrond credited the warriors of Gondor with fighting the Enemy, nobody really knew just how harrowing it was.
Boromir insisted that in Gondor, the memory of Numenor was still going strong – not like in the north, where it had been completely forgotten. It was apparently because of this prowess that the “wild folk of the East” as well as “the terror of Morgul” were kept at bay. Who else but Numenoreans could pull that off, Elrond? And if the Numenoreans weren’t there to defend the borders, the lands to the west would be destroyed for sure.
“But if the passages of the River should be won, what then?” he asks rhetorically. The answer was, of course, that the lands to the west would be destroyed for sure. That day, he warned, was coming quick.
Though there wasn’t much communication between the Men of Gondor and the Elves, they knew they had a common historical enemy – Mordor. After so many centuries of relative peace, the stories of the previous war must have been handed down and recorded.
Here, he calls Sauron “the Nameless Enemy,” and knows that he “has risen again.” This was proved by the smoke rising from Orodruin, Mount Doom, the volcano intrinsically linked with Sauron. But it wasn’t just a bit of smoke that tipped them off. They had been attacked by the forces of Mordor – “our folk were driven from Ithilien.”
This isn’t exactly the most recent of news. In fact, it had started well before Boromir was born. Mount Doom erupted in 2954, which was when Mordor attacked and drove the people out of Ithilean. They fled across the Anduin and took shelter in Minas Tirith.
Ithien was settled 3,000 years ago, at the end of the Second Age by Isildur. He had established Minas Ithil and the land around it was called Ithien. It consisted of everything between the Anduin and the Ephel Duath mountain range, which constituted the border of Mordor. To the south, its border was the River Poros. And to the north, it sort of sputtered out around Henneth Annun, little more than an outpost. Looking into the future, Henneth Annun is where Sam and Frodo will meet Boromir’s brother, Faramir.
At any rate, this whole land was cleared in 2954 (of the Third Age) and all the survivors had to flee across the Anduin. Boromir was born twenty-four years later in 2978 (making him around forty years old when he set out on this quest).
But even more recently, Boromir got a chance to experience the attacks of the Enemy. On the 20th of June, 3018, Mordor launched a surprise assault. This was the same time that Thranduil was attacked in Mirkwood, allowing Gollum to escape.
Sauron attacked Osgiliath, the city which spanned the Anduin. Originally, Osgiliath was the capital of Gondor. It was where Isildur and his brother Anarion shared their thrones.
This battle started the War of the Ring. Sauron’s forces, made mostly of Orcs and their kind, were bolstered by Easterlings and Haradrim. Easterlings come from the east and live mostly “off the map” beyond the Sea of Rhun (also off the map). The Haradrim came from Harad to the south of Mordor.
Both Boromir and Faramir fought at this battle, where they held the bridge across the Anduin until it could be destroyed, barring its use by the Enemy. Though the small Gondorean army made it to the western banks and safety, the company holding the bridge was not so fortunate. Only Boromir, Faramir and two others escaped – and only by swimming.
Boromir insisted that the attacking enemy had not only outnumbered Gondor’s armies, but that “a power was there that we have not felt before.” This was due to Sauron’s forces being led by the Witch-king. “Some said that it could be seen, like a great black horseman, a dark shadow under the moon. Wherever he came a madness filled our foes, but fear fell on our boldest, so that horse and man gave way and fled.”
Tolkien confirms this for us in Unfinished Tales (“The Hunt for the Ring”): “The Lord of Morgul was sent forth openly to battle against Gondor.” Sauron used this battle to test “the strength and preparedness of Denethor,” the Steward of Gondor in Minas Tirith. However, Sauron “found them more than he had hoped.” Though the army of Gondor was outnumbered, they must have killed a good number of the Enemy’s forces. This didn’t seem to bother Sauron at all. Though his attacking force was greater in number, it was only a small portion of his entire army.
It’s explained in “The Hunt for the Ring” that Sauron’s “chief purpose was that the coming forth of the Nazgul should appear only as part of his policy of war against Gondor.” So rather than press the attack across the broken bridge, Sauron ordered the Witch-king to halt, gather his fellow Nazgul and begin to search for the Ring.
Boromir explained that though the Witch-king had left, the Enemy still pressed against the Anduin. In this relative lull, Gondor apparently called for help, but only those from Rohan came.
Rohan was the land a bit to the north of Gondor, just across the White Mountains. The people were distantly related to the Men who became Numenoreans, but they did not go to Numenor. The Gondoreans saw the Rohirrim as “Middle Men.” They were not as high as themselves, but they also weren’t as low as, say, the Easternlings. This hardly seems like a compliment, but at least Rohan answered the call.
Boromir then goes on to explain his journey to Rivendell, but since time is short, I’ll pick that up again tomorrow.
A Few Notes
- Look! No Boromir meme! — Actually, this blog contains zero images from “the movies.” It’s not really because I hate them or anything (I don’t), I’d just rather not be yet another Tolkien blog that uses stills from Peter Jackson’s movies.
- The people from Numenor are called Numenoreans, while the people from Rohan were called the Rohirrim. But what are people from Gondor called? Gondoreans? Gondorians? Gondorrim? I really have no idea, though I used the suffix “-eans” after Numenoreans.
About the Photo
While I’ve got photos of bridges galore, I don’t have a ton of city bridges, like might be in Osgiliath. The only one that I could think of was the old Route 66 bridge in Tulsa, Oklahoma – though I hardly think Tulsa rates as an Osgiliath.
- Day 134
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 661 (207 from Rivendell)
- 133 miles to the Doors of Moria
- 260 miles to Lothlórien
- 1,118 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. 13th night out from Rivendell. January 6-7, 3019 TA. (map)