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24209Re: [mythsoc] Re: Denethor and Abraham

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  • Troels Forchhammer
    Apr 10, 2013
      That also fits well with Gandalf's response about only heathen kings ‘slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.’ 

      Digging through memory I seem to remember hearing about an Arab writing about a visit to Russia and describing a Viking funeral involving burning a ship, and also accompanying the dead chief with servants or family ...? Mainly I hope to jog the memory of someone who knows more about it than I ;-) 

      But that of course doesn't preclude anything — it would be rash to suppose that there can be only one source to a given situation in The Lord of the Rings and exploring the Abraham & Isaac situation, but leaving out the command from God might also contribute along with other sources. 


      On 10 April 2013 20:30, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:

      I agree with Larry on this, particularly because Denethor makes a point of saying, "We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship sailed hither from the West." That sounds like it points to a pagan source (if any explicit source at all), and not a Jewish/Christian one.


      From: Larry Swain <theswain@...>
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 10:05 AM
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Denethor and Abraham

      I don't know of any scholarship on the question, but I actually don't
      see the connection. Other than a father and a son where dad intends to
      kill son, I just don't see it: the characters are different, the
      motivations are utterly opposed, the motifs are different, the placement
      of the scenes, even the "angel"...who is sent to the scene in LoTR by
      Peregrin who I certainly do not think a divine messenger. I do like
      Anders' note of how the sacrifice of Isaac is depicted in Exodus and
      Genesis, so one might argue an influence of the poems on that detail,
      though I'd want to check more widely in Bede, Tacitus, the Eddas and
      Sagas, etc about human sacrifice and funereal practices before drawing
      too firm a line. It strikes me that Denethor's action is typical
      Germanic pre-Christian practice (and perhaps other cultures) that the
      poems are also depicting rather than a direct connection between poem
      and novel. But at the moment, I can't prove that, but suggest that your
      student, Anders, might want to check on it.

      Larry Swain
      Bemidji State University

      On Wed, Apr 10, 2013, at 02:48 AM, Beregond, Anders Stenström wrote:
      > Thank you, Merlin, for those references! You wrote:
      > > There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of
      > > EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously
      > > in 1982.
      > Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien
      > notes that "the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice,
      > shared by the poet of _Genesis_ . . . Isaac is placed on the burning
      > pyre before he is slain . . . fire was thought of as one of the means
      > of death". In the Bible, Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac, the
      > fire is prepared to be lit afterwards. Tolkien's story combines the
      > motifs: Denethor's original intent is death by fire, then when that
      > is hindered he draws a knife.
      > Chivalrously,
      > Beregond
      > ------------------------------------
      > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links

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