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Re: Population Levels in Middle-earth

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  • Merlin DeTardo
    ... I certainly welcome corrections -- thank you, Larry. I apologize for any confusion. I did not mean to argue that
    Message 1 of 15 , Mar 8, 2008
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      ---"Larry Swain" <theswain@...> wrote:
      << Merlin, You make two errors here. >>

      I certainly welcome corrections -- thank you, Larry. I apologize for
      any confusion. I did not mean to argue that there was no trade
      between Dunland and the Shire: as you point out, there obviously is,
      at least between Saruman and Lotho. Rather I meant that Tolkien may
      be inconsistent in his presentation of that trade when he has Aragorn
      say here that there he is unaware of open movement of goods or people
      between those lands. Does this mean that entire waggon-loads were
      sneaked past Aragorn's Rangers (who guard Sarn Ford), or that the
      Rangers knew of *secret* shipments, but they never bothered to
      investigate them?

      You also make good points that the refugees in Bree and the details
      of Boromir's journey suggest populated lands in southern Eriador, but
      again, Aragorn here refers to "empty countries" along the road north
      to the Shire from Rohan -- is that another inconsistency?

      A few additional notes:

      << the 1417 crop too it would seem, events in the story taking place
      in early 1419 at this point >>

      You are correct: Pippin confirms that date is stamped on the barrels.

      << So there may not be much population between Isengard and the
      Shire, but there isn't that much distance either. 4 days on
      horseback following a road. >>

      That's a fast horse. Checking the _LotR_ map, it looks to be more
      than 400 miles in a straight line from Isengard to Sarn Ford, and the
      road bends a little. It takes Gandalf more than 4 days on Shadowfax,
      racing to find Frodo before the Ringwraiths do.

      << the autumn of 4018 he sent away "loads of stuff", enough that
      supplies actually ran short in the Shire. >>

      You mean 3018 (or 1418).

      -Merlin DeTardo
    • Larry Swain
      ... Or that Aragorn isn t omniscient? Does this mean that entire waggon-loads were ... Do they guard Sarn Ford, and what do they guard against? Servants of
      Message 2 of 15 , Mar 10, 2008
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        >
        >
        > ---"Larry Swain" <theswain@...> wrote:
        > << Merlin, You make two errors here. >>
        >
        > I certainly welcome corrections -- thank you, Larry. I apologize for
        > any confusion. I did not mean to argue that there was no trade
        > between Dunland and the Shire: as you point out, there obviously is,
        > at least between Saruman and Lotho. Rather I meant that Tolkien may
        > be inconsistent in his presentation of that trade when he has Aragorn
        > say here that there he is unaware of open movement of goods or people
        > between those lands.

        Or that Aragorn isn't omniscient?

        Does this mean that entire waggon-loads were
        > sneaked past Aragorn's Rangers (who guard Sarn Ford), or that the
        > Rangers knew of *secret* shipments, but they never bothered to
        > investigate them?

        Do they guard Sarn Ford, and what do they guard against? Servants of Sauron, not servants of Saruman, or even men claiming to be from Bree (perhaps) trading with the hobbits. Until Gandalf returns in late September after the Nazgul have already been to Sarn Ford and scattered the Rangers there, there is no reason to question or bother Saruman, who was trusted and head of the White Council, from purchasing goods in the Shire and no reason to send reports to Aragorn about it: they are after all on the watch for SAURON's servants entering the Shire, not people leaving the shire with pipeweed and taters. In one of the versions of the Hunt for the Ring, Saruman knows of the Ranger's guard on the Ford and I can only imagine it is because some of the Dunlanders were stopped.

        > You also make good points that the refugees in Bree and the details
        > of Boromir's journey suggest populated lands in southern Eriador, but
        > again, Aragorn here refers to "empty countries" along the road north
        > to the Shire from Rohan -- is that another inconsistency?

        The lands are wide, plenty for kingdoms between Bree and the Isen Gandalf says. There can both be population centers, small most likely, and be empty lands. I hail from Montana originally and worked in Alaska on fishing boats for some time, and on farms in North Dakota. In all three places there are wide and empty lands for miles where you will not see another human being, days worth of travel on foot or horseback. Yet there are towns and cities. I imagine something like that: travel for days and not see a soul, but the occasional village, esp. toward the south, or toward the places that were larger population centers in Arnor.

        > << So there may not be much population between Isengard and the
        > Shire, but there isn't that much distance either. 4 days on
        > horseback following a road. >>
        >
        > That's a fast horse. Checking the _LotR_ map, it looks to be more
        > than 400 miles in a straight line from Isengard to Sarn Ford, and the
        > road bends a little. It takes Gandalf more than 4 days on Shadowfax,
        > racing to find Frodo before the Ringwraiths do.

        It takes both Gandalf and the 9 four days. The 9 cross the Isen on Sept 18 and cross Sarn Ford the evening of Sept. 22, stopping to make plans, split up, and question travellers on the road and study maps. Gandalf crosses the Isen on the 24th and Sarn Ford on the 28th. It would appear that the horses of the 9 are Mearas as well, or Gandalf didn't push Shadowfax all out on his way north, but did so after his chat with the Gaffer on the 29.

        > << the autumn of 4018 he sent away "loads of stuff", enough that
        > supplies actually ran short in the Shire. >>
        >
        > You mean 3018 (or 1418).

        I do.


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      • Merlin DeTardo
        ...
        Message 3 of 15 , Mar 10, 2008
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          ---"Larry Swain" <theswain@...> wrote:
          << Do they guard Sarn Ford, and what do they guard against? Servants
          of Sauron, not servants of Saruman, or even men claiming to be from
          Bree (perhaps) trading with the hobbits. >>

          According to "The Hunt for the Ring" notes (HR), and
          perhaps "Bombadil Goes Boating", they do guard the ford. And I agree
          with you that they were guarding it against known enemies, not
          traders or even Saruman's men. Tolkien writes in HR in _Unfinished
          Tales_ that Saruman, gathering information about the Shire, employed
          Hobbits under the direction of Men ("of Dunlendish origin", as you
          previously noted), and that the Rangers "did not actually refuse
          entry to the servants of Saruman". Since Tolkien describes the
          Rangers as "suspicious" of these men, I would have expected them to
          share their uneasiness with their leader. However, Aragorn says in
          the Prancing Pony that he "went away on a journey of [his] own" after
          meeting Gandalf in May, and that after his return he was "watching
          the East Road anxiously", they may never have reported to him.

          And perhaps that timing is what explains what I thought strange:
          Aragorn's apparent belief that there is no open travel along the road
          from the Isen to the Brandwyine. I return to the line by Aragorn
          that started our discussion: "I know well the empty countries that
          lie between Rohan and the Shire. Neither goods nor folk have passed
          that way for many a long year, not openly. Saruman had secret
          dealings with someone in the Shire, I guess." If Aragorn's Rangers
          had obeserved "secret" travel, I think they would have told him. And
          we know from HR that his men had observed open trading. I suppose
          Tolkien could have meant for readers (remembering the southern
          travelers at Bree) to take that statement as an empty boast, one of
          Aragorn's flawed moments -- certainly it would not be his only
          mistake. But probably, to take up your helpful ideas, it just means
          that trade started up again only after he had last been on the south
          end of the Shire.

          Thanks also for the further thoughts on how to resolve
          Aragorn's "empty countries" with the other evidence of life in
          Enedwaith and Minhiriath, and also for your note about the Black
          Riders needing only four days to go from the the Crossings of Isen to
          Sarn Ford. I had overlooked the latter in Appendix B, and likewise
          misread that section when I wrote that it took Gandalf "more than
          four days" to make that journey. In fact, it seems to have taken
          Gandalf three days and nineteen hours, according to the excerpts of
          HR that were published in Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull's _The
          Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion_. According to that material
          (pp. 251-2), the distance between those points is 475 miles --if my
          math is correct-- and Gandalf makes the journey between 7 a.m on Sep.
          24 and 2 a.m. on Sep. 28.

          -Merlin DeTardo
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