Mini-Lecture 10 More on The Fellowship of the Ring

Mini-Lecture 10 - Mini-Lecture 10 More on The Fellowship of the Ring The term Middle-earth derives directly from the Old English word for the earth

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Mini-Lecture 10: More on The Fellowship of the Ring The term “Middle-earth” derives directly from the Old English word for the earth, middangeard . The Old Norse cognate is miðgarðr , or midgard . It literally means “middle yard or enclosure,” because, mythologically, the world inhabited by men lies between Asgard (where the gods live) and Hel (or the underworld). Tolkien’s first attempt at poetry was a poem he wrote based on lines in an Old English poem by Cynewulf called Crist , one of several religious poems known to have been authored by Cynewulf. They are: Eala Earendel engla beorhtast ofer middangeard monnum sended. [Behold Earendel, brightest of angels, Above the middle-earth sent unto men.] Tolkien called his poem “The Voyage of Earendel the Evening Star.” This poem became the foundation for his own mythology, The Silmarillion . The term middangeard occurs five times in Beowulf , while Midgard appears in much Old Norse literature. Of particular importance to Tolkien is the Völuspá , or Prophesy of the Sybil, the first and best-known poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Norse mythology that captivated Tolkien. See the link to W.H. Auden and P.B. Taylor’s translation of it in the Hand-Outs area. In it, you will find mention of dwarves, elves, giants, Galdalf (the name), Durin, and Gimle. Middle-earth is our world too, the land on which we dwell. It is also, as I mentioned before, very much the West Midlands of England itself (see the map depicting the area known as the West Midlands as well as images of the actual countryside in the Hand-Outs area). As you all probably know, England has, since the Middle Ages, been divided into shires, as in Worchestershire, Devonshire, Oxfordshire (see the map of the shires of England in the Hand-Outs are; incidentally, our word “sheriff” derives from the compound term “shire reeve”). Thus, the particular land of the Hobbits is The Shire. We learn we are now in the Third Age. There is a literary trope of the three ages, dating back at least to the Roman Empire, in which the first age is golden, the second silver, and the third bronze. This progression is seen as a denigration – in the golden age, all is good; by the bronze, much is corrupt. Notice that, in Tolkien’s arc of history, the First Age was the age of the elves, who are the purest of all creatures in Middle-earth. We are witness to the end of the Third Age and the departure of elves from this world. The Fourth Age, we are told, is to be the Age of Man (this, we presume, will become our own, actual age), in which, it seems likely, all other races will retreat or vanish, and all magic will disappear from Middle-earth. The passage of time:
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This note was uploaded on 03/01/2011 for the course ENG 320 taught by Professor Bollermann during the Spring '10 term at ASU.

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Mini-Lecture 10 - Mini-Lecture 10 More on The Fellowship of the Ring The term Middle-earth derives directly from the Old English word for the earth

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