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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Mithril coat

sam90
Lorien

Aug 9 2012, 10:31pm

Post #1 of 25 (776 views)
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The Mithril coat Can't Post

I never really take much consideration of this detail in The Hobbit till now: the origin of the Mithril coat. It is said in the book that the Mithril coat belonged to a 'young elvish prince'. I wonder now who might that be and how has it found it's way to the Dwarf hoard? Obviously there has been a couple young princes of old especially of elvish kind in the first ages of Middle-Earth and the coat is probably a gift that was given to the Dwarf-lords but still not much is said here about this little mystery (at least to me) in the book. Is there any existing wirtting of Tolkien about this in particular?

Any thought?


(This post was edited by sam90 on Aug 9 2012, 10:33pm)


Harold.of.Whoa
Rivendell


Aug 10 2012, 2:13am

Post #2 of 25 (376 views)
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I would only point out... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that in "The Black Opens," the Mouth of Sauron refers to it as a "Dwarf-coat." Assuming that he has any skill at all identifying its origins, that implies that the MoS (or his master) thinks it be of Dwarf make, and has no further knowledge of its history. I imagine that it was first a gift from some Dwarf-lord to the court of the unnamed prince, and at some later time it was given back, perhaps in a spirit of good will, or perhaps not.


PhantomS
Rohan


Aug 10 2012, 3:26am

Post #3 of 25 (377 views)
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that coat [In reply to] Can't Post

it is hinted that Erebor (or rather Khazad-dum) and Lothlorien were once quite friendly, so it might have been a gift for a prince of Amroth's lineage that never got delivered for some reason or other. Another theory is that it was made for Elrond's son (technically he's a royal) but when he had twins they changed their mind since making two coats was out of the question.

Why the Dwarves would give something so precious to a child that would no doubt grow out of it is beyond me, but perhaps it was meant as armor for children, given back when they no longer fit in it, like a ceremonial token. It seems to have been forgotten, since even Aragorn is surprised it exists; and he knows of Bilbo's story.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Aug 10 2012, 7:57am

Post #4 of 25 (373 views)
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My favorite theory... [In reply to] Can't Post

...postulated by Reverend, a much-beloved TORn poster who died suddenly in 2003. He thinks it might have been for Earendil.






Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Aug 10 2012, 8:11am

Post #5 of 25 (362 views)
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I always liked that theory but never realised it had been written by another. [In reply to] Can't Post

In the Fall of Gondolin the text that describes Maeglins blade being turned by Earendils coat of mail automatically makes that mithril coat of the Bagginses spring to mind for me.

The argument is that it is too remote an item to be Under the Lonely Mountain and too coincidental for both swords and armour of Gondolin to be chanced upon by the same bunch of dwarves and their burrahobbit.

Dwarf coat would only refer to it being made by a dwarf, just as Narsil was made by a dwarf but was probably made for Elves and is only noted as being wielded by men.


(This post was edited by ElendilTheShort on Aug 10 2012, 8:13am)


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 10 2012, 4:57pm

Post #6 of 25 (370 views)
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it doesn't say 'belonged to' [In reply to] Can't Post

- it says the coat 'was made for' a young Elven prince. We're told of much armour and spears made for King Bladorthin, but they were never despatched because the king didn't pay up.

I'd always supposed the elf-prince's armour had been part of that consignment.

.


sam90
Lorien

Aug 10 2012, 6:51pm

Post #7 of 25 (288 views)
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Mithril [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your answers, well I see that there is no 'clear' answer given by Tolkien without a doubt to which 'young elvish prince' this Mithril coat was to be prepared for. But interesting theories that some have posted here.

@goerdie You're right it is rather that 'it was made for', my bad.


(This post was edited by sam90 on Aug 10 2012, 6:53pm)


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Aug 10 2012, 8:10pm

Post #8 of 25 (356 views)
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Intended for a Wood-elf prince? [In reply to] Can't Post

Since the Wood-elves of Mirkwood were close neighbors of the Dwarves of Erebor, it is reasonable to suggest that the coat may have been commissioned for a younger brother or cousin of Legolas. Unfortunately, the Dragon attacked before delivery could be made. It couldn't have been intended for Legolas, himself, unless it was made centuries earlier; he would have been full-grown when Smaug attacked Lonely Mountain.

"Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house." - Aragorn

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Aug 10 2012, 8:12pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Aug 10 2012, 8:23pm

Post #9 of 25 (326 views)
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That thread offers some alternate theories, as well as [In reply to] Can't Post

a major problem with Reverend's theory -- where did they get mithril in Gondolin? On the other hand, I find it quite plausible that Tolkien borrowed the idea of mail for an elven prince from his other writings, without worrying about whether it made sense for Earendil's mail to be made out of mithril. This is especially true since mithril didn't come up until LotR. So when The Hobbit was written it might not have been made out of mithril. In other words, it could have been Earendil's mail in The Hobbit, and the mail of someone else entirely in LotR.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 10 2012, 9:27pm

Post #10 of 25 (283 views)
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Actually, [In reply to] Can't Post

the word mithril appears in TH.

'With that he put on Bilbo a small coat of mail, wrought for some young elf-prince long ago. It was of silver-steel, which the elves call mithril, and with it went a belt of pearls and crystals.'

(Fire and Water)


sam90
Lorien

Aug 10 2012, 10:51pm

Post #11 of 25 (302 views)
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The Legolas' Theory [In reply to] Can't Post

I am a bit more sceptical about The Legolas' theory if we can call it this way though it make sense for Mirkwood is close to Erebor but maybe Legolas would have known that a mithril coat was to be made for him or at least the matter could have been known in the realm and so reach Legolas' ears especially if there was a feud with the Dwarves about it. Therefore if Legolas do know something about (but it doesn't mean that's the case though) the coat that Frodo wear under his shirt might have bring memory of this. Thats all hypothetical and pure speculation but who knows?


(This post was edited by sam90 on Aug 10 2012, 10:57pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Aug 11 2012, 12:22am

Post #12 of 25 (232 views)
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I'm pretty sure that was a post-LotR edit.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


squire
Valinor


Aug 11 2012, 12:54am

Post #13 of 25 (257 views)
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I can't find that quote [In reply to] Can't Post

At least, I can't find it in my 1938 Hobbit. On p. 246 the line reads:
"It was of silvered steel and ornamented with pearls, and with it went a belt of pearls and crystals."




squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


imin
Valinor


Aug 11 2012, 1:18am

Post #14 of 25 (274 views)
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You have a 1938 edition of the hobbit! [In reply to] Can't Post

very jealous over here, haha!

One day i would love to get a first imp, first edition 1937 (UK edition). Need a spare few thousand first i imagine. As they say look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 11 2012, 8:38am

Post #15 of 25 (250 views)
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Hang on, I'll check - [In reply to] Can't Post

- quite right; 'Mithril' doesn't appear in the first edition, nor the second. According to Hammond, 'mithril' first appears in that quote in the revised Ballantine paperback of 1966. (Hammond A3g)

Incidentally, the first Ballantine edition featured a cover illustration by Barbara Remington of a fantastic landscape with emus, and a grinning lion; and trees with bulbous fruit. Tolkien wrote: 'I feel I'm trapped in a mad-house'. The revised edition had the lion removed; but the emus and bulbous fruit remained.

Oh, another thing - in the first Ballantine edition of FotR, the Ring-verse is printed upside-down! 'I cannot read the fiery letters' said frodo'.

'I'm not surprised!' wrote Tolkien.

Smile


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 11 2012, 8:46am

Post #16 of 25 (237 views)
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I apologise - [In reply to] Can't Post

- put it down to laziness on my part. I ought to have gone upstairs and gotten one of my pre-LotR copies of TH, but instead picked up one of the copies within reach. Ironically, if I'd selected the 1960s Houghton Mifflin hardback I'd have gotten the right answer! but my hand fell instead on the UK 50th Anniversary edition (the one with Roger Garland's splendid depiction of Smaug) .

Too many books...

Tongue


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 11 2012, 8:55am

Post #17 of 25 (257 views)
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p.246 [In reply to] Can't Post

Interestingly enough, that quote appears on p.246 in the later printings of the UK 1st edition, despite the reduction in page size which came about in the 3rd printing of 1942. But it appears on p.251 in the 1951 Second edition. Not because of paper size - can anyone tell me why there's a difference of precisely five pages between the first and second editions?

Smile


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 11 2012, 9:53am

Post #18 of 25 (252 views)
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BTW I've been meaning to ask - [In reply to] Can't Post

- does your copy of the 1938 Hobbit have a bowing hobbit on the title page, or a flute-player? This might sound a strange question, but for the benefit of readers who aren't biblionuts --Smile-- that's the difference between a 1st printing and a later one. But at any rate - AFAIK there were only 5,000 copies of the whole first edition, so well done on getting a copy.

.


squire
Valinor


Aug 11 2012, 12:20pm

Post #19 of 25 (203 views)
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Because 'Riddles in the Dark' is 5 pages longer./ [In reply to] Can't Post

 



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Aug 11 2012, 12:45pm

Post #20 of 25 (246 views)
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It is doubtful that the mithril shirt could have been made for Legolas himself... [In reply to] Can't Post

The shirt was sized for an Elf-child and Legolas would have been full-grown when Smaug attacked Erebor. Actually, given the Elvenking's distrust of Dwarves, it is far more likely that the shirt was made for an Elf-child of Lorien, Rivendell or the Havens.

"Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house." - Aragorn


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 11 2012, 5:48pm

Post #21 of 25 (240 views)
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Yup, that's right - [In reply to] Can't Post

IIRC it was in 1947 that JRR sent Allen & Unwin some proposed changes to that chapter. he weren't half surprised to see it in print in 1951!


Curious
Half-elven


Aug 11 2012, 10:47pm

Post #22 of 25 (217 views)
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I remember that Remington cover well. [In reply to] Can't Post

However, my original paperbacks fell apart after many years of heavy use.


Yngwulff
Gondor


Aug 11 2012, 11:58pm

Post #23 of 25 (182 views)
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Me too [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
- it says the coat 'was made for' a young Elven prince. We're told of much armour and spears made for King Bladorthin, but they were never despatched because the king didn't pay up.

I'd always supposed the elf-prince's armour had been part of that consignment.

.



Thats the way I interpereted it as well too.


Take this Brother May it Serve you Well
Vote for Pedro!


PhantomS
Rohan


Aug 12 2012, 6:19am

Post #24 of 25 (182 views)
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a mithril work of art [In reply to] Can't Post

Gloin seems to tell Frodo that his people have forgotten a lot of things about metalwork and are now stone carvers; a work like the mithril coat doesn't seem like what the Dwarves of Frodo's time could make, compared to relatively simple mithril gates at Minas Tirith. It's tons more intricate and would require a master to make- something perhaps absent from Erebor at least in Frodo's time.

In LoTR the coat is mentioned in Moria, the ultimate mine for mithril-a hint that perhaps it was made there or even with partnership with the Elves of Eregion. I mean, there had to be a model for the coat.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Aug 12 2012, 9:21pm

Post #25 of 25 (288 views)
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Part of Bladorthin's shipment? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
- it says the coat 'was made for' a young Elven prince. We're told of much armour and spears made for King Bladorthin, but they were never despatched because the king didn't pay up.

I'd always supposed the elf-prince's armour had been part of that consignment.

That is as good a theory as any. And probably better than most.

"Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house." - Aragorn

 
 

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