Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Who is Tom Bombadil?
First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All

Jay236
The Shire

Jun 4 2013, 8:00pm

Post #1 of 63 (1178 views)
Shortcut
Who is Tom Bombadil? Can't Post

Who exactly is Tom Bombadil, I mean I know he's a wizard but how is he relevant to the rest of LoTR, considering he is only in one chapter.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 4 2013, 8:06pm

Post #2 of 63 (563 views)
Shortcut
He's in all the chapters. [In reply to] Can't Post

He's Tolkien.

"Eldest, that's what I am."

And the eldest in any story is the storyteller.

******************************************
Brother will fight brother and both be his slayer,
Brother and sister will violate all bonds of kinship;
Hard it will be in the world, there will be much failure of honor,
An age of axes, an age of swords, where shields are shattered,
An age of winds, an age of wolves, where the world comes crashing down;
No man will spare another.

-From the Völuspá, 13th Century


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 4 2013, 8:32pm

Post #3 of 63 (513 views)
Shortcut
He's not a wizard. [In reply to] Can't Post

There were only five wizards: Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and the two Blue Wizards (Alatar and Pallando). Tom was in Middle-earth before the wizards came over Sea from the Undying Lands. And nobody knows for sure what Tom is, though there are lots of theories, everything from a nature spirit to a Maia or Vala, as well as Darkstone's theory of Tom as Tolkien. Even Tolkien didn't define Tom, seeming content to leave him an enigma. The most descriptive Tolkien ever got about him was in a letter to his publisher in which he called Tom "the spirit of the vanishing Oxford and Berkshire countryside". In another letter, he said that Tom was "just an invention...and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely."

Do a search in the Reading Room forum and you'll find a lot of discussion about him.

And welcome to TORN, Jay! Smile

Silverlode

"Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dűm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone."



Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 4 2013, 10:52pm

Post #4 of 63 (482 views)
Shortcut
Tom Bombadil is an enigma [In reply to] Can't Post

The fandom has been arguing who or what he exactly is for decades, and we still don't know. Even the best guesses are just that, guesses. Tolkien never told us.

His relevance is what he represents; both the unselfish love for countryside (and by extension the whole natural world) as opposed to the enemy's selfish wish to control, and the pacifistic mindset that can only survive if those willing to take up arms protect him.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Mooseboy018
Gondor


Jun 5 2013, 12:16am

Post #5 of 63 (438 views)
Shortcut
He's in three chapters. [In reply to] Can't Post

They meet him in chapter 6, they chill with him in chapter 7, and he saves them in chapter 8.


Barrow-Wight
Lorien


Jun 5 2013, 1:52am

Post #6 of 63 (439 views)
Shortcut
"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" [In reply to] Can't Post

Tom Bombadil is Master

Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the Little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless—before the Dark Lord came from Outside


Bombadil
Half-elven


Jun 5 2013, 2:07pm

Post #7 of 63 (401 views)
Shortcut
?...Bomby Agrees with Darkstone! [In reply to] Can't Post

Seems the Only Happy Couple
he wrote about?...was
Bomby & Goldie

sooo.. meThinks he is refer-RING to
Himself & Edith.


wildespace
The Shire

Jun 6 2013, 8:46pm

Post #8 of 63 (369 views)
Shortcut
Tom is the spirit of nature [In reply to] Can't Post

He was the spirit of English countryside in Tolkien's earlier creations, and Tolkien simply gave him a role in LoTR, keeping him an enigma. Some people decided that Tom is a Maia (like Gandalf or Sauron), but there's no reason to think its definite. He might be simply an aspect (or element) of Arda that gained a life of its own, like Ungoliant.


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 10 2013, 8:36am

Post #9 of 63 (346 views)
Shortcut
One thing I began wondering about when reading about Tom as a vague entity... [In reply to] Can't Post

(embodiment of nature and the like), was the significance of the unsettling image of Tom's eye seen through the Ring. I am not wholly opposed to this (non-Maiarin) origin for Tom, but Gandalf's words and now also the eye bit seems to me to point towards similarities between Gandalf, Sauron and Tom. I personally read those as hints at Maiarin-ness.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 10 2013, 7:40pm

Post #10 of 63 (286 views)
Shortcut
Absent Immunities [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I personally read those as hints at Maiarin-ness.

Not likely. The ring was inert to Tom Bombadil. Gandalf feared its effects on himself.

No one has yet suggested here that Bombadil is the embodiment of Eru, but that idea is also on the table. Eru, beyond even the Valar, is the most egregious example of a deity ignoring the pain and suffering of its creations, preferring to watch them dispassionately like one watches ants under a magnifying glass in the Sun. Through Bombadil, he was content to play his in own special area while watching the rest of the world burn.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 10 2013, 7:41pm)


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 10 2013, 8:39pm

Post #11 of 63 (265 views)
Shortcut
re: [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
I personally read those as hints at Maiarin-ness.

Not likely. The ring was inert to Tom Bombadil. Gandalf feared its effects on himself.


I am not convinced this is a decisive factor. We don't know if the Ring tried to affect Tom or not, we just see that Tom didn't listen to or care for its lure. Tom seems above actively caring (speaking of travelling somewhere to lend aid) for the vast expanse of Middle-earth, content in his little nook. Gandalf travelled far and wide, and it was his task to see to the destruction of Sauron. It seems only logical to me that Gandalf would be much more tempted by the Ring than Tom.


In Reply To
No one has yet suggested here that Bombadil is the embodiment of Eru, but that idea is also on the table. Eru, beyond even the Valar, is the most egregious example of a deity ignoring the pain and suffering of its creations, preferring to watch them dispassionately like one watches ants under a magnifying glass in the Sun. Through Bombadil, he was content to play his in own special area while watching the rest of the world burn.


My turn to say 'not likely'. Tongue If Tom was indeed Eru embodied, I cannot imagine the participants of the council speaking of him the way they did: stating with conviction that he'd fall to Sauron in the end, and that he's forgetful enough to cast the Ring away. I cannot imagine Gandalf talking about himself and Tom as 'stones', either; that would just sound too impious to me. And I cannot see the embodiment of Eru having a female partner, either. He's just One, and I imagine him ever solitary. ;)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 10 2013, 8:56pm

Post #12 of 63 (271 views)
Shortcut
Eru [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...If Tom was indeed Eru embodied, I cannot imagine the participants of the council speaking of him the way they did: stating with conviction that he'd fall to Sauron in the end, and that he's forgetful enough to cast the Ring away. I cannot imagine Gandalf talking about himself and Tom as 'stones', either; that would just sound too impious to me. And I cannot see the embodiment of Eru having a female partner, either. He's just One, and I imagine him ever solitary. ;)

That requires knowledge by the "impious" of who Bombadil actually is. I would claim that they don't necessarily know.

I thought about Eru's "female partner," as you also question. I don't have a good answer except that she is a natural, intrinsic part of the unique environment that he cares for so much. And if he left, she would not be able to follow.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 3:57pm

Post #13 of 63 (287 views)
Shortcut
Tolkien Said in one of his letters that Tom is not Eru and.... [In reply to] Can't Post

that there is no embodiment of Eru in Middle Earth so that theory can be placed aside. Tolkien states this in letter 181.

Not all who wander are lost


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 3:59pm

Post #14 of 63 (237 views)
Shortcut
If you want a good read which covers the major theories... [In reply to] Can't Post

I completed an in-depth study of the major Tom Bombadil theories earlier this year and I posted my results and my own theory of who he is. It is long, but if you are truly interested in the varying thoughts about Tom it is worth a read:

Not all who wander are lost

(This post was
edited by rangerfromthenorth on Jun 11 2013, 4:08pm)


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 4:12pm

Post #15 of 63 (215 views)
Shortcut
sorry bad link here is the correct one... [In reply to] Can't Post

here.

(This post was
edited by rangerfromthenorth on Jun 11 2013, 4:21pm)


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 11 2013, 4:16pm

Post #16 of 63 (202 views)
Shortcut
Link [In reply to] Can't Post

The link is still not quite right because there's a space before the http.

Try this:
http://whoistombombadil.blogspot.com/


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 11 2013, 4:22pm

Post #17 of 63 (230 views)
Shortcut
Relevant Text Of Letter 181 [In reply to] Can't Post

That's very interesting. Could you quote the relevant passage inside more context? It's okay under Fair Use to quote relevant excepts of copyrighted materials.

I still don't believe Tom is Maiar, owing to the severe inequality between his and Gandalf's response to the One Ring.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 4:26pm

Post #18 of 63 (219 views)
Shortcut
Yes I can [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien was asked specifically by someone if Tom was Eru/Illuvatar. Tolkien's response is as follows, "There is no embodiment of the One, of God, who indeed remains remote, outside the World, and only directly accessible to the Valar or Rulers.”- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien No 181, dated 1956.

I too share your reservations about Tom being a Maia. Indeed, I do not believe he is either a Maia, nor a Vala, nor a traditional Nature Spirit. All of these explanations fall short in my opinion. That is why I recommend you read my work Wink

Not all who wander are lost

(This post was edited by rangerfromthenorth on Jun 11 2013, 4:29pm)


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 11 2013, 4:28pm

Post #19 of 63 (198 views)
Shortcut
Bombadil Stuies [In reply to] Can't Post

That looks great. I'll give it a read.

There is another online study of Tom Bombadil that I read some years ago. I forget where it was, but was quite exhaustive and was outlined similarly to yours. A search doesn't immediately bring it up for me. Maybe someone else remembers where it was. It would be interesting to see the authors have a comparative discussion about their respective studies to understand where they agree and where they don't.


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 11 2013, 10:30pm

Post #20 of 63 (214 views)
Shortcut
one last question [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I still don't believe Tom is Maiar, owing to the severe inequality between his and Gandalf's response to the One Ring.


Okay, it seems the two of us are at a moot point regarding Tom's Maiarinness, as your arguments don't convince me, and mine don't convince you - so based on your quote above, I only have one final question to ask, because I'm genuinely curious. If you at least allow the possibility for the Ents to be Ainur -as suggested in 'Of Aule and Yavanna'- do you believe that let's say Treebeard would have been just as tempted by the Ring as Gandalf was, if he was exposed to it? Because I'd imagine him reacting not unlike Bombadil, because of their similar attitudes and motivations. If you disagree with the Ainurinness of Ents, just ignore my question. :)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 1:18am

Post #21 of 63 (195 views)
Shortcut
interesting thought [In reply to] Can't Post

I have always thought of Ents as some sort of nature spirit being that Tolkien makes mention of fayes and pixies I figured that Ents, stone giants, the Two Watchers, Huorns, were some flavor of nature spirit. I do not believe them to be Maiar, yet what references are you mentioning? I have read that chapter yet I don't remember any allusions to them being Maiarlike. I guess if you apply a broad definition to Ainur to include to any and all spirits even those created after the Valar and Maiar you could call them Ainur yet it seems that Tolkien in the opening chapters of the Silmarillion defines Ainur as just the Maiar and the Valar.

Not all who wander are lost


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 1:34am

Post #22 of 63 (217 views)
Shortcut
Gandalf offers a great explanation of why the Ring does not affect Tom [In reply to] Can't Post

You wrote

Quote
We don't know if the Ring tried to affect Tom or not, we just see that Tom didn't listen to or care for its lure.





Gandalf says of Tom, "Say rather that the Ring has no power over him." So clearly, according to Gandalf, the Ring has no power and thus no affect on Tom.

Not all who wander are lost


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 12 2013, 3:17am

Post #23 of 63 (168 views)
Shortcut
Tree Rings [In reply to] Can't Post

That's a great question. I've never heard the supposition of what would happen if Treebeard bore the One Ring.

The wiki says, " It was [Yavanna] who requested the creation of the Ents [by Eru], as she feared for the safety of the trees once her husband had created the Dwarves." This certainly says that the Ents were no more Ainur than Dwarves.

What I understand is that the Valar were Ainur on Middle-earth. The Maiar were lesser Valar. Ents were a race like any other race populated onto Middle-earth by Eru (e.g. Elves, Men) or the Valar.

I have seen debate over who is longer in Middle-earth, or who is older. I believe it is Bombadil. I remember finding good reasoning from Tolkien himself about that, but I don't remember now what that was, so I can't defend the position at the moment. It was probably something either Bombadil or Treebeard said of the other.

I believe in the fact that Tolkien Letter 181 says that Bombadil is not the embodiment of Eru on Middle-earth. Now we just have to eliminate the rest of the Ainur and Maiar. If Gandalf is affected, that leaves the Valar or a race of a single being unlike any other on Middle-earth. Or maybe one of the common beasts that sprung from the Creation.

But what would happen with Treebeard and the One Ring? The logic of the lore suggests that Treebeard should fear it even more than Gandalf. However, Gandalf trusted a Hobbit with the One Ring more than himself. So my gut feeling about Treebeard is that it would have little to no effect upon him even though, like Hobbits, that is contrary to the lineage.


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 7:34am

Post #24 of 63 (173 views)
Shortcut
Perhaps I used wrong phrasing... [In reply to] Can't Post

I meant that it is not the same thing when the Ring actively tries to affect a person and call to them (which is unknown if it did or not in Tom's case), and when the Ring has power over a person.
So for me, I imagine the Ring tried to affect Tom like it did with anyone else, and Tom either ignored its call or didn't hear it.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 8:10am

Post #25 of 63 (164 views)
Shortcut
re: ents [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The wiki says, " It was [Yavanna] who requested the creation of the Ents [by Eru], as she feared for the safety of the trees once her husband had created the Dwarves." This certainly says that the Ents were no more Ainur than Dwarves.


Not necessarily. I go by both the account of 'spirits summoned from afar to live among the animals and plants' (or 'dwell therein') from the Silm., and by JRRT's 1963 passage on Ents in The War of the Jewels, stating the High Elves believed that "the Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees."
Neither of those quotes states in black and white that the Ents were Ainur/Maiar, but they were apparently 'souls', and given what we know about them -longevity, doing the bidding of the Valar (in this case, of Yavanna), having a 'field of expertise', ability to assume a likeness- I interpret these as signs of Maiarinness. That's what I believe. If anyone is wholly opposed to that interpretation, fine with me, let's each believe in our own theory. No harm done. :)


In Reply To
If Gandalf is affected, that leaves the Valar or a race of a single being unlike any other on Middle-earth.


I still don't believe it is fair to consider the temptation of two known Maiar (Gandalf and Saruman) to be a decisive evidence that anyone who either doesn't refuse to help out with the Ring (those beyond the Sea), or isn't tempted, is automatically not an Ainu / Maia.


In Reply To
However, Gandalf trusted a Hobbit with the One Ring more than himself. So my gut feeling about Treebeard is that it would have little to no effect upon him even though, like Hobbits, that is contrary to the lineage.


I have the same feeling about what Treebeard would do, except I feel that the unaffectedness by the Ring has everything to do with one's natural disposition and need of the aid it (falsely) promises to give, rather than with being of a certain race.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington

First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All
 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.