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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Did Wormtongue eat Lotho?
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Seaber
Rivendell

Aug 9 2013, 8:27am

Post #1 of 45 (2211 views)
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Did Wormtongue eat Lotho? Can't Post

Saruman turned. 'No evil?' he cackled. 'Oh no! Even when he sneaks out at night it is only to look at the stars. But did I hear someone ask where poor Lotho is hiding? You know, don't you, Worm? Will you tell them?'

Wormtongue cowered down and whimpered: 'No, no!'

'Then I will,' said Saruman. 'Worm killed your Chief, poor little fellow, your nice little Boss. Didn't you, Worm? Stabbed him in his sleep, I believe. Buried him, I hope; though Worm has been very hungry lately. No, Worm is not really nice. You had better leave him to me.'

This passage has always troubled and enthralled me. The idea of Wormtongue killing Lotho in his sleep is well within his character as a ruthless, caniving, but ultimately pathetic character, but the suggestion that he would eat him always seemed a bit farfetched.

Reading the books again, I get more of a sense of Saruman's loathing of Wormtongue, so no doubt he is cruel enough to drive him to it, but would Wormtongue actually do it?

Part of me hopes that it is just Saruman being deceitful as ever, but another, more macabre part of me wants it to be true, to reveal further the true horror of evil, how the great can fall.

I think one thing that makes me doubt it is true most of all, is that it seems to me a rather un-Tolkien suggestion of cannibalism (or at least, near cannibalism!) Indeed, it does seem more like an idea that could be used in the films. Perhaps in the past I have skimmed over that particular sentence, so only now is the full effect realised.

Anyway, what does everyone else think? :)


Lightfoot
Rivendell


Aug 9 2013, 12:51pm

Post #2 of 45 (1641 views)
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I have always assumed that Wormtounge did in fact eat Lotho [In reply to] Can't Post

It is a little strange coming from Tolkien I know but it just seemed to fit in with Grima's character. I suppose that Saruman could have been lying as you mentioned. I think it could be argued either way.

Faithful servant yet master's bane,
Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane



Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Aug 9 2013, 2:13pm

Post #3 of 45 (1619 views)
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I think..... [In reply to] Can't Post

That it was supposed to be ambiguous. Something that the reader was left to wonder. It creates a depth that we all love in Tolkien, and frees the imagination to work.

On the actual topic, I really don't have a decided opinion. It could show up Saruman as a liar, or the depths of the fall of Grima. I think it illustrates both and is a great passage overall, when left to imagination. A detailed answer could never live up to our imagined expectations.


Elwen
Lorien


Aug 9 2013, 3:05pm

Post #4 of 45 (1650 views)
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I think Sauraman was just trying to influence people with his words... [In reply to] Can't Post

the way he used to. Perhaps he wanted the hobbits to rise up and kill Wormtongue (as the ultimately did, but not because of anything Saruman said).

Having the peaceful hobbits turn to violent revenge because they were angered by Wormtongue's alleged horrible actions would be another way in which Saruman could taint and ruin the Shire.

JMHO

 photo Desolation-of-Smaug2_zpsc1584ee1.jpg
Tauriel: So let me get this straight sir, this Elwen girl is back on something called TORn, and rather than just tell her to stop stalking you, you'd like me to show up in a movie I have no business being in in a ploy to distract her, and nevermind wrath of countless Tolkien fans who will be calling for my destruction?

Legolas: That about sums it up. Besides, some people might like you. Oh, and to be on the safe side, can we pretend to be a couple too?


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Aug 9 2013, 3:57pm

Post #5 of 45 (1597 views)
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I like this!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

A lot more devious. Better than anything I came up with. Good show!!!!


IdrilofGondolin
Rohan

Aug 9 2013, 5:03pm

Post #6 of 45 (1610 views)
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Nice analysis [In reply to] Can't Post

It is quite plausible that Wormtongue did eat Lotho. He had fallen so low and Saruman was treating him like an animal. Perhaps in his own mind he became one and behaved accordingly. And while cannibalism seems out of keeping with so much of the gentleness in Tolkien's work, it is well within keeping of myth and legend from which Tolkien draws.


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Aug 9 2013, 5:08pm

Post #7 of 45 (1597 views)
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let's not forget [In reply to] Can't Post

 
that gollum is also a cannibal.


1. he eats orcs
2. the people who live near mirkwood told tales of a ghost-like creature who would enter houses and steal babies.

rather chilling.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 9 2013, 5:08pm

Post #8 of 45 (1590 views)
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I do remember a reference to an Inklings discussion. [In reply to] Can't Post

The had a debate on the 'Ethics of Cannibalism". So it was not out of his range.


Elwen
Lorien


Aug 9 2013, 5:33pm

Post #9 of 45 (1584 views)
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I think though, if he had eaten him, [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman would have said as much instead of hinting at it.

You're right though, the idea of cannibalism is not that far afield when dealing with evil characters. The examples given below are good ones, as are the idea that even the orcs thought of cannibalism as taboo.
"How do you folk like being called swine by the muckrakers of a dirty little wizards? Its orc flesh they eat, Ill warrant. Many loud yells in orc-speech answered him, and the ringing clash of weapons being drawn."




 photo Desolation-of-Smaug2_zpsc1584ee1.jpg
Tauriel: So let me get this straight sir, this Elwen girl is back on something called TORn, and rather than just tell her to stop stalking you, you'd like me to show up in a movie I have no business being in in a ploy to distract her, and nevermind the wrath of countless Tolkien fans who will be calling for my destruction?

Legolas: That about sums it up. Besides, some people might like you. Oh, and to be on the safe side, can we pretend to be a couple too?


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 9 2013, 5:39pm

Post #10 of 45 (1582 views)
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Glaurung [In reply to] Can't Post

He used falsity and deceit to ensnare Turin,sending him on a vain quest. Then you have Morgoth, the most famous liar of all.

Trickery and lies seem to be evil's weapons in ME.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 9 2013, 6:39pm

Post #11 of 45 (1590 views)
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'Course he did. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wormtongue virtually admitted it - he snarled at Saruman. 'You told me to! You made me do it!

Open and shut case, if you ask me.
.


Arandir
Gondor


Aug 9 2013, 7:33pm

Post #12 of 45 (1589 views)
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This is an amazing discovery [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never ever even considered the "hungry" bit to have been meant as a literally statement.

I've read The Lord of the Rings over 7 times so far and I've always assumed that Wormtongue killed him and left him somewhere without any burial.

It's actually eye-opening and certainly adds a strong sense of chilling-ness to the whole Scouring of the Shire event ... brrrr! Crazy

I'll never read that paragraph the same, ever again.

Thanks for sharing!Smile

'A Tolkienist's Perspective' Blog


Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 10 2013, 1:54am

Post #13 of 45 (1571 views)
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Of course he ate him... [In reply to] Can't Post

This is how Hobbit term "finger food" came down to us.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on Aug 10 2013, 1:54am)


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 10 2013, 2:34am

Post #14 of 45 (1521 views)
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(*chuckles*) Very good Morthoron!!!! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








squire
Valinor


Aug 10 2013, 4:20am

Post #15 of 45 (1542 views)
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Don't be tasty... I mean, hasty [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think that line of Grima's is quite so 'open and shut' a proof of his eating Lotho as you do.

Saruman gives very specific details about Lotho's murder ("Worm killed [him]", "Didn't you, Worm?", "stabbed him in his sleep", "buried him"), only adding the speculation about cannibalism as an amused afterthought. In that context, Grima's tortured defense, "You told me to; You made me do it," reads to me as a reply to the outright charge of murder, not the more vaguely suggested depravity we're debating here.



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Fredeghar Wayfarer
Lorien


Aug 10 2013, 5:17am

Post #16 of 45 (1523 views)
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Maybe a little [In reply to] Can't Post

I always assumed that Grima had murdered Lotho and disposed of the body in an unmarked grave. But perhaps he gnawed on a few pieces in desperation. Saruman couldn't have been feeding him very well. I doubt that he devoured the whole body if it came to that. As stated, it's very ambiguous and may just be Saruman mocking his servant's desperate straits.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Aug 10 2013, 7:49am

Post #17 of 45 (1526 views)
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nah. he done it - [In reply to] Can't Post

- he didn't deny it, anyway. Wormtongue came at Saruman's call, crawling out of a hut almost like a dog. What would the horrified hobbits have found in there afterwards?

He done it! I tell 'ee..


(This post was edited by geordie on Aug 10 2013, 7:53am)


Arandir
Gondor


Aug 10 2013, 9:26am

Post #18 of 45 (1499 views)
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Oh I see ... :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

'A Tolkienist's Perspective' Blog


PhantomS
Rohan


Aug 11 2013, 1:06am

Post #19 of 45 (1502 views)
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Carrion most foul [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman is playing words again, but in LoTR carrion rather than cannibalism has a terrible reputation, hence Worm is associated with the worst people of all.

-Theoden curses Saruman by telling him he will listen when Saruman is hanging for the crows to eat
-The Orcs holding Merry and Pippin eat each other's dead bodies (not alive)
-the Wolves who helped the Uruk-hai eat their dead bodies alongside crows
-The Rohirrim are afraid that the Orcs will be 'feasting in the (White) Tower' by the time they get there, presumably on Gondorian flesh

eating the dead is kind of a horrible insult here.


Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 11 2013, 6:57am

Post #20 of 45 (1501 views)
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Saruman's Caliban? [In reply to] Can't Post

In The Hobbit Bilbo is scared of being eaten by just about everything: trolls, goblins, wargs, Gollum, eagles, bears, giant spiders, etc. It's like a child's list of nightmares. Beorn takes note of Bilbo's fears: Not eaten up by Wargs or goblins or wicked bears yet, I see.

Gollum reappears in LOTR to cannibalistic rumors of a ghost slipping through windows to find cradles. Later Sam has some misgivings about Gollum's eating habits, especially, er, "concerning hobbits".

So are Saruman and Grima a dark mirror to Frodo and Gollum? Is Gollum Frodo's Caliban? Did Saruman and Grima just need a good old down-at-home, salt-of-the-earth gardener to keep them from nibbling on the neighbors?

Still, is calibanism, er, that is, cannibalism, really that bad?

I am not so concerned that we should remark on the barbaric horror of such a deed, but that, while we quite rightly judge their faults, we are blind to our own. I think it is more barbaric to eat a man alive than to eat him dead, to tear apart through torture and pain a living body which can still feel, or to burn it alive by bits, to let it be gnawed and chewed by dogs or pigs (as we have not only read, but seen, in recent times, not against old enemies but among neighbors and fellow-citizens, and--what is worse--under the pretext of piety and religion.) Better to roast and eat him after he is dead.
-Michel de Montaigne: On Cannibals (1580)

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.



grammaboodawg
Immortal


Aug 11 2013, 1:21pm

Post #21 of 45 (1479 views)
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I don't think so... [In reply to] Can't Post

Sharkey loves to shock and create the most horrific mind-games possible. What better way to terrorize a Hobbit than to suggest murder and cannibalism of a family member right in their beloved home. Sharkey is also tormenting Wormtongue... who has finally broken. Heaven only knows what Grima has endured since Saurman was cast out by Gandalf. No one else was around to take his humiliation and frustration out on.


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CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 11 2013, 6:32pm

Post #22 of 45 (1476 views)
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The Gollum connection [In reply to] Can't Post

That's the connection I make. Grima is becoming less and less human and more Gollum-like, and Gollum would eat anything, so Grima would eat Lotho. It's telling that he doesn't say something like, "You made me kill him, but I didn't eat him. That's a lie!" He doesn't deny any part of it.

Grima was a mental mess at this point,serving and obeying Saruman despite his abuse until he snapped and killed him. If Saruman had ordered Grima to eat Lotho, or suggested he should, Grima would have complied, hating Saruman, but fearing to run away or disobey. When the hobbits previously asked him why he won't leave his master despite all the abuse, he can't imagine doing so.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Aug 11 2013, 6:39pm

Post #23 of 45 (1462 views)
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You're too sweet, Gramma... [In reply to] Can't Post

All you say is true, but Grima still might have done it. His degradation had reached the level where it was actually possible.








FarFromHome
Valinor


Aug 11 2013, 7:47pm

Post #24 of 45 (1475 views)
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Why was Grima hungry? [In reply to] Can't Post

You have to wonder why Grima was so hungry in the first place. Wasn't all the food in the Shire being confiscated for the use of Sharkey and his minions? You'd think Wormtongue would have been quite well fed, unless maybe Sharkey was deliberately starving him. Which would certainly explain the "You made me do it."

Gollum is constantly hungry - and so is that other potentially hobbit-eating creature, Shelob. It seems to go with their debased, craving-driven natures. Poor old Wormtongue has been brought down to their level now - maybe deliberately by Sharkey?

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



FarFromHome
Valinor


Aug 11 2013, 7:58pm

Post #25 of 45 (1463 views)
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Mirror, mirror [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
So are Saruman and Grima a dark mirror to Frodo and Gollum?

Or maybe Saruman and Grima are a dark mirror to Frodo and Sam. Grima could have been a Sam - his master, Theoden, offered him the chance of accompanying him into danger. But Grima took the coward's way out and took refuge with Saruman instead. Now he's as bound to his new master as Sam is to Frodo - except he's bound by hate and fear instead of love and trust.


They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings


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