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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Return of the King - Unofficial read through
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Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 23 2017, 3:34pm

Post #1 of 184 (6536 views)
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The Return of the King - Unofficial read through Can't Post

Pippin is in for the ride of his life - he must be fairly comfortably perched in front of Gandalf on the back of Shadowfax. It is hard to imagine sleeping while riding a horse but fatigue eventually catches up in almost any situation.

At one point, Shadowfax slows and three fast moving riders fly by into the West...who were they? Gondorian messengers heading to Rohan?

The wall of the Pelennor is being repaired but it is clear that Gondor, at the moment, does not have enough troops to fully defend such a large circumference wall. I did not realize the great distance from Minas Tirith - at its furthest point - 3 leagues = 40+ miles. The land within - the Pelennor was of rising land from the Anduin with terraces, fields, towns. It was highest where the slope flattened coming up from Osgiliath. There were many orchards, farms, "with oast and garner" (oast is a kiln for drying hops = beer and a garner is a storehouse, grainery).

I found a nice resource for defining some of Tolkien's archaic words-
http://www.tolkienenglishglossary.com/...he_rings_book_5.html

"fold and byre" - enclosures for sheep and cattle.

Most of the citizenry lived within the city or the surrounding mountains - where some of the folk were of a "mingled" population - shorter, swarthy folk from indigenous populations whereas the coastal populations were more high born - Numenorian strain as from Dol Amroth...tall, grey eyed.

swarthy = dark-skinned, olive-skinned, dusky, tanned, saturnine, black;

So, we do have a reference to the population being more varied than most people realize.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 23 2017, 3:37pm)


squire
Half-elven


Jul 23 2017, 10:24pm

Post #2 of 184 (6274 views)
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The suburbs are in league with us [In reply to] Can't Post

The landscape around Minas Tirith is hard to imagine for many Americans, and perhaps many British readers as well. It seems to draw on what I think of as Italian or Central European models for a castle at the height of a substantial slope of farmlands overlooking a large river valley.

The more I learn about medieval European town and landscapes in the days when cities were commonly fortified (i.e., walled for defense), the more I am reminded that the food for the city has to come from somewhere, and it's not going to come from a far distance unless the place is the size of Ancient Rome (a million people or thereabouts). Thus Minas Tirith must have these fertile outlands, and given the hilly setting, they must be terraced and ever-rising. One reason it doesn't sink in, I suspect, is that once the siege and battle begins there is absolutely nothing about the terrain determining the lines of battle and approach, as one would expect in such a hilly setting.


This is an image of Tuscany that I posted some time ago, that I thought captured the view of the Pelennor from the walls of Minas Tirith.

A league is about three miles, give or take, so three leagues is more like nine or ten, not 40+, miles. That's still a substantial enclosure to be walled in, and begs the question of when, if ever, was Gondor strong enough to man such a length of outwall and yet still be in a defensive position?



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Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 12:10am

Post #3 of 184 (6264 views)
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Agree on the landscape....we have the flat plain in our head from the movie. [In reply to] Can't Post

"On land, the league is most commonly defined as three miles, though the length of a mile could vary from place to place and depending on the era. At sea, a league is three nautical miles (3.452 miles; 5.556 kilometres)."

So yes, even at 9+ miles - that is a huge circumferance to defend - I would say if we estimate the circumferance of a circle at C=2piR = 56.55 then x .5 as this is 1/2 a circle then you have 28+ miles = 147840 ft which would require about 36,960 troops if one man was placed every 4 ft. Of course, in reality, troops can be shifted along interior lines to defend the at risk sections...so you can get away with fewer for awhile. Minas Tirith no longer had the manpower - not even sure all of Gondor had the manpower.

I think of Constantinople - "The 4,973 Greek soldiers and volunteers, and the 2,000 foreigners who had come to assist them, had to defend 14 miles of fortifications. With 500 men detailed to defend the Sea Walls, that would have left only one man every four feet (I get 11') at the Outer Land Walls alone. With many of the garrison manning the engines, towers, bastions and other points, the distribution of soldiers along the walls was undoubtedly much thinner. The demands on each man grew precipitously as the battle progressed and as casualties, sickness, and desertion reduced their numbers, and substantial breaches appeared in the walls. That such a scant force managed to defend one of the largest cities of the medieval world for seven weeks was a remarkable testament to both the fortifications and the men who defended them."


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 24 2017, 12:13am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 2:42am

Post #4 of 184 (6253 views)
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Demographics--good catch [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember swarthy as principally applied to foreigners, and somehow in my mind, Anorien is home to "pure bloods" like Faramir.

Though realistically, every imperial capital in the world's history has always had a mixed, cosmopolitan population. Tolkien seems to acknowledge that.


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 4:14am

Post #5 of 184 (6237 views)
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I think of Rome or Greece / Balkans with the coming of the Goths [In reply to] Can't Post

and other Germanic or Celtic tribes. Mediterranean peoples mixed with northern European. I doubt there would be Easterling or Southron types with the historic animosity. I don't think trade had existed for centuries...if there was any in the past.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 24 2017, 4:18am)


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 4:18pm

Post #6 of 184 (6210 views)
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Minas Tirith is described as [In reply to] Can't Post

From the topmost battlement - Citadel - looking below ..700' ....and then from the High court another 50 fathoms (300') to the pinnacle where the banners flew 1'000' above the plain. If we knew the depth we could use trigonometry for the hypotenuse and estimate the angle.

I am trying to imagine how the interior roads could course up the elevations from level to level with a slope still climbable by a horse. Each level would have to be fairly deep but narrowing as it rose.
It was depopulated by half. In a way, it was becoming a ghost town.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 24 2017, 4:19pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 4:49pm

Post #7 of 184 (6206 views)
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Just playing with trig calc [In reply to] Can't Post

https://www.pagetutor.com/trigcalc/trig.html

I know the path was a zig zag but the ultimate angle is still important.
If the base was 2000' deep the angle would be just shy of 20 degrees.
However, each level is less deep so the angle quickly climbs...if 1000 ft deep...34 degrees.....750' 43 deg.....getting pretty hard to climb as the levels go up...unless they are extremely wide with long zig zag routes. I think you would have to ride to the far end of each level and go up to the next over and over with zig zags within each level.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 24 2017, 4:54pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 6:03pm

Post #8 of 184 (6192 views)
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Kine of Araw [In reply to] Can't Post

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Kine_of_Araw


squire
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 6:24pm

Post #9 of 184 (6194 views)
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Where does "hardier and wilder than any others in Middle-earth" come from? [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't realize there was any other reference to the Kine of Araw than Denethor's and Faramir's explanations of Boromir's horn's origins, in which nothing is said about them being more or less hardy, wild, etc. Do you know where Tolkien Gateway got that additional information?



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Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 6:30pm

Post #10 of 184 (6195 views)
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Wild oxen [In reply to] Can't Post

http://middle-earth.xenite.org/...e-kine-of-araw-live/

Where did the Kine of Araw Live?
by Michael Martinez • November 4, 2011

"... J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the following entry in one of the early drafts for the appendices (published in The Peoples of Middle-earth):

Vorondil. boin 1919 lived 110 years died 2029.
He was succeeded by his son. [Added: Vorondil was a great hunter and he made a great horn out of the horn of the wild oxen of Araw, which then still roamed near the Sea of Rhun.]


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 7:01pm

Post #11 of 184 (6185 views)
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Some elevated real world castles / monasteries [In reply to] Can't Post

Some elevated real world castles....

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/...tle-castle-homes.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/...y-positano-italy.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/...n-germany-europe.jpg


https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/...n-haunted-houses.jpg This one has terraces.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/...e-germany-travel.jpg


squire
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 7:05pm

Post #12 of 184 (6186 views)
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Martinez is always worth reading [In reply to] Can't Post

He knows his Tolkien texts and is clever in his speculative essays.

I would not be as sure as he seems to be that one can substitute a 'rh-' for a 'r-' when tossing etymologies around. There are Tolkien linguists who could probably say something pretty definite about whether "Rhovanion" could really be sourced from "Orome" the hunter Vala. The best source I have access to, the Parma Eldalamberon 17 (online) states that the Rhov- in Rhovanion means 'wild, untamed', while the 'roma-' in Orome's name means 'horn' as in hunting horn (made from an animal's horn, of course).

Thanks for the read. But the essay does not answer my original question, which is where did Tolkien Gateway get the authority to say that the Kine of Araw were "hardier and wilder than any others in Middle-earth"?



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sador
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 7:14pm

Post #13 of 184 (6176 views)
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In the published book [In reply to] Can't Post

In the list of the Stewards in appendix A - the oxen which roam near the Sea of Rhun are said to be descended from the Kine of Araw.
Araw is named there as the Huntsman of the Valar - which is confirmed by the index, in which the entry for Orome ends with "see Araw".

Orome himself is named at the end of "the Ride of the Rohirrim", when Theoden's onslaught is compared to him.


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 7:26pm

Post #14 of 184 (6174 views)
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Check out the footnotes... [In reply to] Can't Post

"Back to pasture, back to mead,
Where the kine and oxen feed!"

― The Hobbit, Barrels Out of Bond[1]
Cows, also known by the archaic plural Kine and occasionally as Oxen, were pasture animals in Middle-earth.

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Cows#cite_note-6

"In an unpublished manuscript held at the Bodleian Library, the Wild Kine were likened by Tolkien to aurochs.[3]"

http://↑ Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 265

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs

The aurochs (/ˈɔːrɒks/ or /ˈaʊrɒks/; pl. aurochs, or rarely aurochsen, aurochses), also urus, ure (Bos primigenius), is an extinct type of large wild cattle that inhabited Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is the ancestor of domestic cattle. The species survived in Europe until the last recorded aurochs died in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland, in 1627.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 24 2017, 7:28pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 7:30pm

Post #15 of 184 (6166 views)
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Horn of Sigismund [In reply to] Can't Post

https://upload.wikimedia.org/...nd_III_of_Poland.jpg

The ornamented horn of the last aurochs bull that belonged to King Sigismund III of Poland

"The aurochs, Bos primigenius, is an extinct wild ox species that ranged across the grasslands of Eurasia and North Africa 11,000 years ago. Domestication of aurochs gave rise to two major groups of cattle; Bos taurus and Bos indicus."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/.../10/151026092912.htm


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 24 2017, 7:32pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 24 2017, 7:32pm

Post #16 of 184 (6167 views)
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Minas Tirith by Karen Wynn Fonstad [In reply to] Can't Post

Below are some illustrations of Minas Tirith from Karen Wynn Fonstad's The Atlas of Middle-earth. Fonstad estimated the city to be about 3100 feet across at the lowest level.



"Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall.” -- The Doctor


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 7:50pm

Post #17 of 184 (6160 views)
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That is helpful...estimates of course...but her diagram shows a possible [In reply to] Can't Post

zig zag path up the mountain.

https://www.pagetutor.com/trigcalc/trig.html

I have her book but it is downstairs from where I am during the day.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 8:10pm

Post #18 of 184 (6148 views)
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Looking at the images [In reply to] Can't Post

It's a wonder Merry wandered as far up & into the city as he did when Pippin found him, vs. wandering lost & dazed in the 1st, lower level.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 8:13pm

Post #19 of 184 (6149 views)
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So I'm not the only math geek here? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've wondered about the actual angle too, though never tried calculating it. It does seem remarkably steep once you put some numbers to it.

And besides the great effort needed to go up a steep hill, there's the "burn out your brakes" danger on a wagon going down a steep hill. But for an author who obsessed over the correct phase of the moon at different times of the story, he probably worked out reasonable angles of ascent for Minas Tirith's roads too.


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 8:23pm

Post #20 of 184 (6144 views)
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My guess is that he did not work out the math.... [In reply to] Can't Post

He envisioned the city and left the rest to imagination. I agree, coming down is the biggest challenge for man and beast. But, with enough zig zagging it can be done with enough lateral space.


squire
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 8:48pm

Post #21 of 184 (6143 views)
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The main road zig-zagged back and forth across the hill-face [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure if you were calculating a road that ran straight up the hillside, but if so you are right that that would be impractically steep.

Tolkien's description seems to say pretty clearly that the road actually went back and forth across the hill-face, penetrating each higher wall at the extreme intervals left and right of the central pier of stone. The road went through the pier as it coursed back and forth, via tunnels.

If we take Fonstad's estimate of the hill-base as being 3000 feet across, then the circumference is that times pi, or about 10,000 feet around (say, just inside the first wall. If the upper gates were staggered 45-degrees left and right of center, that makes a decreasing series of zig-zags starting at 2500 feet distance, and getting shorter as the hill gets smaller near the top. Likewise the height distance between the seven successive walls averages to six intervals totaling 700 feet in height. Presumably the first intervals were greater, because the road had more length to ascend at a steady grade. Say the second interval (wall 2 to wall 3) was 160 feet in height and the road was 2200 feet at that level from 2nd gate to 3rd gate. That gives a grade of 8/110, or just under 8%.

That seems on the steep side to me - doable but quite stressful and exhausting for horse-drawn wagons. But my math, Fonstad's estimate, or Tolkien's imagination may be off.



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squire
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 8:53pm

Post #22 of 184 (6142 views)
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Still checking, still looking [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm just not seeing how a reference to the real-world auroch as an imaginative source for the Kine of Araw enables a secondary reference site to assert definitively that Tolkien said those creatures were the hardiest and wildest cattle-type species in his invented world.

The aurochs were larger than later domesticated species in Europe, but that's got nothing to do with hardiness or wildness.



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Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 24 2017, 9:32pm

Post #23 of 184 (6134 views)
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Unfortunately, other than height the math is all estimated by Fonstadt and [In reply to] Can't Post

anyone else who looks at the problem.

San Francisco has a famous zig zag street...much narrower than Minas Tirith but useful...https://en.wikipedia.org/...reet_(San_Francisco)

"The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry[3] and built in 1922,[4] was intended to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade,[5] which was too steep for most vehicles. The crooked block is perhaps 600 feet (180 m) long (412.5 feet (125.7 m) straightline), is one-way (downhill) and is paved with red bricks. "

An ox here, an ox there, pretty soon you are gored.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/...SEvRm--cx-BkU=s16383

http://www.dangerousroads.org/...s100/caracoles12.jpg

http://www.dangerousroads.org/...pin-turns-roads.html


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 24 2017, 9:42pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 25 2017, 4:36am

Post #24 of 184 (6088 views)
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Played around some more with the calculator and it may not be as bad as thought [In reply to] Can't Post

....just going with 100' walls and 3,000 feet of run per level we get a
very modest 1.9 degrees of slope.

http://www.carbidedepot.com/formulas-trigright.asp

Even if the run per level gets a bit smaller with each level - if we assume Fonstad's illustration is at least possible...I don't think the
run shrinks much and the slope still would be manageable.
At 1000 feet of run the slope is 5.7 deg.
At 500 feet of run the slope is a stiffer 11 degrees.

Anyway, what looked nearly impossible is now reasonable with enough length on each level to get to the next as it zig zags level by level up the mountain.

Who knew a ROTK discussion would lead to trigonometry! It was my favorite math course in H.S. though I don't recall much now - thankfully we have the internet and calculators!


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 25 2017, 4:41am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 25 2017, 11:11am

Post #25 of 184 (6072 views)
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Sleeping on a horse [In reply to] Can't Post

I have ridden horses before though I'm no expert. What I can say is I *cannot* imagine falling asleep on one that is running. But this introduces the magical/fairy tale aspect of the story after the hard realism of combat at Helm's Deep. Gandalf has a magical horse that doesn't allow you to fall off (yeah, right), and it's cool, so I just enjoy the ride with him.

From another angle, I like the character interplay here. Gandalf spent the Fellowship's trek snapping at Pippin when he spoke to him at all. Here he seems like a teacher/uncle/coach/(someone else please think of the right word), and there's a certain intimacy and respect between them.

Not only is Gandalf showing an avuncular side, he's being nostalgic and thinking out loud, so we get more insight into his personality than usual. Not a lot happens in this chapter, but as a detour into characterization, it's a great one.

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