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Spiders of Mirkwood

Tolkien R.J.J
Spider-person


Feb 26, 11:59pm

Post #1 of 17 (1597 views)
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Spiders of Mirkwood Can't Post

Does anyone know how large the spiders of Mirkwood were?

I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.
J.R.R Tolkien


squire
Asgardian


Feb 27, 2:47am

Post #2 of 17 (1546 views)
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Opinions vary [In reply to] Can't Post

My own impression comes from the description of the spider that Bombur kicks making a "noise like the kicking of a flabby football" (TH VIII). This only makes sense if the spiders are about the size of a football, that is, about 9 inches to a foot long.

People enamored of the monstrous size of Shelob and/or Ungoliant may imagine them larger. But nothing in the writing of The Hobbit requires them to be larger than football size, and of course from any normal person's point of view a 12" spider, not to speak of hundreds of them swarming after their prey, is pretty darned horrific in its own right!



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Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Feb 27, 2:52pm

Post #3 of 17 (1514 views)
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Football? Larger surely! [In reply to] Can't Post

I"m not sure how you equate the sound made when kicking a spider to the size of that spider. Personally, I would estimate that the fully-grown spiders of Mirkwood were at least the size of a large dog--possibly even the size of a pony.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity


Tolkien R.J.J
Spider-person


Feb 27, 7:54pm

Post #4 of 17 (1496 views)
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Very Interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

I never noticed that. Shelob was said to be far larger than any other spiders for sure. In my mind, I had imagined their height to be about to a man's waist.

But if they were around 12 inches, that would explain why starving and for the most part unarmed, dwarves and a hobbit could fight them off so well.

I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.
J.R.R Tolkien


Asger
Spider-person


Feb 27, 10:06pm

Post #5 of 17 (1487 views)
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I imagined their bodies as about one foot [In reply to] Can't Post

But with legs of course somewhat larger. A formidable predator for a Hobbit especially when they hunt in a pack.

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo
www.willy-centret.dk


GreenHillFox
Human


Feb 28, 4:15pm

Post #6 of 17 (1444 views)
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rather at least the height of a man, I think [In reply to] Can't Post

I imagined them also much larger than a football rather at least the height of a man, I thought, because they had the strength to pull up dwarves to hang them on ropes in trees; moreover, they were a menace to Elves and to the woodmen.


InTheChair
Fantastic Four

Mar 7, 1:14pm

Post #7 of 17 (1153 views)
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The would not all be of the same size [In reply to] Can't Post

But vary considerably as spiders do.

Think about Tolkiens tale of Ungoliante, and how drinking the sap of the trees, and eating the light of the Jewels of Formenos, makes her grow quite significantly

So I'm guessing the Spiders of Mirkwood, could be anything from a Football sized abdomen, and then spindly legs and legs and legs onto that, up to sizes almost as long as a Hobbit or more.

Though it was also my impression from somewhere, that none of the could be as large as Shelob, as they were all her children... not sure about that one, but something on those lines.


NottaSackville
Justice League

Mar 8, 2:32pm

Post #8 of 17 (1114 views)
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Football-sized seems about right based on the text [In reply to] Can't Post

I think there's a number of moments in the text that are only reasonable if the spiders have roughly football (American or global footbal) sized bodies. Smaller, maybe, but larger like half a man or a pony doesn't seem likely.


Quote
[Bilbo] beat the creature off with his hands


A hobbit beating a pony-sized spider off with his hands? How would he even reach past the legs?


Quote
To the fattest of bundles the spider went...and nipped hard at the nose that stuck out. There was a muffled yelp inside, and a toe shot up and kicked the sider straight and hard. ...and the enraged spider fell off the branch.


Again, how is a tied-up dwarf going to get past the legs of a pony-sized spider, kick it with his *toe*, and knock the spider off the branch? That sequence only makes sense if the spider is relatively small compared to a Dwarf's legs.


Quote
When about fifty had gone off to the place where he had stood before


OK - imagine 50 pony-sized spiders in a dense forest heading to the same spot in a forest. Or dwarf-sized. Or even hobbit-sized. That only makes sense if 50 spiders don't occupy that much space.

There's additional evidence, such as being surrounded by "hundreds of angry spiders", that I think only makes sense for smallish creatures.

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Mar 8, 4:34pm

Post #9 of 17 (1110 views)
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Maybe not pony-sized. [In reply to] Can't Post

There may be some individual spiders that are much larger than the norm, but maybe we are talking creatures around the size of a medium to large-sized dog.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity


NottaSackville
Justice League

Mar 9, 1:21pm

Post #10 of 17 (1043 views)
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I could buy that // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


the 13th warrior
Spider-person


Mar 15, 8:48am

Post #11 of 17 (873 views)
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Robert E. Howard would say it was the size of a pig.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello O-S, a dog to pony size scale for these spiders sounds credible. there are actually miniature horses too that are only about 3 feet tall, saw picture of a trainer on bended knees looking at the horse, eye level. a great dane is also about 3 feet high or more to its shoulders. so a spider that stood on its eight legs with its head and abdomen about 3 feet off the ground would sound about right. and it would be "a nasty piece of goods" as my dear departed dad,gaffer used to say. Certainly with enough strength to capture and sting a lost helpless dwarf. Some spiders seemed strong enough to capture solo prey and drag it off, But they also would sting and get help putting a large Bombur away.


I threw in a thought from Robert E. Howard creator of Conan the Barbarian since he had Conan battle a giant spider in The Tower of the Elephant story. Howard said his arachnid was the size of a pig with eight big hairy legs. Nearly trapped, the Barbarian threw a large chest of jewels with enough force that it caught the spider in the stomach abdomen and sent it crashing into a wall, crushing its insides.

Also spiders do vary incredibly in size. Tiny wood spiders, the black widow may be about an inch, tarantulas much larger and huge sea spiders too. The Mirkwood spiders portrayed in the Hobbit films look about the right size, shape. In the real world also, the spiders have daddy long legs type, tiny body, huge legs or others with a larger body and head and more compact proportional legs.


Howard and Tolkien gave their spidery creations something in common--fiendish intelligence, cunning, strategy and tactics, and a wise predator sense of caution. No full frontal assaults, can't tell what the target is capable of, hide in the darkness of trees, a cave ceiling, study prey, follow it, track it, then wait for the right moment to pounce. also these creatures have created an amazing network of tunnels, tree top webs, bridges, shortcuts that they know like the back of their 8 legs. The odds against an unwary visitor who wandered into Mirkwood's spider zone would seem to be great and deadly indeed. You're on its turf not the other way around.

The 13th Warrior From the Left Field Caliphate

"From the scroll rooms of Gondor, dusting off cobwebs, keeping a can of Raid handy....."


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Mar 15, 1:59pm

Post #12 of 17 (860 views)
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Yep! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've read REH's "The Tower of the Elephant" and the rest of his Conan canon. His giant spider in that story might well have influenced my impressions of the spiders of Mirkwood, who can really say? I would add, though, that the Mirkwood spiders--while not entirely natural--could probably be considered to all be of the same 'species' or 'sub-species'.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity


N.E. Brigand
Asgardian


Mar 15, 10:01pm

Post #13 of 17 (851 views)
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If the body were football sized, each legs would be about two feet long, no? [In reply to] Can't Post

So that's potentially four feet or more across including the legs.

I agree with squire that modern readers tend to enlarge Tolkien's monsters. Doesn't Tolkien himself describe Shelob as somewhat larger than a lion?


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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the 13th warrior
Spider-person


Mar 16, 11:46pm

Post #14 of 17 (798 views)
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What would Lovecraft do? What about The Angry Red Planet? [In reply to] Can't Post

Spiders were the go to critter for Conan from Howard to the DeCamp and Carter revamping of the books to the Marvel, Dark Horse comic creations, which I have always enjoyed since the days of artist Barry Smith launching the Marvel effort in early 70s. They got over the top with spiders growing huge in size and numbers with Conan jumping on one the size of a truck and planting his blade into its body. Or he'd stumbled into a colony with a huge mother like Aliens laying and hatching eggs.

I wonder how Lovecraft would do with a spider monster. Spiders are very specific, head, body, legs, and Lovecraft seemed to go for the horror of the less defined amoeba like beings that sprouted arms, eyes, heads, or like his dark god cthulu with a squid head, slimy bulky body with claws, tentacles that "shambled, flopped, oozed" its way around on its bizarre limbs.


Don't know if you've seen The Angry Red Planet, low budget sci fi film end if 1950's, a golden era for that stuff. Astronauts visiting Mars encounter various monsters including a huge spider with the head of a bat or rat, fans have debated to this day. It was the size a building and I have to give them credit for getting some scares out of the audience, especially when they colorized the film blood red for lack of a bigger budget and more expensive effects. Sometimes plots used the old gamma ray radiation ploy, exposed to rays, a tarantula or colony of ants grows to a huge size and starts eating. In the movie Tarantula young clint eastwood had a bit part as a fighter pilot who finally napalmed the 8 legged beast. He went onto better things thankfully.

The 13th Warrior From the Left Field Caliphate

"From the scroll rooms of Gondor, reading about arachnids....."


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Mar 17, 2:10am

Post #15 of 17 (789 views)
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Leng Spiders! [In reply to] Can't Post

There were scenes of old wars, wherein Leng's almost-humans fought with the bloated purple spiders of the neighbouring vales.
~ H.P. Lovecraft , The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

The Spiders of Leng were said to be about the size of an adult pony and were sometimes described as being purple.

I have indeed seen the movie Angry Red Planet with it's bat-spider. It showed up on local television quite often when I was a lad.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Mar 17, 2:14am)


CMackintosh
Ant-person

Mar 23, 9:56am

Post #16 of 17 (502 views)
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Shelob's size [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
So that's potentially four feet or more across including the legs.

I agree with squire that modern readers tend to enlarge Tolkien's monsters. Doesn't Tolkien himself describe Shelob as somewhat larger than a lion?


Now, he leaves the details of Shelob's size up to the imagination, saying she was "huger than the great hunting beasts", lions, tigers, leopards, etc. The only feline comparison to Shelob is where he talks of Sauron treating her as his "cat" and giving her prisoners as treats. In relation to the hobbits, Sam is able to stand while beneath her, he is able to run underneath her and slash upwards with Sting. And hobbits are about three and a half to four feet high, so that's how high she stands ordinarily. The rest of her is in proportion.


NottaSackville
Justice League

Apr 1, 12:26pm

Post #17 of 17 (395 views)
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Just watched the animated hobbit from 1977 [In reply to] Can't Post

And those Mirkwood spiders have bodies that are large dog to pony-sized.

Those images may have helped form the idea in many people's heads about the size of the spiders.

There were also just a handful of spiders in the cartoon vs the hundreds in the book.

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville

 
 

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