Ancestral Praise?

Not sure what to make of this question, but I notice that elves tend to celebrate specific ancestors like Earendil, Elbereth, Gilgalad, etc. I can’t help but think that there is more than simply an “honour your ancestors” thing since they don’t seem to do this for “all” their ancestors. Dwarves also seem to do the same; Men also. These folks appear to be revered, almost worshipped. I could be wrong but Hobbits don’t seem to do this.
My thought/question is two-fold: first, does the complexity and sophistication of these cultures lead to this type of “praise” (Hobbit culture is “simpler” so their mythos/praise/worship is missing this element)? And second, could this be a religious/spiritual injection given the removal of explicit references to “God” in the story?
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
Well, Elbereth is not an ancestor, but one of the Valar (the Powers), who are Eru's (God's) appointed representatives in Arda.

While the Hobbits don't seem to worship ancestors, they do have reverence for certain historically important figures:
Marcho and Blanco who found (and founded) the Shire with the permission of the King in Annuminas
Bandobras 'Bullroarer' Took who defeated the goblin leader Golfimbul averting an invasion of the Shire
Gerontius 'The Old' Took who lived to a great age and had many children that married into the other great houses of the Shire (something like an analogue to Christian IX of Denmark, or Queen Victoria of the UK)
and in the times following the War of the Ring:
Pippin (The Thain of the Shire), Merry (Master of Buckland), and Sam (Mayor of the Shire)


They seem to have lost most knowledge of their history prior to the Shire, so to me it seems equivalent to the Elves and Men who also remember 'the greats' with reverence, just with shorter scope.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Aaron,

Your question seems related in some respect to Beech27's post in the 'Questions for Narnion' forum, entitled 'Everything is diminishing - except the readers' interest'.

Beech wonders why the heroes of the past seem to be more powerful and potent than those today in Tolkien? Especially as illustrated by Elrond's speech at the Council, where he emphasizes the glory of the heroes of the Last Alliance, and then compares them unfavorably to the heroes of the War of Wrath, and seems to suggest that modern times have no heroes to compare to either.

Now, the Shire, of course, has not had the necessity for many heroes. It is a peaceful place. It has been mostly such for a long long time. It has been protected (unbeknownst to its inhabitants) by the Rangers from most external threats.

So, the ancestors most likely to be reverenced are heroic ancestors, but the Hobbits have had few occasions requiring the response of heroes.

Where such occurred, the Hobbits remember them. Such as Bullroarer Took.

Elves and Men and Dwarves in Middle Earth have had more heroic characters in their more dangerous and desperate histories. And, have tended to mythologize them more.

I am sure that if you think about your own ancestors, the ones you may remember, or tell stories about, are the ones who did something significant, or achieved some high status position, or did something heroic. Well, the Hobbits do remember those people. It's just that the circumstances of the Shire are that there have been few significant accomplishments (though Old Toby Hornblower is certainly remembered for perfecting pipeweed), there are some status positions, though not particularly meaningful (still, the holders of the titles of Master of Buckland, Thain of the Shire, and Mayor of Micheldelving are all noted), and heroes have been thankfully rarely required (though Bullroarer Took is still known and respected).
 
Top