Double your pleasure! Double your fun! Let’s have double Annunciations?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Here is an observation which I thought to bring up when we reached the Field of Cormallen. However, it came up in discussion at New England Moot, so, I thought I would post it now.

I believe it may be an original ‘Flammifer observation’, as I have never seen it anywhere else. Corey also could not remember having seen it anywhere else.

If anyone has seen it elsewhere, please comment.

I am sure that most know the date of the downfall of Sauron, when the Ring goes into the fire, is the date of the Annunciation.

So, the quest leaves Rivendell on Christmas Day, and the Ring is destroyed on the 25th of March, the Feast of the Annunciation. Tolkien was not kidding when he said, "’The Lord of the Rings’ is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision." (Letter 142).

Less well known, I think (I have never seen this observation before), is that Tolkien celebrates the Annunciation with another milestone event in TLOTR, when Frodo and Sam wake up at the Field of Cormallen and are honored by the assembled host.

This happens on the 7th of April, (our calendar), which is the day in the Gregorian Calendar that the Orthodox Churches that still use the Julian Calendar liturgically, celebrate the Annunciation (7 April, our calendar, is 25 March in the Julian Calendar).

Ah, but doesn’t Gandalf tell Frodo and Sam that it is the 8th of April, when they wake up? Yes he does, but he says, “the eighth day of April in the Shire reckoning”. Tolkien even puts a little footnote to this, saying, “There were thirty days in March (or Rethe) in the Shire calendar,” just to remind us that it is the 7th of April, and thus Orthodox Annunciation, in our calendar.

It was this footnote (an odd footnote, and one of only two footnotes I remember in TLOTR – The other one informing us that ‘Elves (and Hobbits) always refer to the Sun as She’, in ‘At the Sign of the Prancing Pony’.) that led me to the conclusion that Tolkien had decided to celebrate the Annunciation twice in TLOTR, and that the footnote was his clue.

Now, in ‘Sauron Defeated’, Christopher Tolkien includes a note in a draft by his father indicating that he wanted Frodo and Sam to not wake up for a while after they are rescued so that there is time for supplies for the feast to be brought in, and all to be prepared. I’m sure that this may have been part of his thinking. But, I suspect his main objective was to reiterate for a second time the connection to the Annunciation. I think the footnote is a pretty telling clue.

‘Annunciation! Annunciation!’: So good we have it twice!

Why was the Annunciation so important to Tolkien that he had to memorialize with two key events?

Well, that is the day that God became Man, the Word was made Flesh, and Mankind was Redeemed.

But what exactly did Tolkien mean by associating that with the downfall of Sauron?
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Note: I found a third footnote in TLOTR. It is in 'The Scouring of the Shire'. "It was probably Orcish in origin: sharku, 'old man'." (Explaining why Saruman was called 'Sharkey')

Any more footnotes in TLOTR?
 
This is very fascinating (especially has never having celebrated the Annunciation, I am ill-equipped to recognize such dating, but on to the final question:

on footnotes:
looking at the footnotes of my electronic edition there are quite a number of footnotes, though most of them are cross-references to parts of the appendices, and the vast majority are within the non-narrative portions of the book (the prologue and appendices) in the chapters themselves we have only 10. 6 are parenthetical remarks and 4 are simple references to parts of the appendices.

the 6 are:
1) elves (and Hobbits) refer to the sun as she (The sign of the prancing pony)
2) [the sickle*] The hobbits' name for the Plough or Great Bear(Strider)
3) [Baranduiun*] The Brandywine River (Flight to the ford)
4) Every month of the Shire Calendar has 30 days (flotsam and Jetsam)
5) There were thirty days in March (or Rethe) in the Shire calendar (The FIeld of Cormallen)
6)It was probably Orcish in origin: sharku, 'old man'. (The Scouring of the Shire)
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
This is very fascinating (especially has never having celebrated the Annunciation, I am ill-equipped to recognize such dating, but on to the final question:

on footnotes:
looking at the footnotes of my electronic edition there are quite a number of footnotes, though most of them are cross-references to parts of the appendices, and the vast majority are within the non-narrative portions of the book (the prologue and appendices) in the chapters themselves we have only 10. 6 are parenthetical remarks and 4 are simple references to parts of the appendices.

the 6 are:
1) elves (and Hobbits) refer to the sun as she (The sign of the prancing pony)
2) [the sickle*] The hobbits' name for the Plough or Great Bear(Strider)
3) [Baranduiun*] The Brandywine River (Flight to the ford)
4) Every month of the Shire Calendar has 30 days (flotsam and Jetsam)
5) There were thirty days in March (or Rethe) in the Shire calendar (The FIeld of Cormallen)
6)It was probably Orcish in origin: sharku, 'old man'. (The Scouring of the Shire)
Thanks EverBeyondReach!
 

Ragnelle

Member
Why was the Annunciation so important to Tolkien that he had to memorialize with two key events?

Well, that is the day that God became Man, the Word was made Flesh, and Mankind was Redeemed.

But what exactly did Tolkien mean by associating that with the downfall of Sauron?
In addition to the 25th of March to be Annunciation, it is traditionally also the date of the Crucifixion. Since Eater is celebrated not according to date, but the phase of the moon, this is not as readily recognisable, but it was a very early tradition that Jesus died on the day he was conceived. This is because he is the perfect human being, and dying on the same day as one came into the world was seen as part of what made a life perfect.

Especially in the Gospel of John, the cross is clearly the place of victory. All the places where Jesus talks about the Son of Man being lifted up, he is referring to the Crucifixion. The Greek word is ὑψόω (hupsoõ), which has two meanings: to lift up (spatially) and to exalt (increase someone's position, fame, power etc). Both meanings are in play in John, and it also comes into play when he is talking about glorification and glory (δόξα, doxa). John 12:28-33 is perhaps where the link is easiest to see.

The events leading to the downfall of Sauron has echoes (I am hesitant to say parallels) from the Passion stories: Frodo's self-sacrifice and suffering for the salvation of Middle-earth, and the eucatastrophe of the event are perhaps the clearest ones. I would also say that the victory at the moment of seemingly failure is an echo, but there the events are different. The moment of Jesus' death - and thus seemingly failure - is in Christian interpretation in fact the moment of victory. Perhaps best expressed in the Orthodox Easter hymn where it is said that he (as far as I can translate) "with death trod down death". It is not quite the same in LotR since Frodo does fail and the quest is achieved through the eucatastrophe, while in the Christian tradition the death of Jesus is the eucatastrophe (well, the Resurrection is also the eucatastrophe, but it is not connected to the 25th of March).

If we keep to the idea that Middle-earth is our world in pre-Christian times and that the work is fundamentally religious and Catholic, the fall of Sauron can be read as a prefiguration of the defeat of sin and death through the Incarnation and Crucifixion. The date for the downfall links to both those events, and both are closely linked in Christian thought.

In Tolkien's own work, he has events that repeat and echo that way, so I think such a reading is not too far fetched.
 
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