Episode 198 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Comment on Frodo helping Bilbo with his book:
  • Which book is Bilbo referring to? Is this what will become The Hobbit? The Silmarillion?
  • This seems to refer to what will become The Red Book of Westmarch, as this is a complete guide to all of the doings of the Hobbits in the Third Age, including The Lord of the Rings, eventually.
  • The “Translations from the Elvish” that Bilbo gives to Sam, which is implied to be the source of The Silmarillion, is a separate work that was completed during Bilbo’s time in Rivendell.
  • What will later be published as The Hobbit is described as only a portion of the Red Book, which Bilbo continued working on far after that part of the story was completed, up to the present.
  • Bilbo had already referred to “whole chapters” of story to be written about Frodo’s adventures coming to Rivendell, and Bilbo has since realized that he will not be included in the final story.
  • The crossed out and amended titles seem to reflect Bilbo’s changing idea of the book’s scope.
  • Had the Ring taken another path other than to Mordor, Bilbo’s original happy ending might have stayed the same, at least for a while, until the forces of Sauron overcame the West after all.
  • This is why Bilbo takes on the role of advisor to Frodo as he adds in material in the Red Book.
  • Bilbo actually sees his most important contribution to the preservation of the lore of the Elder Days as having been his “Translations from the Elvish”, as Christopher also later admitted.
  • It seems important that Bilbo includes few poems and miscellanea in the “Translations”.
So, the days slipped away:
  • The description of the natural passage of seasons and time seems to support the idea that whatever power Elrond’s Ring of power possesses, it doesn’t affect their perception of time.
  • Note: In Lothlórien, the Fellowship will have no recollection of the passing of days while there. Sam is very aware of the moon’s normal progress, and it is this that makes him comment on it.
  • This description is similar to what is said about Rivendell in The Hobbit, and good days there, and the hobbits’ attention seems to eventually move from days themselves to the seasons instead.
  • There is a sense of being freed from adult, day-to-day responsibilities and seeing the big picture.
  • Elves are also clearly aware of present moment things and celebrate them, both large and small.
  • Likewise, the hobbits take in the events of each sunrise and sunset, while the days slip away.
  • It seems as though the hobbits are given more of an Elvish perspective on the passage of time, and it seems that there is Elvish power at work here, as the word “virtue” expresses about it.
  • Note: This is use of “virtue” is an older sense of the word, and it means the ability to do a particular good thing. This usage is present in the Gospels of the King James Version, describing the abilities and works of Jesus. Tolkien often uses this meaning of “virtue” throughout The Lord of the Rings, such as in describing athelas. It is also not set up as an opposite of the word “vice”.
  • There is a clear implication that this virtue is the result of the use of Elrond’s Ring of Power.
For a while the hobbits continued to talk:
  • This implies that this discussion continued long after the day of the Council and provides a transition to the experience that the hobbits have in Rivendell thereafter.
  • Frodo was subject to despair in thinking about his losses and sufferings in the far and near past, but the virtue of the land of Rivendell allows those things not to take control over them.
  • Fear and anxiety are premised on future concerns and allowing it power over the present.
  • The power present allows them to be empowered to enjoy the present in spite of the future.
  • The effect is not a strange or unnatural one but rather enhances what might happen naturally.
  • The target of their present enjoyment becomes more and more focused on smaller things.
  • Note: This is a parallel between the allusion in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters concerning the present and its relationship to time and eternity. While useful to compare and contrast Lewis and Tolkien, as they were close friends and often agreed on things, they also had differences of both opinion and focus. Tolkien often alludes or points to concepts in his fiction, while Lewis is known for explaining them in detail in non-fiction, but they are not always in perfect harmony.
  • How can we be sure that this virtue is specifically from Elrond’s Ring? While we know that the overall protection comes from his ring, is this particular phenomenon also from Vilya’s powers?
  • The fact that the Elves have been in that location for so long has also likely imbued the land with its own virtue, as evidenced by Bilbo’s description that it “smells like Elves” in The Hobbit.
  • Note: A similar thing is expressed by Legolas of Hollin, and how the land remembers the Elves.
  • Elrond may have even chosen this particular valley because if it’s inherent virtue, but it seems clear that Vilya has enhanced the virtue, as the effect is described as healing, related to Elrond.
  • This is not just physical healing, but also the spiritual healing that is expressed as returning hope.
  • Note: This also reflects the extent of Frodo’s spiritual injuries at the end of the story, as Rivendell is insufficient to heal him, and he has to go into the West to receive true healing.
  • It shows that Celebrimbor’s intent in making the Elven Rings was to enhance the Elves’ ability to do that which they already wanted to do, like Sauron’s will to dominate went into the One Ring.
  • Note: The Fellowship will have a very different Elvish experience in Lothlorien, where Galadriel’s issues with power and temptation will reveal themselves, showing that Elrond’s use of his ring is probably more measured and with much less desire for domination and control over others.
A star shining red in the South:
  • At the least, this makes Frodo think of the Eye of Sauron, even if it is not literally what he sees.
  • Is this the first reference to the burning eye? Is there evidence that anyone else can see this?
  • Note: What Frodo actually seems to see is the planet Mars, though in antiquity, planets were referred to as stars, alongside the stars, as regular observers called them “wandering stars”.
  • It is Frodo that gives it significance, set against the other natural cycles of stars and moon.
  • Note: There does not seem to be any mythological significance given to Mars within the stories of Middle-earth. However, in the medieval world, it is a sign of ill omen, second only to Saturn. It is somewhat unusual for Tolkien himself to associate celestial bodies with anything negative, as he ties them to Varda and the Valar in general, and thus to Providence, so this is Frodo’s mind.
  • Frodo seems to be free-associating the red star with the Enemy, as it lies in the South, the same general direction of his journey and his ultimate destination, and he feels it is aggressive.
  • Note: This passage could be paired with the image of the star that Sam sees in Mordor. This may also be the introduction to the concept of the Eye of Sauron, separated from the Ring itself, though Bilbo had used it to explain his misgivings about the Ring, and Gandalf to describe Sauron’s power over the Ringwraiths, as though it was a figure of speech. Frodo is not inventing the burning idea, but is intuiting about Sauron, and is already used by his Orcs as their symbol.


Avi Rosenthal

New Member
Any chance the red star could be Antares? It is quite south (declination -26 degrees) and I *think* it rises shortly after sunset in November.