Seating arrangements at the Council

Blad The Inspirer

New Member
Throughout this chapter, I keep struggling to picture what this council looks like. Specifically, I am thinking about these three things:

1. What does the "porch where Frodo had found his friends the evening before" look like? Is it entirely open? Does it have a roof? We get a description of the scenery that is visible from the porch, but nothing about the porch itself.

2. About how many people are there? This was discussed somewhat in episode 125, but do we have any guesses on total numbers? Would 15-20 be a good estimate? When Frodo enters I think the word "several" is used a couple of times.

3. How formal is the seating? Are they all sitting in chairs carefully arranged in a circle? Are they seated around a table? Is the seating more relaxed? We are told when Frodo sees Boromir that he is seated a little apart. Aragorn is also said to be seated in a corner removed from the others. Does Aragorn remain seated on his own throughout, or should we assume that he joins the others when the council starts? If he joins them, when does he do so? I don't think Elrond every formally announces the start of the council. If he remains seated apart, and everyone else is carefully seated around a table, I think it would look disrespectful.

I am hoping we can discuss this, as I would really like to come to a consensus on what this scene looks like.


Well-Known Member
I don't think we get enough description to have a good idea of what this scene looked like in detail. Here are some of the things that are described or, perhaps, can be deduced:

1. The porch is, "on the side of the house looking east." Gandalf can look out from it and see the Misty Mountains to the East, "Gandalf fell silent, gazing eastward from the porch to the far peaks of the Misty Mountains." We assume that it can be entered from the outdoors, as Sam and Frodo arrive there the evening before the council from the gardens. It can also be accessed from the house it seems, as Frodo, Gandalf and Sam go back from the gardens into the house on their way to the council. As it is a 'porch', at least one side should be bounded by the house, and it should have a roof. Otherwise it would be a 'terrace', or a 'summer house' or 'gazebo', or 'pavilion'.

2. The people we know are there are: Elrond, Gandalf, Glorfindel, Erestor, Galdor, Legolas, Gloin, Gimli, Aragorn, Boromir, Bilbo, Frodo, Sam (uninvited). So, we know that 13 people were there. We don't know who else, but we do know that "Beside Glorfindel there were several other counsellors of Elrond's household, of whom Erestor was the chief." So, there were others there, but we don't know how many, nor whom. The sons of Elrond would be possibilities, as would Arwen, perhaps other Elves of Rivendell.

3. We know that there was a table, "that stood before Elrond", as Aragorn casts the sword upon it. We know they were generally seated, presumably on chairs (except for Sam who is quietly sitting on the floor in a corner). We know that Boromir, Aragorn, Bilbo, and Frodo all stand up to speak (Frodo stands up when he displays the ring. Unclear whether he stands to tell his tale. Bilbo stands up to recite his "All that is gold does not glitter" poem, unclear whether he stands or sits while telling his tale). It is unclear whether the others stand or sit while speaking. The layout of the seating is unspecified. I imagine they might be arranged in a sort of U-shape, as that would help keep Sam inconspicuous on the floor in his back corner (against the wall of the house?). That would also allow a space in the open part of the U where a speaker could stand. We know that Boromir, "stood up, tall and proud, before them". Although you might say someone standing within a circle of chairs was 'before them', standing in the open part of the U seems more intuitive. The chairs, however, do not seem very neatly arranged or spaced. Frodo is seated next to Elrond. Bilbo is sitting next to Frodo. Strider was sitting, "in a corner alone". Gimli is sitting next to Gloin, and Boromir was, "seated a little apart".

That's about the extent of what I can observe or surmise from the text.

Kate Neville

Well-Known Member
This is one instance where I find the film depiction remarkably on point -- the design of the porch was very nearly as I'd always imagined it.