Why did Strider insist that Bilbo give Earendil a green stone?


Well-Known Member
I wondered if the properties attributed to Emeralds in either Medieval Lapidaries, or in the Bible, might illuminate this question?

Medievals thought that Emeralds had some properties which might be useful to Earendil?

  • Helps travelers resist exhaustion and mitigates the fatigue of travel
  • Reduces or eliminates impatience
  • Resists the Devil
The Bible (if you believe that Ezekiel 28:13 is referring to Lucifer - which most do) lists Emeralds as one of the 'coverings' of Lucifer. Lucifer, 'mornng star' in Latin, relates to Earendil. However, the Ezekiel verse states that 'every precious stone' was the 'covering' of Lucifer, and names most of them, so, there is nothing very special about Emeralds in this regard.

So, I don't think there is much to go on in Medieval or Biblical references about Emeralds that can help to tell us why Strider might have made this baffling addition.

I remain, like Prof. Olsen, uncertain as to how we should read Strider's insistence on a green stone.

Has anyone had any good ideas?


Staff member
I always thought it was a reference to the Elfstone. I know there are a couple of different versions of the history of the Elessar, and I don't know what Tolkien's thoughts on that were when he wrote that line. Meaning...it is entirely possible that he invented the elf-stone because Aragorn insisted on a green stone here ;). Rather than this being a reference to the stone Galadriel gives Aragorn later in the story.

Though it is true that Glorfindel left a beryl on the bridge for him as a sign not that long ago in the story, and this might be connected to that instead.



Well-Known Member
Here's what it is for me.

Bilbo is taking a story that the Elves would know intimately as one of their own stories, and flipping it and telling it as a Mortal story (cheeky!). The Elves, in the person of Elrond, have a sort of immediate ownership of the Earendil story. The green stone is a declaration that Men, even Men in the world today, have ownership of the story as well - it's not as immediate, but it's still real.

Kate Neville

Well-Known Member
The Ring of Barahir also has emeralds in the eyes of the serpents. A gift from Finrod Felagund, its design is the emblem of the house of Finarfin, to which Galadriel also belongs. Although the original Elfstone belonged to Idril and then Earendil, the one which Aragorn eventually wore came to him from Galadriel to Celebrian to Arwen and back to Galadriel. The Noldor (Galadriel, Finrod, Idril, Glorfindel among others) were the original jewel-makers also, and the closest in friendship with the three houses of Men during the First Age. Maybe it was meant to be a reminder of the ancient ties between Men and Elves, and that Earendil belonged to both Kindred.

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
I find myself reminded of the most amazing green stones I have ever seen. In the American Museum of Natural History they have a slice of a pallasite stony-iron meteorite. This is a space rock that formed near the boundary between the iron core and the rocky crust of a proto-planetary object, which collided with another in the early solar system and broke up into millions of pieces. Greenish olivine crystals are embedded in a solid iron matrix. This picture is of a different sample, and does not really do it justice:

Of all the exhibits I saw on my last visit to the museum, this is the one that had the greatest impact for me.

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I think Aragorn insists on the green stone being added to the poem because of the prophesy that he will be called Elessar. He knows that his time has come, that now the sword will be reforged, and that what is going to be decided there in Rivendell will either fulfill the prophesy or destroy all hope. So he wants Bilbo to put the symbol of all his hopes into this poem about the human ancestor of the line of the Kings.