Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings Under The Light Of Old Myths And Legends

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Midgard was a place where the wars between ”light” and evil took place and also Middle-earth is same. Two places were influenced by Norse mythology, but the names are ”Mirkwood” and the ”Misty Mountains”. Mirkwood is an enchanted jungle full of all kinds of bizzare creatures, giant spiders, and just like Mirkwyd in one of the Norse myths. Misty Mountains take place in the Edda. In the story, a hero, Skirnir, has to pass by them, and he has to battle with Giants and Trolls who inhabit in caves. A similar situation appears in Tolkien’s stories. The Misty Mountains are the obstacles between the main characters and their aim or tasks.

In Norse mythology, swords have certain names, that makes them more than ordinary items. They’re more like creatures. Tolkien also gives names to the swords in his stories. “…and the bright blade of Andúril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. ‘Elendil!’ he cried. ‘I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn…’”

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Rings were always one of the crucial parts of Norse mythology, and also very pecuilar in the legends of the Edda. In both, myths and Tolkien’s story, rings are metaphors for strongness and being invincible. The ring is the reason of almost all battles in the stories, and it is the most important weapon.

“ Tolkien’s characters and races were strongly influenced by Norse myths as well. In the Hobbit the most important races from the Norse mythology are the Dwarves, Dragons and Giants, whereas the ones in The Lord of the Rings are Elves and Rohrim. There are also a lot of other races like Orcs, Trolls, Werewolves, and Eagles, important for both of these works.”

Other creatures that Tolkien narrates are giants and dragons. Both in Tolkien’s story and Norse myths dragons live in the caves , guarding ”precious” things, and they can only be murdered by harming in their stomach, for it’s their weak spots. Furthermore, Tolkien could have inspired by Celtic myths, because these stories have dragons too. Giants were also crucial part of Greek myths. Also, Tolkien uses Melkor as the representation of Satan.

“Another similarity is the fact that both Gandalf and Odin are leading people into the battles and helping them however they can. They are wise, can use magic, are always on the road and death is not unknown to them. Odin hanged himself on a tree and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings dies in the Mines of Moria, while fighting the daemon from the shadows – Balrog. Not only do they both die, but they also return from the dead, wiser and more powerful. Gandalf’s horse named Shadowfax is the king of all horses in Middle-earth and his ancestors were the horses from the west. Odin had a similar horse called Slepnir. ”

Celts had been the native British people before Saxons and Romans took their language and legends.

“ A prime example of such a pairing in the Celtic tradition is that, In Celtic literature, a king marries a sovereignty goddess and if the marriage is successful the land itself becomes fertile and the kingdom prospers. True, this is a relatively universal concept, but it is especially important in Celtic myth, where “the idea of sovereignty personified as a divine female is an extremely persistent tradition in early Irish myth.”

The disappeared race is The Ents in Lord of the Rings. They disappeared because of the fact that there are no Entwives to be with, and there is no chance for creation of maintaining life.

“ The hobbits are Tolkien’s unique contribution to the people of Middle-earth. Hobbits share many characteristics of the icelanders of the famous family sagas. Both have an exaggerated sense of hospitality. ”

For instance, Bilbo insists on the subject of eating , for the dwarvs. Both hobbits and the people in the myths of Icelanders like nice clothes. Hobbits are dressed in vivid colours, green and yellow, and Icelanders wears blue-black silk gowns, fur cloaks, silver and gold , and good armours.

“ Many types of sagas were -written: historical sagas, such as the Heimskringla (history of the~ kings of Norway), the Faeroe and Orkney islands sagas, and the Saga of the ]omsvikings. Sagas olden times concerned themselves with the legends and myths of former times. The Volsunga Saga and the Saga of King Heidrek, which Christopher Tolkien translated, are two examples. Lying sagas were stories about far away places and creatures – genU, dragons, magic carpets; Tolkien did not seem much interested in these. Most successful artistically and most , influential on Tolkien and all others who have read them are the family sagas.”

Like the Otherworld in Celtic mythology, Valinor, locates in the Western but can not be seen by the mortals.

“ This fact was shown in Legolas’s song of the sea:

To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,

The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.

West, west away, the round sun is falling.

Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,

The voices of my people that have gone before me?

I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;

For our days are ending and our years failing.

I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.

Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,

Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,

In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,

Where the leaves fall not: land of my people forever! (The Return of the King)”

The date is the most obvious symbolism of Catholicism in Lord Of The Rings. The date that Frodo and the fellowship set out from Rivendell is 25 of the December. That day is the beginning of Frodo’s task, and its the date of Jesus’s task’s starting. On March 25, the Ring had been destroyed, and Frodo’s task had been finished.

Elfheim is a part of Asgard. It is the place of the Light Elves. That Elves live with the Aesir and are strong warriors and magical beings.Tolkien took over the Light Elves and their home and gave to them the language, Qenya.

“ The magic Ring is always a main subject in discussions about the relationship between Norse and TolkiensMythology. Rings (magic and normal ones) are present in most legends of the Edda. The most magicalones were Draupnir (the magic Ring of Odin) and the Ring of the Niflungs. Both of these were forged byDwarves. Neither of these Rings had similar powers as the One Ring in Tolkiens LotR. Tolkien himself stated once that both his ring an the Ring of the Niflungs were round; and that the similarity ceased there.So I don’t want to look for similarities where none were intended.”

In Legend Of Edda, a riddle contest takes place in ”Lay of Vafthrudnir”. There, Odin challenges the giant Vafthrudnir to find out how far wise the giant actually is. This contest is similar to the one of Bilbo and Gollum.


When Lord Of The Rings is evaluated under the light of mythological concepts, especially Norse Mythology, it is seen that Tolkien inspired by them and rewrote these stories and legends in a new context and he created a new world from them.

Works Cited

  1. Bence, Petra. “ Nordic and Germanic Myths and Legends in the Work of J. R.R. Tolkien ”
  2. Johnson, Sean. “ Fog on the Barrow Downs: Celtic Roots of Tolkien’s Mythology ”
  3. Clair, Gloriana. “An Overview of the Northern Influences on Tolkien ‘s Works   


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