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Parallels between LOTR and other myths

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Parallels between LOTR and other myths

Old 12-26-02, 11:18 AM
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Parallels between LOTR and other myths

I see 2 so far. First is King Arthur. The king's charge at the end of TTT is just like King Arthur's charge against the forces of Mordred. Even the names sound similar.

And Sauron can be compared to satan or one of his demons. He's always trying to divide and conquer and trick others to do his bidding. The Maiar spirits are angels and Sauron is satan who turned evil and is trying to conquer everything. It's pretty close to Paradise Lost.
Old 12-26-02, 12:58 PM
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I don't know how many direct parallels you can make between LotR and other mythic tales. I see many motifs and while there are many Christian motifs, it really can't be described as an allegory like Paradise Lost. I think Tolkien was trying to create a protochristic cosmology and world where the people of england can look back in their prehistory the same way as other mythic works, most popularly Greek/Roman and Norse.

Most of the happenings in Rohan make me think of Beowulf, but I don't think there are any direct parallels. Theoden seems similar to Hrothgar at first, both places have great wooden halls, a hero(es) must come to help with a threat that seems overwhelming, etc. Many details are different from Beowulf however so I wouldn't say they were parallels, just simply motifs.

Does anyone see a link between The Undying Lands and Avalon/Valhalla/etc? I'd like to explore this, but I'm too ignorant in this matter to have a knowledgeable opinion.
Old 12-26-02, 02:57 PM
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LOTR is a brilliant synthesis of many archetypes and myths from many different ages and cultures. That is obviously part of its universal appeal.

However, where things IMO really get interesting is when you realize the currents of esotericism running through the text. Tolkien has religious themes and ancient ideas about the fate of humanity, the purpose of existence, etc., running throughout the narrative. If you take Frodo's journey alone, for example, as a psychological and metaphorical one, it makes the story much more powerful. I think that people can do this primarily on a purely subconscious level if at all.

It is worth remembering in light of this that Tolkien was a traditional Catholic by choice, that he was a combat veteran, and lost his parents at an early age.
Old 12-26-02, 03:48 PM
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There were certainly many influential myths that Tolkien used.

Beowulf: Many paralles there in the sections of Rohan, especially since the palace in Rohan and Hrothgar's hall have the same name, Meduseld. In fact the language of Rohan is basically Old English.

The Nebulengeleid: Both the tale, and particularly Wagner's Ring cycle where the lust for a powerful ring of power helpe bring about the leaving of the Gods from earth. BUt there are even more paralless, from Elbeech, the evil Dwarf who first creates the ring and forever lusts after it to Seigfreid and his helmet if invisibility.

Boromir's funeral is very typical of old Norse and Viking ceremonies.

If you look at the Eldar Edda, all thye names of the dwarvews in The Hobbit come from a list there including the name of Gandalf.

One of the themes of the Kalevala is the existence of an object of power that can benefit the people, but must ultimately be destroyed because it is a thing of evil.

Christianity - particularly Catholicism: Lembas, a Waybread that can sustain a person for an entire day and does so for many of the Fellowship in the book is very similar to communion wafers.

Sauron as evil as he is is a leiutenant of the first dark lord Melkor who would be called Morgoth by Feanor and his children. Morgoth was the most powerful of the Valar (archangels) before he lusted for power and led a rebellion against Illuvatar and was a bane against the other Valar. Much more a Satanic figure.

The Silmarillion describes the making of the Dwarves by Aule. But they were created without Illuvatar's permission. Aule offered to sacrifice his children to Illuvatar as proof of his loyalty and that he did not wish to go against him. But Illuvatar stayed Aule's hand. Similar to the Abraham and Isaac story.

The elves are certainly like the angels of middle-earth whose time has come to leave the world in the care of man.

"The hands of the King are those of a healer." may not end up in the movies, but Aragorn proves his right by healing those that were thought lost. A Christ like power.

Similar to Homer's Oddysey, it is the nurse who recognizes him for who he is first. Aragorn heals the sick in the house of healing when no one else could. And it is believed only the true king can do so. Ullysses is the only one who can string his bow -- well that may be stretching it.

Anyone who draws Anduril the reforged Narsil is said to die unless they are the heirs of Elendil. Similar to the Seige Perilous the chair that only galahad could sit in at the Round Table.

The fall of the island of Numenor is very similar to the legend of Atlantis,especially with the sinking of the island after its corruption by greed and Sauron.

There are plenty more and I'm sure they sure they will come to me later.

Last edited by Harlock415; 12-26-02 at 03:56 PM.
Old 12-26-02, 06:01 PM
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Throw in a little "Robin Hood" and "Joan of Arc," while you're at it.

(You'll understand the Joan of Arc allegory in the next movie, providing PJ keeps that element of the story in there.)
Old 12-26-02, 06:14 PM
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Has anyone thought of Saruman as Osama Bin Laden and the Orcs, Goblins, and Uruks as Muslims? How about the Ring as the Koran and Sauran as Allah?
Old 12-26-02, 06:46 PM
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I thought Hrothgar's hall was called "Herot".
Old 12-26-02, 06:59 PM
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I thought of saruman as one of the angels who allied with satan and the orcs as demons. Just like angels they were beautiful once and then were desecrated.
Old 12-26-02, 09:43 PM
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Originally posted by DarthMarklar
Has anyone thought of Saruman as Osama Bin Laden and the Orcs, Goblins, and Uruks as Muslims? How about the Ring as the Koran and Sauran as Allah?
That's the George W interpretation. I'm sure that other contries conside the US as Mordor which is why I dislike contries taking up the story a an allegory to justify what they do to another whether they are the US or any other country.

Rememmber, Allah is the same god as that of Abraham, Moses, and Joseph.
Old 12-26-02, 10:35 PM
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Christianity - particularly Catholicism: Lembas, a Waybread that can sustain a person for an entire day and does so for many of the Fellowship in the book is very similar to communion wafers.

Good point

...and if you notice, LOTR is one of the FEW movies Christians Critics have left alone and even recommended.

Tolkien was a CHRISTIAN and I forget who told whom about Christianity but C.S. LEWIS was involved. They were friends....

I think Lewis told Tolkien about Christ...but don't quote me.

Anyway, as a Christian I see THE RING respresenting the tempting and corruptive power of SIN. I'm not saying Tolkien was saying THE RING was a representitive of sin, but it's hard not to see the parallels. One way is how Sauron was using the ring to "enslave" Middle Earth much like Sin does to mankind.

Last edited by Giantrobo; 12-26-02 at 10:37 PM.
Old 12-27-02, 01:54 AM
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Actually, just wanted to throw in a little Catholic info...

The Lembas is actually more comparable to the manna bread given to the wandering Jews by God in the book of Exodus, when Moses was wandering around in the desert for forty years. People could eat of that bread and not hunger, although eventually the people complained about even the satisfactory "filling" bread (I would too, after forty years of it), similar to the Hobbits.

I don't think there's ever been any belief in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that you could eat of the Communion Wafers, or "Bread of Life", and be filled in a physical sense. The "Body of Christ" has always referred to filling in a purely spiritual sense, and the need for spiritual nourishment, and only in combination with a desire to open your heart to God and speak/listen to him during this consumption, thus the term "Communion".

Any really devout Catholics out there can please correct me, but this was all basically what I understood from what the organization of the Church professes.

P.S. -- Personally, I've always thought that from Tolkien's point of view, the Ring represented the dangers of technology -- that it would start out helpful, and used for the purposes of good, but grow into an unmanageable evil that would disrupt and destroy the natural order of things.

**And before you ask, no, I was never molested by a priest, although we did have a priest in my area (when I was much younger) who was caught playing strip poker with some local teens. Just another reason why I'm a firm believer that priests should be allowed to get married, and get rid of all that damned sexual frustration.

Last edited by Moogz; 12-27-02 at 01:57 AM.
Old 12-27-02, 09:33 AM
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Originally posted by Giantrobo

Tolkien was a CHRISTIAN and I forget who told whom about Christianity but C.S. LEWIS was involved. They were friends....

I think Lewis told Tolkien about Christ...but don't quote me.
Stop. reverse that. Tolkien led Lewis to Christ. Prior to their deep friendship developing into a discipleship encounter, Lewis was a adamant agnostic (and close, according to most, to outright atheism).
Old 12-27-02, 09:36 AM
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As to the topic at hand, most critic seem to believe that the Middle-Earth mythos was an attempt by Tolkien to adapt the Kalavalla (sp.??) to the English territories... The Kalavall is a indigionous scandanvian epic oral tradition (I believe either norwegian or finnish in origin).
Old 12-27-02, 09:39 PM
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Originally posted by wlmowery
Stop. reverse that. Tolkien led Lewis to Christ. Prior to their deep friendship developing into a discipleship encounter, Lewis was a adamant agnostic (and close, according to most, to outright atheism).


Thanks for clearing that up.

in my defense, I did say I wasn't sure what happened but I knew something had happened.

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