Sonntag, 23. Juli 2017

Saturday, 21 July 2941 T.A.: Is Gandalf going back to Rivendell?

Even Gandalf may not be willing to risk a Beorn-hug here
On this day, in 2941 T.A., the new moon keeps Mirkwood in even deeper nightshade than otherwise. Bilbo and the Dwarves are struggling on on the hidden path. It seems slow going, not only because of the brambles but also because of the up and down slopes that apparently make the way much longer than the mere line as the crow flies would suggest.

Also on this day, Gandalf on Beorn's horse will most likely have reached the Carrock again and fords the Anduin defying the risk of encountering orcs. There is no account of his voyage nor how long it took him nor where he was heading to, and Karen Fonstad does not even speculate about it in "The Atlas of Middle-earth". But as said before: the obvious choice is Lothlórien because it is that stronghold of the White Council which is closest to Dol Guldur, even though otherwise they used to meet in Rivendell - but how would Gandalf get back through the pass even he had just barely crossed a week ago?

The meeting of the White Council and the subsequent attack on Dol Guldur is dated in "late summer" in Appendix A part III. "Late summer" according to whose opinion? For we learn in Appendix D that the seasons had no exact definitions. However, since all dates in LotR (and, retroactively, "The Hobbit") are filtered through the Shire customs, this would most likely mean late summer in the Shire. When that was, of that we have evidence from "The Hobbit" that has to be read properly to have the timetable of the latter half of 2941 T.A. fall into place. For late summer in the Shire is not near the autumnal equinox, as we use to think.

 

Donnerstag, 20. Juli 2017

Wednesday, 18 July 2941 T.A.: Passing the edge of Mirkwood

Mirkwood (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald,
by Greenpeace . Markus Mauthe)
On this day, in 2941 T. A., the Company made its final leg before reaching the edge if Mirkwood. Evidently, they had been slower than Beorn had reckoned, for he had suggested they would reach the border early that day, but in fact it took them till afternoon.

This was the point when Gandalf left them to meet the White Council. He was heading west, towards Anduin, but probably turned south there to reach Lothlórien and persuade the Council to launch an attack on the Necromancer.

Entries into this timetable will now become sparse as news from Mirkwood trickle only. Some events can be computed backwards from the day the Wood-Elves had their celebration which can be dated with some plausibility.

Mittwoch, 19. Juli 2017

Tuesday, 17 July 2941 T.A.: The moon that wasn't there


Something was out of touch with reality near Mirkwood
(Joseph Wrght: Dovedale by Moonlight)
On this day, in 2941 T. A., the Company was out on the third day after leaving Beorn, still heading north while drawing nearer to the edge of Mirkwood. And for the first time, Bilbo noticed that they were followed, not by goblins but by a huge bear. Something strange happened then: "That third evening they were so eager to press on ...that they rode still forward after dusk and into the night beneath the moon."

Since the moon of 2941 T.A. is in sync with that of 2017 A.D., I suggest you go out tonight, if your local weather permits, and look for the moon. Tell me what you saw.

Yes, you are right: there was no moon. Tolkien confessed later that he had not purposefully tried to get the lunar phases in "The Hobbit" straight in the earlier revisions, yet by chance he got them almost right. This is one of the few cases when he did not. For we will have a new moon soon, inevtiably so, with that broad silver crescent seen at Midsummer's Eve, and Bilbo would have seen nothing tonight unless he woke early enough to perceive the thin crescent rising before the sun in the east.

Those three words "beneath the moon" should have been deleted in the 1966 revision.