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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » Who or what is Tom Bombadil? (Page 1)
Author Topic: Who or what is Tom Bombadil?
Earendilyon
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Who/what was Tom Bombadil?
A much debated question and thus certainly worth to be taken into the Library.

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Earendilyon
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I myself don't know what to think about him. Some people suggest he was Iluvatar himself, other think he's a Maia, or a special created being.
Speaking about Tom, who/what was Goldberry?

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The Laurenendôrian
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I think it unlikely that he was Iluvatar, for the following reasons:
-His power, whilst great, was limited to a small area.
-At the council of Elrond, Elrond/Gandalf appear to know who he is, and say that if the rest of Middle Earth was taken, he would eventually fall.
-Iluvatar is always referred to as being in the void. Never once is it even suggested that he could be in Arda.

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Mithrandir
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no, its not Iluvatar, that i think we can be certain. but perhaps...perhaps a special valar sent by Iluvatar to "keep an eye on things" also, Tom's power wasn't limited to one area, he chose to only use it there.
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The Laurenendôrian
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Iluvatar did not send the Valar. They chose to go.
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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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I think Tom Bombadill was the personification of the (or a part of the) earth. In the council of Elrond, Elrond states that if the power to overthrow Sauron was in Bombadill then it would be in the earth itself, which it indictitive of Bombadill's connection to the eath. Put in a nut shell I think that Tom was one of those spirits of nature said to accompany the Valar to Arda in HoME1.(I believe it was HoME1 though I haven't read it in a while.)
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Tinelwen
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I, for one, am convinced that Bombadil and Goldberry were maiar. It certainly seems that he was a nature spirit of some sort, and the same for Goldberry. I am more convinced that Goldberry was a maia because of her title "the River Daughter." To me this represents some sort of connection with the Vala, Ulmo. It seems reasonable, then, that Tom was also of the same race, for it seemed he had many powers that were unusual. One could argue that if he was a maia, the ring would have some sort of effect on him, but I don't think that is necessarily true. Yes, Gandalf was a maia, and he was obviously afraid of the power of the ring, but Bombadil seems to be of a different type than Gandalf. His concerns were not the great matters such as the War of the Ring. He was simply concerned about the welfare of the earth and the living things therein. I haven't exactly worked out all my theory, so there may be some holes. Please don't pounce on me if I made any mistakes cause I'm still working out the kinks.
Great question Earendilyon!! I was just about to post this one myself.

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Mithrandir
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thats true, for Tom's "business" if you will, was not with the Ring, as was Gandalf's, so just because there very different, doesn't mean there both not Maia
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Tinelwen
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Just what were you intending to say there, Mith? I'm sure confused...

This message has been edited by Tinelwen on 03-21-2001 at


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Turgon King of Gondolin
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There is evidence for many things but no matter what something contradicts it that couldn't be mistakes. I think they are nothing mentioned with the book. It was probaly something that he made up not for ME he just put him in without explaining who they are. They are many convincing essays out there but all of those theories have major problems with it.
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Goldberry Slinks Back In
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I always thought that Tom Bombadil was a hobbit. And Goldberry says herself, "I am Goldberry, daughter of the River." So we know she's daughter of the River, but what else? Well, I got them impression from a certain sentence or two that she was elven.

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O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by the living pool. Fair river-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves' laughter!
~Frodo, to Goldberry


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Roll of Honor Gandalf the White
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Tom Bombadil! A hobbit?!? LOL! i dont think so goldberry.... try again

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One ring to rule them all,
One ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
And in the darkness bind them,


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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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Goldberry saying she is the daughter of the river indicates that she too is a Spirit of nature.
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ROSGOL
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Surely Tom Bombadil kept out of affairs with the ring because all other Maia and Vala did in the third age. His and Goldberry's interests lied with the earth more than with matters of rings, which were the interests of the five wizards that were sent to middle earth.
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Mithrandir
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lol! tom bombadil is not a hobbit, he's not anything like that. and uhh, not all of the 5 Isitari were sent to deal with the Ring, only 2 really
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Patchwerk
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I haven't read any of Tolkien's letters yet, but I find it curious that he spends time debating who Tom is tight there in the FotR. That leads me to believe that Tolkien himself had not decided yet. Tom says he is the "first", the "eldest", and was there before the elves. Yet Treebeard is described by Gandalf as the oldest living thing in Middle Earth. And obviously Treebeard and the first ents came after elves were already in the world. So it seems that Bombadil does not fall neatly into the category of living things. What does that make him then? Do Maia count as living things (In Gandalfs statements at least)?
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Roll of Honor Marcho Blackwood - MSS
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Here's a link to an interesting essay, many of the points match things that have been said above.
http://www.cas.unt.edu/~hargrove/bombadil.html

------------------
Marcho Blackwood
#16 Brookshade Close
Bindbale, North Farthing
The Shire


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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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I have discovered that I was indeed wrong and that tom bombadill is not of any race but is simplay an enigma set in the Fellowship of the Ring to spice it up a bit, as supported by Letter # 153:

quote:

I dont think tom needs any philosophizing about, and is not improved by it. But many have found him to be an odd or indeed discordant ingredient. In historical fact I put him in because I had already 'invented' himindependantly and wanted an 'adventure' on the way.

Tolkien goes even goes so far as to say that Bombadill disscusions are a moot point.


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Mithrandir
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Conclusion:
The whole "race" issue of Tom Bombadil is a personal matter of opinion, perhaps he's a spirit of nature, a Maia, a Valar, an Ainur, but the fact remains that Tolkien left his "history" and "backround" a vague mystery, which he himself may not have an answer to.

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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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or rather that it is not known nor is it meant to be known since Bombadill is not a product of the stroy but instead a creation in and of himself.
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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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As for Goldberry not much is said about her background other than she was the daughter of a denizen(someone who inhabits) of the old forest which probably means she is of this world, that is she is one of the children of Iluvatar(elf or men)
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Iarwain
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It has been sujested that both Tom and Goldberry were actually Valar. Amandil posted a link to an essay, which could be the same one as Marcho has posted above. In that essay it suggested that Tom could have been Aule and Goldberry Yavanna his wife. This then would explain why the ring had no effect over Tom. It's only a theory though, although an interesting one. What do you think?
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Mithrandir
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it does seem plausible...though if Tom was Aule...i think they might live near some dwarves or something....
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Roll of Honor Gandalf the White
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i have read every chapter with tom in it over and over and it seems almost definitely that he was a vala, i know some people dont think this and some (as said here) do. at first i though maybe Orome but orome was a hunter and Tom wasnt, is there any possibility it was Manwe himself? i agree that Goldberry couldve been Yavanna but then like said Aule would have to be Tom and i dont think that is correct

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You cannot pass. I am a servant of the secret fire, Wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass.


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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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but Aule had no love for plants like bombadill had and it is said in The Advenures of Tom Bombadil that Goldberry was the daughter of the river-women and as far as I can recall Yavanna wasn't the daughter of anyone except mb Iluvatar
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