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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » Who or what is Tom Bombadil? (Page 6)
Author Topic: Who or what is Tom Bombadil?
The Witch-King of Angmar
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Gandalf wasn't stupid; he knew that he couldn't use the Ring without becoming worse than Sauron. So why would it overpower his good sense? It's because the Ring's power was greater than his own-- and he knew it.
Tom obviously didn't want Wights or other nasties crossing his borders-- the Ring could give him that power, but he didn't want it.

The only answer could be, then, that Tom was stupid, and didn't care that he'd be overthrown. This wasn't it-- Tom was no fool.

Gandalf stated that Tom was "under no enchantment but his own;" if he was a Maiar of Lorien, then he'd be under Lorien's enchantment.

Finally, there's Tom's and Goldberry's own words: when Frodo asks Goldberry who Tom is, she simply answers "he is." This indicates a primal god-like spirit-- not a secondary one.
Likewise, Tom is unable to answer; if he was a Maiar of Lorien etc, he'd simply say so; he wasn't under any obligation to keep his identity secret, like Gandalf was.

As such, Tom is definitely an enigma-- possibly like an Earth-Vala, like Ulmo was the sea-vala; likewise, Goldberry and the River-woman would be maiar of his people, as water is to the earth. As such, Bombadil has a close bond with Farmer Maggot-- while Sam seems to sleep the most soundly at Bombadil's house.
Even the Council states that Tom could not withstand all the forces of Sauron in the end, "unless such power is in the Earth itself."

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Madomir
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quote:
Tom obviously didn't want Wights or other nasties crossing his borders-- the Ring could give him that power, but he didn't want it.
He also didn't need it, neither wight nor nastie were crossing his borders and prancing on his hills. He could deal with the wights or anything else that came along so why bother with the ring?

quote:
Gandalf stated that Tom was "under no enchantment but his own;" if he was a Maiar of Lorien, then he'd be under Lorien's enchantment.
Do you make this stuff up? Why would Tom be under an enchantment? Olorin was a Maia of Lorien, was he under an enchantment? What about Sauron, Saruman and even Feanor, were they under Aule's spells? There was a mentor type thing working, a student-teacher relationship, in some cases a master-servant arrangement. But i don't recall reading about the Vala casting spells on the Maia for everlasting obedience.
quote:
Finally, there's Tom's and Goldberry's own words: when Frodo asks Goldberry who Tom is, she simply answers "he is." This indicates a primal god-like spirit-- not a secondary one.
Again i think you're reading too much into things. You is, I is, we all is, other than you none of us consider ourselves primal god-like spirits, we simply exist, as does Tom.

quote:
Likewise, Tom is unable to answer; if he was a Maiar of Lorien etc, he'd simply say so; he wasn't under any obligation to keep his identity secret, like Gandalf was.
Why do you assume Tom was unable to answer? I think he simply didn't. Let's follow your logic through, if Tom were a Maia he'd say so. Well then, if he were of the Vala he'd say so. Or if he were Maglor or a monkey he'd say so. The point is he didn't say what he was, but from that non-answer you've eliminated only the Maia possibility. I must be missing something.

quote:
As such, Tom is definitely an enigma
I don't know what Tom is, i have my theory but it's no more than that. One thing i do know however is that Tom isn't DEFINATELY anything, if he were, it wouldn't have taken MT 6 pages of discussion to figure it out.
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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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Maybe this should be in the Languages of Arda Forum, but I thought I might have stumbled upon a wordplay of the Professor's which may provide some clues as to Bombadil's nature and/or purpose. Bear with me.

I've been exploring possible meanings behind the name "Bombadil" for a while, without much satisfaction. This is speculation I posted some time ago on another board:
quote:
[Bombadil] may not even be an Elvish word, but some Valarin or Avarin variant, which would render any postulations completely moot since Tolkien did very little work on these languages. But I've tried to work around what to me seems to be the clearest Elvish element in the name: -dil, which means "lover" as in Amandil, "Lover of Aman", Elendil, etc.

The "Bomba-" part then may have something to do with "mbar", meaning "land", "home", or "Earth". And "Bor" meaning "enduring" (voro in Quenya).

So, one could break it down thusly:

Bombadil = "Bor-umbar-dil" or "Servant of the Enduring Earth", "or some such. Completely conjectural, I'm afraid. But like Goldberry = "Golodh-Bereth", "Queen of Flowers", it's got some mileage...

And as for "Tom", that's either a Hobbit addition (I personally believe that one of his tasks is to look after the Hobbits, and he may have been revered by proto-Hobbits on the trek across Eriador to what would become the Shire), or it's from Entish. Remember, he's pretty tight with the Onodrim. Perhaps it's derived from the root primitive word Tub / tumbo meaning "on or among hills".

OK.

Now, I happened to be reading up on the Caliphate of Cordoba in Wikipedia when I came upon this rather curious-looking name which suspiciously resembles "Bombadil":

Boabdil

Upon further investigation I learned that Boabdil is a corruption of the Arabic name "Abu Abdullah". Abu means "father" and "Abdullah" means "servant of Allah" -- both of which remind me of the Sindarin name for Bombadil: Iarwain Ben Adar, which means something like "Eldest according to the Father". I've presumed "Father" here meant Eru.

So a trifling speculation perhaps, but certainly food for thought. After all, Tolkien seems to engage in wordplay from time to time, particulary with names like Beorn, Gollum, Radagast, etc. Also, if the name originated solely from Tolkien's non-Arda writings, perhaps he found something meaningful in the name Boabdil.

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The Lurker
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A side note in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil says about Tom's name,
quote:
Indeed they [the Bucklanders] probably gave him his name (it is Bucklandish in form) to add to his many older ones.
With this being the case it would then be Kuduk(ic?) in form and not Elvish.

[ 02-28-2006, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: The Lurker ]

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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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That's really interesting to learn that Bombadil was part of Bucklander lore... I wish I could find more clues in the little we know of Kuduk-Westron.
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Galin
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quote:
... both of which remind me of the Sindarin name for Bombadil: Iarwain Ben Adar, which means something like "Eldest according to the Father". I've presumed "Father" here meant Eru.
I would say Iarwain means 'Old-young [-new]'
Ben-adar 'without [lacking] father'

For Iarwain compare Narwain *New-fire.

Galin

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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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Galin, glad to see you back on MT. []
quote:
I would say Iarwain means 'Old-young [-new]' [...] For Iarwain compare Narwain *New-fire.
Are you sure that's the right construction? Narwain (according to the Dragon Flame dictionary) is nar + gwain. In Ardalambion, the -wain in Iarwain is considered to be a superlative suffix. There doesn't seem to be any other instances in which -wain appears except in those two words.
quote:
Iarwain Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless. ~ "The Council of Elrond", FOTR
Could it be that the root iaur is mutated to (or from, if the name has Primitive Elvish and/or Old Sindain roots) iarw- and the suffix is merely -ain, some sort of plural ending the means something like "of all"? "Old of all"= Iarwain

As for ben, I've been confusing it with the word as it appears in the King's Letter:
quote:
erin dolothen Ethuil, egor ben genediad Drannail erin Gwirith edwen.
Here it means "according to" or "in the reckoning of". But now I see that the "ben" in Bombadil's name means something more like "without", as mentioned in Elrond's quote: Ben-adar "without father / fatherless". (Though I can't find any other evidence of pen=without)

[ 03-01-2006, 04:18 PM: Message edited by: Silmahtar ]

From: Vinya-Tárilos | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Galin
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We now have a statement from Tolkien on the first part at least (Iarwain 'old-young'). In The Lord of the Rings we have both Quenya Narvinye and Sindarin Narwain for 'January' and of course examples Vinyalonde 'New Haven' and Envinyatar 'the Renewer'. So *gwain probably can do for 'new, young' I think.

PEN can be found in The War of the Jewels if I remember correctly.

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Q
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As to who Tom was to the Hobbits, I think there might be something worth exploring.
I think that Tom could have fathered the first hobbits, not actually biologically, but fostered in a way...or maybe both because where did hobbits come from anyway?
Here are reasons for this:

1. When Frodo asked him who he was, Tom told Frodo who hobbits are: the young. And then he said about himself that he was old.

2. His height is not much taller than Hobbits yet smaller than men's.

3. He liked to stick feathers in his hat, which means that he likes to travel, and so obtains things from his travels. The earliest hobbits travelled more than later ones because the earlier ones were Stoors.

4. He lived in a house but spent most of his time outside on the hills...which is a step away from making your house in one. He also knew how to get into one of them pretty easily, into a barrow. It was unmarked and had no visible entrance, yet Tom knew how to get inside of it like he wasn't even thinking about it.

5. Tom probably hid the fact that he was their father, because if they knew this than there would be alot of visitors at his house. For one, he didn't want that as it would be too crowded. For another, anyone else who settled in his location would have been flooded because the rain comes straight down where he lives, and lasts for days at a time. He would be on the highest hill, where they would make theirs on lower hills that the rainwater could get to.

[ 03-12-2006, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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And don't forget: Tom married the Daughter of the River, and hobbits live next to rivers-- which is one step short of being married to their daughters.

Seriously Mandy, I thought you were off the deep-end with this stuff, but now I realize I was wrong: you're clearly diving the cliffs in Acapolco!

Tom: "Frodo-- I AM YOUR FATHER!!!" []

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Q
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And as a matter of fact, I believe Tom raised his hands when he sung at the barrow downs.

Frodo probably raised his hands when doing a song and dance at the Prancing Pony.

Big people don't really need to raise their hands when singing because it would appear frightening instead of cute when a little person does it.

I'm sure that river daughters would marry men who are afraid of the water, then their decendants wouldn't have trouble in it...Frodo could have swam to Mordor! :O)) (double chin)

[ 03-14-2006, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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[]
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Q
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Hobbits also had a kind of slang that roled off the tongue, the kind that bombadil used in generous amounts. At first hearing Frodo thought that Tom was singing nonsense sentences, but after another few lines he picked up on it like it was another dialect of hobbit nonsense (slang I mean).

His stature wasn't really as high as it appeared because wearing large yellow boots would make anyone look bigger...it's once you sit down that matters. If your eyes are level with other people's then you are actually the same height. That's why he never took his boots off in the presence of the hobbits, otherwise he wouldn't be able to appear giant by bending down to look at them.

When the first of the hobbit women wanted to model the dress of Goldberry their vission probably blurred because of the swish and sway of it, so they saw the cow dirrectly behind her instead.
But, after making this fashion mistake it would be impossible to fix a dress like this that was made for a hobbit, because you'd have to unbutton the dress first, and that would be hazardous indeed because hobbit women were enormous and the dress would be propelled off of them and get sucked out the hobbit hole.

[ 03-21-2006, 02:16 AM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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Wetwang
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MANDOS, you're rambling incoherently again! []

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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Again? You mean he stopped?
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Q
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That seems to be your favorite thing to say Wangy.
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Wetwang
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Well at least it's 'coherent' MANDY []
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A real waste of pixels, that one.
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Q
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More reasons why Tom is the father of the hobbits...

1. If hobbits had originally stayed in Tom's land, than they would have to learn how to find wild ponies (which no hobbit could do)...which they would have easily learned if Tom was their father and taught them how. Tom found four ponies, plus a wild one, in no time.

2. Hobbits were good at tying knots, as they had packs on their ponies which they lived off of for awhile...their stuff was fashioned on the ponies so well that they couldn't untie it from the ponies before they needed to leave in haste, and thus had to walk on foot. That would be good rope and knot tying work. But Tom was so good at tying them that he could untie knots that weren't even in ropes. He opened a knot in Old man Willow large enough for a hobbit to fit through, and these were the larger hobbits.

3. Why could anyone in Middle Earth call on Tom for help (as he says that he is the master before the big people came), but to hobbits he was only incharge of everything west of the misty mountains? It would be like saying that anyone in the world could get help from the ruler of California, but Californians wouldn't be protected beyond it's borders. This lack of protection by Tom meant that he would only take care of hobbits if they remained in the western lands, or in the Shire, which means that he didn't want them going past the misty mountains. This is a fatherly instinct, as he would let anyone else go wherever they wanted to, except for hobbits. Although he did know that they were going to the house of Elrond, he didn't know that a decission would be made there that would send the hobbits into the eastern lands. So once he knew this he let Gandalf baby-sit his decendants for him.

[ 03-28-2006, 04:00 AM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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Talan
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I've never seen such tremendous leaps or tenuous evidential associations in a single post...
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What else would you expect from the king of the incoherent posts? Not satisfied with wrecking a thread with a single massive crock, he does it multiple times and wonders why no one wants to respond, leading to another hijacked thread.

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Sass this hoopy hobbit frood who really knows where his towel is!

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Mithrennaith
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Indeed, an incoherent richdom of insufficently considered ideas leads to a paucity of discussion.
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
More reasons why Tom is the father of the hobbits...

Tom: "Frodo-- I AM YOUR FATHER!"

[ 03-29-2006, 09:11 PM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Belthronding
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Fear not, Mandos. You keep the board lively and interesting.
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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Yes-- we're not laughing at you: we're laughing TOWARD you!
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Create a New Topic  Reply to this Topic Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » Who or what is Tom Bombadil? (Page 6)
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