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Minas Tirith Forums » The Hobbit » Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver - How did the Goblin's recognize it?
Author Topic: Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver - How did the Goblin's recognize it?
Roll of Honor Marcho Blackwood - MSS
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We have the following
quote:
Elrond knew all about runes of every kind. That day he looked at the swords they had brought from the trolls' lair, and he said: "These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon's hoard or goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore. Keep them well!"
"Whence did the trolls get them, I wonder?" said Thorin looking at his sword with new interest.
"I could not say," said Elrond, "but one may guess that your trolls had plundered other plunderers, or come on the remnants of old robberies in some hold in the mountains of the North. I have heard that there are still forgotten treasures of old to be found in the deserted caverns of the mines of Moria, since the dwarf and goblin war."

quote:
"He is a liar, O truly tremendous one!" said one of the drivers. "Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave, when we invited these creatures to come below; and they are as dead as stones. Also he has not explained this!" He held out the sword which Thorin had worn, the sword which came from the Trolls' lair.
The Great Goblin gave a truly awful howl of rage when he looked at it, and all his soldiers gnashed their teeth, clashed their shields, and stamped. They knew the sword at once. It had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills or did battle before their walls. They had called it Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver, but the goblins called it simply Biter. They hated it and hated worse any one that carried it.

So how did the goblins recognize the sword? I find it doubtful that if Gandalf couldn't read the runes that the goblins could. Was the chief goblin old enough to recognize the sword by sight? I understand that by the glowing they would identify the sword as an elven blade, but to know it was Biter on sight?
From: Bindbale, North Farthing | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Imbëar
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Greetings!

The Orc-Chieftain could very well be a Great Orc - that is, a Maiar in service to Melkor of Old. It is possible that the Goblin was present for the Fall of Gondolin; and if not that old, then certainly much older than the average Orc.

From Morgoth's Ring, X, 410:
"In any case is it likely or possible that even the least of the Maiar would become Orcs? Yes: both outside Arda and in it, before the fall of Utumno. Melkor had corrupted many spirits - some great, as Sauron, or less so, as Balrogs. The least could have been primitive (and much more powerful and perilous) Orcs; but by practising when embodied procreation they would [become] more and more earthbound, unable to return to spirit-state (even demon form), until released by death (killing), and they would dwindle in force. When released they would, of course, like Sauron, be 'damned': i.e. reduced to impotence, infinitely recessive: still hating but unable more and more to make it effective physically"

Imbëar

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My Little Precious
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I guess the goblins recognized the sword because it had killed so many of them,or maybe they are just observant and have a good memory. []

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Nice Hobbit!

From: Falling slowly into Mount Doom... | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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Imbëar,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the ideas Tolkien penned down in Morgoth's Ring are perhaps too advanced in his writings, especially for the Hobbit. From the Hobbit it does not seem like it was only the Great Goblin who recognized Beater and Biter, but rather all the goblins of the Misty Mountains. "... and they called it..." [sic]

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We could assume that at this stage Tolkien was not very clear about what ancestry the goblins had or maybe the recognition of the sword does indeed signify that the goblins had a more organized way of recording history. The Hobbit does mention a goblin Government of sorts, with a capital and a "council". Would not necessarily mean that they needed to write or read elvish. They could have their own crude methods to record events, especially events of Old, when the goblins were possibly more knowledgable. The orc conversations in the LOTR surely do not make them seem completely unintelligent.

Gondolin was their last triumph in the Olden Days, and their most prized. The fall of Turgon and Glamdring would be a highly acclaimed scene in their historical annals.

From: Middangeard | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tuor
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Perhaps, when Tolkien wrote the Hobbit he was still toying with the idea that orcs were corrupted elves. Working under this assumption, it would be quite natural for orcs to have a lifespan similar to that of Elves.
From: Oklahoma | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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Hello Tuor! Nice to see you here again. Honestly, I was trying to say what you just did. It kind of got lost in that analytical argument. Look hard, you will find it, or not. []
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Bergil the Guard
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and gandalf came later in another age.....so maybe he didn't have the knowledge...or maybe... oh... i don't know realy.....need more time to think.....
From: valinor | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Fabian
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What really bugs me is the simple fact that Gandalf couldn't read elven runes...

If it had been about beeing there, Elrond wasn't either, right?

[ 09-12-2002, 06:52 AM: Message edited by: Fabian ]

From: Sweden, land of... err... stuff. | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bergil the Guard
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his daddy was though.....
From: valinor | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor The Mighty Müsnud
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Perhaps Gandalf could read Elven runes but feigned ignorance in order to find an excuse for Elrond's counsel on the matter...
From: Wichita, KS, USA | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Miz Lobelia
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To expand on Müsnud's line of thinking:

Prehaps this has to do with the way Honor and Kinship is viewed in this society - because Elrond is the great-grandson of the King of Gondolin, it could be that Gandalf, even though he could read the runes perfectly well, left the honor of the official revelation of the swords' pedigree to Turgon's kin.

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Grond
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The Hobbit was written in 1937. The first draft of the Fall of Gondolin was written sometime between 1916 and 1918. Tolkien did not envision ever compiling the works of either the Silmarillion nor did he envision writing the Lord of the Rings when the Hobbit was published. He did, however, want to incorporate some of the writings and ideas he had laid down in his mythology.

The swords Orcrist and Glamdring were historical Goblin-banes and would likely have lived on in legend in Goblin and Orc dens for ages. They probably became even mythological in their own right... much as a boogy-man was to a young child, Glamdring and Orcrist may have been to a young Orc.

[ 09-15-2002, 11:34 AM: Message edited by: Grond ]

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Roll of Honor Marcho Blackwood - MSS
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I agree that the names probably lived on in goblin legends, and that they could have been a type of 'boogy man' for the little goblins. But these swords have specific names. "Once upon a time there was a sword named Orcrist." Okay, great, but there had to have been something distinctive about that specific sword that allowed the goblins to identify it as Biter and Beater on sight. Was it the runes?

I'm not sure that I would recognize a boogy man if it showed up at my front door. And more specifically, these individual swords are named and the goblins recognized them.

From: Bindbale, North Farthing | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grond
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LOL! I must not have communicated my point very well. Just as I can unmistakeably recognise both Dracula and Frankenstein as boogey-men, the Orcs/Goblins would have recognised the (what must have been) destinctive design of these two swords. []
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Imbëar
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Hilt design and blue-glowing blades.

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Imbëar

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Tuor
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For some reason, I thought the glowing blades were inherent Elven attribute.
From: Oklahoma | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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