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Minas Tirith Forums » Reference Material » The Betrayal of Mim
Author Topic: The Betrayal of Mim
Roll of Honor Thorin
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Okay, I'll admit it. I always kind of liked Mim. He seemed an unfortunate character. He simply wanted to gather roots for his family, and that cost him his son, his freedom, and his home. Mim was nasty at times, but when his wrongs were acknowledged he softened his tone. He was repeatedly in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it cost him.

But in The Children of Hurin he becomes a much more sinister character. When Amon Rudh was betrayed, it was because Mim purposely sought out the orc scouts that were in the area. It is a dramatic shift. Instead of just being passively caught in the paths of others, he becomes an active agent of evil. It's quite a major shift, and a bit disheartening for those of us who are fond of dwarves as a whole. What do you think?

By the way, sorry I don't have the CoH with me at work so I'll have to post the relevant passages tonight if no one beats me to it.

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Eluchil
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So, let's do it :
quote:
But Mîm was aware of the presence of Orcs in the lands about Amon Rûdh, and the hatred that he bore to Beleg led him now in his darkened heart to an evil resolve. One day in the waning of the year he told the men in Bar-en-Danwedh that he was going with his son Ibun to search for roots for their winter store; but his true purpose was to seek out the servants of Morgoth, and to lead them to Túrin's hiding place.*

* [footnote] But another tale is told, which has it that Mîm did not encounter the Orcs with deliberate intent. It was the capture of his son and their threat to torture him that led Mîm to his treachery.

As I already said, Christopher doesn't explain in the appendix this footnote, the only one in the whole text, and we are left with our suppositions.

Here's what I suspect : the text version is probably an old one, to be linked to the evil Dwarves of the earliest phases of the Legendarium. The footnote could then be a later "question mark" hypothesis in the margin of Tolkien's paper, as he did very often. Perhaps Christopher couldn't decide which version he would take on board, hence de result in CoH.

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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But how much later could that "question mark" be? In 1937 there were "wicked" dwarves described in The Hobbit.

[ 04-19-2007, 10:36 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Eluchil
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Good question, and I will answer without any certainty that it could belong to the 50's, when Tolkien was revising the end of the Narn. It seems reasonnable to me, but how can we be sure ?
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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I wonder if this involves what exactly Petty-dwarves were. Mim calls himself a Dwarf and does not say he is a sub-race. His language was "a strange tongue that seemed harsh with ancient hatred" but he just calls this "the dwarf-tongue, which we do not teach." Is it actually Dwarvish, or something specific only to Petty-dwarves?

quote:
The Petty-dwarves are long out of mind, for Mim was the last. Little was known of them even in days of old. The Nibin-nogrim the Elves of Beleriand called them long ago, but they did not love them; and the Petty-dwarves loved none but themselves. If they hated and feared the Orcs, they hated also the Eldar, and the Exiles most of all; for the Noldor, they said, had stolen their lands and their homes. Nargothrond was first found and its delving begun by the Petty-dwarves, long before Finrod Felagund came over the Sea.

They came, some said, of Dwarves tha had been banished from the Dwarf-cities of the east in ancient days. Long before the return of Morgoth they had wandered westward. Being masterless and few in number, they found it hard to come by the ore of metals, and their smith-craft and store of weapons dwindled; and they took to lives of stealth, and became somewhat smaller in stature than their eastern kin, walking with bent shoulders and quick, furtive steps. Nonetheless, as all the Dwarf-kind, they were far stronger than their stature promised, and they could cling to life in great hardship. But now at last they had dwindled and died out of Middle-earth, all save Mim and his two sons; and Mim was old even in the reckoning of Dwarves, old and forgotten.

Of Mim the Dwarf, Children of Hurin

The text seems to say that they were regular dwarves who were banished, and they evolved to become lesser in stature to fit their new environment. I'd love to figure out the story behind their banishing.
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Hamfast Gamgee
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This is a crazy little bit of speculation on my part, but is it possible that petty-dwarves evolved into Hobbits? I am really going to have to read this book. But I don't normally read books or see films when they come out, I prefer to leave it for a month or two.

[ 04-21-2007, 03:24 AM: Message edited by: Hamfast Gamgee ]

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Actually, I am now feeling a lot better about things, in general.

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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I don't think so. Hobbits are Men.

quote:
It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than elves, or even than Dwarves.

Prologue, LOTR


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Roll of Honor Wandering Tuor
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quote:
They loved none but themselves, and if they feared and hated the Orcs, they hated the Eldar no less, and the Exiles most of all; for the Noldor, they said, had stolen their lands and their homes. Long ere King Finrod Felagund came over the Sea, the caves of Nargothrond were discovered by them, and by them its delving was begun . . .
~ from Of Túrin Turambar.

So the delving of Nargothrond was begun "long before" Finrod and the other Exiles returned. Were the petty dwarves still in possession when the Exiles came? Did Finrod dispossess them of Nargothrond? Somehow that doesn't sound like Finrod the Wise.

[ 04-21-2007, 09:21 AM: Message edited by: Wandering Tuor ]

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The Dread Pirate Roberts
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If the petty dwarves were few, perhaps they fled unassailed upon Fingon's approach.

Fingon's people could have moved in thinking the place was long-abandoned.

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Findaráto Felagund
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One thing I noticed, and was wondering about, was the sudden disappearance of Mim's son Ibun. The only thing that is said before completely dropping him out of the text, is that he is being held as ransom by the orcs until Mim leads them to Bar-en-Danwedh. Is it just generally supposed to be assumed that he was killed by the orcs after Mim lead them to his home? Or is anything said of it in the Silmarillion?
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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That is a good question. In every version that I can think of, Ibun was held hostage by the orcs but not present on the hill top of Amon Rudh nor in Nargothrond. Something must have happened to him.
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The Dread Pirate Roberts
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Servants of Morgoth aren't known for letting their prisoners go unless there is some purpose to their freedom (ie. Hurin, Gollum). There is no apparent reason for the Orcs to let Ibun go free, so it is safe to assume he remained a prisoner, died, or was killed.
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Artaresto
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quote:
But another tale is told, which has it that Mîm did not encounter the Orcs with deliberate intent. It was the capture of his son and their threat to torture him that led Mîm to his treachery.
Were the servants of Morgoth aware that Mîm had valuable information, or were they "just lucky"?
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Roll of Honor pi
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quote:
I wonder if this involves what exactly Petty-dwarves were. Mim calls himself a Dwarf and does not say he is a sub-race. His language was "a strange tongue that seemed harsh with ancient hatred" but he just calls this "the dwarf-tongue, which we do not teach." Is it actually Dwarvish, or something specific only to Petty-dwarves?
I always took the “petty” reference as it pertains to these Dwarves to be not a reference to them on an individual basis regarding their height or their build, but rather that they are lesser in population numbers. This would IMO relegate the tribal leader to be a chieftain of sorts and not a King, as other Dwarves have.
Regarding the spoken language, I’d guess it was just general Dwarvish. I can think of no references to multiple Dwarvish languages, unlike their Elvish and human counterparts.

Anyone else?

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Galin
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The Petty-Dwarves (it is said) were the descendants of Dwarves who had left or been driven out, being deformed or undersized, or slothfull and rebellious (Quendi And Eldar). Note seven to Quendi And Eldar states that by their own account the Petty-Dwarves were fugitives, driven into the wilderness by their own kin, later called the Petty Dwarves 'for they had become smaller than the norm of their kind, and filled with hate for all creatures.'

The Silmarillion notes that they became 'diminished in stature'. I don't recall anything at the moment that suggests the Dwarvish of the Petty-dwarves was significantly different.

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Gollum Gollum
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I think that in Mîm's particular case, there are very important connections between Mîm and Wagner's Nibelung Mime. Their naming is one thing, but they also act in a very simmilar way: they aren't "bad" and they try to help the "hero" (Túrin/Siegfried), but later the dark part of their character wins and they want to get the "hero" killed. It's just they end up dead themselves. [] I suppose that Tolkien wanted Mîm to be like Mime, as much as possible.
And it's also worth noticing that Tolkien originally wanted the dwarves to be a "bad" people (it's mentioned several times in the History of Middle-Earth), so maybe Mîm's betrayal has something to do with it.

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We wants it...
We needs it...
We mussst get the preciousss...

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Hamfast Gamgee
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I suppose that the bad part of Dwarves resurfaces in the Hobbit with Thorin over the Arkenstone!
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