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Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
What is the burgler symbol Gandalf scratches on Bilbo's door in The Hobbit?

Tolkien normally goes to great lengths to describe the runes and writing of elves, dwarves and other citizens of Middle Earth. However, one rune that is never described (as far as I can tell) is the one that allows Thorin and his party to find Bilbo. As Gandalf leaves Bilbo after his first visit to Bag End in "The Hobbit" he scratches a quuer little symbol on his door that means, "Burglar (or expert treasure hunter) wants good job, plenty of excitement and reasonable reward."

I have pored over the four novels as well as "Unfinished Tales" and "The Silmarillion" and have found nothing. I have found no resource depicting this symbol on the internet. Did Tolkien ever describe the rune? If not, why? He invented whole languages!

(This all stemmed from my quest to find the perfect first tattoo, but I think this may be something the Council could discuss.)
 


Posted by Jóhnny, the Jester (Citizen # 579) on :
 
i dont blive he dose. it might not have need to be told about because biblo dident notice them. if bilbo had noticed the would have been dusced but it was not really a great importance! dose that help a bit
 
Posted by Roland (Citizen # 218) on :
 
I had thought that Gandalf scratched the rune letter 'G' (for Gandalf) on the door. -So that the dwarves would know Gandalf's choice for their burglar.

------------------
Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.
 


Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
Nope, it wasn't the "G" rune... here's all the relevant textual material that I have:

from The Hobbit:

"After a while [Gandalf] stepped up, and with the spike of his staff scratched a queer sign on the hobbit's beautiful green front-door." (p 6)

Gloin: "'And I assure you there is a mark on the door—the usual on in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that's how it is usually read.'" (p 18)

and from Unfinished Tales:

Gandalf: "'I will put the thief's mark on his door, and then you will find it.'" (p 349)

(All page references from Ballentine editions)

So there is a rune, though it may simply be a letter T... I was just wondering if Tolkien ever explained it in any writing, or if it was not meant to be known.
 


Posted by Mellon (Citizen # 402) on :
 
I was curious about that mark the first time I read There and Back Again, and have never found anything to describe it.

------------------
'Speak, friend, and enter'
 


Posted by Cernunnos (Citizen # 652) on :
 
It was a picture of a bag with 'SWAG' written on it, of course!

------------------
Whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered.

 


Posted by Dingalen (Citizen # 330) on :
 
I am afraid to ask - but I am just too curious: SWAG?

My hypotheses on the mark on the door is, that it was not a regular letter, but a some kind of secret code sign (a thief's mark, i.e. something only insiders of the shadowy buisness would know).
I don't think it would have had any ethymological significance. Like the red cross on a white field signifying medical aid.
 


Posted by White Gold Wielder (Citizen # 2) on :
 
"Ladies and gentlemen, your lupins please!"
 
Posted by Cernunnos (Citizen # 652) on :
 
I guess swag might be a rather obscure word for non-native-English speakers. Means burglar's loot. Probably originally a piece of thieves cant (= slang).

------------------
Whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered.

 


Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
Thank you all for breathing life into my inagural post... lamentably we are no closer to an answer, but we have moved onto Monty Python references, so I'm sure we're headed in the right direction!

Legolas: "You see that orc over there? the tall one with the eye on his shield?"

Sam: "The one wearing the cap?"

Legolas: "NO, not that one. More to the left: the one with the long arms that sort of hang down like this; wearing the goat skin."

Sam: "That's never a goat skin. Sheep maybe."

Legolas: "Nevermind that! The point is, I could hit him nine times out of ten!"

I'm sorry... I seem to have strayed from the point... maybe this belongs in a different topic...
 


Posted by Marcho Blackwood - MSS (Citizen # 270) on :
 
Hey, Joe! You American? Me too! I from Chicago New York! You my friend! I give you good deal! Look, real diamond! No ^&^! We buddies, I give you good deal! You can trust me! I have watches too! Hey, Joe, come back! Really! Good Deal! Come back! . . .

&^$% tourists!
 


Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
Yes, tourists can be annoying... I wonder if anyone's seen them around here?
 
Posted by Dingalen (Citizen # 330) on :
 
Yeah, tourists. Americans. Brrr...
 
Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
American? I didn't realiZe how many of the people here were British. Oh well... I'M American, and I got the "swag" reference immediately...

None of this, however, brings me any closer to discovering just what exactly that rune on Bilbo's door looked like. Oh well, case closed. File this as one of the unanswerable questions posed to the Council...

I'll just have to get a tattoo of the good old stars and stripes.

This message has been edited by Ockle Burr on 07-19-2001 at
 


Posted by Marcho Blackwood - MSS (Citizen # 270) on :
 
New info on this topic! We actually do know what Tolkien was thinking of!

The Annotated Hobbit informs us that if we look at the book J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist and Illustrator , that there is an unfinished sketch of Gandalf at Bilbo's door and the runes for B and D are scratched into the door, followed by a diamond.
 
Posted by gram (Citizen # 24) on :
 
Yep, MB, you are correct. The text explaining that drawing says that the runes B and D with a diamond are on the door. You can barely make them out when looking at the drawing. It is drawing 91.
[]
 
Posted by Isiltári (Citizen # 2385) on :
 
Topics like this are what make this site so fantastic. []
 
Posted by The Laurenendôrian (Citizen # 106) on :
 
Brilliant!

It seems to me that the logical continuation of this is to ask why those runes were used.
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
That's what I was curious about, Laur.

B : Burglar
D : ?? Excitement ??
diamond: Reward

Using Gloin's definition of the mark(s), of course.
 
Posted by White Gold Wielder (Citizen # 2) on :
 
I'll have to see the image before I can be of more help.

Can anyone get it up here?
 
Posted by Glóin the Dark (Citizen # 2102) on :
 
I assure you, Thorin, that my interpretation of the markings was accurate. If you arrived at Mr Baggins' home late, in such an undignified manner that you didn't notice the symbols, then that's your own fault!
 
Posted by gram (Citizen # 24) on :
 
I have not been able to find the drawing in question on line. It is titled "Gandalf" and is drawing 91 in the book J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator
by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. That book is very, very good and highly recommended.

The drawing itself shows the front door to Bag End. There is a bell pull to the left of the door, two shrubs flanking the door, the door knob in the middle of the door, and Gandalf standing to the right of the door facing to the left like he is looking at the door. Just to the left of the shrub on the right hand side you can barely make out three symbols on the door, in vertical alignment. The top most symbol is the 'B' rune, below it is the 'D' rune, and below it is the diamond:
B
D
diamond


Here is an image of the rune alphabet used in the hobbit so you can see what the 'B' and 'D' rune look like. The diamond is just a diamond shape with a long vertical axis.



Maybe someone else can have better luck finding the "Gandalf" drawing by J.R.R. Tolkien on line. If not, then go to the book store and look in the book. Bring some money, though, because you might just get hooked and buy the book. It has a list price of $25 US. [] []

[ 08-29-2002, 04:18 PM: Message edited by: gram ]
 
Posted by Fabian (Citizen # 1948) on :
 
There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito
 
Posted by Isiltári (Citizen # 2385) on :
 
Pardon?
 
Posted by Fingolfin of the Noldor (Citizen # 156) on :
 
I just scaned that image, from page 199 by the way, in and blew up and enhanced the mark on the door. Aside from the red-boxed blow up in the left hand lower corner the image is otherwise unaltered:

 -
 
Posted by White Gold Wielder (Citizen # 2) on :
 
I knew someone would come through eventually!
[] Fingolfin is on FIRE today! []
 
Posted by Earendilyon (Citizen # 322) on :
 
It took him more than a year to get fired up, though! []

Great pic, Fingy!
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Thank you, Fingy! I knew you were good for something. [] But that's really hard to see - is that it just to the left of the rightmost tree?
 
Posted by Quel (Citizen # 3991) on :
 
That's really neat, Fingolfin. Now, did Tolkien himself draw that?
 
Posted by Wandering Tuor (Citizen # 1685) on :
 
There's a "B" and a "D" rune - what is the 3d, diamond shaped one? "EE"?
 
Posted by Earendilyon (Citizen # 322) on :
 
WT, that is what it looks like: a diamond. (Stands for: "reward".) (See first page of this thread.)

Quel, posted by March on the first page:
quote:
The Annotated Hobbit informs us that if we look at the book J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist and Illustrator , that there is an unfinished sketch of Gandalf at Bilbo's door and the runes for B and D are scratched into the door, followed by a diamond.
Thorin, I think it's indeed on the left side of the right tree.


Hehe, nowadays youth doesn't want to read whole pages of text [] (referring to WT and Q)

[ 10-24-2003, 03:51 PM: Message edited by: Earendilyon ]
 
Posted by Kjartan Fløgelfrikk (Citizen # 3302) on :
 
Tolkien mostly used Anglo-Saxon runes, but the diamond may be a nordic rune.


The rune's name: Ingwaz
The Meaning: Phallus, name of a God
The sound: NG
The Norse name: Ing, Ingvarr
The Germanic name: Enguz (Ingwaz)
The Anglo Saxon name: Ing
The Icelandic name: Ing
The Norwegian name: Ing

Ing, or Yngvi (an "other name of Frey") is a god of fertility and conquering. Ironically, in the Norse tradition it was often the women who conducted rites involving sexuality. Ing is related to the old Nerthus-cult which dealt with the mystery of fecundity and birth.



http://www.arild-hauge.com/


(that site may be interpreting a bit too much into runes, but the explanations about the runes as letters is right.)
 
Posted by Quel (Citizen # 3991) on :
 
Earendilyon, were you referring to me as a young person? Hmm, indeed amusing. Yes, I thought Tolkien had drawn it, but I didn't want to insult his work by saying it looked like it was drawn by a child, with all due respect it looks a bit sloppy, but not too complain.
 
Posted by Earendilyon (Citizen # 322) on :
 
Kjar, JRRT did not use Anglo-Saxon runes. He used (some) runes which look like them, but have a different meaning, letter-wise and symbol-wise. IIRC, the runes JRRT used, have no symbolic value at all. To stay into JRRT's mythology: the Anglo-Saxon runes were probably derived form the Elvish Cirth.

Quell, indeed I did [] But I did use the word 'youth' more as a derogatory remark than a age indication.
 
Posted by The Laurenendôrian (Citizen # 106) on :
 
Earendilyon: from the introduction to The Hobbit -
quote:
Runes were old letters originally used for cutting or scratching on wood, stone, or metal, and so were thin and angular. At the time of this tale only the Dwarves made regular use of them, especially for private or secret records. Their runes are in this book represented by English runes, which are known now to few people.

 
Posted by Earendilyon (Citizen # 322) on :
 
OK, my fault [] I was thinking about the Cirth; didn't consider the fact that The Hobbit is very different from the rest of JRRT's works.
 
Posted by Fabian (Citizen # 1948) on :
 
quote:
Ironically, in the Norse tradition it was often the women who conducted rites involving sexuality.
I don't know if I'd call that ironic.
The god of fertility was male, rites concerning sexuality aimed at a male deity would logically be performed by females.
 
Posted by Wandering Tuor (Citizen # 1685) on :
 
Does anyone know what the runes on Gloín the Dark's avatar say, and/or where they're from ?
 
Posted by The Laurenendôrian (Citizen # 106) on :
 
They're from Tolkien's picture of the Book of Mazarbul - it can be read about as well as Gandalf reads it.
 
Posted by Wandering Tuor (Citizen # 1685) on :
 
Ah! Thanks. I'm going to try to find a bigger version of that somewhere.
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
I just noticed that the "D" rune used on the door was also used to mark the secret door into the Lonely Mountain on Thror's map.

[ 06-02-2004, 02:35 PM: Message edited by: Thorin ]
 
Posted by The Laurenendôrian (Citizen # 106) on :
 
Do you think that 'D' might stand for 'door', then?

'B' for 'burglar' certainly seems plausible.
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Possibly, but the problem with that is Gloin's translation of the runes:
quote:
Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward.
The word "door" isn't in there at all.
 
Posted by Pallando (Citizen # 2287) on :
 
If one could make a long sentance out of those 3 symbols, perhaps it could basically be read as this (and yes, I know it was longer, but let's suppose that these are what that part of the code represents):

Burgler Decent Reward
 
Posted by Thalion (Citizen # 4172) on :
 
"'And I assure you there is a mark on the door—the usual on in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that's how it is usually read .'" (p 18)
Now I have a hard time believing that a skilled dwarf would have any difficulty in reading these Runes. So, I think it likely as had been said in this thread(well, I am really providing a bit of textual evidence for them) that these Runes were an abrieviation, or a straight up code, due to Gloins remark "that's how it is usually read."

[ 11-04-2004, 10:10 PM: Message edited by: Thalion ]
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Agreed. The Professor knew what he was doing when it comes to language. In English, a specific letter may have multiple sounds: "c" for instance. A rune or symbol could have multiple meanings - maybe with the same basic message, but it could perhaps have different nuances.

The thing that comes to my mind is the symbols used in the days of the Great Depression in America - hobos wandered the countryside and made marks on fences to tell other hobos the kind of families that lived there: were they kindly to wanderers, or would they chase off beggars?
 
Posted by Pippin Toker (Citizen # 168) on :
 
Hi

I think there is some meaningful tranlation of the runes. The more i read The Hobbit, i see that Tolkien wanted to make the children learn about runes and so on. That i why he used anglo-saxon runes and not some of hus own. He wanted the chrildren to take a school-book or dictionery, and read the words. The same must be the case with the runes on the door.

Pippin
 
Posted by Sven, Ruler of All (Citizen # 4407) on :
 
Yes Thorin! Hobo code! They actually have an exhibit about that at the Museum of Science in Boston. [] I think that it is very likely that this symbol served much the same purpose. This would of course mean that there is no exact translation; instead, it is partially up to the imagination of the interpreter.

I think that it is unlikely for there to be too many burglars among the dwarves - meaning that this "burglar symbol" probably did not originate from them. Much like the hobo code, this would have been developed by the people using it (probably burglars, wanderers, and other such sorts - maybe even rangers?) and the dwarves simply have deciphered it.

For the record, I'm only speculating and don't entirely know what I'm talking about. If I'm completely off point, tell me and I'll bow out.
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Okay, we have a problem. Fingy's old website is gone, I think. I thought the image of the burglar symbol was hosted on his little section of WGW's Middle-earth conglomerate, but apparently not. The image he posted of the burglar mark in this post is gone. Does anyone else know where to find this?
 
Posted by Wandering Tuor (Citizen # 1685) on :
 
I have JRRT: Artist & illustrator, and a scanner. I'll do it when I get home tonight.
 
Posted by Joe Stupid KingofBelfalas (Citizen # 5059) on :
 
Ok, I was actually wonerding the same thing not a day or two ago.
 
Posted by Wandering Tuor (Citizen # 1685) on :
 
Thorin - sorry, I didn't forget about this, but I don't know how to "enhance" the enlarged picture as Fingolfin did. If someone else knows, I'd be glad to email them the picture. Simply enlarging it, so as to show the symbols, doesn't work - it's too blurry.
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Eled is working on the picture, sent to her by WT. Hopefully she will get it up soon. But in the meantime:
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
What was the burglar symbol Gandalf scratched on Bilbo’s door?

When Gandalf leaves Bag End after his first visit to Bilbo, “he stepped up, and with the spike of his staff scratched a queer sign on the hobbit's beautiful green front-door.”(1) Gloin later explained: “[T]here is a mark on this door - the usual one in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that's how it is usually read. You can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like.”(2)

Based upon the text of The Hobbit alone, it appears that there was only one symbol, because of the use of the singular words “sign” and “mark.” However, J.R.R. Tolkien began a sketch of Gandalf at Bilbo’s door which he never finished.(3) This picture shows in vertical alignment three runes:

B (berkanan)
D (dagaz)
diamond (ingwaz)

These runes are from the Elder Futhark, which Tolkien calls “English runes.” The B and D are found in other systems of runes, but all three are only found together in the Elder Futhark.(4) They are not compatible with the Cirth in The Lord of the Rings.(5) To interpret the runes from Hobbit-era work, such as on Thror’s map or this drawing, it is necessary to use the Elder Futhark transliteration and not the meanings found in the table in Appendix E of The Lord of the Rings.

The B rune represents “birch” and closely resembles the Latin B with angular shapes instead of rounded.(6) The D rune is called “day” and looks similar to the letters “IXI” pushed closely together until touching.(7) The diamond is termed “ingwaz” and is also the name of a Scandinavian god. It represents a “ng” sound and is simply a diamond shape.(8)

These three runes taken together formed a meaning that Gloin interpreted as “Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward.” Gloin mentions that this is the “usual” reading, so it is possible that other meanings could be attached to these symbols. There are no known hints from Tolkien upon the meaning of each individual symbol. However, speculation is possible. Gloin offers three distinct themes which are stressed by capitalization in his sentence, and there are three distinct runes. It is possible that the meaning of each rune was intended to be:

B = Burglar
D = Excitement
diamond = Reward

The burglar and reward meanings seem logical, as a “burglar” starts with “B” and a “diamond” may indicate financial gain. But interpreting the letter “D” for “excitement” is a bit more tenuous. One theory is that it could also mean “danger” but that Gloin used the term “excitement” instead. He could have done this to avoid further flustering Mr. Baggins, who was very upset at the time of the conversation. Further support for this theory is the fact that the D rune was used to mark the secret door on Thror’s map. The D rune could have been used for the Latin D in English, and therefore stood for “Door” on the map and “Danger” on Bilbo’s front door.

(1) An Unexpected Party, The Hobbit
(2) Ibid.
(3) Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull; J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist and Illustrator; “Gandalf,” picture 91
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runes
(5) Introductory note, The Hobbit
(6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkanan
(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagaz
(8) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingwaz
 
Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
I was so excited to find, five years later, that my question had been finally answered that I went straight to Amazon and ordered the book. Here's a scan with the runes blown up. It looks to me like there's a dot in the middle of the diamond. I don't think it's actually a rune, but merely a pictograph for treasure.

 -
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Ockle Burr! Long time no see. It's good to see you back in town. Thanks for getting the picture up.

Why do you think the diamond is not a rune, when the other two are clearly runes? Because the dot in the center?
 
Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
The dot is one thing, but Tolkien used dots all over his runes. Mostly, it's the fact that he didn't use the ingwaz rune in anything else I've seen (please correct me if I'm wrong). He did use dagaz to stand for the main door to the dwarven halls, however. I think the scratching most literally means "Burglar's Door, Treasure sought."

Gloin isn't the scholar that Gandalf is. Many words and symbols in the real world change meaning from generation to generation. I think it was a game of "Telephone" with this symbol. As it passed from generation to generation, its meaning remained similar but its etemology was forgotten. Burglars and Expert Treasure Hunters tried to make it sound more respectable as they co-opted the sign. Tolkien loved showing depth in his language by using methods like these (as when he describes how the runes changed values as they passed between the peoples of Middle-earth).

Gloin wasn't wrong, he was just speaking from an traditional stance, not a scholarly one.

[ 08-19-2006, 12:32 AM: Message edited by: Ockle Burr ]
 
Posted by Joe Stupid KingofBelfalas (Citizen # 5059) on :
 
Wow, I finally have a picture for my head of what it looks like! Thanks!
 
Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
I wonder, after thinking more about it, if the rune dagaz by itself stands for "an opening." It would explain the use on Thror's map ("Here lies the Opening to the Dwarven Halls") and the use in the scratches ("Burglar seeks [job] Opening and Reward" with 'excitement' being understood, as all burgling is exciting by nature).
 
Posted by Wandering Tuor (Citizen # 1685) on :
 
OckleBurr - For what it's worth, Blum's The Book of Runes gives the following "traditional meanings" for the Viking runes:

 -

==============

Note that the traditional meaning of the "D" rune - daeg or dagaz - is Gateway. So this supports (I suppose) the idea that this rune means opening on Thror's Map.

Note also that the traditional meaning of the "B" rune - beorc or berkana - is Growth with secondary meanings rebirth and new life.

It could be just coincidence, in a horoscope kind of way, but the first two certainly seem appropriate for Bilbo in April of the year 2941.
 
Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
If I'm look at that page correctly, it seems that the meaning of "dagaz" is actually "Breakthrough," which really just blows my theory out of the water-- unless Tolkien was making up his own meanings.
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Here is also a little blurb about Tolkien's history with the "B" or "Birch" rune.

quote:
(* This is a convenient place to cite my father's explanation of the significance of the Birch-tree that appears in two of the poems given by Professor Shippey (see his book pp. 206- 7); cf. also 'Birchyard' in the chorus to verse a of The Root of the Boot. In a note on one of his copies of Songs for the Philologists my father wrote: 'B, B, Bee and (because of the runic name of B) Birch all symbolize mediaeval and philological studies (including Icelandic); while A, and Ac (oak = F) denote 'modern literature'. This more pleasing heraldry (and friendly rivalry and raillery) grew out of the grim assertion in the Syllabus that studies should be "divided into two Schemes, Scheme A and Scheme B". A was mainly modern and B mainly mediaeval and philological. Songs, festivities and other gaieties were however mainly confined to B.')
Note on the Songs at the Prancing Pony, The Return of the Shadow

[ 09-12-2006, 12:17 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Rateliff's The History of the Hobbit also reproduces this drawing. On an interesting side note, there were definite magical properties to the runes in early drafts. Exactly what they were supposed to do from a "magical" perspective is a bit hazy, which may have led this aspect to be dropped from revisions.
 
Posted by White Gold Wielder (Citizen # 2) on :
 
Could you be so good as to collect some examples for me? []
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Sorry - I had posted from work without my book so couldn’t quote. But here you go:

quote:
’Pardon me‘ he said ‘if I have overheard [part >] some words that you were saying. I cannot pretend to understand it all, but I think I am right in believing that you think I am no good. I am not - but I will be. I have no magic signs on my door…

‘I put it there‘ said Bladorthin from the darkest corner. ‘With my little stick I put it there…’

The Pryftan Fragment, The History of the Hobbit

quote:
…Bladorthin in the meanwhile was still standing outside the door and laughing long but quietly. After a while he stepped up and made a little magic sign on the hobbit’s beautiful green front door and then he strode away, just about the time that the hobbit was finishing his second cake and beginning to think that he had escaped adventures very well…

‘Pardon me’ he said ‘if I have overheard some words that you were saying. I don’t pretend to understand what you are all talking about, but I think I am right in believing’ (this is what is called ‘being on one’s dignity’) ‘that you think I am no good. I will show you. I have no magic signs on my door - it was painted a week ago - and I am sure you have all come to the wrong house…

…’Of course’ said the wizard. ‘[ I ] put the mark there myself…’

The Bladorthin Typescript, The History of the Hobbit

Unfortunately Rateliff has nothing to say about the magic of the rune(s) on the door. It is also interesting that Gloin calls it secret while Bilbo and Bladorthin/Gandalf call it magic. I think that there might be some connection between magic and runes, but need to do some more research.

Edit: I used the word "hazy" in regards to the runes earlier. I said this because the mark / runes were called magic but didn't do anything magical. Bladorthin made it and then Oin found it and told the other dwarves.

[ 07-09-2007, 04:13 PM: Message edited by: Thorin ]
 
Posted by White Gold Wielder (Citizen # 2) on :
 
You could equally make the case for the "magic" nature of the runes being solely in the perception of dear Bilbo, being still in fearful awe of Gandalf. Further evidence would be required to prove Tolkien intended any "real" magic at this early stage.
 
Posted by pi (Citizen # 5374) on :
 
Thorin said:
quote:
...interpreting the letter “D” for “excitement” is a bit more tenuous. One theory is that it could also mean “danger” but that Gloin used the term “excitement”
IIRC, there is a Chinese symbol that means both opportunity and danger? Didn't JFK refer to it somewhere? Let me go googling...

Yes, it is the word for crisis
This is actually 2 symbols, but my point is that, like the runes on Bilbo's door, there could quite easily be two different meanings, based upon the context it is used in.
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
quote:
You could equally make the case for the "magic" nature of the runes being solely in the perception of dear Bilbo, being still in fearful awe of Gandalf. Further evidence would be required to prove Tolkien intended any "real" magic at this early stage.
Yes, Rateliff makes the case for a very "magical" Unexpected Party. Smoke rings flying about, multi-colored dwarves, instruments appearing from nowhere - the "magic" burglar symbol could have been a part of that.

This is a bit off the topic, but the reason I was thinking about the relationship between runes and magic were:
1) the burglar symbol(s) was described as "magic," both by the narrative and by the characters in early drafts
2) the moon-letters must have some sort of magical qualities
3) when they hid the trolls' gold, they put "a great many spells" over top of it. Later in FOTR, when Strider sees the stone, it had runes carved on it:
quote:
Not far down the bank Strider pointed out a stone in the grass. On it roughly cut and now much weathered could still be seen dwarf-runes and secret marks.

'There!' said Merry. 'That must be the stone that marked the place where the trolls' gold was hidden. How much is left of Bilbo's share, I wonder, Frodo?'

Again we have the relationship of runes, magic, and "secret", and this last part survived into the 1950s when FOTR was written.

Coincidence?

[ 07-10-2007, 03:48 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Here is something else I stumbled across relating to "magical" runes:

quote:
You will find with the revised proofs a draft of the jacket, for your criticism. I discovered (as I anticipated) that it was rather beyond my craft and experience. But perhaps the general design would do?...

In redrawing the whole thing could be reduced – if you think the runes are attractive. Though magical in appearance they merely run:

The Hobbit or There and Back Again, being the record of a year's journey made by Bilbo Baggins; compiled from his memoirs by J. R. R. Tolkien and published by George Allen & Unwin...

Letter # 12

Another magical connotation! But perhaps I am getting off track on what the topic of this thread is supposed to be about.
 
Posted by Wandering Tuor (Citizen # 1685) on :
 
There are a lot of references to the magical properties of runes and rune "casting" (I think that's the term) in the Elder Edda. I'll check the references when I get a chance.
 
Posted by Ockle Burr (Citizen # 550) on :
 
 -

I hope this isn't too distracting to the topic, but I just wanted to thank all of you for your help in finding these runes and to let you know that I finally got the tattoo!
 
Posted by Thorin (Citizen # 816) on :
 
Excellent!

Ockle Burr wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward!

[ 12-11-2008, 04:49 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]
 
Posted by Sam Gamgee (Citizen # 2395) on :
 
Oh. My. Goodness. We have gone far into the nerd forest.

But I guess I shouldn't be talking. I've considered getting something in elvish somewhere.
 
Posted by pi (Citizen # 5374) on :
 
So now don't you have to post your burglar for hire tat in the tattoo thread?
 


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