Tolkien's world

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Tolkien's world
Regions and places
Languages ​​and scripts
Tolkien, 1916

Tolkien's world is a name for the fantasy world devised by JRR Tolkien (1892–1973) . Middle-earth is used as the name of this world after its most famous continent , which is also the setting of the well-known and filmed novels The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954/55). From around 1916 until his death, Tolkien, an English writer and linguist , developed in his works this comprehensive world with its own history and languages, peoples, myths and legends built upon each other, whereby the languages he himself constructedare the foundation. Most thoroughly he developed the two languages ​​of the Elves , which he called Quenya (meaning "someone who can speak") and Sindarin (Gray Elvish, language of the Gray Elves).

Tolkien set new standards by inventing and describing a whole world as a single author. He is considered to be one of the founders of modern fantasy literature, which was significantly influenced by his role model.

Idea and drive

JRR Tolkien showed an amazing talent for languages ​​early on. During his school days he got to know, for example, Anglo-Saxon and Gothic . At the same time he began to think of words and languages ​​of his own. For example, he constructed new words for the Gothic, of which only a small part has been preserved. In 1912 Tolkien discovered the Finnish language , in which he had already been interested due to his fascination with the Finnish national epic Kalevala . The Finnish language impressed him because it suited his “phonesthetic” feeling. On this basis he began to develop a new language: Quenya, later also called "High Elvish".

While working on his languages, the philologist Tolkien became increasingly aware that they need a linguistic history - they cannot stand in empty space, but must be based on other languages. This is how Tolkien often constructed the hypothetical older words and the corresponding stems on which they should be based for his invented languages. He increasingly came to believe that his languages, and above all the best of them so far, Quenya, needed a story and a world in which they were actually spoken. The invented languages ​​became the driving force behind the invention of a complete mythology . Tolkien later stated, “The invention of languages ​​is the foundation. The 'stories' were designed to provide a world for languages ​​rather than the other way around. "

Another motivation for Tolkien was that England as a nation had no narrative tradition of its own, no national epic of its own : “In addition, […] I was hurt from childhood by the poverty of my own dear fatherland: it had no property of its own (on its soil and in its language domestic) stories, at least none of the character I was looking for and which I found (as an admixture) in the sagas of other countries. There was Greek, Celtic, Romance, German, Scandinavian and Finnish […], but nothing English […]. ”So he wrote it himself - a project that Tolkien later ironically described as“ absurd ”. This also resulted in Tolkien's conception of Middle-earth as a historical reality - the location of the stories and myths is not an alien planet, but rather Arda , the earth. "Middle-earth is our world," wrote Tolkien. "I (of course) moved the plot into a purely imaginary (if not entirely impossible) period of antiquity, in which the continents had a different shape."

The German Tolkien researcher Helmut W. Pesch says the following on this topic:

“So it is not surprising that some people ask themselves: Could it not have been like this or something similar in reality? All of these considerations are aimed in the wrong direction. Middle-earth may be our world in a certain way; but it is certainly not our earth. Rather, it is a world that can only be crossed by an act of belief or imagination. And its inhabitants, as fantastic as they may appear to us, are only we ourselves in a different state of consciousness. "

- Helmut W. Pesch : The figure of Arda - a geographical fiction

Sources of inspiration

In particular, the Norse mythologies of the Celtic and Germanic peoples can be found in the concept of Tolkien's imagined world of Middle-earth. There are also numerous echoes and borrowings from medieval heroic sagas or the Icelandic saga literature . Tolkien also served as sources of inspiration from classical Greek mythologies or heroic epics such as the Homeric Iliad or the depiction of the fall of Atlantis by Plato .

Mythologies of Europe

Heinrich Vogeler, Dragon Slayer (1902)

Tolkien himself said: “I have spent most of my life [...] studying Germanic matters (in that general sense that includes England and Scandinavia). There is more power (and truth) in the Germanic ideal than the ignorant think. "

Many parts of Tolkien's work on Middle-earth are influenced by the various myths and stories of Europe, such as the Finnish Kalevala or the Old Norse saga literature . From the Germanic world of imagination there are motifs such as the type and characteristics of the dragons as well as the heroic depiction of a dragon slayer, as they are told, for example, in Beowulf or the Nibelungenlied . This motif is found in Tolkien's stories on the one hand in Túrin, who defeats the dragon Glaurung, and on the other hand in the book The Little Hobbit with the dragon slayer Bard, whose arrow fatally wounds Smaug. The ring as a symbol of power and the claim to rule also played an important role for the Germanic peoples, for example the ring Draupnir is mentioned in connection with the god Odin , which stood for wealth and abundance, but also for recurring fertility. The Nibelungenlied is also about such an important ring, the Andvaranaut (Ring of the Nibelungs).

Celtic influences are particularly evident in relation to the peoples of the Elves and their language. Tolkien himself wrote that in creating the Elvish Sindarin language he deliberately “gave it a linguistically similar (though not identical) character to the British Welsh ... because it seemed to him that this Celtic way of rendering legends and stories was the narrator best fits his stories. ”The representation of the Elves themselves is similar to the description of the Celtic Túatha Dé Danann or the Tylwyth Teg . Furthermore, comparable ideas can be found in the Celtic Otherworld or the Tír na nÓg (land of youth) and the description of the blessed kingdom of Aman .

Greek mythology inspired Tolkien in developing the tale of the island of Númenor , which shared the fate of the sinking of Atlantis, described by Plato. There are some parallels in the stories of Troy and Tolkien's Gondolin .

Parts of the mythology of Tolkien's world were published posthumously in the books The Silmarillion (1977) and Messages from Middle-earth (1980), other parts are only available in fragmentary form because Tolkien did not complete them. The different variations and drafts of his stories in the twelve-volume work The History of Middle-earth were published in English . The first two parts were published in German translation as The Book of Lost Stories .

Contemporary literature

Tolkien's stories about Middle-earth echoes the works of William Morris ( Arts and Crafts Movement , in particular the form of poetry and the narrative style of romances) or borrowings such as the Marshes of the Dead or the Mirkwood (Mirkwood).

Similarities in content can also be found in Owen Barfield 's children's book The Silver Trumpet , the History in English Words and Poetic Diction or in the story Marvelous Land of Snergs by Edward Wyke-Smith, which is in the depiction of the events around Bilbo Baggins in the book The Little One Hobbit seem to reflect.

Another contemporary script that Tolkien drew his inspiration from was Sinclair Lewis' novella Babbitt , according to Mark Atherton . Atherton makes comparisons between the two stories in his book There and Back Again: JRR Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit .

“In many ways, The Hobbit is a re-enactment of the classic pattern in which the intrepid traveler leaves his comfortable home and discovers the wide world beyond his door. At first glance, it seems surprising that JRR Tolkien admitted a possible influence on the Hobbit from the similarly rabbit-sounding Babbitt (1922) by the contemporary American writer Sinclair Lewis. Of the Lewis novel, Tolkien said: “Babbitt has the same civic complacency that hobbits have. His world is limited to the same place. ”“

- Mark Atherton : Hobbitry and Babbittry: Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit

Both terms went into common usage shortly after the books were published and received an entry in the Oxford Dictionary . “Babbitt” is given there and in other dictionaries with “philistineism”. Tolkien, who worked on the Oxford Dictionary, wrote the definition of the term "hobbit" himself. It reads: "A member of an imaginary race similar to humans, short in height and with hairy feet, from the stories of JRR Tolkien."

First writing

Finally Tolkien began to write down the stories that had been forming and piecing together in his head for a long time. Early drafts and mentions of the later Tolkien world go back to the year 1913, in which Tolkien wrote a first story of Kullervo , the idea of ​​which is very similar to the tragic figure of Kullervo from the Kalevala and as the first version of the later saga The Children of Húrin can apply. In the following years the first poems were written on various topics, which later in the mythology found their way, such as The cabin of the Forgotten Game ( The Cottage of Lost Play , May 1915) and Kortirion under the trees ( Kortirion among the Trees , November 1915 ). At the same time, Tolkien continued to work on “my nonsense with fairy language”, as he wrote to his fiancée Edith Bratt : “I often feel like working on it and don't allow myself to do it, because as much as I am attached to it, I feel like it a very crazy hobby ”.

End of 1916, when Tolkien from the First World War, returned, during which he in the Battle of the Somme was fought and lost two of his best friends, he finally began with the writing of the Book of Lost Tales ( Book of Lost Tales ). Tolkien wrote these stories in several notebooks that his son Christopher did not publish posthumously until 1983. The different legends are linked to one another via a framework story: The seafarer Eriol or Ælfwine , “friend of the elves”, arrives on the “lonely island” (Tol Eressea), where he is told many old and unknown stories from bygone times. These are mostly the original versions of the later stories that were summarized in the Silmarillion .

Approach and development

The figure of Eearendil is an example of Tolkien's intentions and basic working method in the borrowing of motifs and their further development. Earendil, one of the earliest conceptions of the Tolkien mythology, is borrowed from the Old English poem Crist des Cynewulf from the Anglo-Saxon form Ēarendel . Ēarendel is a common Germanic figure who finds a literary equivalent in Old Norse Aurvandill and in Middle High German as the gray pilgrim Orendel , and, according to Tolkien himself , represented one of the starting points for the development of the Middle-earth myth. The translation of the lexeme Ēarendel is morning star ; In his adaptation and integration in his Middle-earth myth, Tolkien gives the translation evening star for Earendil .

“Éala Éarendel engla beorhtast! ofer middangeard mannum sended and sódfæsta sunnan leoma torht ofer tunglas, þú tída gehwane of sylfum þe symle inlíhtes. ”

“Oh, Éarendel, the most brilliant angel! Sent to people via Midgard and truly sunbeams shining over stars, you always shine from within yourself. "

- Cynewulf: Crist I verse 104-108.

The different actions in Tolkien's stories take place over several successive ages. At the end of each epoch there are major changes, some of which also change the nature or shape of Arda. It is essential for Tolkien's work that not only logical narrative strands develop from this temporal structure, but that the previous ages form the myths of the following ages. Continents and kingdoms arise and pass over the millennia, and the following generations pass on the history of the past in legends and poems. The most fully described events take place in three distinct ages in which the two distinct groups known as the "children of Ilúvatar" (elves and humans) play a major role. Between the first and third ages (in which The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are set), a development from a mythological to a more realistic world takes place, which is particularly evident in the stylistic change from the Silmarillion to the later works.

Mythology begins with the creation of the world by Eru Ilúvatar . The Valar are sent to Arda, and the story of Middle-earth begins. Initially, however, the calculation of time cannot be recorded in terms of years, as there is still nothing to which the time can be fixed. The sun and moon do not yet exist, it is a dark, desolate world that must first be formed and prepared by the Valar before Ilúvatar will send his children there. This period is comparable to the time before life developed on earth. There was a great primary continent "Almaren" (benediction), which like Pangea finally broke up and divided into several continents, from which Aman in the west, Middle-earth and Harad in the central part and an unknown continent in the east emerged.

In the Silmarillion it says:

“So began the first battle of the Valar with Melkor for the rule of Arda, but the Elves know little about those storms. […] But among the Eldar it is said that the Valar, in spite of Melkor, always wanted to rule the earth and prepare it for the arrival of the firstborn; and they built lands, and Melkor destroyed them; They dug valleys and Melkor filled them up; They chiseled mountains and Melkor knocked them over; They gave their bed to seas, and Melkor splashed them; and so no thing had peace and could not prosper, for scarcely had the Valar begun a work than Melkor ruined it or spoiled it. And yet their efforts were not entirely in vain, and even if nowhere and in no work their will and plan were completely fulfilled and all things were of a different form and shape than the first intention of the Valar, the earth was nevertheless gradually formed and consolidated. And so in the end the apartment of the children of Ilúvatar was judged in the depths of time and in the midst of the innumerable stars.

- JRR Tolkien : Ainulindale

At the end of this battle the primary continent was broken, the Valar withdrew to the west and founded the kingdom of blessing Aman there, while the renegade Vala Melkor created an empire in the north of Middle-earth. Tolkien called the following epoch the "Age of Trees", which ends with the creation of the sun and moon. It is only with the awakening of the human races that the ages are numbered as such by Tolkien in order to subdivide essential developments in the history of his human races.

These ages also differ in the different areas for the main areas of action: The events in the Age of Trees mostly take place in the benevolent kingdom of Valinor on Aman, the land of the Valar, those of the First Age in western Middle-earth, in the land of Beleriand , which was involved in the fighting will be devoured by the sea at the end of this age. The Second Age deals with the preserved part of Middle-earth and the island of Númenor , which also sinks at the end of the Second Age. The Third Age narratives mainly relate to Middle-earth. Númenor only exists in legends and Valinor is the last refuge for the Elves, who leave Middle-earth before the Fourth Age, the time of human rule, finally dawns over Arda.


Tolkien, who always wanted his novels to appear like myths of a bygone era, provided a basic foundation: He developed his own creation story and a hierarchical Olympus from the one god and angel-like figures, who then become like gods within the mythology of the world "Arda" act. Eru , also called Ilúvatar, is god in the Tolkien universe. Tolkien's own Christian belief is evident in his person: The Silmarillion begins with the sentence “Eru was there, the one”. The Ainur arise from his thoughts , in their essence and their abundance of power placed between the gods of antiquity and the archangels of Christianity. Eru teaches them the music. At first they only sing for him, but he soon teaches them to play together. Each of the Ainur contributes his or her special abilities to this music, but they all fit in harmony with the theme given by Eru . This music, the Ainulindale , creates a vision of a world before the eyes of the Ainur. With the word Ea (also written ), which means “Let it be!” In Quenya and at the same time gives its name to this world, Eru gives it an existence. In Ea is the realm of Arda , the planet on which all of the following stories take place. Some of the Ainur descend upon them as Valar , as powers of the world, and shape them according to the vision that was created in the Ainulindale . In this way Tolkien combines monotheism , which was of great importance to him as a Christian person, with polytheism , which served him better for his stories.

Very similar to the Christian conception, evil also arises in Tolkien's universe as a fallen angel: Melkor , the most powerful of the Ainur, tries to change their melody according to his wishes. The disharmonies that arise in this way, however, are kept under control by Ilúvatar with new themes and thus again appropriated for the common music. Evil, according to the Tolkien creation myth, only plays the role God intended for it. After the creation of the world, Melkor claims it for himself as his kingdom, is initially driven out of her by the other Valar, but then returns. In constant competition with the destructive Melkor, the Valar shape the earth and prepare it for the arrival of the "Children of Ilúvatar", the Elves and the humans . Finally, the Valar set up their apartment in Aman, the westernmost part of Arda.

The age of trees

Around their territory, which they call Valinor , they pile up large mountains for protection and build their home and dwellings here, a kind of analogy to the earthly paradise of Christianity. The world receives light through the two trees Telperion, the silver, and Laurelin, the golden, which alternately shine brightly for about 6 hours on their own. Both also glow for a time before and after their brightest rays and thus shine for 12 hours each.

“Within seven hours each tree blossomed to its full glory and faded to nothing again; and each came back to life an hour before the other stopped shining. In Valinor, for example, there was a twilight hour of milder light twice a day, when both trees only glowed weakly and their golden and silver rays interplayed. "

- JRR Tolkien : The Silmarillion

The Valar initially left the continent of Middle-earth to Melkor.

The tribes of the elves
Quendi (Elves)

Eventually the Elves wake up at Cuiviénen , a lake in the east of Middle-earth. After learning of this, the Valar begin a great war against Melkor. They defeat him and bring him to Valinor in chains. Since Middle-earth has been badly damaged by the war, the Valar want to bring the Elves to their protected, beautiful land Valinor, and so begins the long and arduous journey of the Elves to the west. Apart from the Avari, who refuse the trip, the rest of the Elves (the Eldar) split into three groups: Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri . While the Vanyar and the Noldor eventually all reach Valinor, many of the Teleri stay in beautiful places en route and settle there. Those elves who finally come to Valinor are called calaquendi , elves of light, in contrast to the moriquendi , the dark elves who stay in Middle-earth and never see the light of the two trees. A time of peace and joy begins for the Calaquendi, in which they create many artistic things. Feanor , the most powerful and skilful of the Noldor, creates the Silmaril - precious stones that carry the light of the trees of Valinor. Finally, however, the time comes when the chained Melkor is to be judged again, and “Valinor's noon is nearing its end”.

Melkor throws himself at Manwe , the earthly lord of Arda, whereupon his chains are removed so that he can move freely in Aman. Inwardly, however, he is not purified, but intrigues in secret. Eventually he flees Valinor south, where he makes the voracious giant spider Ungoliant his ally. Together they travel unseen in a dark cloud created by Ungoliant through the kingdom of blessing, until they finally arrive at the two trees and poison them, so that the light of Valinor goes out. Then they steal the Silmaril, killing Feanor's father Finwe . Melkor flees to Middle-earth and takes possession of his old fortress again. Feanor seeks revenge against Melkor and rebels with almost all Noldor, whose High King he is now after the death of his father, against the Valar, who did not protect him from Melkor. He no longer wants to live with the Valar and swears an oath with his sons, according to which they will persecute anyone who owns one of the Silmaril and does not give it up voluntarily. The Noldor embark on the long journey back to Middle-earth. When the Teleri refuse to give them their ships for the crossing, there is a genocide in Alqualonde: The Noldor kill many Teleri who confront them and steal their ships. Therefore, the Noldor of Mandos , one of the Valar, banished from the kingdom of blessing in the name of all Valar and placed a curse: Feanor's oath will ensure that everything they begin will fail through discord and betrayal and that they will fail outside of Valinor Will find peace, the shadow of repentance will weigh on them forever, and they will tire of the world.

In the meantime, the Valar are not idle: they create the sun and moon from the last fruit and the last blossom of the two trees. After the Noldor leaves, Valinor is veiled. The seas that demarcate it from Middle-earth to the east are widened and veiled so that no one can pass through; and Valinor can no longer be reached via the ice in the north either. With the rising of the sun, the First Age of the Sun begins.

The first age

Melkor, now called Morgoth, the world's dark enemy, has holed up again in his old Angband fortress after the theft of the Silmaril and gathers his old servants, especially orcs , who are believed to have captured them from Bred dark elves, for he cannot create his own life. In Middle-earth, the Sindar, a tribe of the dark elves, established the kingdom of Doriath in Beleriand under their king Thingol . The Noldor have separated on the way, so that the group around Feanor and his sons arrive first in Middle-earth. Before they even set up camp, they are attacked by Morgoth's orcs. This is the Dagor-nuin-Giliath, the "battle under the stars" because the sun has not yet risen. The Noldor are able to drive the orcs back, but Feanor dies in the process when he is surrounded by Balrogs , giant fire creatures, and mortally injured by their leader. After the other Noldor arrived under the new High King Fingolfin and various disputes between the Elven tribes had been settled, a new battle began: In the Dagor Aglareb, the glorious battle, the Noldor defeated Morgoth again. However, they are unable to take his fortress and then set up a siege ring around Angband, consisting of fortresses and outposts, so that Morgoth is trapped in his dark fortress. Almost four hundred years of peace followed for Beleriand, during which the kingdoms of the Noldor and Sindar arm themselves against an attack by Morgoth, which is sure to come.

As the sun rises for the first time, people wake up too , and some come to Beleriand during the long peace. The elves living there allied themselves with these people, whom they call "Edain" and who stood by their side as valuable allies in the later wars.

The Age of Peace and the Siege of Angband ends with the Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of the Fire. Morgoth penetrates the siege ring of Elves and humans with a great conflagration and an onslaught of his dragons and balrogs; Elves and humans retreat to their fortresses, many of which are taken by the orcs. But once again the free peoples rise up against Morgoth, in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the battle of countless tears. But also in this battle the armies of humans, dwarves and elves are defeated and many of their empires are destroyed. After that there is hardly any hope left, and Morgoth gradually destroys every free empire.

During this time Eearendil was born. He is the son of an elf and a human, both of royal lineage, and becomes the savior of the remaining human and elves. With the help of one of the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown, which his wife's ancestors, also half-elves, have previously won back, he succeeds in crossing the great sea west of Middle-earth. So he finally reaches Valinor, where he asks for help and forgiveness for the two races of men and elves, and the Valar answer him. They raise a huge army and attack Morgoth. The war that follows is the War of Wrath, in which the Valar, Elves, and Humans defeat Morgoth and cast him out of the world. The tremors in this war are so great that Beleriand is sinking into the sea. Many of the surviving Elves from Beleriand are now coming to Valinor; the rest found new empires in the east. This is how the First Age ends.

The second age

The Second Age begins with the creation of the island of Númenor and its settlement by humans. The island lies roughly in the middle of the sea between Valinor and Middle-earth and is a gift from the Valar to the loyal people, the Edain. It is a lush, fertile land that brings wealth to its people. The Númenórer develop into a people of seafarers and explore the whole world; they are only not allowed to sail to Valinor, because that is forbidden by the “ban of the Valar”.

While the people of Númenor are settling in, Sauron appears in Middle-earth , formerly Morgoth's most powerful servant, who escaped the war of anger. He appears in a beautiful figure and with his knowledge can secure the trust of those Noldor who founded the land of Eregion after the First Age . With Sauron's help, Celebrimbor , the leader of these elves, creates the Rings of Power , magical rings with a special power. But Sauron secretly forges the One Ring in his land of Mordor , with which he rules all rings of power. When the Elves notice that Sauron has betrayed them, he tries to get all the rings of power to himself, which he almost succeeds. Only Gil-galad , the last High King of the Noldor, Círdan , an elven prince, and Galadriel , the last of the exiles from Valinor, hold out against him. They are the bearers of the three rings of the elves, which were created without Sauron's help and are therefore not tainted by evil and are accordingly difficult for him to discover.

Meanwhile, a change is heralded in Númenor: Mighty Númenórers begin to become haughty and grumble against the Valar and their ban. The kings and their followers consider it unjust that they have to die while the Elves and Valar are allowed to live forever. A deep social rift arises between the King's Party and the so-called “loyalists” (Elendili, friends of the Elves) who are oppressed. This development reached its climax at the same time as the power of the Númenórer under the king Ar-Pharazôn , who came to power illegally. This king sends a huge fleet to Middle-earth to stop Sauron. When the fleet arrives, Sauron submits to Ar-Pharazôn. This takes Sauron as a prisoner to Númenor, where Sauron in his friendly form wins the trust of the king after a short time. He finally persuades the aged king to rebel against the Valar and send a fleet against Valinor. When Ar-Pharazôn and his army enter Valinor, the Valar call Eru for help. This then changes the nature of Arda: Valinor is "raptured", which means that it can no longer be reached from Middle-earth, except via the "straight path", which only the Elves can use. Númenor and his fleet sink into the sea, Ar-Pharazôn and his army are buried under overturning mountains.

After the rapture of Valinor, all roads are "crooked", so the world has turned from a disk to a sphere. Only a few ships under Elendil the Long and his sons Isildur and Anárion escape the fall of Númenor . They are spared by Eru because they, the "loyal ones", have always been loyal to the Valar. Arrived in Middle-earth, they found their own empires: Elendil was washed ashore in the north and founded the kingdom of Arnor , Isildur and Anárion founded Gondor in the south . But Sauron also survived the fall of Númenor and is preparing for the battle against the newly emerging empires and their allies, the Elves. Gil-galad, the last high king of the Noldor in Middle-earth, and Elendil make the "last covenant" between elves and humans and go out to fight Sauron. This is pushed back to Mordor, where he is besieged in his Barad-dûr tower for seven years . Many of the elves and humans fall, among them Gil-galad, Elendil and Anárion, but in the end Sauron is thrown down. Isildur, who cuts off Sauron's finger with the one ring with his father's broken sword, Narsil , takes it for himself. Elrond tells Isildur to throw the ring into the nearby volcano, Mount Doom , and use it to defeat Sauron forever. But Isildur, already under the influence of the ring, refuses. This is how the Second Age ends.

The third age

After the fall of Sauron, Isildur first returned to Gondor , where he installed his brother's son as king. Then he moves north to take control of the northern kingdom of Arnor himself. On the way, however, he is attacked by orcs; Isildur and almost all of his men are killed, the ring falls into the great river, the Anduin , and remains lost for a long time. The two Númenórian kingdoms still exist for a while; but soon the royal line in Arnor apparently dies out and the empire falls apart. In reality, however, the royal line continues unbroken even without a kingdom; Isildur's heirs grow up in Elrond's house and live as rangers. Gondor, however, experienced a time of splendor: Mordor was guarded and many famous buildings were built during this time. But dark forces stir again: A plague is taking many residents and large parts of Middle-earth, including Gondor, are depopulated. A civil war and attacks by savage people from the east continue to shrink Gondor's power. Guarding Mordor must eventually be abandoned. The royal line of Gondor also expires when the last king rides out to duel the Witch King of Angmar and never returns. From this point on, the country is ruled by governors ( stewards ) and continues to withstand the attacks of the people from the east and south, some of which are incited against Gondor by Sauron (who is still a dark shadow through the country) and his helpers attacked Gondor, partly out of old enmities or out of greed for wealth. In return for their help in the war, a warlike horsemen from the north received a part of Gondor as a gift from the governing governor of Gondor, which from then on was called Rohan . Rohan's inhabitants, the Rohirrim , will prove to be reliable and powerful allies in the times to come.

Soon an initially unknown dark power moves into the south of the Great Grünwald, in Dol Guldur ; the Great Green Forest is from then on called Mirkwood . It is around this time that the Istari come across the sea, the sorcerers, of whom Gandalf and Saruman are the most powerful. The latter settles in Isengard and from there begins his research into the rings of power. The Istari, together with the most powerful and wisest Elves, including Elrond and Galadriel, found the White Council, which works against evil. On the advice of Saruman, who is secretly pursuing his own plans, the council decides not to do anything about the darkness in the Mirkwood first. While these great things are happening, Sauron's ring is found in the Anduin by a hobbit . Sméagol , later to be called Gollum, steals the ring from his cousin when he fishes him out of the Great River and strangles him. Then, cast out by his people, he retreats to a cave in the Fog Mountains, where he evades the observation of the mighty and looks after his “treasure” for almost five hundred years.

Eventually Gandalf is able to convince the council to attempt an attack on Dol Guldur, since he has since learned that Sauron is hiding behind the darkness there. But he foresees the attack and flees to Mordor, where the Nazgûl , the ringwraiths, have already prepared everything for his return. So Sauron establishes a new realm of evil, and it becomes increasingly difficult for Gondor and his allies to withstand him. But in the year of the attack on Dol Guldur, the One Ring of Sauron is found by a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins . He can escape Gollum, who wants to kill him because of the theft, and from then on has the mysterious ring that can make him invisible. Bilbo is friends with Gandalf, who does not initially recognize that the ring of his hobbit friend is the one ring of Sauron. These events are told , more casually and accidentally, in Tolkien's first novel The Hobbit . When Gandalf realizes the connections, it is almost too late and Frodo , Bilbo's nephew, takes on the task of bringing the ring to Mordor and throwing it into the fires of Mount Doom there, since it is only there, at his place Emergence that can be destroyed. Eight companions come along on the dangerous journey, among them Gandalf and Aragorn , the descendant of Isildur and rightful king of Gondor. Tolkien tells the story of this ring tour in his great novel The Lord of the Rings . After a long and arduous journey, the companions split up: Frodo goes to Mordor with his friend Sam to destroy the ring; Aragorn goes with the rest of the companions first to Rohan and then to Gondor.

When the Companions arrive in Rohan, the Great War of the Ring begins in full. They help defend Rohan against Saruman, whose betrayal has been fully exposed. The battle of Helm's Deep , in which Saruman's hordes are pushed back, while the Ents , giant tree-herders, caused by the meeting of the hobbits Merry and Pippin with Treebeard, the oldest Ent, grind Isengard and lock Saruman in the tower of Isengard. Without the enemy behind them, the forces of Rohan and Gondor can concentrate solely on Sauron, who is advancing towards the Gondorian fortress of Minas Tirith with a huge army of orcs, trolls and seduced people . In the battle of Pelennor the army of Mordor is defeated. In the meantime, Frodo and Sam reach Mordor and advance unnoticed inland, towards Mount Doom. In Minas Tirith, the "Army of the West" is being prepared, which in front of the Morannon, the gateway to Mordor, challenges Sauron's second army, which is vastly outnumbered, to distract the Dark Lord from Frodo's plans. A struggle begins in front of the gate that is almost hopeless for the free peoples. At the right moment, Frodo arrives at Mount Doom and the ring is destroyed in the fire. Sauron, who has forged much of his power into the ring, goes and his army is terrified. The Third Age ends with Aragorn being crowned king of the reunited kingdom of Gondor and Arnor, and then Elrond, Galadriel, Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf cross the sea to Valinor. This is followed by the fourth age, the age of people, which stands for the passing of all mythical elements and finally leads fictitiously into today's world and worldview.

Dagor Dagorath

At the end of all times, according to a prophecy by Mandos, there will be a final battle in Valinor, which is known as "Dagor Dagorath" (Battle of All Battles). The exiled Morgoth (Melko [r]) manages to return to Arda. Here he gathers his remaining servants and followers and tries to finally defeat the forces of good. Morgoth destroys the sun and moon, so that the world falls into darkness. In the battle, Morgoth is ultimately slain by the resurrected Túrin Turambar (Master of Fate). Then Arda is recreated. Tolkien wrote in an early sketch:

“There was a prophecy among the Elves that one day they would leave Tol Eressea […], unite all their dwindling clans […] and march with them to Valinor […]. […] [S] o if the people help them, the elves will take them to Valinor […] to fight with them in the great battle in Erumáni against Melko and to open Valinor. [...] The sun and moon will be recalled. But if the people stand against them and help Melko, the destruction of the gods and the extinction of the elves will be the result - and maybe the great end. […] When the trees were re-kindled […] humans and elves would enjoy the blessings of the gods and Mandos would stand empty. "

- JRR Tolkien : The Book of Lost Stories.

In the Silmarillion it says:

“[…] But once the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that the people should play along with the Second Music of the Ainur; while Ilúvatar did not reveal what he was planning to do with the Elben after the end of the world, and Melkor did not see through it. "

- JRR Tolkien : The Silmarillion.

Novels and short stories

The main publications in which Tolkien designed his universe are (in the order of the events) The Silmarillion , The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings . Tolkien's great success during his lifetime was based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings . The only other Middle-earth work that appeared during his lifetime was the small volume of poetry The Adventures of Tom Bombadil , which is closely related to the Lord of the Rings .

Only after Tolkien's death did Tolkien's son Christopher publish further texts. First the Silmarillion appeared , which forms the mythological substructure of the Lord of the Rings and contains summaries of all the important narrative threads of the Tolkien universe. The fragmentary volumes of material News from Middle-earth and The Book of Lost Stories were later published as preliminary stages and supplements . The Lost Stories contain the first two and so far only volumes of the History of Middle-earth that have been translated into German and contain ten additional volumes of material. So far, the long versions have been published in 2007 Die Kinder Húrins and 2017 Beren und Lúthien , the reconstructions of two stories that had already appeared in fragments and abridged versions in the previous works.


Primary literature - works by Tolkien
Secondary literature

Web links

Commons : Tolkien's Universe  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  3. Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien. A biography. P. 74f. and on “Phonesthetics” Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien. Letters. P. 233 (No. 144 to Naomi Mitchison, April 25, 1954).
  4. Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien: Letters. P. 289 (No. 164 to Naomi Mitchison, June 29, 1955) and Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien. A biography. P. 93; 113f .: "the existence of these languages ​​[was] a raison d'être for the whole of mythology". Likewise Tom Shippey: JRR Tolkien. Author of the Century. Pp. 15-17; 283f.
  5. Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien: Letters. P. 191 (No. 131 to Milton Waldman of 1951).
  6. Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien: Letters. P. 192 (No. 131 to Milton Waldman of 1951) and Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien. A biography. P. 109f. or Tom Shippey: JRR Tolkien. Author of the Century. Pp. 284-286.
  7. Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien. A biography. P. 111. Or The Silmarillion. P. 16: "The other Ainur, however, looked at this apartment in the wide spaces of the world, which the Elves call Arda, the earth".
  8. Pesch: The figure of Arda. (P. 3, PDF; 432 kB) on
  9. Helmut W. Pesch: The disappeared people - Tolkien's Elves and the legacy of the Celts. (Essay).
  10. Rudolf Simek: Middle Earth. Tolkien and Germanic Mythology. Verlag CH Beck (back of the book).
  11. Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien. Letters. Letter from 1941 to his son Christopher .
  12. Christopher Tolkien: The Silmarillion. Pp. 300-303.
  13. JRR Tolkien: The Little Hobbit. P. 276.
  14. ^ Humphrey Carpenter: The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1981, ISBN 0-395-31555-7 .
  15. Arnulf Krause : The real Middle-earth: Tolkien's mythology and its roots in the Middle Ages. Theiss Verlag, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-8062-2478-8 , pp. 105-110.
  16. ^ Humphrey Carpenter: The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1981, ISBN 0-395-31555-7 , p. 226.
  17. ^ A b J. RR Tolkien, Douglas A. Anderson: The Great Hobbit Book.
  18. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. on (online)
  19. Mark Atherton: Hobbitry and Babbittry: Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit. in: There and Back Again: JRR Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit.
  20. Babbitt on or Babbitt on
  21. Hobbit on and JRR Tolkien and the OED on
  22. The Story of Kullervo is mentioned by Tom Shippey: JRR Tolkien. Author of the Century. P. 280.
  23. The first versions of the poems printed and with commentary by Christopher Tolkien in The Book of Lost Stories. Volume 1, pp. 33-35 ( The Cottage of Lost Play ) and pp. 39-41 ( Kortirion among the Trees ).
  24. ^ From a letter from Tolkien to Edith Bratt, March 2, 1916, in: Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien: Briefe. No. 4, p. 15.
  25. Tolkien's earliest surviving drafts of Earendil with explanations by Christopher Tolkien can be found in the chapter The History of Earendel. In: The Book of Lost Stories. Volume 2, pp. 272-291.
  26. Christopher Tolkien: The Silmarillion. P. 22.
  27. The Silmarillion. P. 13. For Eru as God see Humphrey Carpenter: JRR Tolkien. A biography. P. 111.
  28. The Silmarillion. - From the dawn of days. P. 46.
  29. The Silmarillion. P. 67.
  30. The Tale of the Dagor Dagorath on
  31. JRR Tolkien: The Book of Lost Stories. Part 2. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93062-7 , p. 298.
  32. The Silmarillion. - From the dawn of days. P. 51.