Tolkien Mythology is a system of stories that personify the beliefs and dreams of J.R.R. Tolkien.
These stories may or may not be true but it is believed that much of them are founded in some sort of fact about the natural world or as a way of explaining a natural phenomena. J.R.R. Tolkien, who intended it to be a creative legendarium for the continent of Europe, created it. Fictional universe is just another term for legendarium, so use of the term "fictional universe" should be halted because legendarium is a more accurate term for the mythology of the Lord of the Rings (including all other books involved with Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien).
Tolkien's great mythological tales of Middle-earth are meant to be taken, fictitiously, as an ancient history of the Earth, particularly of Europe, from several thousand years before the modern era. The world Middle-earth is actually supposed to be a fictional period in our Earth's own past 6,000 to 7,000 years ago. Tolkien's legendarium is often called "Middle-earth mythology".
Mythological Roots of Tolkien's LegendariumEdit
It is a well known fact that Tolkien had an interest in the Mythology and Linguistics of Northern Europe specifically that of the Germanic people, namely the pagan mythologies of the Norse and English peoples. The other main influence was Finnish Mythology; it having played a major role in the creation of The Silmarillion.
Many of these influences can be seen in the languages, the language used for the Rohirrim was substituted by Old English (the language that English is derived, known as Englisc at the time), and the language spoken in Dale and Esgaroth Old Norse, the languages the epic sagas and poems of old were written and told in.
Many of the events such as Smaug's awakening and rampage, the finding of the ring and the reforging Narsilall have parallels in Germanic Mythology. The epic poetry of Northern Europe's heathen past such as 'Beowulf' and 'Völsungasaga' have been cited as influencing Tolkien his legendarium.
The rampage of Smaug could be seen to be inspired by the English Epic Poem 'Beowulf', in which a cup is stolen from the sleeping wyrm. The dragon then leaves his cave for revenge before being defeated by Beowulf (who dies in the act).
The One Ring has been said by many to be inspired by the ring in the Norse sage of the Völsungs, and its later German version, the High Medieval 'Nibelunglied'; however comments by Tolkien make it unclear as to whether it was a reference to the 'Völsungasaga' or not. Alternatively the ring could be based on a ring of invisibility from Greek Mythology.
Éowyn's disguising as a man and many tales of 'Shieldmaidens' and ’Valkyries’ from the myths of many Germanic people likely inspired fighting alongside her kinfolk.
The thread of mythology runs so deep that even the name of the continent, Middle-earth has its origins in the north's heathen past. The name derives from the Old English 'Middanġeard' (Middle-Yard, meaning middle enclosure) which latter became the Middle English Middel-erde (meaning now Middle-earth rather than the older sense of Middle-Yard, though it should be noted that in this case it is applied to the same meaning, that of the land of men).
This name for our world has cognates in the various other Germanic languages, was known in Norse as ‘Miðgarðr’ (rendered as Midgard in Modern English), and is cognate of the Modern German 'Mittelerde'.
Tolkien Mythology is told largely in the following books:
- The Silmarillion
- Unfinished Tales
- The Children of Húrin
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of the Rings
- The History of Middle-earth twelve volumes
|J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium|