Freitag, 11. August 2017

Thursday, 10 August 2941 T.A.: In search of a lost path

When Horus Engels sketched Thranduil in 1957
it was not known yet that Elves are the Fair Folk.
On this day, in 2941 T.A., Bilbo and the Company (minus Thorin) made a desperate effort to find the lost path again, having stayed entirely without provisions and failed to replenish them from the Silvan Elves. 

They did not find it until nightfall, when they ran into an ambush by the Woodelves that only Bilbo avoided by using the One Ring. The Dwarves were led before Thranduil himself who was now wearing a "crown of berries and red leaves, for the autumn was come again". This was the first day of the Elvish season of Iavas

Since none of them would yield essential information, Thranduil imprisoned them all, and there they were going to stay for the next 40 days. In front of Bilbo lay, meanwhile, a long time of hiding away, leaving the halls and returning, often at the brink of discovery. 

Donnerstag, 10. August 2017

Wednesday, 9 August 2941 T.A.: Feasting Elves and feasting spiders

A Mirkwood spider and its prey
illustration by Horus Weber, 1957
In the Calendar of Imladris, 9 August 2941 T. A. marks the last day of summer (laer). This can be inferred by calibrating the Elvish New Year to the Shire Reckoning, which had been the point at which this timetable started. 

This is also the latest possible date at which the Necromancer may have been driven out of Dol Guldur, said to have happened "in late summer". The relevant time span is even shorter, however, if the seasons are reckoned according to the early editions of "The Hobbit", with autumn beginning on 1 August, as was the English/Irish tradition of old that Tolkien adhered to in writing "The Hobbit" (a fact that John Rateliff, the American, overlooked, causing him to spend many a page on discussions of Tolkien's seeming confusion in the timetables, though, once this fact is observed, the entire timetable of the second half of 2941 falls into place).

In Mirkwood, that day started in dreary rain. With the final provisions gone, the situation of the Company aggravated seriously. On the positive side, Bombur awoke at last from exactly seven days of enchanted sleep and was able to walk on his own again. 

In the late afternoon or early evening, they saw the Elven lights for the first time, causing them to stray from the path in search of food. The feast was very probably intended to celebrate the eve of autumn (iavas), suggested by Thranduil (or was it Legolas? Could Bilbo really distinguish a king from a prince?) wearing a crown of leaves on the occasion. This plausible assumption helped to date all the events back to the crossing of the Enchanted Stream.

That night also saw, after the third failed attempt to get food from the celebrating Quendi, the fierce encounter with the Mirkwood spiders while Thorin was dragged off into Thranduil's underground dwelling that constituted a crude imitation of Menegroth in First-Age Doriath.

Mittwoch, 9. August 2017

Tuesday, 8 August 2941 T.A: Butterfly-spotting in the treetops.

Even some British Purple Emperors are
almost as featureless as those of Mirkwood
On this day, in 2941 T. A., the Company descended into a valley of the Woodelves' realm, and when they had arrived on the ground of the depression, Thorin got a very Dwarvish idea: Have Bilbo climb up for a look-around! Anyone else would of course have preferred a hilltop, and the result of this effort was inevitable: Bilbo was not able to look far around and got the subjective impression that Mirkwood had absolutely no limits. Needless to say, his report did nothing to boost the morale of the Dwarves.

He made a keen observation on Mirkwood entomology, however: the discovery of the Black Emperors. This was a native species of butterflies apparently related to the Purple Emperor, apatura iris, of Southern Britain and Central Europe (said to be the second-largest British butterfly species) but without any of the familiar coloured markings. Douglas Anderson remarked on these in "The Annotated Hobbit" but failed to note their less pleasant characteristics: Emperors of any colour avoid "flowers, preferring rotting animal corpses, faeces, mud puddles - and even human sweat.... In Victorian times, the heyday of butterfly collecting, gamekeepers would attract Purple Emperors down to their gibbets by hanging out rotting carcasses of crows and rabbits." ( Such a species certainly comes not entirely unexpected in Mirkwood under Sauron's shadow!