Freitag, 6. April 2018

Thu, 6 April 2942: Happy New Year of the Elves

Detail from the inn discovered in Zagreb
You may have forgotten all about it by now, but we are not yet finished with our Hobbit Timetable! It's just that nothing at all has happened since Yule. Yes, Gandalf and Bilbo are still straining Beorn's hospitality. Really, as a host this man bears a lot!

On this day, in 2942 TA, the Elves of Middle-earth celebrated their New Year. Or maybe they did so one day sooner; there is no chance of adjusting the Calender of Imladris to the Shire Reckoning. All we know is that the New Year fell on 6 April both in 2941 TA (attested in UT) and in 3020 TA (attested in App. B), which is impossible when the twelve-year intercalary period described in App. D is taken into account: If App. B. is considered canonical, then the New Year of 2941 would by necessity have fallen on 5 April, maybe even on 4 April. Yes, Tolkien did blunder in this respect.

It may be around this time that Gandalf and Bilbo finally consider departure. We know that they will be in Rivendell by 1 May, we also know that the travel distance Back from the Anduin to Rivendell is about two weeks, as it had been on the way There, the delay in the orc-town made up for by flying with Manwe's airline.

Discovered on Easter Monday in Zagreb, Croatia
Karen Fonstad did not include steps of the return voyage in her Atlas of Middle-earth, hence we may only rely upon our own conjectures. 

(Courtesy to my daughter who took the adjoining photographs with her camera at my request.)

Montag, 19. März 2018

The Three Modes of Counting Time: Tolkien and the Venerable Bede

When I collected data for the new final chapter of "The Moon in 'The Hobbit'", I realised that there are not two but three different modes of counting time used in different regions of Middle-earth. I believe that Tolkien was inspired to use them by the Venerable Bede, from whom he also took the names of the Shire months. Briefly, those three modes are:

- The Arnorian mode, used in the Shire, Bree and by the Dúnedain (Aragorn alludes to it). Like in our modern system, a full day is divided into 24 hours of equal lengths, and clocks are made to count them. The Venerable Bede called this mode natural hours or equinoctial hours because the counting represents the natural division of day and night at the exact moment of an equinox, i. e. 2 x 12. 

- The Gondorian mode, used in Minas Tirith and probably the rest of Gondor. Here, the period from sunrise to sunset is divided into 12 hours and counted from 1 to 12. This count is the inevitable result of observing sundials. It is correspondingly ancient and alluded to already in the Silmarillion (Maedhros coming "at the third hour of morning"!). The Venerable Bede called this mode artificial hours because "artifice" was his word for a sundial. 

- The Northmannish mode, used in Rohan and possibly in Rhovanion. It uses artificial hours, too, but counts them before or after noon, not from sunrise to sunset. (Tolkien yet applied it once in "Cirion and Eorl" though his source was allegedly Gondorian.) Strangely, this mode pops up among the Fellowship all of a sudden soon after Gandalf is lost. If this is not simply a negligible oversight by Tolkien it might suggest that someone else assumed the task of observing the sky then - Legolas, possibly, for Boromir and Aragorn would have used the Gondorian or Arnorian mode, respectively. (Legolas also makes it his habit to count "two days ago" as "thrice twelve hours". Maybe that's his personal twirk for it never occurs anywhere else, as fas as I am aware.)      

Artificial hours represent true solar time at your place, not an averaged time. Their drawback is that these hours are not constant over the year, hence they are unsuitable for mechanical clockworks. Instead, they will be longer in summer and shorter in winter as the daytime divided into twelve equal parts expands and shrinks; hence the Roman distinction of summer hours and winter hours. The difference also is the harder felt the further north you are, hence, it may have suggested to Elendil to fall back on equinoctial hours instead. 

The following diagram shows the lengths of artificial hours over the year at about the latitude of Pelargir (or Rome, in our modern world). You will see that Pippin makes a pretty good guess when he equates the 3rd hour of Minas Tirith to 9 o:clock in the Shire at this season.


Dienstag, 13. März 2018

"The Moon in 'The Hobbit'' - Extended Edition, currently available for free

This Tuesday and Wednesday, the Kindle edition of this recent publication on astronomical phenomena in "The " and other works by can be downloaded for free:

This edition includes much of the day-by-day timetable of events in "The Hobbit" published last year on this blog. It is thus twice as voluminous as the previous version and includes 90+ full-colour illustrations (hence the price of the print edition!).
Further, I have severely amended the section on Third-Age calendars, removing arithmetic errors committed in the previous releases. I have now been able to show that Tolkien had calculated his "millennial deficits" correct after all, despite previous claims to the opposite.
As a bonus I have added another, previously unpublished chapter: "Bell, Clock and Mantelpiece", on the different concepts of measuring hours in MIddle-earth and why clockmaking is an art restricted to Eriador. It shows that Tolkien was by all likelihood inspired by the Venerable Bede again, like he was with the names of the Shire months.