Mittwoch, 22. November 2017

Monday, 22 November 2941 T. A.: Farewell to Erebor, never to come back

"Farewell Thorin Oakenshield! And Fili and
Kili! May your memory never fade!"
(E. Whymper: The Ascent of the Matterhorn, 1880)
I have just seen the setting crescent of the moon, so the second month of this dwarvish year has begun, as far as I am concerned.

About this time, though we cannot pinpoint it any more precisely, Bilbo Baggins finally left Erebor behind and began the long journey home. Some time after Thórins death, there had been a great funeral for the King under the Mountain, and the diplomatic arrangements between Thranduil, Dain and Bard certainly took their time, though Gandalf's presence may have, hopefully, speeded them up to reasonable progress. At any rate, Gandalf went with Bilbo, as did Beorn, and the Wood-elves provided them company to the edge of Mirkwood.

Despite the misgivings of John Rateliff expressed in "The History of the Hobbit", there was plenty of time left to go the long way around Mirkwood in the north and arrive back at Beorn's Hall on time. Karen Fonstad, in "The Atlas of Middle-earth" assumed the date of departure as 27 November 2941 T. A., which is as good a guess as anyone's. Alas, there was no phase of the moon recorded that would have allowed for a more precise identification of the calendar date.

Samstag, 18. November 2017

Thursday, 18 November 2941 T. A.: The king is dead, long live the king

Thórin son of Thrain on his deathbed
(Excerpt from "Macbeth murdering Duncan" by Robert Dudley)
On this day, in 2941 T. A., which was also the 27th day of the first month of the dwarvish new year, died Thórin II son of Thrain son of Thrór, Oakenshield, King under the Mountain, from the wounds received the previous day in the Battle of Five Armies.

Bilbo Baggins came to himself long after sunrise beneath a clear sky and had just enough time to bid farewell to Thórin in his tent in ruined Dale. And he wept long and sorrowful.

There was a new moon the night after, as the Dwarves probably honoured their fallen lord. We do not know anything about their rites, alas.      

Freitag, 17. November 2017

Wednesday, 17 November 2941 T. A.: The Battle of Who Knows How Many Armies

Dain son of Nain (though for a long
time I had mistaken this for an orc)
Illustration by Horus Engels for the 1957 Hobbit
On this day, in 2941 T. A., which was also the 26th day of the first lunar month of the dwarvish year, began with the early arrival of Dain's host that had marched through the night. The confrontation with the armies of Wood-elves and Lakemen was prevented, however, by the approaching hosts from the Misty Mountains.

According to the official record, the Five Armies for which the ensuing battle was named were Orcs and Wolves (Wargs), Dwarves, Elves and Men. But arguably, the vast number of bats and the eagles constituted airborne armies, too, so the number should maybe have been higher. There was a representative of Hobbits, too, though Bilbo took care to stay non-combattant on Ravenhill, and one of the Istari, raising the total number of species present to nine.

17 November is the sad day of the death of Kili and Fili who both fell while defending their severely wounded king, Thórin Oakenshield whose gravely injured body was ultimately taken into safety by Beorn.

The Eagles entered the battle when they arrived near sunset, and Beorn even after them. Victory against the orcs was allegedly assured before nightfall, but Bilbo did not witness it. He was knocked out by a flung stone and spent the whole night and morning in a coma that should have signified a severe traumatic brain injury. Evidently, hobbits are resistant not only against Great Rings but also against Heavy Stones.

Donnerstag, 16. November 2017

Tuesday, 16 November 2941 T. A.: No one tosses a hobbit

It was invented in Erebor, you know.
(Image by knightjj)
On this day, in 2941 T. A., which was also the 25th day of the first lunar month of the dwarvish year, the morning began with a commotion in the camp of the beleaguerers, and "about midday", Bard, Thranduil and Gandalf showed the Arkenstone in their possession to Thórin Oakenshield. Upon finding the culprit who had sneaked away the stone, Thórin felt inspired to invent the sportive game of hobbit-tossing (the idea caught on, but for the lack of hobbits, dwarves would be preferred in the Fourth Age and subsequently). Gandalf prevented the establishment of the first world-record and took Bilbo with him into the camp of the Very Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Bard granted 24 hours to Thórin to make up his mind, which Thórin would use to inform Dain of the latest developments by raven messenger and hurry him up.   

Mittwoch, 15. November 2017

Monday, 15 November 2941 T. A.: The Ring and the Arkenstone

Two days more to march? Oh, dear!
(Illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1905)
Presumably on this day, in 2941 T. A., Thórin Oakenshield learned that Dain and the Dwarves from the Iron Hills were only two days' marches away from Dale at this point, with "winter and snow hastening behind them"; Roäc was apparently speaking of the weather here, not of calendar seasons of which he, being a raven, would anyway know nothing.  

There is no specific evidence of this date, hence, it is derived from Karen Fonstad's estimate of Dain's travel speed in "The Atlas of Middle-earth", despite her setting Durin's Day and all subsequent events one week later, ignoring the evidence of the lunar phases. The assumption is superficially supported by Bilbo's observation, though, that there was no moon after sunset: it was the 24th day of the first month of the dwarvish year, the moon was in its last quarter and would rise only long after midnight. In the eyes of John Rateliff, meanwhile, the Dwarves must have traveled in a convoy of lorries, for his general misconception of placing Durin's Day in December throughout "The History of the Hobbit" rendered it impossible for him to reconcile travel times in Middle-earth with the seemingly too short time left till Yule 2941 T. A.

The timetable of the crucial events that evening is more distinct. The sun was setting at about 18.00 hours, according to a note by Tolkien given in "The History of The Hobbit" - this well matches the season and latitude of Erebor -, but Bilbo left Bombur at the outpost at 19.00 hours, with "about five hours before him" till their watch would be shifted. Despite having put on the Ring, he was discovered by the Wood-elves at the pool about 90 minutes later and at 21.00 hours, Bard and Thranduil were ready to listen to him. He may have left from there at 21.30 hours, recognising Gandalf in the army camp in the passing, was back to the outpost "well before midnight", say, at 23.30 hours, and woke Bombur on time for changing the shift.

There is a curious reference to "Thorin's letter that had been put under the clock on his mantelpiece in May" in this chapter of "The Hobbit". Of course, this had been put in April. The reference to May derives from the early manuscript drafts and has escaped correction in all published editions.  

Donnerstag, 9. November 2017

Tuesday, 9 November 2941 T.A.: Two kings before the mountain, one king beneath the mountain

A heavy load of dragon-gold
makes Oakenshield look worn and old
(still from Fritz Lang's "Song of the Nibelungs")
On this day, in 2941 T. A., which was the seventeenth of the first lunar month of the dwarvish new year, Bard, king-elect of future new Esgaroth, approached the main gate of the Lonely Mountain (after having crossed the River Running, thus approaching on the west bank) and tried in vain to achieve an agreement with Thórin, self-proclaimed king of future new Erebor. Thórin rejected any negotiations.

A few hours later, after a less courteous proclamation of Bard's claim, the siege of Erebor was officially declared. Thórin saw only one option left: wait for Dain's relief force. Bilbo had a different solution in mind but did not dare use it.

Mittwoch, 8. November 2017

Monday, 8 November 2941 T. A.: Singing at the riverbank

The new camp was within eyesight of the Lonely Mountain
(BL Royal 20 C I Les fait des Romains)
On this day, in 2941 T. A., the scouts of Wood-elves and Lake-men rose early and investigated the situation near the source of the River Running soon after sunrise. Till noon, the camp on the right bank was advanced to the very spurs of Erebor, within eyesight, hear and smell of the main gate, putting Thórin's little kingdom beneath the mountain effectively under siege. Thórin set up a couple of calculations to find out when Dain's reinforcements might be expected. Nothing more was reported for this day, save for a lot of sometimes too warlike music.    

Dienstag, 7. November 2017

Sunday, 7 November 2941 T. A.: Living lights in dead Dale

They saw lights as of Fires and torches away south in Dale
("Gunner" F.J. Mears, British Soldiers Marching Towards Ruins at Night, ca. 1917)
On this day, in 2941 T. A., the sun was already setting when the joint forces of Wood-elves and Lakemen finally came within sight of the main gate of Erebor. Somehow, whether by boat or by a ford, a part of their host had crossed the River Running, and they advanced in parallel along both banks until they reached the ruins of deserted Dale.

In the early evening, before the moon rose, the watchposts of the Dwarves observed the living lights of fires and torches in dead Dale and knew that their foes had arrived. There was reportedly very little sleep available that night.

Sonntag, 5. November 2017

Friday, 5 November 2941 T. A.: Back to the Lonely Mountain

A wide pool now stretched from the mountain-wall to the fall
(The Matterhorn, by John nash Peake, 1899)

On this day, in 2941 T. A. - the thirteenth day of the first lunar month of the dwarvish year -, Fili and Kili returned at last to Erebor, having spent four days altogether with rounding up the ponies and bringing provisions that might sustain a siege for weeks. Since they could not keep the ponies in the mountain, they were only unloaded and then sent on their way south, towards the host of Elves and Men that meanwhile advanced into the desolate lands and camped again, probably up the River Running. Assuming that they went slower than the dwarves on their horses and ponies, they would have to march at least two more days till they reached the Lonely Mountain.

Samstag, 4. November 2017

Thursday, 4 November 2941 T. A.: Marching under the full moon

Ravens! Calling everything a pony that walks on four legs.
On this day, in 2941 T. A., which Bilbo Baggins recorded as the eleventh after the death of Smaug (and it was the twelfth of the new year of the Dwarves), the joined Wood-elves and Lake-men were marching north from the refugee camp that Thranduil had helped raise for the survivors of Esgaroth, and the head of their hosts reached the mouth of the River Running into the Long Lake. Bilbo's memories are a bit convoluted at this point but may be interpreted in such a way that Kili and Fili, who had by then rounded up the three surviving ponies, observed the advance from afar and decided to hurry back to Erebor, with their raven guide probably flying ahead of them.

The moon was shining full on the camp that the two hosts made in the Desolation of Smaug.

Mittwoch, 1. November 2017

Monday, 1 November 2941 T.A.: Past the threshold of winter

11th-century calendar from Christ Church, Canterbury (BL Arundel 155, f.7) 
with the beginning of winter marked on 7 November
On this day, in 2941 T. A., the threshold of winter was finally passed in the north of Middle-earth. The calendars of the Shire and of Bree still remembered this fact in their name of the month that now commenced: Winterfilth and Wintring, respectively, 'which was a Bree alteration of the older name, which had originally referred to the completion of the year before Winter, and descended from times ... when their new year began after harvest.'

In other words, Winterfilth/October had been the final month of the old year in the traditional reckoning of northern Rhovanion includine Dale and the Vale of Anduin, before the Steward's Reckoning had been adopted. The Dwarves of Erebor had obviously adapted their calendar to this fact, keeping Durin's Day no more than half a lunar phase away from the new year of Dale.

Bede and Byrhtferth give 7 November as the first day of winter and 6 February as its last, centring on the winter solstice - but mark out All Saints Day, 1 November, as the threshold of winter. (Likewise, BTW, 1 August is the threshold of autumn according to a medieval book, the "Menologium", August itself commencing on the 7th and leading is to, you may have guessed, midsummer's day after exactly half the period.)
Thórin Oakenshield had no sense for such intricacies. He was informed by the helpful ravens that three of their ponies that had been scattered and believed to be devoured by Smaug had been localised downstream of the Running River, near their first camp. Fili and Kili were sent out to retrieve them and their load, guided by one raven.