The Eyes of Legolas

Tumblr User Explains Why Elves’ Eyes In Lord Of The Rings Shouldn’t Look The Way They Do, but in fact there is no problem.

In The Two Towers Legolas claims to clearly see the horsemen of Rohan at a distance of 5 leagues. How is this possible when you consider the curvature of the Earth? You can come up with some bizarre ideas about Elven anatomy which are not suggested in the books or seen in the movies. However, there is a an elegant answer based on the nature of Arda, Tolkien’s world. It was flat, not round, until the end of the second age. At that time the Valar made it round so that mortals could not access Valinor. But Elves could still go there. For them the Earth was still flat and they could sail the straight path to Valinor. Hence for Legolas the curvature of the Earth and the horizon did not exist and hence he could accurately see the horsemen 5 leagues away.

Another Hobbit

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, an Unexpected Hero.

… Lobelia is one of only a few Hobbit women who are given more than a momentary glance in Middle-earth, and a compelling character in her own right. And what’s more, her narrative arc illustrates beautifully some of the more important lessons The Lord of the Rings has to teach, as she becomes an unlikely hero to those who had consistently refused to give her a chance.

This will only make sense if you have read the books. Peter Jackson did not include the Scouring of the Shire in the film version of The Return of the King.


I went (via Zoom) to a great lecture last night. Serafina Nance spoke to the The Calgary Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada on Tracing the Lives, Deaths, and Explosions of Massive Stars.

Supernovae are cosmic events of gigantic power. Their explosions can shine as bright as a galaxy, a pinprick of extraordinarily bright light in the night sky. What is less well-understood, however, is which stars reach the point of explosion and how they evolve to their deaths. Interestingly, their explosions provide astronomers with key tools to uncover fundamental aspects of our Universe. While we know that the Universe is expanding at an accelerated rate due to dark energy, the rate of the expansion of the Universe is not well-constrained. Supernovae provide us with independent ways to measure this expansion and work to resolve one of the most pivotal questions in astronomy: How fast is the Universe really expanding?
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Another one of Tolkien’s Sources

Mithra-ndir: Gandalf and the Roman cult of Mithras.

J.R.R. Tolkien described The Lord of the Rings as a fundamentally Catholic work. But a close reading of the epic novel reveals many more influences, including a connection between Mithras and the wizard Gandalf, whose Elvish name is Mithrandir.
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A Taste of Latin

I really do not have much talent for foreign languages, but I find them fascinating. I studied German in High School and Russian in College. For some years now I have studying Irish. Last summer I took a short introduction to Ancient Babylonian. I have had a interest in Latin for a long time. So when I found on Facebook a notice for Vocatio ad cenamI decided to sign up.

There were three days of video lessons, entirely in Latin. Simplified Latin, but still Latin. We worked through Carmen XIII, by Catullus. The first day was with a very simplied version of the text, while on the second we had a version that was less simplified. One the third day we went through the original text. The class ended the next day with an interactive session to review the exercises and have some general discussion.

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Good article about LOTR

Bent Out of Shape: The Ring of Power and the Wraithing of Humanity.

It runs against human nature to reject an advantage once we have it, but that’s what Tolkien’s heroes do again and again. It seems natural to long to wield power and to have great authority, but Tolkien uses a Ring and a concept—wraithing—to warn us against the terrible, corrupting force of absolute power.


“And here is where I take a brief aside and beg you to please read the books if you have only seen the movies, because Peter Jackson utterly destroyed Faramir’s character in the movie.”

See Tolkien vs. Jackson: Differences Between Story and Screenplay. For myself, I had read LOTR many times before seeing the first movie. Hence when seeing the movies my mind automatically filled in the parts Jackson omitted, and corrected those he changed. The books come first, in more than one way.

Greek and Roman sling messages

From Writing funny stuff on ammo is over 2000 years old:

Know those great photos of World War II crews painting bombs with messages like “Easter Eggs for Hitler” or “To Mussolini, with Love”? It turns out, your ancestors have been doing that for over 2,000 years, because the British Museum has sling shot from 300 B.C. where missileers were telling the enemy to “Catch!” their shot.

The British Museum has a good example.

“Catch” is one of the tamer examples. From Humorous Inscriptions on Lead Sling-Bolts (Sling Bullets; Slingshot) Reflect a Roman War of Words:

Some NSFW examples follow

Rang Gaeilge, 22ú lá Mí na Nollag 2020

Duinnín agus an Bhean nár tugadh Nimh di

There is a slightly different version of the story at Feasta.

Neimh, ­e, f., poison venom, virulence, pus. . . neimh na ndúl i ngrúg na gaoithe, all the venom of Nature in the fury of the wind (Kea.). . . Tá neimh na meanadh ar an snáthaid, the poison of the awl is on the needle (of inherited qualities); domlas dragúin agus neimh thríd suaidhte go mbadh é deoch do shuain é ar uair do bháis.. . .

dúl = dúilelement (of creation)
grúgAnger, displeasuref
domlasgall, bile
dragúndragoon; dragonm
suanSleep, slumberm

  • Bhí an bhean bheag liath roimhe[?] ina pharlús nuair a d’fhill an tAthair Pádraig Ó Duinnín ón leabharlann Náisiúnta go dtí an bungaló i bPort Mhearnóg mar a mbíodh cónaí air. Ní raibh tine ar lasadh ann agus bhí taise an fhómhair agus taise an tsáile sa pharlús. Bhí an beanín, cuachta ina cóta liath, suite ar imeall cathaoireach. Ainneoin an fhuachta, bhí péacáin allais ar a héadan. D’éirigh sí go scáfar nuair tháinig sé isteach.

    The little gray woman was in his parlor before Father Patrick Dineen returneed from the National Library to the bungalow in Portmarnock where he lived. There was no fire lit and the dampness of the autumn and the moisture of the sea were in the parlor. The little woman, wrapped in a gray coat, was seated on the edge of a chair. In spite of the cold, there were drops of sweat on her face/forehead. She rose up timidly when he came in.

    taiseDampness, moistness, humidity; softness, smoothness, tenderness; mildness, gentleness; kindness, compassion; Fetch, wraithf
    sáileSea-water, sea; Ease, comfortf
    cuachtabundled, wrapped
    imeallBorder, edge, rim, marginm
    Ainneoinnotwithstanding, in spite of
    péacánSprout, shoot, plumulem
    scáfarFearful; Frightful, dreadful; Timid, apprehensive

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