The Keepers of the Lists

For Fangorn is old, old even as the Elves would reckon it.
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Ent High Elder
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The Ents of old learned their lore through List-making. We are told that Treebeard once recited part of the Old List to the Hobbit-friends Meriadoc and Peregrin.
You do not seem to come in the old lists that I learned when I was young. But that was a long, long time ago, and they may have made new lists. Let me see! Let me see! How did it go?

Learn now the lore of Living Creatures!
First name the four, the free peoples:
Eldest of all, the elf-children;
Dwarf the delver, dark are his houses;
Ent the earthborn, old as mountains;
Man the mortal, master of horses:

Beaver the builder, buck the leaper,
Bear bee-hunter, boar the fighter;
Hound is hungry, hare is fearful...

Eagle in eyrie, ox in pasture,
Hart horn-crowned; hawk is swiftest
Swan the whitest, serpent coldest...


It was a long list.
The purpose of this thread, the "Keepers of the Lists" is to discuss the lore of Living Creatures and all things in Arda. The only "rule" is to keep the conversation respectful and (as best you can) keep the conversation on-topic. We welcome all voices and levels of lore knowledge to the conversation, as the purpose is to help everyone learn more about Middle-Earth. To help make the conversation easier to follow, let's stick to one topic at a time, but if other people have future topics they would like to discuss, feel free to suggest them and we can add them to a list of "future topics."

Current topic: A discussion of the scientific ecology of Middle-Earth

Weathered Ent
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I think I will start this off. Of note trees are a prominent theme in the history of Middle earth. They play an important role in its ecology. Trees (Huorns) will even devour Orcs. Huorn type beings are not just restricted to Fangorn. They are also found in the Old Forest.
Huorn of Fangorn

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One of the things I always found fascinating about the Trees (and Ents in particular) was how they were part of Eru's plan originally, but were not fully conceived until Yavanna's response to Aule's creation of the Dwarves.
'If thou hadst thy will what wouldst thou reserve?' said Manwë. 'Of all thy realm what dost thou hold dearest?'
'All have their worth,' said Yavanna, 'and each contributes to the worth of the others. But the kelvar can flee or defend themselves, whereas the olvar that grow cannot. And among these I hold trees dear. Long in the growing, swift shall they be in the felling, and unless they pay toll with fruit upon bough little mourned in their passing. So I see in my thought. Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!'
'This is a strange thought,' said Manwë.
'Yet it was in the Song,' said Yavanna. 'For while thou wert in the heavens and with Ulmo built the clouds and poured out the rains, I lifted up the branches of great trees to receive them, and some sang to Ilúvatar amid the wind and the rain.'
That said, I think the ability of some trees (Huorns in particular, though also Old Man Willow to an extent) to influence the world around them is fascinating. For instance, it seems Huorns have the ability to create a misty-darkness (beyond just what their foliage covers of the sunlight) and Old Man Willow certainly had some abilities to influence the physical world as well.
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In that quote, I was also struck by "the trees speak on behalf of all things that have roots." I can't remember, is this referenced again anywhere?

In LoTR, we see Treebeard mainly concerned with Fangorn (of course!) and the fate of the Entwives. Only when Fangorn itself was threatened was there any move to get involved in the wider world. In earlier Ages, would the Ents have seen their role as speaking on behalf of the olvar/flora? Or was this a more general "let's give the trees a guardian that is sentient because they're at most risk"?
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Ent High Elder
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This is a great question. The only mention I recall of the Ents in the Silmarillion, other than the narrative of their creation in the Of Aule and Yavanna chapter is when they come down out of the forests to aid the Elves in stopping the fleeing Dwarves who had killed Thingol and stolen the Silmaril.
Silmarillion, Of the Ruin of Doriath wrote:Thus it came to pass that when the Dwarves of Nogrod, returning from Menegroth with diminished host, came again to Sarn Athrad, they were assailed by unseen enemies; for as they climbed up Gelion's banks burdened with the spoils of Doriath, suddenly all the woods were filled with the sound of elven-horns, and shafts sped upon them from every side. There very many of the Dwarves were slain in the first onset; but some escaping from the ambush held together, and fled eastwards towards the mountains. And as they climbed the long slopes beneath Mount Dolmed there came forth the Shepherds of the Trees, and they drove the Dwarves into the shadowy woods of Ered Lindon: whence, it is said, came never one to climb the high passes that led to their homes.
I always saw this as the fulfillment of the conversation of Aule and Yavanna at the time when Dwarves and Ents were created:
Silmarillion, Of Aule and Yavanna wrote:Yavanna returned to Aulë; and he was in his smithy, pouring molten metal into a mould. 'Eru is bountiful,' she said. 'Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.'
'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,' said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.
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Good points, Mojo. So we know that the Ents and the Dwarves didn't always like each other, specially when Dwarves were greedy little buggers. Was that a function of Aule vs Yavanna or just the Ents realizing those particular Dwarves were up to no good?

I always smiled at Aule's response...Yavanna's all "Watch out! Look what I did, so BEWARE" and Aule's just like "oh well, wood will always be in demand" then shrugs and goes back to work.

Basically, what it looks like it boils down to is that the Ents will protect all good people who are within their forests, but might not care as much about other flora elsewhere. Though a meeting between an Ent and Old Man Willow would be interesting!
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Ent High Elder
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I think some of that plays out in Treebeard's commentary on the Ents and Entwives. The Ents were more concerned with the larger things (trees) while the Entwives cared more for the smaller things (flowers, gardens, etc).
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Geez, am I ever rusty on Lore.....Thanks for that reminder.
I really wish we'd been able to see Entwives...and Entings.

What would a Ent child be like? How hasty would they be?
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Ent High Elder
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While we didn't specifically see Entwives, Tolkien was kind enough to give us this little hint:
The Shadow of the Past, Fellowship of the Ring wrote: Sam Gamgee was sitting in one corner near the fire, and opposite him was Ted Sandyman, the miller's son; and there were various other rustic hobbits listening to their talk.
'Queer things you do hear these days, to be sure,' said Sam.
'Ah,' said Ted, 'you do, if you listen. But I can hear fireside-tales and children's stories at home, if I want to.'
'No doubt you can,' retorted Sam, 'and I daresay there's more truth in some of them than you reckon. Who invented the stories anyway? Take dragons now.'
'No thank 'ee,' said Ted, 'I won't. I heard tell of them when I was a youngster, but there's no call to believe in them now. There's only one Dragon in Bywater, and that's Green,' he said, getting a general laugh.
'All right,' said Sam, laughing with the rest. 'But what about these Tree-men, these giants, as you might call them? They do say that one bigger than a tree was seen up away beyond the North Moors not long back.'
'Who's they?'
'My cousin Hal for one. He works for Mr. Boffin at Overhill and goes up to the Northfarthing for the hunting. He saw one.'
'Says he did, perhaps. Your Hal's always saying he's seen things; and maybe he sees things that ain't there.'
'But this one was as big as an elm tree, and walking – walking seven yards to a stride, if it was an inch.'
'Then I bet it wasn't an inch. What he saw was an elm tree, as like as not.'
'But this one was walking, I tell you; and there ain't no elm tree on the North Moors.'
'Then Hal can't have seen one,' said Ted. There was some laughing and clapping: the audience seemed to think that Ted had scored a point.
As the the question of Entings, I would imagine they would be curious and clumsy, almost like a Baby Groot (crossing fantasy worlds). Also (to continue the crossover), I wonder what the "growth cycle" for a baby Enting would be? Like how "baby Yoda" is already 50 years old but still a baby...would an Ent of a few hundred years still be a "baby"?
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Mojo wrote: Wed May 20, 2020 4:47 am I think some of that plays out in Treebeard's commentary on the Ents and Entwives. The Ents were more concerned with the larger things (trees) while the Entwives cared more for the smaller things (flowers, gardens, etc).
Was it a size thing, or was it that the Entwives were more about ordered farming and agriculture, rather than things spontaneously growing? That was always the impression I got. If things were useful and could be cultivated for produce, the Entwives were interested in it. And their lands were what became the Brown Lands, which might tie in with Tolkien’s opinions on The Mill.
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A Groot-ling! That's a good thought. I would imagine the growth cycle for a baby Enting would depend on the kind of tree they are. Some grow quickly, others not so much. Their mental growth rate might be slower than their physical growth rate, too. And how long would it take them to be comfortable with speaking Old Entish?
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Ent High Elder
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In response to @Sil's comment I think "large" and "small" may have been the improper words to use. She is correct that the Entwives interest was more geared towards farming and agriculture (I think I remember Treebeard talking about their gardens and their fields of corn?) which would also make sense why they were attracted to the lands near the Shire.

To @Flame Fried Ent's point (I almost said "To Meg's point"...some habits die hard!) on trees growing differently is a great one. Treebeard is named as the "Eldest" and I believe he implied that it was the Elves originally who taught the Ents to speak. That would mean that Treebeard has likely been around for three full ages of the world. For the sake of the timeline, let's say this was approximately the year 1200 of the Age of the Trees (the Elves first entered Beleriand in 1125 and went to Valinor in 1132). This is also approximately 2875 sun-years before the creation of the Sun.

We know they did not "lose" the Entwives until the end of the second age (the battle of the Last Alliance was 3429-3441 S.A). So let's say for the sake of the timeline that there were about 6900 sun-years between the awakening of the Ents and the losing of the Entwives. From there it was another ~3025 years before Merry and Pippin met Treebeard.
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@Mojo , you can call me Meg, it's OK. :)

I'd say at least 3 full ages. Who knows when exactly the Elves first found the Ents?
I'm pretty sure the vast majority of the Entwives died during the battle of the Last Alliance. Some would have fled, of course--wouldn't be surprised if some of them made it to the Shire.

And now, pivoting to another topic. I seem to remember reading that, except for the Elves (and Orcs, I guess), there were representatives of every species on both sides of the Last Alliance battles. What could cause an Ent to go bad enough to fight for Sauron?
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Weathered Ent
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It is entirely possible those 'walking trees' seen near the shire make have been Entwives.

On fighting for Sauron, I don't think so. Recall that he settled in Mount Doom where there is a lot of fire. Orcs tended to burn trees. Also the trees of the old forest were not on anyone's side.
Huorn of Fangorn

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@Flame Fried Ent - maybe it was an oversight not to mention Ents in that context. I would say that hobbits must be another race that did not fight for both sides.

Judging by Treebeard's deep scorn for Orcs, much like Elves, I can't see any Ent fighting for Sauron. Since it was so difficult for Merry and Pippin to encourage them to march on Isengard, I wonder how Sauron could ever have convinced an Ent to fight on his side. This is a very interesting thought you have!

I am wondering myself about what other creatures might have been in the List of Living Creatures that we do not get to specifically read from Treebeard. I assume most of the creatures appearing, or named in, the books would be in the List.

Do you think oliphaunts would appear in the Ents' List being from so far away? Would they be similar to hobbits, of whom the Ents had not heard of? Or can we assume if Sam had heard of oliphaunts all the way sheltered in the Shire that the Ents surely would have in all their years of living?

Also - would Tom Bombadil appear on the List? And if so - could Treebeard shed some light on his mysterious nature for us? (Ok - this one's meant as a joke.)

Ent High Elder
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To Meg's question about the Last Alliance - I think the connectivity between Ents and Trolls (we are told Trolls were made in mockery of Ents) is similar enough to the connection between Elves and Orcs that it could be said with some certainty that Ents did not fight for Sauron in the Last Alliance, but their counterpart Trolls did.

@Lailyn Way back in the early days of the Old Plaza (around like 2003ish) there was a thread in Fangorn to build up the rest of the "List of Living Creatures" which was a fun activity but a lot harder to winnow down some creatures to one or two words than one might think! The question of oliphaunts is a good one. Obviously their legend had reached the Shire so the poem would have been known in other regions as well, but that begs the question of whether or not the Ents would have had enough contact with Men and Elves to pick it up.

I think Tom is similar enough in appearance to Men and Elves that he would not have appeared on the list. Remember, most people didn't think of the Istari as "angelic beings come to Middle-Earth" even though they were Ainur.
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@Flame Fried Ent and @Lailyn, that's a good question about Ents fighting against the Last Alliance. My inclination would be to agree with Lailyn, that it was an oversight. Or would any enslaved Entwives forced to work agriculture count to that end? Tolkien mentions that as a possibility when speculating on the fate of the Entwives.

And interesting thing to look up - I have not done so yet - would be to determine when exactly that line about all races except Elves being divided was first written. If it was pre-LoTR, then I can well see it being a hold-over, if I recall correctly, Tolkien had not yet consciously thought of Ents beforehand.
What, she killed them with mathematics. What else could it have been? - Jayne Cobb

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Those are all good points. I honestly don't remember where I saw that quote...will have to go dig it up.

Turin, I hadn't even thought about the Entwives being enslaved and forced to farm. It happens enough in RL....but I guess I, like most people, just assumed that when the Entwives were found to be gone they had either fled or died.

I don't think that Tom Bombadil would have appeared on the List. He's a bit of a unique creation. I'm half convinced he was put in the story when it was nothing more than a follow-up to the Hobbit when it might have been more in the "tra-la-la-lally down here in the valley" style. Another part of me thinks he's like Peeves in HP, just some sort of random thing. Now I'm thinking about what a meeting between Tom Bombadil and Treebeard would have been like. And besides, which of them is Eldest, truly?

So many questions, so few answers!
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The quote about all living things being divided comes from the Silmarillion, Rings of Power and the Third Age. I'm not sure when Tolkien first penned something of the sort. Do you happen to know where (or if!) there is any notes on the development of that chapter?
What, she killed them with mathematics. What else could it have been? - Jayne Cobb

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This brings up another interesting point though - the quote seems fairly obvious that Dwarves would have been also in the service of Sauron. It is almost certain that Sauron possesses some of the Dwarven Rings of Power. Yet we never really see "evil Dwarves" used in battle by Sauron (or tactically, anywhere else). I wonder what their purpose was? Perhaps in the making of armor and weapons of war?
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In the book The Children of Húrin there is the evil Mîm - a Petty Dwarf who betrays Túrin's band of outlaws to orcs, leading the orcs to the caves where the company is taken unawares. In general his race was treacherous in the story. The Petty-dwarves were Dwarves that were exiled in ancient times for reasons unknown. They were smaller in stature and had reduced smithing abilities. These Dwarves were far more unsociable and gave away their names freely. Tolkien's original Dwarf concept was that all Dwarves were greedy beings that were treacherous and unable to create works of beauty without the help of others. But the Dwarf concept evolved in later works, so Tolkien made these a separate race - the Petty Dwarves.
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Ent High Elder
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Interestingly, there is some discussion of the Petty Dwarves happening in the Lore forum right now -> https://lotrfanaticsplaza.com/forum/vie ... ?f=3&t=255

That said, the "Petty Dwarves" weren't specifically evil in the way I was thinking. They were more out for themselves but weren't enlisted servants of Morgoth or Sauron. I was thinking more of "evil Dwarves" in the sense of how the Haradrim or Nazgul were servants of Sauron and fought for his causes. Despite Sauron having a few of the Dwarf rings, there aren't Dwarven Ringwraiths, and we don't see Dwarves marching against Minas Tirith the same way we see Easterlings and Southrons.
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I think it would be a bit strange for dwarves to be much in the service of Mordor directly--what is said of dwarves mentions their hardiness and resistance to corruption (f.e. no dwarf wraiths created by rings of power), and they obviously have a strong racial hatred for goblins, which would make it very difficult to integrate them smoothly into the infrastructure of Mordor. Furthermore, it seems pretty clear that the other races take a back foot to Men in the wars that end the Third Age. While Elves and Dwarves participate, and so do Orcs (obviously), the greatest numbers on either side are Men.

At the end of the Silmarillion, it mentions that no dwarves in the line of Durin ever fought for evil, but the Hobbit does make mention of "wicked" dwarves. The evidence seems as sparse as the dwarves themselves.

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I wonder if there were Dwarves that were not necessarily "evil" or "servants" of Sauron but "subjugated" in a sense that they paid tribute or provided some materials to him in exchange for safety?

I think this quote from the Council of Elrond may be relevant in how Sauron approached the Dwarves as well:
"Then about a year ago a messenger came to Dáin, but not from Moria – from Mordor: a horseman in the night, who called Dáin to his gate. The Lord Sauron the Great, so he said, wished for our friendship. Rings he would give for it, such as he gave of old. And he asked urgently concerning hobbits, of what kind they were, and where they dwelt. "For Sauron knows," said he, "that one of these was known to you on a time."

'At this we were greatly troubled, and we gave no answer. And then his fell voice was lowered, and he would have sweetened it if he could. "As a small token only of your friendship Sauron asks this," he said: "that you should find this thief," such was his word, "and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever. Find only news of the thief, whether he still lives and where, and you shall have great reward and lasting friendship from the Lord. Refuse, and things will not seem so well. Do you refuse?"
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I think I believe I found the relevant passage which @Flame Fried Ent originally referred to:
"From Imladris they crossed the Misty Mountains by many passes and marched down the River Anduin, and so came at last upon the host of Sauron on Dagorlad, the Battle Plain, which lies before the gate of the Black Land. All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only. They alone were undivided and followed Gil-galad. Of the Dwarves few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron."
Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, The Silmarillion


To me, this confirms that Dwarves did indeed fight for Sauron. However, perhaps they were not so much fighting for Sauron as fighting against Gil-galad in an effort of the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Or perhaps they were promised gold or some other desirable reward similar to Sauron's summons for aid in Mojo's quote from the Council of Elrond.

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That is the right quote, @Lailyn!

I can see why the Moria dwarves would go with Gil-galad. Who knows about the others.

This also does indicate that some Ents were on both sides....so my original question stands.
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To quote @Flame Fried Ent "
"This also does indicate that some Ents were on both sides....so my original question stands."

Fangorn was a treacherous place for anyone who wandered within its boarders. As discussed, albeit facetiously that Fangorn was 'neutral evil' - it is more dangerous because its denizens didn't trust outsiders. Outsiders tend to cut with axes and burn.

Interesting in reference to trolls being made in mockery of the Ents -- in the book Treebeard is described as a man-like somewhat troll-like figure.
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On the one hand I wonder if there is perhaps some literary license taken, and we are not meant to read that particular passage with incisive literal eyes.

On the other hand, if Treebeard's attitude of 'I am nobody's friend, because nobody cares for the woods' attitude can be projected backwards, we could imagine a world where the Ents were promised some sort of tree protection or flourishing, and concluded (however half-rationally) that no one else would help them other than Sauron.

But returning to the first hand, I have a hard time imagining Ents even taking the field of battle, for either side.

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As @KingODuckingham says, its true, I am not sure we are meant to take this sentence literally. Perhaps Tolkien was being dramatic with this statement and did not actually consult or form a checklist in his mind of every existing race at the time. In my opinion with nothing to back me up, I don't think that Ents will have fought for Sauron considering their hatred for Orcs, as Oakie said before and considering they don't much get involved with "outside affairs" we could call them, it seems to me unlikely they will have been involved in this battle at all unless their forests were under direct threat.

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Yeah, you guys are probably right about the literary licence. I always saw the Last Alliance as sort of a WW1/WW2 scenario where there wasn't any part of the world that wasn't affected in some way.
As @KingODuckingham says, though....maybe Sauron promised the Ents the location of the Entwives, or maybe showed them a few Entings or something. That's be the only way, short of an assault on Fangorn, to get the Ents to move against anybody, IMHO.
In the end, it was probably literary licence, or they guarded the flanks and the Entwives were forced to garden or something.
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Flame Fried Ent wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:48 am the Entwives were forced to garden or something.
I think this is a highly plausible scenario. The "Brown Lands" where the gardens of the Entwives were located were relatively close to Mordor. We also know that the Southern Plains of Mordor were generally considered somewhat decent farming land to provide food for Sauron's massive armies. The real defilement of Mordor was in the northern areas around Mount Doom and Barad-dur. It is ENTirely possible there were some Entwives that Sauron captured and forced into servitude of gardening and growing food for his armies, though this would not be them directly "fighting" they still would have been aiding the Enemy (albeit unwillingly).
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I agree. And then the war came to Mordor and the Entwives burned, with their lands.

What topic should we talk about next?
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I'm up for any topic!

Shameless plug, I'm starting an LOTR Read-Along over in the Lore Forum starting next week if anyone would like to join in, it's open to all! -> https://lotrfanaticsplaza.com/forum/vie ... ?f=3&t=352
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We need a new topic here! Ents are supposed to take a long time to say things, but not just NOT say things! I have a suggestion too: can we talk about the differences between the major forests of LotR? I'm thinking particularly of the Old Forest, Fangorn, Lothlorien, and Mirkwood. I'm particularly interested in the difference between Lorien and Fangorn, because much is made of that distinction in The Two Towers especially, even though Treebeard mentions that Elves basically taught the Ents from the shoots up. If we could start by mentioning defining features first (in case I or someone else is fuzzy on the details) and then talk about why all these forests seem so different, that might be fun. Unless someone has another idea that causes more sparks?

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I think we exhausted the prior discussion some, but I did have a random thought about it the other day, whether huorns might have fought for Sauron or not. Still have a hard time picturing it given their hatred for orcs, though.

I'd love to discuss the different forests, Ducky! I had a somewhat related question I was wondering the other day, which was - does anyone know which forests were inhabited by Ents (at any point in time)? Is there any indication in the texts that tell us about this? I assume their populations were more widespread when the forests were larger, such as when Eriador had more extensive tree coverage, but do we know much more than that?

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@Lailorn , good question!

I would assume that the Ents were present in a lot of the old forests, though we rarely hear of them. It's been a long time since I've read HoME, but I don't remember many mentions of Ents or which forests they were in. I would assume, beyond Fangorn, that they'd have been in what became the Old Forest near the Shire--you can't tell me Old Man Willow isn't some sort of Huorn gone bad. Any of the Elvish controlled forests? That might actually be where the Ents woke up and learned from the Elves. I don't think there's much use for Ents in places like Lorien. Though maybe Thranduil coulda used some in MIrkwood?

I really need to clear off my 'to be read' book piles so I can get back to Tolkien to remember all my lore!
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Going back to the first age, let us not forget that the Ents make one appearance in The Silmarillion. After the Sack of Doriath, when the Dwarves are returning East, we hear of the Ents making an appearance on the slopes of the Blue Mountains.
The Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath wrote:Thus it came to .pass that when the Dwarves of Nogrod, returning from Menegroth with diminished host, came again to Sarn Athrad, they were assailed by unseen enemies; for as they
climbed up Gelion's banks burdened with the spoils of Doriath, suddenly all the woods were filled with the sound of elven-horns, and shafts sped upon them from every side. There very many of the Dwarves were slain in the first onset; but some escaping from the ambush held together, and fled eastwards towards the mountains. And as they climbed the long slopes beneath Mount Dolmed there came forth the Shepherds of the Trees, and they drove the Dwarves into the shadowy woods of Ered Lindon: whence, it is said, came never one to climb the high passes that led to their homes.
Now, i think there are two important notes here about geography. The first is that the Dwarf Road from Doriath basically ran along the northern end of the River Ascar, the northernmost river of Ossirand (Land of the Seven Rivers).
Image
Given that this is the only appearance of Ents in The Silmarillion, it is possible but not certain that the Ents made their way into Beleriand. However, I think it is VERY safe to assume that all of the land to the EAST of the Blue Mountains (what became "Middle-Earth" after the War of Wrath) was fair and open territory for the Ents and it could be assumed they were more or less everywhere in Middle-Earth. In fact, this is backed up by Treebeard's testimony:
TTT: Treebeard wrote:Aye, aye, there was all one wood once upon a time: from here to the Mountains of Lune, and this was just the East End.

'Those were the broad days! Time was when I could walk and sing all day and hear no more than the echo of my own voice in the hollow hills. The woods were like the woods of Lothlórien. only thicker stronger, younger. And the
smell of the air! I used to spend a week just breathing.'
So what we know as Fangorn in the Third Age was the eastern end of a massive forest that seemingly covered much of Middle Earth, at least from (most likely) Anduin to the Blue Mountains, which is where we saw the Ents come down on the Dwarves in the First Age. I really like this overlaid map that shows both the Third Age of Middle Earth locales along with Beleriand that got buried under the sea after the War of Wrath.

Interestingly, the area where the Ents are seen in the First Age (near Mount Dolmed in the Blue Mountains) is very close to where the Grey Havens were in the Third Age. Looking at the map, all of Ossirand was buried under water, but the area around the River Ascar (where the Dwarven road ran) became the Gulf of Lune and broke through the Blue Mountains right around where Nogrod was located, which became the future locale of the Grey Havens. This also (potentially) lends some credence to Hal Gamgee's assertion of the "Giant Tree-man" he saw on the North Moors, as the Ents seemingly had roamed the area that became the Shire previously.
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Those maps are awesome Mojo! Especially the one with the overlay, I'd honestly never seen that before. It reinforces to me just how far North all the events of the Silmarillion are. Do you think Ents struggle with colder temperatures? Not necessarily that they are cold-blooded, as that seems a weird sort of trait to apply, but perhaps just that they grow more treeish under the affects of winter, almost like a hibernation maybe? And that's why we don't see them in the far North of places like Beleriand or Hithlum even though there are definitely forests there?

And on a separate note, why do you suppose all the Ents just happened to end up in Fangorn when the forests shrunk, and not spread out across Old Forest/Mirkwood/Lorien? Or maybe they did, but they all went full tree except in Fangorn? No matter how you slice it, seems a bit odd.

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I'd quibble slightly on those maps ... Beleriand seems HUGE. In the Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad also lines Beleriand up with the rest of Middle-earth, but it's much more Eriador-sized. I took a snaphot from the Atlas, I can't seem to resize it reasonably, so I'll just provide the link here


While certainly taking some liberties to fill in the gaps, Fonstad I think generally does a very good job, and this map corroborates Treebeard's claim of a wood stretching from at least the (future) Gap of Rohan to the mountains of Lhun. We also know that a significant portion of that forest was felled by the Numenoreans. In Unfinished Tales we read:
The origin of the name Gwathlo must be sought in history. In the time of the War of the Ring the lands were still in places well-wooded, especially in Minhiriath and in the south-east of Enedwaith; but most of the plains were grassland ...

But in the earlier days, at the time of the first explorations of the Numenoreans, the situation was quite different. Minhiriath and Enedwaith were occupied by vast and almost continuous forests, except in the central region of the Great Fens. The changes that followed were largely due to the operations of Tar-Aldarion, the Mariner-king ... Aldarion had a great hunger for timber ... In voyages down the coasts he saw with wonder the great forests, and he chose the estuary of the Gwathlo for the site of a new haven entirely under Numenorean control ... There he began great works, that continued to be extended after his days. ...

The native people were fairly numerous and warlike, but they were forest dwellers ... they did not become hostile until the tree-felling became devastating. ...

The devastation wrought by the Numenoreans was incalculable. For long years these lands were their chief source of timber ... the denuding of the lands increased during the war in Eriador; for the exiled natives welcomed Sauron and hoped for his victory over the Men of the Sea. Sauron knew of the importance to his enemies of the Great Haven and its ship-yards, and he used these haters of Numenor as spies and guides for his raiders. He had not enough force t ospare for any assault upon the forts at the Haven or along the banks of the Gwathlo, but his raiders made much havoc on the fringe of the forests, setting fire in the woods nad burning many of the great wood-stores of the Numenoreans.

When Sauron was at least defeated and driven east out of Eriador most of the old forests had been destroyed. The Gwathlo flowed through a land that was far and wide on either bank a desert, treeless but untilled. That was not so when it first received its name from the hardy explorers of Tar-Aldarion's ship ...

- Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn, Appendix D The Port of Lond Daer
I apologize for the long quote, but I think it's an interesting description of the fate of (part of) the great forests of which Treebeard tells. It's also possibly describing the origins of the Dunlendlings and their distaste for the Numenoreans.

If there were men living in the forests in those parts, I wonder if Ents also lived there. @Mojo already pointed out that there were Ents in Beleriand, it would make sense that they occupied a more or less continuous range of forest, but perhaps it is not so. Maybe that can explain why we don't hear of the Ents making contact with the Numenoreans when they first started felling trees there, or fighting back as they start to wreak havoc on the forests.
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Thank you Mojo for that very interesting and informative post! The overlay map is really cool as is Karen Wynn Fonstad's map which I haven't seen in ages. Thanks for posting those. Regardless of scale, I actually don't think I ever realised so much ended up underwater...

My head-canon thinks that Ents would have been much more widespread with the larger forests even though we don't really hear much of their deeds aside from their one mention in the Silmarillion (kind of Entish to stay out of things at least based on Ents at the time of LotR...). I imagine that with the reduction in forests, they would have dispersed and broken apart into smaller and smaller groups as the woods were felled, basically suffering from habitat fragmentation.

Ducky, you have really interesting points especially the cold weather! I like that idea. Maybe another reason they never went that far is that they had plenty of forest where they were and never bothered crossing the Blue Mountains? Although, the migration of Entwives to the Brown Lands suggests that they would leave for greener pastures...

I agree with you that its a bit odd for them to have all wound up in Fangorn, but I suppose maybe they didn't all end up there (citing the Ent seen in the North Moors), we just don't hear about them. I always wondered if there were any remnant Ents in Eryn Vorn in Minhiriath? It seems like a definite possibility especially since Men did not have permanent settlements there.

This leads me to my next thought, which is that I sort of see Ents as wanting to live in forests by themselves and not alongside Men or Elves, which aligns with your musings, Turin about why we don't ever hear about Ents defending the trees from the Numenoreans. The Elves may have taught them to speak, but Ents don't live in Mirkwood or Lorien alongside them.

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Lailorn wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 10:56 pm Maybe another reason they never went that far is that they had plenty of forest where they were and never bothered crossing the Blue Mountains?
See this gets me thinking about how likely it is, or rather isn't, that Ents would even cross mountains. Like why would they? Do they know what's on the other side? There's no vegetation past a certain height, it's cold, there's a whole host of reasons not to attempt the climb. You'd have to have really certain information, or be really desperate. At least, I would think.

I also agree with your statement about Ents being loners, and it sent my mind toward thinking about some kind of twist on the Cyclopes. That's a narrative thought rather than a lore thought, really, but in the Odyssey the Cyclopes are caretakers, loners, but also horrific savage monsters. The Ents are seen, in-universe, as possibly that from the outside (and the Huorns never disabuse that notion), but then Treebeard spins that perspective for us. Maybe accidental, maybe intentional on Tolkien's part. I dunno.

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Lailorn wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 10:56 pm This leads me to my next thought, which is that I sort of see Ents as wanting to live in forests by themselves and not alongside Men or Elves, which aligns with your musings, Turin about why we don't ever hear about Ents defending the trees from the Numenoreans. The Elves may have taught them to speak, but Ents don't live in Mirkwood or Lorien alongside them.
I’ve been pondering this part for a while. The Elves taught them to speak...and probably some other things too. Perhaps they did live together for a while, then the Ents went to guard the other forests, and to get away from all the Elves and their wars....then the Numenoreans and their wars....and then Stuff Happened and the Entwives died. I also think that the Ents would focus on the forests that didn’t have Elves/Men/whatever Ghan-buri-Ghan’s people were in them, since they were the forests that were most in need of protection. Places like Lorien were doing just fine with the Elves.

I do wonder what they could have done in Mirkwood to help Thranduil though.
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