Chapter of the Week: The Hobbit Ch. 14: Fire and Water

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zett

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Nov 30, 2003, 10:14:53 PM11/30/03
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Summary: The focus changes from Bilbo and the Dwarves to Lake Town.
The chapter opens with some of the folk out strolling and looking at
the stars. A glow is seen in the direction of the Lonely Mountain.
Talk begins again about the King making the river run gold, but one
grim fellow (Bard) isn't having it. "The dragon is coming or I am a
fool." he says. He books it to the Master of the town and gets the
alarm raised, the bridges cut and the buildings wet down- barely in
time for the onset of the dragon.

And what an onset it is! In vivid prose, Tolkien describes the
onslaught: from the dragon's initial surprise at finding the bridges
cut to the clinking of ineffective arrows on scales and gems, to the
roaring and flames, to the shrieks and screams of the people- to the
final crash of Smaug's death throes as Bard's fated black arrow brings
him down full force on the town. Where once was all frenetic color and
sound, it just as suddenly goes gray and cold- punctuated only by the
sounds of weeping by the shivering survivors.

In the midst of their misery and complaints at the Master, Bard
appears. They had thought him dead. They praise his courage in
slaying the dragon. They call for him to be named King. While he
doesn't take any crown on the spot, he is much more useful than the
Master in helping the survivors and planning what to do next. He, in
the Master's name, sends to the Wood-elves for aid- but finds them all
ready on the move, as news of the dragon's death was spread all over
the lands by the birds. The surviving men of Lake Town and the
Wood-elves join in an armed march on the Mountain- figuring the
Dwarves are dead and the treasure is for the taking.

Thoughts (I don't have any questions)-

To bring up a topic from a previous thread: I have tried to figure out
if Bilbo's sudden lightening of heart correlates with the death of the
dragon. But in this chapter it says that Smaug was killed while the
moon is still out. And it doesn't say that the sun was coming up as
the Lake Town people came to shore. Yet it was mid to late morning by
the time Bilbo and co. finish looking at the treasure and come out to
the Main Gate. So I think Bilbo's lightening came some hours after
Smaug's death. As much as Dwarves love to snuffle and fondle
treasure, I still don't think it took that many hours for them to do
their looking around.

I enjoyed the digs Tolkien gets in at the Master of the town. I even
wonder if he had Smaug knock down his hall first, on purpose.

Chuckle Out Loud Moment: (they see Smaug coming) "…and not the most
foolish doubted that the prophecies had gone rather wrong."

I loved the moment when Bard, right in the middle of semi-eulogizing
the poor (probably) dead Dwarves, thinks: Dead Dwarves. Treasure!
Hmmm!

I sure hope the folks of Lake Town don't get their drinking water from
that lake. I wouldn't want to drink from something that has a dead,
rotting dragon in it.

Stan Brown

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Nov 30, 2003, 10:50:14 PM11/30/03
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In article <4bb40450.03113...@posting.google.com> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>(I don't have any questions)

I do. :-)

1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
To arm!"

Why cut the bridges? How precisely is that going to protect them
from the dragon? It's not like he's going to land on shore and then
creep across the bridge! As the later battle scene demonstrated, he
could quite well set the town on file without ever landing.

This was discussed about three and a half years ago:
>http://groups.google.com/groups?threadm=MPG.1363bd39ef46718b98b004%40news.mindspring.com
but it never really got resolved (to my satisfaction, anyway).

2. The Elvenking had news of the events "from the birds that loved
his folk", and made plans to march to the Mountain and loot the (as
he thought) unguarded treasure. But "when [he] received the prayers
of Bard" he changed direction and marched to Lake Town to help with
disaster relief.

Why did he have to change direction? Since he knew the dragon was
dead and the town destroyed, why, as "the lord of a good and kindly
people", did he have to be _asked_ for help?


3. "For ages" the dragon's bones could be seen in the water, yet
"none dared to ... recover the precious stones that fell from is
rotting carcase".

Am I the only one who finds this highly improbable? Surely it's
_exactly_ the sort of thing teenage boys would egg each other on to
do: "Your initiation in our club is to get a gem from Smaug's
resting place, while we all watch." For that matter, wouldn't people
who were desperately poor choose to brave the curse of the dragon
(if any) rather than certain death from starvation?

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/tech/faqget.htm

Bill O'Meally

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Nov 30, 2003, 11:49:26 PM11/30/03
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"Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in message
news:MPG.1a34847e6...@news.odyssey.net...


> 1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
> To arm!"
>
> Why cut the bridges? How precisely is that going to protect them
> from the dragon? It's not like he's going to land on shore and then
> creep across the bridge! As the later battle scene demonstrated, he
> could quite well set the town on file without ever landing.

Smaug's chagrin at finding the bridges down suggests that was indeed his
plan. Perhaps he needed room to land that the surface area of the town
didn't offer. Perhaps he had more in mind than just destroying the town,
such as a main course after his Dwarf-pony appetizer.

--
Bill

"Wise fool"
Gandalf, THE TWO TOWERS
-- The Wise will remove 'se' to reply; the Foolish will not--

AC

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Dec 1, 2003, 1:09:44 AM12/1/03
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On Sun, 30 Nov 2003 22:50:14 -0500,
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> In article <4bb40450.03113...@posting.google.com> in
> rec.arts.books.tolkien, zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>(I don't have any questions)
>
> I do. :-)
>
> 1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
> To arm!"
>
> Why cut the bridges? How precisely is that going to protect them
> from the dragon? It's not like he's going to land on shore and then
> creep across the bridge! As the later battle scene demonstrated, he
> could quite well set the town on file without ever landing.

I think it's the canned response. "Oh sh*t! We've got
invaders/dragons/mass food poisoning, so cut the bridges!"

--
Aaron Clausen

tao_of_cow/\alberni.net (replace /\ with @)

AC

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Dec 1, 2003, 1:11:37 AM12/1/03
to
On 30 Nov 2003 19:14:53 -0800,
zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> I enjoyed the digs Tolkien gets in at the Master of the town. I even
> wonder if he had Smaug knock down his hall first, on purpose.

What, the good Professor be that mean? Nah...

Actually, I commented in an earlier chapter that the Master bears an uncanny
resemblance to modern politicians. When you look at it in that light,
there's more than a little justice here.

Elwë Singollo

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Dec 1, 2003, 2:41:57 AM12/1/03
to

(snip)

> To bring up a topic from a previous thread: I have tried to figure out
> if Bilbo's sudden lightening of heart correlates with the death of the
> dragon. But in this chapter it says that Smaug was killed while the
> moon is still out. And it doesn't say that the sun was coming up as
> the Lake Town people came to shore. Yet it was mid to late morning by
> the time Bilbo and co. finish looking at the treasure and come out to
> the Main Gate. So I think Bilbo's lightening came some hours after
> Smaug's death. As much as Dwarves love to snuffle and fondle
> treasure, I still don't think it took that many hours for them to do
> their looking around.

In Chapter 13, it is said that they visit the lair on the morning following
the scond night since the Dragon's attack. This means that Bilbo's feeling
occurs more than one day after Smaug's death.

I take the opportunity to ask a question : It is said that if Smaug were to
touch the water, a cloud of steam would rise. (This concept can be found
also in Turin's legend, when Glaurung is in Nargothrond and get into the
water). It gives the impression that the Dragons are similar to Peter
Jackson's Balrog : They are literally "on fire". I would rather imagine
dragons to be animals, either with warm or cold blood (rather cold blood,
like the snakes?), but not "on fire", which means they could go into water
without making the water boil. What is your point of view on this subject?


Elwë


Jens Kilian

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Dec 1, 2003, 7:05:10 AM12/1/03
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yze...@yahoo.com (zett) writes:
> I sure hope the folks of Lake Town don't get their drinking water from
> that lake. I wouldn't want to drink from something that has a dead,
> rotting dragon in it.

I give you *one* guess as to the sanitary arrangements in Lake Town houses.
--
mailto:j...@acm.org phone:+49-7031-464-7698 (TELNET 778-7698)
http://www.bawue.de/~jjk/ fax:+49-7031-464-7351
As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish,
so is contempt to the contemptible. [Blake]

Een Wilde Ier

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Dec 1, 2003, 3:58:04 PM12/1/03
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zett wrote:
> To host a chapter discussion, or for more information, go to:
> http://parasha.maoltuile.org/
<snip>

> the midst of their misery and complaints at the Master, Bard
> appears. They had thought him dead. They praise his courage in
> slaying the dragon. They call for him to be named King. While he
> doesn't take any crown on the spot, he is much more useful than the
> Master in helping the survivors and planning what to do next. He, in
> the Master's name, sends to the Wood-elves for aid- but finds them all
> ready on the move, as news of the dragon's death was spread all over
> the lands by the birds. The surviving men of Lake Town and the
> Wood-elves join in an armed march on the Mountain- figuring the
> Dwarves are dead and the treasure is for the taking.

Bard always seemed to me to be an analogue to Aragorn, much as Thranduil
(the Elven-King) was to Thingol.

> Thoughts (I don't have any questions)-
>
> To bring up a topic from a previous thread: I have tried to figure out
> if Bilbo's sudden lightening of heart correlates with the death of the
> dragon. But in this chapter it says that Smaug was killed while the
> moon is still out. And it doesn't say that the sun was coming up as
> the Lake Town people came to shore. Yet it was mid to late morning by
> the time Bilbo and co. finish looking at the treasure and come out to
> the Main Gate. So I think Bilbo's lightening came some hours after
> Smaug's death.

I would think that Bilbo would be relieved to be out of the Dragon's lair...

> As much as Dwarves love to snuffle and fondle
> treasure, I still don't think it took that many hours for them to do
> their looking around.
>
> I enjoyed the digs Tolkien gets in at the Master of the town. I even
> wonder if he had Smaug knock down his hall first, on purpose.

(Was the Master based on someone Tolkien knew?)

> Chuckle Out Loud Moment: (they see Smaug coming) "…and not the most
> foolish doubted that the prophecies had gone rather wrong."

LOL.

One-White-Tree

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Dec 1, 2003, 6:21:40 PM12/1/03
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in message news:<MPG.1a34847e6...@news.odyssey.net>...
> In article <4bb40450.03113...@posting.google.com> in
> rec.arts.books.tolkien, zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> 3. "For ages" the dragon's bones could be seen in the water, yet
> "none dared to ... recover the precious stones that fell from is
> rotting carcase".
>
> Am I the only one who finds this highly improbable? Surely it's
> _exactly_ the sort of thing teenage boys would egg each other on to
> do: "Your initiation in our club is to get a gem from Smaug's
> resting place, while we all watch." For that matter, wouldn't people
> who were desperately poor choose to brave the curse of the dragon
> (if any) rather than certain death from starvation?
>

I can only assume that, with Dain as King under the Mountain and the
town of Dale rebuilt, the economy of the area has really boomed and
unemployment is suddenly a thing of the past! After all, Bard's got to
get some subjects from somewhere, and a 'Come to Dale, Town of
Opportunity' advertisement scheme (or the medieval equivalent) seems
likely.

Perhaps the reason no-one dares to swim down to Smaug's corpse is that
it's too deep?

One-White-Tree

zett

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Dec 1, 2003, 10:01:19 PM12/1/03
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in message news:<MPG.1a34847e6...@news.odyssey.net>...
> In article <4bb40450.03113...@posting.google.com> in
> rec.arts.books.tolkien, zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >(I don't have any questions)
>
> I do. :-)
>
> 1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
> To arm!"
>
> Why cut the bridges? [snip]

> This was discussed about three and a half years ago:
> >http://groups.google.com/groups?threadm=MPG.1363bd39ef46718b98b004%40news.mindspring.com
> but it never really got resolved (to my satisfaction, anyway).

Well, if that other thread never answered the question, I doubt I can.
:) I wondered about it too, a little, but the best guess I can come up
with is what another poster said on this thread: not enough surface
area on the town proper for him to land and dine on the inhabitants.

> 2. The Elvenking had news of the events "from the birds that loved
> his folk", and made plans to march to the Mountain and loot the (as
> he thought) unguarded treasure. But "when [he] received the prayers
> of Bard" he changed direction and marched to Lake Town to help with
> disaster relief.
>
> Why did he have to change direction? Since he knew the dragon was
> dead and the town destroyed, why, as "the lord of a good and kindly
> people", did he have to be _asked_ for help?
>

They aren't really that kindly, huh? I never thought so, and have
wondered more than once how such a nice chap as Legolas could have
come from that bunch. The only excuse I can think of is that it says
"The Elvenking...knew *much* of what had happened." Maybe he didn't
know all the details? Though I think that is a stretch.

> 3. "For ages" the dragon's bones could be seen in the water, yet
> "none dared to ... recover the precious stones that fell from is
> rotting carcase".
>
> Am I the only one who finds this highly improbable? Surely it's
> _exactly_ the sort of thing teenage boys would egg each other on to
> do: "Your initiation in our club is to get a gem from Smaug's
> resting place, while we all watch." For that matter, wouldn't people
> who were desperately poor choose to brave the curse of the dragon
> (if any) rather than certain death from starvation?
>

I agree with this. I can't figure why they'd be so afraid of a dead
dragon when many of them didn't have the sense to take a live one
seriously. Some sort of post-traumatic disorder? Maybe after the
events in the story, none of the Lake Towners were poor? That's a
stretch too.

[sig snipped]

zett

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Dec 1, 2003, 10:09:52 PM12/1/03
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AC <mightym...@yahoo.ca> wrote in message news:<slrnbslmsp.3do....@alder.alberni.net>...

> On 30 Nov 2003 19:14:53 -0800,
> zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > I enjoyed the digs Tolkien gets in at the Master of the town. I even
> > wonder if he had Smaug knock down his hall first, on purpose.
>
> What, the good Professor be that mean? Nah...
>
> Actually, I commented in an earlier chapter that the Master bears an uncanny
> resemblance to modern politicians. When you look at it in that light,
> there's more than a little justice here.

And that is why I like it so much. I like Progress in Bimble Town for
the same reason. My favorite bits in Letters are often those when
JRRT is "being mean" too.

zett

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Dec 1, 2003, 10:22:14 PM12/1/03
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"Elwë Singollo" <Elwe.S...@doriath.me> wrote in message news:<3fcaf0c7$1...@epflnews.epfl.ch>...
> (snip)
> [more snipping]

>I take the opportunity to ask a question : It is said that if Smaug
were to

> touch the water, a cloud of steam would rise. ... They are literally "on >fire". I would rather imagine dragons to be animals, either with warm or cold >blood...which means they could go into water without making the water boil. >What is your point of view on this subject?

[snip]

Just as my opinion (I don't have book quotes to back me on this)I
guess that while the dragon's body won't be hot most of the time, when
he *does* breathe flames he becomes very hyperthermic shortly before
he spouts the flames. Maybe dragons have to build up a lot of internal
heat before they can breathe fire. If they are in too cool an
environment, they can't do that?

There was a very interesting thread on this very NG once upon a time
where folks conjectured on what "scientific" principles might be
behind the functioning of dragons. I don't have an url (or even a
vague date of the thread)- sorry- it might be worthwhile to Google for
it, though.

zett

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Dec 1, 2003, 10:23:24 PM12/1/03
to
Jens Kilian <Jens_...@agilent.com> wrote in message news:<sfvfp0p...@socbl033.germany.agilent.com>...

> yze...@yahoo.com (zett) writes:
> > I sure hope the folks of Lake Town don't get their drinking water from
> > that lake. I wouldn't want to drink from something that has a dead,
> > rotting dragon in it.
>
> I give you *one* guess as to the sanitary arrangements in Lake Town houses.

Bwahahaha! You've got a point. :)

cassandras morgan mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Dec 1, 2003, 11:02:34 PM12/1/03
to
> > Why did he have to change direction? Since he knew the dragon was
> > dead and the town destroyed, why, as "the lord of a good and kindly
> > people", did he have to be _asked_ for help?
> >
> They aren't really that kindly, huh? I never thought so, and have
> wondered more than once how such a nice chap as Legolas could have
> come from that bunch. The only excuse I can think of is that it says
> "The Elvenking...knew *much* of what had happened." Maybe he didn't
> know all the details? Though I think that is a stretch.

did the birds understand the extent of laketowns need

Elwë Singollo

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Dec 2, 2003, 4:39:16 AM12/2/03
to

> [snip]
>
> Just as my opinion (I don't have book quotes to back me on this)I
> guess that while the dragon's body won't be hot most of the time, when
> he *does* breathe flames he becomes very hyperthermic shortly before
> he spouts the flames. Maybe dragons have to build up a lot of internal
> heat before they can breathe fire. If they are in too cool an
> environment, they can't do that?
>
> There was a very interesting thread on this very NG once upon a time
> where folks conjectured on what "scientific" principles might be
> behind the functioning of dragons. I don't have an url (or even a
> vague date of the thread)- sorry- it might be worthwhile to Google for
> it, though.

As we are dealing with creatures which don't exist, it is actually hard to
talk about this subject, but here is my point of view :
Even if they are evil, dragons are still animals (as opposite to Balrogs for
example, who are maiar) and therefore they are subjected to pysics. Their
temperature must be limited or else their cells would burn. My idea was that
dragons produce fire by blowing an imflammable gaz (as SiH4 for example,
which burns by itself if realeased in the air). The dragons (the gas tank)
remains cold, but it can blow fire. If the fire was actually coming from
inside the beast, Smaug would burn himself.

Tolkien writes that dragons are hot (well he does not put it that way, but
given the fact they transform water into steam if the touch it, that what it
means isn't it?) But if this is the case, how can Turin kill Glaurung with
his sword? Have you ever tried to approach a fire? It is actually quite
hot...

Elwë


put-the-no-mail-...@mail.ru

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Dec 2, 2003, 4:49:05 AM12/2/03
to
Elwë Singollo wrote:
>
> (snip)
[...]

> I take the opportunity to ask a question : It is said that if Smaug were to
> touch the water, a cloud of steam would rise. (This concept can be found
> also in Turin's legend, when Glaurung is in Nargothrond and get into the
> water). It gives the impression that the Dragons are similar to Peter
> Jackson's Balrog : They are literally "on fire". I would rather imagine
> dragons to be animals, either with warm or cold blood (rather cold blood,
> like the snakes?), but not "on fire", which means they could go into water
> without making the water boil. ...
Bathing dragons? IMHO, that's not the right thing to do, since my
imagination puts a rather hot internal combustion chamber into its body
(preferrably stomach). The fire needs oxygen from outside, so nostrils
and mouth are natural inlets not protected (usually) from flooding. Ergo,
water trickles inside and steam is generated in large quantities.

Archie

put-the-no-mail-...@mail.ru

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Dec 2, 2003, 4:49:18 AM12/2/03
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> In article <4bb40450.03113...@posting.google.com> in
> rec.arts.books.tolkien, zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >(I don't have any questions)
>
> I do. :-)
>
> 1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
> To arm!"
>
> Why cut the bridges? How precisely is that going to protect them
> from the dragon? It's not like he's going to land on shore and then
> creep across the bridge! As the later battle scene demonstrated, he
> could quite well set the town on file without ever landing.
>
> This was discussed about three and a half years ago:
> >http://groups.google.com/groups?threadm=MPG.1363bd39ef46718b98b004%40news.mindspring.com
> but it never really got resolved (to my satisfaction, anyway).
Think of a C-17 landing. Look at different birds.


> 2. The Elvenking had news of the events "from the birds that loved
> his folk", and made plans to march to the Mountain and loot the (as
> he thought) unguarded treasure. But "when [he] received the prayers
> of Bard" he changed direction and marched to Lake Town to help with
> disaster relief.
>
> Why did he have to change direction? Since he knew the dragon was
> dead and the town destroyed, why, as "the lord of a good and kindly
> people", did he have to be _asked_ for help?
The Elvenking is the same uncaring bastard as before. This time he
initially considers the remnants of the Laketown to be a worthless
military force. Bard's message gets him to re-assess the situation and
regard Esgaroth as a potential a) rival, b) ally, c) power to be reckoned
with. Forging an alliance, he sends the army to help the Lakemen.


>
> 3. "For ages" the dragon's bones could be seen in the water, yet
> "none dared to ... recover the precious stones that fell from is
> rotting carcasse".

>
> Am I the only one who finds this highly improbable? Surely it's
> _exactly_ the sort of thing teenage boys would egg each other on to
> do: "Your initiation in our club is to get a gem from Smaug's
> resting place, while we all watch." ...
A taboo?

> ...For that matter, wouldn't people

> who were desperately poor choose to brave the curse of the dragon
> (if any) rather than certain death from starvation?

Possible explanation: rich population and a tolerable social security
system in the new Esgaroth.

Archie

cassandras morgan mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Dec 2, 2003, 6:13:38 AM12/2/03
to
In article <3fcc5dc7$1...@epflnews.epfl.ch>, "Elwë Singollo"
<Elwe.S...@doriath.me> wrote:

> > [snip]
> >
> > Just as my opinion (I don't have book quotes to back me on this)I
> > guess that while the dragon's body won't be hot most of the time, when
> > he *does* breathe flames he becomes very hyperthermic shortly before
> > he spouts the flames. Maybe dragons have to build up a lot of internal
> > heat before they can breathe fire. If they are in too cool an
> > environment, they can't do that?
> >
> > There was a very interesting thread on this very NG once upon a time
> > where folks conjectured on what "scientific" principles might be
> > behind the functioning of dragons. I don't have an url (or even a
> > vague date of the thread)- sorry- it might be worthwhile to Google for
> > it, though.
>
> As we are dealing with creatures which don't exist, it is actually hard to
> talk about this subject, but here is my point of view :
> Even if they are evil, dragons are still animals (as opposite to Balrogs for
> example, who are maiar) and therefore they are subjected to pysics. Their

theres a book called -flight of dragons-
i dont know if its still in print
that approaches the issue as if dragons were real

then he dragons use digestive acids on calcium to produce hydrogen for lift
and belches and ignites excise hydrogen


the bombadier beetle provides another possibility
that it sprays two separate chemicals that react explosively
shortly after leaving its body


another moive tremors three uses another binary chemistry
to provide the ass blasters with their lift capaciy

Henriette

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Dec 2, 2003, 9:39:48 AM12/2/03
to
yze...@yahoo.com (zett) wrote in message news:

(snip good synopsis and thoughts, thank you yzetta!)
>
> Chuckle Out Loud Moment: (they see Smaug coming) "?and not the most


> foolish doubted that the prophecies had gone rather wrong."
>

My Chuckle Out Loud Moment was this one: "Very great indeed was the
commotion among all things with wings that (...etc)"..........

Than I noticed, thinking of the debates on JRRT's alleged racism and
the ones on the colours white and black, that Bard with the black
hair, shot Smaug with his lucky and very black arrow.

Henriette

Dirk Thierbach

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Dec 2, 2003, 5:28:04 AM12/2/03
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> 1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
> To arm!"

> Why cut the bridges? How precisely is that going to protect them
> from the dragon? It's not like he's going to land on shore and then
> creep across the bridge!

I always thought that it was his plan to get *into* the town, to
actually get at the people.

> As the later battle scene demonstrated, he could quite well set the

> town on fire without ever landing.

Yes, but OTOH, that's all that he can do now.

> 2. The Elvenking had news of the events "from the birds that loved
> his folk", and made plans to march to the Mountain and loot the (as
> he thought) unguarded treasure. But "when [he] received the prayers
> of Bard" he changed direction and marched to Lake Town to help with
> disaster relief.

> Why did he have to change direction? Since he knew the dragon was
> dead and the town destroyed,

He knew that the dragon was dead, but did he know that the town was
destroyed? Even if he did, did he know how desperately the town-people
needed help?

> why, as "the lord of a good and kindly people", did he have to be
> _asked_ for help?

As I read it, Wood-elves may be kind at heart, but they are also
greedy :-) So if there's a dragon hoard to lay their hands on, they
may very well initially decide that others can care for themselves,
and they should go and claim the treasure first (and help afterwards).
But if the king is *asked*, OTOH he cannot refuse help without loosing
face, and OTOH he might need only a little reminder that pity is more
important than selfishness.

> 3. "For ages" the dragon's bones could be seen in the water, yet
> "none dared to ... recover the precious stones that fell from is
> rotting carcase".

> Am I the only one who finds this highly improbable? Surely it's
> _exactly_ the sort of thing teenage boys would egg each other on to
> do: "Your initiation in our club is to get a gem from Smaug's
> resting place, while we all watch."

That probably depends on how superstitious they are. And the remark is
in the "legendary mode of speech", so the narrator could continue with
an exception ("even though a few tried, and died from the dragon's
curse") without feeling guilty to contradict the "none dared" statement.

> For that matter, wouldn't people who were desperately poor choose to
> brave the curse of the dragon (if any) rather than certain death
> from starvation?

Isn't it said somewhere that Laketown prospered after the death of
Smaug? (I didn't look it up). So I don't think there were people
that poor around.

- Dirk

Igenlode's test

unread,
Dec 2, 2003, 3:32:19 PM12/2/03
to
On 1 Dec 2003 Elwë Singollo wrote:

[snip]


> It is said that if Smaug were to
> touch the water, a cloud of steam would rise. (This concept can be found
> also in Turin's legend, when Glaurung is in Nargothrond and get into the
> water). It gives the impression that the Dragons are similar to Peter
> Jackson's Balrog : They are literally "on fire". I would rather imagine
> dragons to be animals, either with warm or cold blood (rather cold blood,
> like the snakes?), but not "on fire", which means they could go into water
> without making the water boil. What is your point of view on this subject?

He is apparently hot enough to glow in the dark, which would lend
support to the internal furnace theory...
--
Igenlode <Igenl...@nym.alias.net> Lurker Extraordinaire

When men are jaded in their emotions they demand monstrous things to arouse them

Piggy

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 12:00:22 AM12/3/03
to
> Stan Brown wrote in message
news:<MPG.1a34847e6...@news.odyssey.net>...

> > Why cut the bridges? [snip]


> > This was discussed about three and a half years ago:
> >
>http://groups.google.com/groups?threadm=MPG.1363bd39ef46718b98b004%40news.m
indspring.com
> > but it never really got resolved (to my satisfaction, anyway).

to which "zett" offered in message
news:4bb40450.03120...@posting.google.com...

> Well, if that other thread never answered the question, I doubt I can.
> :) I wondered about it too, a little, but the best guess I can come up
> with is what another poster said on this thread: not enough surface
> area on the town proper for him to land and dine on the inhabitants.

[snip]

To which I just had to add:

How many bridges are connected to Lake-town? On the same
page where the "grim-voiced fellow" cried, "Cut the bridges![plural]"
we have "...the bridge [singular] to the land was thrown down..." The next
paragraph describes what would also be my natural response to a
dragon flying over me. It further mentions that the dragon "swept
toward the bridges...[plural]" The next sentence states, "The bridge
[singular] was gone..."
------
Piggy


Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 9:45:41 AM12/3/03
to
In article <k26u91-...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote:
>Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>> 1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
>> To arm!"
>
>> Why cut the bridges? How precisely is that going to protect them
>> from the dragon? It's not like he's going to land on shore and then
>> creep across the bridge!
>
>I always thought that it was his plan to get *into* the town, to
>actually get at the people.

But he could just as well land in the town. (He smashed it when he
fell from a height; it might have borne his weight if he simply
landed. And if it wouldn't, then again the existence or nonexistence
of a bridge wouldn't matter.)

>> As the later battle scene demonstrated, he could quite well set the
>> town on fire without ever landing.
>
>Yes, but OTOH, that's all that he can do now.

OTOOH, he could simply swoop on the people in boats and chomp them
up.

>Isn't it said somewhere that Laketown prospered after the death of
>Smaug? (I didn't look it up). So I don't think there were people
>that poor around.

Somehow I find it hard to imagine that any city could ever be so
right that not a single person would ever want to pick up a few
diamonds.

In our real world, the richest cities are also the ones with the
greatest disparity of incomes: you have the most abject poverty
right next to the most gaudy wealth.

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 1:30:00 PM12/3/03
to


"Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in message

news:MPG.1a37c11f1...@news.odyssey.net...


> In article <k26u91-...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de> in
> rec.arts.books.tolkien, Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote:

> >I always thought that it was his plan to get *into* the town, to
> >actually get at the people.
>
> But he could just as well land in the town. (He smashed it when he
> fell from a height; it might have borne his weight if he simply
> landed. And if it wouldn't, then again the existence or nonexistence
> of a bridge wouldn't matter.)

The point I made earlier in the thread was that maybe there wasn't
enough room for him to land in the town. Think airplane instead of
helicopter. The shore maybe afforded enough land, from whence he could
cross the bridge. They built the town on the water for a *reason*,
afterall. If Smaug could just as easily have landed in a town built on a
lake as one on the shore, it seems like a lot of effort would have been
put into building Esgaroth for nought.

> >> As the later battle scene demonstrated, he could quite well set the
> >> town on fire without ever landing.
> >
> >Yes, but OTOH, that's all that he can do now.
>
> OTOOH, he could simply swoop on the people in boats and chomp them
> up.

Probably not. Too close to the water and therefore too dangerous for
him. "Let them try to get to land and he would be ready" ('Fire and
Water') was the mode of hunting he had planned.

zett

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 7:29:30 PM12/3/03
to
held...@hotmail.com (Henriette) wrote in message news:<be50318e.0312...@posting.google.com>...

> yze...@yahoo.com (zett) wrote in message news:
>
> (snip good synopsis and thoughts, thank you yzetta!)
Thank you for participating in the threads here. I enjoy reading your
posts.

> >
> > Chuckle Out Loud Moment: (they see Smaug coming) "?and not the most
> > foolish doubted that the prophecies had gone rather wrong."
> >
> My Chuckle Out Loud Moment was this one: "Very great indeed was the
> commotion among all things with wings that (...etc)"..........
>
> Than I noticed, thinking of the debates on JRRT's alleged racism and
> the ones on the colours white and black, that Bard with the black
> hair, shot Smaug with his lucky and very black arrow.
>
> Henriette

I didn't think about Bard's hair color, but I did notice the blackness
of the arrow. I thought that was a cool touch. Also, the ravens which
can be seen as "good guys" are black.

zett

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 7:48:39 PM12/3/03
to
"Elwë Singollo" <Elwe.S...@doriath.me> wrote in message news:<3fcc5dc7$1...@epflnews.epfl.ch>...

[snip]



> As we are dealing with creatures which don't exist, it is actually hard to
> talk about this subject, but here is my point of view :
> Even if they are evil, dragons are still animals (as opposite to Balrogs for
> example, who are maiar) and therefore they are subjected to pysics. Their
> temperature must be limited or else their cells would burn. My idea was that
> dragons produce fire by blowing an imflammable gaz (as SiH4 for example,
> which burns by itself if realeased in the air). The dragons (the gas tank)
> remains cold, but it can blow fire. If the fire was actually coming from
> inside the beast, Smaug would burn himself.

Well, since we are dealing with creatures that don't exist, I do think
your theory is as good as any. :)



> Tolkien writes that dragons are hot (well he does not put it that way, but
> given the fact they transform water into steam if the touch it, that what it
> means isn't it?) But if this is the case, how can Turin kill Glaurung with
> his sword? Have you ever tried to approach a fire? It is actually quite
> hot...

[snip]

Yes, I thought about Turin- that is why I think Dragons only
"selectively" get hot. Glaurung blew a blast of fire when he started
across the ravine, but the way I understand the text, he was occupied
with trying to get the rest of himself across the gorge. It doesn't
say he was continuing to blow fire while he was crossing, so according
to my theory he wouldn't have still been hot to the touch, so to
speak. Therefore Turin could approach. Another interesting thing I
noticed skimming the passage is the venomous blood of the dragon. So,
maybe they do have an internal chemistry that makes their fire. It is
all good. :)

Öjevind Lång

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 4:02:45 AM12/4/03
to
"Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

> >> 1. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool. Cut the bridges! To arms!
> >> To arm!"

[snip]

> But he could just as well land in the town. (He smashed it when he
> fell from a height; it might have borne his weight if he simply
> landed. And if it wouldn't, then again the existence or nonexistence
> of a bridge wouldn't matter.)

He had eaten too many Dwarves, that's why - very fattening.

Öjevind


Raven

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 2:42:36 PM12/4/03
to
"zett" <yze...@yahoo.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:4bb40450.03120...@posting.google.com...

> Also, the ravens which can be seen as "good guys" are black.

"Birds In Black". :-)

Zagh.


Henriette

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 3:59:36 PM12/4/03
to
yze...@yahoo.com (zett) wrote in message news:<4bb40450.03120...@posting.google.com>...

> Thank you for participating in the threads here. I enjoy reading your
> posts.

Thank you zett! I just could not snip these lines.....


>
> I didn't think about Bard's hair color, but I did notice the blackness
> of the arrow. I thought that was a cool touch. Also, the ravens which
> can be seen as "good guys" are black.

I think these details are important and would not have been overlooked
by a racist author....

Henriette

Pete Gray

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 7:00:51 PM12/4/03
to
On Sun, 30 Nov 2003 22:50:14 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>In article <4bb40450.03113...@posting.google.com> in
>rec.arts.books.tolkien, zett <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>(I don't have any questions)
>

>Why did he have to change direction? Since he knew the dragon was
>dead and the town destroyed, why, as "the lord of a good and kindly

>people", did he have to be _asked_ for help?
>

He was 'lord of a good and kindly _people_'. Doesn't mean he was good
and kindly himself.


>
> For that matter, wouldn't people
>who were desperately poor choose to brave the curse of the dragon
>(if any) rather than certain death from starvation?

Not unless they could eat gems, I think.
--
switch ($bones){
case sticks:
break;
case stones:
break;}

zett

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 8:02:50 PM12/4/03
to
"Piggy" <All...@bacon.net> wrote in message news:<G5ezb.2552$oe4.1...@news2.news.adelphia.net>...

For some reason I had pictured Lake Town as having one big main solid
bridge, and then a couple of smaller footbridges/swinging bridge type
affairs- but when I looked in the chapter "A Warm Welcome" to see if
there was more than one- but it only mentions the main bridge. And in
the drawing of Lake Town by JRRT, there is only the one bridge. Maybe
Tolkien goofed? :shrugs:

Emma Pease

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 9:14:32 PM12/4/03
to
In article <4bb40450.0312...@posting.google.com>, zett wrote:
> "Piggy" <All...@bacon.net> wrote in message
> news:<G5ezb.2552$oe4.1...@news2.news.adelphia.net>...

>> How many bridges are connected to Lake-town? On the same


>> page where the "grim-voiced fellow" cried, "Cut the bridges![plural]"
>> we have "...the bridge [singular] to the land was thrown down..." The next
>> paragraph describes what would also be my natural response to a
>> dragon flying over me. It further mentions that the dragon "swept
>> toward the bridges...[plural]" The next sentence states, "The bridge
>> [singular] was gone..."

> For some reason I had pictured Lake Town as having one big main solid


> bridge, and then a couple of smaller footbridges/swinging bridge type
> affairs- but when I looked in the chapter "A Warm Welcome" to see if
> there was more than one- but it only mentions the main bridge. And in
> the drawing of Lake Town by JRRT, there is only the one bridge. Maybe
> Tolkien goofed? :shrugs:

Perhaps there was one main bridge to the shore but the town itself
consisted of several platforms connected by other bridges. Admittedly
I don't have the book handy to check whether this fits the description.

Emma

--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht

ALuddy

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 10:12:43 PM12/4/03
to
Emma Pease wrote:
> Perhaps there was one main bridge to the shore but the town itself
> consisted of several platforms connected by other bridges. Admittedly
> I don't have the book handy to check whether this fits the description.

Perhaps (this just struck me as I was reading this discussion) "cut
the bridges" refers to cutting the main bridge (which leads to the
shore) _and_ the various intermediate bridges (thus forming fire
breaks between the sections of Laketown).

Piggy

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 1:07:08 AM12/5/03
to
"zett" wrote in message
news:4bb40450.0312...@posting.google.com...

> For some reason I had pictured Lake Town as having one big main solid
> bridge, and then a couple of smaller footbridges/swinging bridge type
> affairs- but when I looked in the chapter "A Warm Welcome" to see if
> there was more than one- but it only mentions the main bridge. And in
> the drawing of Lake Town by JRRT, there is only the one bridge. Maybe
> Tolkien goofed? :shrugs:

zett, I tried to figure it out with all kinds of scenarios. I want
to think it was just a figure of speech or something. I
see no reason why there could not have been more
than one. However, big as the Dragon was, it seems
like one Great Bridge was all there was to it. The
Dragon seemed to have planned on the bridge being
there. More than one would have been smaller bridges,
no? I imagine more bridges of the same size as the
main bridge would have been described by Tolkien.
But smaller bridges wouldn't have served the worm's
nefarious purposes. So why cut plural bridges? Why
be symmetrical about it? Plural, singular, plural, singular?
Was the grim-voice expecting an invasion of goblins? Do
Goblins and Dragons go hand in hand? Have they ever
in the Third Age? Sorry, zett. I find it hard to get past this part
of the chapter without lapsing into wondering if Tolkien
did this deliberately (although I can't imagine why).

At the end of the day, it might have been a minor slip.
Tolkien probably explained it somewhere. If not, it
doesn't really matter when the guy coughs up
incandescent paragraphs like this:

"Fire leaped from the dragon's jaws. He circled for
a while high in the air above them lighting all the lake;
the trees by the shores shone like copper and like
blood with leaping shadows of dense black at their
feet. Then down he swooped straight through the
arrow-storm, reckless in his rage, taking no heed to
turn his scaly sides towards his foes, seeking only
to set their town ablaze." (Tolkien, The Hobbit, p.247
Ballantine/Del Rey)

To my mind, very fine writing. Dare I say poetic?
Bracketed between two paragraphs of straightforward
narrative, the alliteration (read aloud, proudly, boldly, with
storyteller flare) stood out for me. But it is
beautiful passages like this that make me wonder
about the curiosity of the bridge/bridges.
----
Pig in Slop


Piggy

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 1:19:58 AM12/5/03
to
"Emma Pease" sensibly wrote in message
news:slrnbsvqg...@munin.Stanford.EDU...

> Perhaps there was one main bridge to the shore but the town itself
> consisted of several platforms connected by other bridges. Admittedly
> I don't have the book handy to check whether this fits the description.

I like that image and it makes sense to me. But Tolkien does not
seem to give Esgaroth the detailed structure that would satisfy
this vision. On the other hand, If asked, he would be unable to deny it.
Well, okay, maybe he could deny it.
-----
Pig Pig


Piggy

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 1:37:30 AM12/5/03
to
"ALuddy" intriguingly wrote in message
news:LISzb.4371$oe4.1...@news2.news.adelphia.net...

> Perhaps (this just struck me as I was reading this discussion) "cut
> the bridges" refers to cutting the main bridge (which leads to the
> shore) _and_ the various intermediate bridges (thus forming fire
> breaks between the sections of Laketown).

This would match Emma's proposition of
functional architecture left undescribed by
Tolkien (but there, nevertheless). If Tolkien
chose to delineate only bits and pieces
of the city, it makes good sense to believe
there was a lot more to the structure if it was
going to sit, oil rig style, on the water.

Indeed, just because we are unfamiliar with
the details does not mean Tolkien's Esgarothites
were confused. If they speak naturally, they may
conceivably say things known and unknown to
outsiders (us). Pure speculation, sure, but a very
sweet thing to contemplate: "breaks between
sections of Lake-town." Immediately, something
similar to Venice comes to my mind.
-----
Floating Pig


Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 10:02:29 AM12/5/03
to
In article <IYpzb.92563$Vu6....@twister.rdc-kc.rr.com> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, Bill O'Meally <OMea...@wise.rr.com> wrote:
>They built the town on the water for a *reason*,
>afterall.

Yes, because it replaced the previous town on the water! Building on
the water was not a response to the threat of the dragon.

From "A Warm Welcome": "Not far from the mouth of the Forest River
was the strange town he heard the elves speak of in the king's
cellars. ... They still throve on the trade that came up the great
river from the South and was carted past the falls to their town;
but in the great days of old, when Dale in the North was rich and
prosperous, they had been wealthy and powerful, ... The rotting
piles of a greater town could still be seen along the shores when
the waters sank in a drought."

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 10:05:01 AM12/5/03
to
In article <IYpzb.92563$Vu6....@twister.rdc-kc.rr.com> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, Bill O'Meally <OMea...@wise.rr.com> wrote:
>"Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in message
>news:MPG.1a37c11f1...@news.odyssey.net...
>> OTOOH, he could simply swoop on the people in boats and chomp them
>> up.
>
>Probably not. Too close to the water and therefore too dangerous for
>him. "Let them try to get to land and he would be ready" ('Fire and
>Water') was the mode of hunting he had planned.

Okay, how does Smaug land? Either he follows a slant path like an
airplane, or he hovers and then touches down like a helicopter. If
it's the first, then he can easily snatch people out of boats (like
a hawk snatching a mouse); if it's the second, then he can easily
land in the town.

Seems to me there's no scenario that makes _both_ of those
impossible, as some seem to be asserting.

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 10:06:52 AM12/5/03
to
In article <ujivsvko2he6bit0n...@4ax.com> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, Pete Gray <ne...@redbadge.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
>On Sun, 30 Nov 2003 22:50:14 -0500, Stan Brown
><the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>Why did he have to change direction? Since he knew the dragon was
>>dead and the town destroyed, why, as "the lord of a good and kindly
>>people", did he have to be _asked_ for help?
>>
>
>He was 'lord of a good and kindly _people_'. Doesn't mean he was good
>and kindly himself.

<<grin>> But as the _lord_ of the people, he could have simply
ignored their sentiment and kept them marching toward the Mountain
and loot.

>> For that matter, wouldn't people
>>who were desperately poor choose to brave the curse of the dragon
>>(if any) rather than certain death from starvation?
>
>Not unless they could eat gems, I think.

Huh? Unless you're under siege, which peacetime Laketown dwellers
would not have been, you sell them and use the money to buy food.

Pete Gray

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 3:37:57 PM12/5/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003 10:06:52 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>In article <ujivsvko2he6bit0n...@4ax.com> in
>rec.arts.books.tolkien, Pete Gray <ne...@redbadge.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
>>On Sun, 30 Nov 2003 22:50:14 -0500, Stan Brown
>><the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>> For that matter, wouldn't people
>>>who were desperately poor choose to brave the curse of the dragon
>>>(if any) rather than certain death from starvation?
>>
>>Not unless they could eat gems, I think.
>
>Huh? Unless you're under siege, which peacetime Laketown dwellers
>would not have been, you sell them and use the money to buy food.

I imagine that when they were starving it's because there was nothing
to buy to eat (I must admit what was in my mind was the Master of
Laketown dying of starvation in the wilderness, loaded down with
gold).

Pete

--
Pete Gray
while ($cat!="home"){$mice=="play";}

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 7:49:48 PM12/5/03
to
In article <5uq1tvsuu3rcee7mb...@4ax.com> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, Pete Gray <ne...@redbadge.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
>I imagine that when they were starving it's because there was nothing
>to buy to eat (I must admit what was in my mind was the Master of
>Laketown dying of starvation in the wilderness, loaded down with
>gold).

I think we're talking about different eras. I'm thinking of years
later, after Smaug's rotted flesh has all gone and all that's left
is bones and gems. At that point, no matter how prosperous Lake-town
is, there are going to be _some_ people who are poor. My point was
that I can't believe none of them would be desperate enough to dive
for gems from Smaug's final resting place.

Or, as I mentioned earlier, it seems to me that adolescent boys in
Lake-town would make it a ritual to dive for a gem from Smaug's
corse.

TeaLady (Mari C.)

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 8:30:16 PM12/5/03
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in
news:MPG.1a3a68a73...@news.odyssey.net:

> Okay, how does Smaug land? Either he follows a slant path like
> an airplane, or he hovers and then touches down like a
> helicopter. If it's the first, then he can easily snatch people
> out of boats (like a hawk snatching a mouse); if it's the
> second, then he can easily land in the town.
>
> Seems to me there's no scenario that makes _both_ of those
> impossible, as some seem to be asserting.
>

Ever watch a loon land ? Or a (blue-footed) booby ?

Rather akward sort of landing.

That's how I always imagined a dragon landing. More of an akward
and graceless thud, with perhaps a bit of skidding and scrabbling
for balance in less-than-optimal (not flat) landing zones. Would
be worse in water, I'd think, as the steaming would obscure sight
and quench much needed heat for pyro action.

I have never seen Tolkien's dragons as graceful - large,
cumbersome, scarey creatures, with nasty powers and painful way
of killing folks, having to heave their great bulk about on short
limbs and taking to the air after much effort, even in flight not
appearing "natural" to flight, as bird, but rather more like a
drunken bumblebee or wasp - that is more how I picture them.
Caricatures of winged creatures and reptiles that crawl, not
embodying the grace or style of such creatures as they were made
in imitation of.

--
mc


zett

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 11:25:19 PM12/5/03
to
"Piggy" <All...@bacon.net> wrote in message news:<ggVzb.3$Zq2....@news2.news.adelphia.net>...

> "zett" wrote in message
> news:4bb40450.0312...@posting.google.com...
>
> > For some reason I had pictured Lake Town as having one big main solid
> > bridge, and then a couple of smaller footbridges/swinging bridge type
> > affairs- but when I looked in the chapter "A Warm Welcome" to see if
> > there was more than one- but it only mentions the main bridge. And in
> > the drawing of Lake Town by JRRT, there is only the one bridge. Maybe
> > Tolkien goofed? :shrugs:
>
> zett, I tried to figure it out with all kinds of scenarios. I want
> to think it was just a figure of speech or something. I
> see no reason why there could not have been more
> than one.

Neither do I.

> However, big as the Dragon was, it seems
> like one Great Bridge was all there was to it. The
> Dragon seemed to have planned on the bridge being
> there.

Indeed. 'Amid shrieks and wailing and the shouts of men he came over
them, swept towards the bridges and was foiled!'

> More than one would have been smaller bridges,
> no? I imagine more bridges of the same size as the
> main bridge would have been described by Tolkien.

I imagine the same thing- Tolkien's not describing the other bridges
is what makes me think they were small, I guess.

> But smaller bridges wouldn't have served the worm's
> nefarious purposes. So why cut plural bridges?

Hm, good question. And I have no answer. :(

> Why be symmetrical about it? Plural, singular, plural, singular?

I don't know that one either.

> Was the grim-voice expecting an invasion of goblins? Do
> Goblins and Dragons go hand in hand? Have they ever
> in the Third Age?

Orcs and dragons did go together in the First Age, or at least they
did at the Fall of Nargothrond in the Turin story. I don't recall
examples from the Third Age, though.

>Sorry, zett. I find it hard to get past this part
> of the chapter without lapsing into wondering if Tolkien
> did this deliberately (although I can't imagine why).

Well, I read/heard somewhere that someone is going to do for The
Hobbit what Christopher did for The Silmarillion and Lord of the
Rings. Perhaps we will find evidence in the to-be-published rough
drafts that JRRT did do the symmetry (and other things?) on purpose.
Perhaps there is some obscure philological point or joke- or some
equally obscure historical information that he was drawing from. I
wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if that proves to be the case.
I am frequently amazed at the depth of JRRT's sources and the cunning
with which they are used. :)

> At the end of the day, it might have been a minor slip.
> Tolkien probably explained it somewhere. If not, it
> doesn't really matter when the guy coughs up
> incandescent paragraphs like this:
>
> "Fire leaped from the dragon's jaws. He circled for
> a while high in the air above them lighting all the lake;
> the trees by the shores shone like copper and like
> blood with leaping shadows of dense black at their
> feet. Then down he swooped straight through the
> arrow-storm, reckless in his rage, taking no heed to
> turn his scaly sides towards his foes, seeking only
> to set their town ablaze." (Tolkien, The Hobbit, p.247
> Ballantine/Del Rey)
>
> To my mind, very fine writing. Dare I say poetic?
> Bracketed between two paragraphs of straightforward
> narrative, the alliteration (read aloud, proudly, boldly, with
> storyteller flare) stood out for me. But it is
> beautiful passages like this that make me wonder
> about the curiosity of the bridge/bridges.

[snip]

I totally agree. Fine writing indeed. In fact, it was especially that
passage that I had in mind when I used the word "vivid" in my
description/summary at the beginning of the thread. :)

Piggy

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 12:01:06 AM12/6/03
to
"zett" wrote in message
news:4bb40450.03120...@posting.google.com...

> Orcs and dragons did go together in the First Age, or at least they
> did at the Fall of Nargothrond in the Turin story. I don't recall
> examples from the Third Age, though.

If we do become fortunate to see un-published writings
by Tolkien on The Hobbit, perhaps we may read about
the men of Dale and about their possible fear of invasion by
orcs and dragons. But not too fast! I like ruminating
on it.
---
Little Pig


Pete Gray

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 3:40:41 PM12/6/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003 19:49:48 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>In article <5uq1tvsuu3rcee7mb...@4ax.com> in
>rec.arts.books.tolkien, Pete Gray <ne...@redbadge.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
>>I imagine that when they were starving it's because there was nothing
>>to buy to eat (I must admit what was in my mind was the Master of
>>Laketown dying of starvation in the wilderness, loaded down with
>>gold).
>
>I think we're talking about different eras. I'm thinking of years
>later, after Smaug's rotted flesh has all gone and all that's left
>is bones and gems. At that point, no matter how prosperous Lake-town
>is, there are going to be _some_ people who are poor. My point was
>that I can't believe none of them would be desperate enough to dive
>for gems from Smaug's final resting place.
>
>Or, as I mentioned earlier, it seems to me that adolescent boys in
>Lake-town would make it a ritual to dive for a gem from Smaug's
>corse.

<light dawns> Aha! Well, perhaps the water is just too cold -- it is
described as 'shivering' -- and just that bit too deep. All it takes
is a couple of nasty accidents to make it seem a 'cursed spot'.


--
Pete Gray
if($love['food']==$music){play();}

Igenlode Wordsmith

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Dec 6, 2003, 12:41:27 PM12/6/03
to
held...@hotmail.com (Henriette) wrote in message <be50318e.0312...@posting.google.com>

> yze...@yahoo.com (zett) wrote in message news:<4bb40450.03120...@posting.google.com>...

> > I didn't think about Bard's hair color, but I did notice the blackness


> > of the arrow. I thought that was a cool touch. Also, the ravens which
> > can be seen as "good guys" are black.
>
> I think these details are important and would not have been overlooked
> by a racist author....

My reaction to his description was: is Bard supposed to be of
Numenorean descent?

(Is this the meaning of the enigmatic phrase 'the race of Dale', and if
so can all Numenoreans understand the language of birds?)
--
Igenlode Visit the Ivory Tower (http://curry.250x.com/Tower/)

The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 6:15:31 PM12/6/03
to
In article <s0f4tvc546s0k07r9...@4ax.com> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, Pete Gray <ne...@redbadge.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
>On Fri, 5 Dec 2003 19:49:48 -0500, Stan Brown
><the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
(my disbelief that no one would ever plunder Smaug's corpse)

><light dawns> Aha! Well, perhaps the water is just too cold -- it is
>described as 'shivering' -- and just that bit too deep. All it takes
>is a couple of nasty accidents to make it seem a 'cursed spot'.

<other light dawns> I have to say, this is the most reasonable
explanation I've heard. If the water is very deep and very cold, no
one would ever dive to the bottom.

<a cloud appears> But the water can't have been all that deep,
because Lake-town was built on piles sunk in the lake bottom. And
Smaug's corpse lay on the sunken ruins of the town.

Aris Katsaris

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Dec 6, 2003, 8:28:43 PM12/6/03
to

"Igenlode Wordsmith" <Use-Author-Address-Header@[127.1]> wrote in message
news:200312062309...@gacracker.org...

> held...@hotmail.com (Henriette) wrote in message
<be50318e.0312...@posting.google.com>
>
> > yze...@yahoo.com (zett) wrote in message
news:<4bb40450.03120...@posting.google.com>...
>
> > > I didn't think about Bard's hair color, but I did notice the blackness
> > > of the arrow. I thought that was a cool touch. Also, the ravens which
> > > can be seen as "good guys" are black.
> >
> > I think these details are important and would not have been overlooked
> > by a racist author....
>
> My reaction to his description was: is Bard supposed to be of
> Numenorean descent?

Almost certainly not.

> (Is this the meaning of the enigmatic phrase 'the race of Dale', and if
> so can all Numenoreans understand the language of birds?)

Almost certainly not.

Aris Katsaris


Pete Gray

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Dec 7, 2003, 1:25:08 PM12/7/03
to
On Sat, 6 Dec 2003 18:15:31 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>In article <s0f4tvc546s0k07r9...@4ax.com> in
>rec.arts.books.tolkien, Pete Gray <ne...@redbadge.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
>>On Fri, 5 Dec 2003 19:49:48 -0500, Stan Brown
>><the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>(my disbelief that no one would ever plunder Smaug's corpse)
>
>><light dawns> Aha! Well, perhaps the water is just too cold -- it is
>>described as 'shivering' -- and just that bit too deep. All it takes
>>is a couple of nasty accidents to make it seem a 'cursed spot'.
>
><other light dawns> I have to say, this is the most reasonable
>explanation I've heard. If the water is very deep and very cold, no
>one would ever dive to the bottom.
>
><a cloud appears> But the water can't have been all that deep,
>because Lake-town was built on piles sunk in the lake bottom. And
>Smaug's corpse lay on the sunken ruins of the town.

It doesn't have to be very deep to have people drown in it, though.
Amongst the ruins of the town and the dragon's bones there's bound to
be enough just lying (or floating) around to entangle the unwary (or,
indeed even the wary). As I said, it only takes a few accidents for
people to start saying, "See, I told you it was a cursed spot".

The piles would also interfere with other methods of recovering the
gems, such as trawling.

Emma Pease

unread,
Dec 7, 2003, 3:14:24 PM12/7/03
to

I've reread the chapters. Tolkien describes the town as having a
market pool instead of a market square. Given the existence of such
it is almost certain that one or more waterways existed from the lake
to the market pool. If there is only one waterway I suspect a bridge
across it otherwise people would have to go all around the market pool
to get from one side of the waterway to the other. Given two or more
waterways, connecting bridges must have existed.


Possible map of Laketown and surrounds

Lake

_
##### ##### | |
##### ##### |S|F
##### ##### |P|O
###pool ### |I|R
### ### |T|E
########### | |S
########### | |T
$ | |
$bridge to land | |R
$ | |i
------------------------------ |v-----------
land |e|land
|r|

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Dec 7, 2003, 3:27:19 PM12/7/03
to

"Emma Pease" <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote in message
news:slrnbt72g...@munin.Stanford.EDU...

> I've reread the chapters. Tolkien describes the town as having a
> market pool instead of a market square. Given the existence of such
> it is almost certain that one or more waterways existed from the lake
> to the market pool. If there is only one waterway I suspect a bridge
> across it otherwise people would have to go all around the market pool
> to get from one side of the waterway to the other. Given two or more
> waterways, connecting bridges must have existed.

Maybe it was accessed from under the decking of the town, ie, between
the piers. I guess it depends on how much clearance from the lake's
surface the decking of the town was.
--
Bill

"Wise fool"
Gandalf, THE TWO TOWERS
-- The Wise will remove 'se' to reply; the Foolish will not--


Piggy

unread,
Dec 7, 2003, 11:54:38 PM12/7/03
to
"Emma Pease" wrote in message
news:slrnbt72g...@munin.Stanford.EDU...

> I've reread the chapters. Tolkien describes the town as having a


> market pool instead of a market square. Given the existence of such
> it is almost certain that one or more waterways existed from the lake

> to the market pool. [snip text and, regretfully, the art]

I like that map! I see what you mean by the logical existence
of the pool. So we are thinking about the possibility of bridges
over waterways within the city as opposed to bridges that
connect the city to the shore. In another post, ALuddy proposes
"intermediate bridges" over "fire breaks between the sections
of Laketown." The suggestion reminds me of Venice, Italy.
Perhaps, upon a dragon's approach, the need to cut those
bridges is a delaying tactic, designed to prevent the spread
of fire too fast for the citizens to extinguish (i.e., ALuddy's
fire break). Well, now all of that makes good sense to me and
your input with ALuddy's has prompted me to look at the text
from the viewpoint of a citizen not trying to cut ties to the shore,
but trying to prevent Esgaroth's total destruction.
---------
Piggy


Dr. Ernst Stavro Blofeld

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Dec 8, 2003, 3:12:49 AM12/8/03
to
"zett" <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote in message:
> To host a chapter discussion, or for more information, go to:
> http://parasha.maoltuile.org/
>
> Summary:

Thank you for Ch. 14, Zett.

> Thoughts (I don't have any questions)-
>
> To bring up a topic from a previous thread: I have tried to figure out
> if Bilbo's sudden lightening of heart correlates with the death of the
> dragon. But in this chapter it says that Smaug was killed while the
> moon is still out. And it doesn't say that the sun was coming up as
> the Lake Town people came to shore. Yet it was mid to late morning by
> the time Bilbo and co. finish looking at the treasure and come out to
> the Main Gate. So I think Bilbo's lightening came some hours after
> Smaug's death. As much as Dwarves love to snuffle and fondle
> treasure, I still don't think it took that many hours for them to do
> their looking around.

I think it was mentioned that Smaug was slain while they were still hiding
in the passage.
BTW, I wonder when and how the re-established Dwarf kingdom finally got rid
of the Dragon-smell? (and any other evidence of Smaug's occupancy.)

> I enjoyed the digs Tolkien gets in at the Master of the town. I even
> wonder if he had Smaug knock down his hall first, on purpose.

The old boy probably saved himself from a lynching with his fast tongue,
directing the town's anger at the Dwarves.

> Chuckle Out Loud Moment: (they see Smaug coming) ".and not the most
> foolish doubted that the prophecies had gone rather wrong."

Indeed! The chuckling even begins when they see the "golden glow" coming
down from the hills. Of course, the following battle is terrible for the
town. I wonder how much time actually elapsed from sighting to slaying?
Probably not long, maybe ten to fifteen minutes? The defenders couldn't have
taken much more.

> I sure hope the folks of Lake Town don't get their drinking water from
> that lake. I wouldn't want to drink from something that has a dead,
> rotting dragon in it.

Given the aforementioned sanitary arrangements, it seems likely that they
get their drinking water from far upstream, otherwise they are looking at
endemic cholera. (Would the area be toxic? Would fish die if they nibbled
the body?)

Interesting discussion on the cursed gems. Reminds me of the Hope Diamond.
The Professor could have built short stories around those if he had the time
and inclination.

I thought it interesting that Smaug's death caused such a commotion among
all things that fly. Perhaps because Smaug flies, and so he had more effect
on their element than that of other animals? (For example, fish wouldn't
care whether he lives or dies.) Also, it seems to be a recurring theme in
Tolkien's writings that winged creatures serve as a rapid communications
network. (Perhaps communications are the one thing about the 20th Century
that he liked?)

--
Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Lord Pęlluin,) Ph.D., Count of Tolfalas


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 8, 2003, 8:26:03 AM12/8/03
to
in <MPG.1a3a68a73...@news.odyssey.net>,
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> enriched us with:
>

<snip>

> Okay, how does Smaug land? Either he follows a slant path like an
> airplane, or he hovers and then touches down like a helicopter.

Or he slants down to a certain height, stops and drops the rest of the
way ...

> If it's the first, then he can easily snatch people out of boats
> (like a hawk snatching a mouse);

I don't think that these are necessarily connected - if he needs to go
fast to maintain his height, he may not be able to do the snatching fast
enough. On the other hand he might have a good height control when he's
hovering, and therefore be able to snatch people from a boat while
hovering above the boat.

> if it's the second, then he can easily land in the town.

If there is somewhere large enough for him to manoeuvre that is also
capable of holding his weight. I could well imagine that only the roofs
are large enough to allow him to both land and take off again, but that
these are also built to crash at the weight of a dragon (entangling him
in the timbers might be a good way to immobilise him - making him far
more vulnerable.

> Seems to me there's no scenario that makes _both_ of those
> impossible, as some seem to be asserting.

There is a passage that seems to me to imply that while Smaug would be
able to hunt the boats, he wouldn't be able to get at them in this way,

"Soon all the town would be deserted and burned down to the
surface of the lake. That was the dragon's hope. They could
all get into boats for all he cared. There he could have fine
sport hunting them, or they could stop till they starved. Let
them try to get to land and he would be ready."

He "could have fine sport hunting them" but if they tried to land he
"would be ready." As I read that passage, he would not be able to
actually snatch people out of the boats, but he would probably be able
to set fire to the boats or smash them with his tail.

As for landing inside the town, if I was designing a town with a dragon
in mind, then I'd make sure that if he landed inside the town, then he'd
be trapped - either because the space was too narrow for him to take off
again or because the roof (if he landed on a roof) would collapse beneath
him.

The bridge would, however, have to be able to withstand quite a lot of
weight (with people and goods going in and out all the time) and would
naturally be open to both sides (at least it looks that way in Tolkien's
picture of Lake Town).

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail address is t.forch(a)mail.dk

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 8, 2003, 11:19:58 AM12/8/03
to
In article <5oWAb.597943$6C4.337580@pd7tw1no> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, Dr. Ernst Stavro Blofeld
<eblo...@SPECTRE.org> wrote:
>Given the aforementioned sanitary arrangements, it seems likely that they
>get their drinking water from far upstream, otherwise they are looking at
>endemic cholera.

Remember that the Long Lake is actually just a wide spot in a river.
If the population density wasn't too high, I think they'd be fine
taking water from the upstream edge of the town.

put-the-no-mail-...@mail.ru

unread,
Dec 8, 2003, 3:39:42 PM12/8/03
to
Dr. Ernst Stavro Blofeld wrote:
> "zett" <yze...@yahoo.com> wrote in message:
[...]

> BTW, I wonder when and how the re-established Dwarf kingdom finally got rid
> of the Dragon-smell? (and any other evidence of Smaug's occupancy.)
If massive cleaning was in order (and I doubt that, there were no
noticeable piles of excrements in the treasure hall), it may be helpful
to recall Hercules who faced the same problem AFAIK.

Otherwise, ventilation shafts could be cleared and the floor/walls washed
manually. Exact or even approx. time of getting rid of the smell depends
on lots and lots of assumptions. I doubt the Dwarves knew how to make
industrial scale fans or compressors (or did they? with their underground
furnaces and smithing something more efficient than bellows could be
required - NB there were some posters/lurkers around here who did some
smithwork on their own).

> > I enjoyed the digs Tolkien gets in at the Master of the town. I even
> > wonder if he had Smaug knock down his hall first, on purpose.

Isn't Tolkien rather explicit here in his longing for an 'absolute'
monarchy?



> The old boy probably saved himself from a lynching with his fast tongue,
> directing the town's anger at the Dwarves.
>
> > Chuckle Out Loud Moment: (they see Smaug coming) ".and not the most
> > foolish doubted that the prophecies had gone rather wrong."
>
> Indeed! The chuckling even begins when they see the "golden glow" coming
> down from the hills. Of course, the following battle is terrible for the
> town. I wonder how much time actually elapsed from sighting to slaying?
> Probably not long, maybe ten to fifteen minutes? The defenders couldn't have
> taken much more.

What's the airspeed...



> > I sure hope the folks of Lake Town don't get their drinking water from
> > that lake. I wouldn't want to drink from something that has a dead,
> > rotting dragon in it.
>
> Given the aforementioned sanitary arrangements, it seems likely that they
> get their drinking water from far upstream, otherwise they are looking at
> endemic cholera. (Would the area be toxic? Would fish die if they nibbled
> the body?)

Fish are not that stupid (given Turin being poisoned by the very touch
of G.'s blood).



> Interesting discussion on the cursed gems. Reminds me of the Hope Diamond.
> The Professor could have built short stories around those if he had the time
> and inclination.

Alas! Stories are now written as fanfic, and are verboten as such.



> I thought it interesting that Smaug's death caused such a commotion among
> all things that fly. Perhaps because Smaug flies, and so he had more effect
> on their element than that of other animals? (For example, fish wouldn't

> care whether he lives or dies.) ...

Birds would just feed off the corpses, I'm afraid. As an
alternative, Smaug must have been considered a threat by all flying
creatures.

> ... Also, it seems to be a recurring theme in


> Tolkien's writings that winged creatures serve as a rapid communications
> network. (Perhaps communications are the one thing about the 20th Century
> that he liked?)

It is impossible to create an evil empire without fast communications.
Cf. Saruman in the Shire: his comms were based on runners' relay. In this
small detail (not that JRRT intended it) the depth of Saruman's fall
becomes obvious (if we assume he had controlled the crebain in Dunland):
it is he who used to enjoy the instant grace of comms via the Palantir
and the crebain.

Archie

Stan Brown

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Dec 8, 2003, 5:31:04 PM12/8/03
to
In article <MPG.1a3f107cbc...@news.mtu-net.ru> in
rec.arts.books.tolkien, <put-the-no-mail-...@mail.ru>
wrote:

>It is impossible to create an evil empire without fast communications.

Tell that to the Assyrians, the Hittites, the Babylonians, the
Persians, the Mongols, the Huns, and whatever people Tamurlane led.

Hasmonean Tazmanian

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Dec 8, 2003, 6:14:56 PM12/8/03
to

Stan Brown wrote:
> In article <MPG.1a3f107cbc...@news.mtu-net.ru> in
> rec.arts.books.tolkien, <put-the-no-mail-...@mail.ru>
> wrote:
>
>>It is impossible to create an evil empire without fast communications.
>
>
> Tell that to the Assyrians, the Hittites, the Babylonians, the
> Persians, the Mongols, the Huns, and whatever people Tamurlane led.
>

they all had the fastest transport of their time, besides the Hittites:

Assyrians and Babylonians--chariots (I think).
Persians--they had a system of royal roads.
Mongols, Huns, Timurlane (Mongols in Persia): Horses racing across Asia.
No Comment.

Hasan

the softrat

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Dec 8, 2003, 10:02:14 PM12/8/03
to
On Mon, 8 Dec 2003 17:31:04 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>In article <MPG.1a3f107cbc...@news.mtu-net.ru> in
>rec.arts.books.tolkien, <put-the-no-mail-...@mail.ru>
>wrote:
>>It is impossible to create an evil empire without fast communications.
>
>Tell that to the Assyrians, the Hittites, the Babylonians, the
>Persians, the Mongols, the Huns, and whatever people Tamurlane led.

C'mon, Stan! These weren't evil empires. They were *human* empires,
especially the Hittites and the Persians. These last weren't
especially evil; they were just non-Jewish and/or non-Greek. And they
all had fast communications -- at least very fast for the period,
especially the Persians and the Mongols.


the softrat
"You've seen the epic. Now experience the Whole Story!"
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
"Let's jump off that bridge when we come to it." -- Allan
Lamport (deceased), former mayor of Toronto.

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 8, 2003, 11:13:56 PM12/8/03