December 31, 2003

Rohan Sources

Impearls notes that Jackson modeled the Rohan on �horsey Vikings� and then writes a long and interesting article on the Sarmatians and suggests that they also could have been viewed as a model for the Rohan. Impearls also suggests that in the future he will look at other possible historical models for the Rohan.

Professor Bainbridge disagrees a bit:

...offers up a thoughtful argument criticizing Peter Jackson's decision to model the Rohirrim after "horsey vikings," and suggesting that the Sarmatians would have made a better model
Now in my reading of Impearls he seemed to say that not only was he not criticizing Jackson's approach but, rather, was quite happy with it and that his intent is simply to look at the Sarmatians as another historical analogue that might have served as a model for the Rohan.

Read Impearls and decide whether the Sarmatians would make a good model for the Rohan. Bainbridge thinks not and provides a number of reasons.

Via Eugene Volokh.

Update(1/5): I belatedly correct the 3 misspelling of Sarmations. Having just read a book called Mars Crossing I clearly was hoping that Impearls essay was about a long lost Martian civilization.

Posted by Steve on December 31, 2003

I always thought the correct spelling was 'Sarmatians' (c.f. classical authors)

Major point though, neither Vikings or Sarmatians can really be considered as Tolkien's inspiration for the Rohirrim. Although Scandinavian and Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) are related languages, the root of the Rohirrim's language is clearly Old English. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, and would therefore certainly have been capable of rendering the language of Rohan into any of the old Scandinavian languages if he had so wished. My own university, that is the university where I am a student, has a specialist department entitled ASNC (Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic), and even in these days of declining intellectual rigour students in that faculty are expected to learn sufficient of all the languages to be able to translate from any one into any of the others.

Furthermore, Tolkien's writings exhibit a great degree of patriotism for a country that is called England - not Daneland or Norseland - although of course those two countries had a strong but limited in duration effect on our culture.

Posted by Trevor at August 29, 2004 8:47 PM
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