The LOTR Movie Site
September 30, 2000

Bombadil Most Likely WAS a Maia

Bombadil and Goldberry absolutely could symbolize Adam and Eve before the "fall", with the Old Forest being their Eden. That is a good observation, and quite possibly what the Professor was shooting for when he wrote them into the LotR. But that still does not answer the question of what they were in actuality. Adam and Eve represented our desire for knowledge, but they were a man and woman in the story. Symbolizing something is one thing, being something is another. So what were Tom and Goldberry?

Here is a list of possibilities, from most to least likely:

1) Maiar "gone native" as Robert Foster puts it in the "Guide to ME". "Gone native" means that, like Melian in Doriath, in the Old Forest Tom's powers were absolute, and not even the Ring could affect him within its borders. Notice that when Frodo suggests to Gandalf at the Council of Elrond that they should give the Ring to Tom, Gandalf says that eventually the Old Forest would fall to Sauron, or that Tom would misplace the Ring before that happened. No one suggests that Tom could leave the Old Forest and hide, because outside the Old Forest, the Ring would get the better of him.

2) Tom and Goldberry could be Valar. More specifically, they could be Orome and Vana on some kind of retirement plan from Valinor. I have seen it said that they could be Aule and Yavanna, but Aule did not like growing things, nor did he roam ME extensively, like Orome, and Vana was described as having flowers bloom under her feet when she walked, much like Goldberry. Orome and Vana are a better fit for Tom and Goldberry than Aule and Yavanna.

3) The words that seem to confuse people the most when they try to figure out Tom's race are "oldest and fatherless". To me, all that means is he was in ME before any Children of Iluvatar. Looking at them that way, they make sense with #1 and #2 above and do not seem to have such ominous impact on Tom's true origin. Other people struggle with them, and try to apply more meaning to those words than, I think, is necessary. That is, they try to detach the words from their relation to and purpose for Men, Elves, Dwarves, and other beings in ME. Anyone who inhabited ME before the Children of Iluvatar arrived would seem to be "oldest and fatherless" to the Children of Iluvatar. Where did he come from, if we did not give birth to him? How long has he been here? Etc. So giving more meaning to "oldest and fatherless" than how they relate to ME and its inhabitants can only lead to one conclusion: Tom is Eru Iluvatar, who indeed was "oldest and fatherless" outside ME. But Tolkien said Iluvatar did not reside in Ea, and intervened directly in its affairs only twice: once to breathe true life into the Dwarves, and a second time to punish Ar Pharazon and the Numenoreans who assaulted Valinor. Tom saved Frodo and company from the Old Willow and the Barrow-wight, which would be two more interventions for Eru, if he were Tom.

And you are right, Rusty, Tom was NOT Sauron. How did that idea get started anyway???