Mythological Inspirations to Tolkien’s Middle Earth

European Origins


J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth has fascinated generations of readers and – since the movie adaption by Peter Jackson of both, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, – viewers all over the world. By profession a linguist and an Oxford professor, Tolkien conducted extended research on historical texts, showcasing the rich mythology of Europe’s past. Some of his biggest inspirations came from the Epic Poetry of the Middle Ages, created all over Northern Europe. Especially important was the Old English poem “Beowulf”, as well as the Icelandic Sagas, written in the ancient language of Scandinavia, Old Norse. From here it is, that Tolkien got many of the names for some of his most important characters, chief among them Gandalf. Gandalf itself seems to be inspired heavily by Odin, who is often described as a grey-bearded figure with a cloak and staff, capable of wielding powerful magic. But other characters…

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