Hamish Williams (dir.), Tolkien and the Classical World, Walking Tree Publishers, 2021.
While scholars have often cited the influence of medieval texts and society on J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal fantasy creations, the role of the classical world – the literature and thought of ancient Greece and Rome – has received far less attention.
This volume of essays explores various ways in which Tolkien’s literary creations were shaped by classical epic, myth, poetry, history, philosophy, drama, and language. In making such connections, the contributors to this volume are interested not simply in source-hunting but in how a reception of the classical world can shape the meaning we derive from Tolkien’s masterworks.
The contributions to this volume by Philip Burton, Łukasz Neubauer, Giuseppe Pezzini, Benjamin Eldon Stevens, Graham Shipley, and several other scholars should pave the way for further discussions between classical studies and fantasy studies.
Table of contents
Classical Tradition, Modern Fantasy, and the Generic Contracts of Readers
SECTION 1: CLASSICAL LIVES AND HISTORIES
Tolkien the Classicist: Scholar and Thinker
Greek and Roman Historiographies in Tolkien’s Númenor
SECTION 2: ANCIENT EPIC AND MYTH
The Gods in (Tolkien’s) Epic: Classical Patterns of Divine Interaction
Benjamin Eldon Stevens
Middle-earth as Underworld: From Katabasis to Eucatastrophe
Austin M. Freeman
Pietas and the Fall of the City:
A Neglected Virgilian Influence on Middle-earth’s Chief Virtue
Peter Astrup Sundt
The Love Story of Orpheus and Eurydice in Tolkien’s Orphic Middle-earth
SECTION 3: IN DIALOGUE WITH THE GREEK PHILOSOPHERS
Plato’s Atlantis and the Post-Platonic
Tradition in Tolkien’s Downfall of Númenor
Less Consciously at First but More Consciously in the Revision: Plato’s Ring
of Gyges as a Putative Source of Inspiration for Tolkien’s Ring of Power
Horror and Fury: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin
and the Aristotelian Theory of Tragedy
SECTION 4: AROUND THE BORDERS OF THE CLASSICAL WORLD
« Eastwards and Southwards »:
Philological and Historical Perspectives on Tolkien and Classicism
Richard Z. Gallant
The Noldorization of the Edain: The Roman-Germani Paradigm
for the Noldor and Edain in Tolkien’s Migration Era
« Escape and Consolation »: Gondor as the Ancient Mediterranean
and Rohan as the Germanic World in The Lord of the Rings
SECTION 5: SHORTER REMARKS AND OBSERVATIONS
Alley Marie Jordan
Shepherds and the Shire: Classical Pastoralism in Middle-earth
Oleksandra Filonenko and Vitalii Shchepanskyi
Classical Influences on the Role of Music in Tolkien’s Legendarium
D. Graham J. Shipley
Afterword: Tolkien’s Response to Classics in Its Wider Context.