Define "a Life"...

... still searching for a clear definition of that thing people keep telling me I need to get...

Location: Springfield, PA

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Didn't Anyone Get Five?

This occurred to me a while ago, and it seemed a bit odd. I guess what felt really odd is that I'd never thought of it before. Everyone remember this:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them
One Ring to bring them all & in the darkness bind them
In the
Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

That's a big jump, three to seven. What about five? The pattern would seem to be a progression of adding two to the previous number of rings: one, three, five, seven, nine. But there's no five in the Verse of The Ring. We go from Elves to Dwarves, jumping from three to seven. Did someone get five rings and we're not being told about it? I mean, if the progression were one, three, six, nine, that would make a little more sense. Surely Tolkien didn't go with seven for the Dwarf-lords just because he needed the extra syllable to make the line scan.

There is the fact that the numbers chosen -- three, seven, nine -- are more "loaded" than five; each has its own mystical or totemic resonance. In Biblical association, three connects to the Trinity; it also reflects the days between Christ's death and resurrection. The number seven in Hebrew comes from the root word meaning "complete" or "full." There are seven cardinal virtues, and seven deadly sins. Nine is the third perfect square, whose root is itself three; it is the first square not evenly divisible; it is the last single-digit number, signifying the ending of one thing before the beginning of a new phase. Nine is a significant number in Norse mythology: Odin hung himself on an ash tree for nine days to learn the runes. Jesus appears nine times to his disciples and apostles after his resurrection.

I'm discounting the One Ring from such consideration, because the very point of the One Ring is that it's the One Ring -- it's a singular entity.

When I find myself devoting this much thought to things like this (never mind noticing them in the first place), I sometimes think I ought to have stayed in academia...


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