May 18th, 2020

(no subject)

I've been thinking lately about how the Fellowship doesn't seem to carry money; or at least I can't remember a point where they even offer to buy something. When the Nazgul drive off the hobbits' ponies in Bree, Frodo has a bit of coin (though not enough to meet their current circumstance), but certainly once they get to Rivendell and join up with the Fellowship proper. But I can't remember t happening outside of the hobbits. Gandalf couldn't even afford his own horse.

Compare that to the Hobbit. The dwarves need advice and a place to rest from Elrond, but I don't recall there being any expectation that he'd outfit them. They lose all their luggage unexpectedly and have to trick Beorn into helping them, and then again the Mayor of Laketown is presented as helping them out of self-interest. The whole thing is shot through with fair trade and contractual details, from Bilbo's employment contract covering funerary expenses through Bard being owed a certain share of Smaug's horde as the actual dragon-slayer. Which, granted, is quite hilarious in its way, but it's also very modern and self-interested (or at least ingroup-interested).

Which makes a sort of sense because this really is Thorin's quest and not Elrond's or Thranduil's or even Dain's in a way that's just not true for the quest to destroy the Ring. But I think there's something deeper going on here. I have only a vague understanding of medieval concepts of hospitality, but I do know it's significant in pre-modern societies, and I wonder if there's not something like that going on here. That it's not some sort of quid pro quo or even a kindness but a way of really engaging in the Quest even if you're not one of the walkers. You see it in devotional literature about pilgrims going on their journeys and the people who support those journeys materially going on the pilgrimage vicariously, a bit. I wish I was better educated on this and could speak more specifically, but I do wonder if there's not something going on here.