Unfinished Tales – Part One: The First Age – II. Narn i Hîn Húrin – The Tale of the Children of Húrin – Of Mim the Dwarf

Enter: Mim, who is mistaken by Túrin’s band as an Orc when he defends himself by biting the hands of his attackers.  When Túrin vows to spare Mim and that none in his party should harm the Dwarf, Mim wraps his arms around Túrin’s knees.  I noticed in my rereads of Homer recently that this method of supplication was common in ancient days, something I’ve not put together before.

After some threats, Mim leads the band to his home under the bald hill of Amon Rûdh, known to the Dwarves as  Sharbhund.  It is revealed that the time Mim spent in bonds prevented him from arriving in time to heal his son, who was shot by one of Túrin’s men, Andróg.  Túrin feels remorse, in keeping with his vow to only hunt the servants of Morgoth, and vows to a great ransom to be paid to Mim should such treasure come into Túrin’s possession.  Mim curses the man to break the bow and never to bear such a weapon again lest he die by it.  Andróg, in turn, breaks his bow, but curses Mim in kind to die with a dart in his throat.

Mim shares the roots in his sack with the Men, which are likened to bread, but can be stored through the winter like nuts.  This is one of the secrets of the Dwarves, for none of the Elves nor Men know of them until this point.  As Mim points out, they are worth little, but they are worth more than gold to the hungry in winter.  He also points out the Dwarves have many such secrets that will remain out of the knowledge of Elves and Men.  Mim again rebukes the Men for holding him in bonds, preventing him from helping his son, and Túrin abides in the so-called House of Ransom, Bar-en-Danwedh.

The story of Túrin from his coming to Bar-en-Danwedh to the fall of Nargothrond is related in The Silmarillion and in the Appendix to the Narn i Hîn Húrin, the latter of which will have its own post when we get there.

I mentioned at the top of this post the rereads of Homer.  One of the biggest themes in The Odyssey is the expectation and ritual between host and guest that defines civilized society in the ancient world.  Tolkien brings this to bear here in like fashion, a clear indication of how such customs translated into the Middle Ages and into his own writings.  Touches like this make the world feel old by comparison of our own and refined even in a world tarnished by Morgoth.

4 thoughts on “Unfinished Tales – Part One: The First Age – II. Narn i Hîn Húrin – The Tale of the Children of Húrin – Of Mim the Dwarf

  1. It always gives me warm and cozy feeling to see the links that are present in writing – especially from medievalists. Yes, some tropes can be worn to the ground – but to find the same gestures of supplication? Subtle.

    Well done, as always – and leading me to quite possibly raid someone’s Tolkien collection. True story – when I was first unpacking my storage unit, we came across my fancy pants copy of The Hobbit, in gold and green. His fancy pants copy is in gold and red.

    Liked by 1 person

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