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 Post subject: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 1st, 2017, 5:19 pm 
Dwarf
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Where do the skin Changers like Beorn originate from in Middle Earth?

I have read Lord of the Rings The Hobbit the Silmarillion the Unfi ished Tales, Children of Hurin and I can't find it or do I remember reading it should I say.

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 Post subject: Re: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 2nd, 2017, 11:37 am 
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I also don’t recall any Beorn-like characters outside of The Hobbit. I’m guessing JRRT included him there as a kind of character that is often found in fairy-tales (a children’s genre as opposed for fairy- (or faery-) stories).

Externally, Beorn most likely derives from any of a number of “were-bear” characters from Norse mythology. Even Beowulf, though not said to be a skin-changer, is by his name – “bee-wolf”, meaning bear – or by his superhuman (even super-ursine, no ice bear or Kodiak bear has the strength of forty men) strength, has some bear characteristics.

Only Sauron, in his battle with Huan in the tale of Beren and Lúthien in the Silmarillion, is ever explicitly said to shift his shape – even several times in his losing battle with Huan – but then Sauron as one of the most powerful Maiar “wears” his physical shape as we do our clothes. With the one exception that having such a shape destroyed, as in the downfall on Númenor, lessens his power.

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 Post subject: Re: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 2nd, 2017, 9:12 pm 
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I would love to fins out the answer tonthis question myself... if there
is one. I have always loved Beorn's character and wish there was more about him.

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 Post subject: Re: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 3rd, 2017, 9:49 am 
Gondorian
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To refresh some Hobbit stuff, Gandalf says: "Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North. I cannot say, though I fancy the last is the true tale."

And the Wizard explains part of his thinking: "I once saw him sitting all alone on the top of the Carrock at night watching the moon sinking towards the Misty Mountains, and I heard him growl in the tongue of bears: "The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!" That is why I believe he once came from the mountains himself."

As Gandolorin already noted, and I agree, externally I think Beorn hails from northern berserker tales and legends [Bodvar Bjarki and so on], as well as a linguistic detail, Old English beorn meaning "man, noble, hero, warrior", cognate with Norse bjorn "bear"...

... as in Sweden's Bjorn Borg, for you older tennis fans :-D

As for Beorn specifically, if the second notion [from Gandalf] is true -- which Tolkien appears to agree with in a letter where Beorn is said to be a man and a bit of a magician -- one theory about where his magic hailed from [transmitted to his descendants it seems] includes the possible influence of Radagast.

For myself, I'm not sure this idea works in all respects, but I tend not to tug a lot on this particular string in the first place.


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 7th, 2017, 8:03 pm 
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LOL You got me with Bjorn Borg. Never saw too many of his games as I was still young when he was playing but I do certainly know the name. Never thought of the two names being the same in any way!



So if he is a man (going with that theory) it's just his magic powers that enables him to change into a bear, not part of his DNA or "Who he is or what he is" exactly?

I guess I always kind of assumed he was a species all his own. It has been quite some time since I read that passage in the hobbit but when I did read it I guess I assumed it to be conjecture leading me to the ultimate conclusion that no one really knows what he is. *shrugs*

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 Post subject: Re: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 7th, 2017, 8:38 pm 
Elf
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Elthir wrote:
... For myself, I'm not sure this idea works in all respects, but I tend not to tug a lot on this particular string in the first place.

There is not much string to tug at anyway, as far as I can see. JRRT had some issues reconciling the fairy-tale Hobbit with the feary-story LoTR. And Beorn was more of a fairy-tale character, even if derived from some fearsome Norse myths. Beorn was dead by the time of LoTR (stated in a letter by JRRT), and he and his descendants the Beornings are kept firmly on the outermost fringes of the story – like a slight embarrassment, maybe? :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 7th, 2017, 10:43 pm 
Gondorian
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I agree Gandolorin, there's only so much here. And this is one of those matters that, for me, I don't want to tug the string "too much" in the sense of trying to unravel Beorn's mystery from an internal perspective, given the suggestion (I) raised here (from someone else on the web) that Beorn's magic possibly hailed from contact with Radagast.

Maybe. Does it work considering other factors? Maybe something else? But if anyone wants to investigate or theorize beyond what's written about Beorn [or his first wife, Mariana Simionescu, although here I might be thinking of Bjorn Rune Borg again], I certainly do not disapprove -- not at all. Where people find their fun here, is where they should go, of course.

Not that you said otherwise, by the way! And you may have noticed some posts where I delve fairly deeply into certain things* but for other examples, I'm not usually found in the thick of a "who or what is" Bombadil chat, and for a recent instance at this forum, Elf sleep. It's a subjective list I guess, and open to change.

*possibly erm... some of my longish posts... at times :speech:

And with respect to the matter of Balrog "wings" for example, I'm pretty inconsistent. Sometimes I jump in the discussion... sometimes flee with winged speed!


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Changers
PostPosted: May 7th, 2017, 11:50 pm 
Elf
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One aspect of Beorn does set him apart from other mortal humans in M-e (and the extreme longevity of early Númenoreans, like Elros reaching 500 years, double the Dwarven norm, is normal for M-e – Aragorn’s 210 years was in Dwarf territory, too). All mortal humans who deviated from norms – and except for Beorn, it was always in the sense of abnormal longevity, or being (unnaturally) “preserved” like both Bilbo and Frodo – did so under the influence of evil. Evil rings, for that matter, the Nazgûl being the prime examples.

(The Mouth of Sauron is hard to judge, as Sauron vacated Dol Guldur in 2941 TA, and declared himself openly in Mordor ten years later. The Mouth of Sauron could have entered his master’s service at any time between 2941 and his confrontation with Gandalf and Aragorn et. al. in 3019. Vague rumours could make him a contemporary of the Nazgûl in origin, but how was he preserved without a ring?)

How, from whom could Beorn have been granted his highly unusual ability, which did not also confer unnatural longevity? Radagast as instigator, while it might not be entirely implausible considering his preoccupation, seems entirely out of line with the limits placed on the Istari, unless you accept Saruman’s having a hand in breeding the Uruk-hai – utterly evil, if so, and not something one would associate Radagast with in the least.

The only thing that sounds vaguely familiar is Yavanna and the Ents. But that was in the most ancient times of M-e’s history, and none of the Valar is even as remotely connected to men as Oromë is with the Elves – and he was “simply” their Christopher Columbus, discovering them. Letting imagination run wild, one could construe that Yavanna did have some extremely long foresight, and instructed Radagast to do something to allow Beorn to be around precisely when he was needed to be the Eärendil of the Battle of Five Armies – as Eärendil clobbered Ancalagon, so did bear-Beorn crush Bolg and his bodyguard, turning the battle into a rout of the baddies. Go, Yavanna! Or not? :dunce:

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