The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Extant in III 3018 (certainly between the dates of 9 and 20 October)
Species
Culture
Pronunciation
asfa'loth
Meaning
Uncertain1

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 13 November 2008
  • This entry is complete

Asfaloth

The horse of Glorfindel

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The gleaming white elf-horse ridden by Glorfindel of Rivendell in the closing years of the Third Age. It was on Asfaloth that Glorfindel set out to seek Aragorn and the Hobbits, and after they had been found, the Elf gave up his mount to the wounded Frodo. Despite a dangerous encounter with the Black Riders at the Ford of Bruinen, Asfaloth brought Frodo safely to the House of Elrond.

In the first edition of The Lord of the Rings, Asfaloth was described as being fitted with a bridle and bit, even though it's elsewhere established that Elves did not use bridles. After a letter from a curious reader, Tolkien acknowledged this inconsistency, and later editions read 'headstall' rather than 'bridle and bit'. In the relevant letter, we're given a little more detail about Asfaloth's gear: 'Glorfindel's horse would have an ornamental headstall, carrying a plume, and with the straps studded with jewels and small bells, but Glor[findel] would certainly not use a bit' (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien No 211, dated 1958).


Notes

1

Asfaloth's name does not break down easily into meaningful Elvish elements, and its meaning is particularly uncertain (Tolkien himself never offered to provide an interpretation). The final element -loth is probably 'blossom' or 'flower' (and some see -fal- as 'foam') but the name as a whole defies useful deconstruction.

See also...

Frodo Baggins, Horses

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