The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Gerontius is pronounced 'jero'ntee-us'
Gerontius ultimately comes from Greek geron, 'old man'1


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  • Updated 28 May 2016
  • Updates planned: 2

Gerontius Took

The famous Shire-thain better known as the Old Took

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Thains of the Shire

Thain of the Shire, famed for his great age, for which reason he was popularly known as the Old Took.



It may seem a curious coincidence that Gerontius' father Fortinbras should choose to name his son 'old man', since he could hardly have known that Gerontius would go on to live a famously long life. It should be remembered that this Hobbit was not 'actually' named 'Gerontius'; rather, he would have been named for a hero of Hobbit tradition, with Tolkien giving him the more recognisable name 'Gerontius' as a 'translation' of his 'real' Hobbit-name. It can hardly be doubted that Tolkien's choice was influenced by Gerontius' fabled longevity, but the name is not a simple invention. There was a real historical Gerontius (a Roman military commander and rebel of the fifth century), and also an unrelated fictional character of the same name (from the poem The Dream of Gerontius by John Henry Newman), so perhaps Gerontius Took's unrecorded 'true' name reflected a parallel to one of these individuals from Hobbit history or lore.

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