The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
The famous Riddle-game between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum was played in III 2941; the game itself seems to have dated back much further1
Location
Bilbo and Gollum played their game beneath Goblin-town in the Misty Mountains
Race
Hobbits, and perhaps others

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About this entry:

  • Updated 5 May 2012
  • Updates planned: 1

Riddle-game

An ancient tradition of the Hobbits

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An ancient game of the Hobbits, used as a means of settling disputes. The players continued to ask each other riddles until one failed to provide a correct answer.


Notes

1

In the account in The Hobbit (chapter 5, Riddles in the Dark) we're told that '...the riddle-game was sacred and of immense antiquity...' and indeed Gollum remembers asking and guessing riddles with his fellow Hobbits in his early life before he went into exile, which would mean that the game dated back to at least III 2470 or so.

The Prologue to The Lord of the Rings (part 4, Of the Finding of the Ring) goes even further, describing the game as a tradition so formally organised as to have its own 'Authorities'. Since both Bilbo and Gollum were aware of this tradition, the game must date back to the time before their two cultures diverged. This is harder to date, but it was probably the point at which the Stoors of the Angle divided in about III 1356. That would make the Riddle-game fifteen hundred years old or more when Bilbo and Gollum played it beneath the Mountains.

See also...

Ogres, Ring-bearers

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