The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
The earliest holder of the title, Bëor, lived I 262 - I 355 (93 years);1 Thráin I of Durin's Folk lived III 1934 - III 2190 (256 years); King Aldor of Rohan lived III 2544 - III 2645 (101 years); Grimbeorn lived at the end of the Third Age (precise dates unknown)
Races
Primarily Men, but also used of one Dwarf
Meaning
Typically refers to great age, but in the case of Thráin I the word 'Old' means 'former' or 'earlier'
Title of
Three Men and one Dwarf

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About this entry:

  • Updated 12 February 2021
  • This entry is complete

The Old

A title for the longest-lived of Men, and for one Dwarf

A title of four Men who lived to advanced age: Bëor, Aldor and Gamling of Rohan and Grimbeorn the son of Beorn.

Apparently the youngest of the three was Grimbeorn, who is reported to have ruled in the Vales of Anduin in the year III 3018. The evidence points strongly to his being born after Bilbo's visit to his father in III 2941, so his age could be no more than 77 at the time he is called 'The Old'. He may, of course, have lived longer than this.

Bëor was the first of Men to encounter the Elves, having led his people across the Blue Mountains into Beleriand. He was 49 at the time of that meeting, and died after another forty-four years of service to Finrod Felagund, at the age of 93.

Aldor was the third King of Rohan; he lived for more than a century, 101 years to be precise, and ruled the land of the Rohirrim for no less than seventy-five years. Long after Aldor's time, another of the Rohirrim also came to be known as 'the Old'. This was Gamling, a defender of Helm's Deep whose name literally means 'old man', though we're not told specifically how long Gamling lived.


The title was also used for one Dwarf, as Thorin referred to his 'far ancestor, Thráin the Old'2. That Thráin did not in fact live unusually long; he reached the age of 256, which was fairly typical for a Dwarf. Thorin, however, was not using the title 'Old' to refer to his ancestor's great age, but rather to avoid confusion a more recent Thráin, Thráin II, who was in fact Thorin's own father.


Notes

1

Our dates for Bëor come from a genealogical chart reproduced in volume XI of The History of Middle-earth. They are not therefore strictly canonical, though they match well with the published Silmarillion, and both sources agree that Bëor lived until the age of ninety-three.

2

The Hobbit 1, An Unexpected Party

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 12 February 2021
  • This entry is complete

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