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The history of Middle-Earth (chibi version): Part 29: Aquila ex machina

6th May 2013 (11:29)

Another chapter almost finished! And also, so how do you write the sound that the Eagles make in the film version of :Lord of the Rings? "Peeeuw?.

Anyway, vocabulary for the Latin-challenged:
deus ex machina - god from the machine
machina ex deo - machine from the god
aquila - eagle

Part 29: Aquila ex machina

Next time: Part 30: Cursing the darkness

Chibis by tektek.org
Original story by and copyright to J R R Tolkien, ed. C Tolkien: Primarily based on the Silmarillion, but incorporating ideas from the 12-volume History of Middle Earth series.
Questions and comments welcome!


Posted by: goldenusagi (goldenusagi)
Posted at: 7th May 2013 02:49 (UTC)

the inevitable, "Why didn't they just fly into Mordor by eagle and drop the Ring into Mount Doom?" question that crops up Every. Single. Time. LotR is discussed...

But. why. didn't. they?

(Seriously, did God say they couldn't, or did you just add that in?)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2013 08:42 (UTC)

Heh. No, Tolkien never gives a specific reason within the story why they don't fly everywhere on eagle-back, and the bit here where God says "Don't do that!" was my invention.

Tolkien did go into a little more detail in a letter to the producers of the film erimthar mentioned:

"The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'. I have used them sparingly, and that is the absolute limit of their credibility or usefulness. The alighting of a Great Eagle of the Misty Mountains in the Shire is absurd: it also makes the later capture of G[andalf] by Saruman incredible, and spoils the account of his escape."

"At the bottom of the page the Eagles are again introduced. I feel this to be a wholly unacceptable tampering with the tale. 'Nine Walkers' and they immediately go up in the air! The intrusion achieves nothing but incredibility, and the staling of the device of the Eagles when at last they are really needed.(...) Would [the writer] think that he had improved the effect of a film of, say, the ascent of Everest by introducing helicopters to take the climbers half way up (in defiance of probability)?"

On the other hand, it's mentioned several times that Eagles are the special servants of Manwë, carrying news and messages for him, so it's a reasonable assumption that when they do show up in the stories, it's an act of divine intervention in the literal sense. Tolkien's Eagles are a kind of feather-covered angel, not natural birds: and according to his religious beliefs, miracles do happen: but when you need them (and then only occasionally), not when you want them.

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