I want to thank Simon again for a fascinating paper - I've also just finished reading his longer TS paper, which he's kindly passed on, and which complements this piece very nicely.
From my perspective, I'm extremely happy to see more discussion of ethnological and mythological debates that formed such an important part of Tolkien's background. The specific parallels are often hard to untangle, but it seems pretty clear that legendary and mythological matter of the continental Angles had a huge effect on Tolkien - Ing, Scyld/King Sheave, wondrous times of Peace, people showing up or setting out on mysterious ship-journeys, and 'culture heroes'. Along with Chadwick, R.W. Chambers' edition of Widsith (published 1912) definitely caught Tolkien's notice.
The specifics can be hard to pin down though. With the 'southern Rohirrim', I'm not entirely convinced we can really point to Ridgeway as even a probable source. Tolkien would most likely have found the idea of the Achaeans as originally Germanic fairly absurd - I think he saw a commonality between the lifestyle depicted in Homer and in the Germanic world, but probably stemming more from the idea that they both shared a common stage of cultural development (so to speak): they were both going through a 'heroic age' phase. As for geography, the Goths readily put a Germanic people in the Mediterranean - some of the resonances there have been teased out by Miryam Librán-Moreno in Fisher's essay collection.
Anyway, moving back North, it will also be interesting to see how the new Commentary to Beowulf fills out our impressions of Tolkien's views on North Sea/Baltic legend and the English. He has notes on the Beowulfian phrase Fréa Ingwina, for instance ('Lord of the Friends of Ing'), which he relates to the ancient worship of Ing in those parts. I'll be interested to see whether these comments, from (apparently) the 1930's and 40's, help us understand Tolkien's initial impulses in writing his mythology (in which, at one point, Ing the ancestor of the Germanic Ingwines was going to feature directly - see The History of Eriol and ∆lfwine in the BoLT II), or how those impulses carried on and changed (or didn't) in his later writings. A very tangled thread, but a fascinating one!
Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 02/Jun/2014 at 06:38 PM.
It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.