Monday, January 9, 2017

Most Of The Names J. R. R. Tolkien Used For His Dwarves In His Books Were Actual Names Of Dwarves In Norse Mythology

(The Dwarves at Work, c. 1871, engraved by George Pearson (1850-1910), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)

J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, such as The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, have inspired a new wave of fantasy novels that take place in a highly detailed, fantastical worlds. Though Tolkien had an incredibly imaginative and ingeniously creative mind, he drew his ideas heavily from Norse mythology. Not only did he find the concepts of elves, dwarves and magical rings from Nordic tales, but he also gathered names for his characters from Scandinavian mythology—especially the dwarves. For example, almost all the names of the J. R. R. Tokien’s dwarves in The Hobbit can be found in one passage from The Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson. The dwarves in The Hobbit are Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur and Thorin Oakenshield. You will find most of their names, and that of Gandalf, in the following excerpt from The Prose Edda:

“And these, says the prophetess, are the names of these dwarves:

Nyi, Nidi,
Nordri, Sudri,
Austri, Vestri,
Althjolf, Dvalin,
Nar, Nain,
Niping, Dain,
Bifur, Bafur,
Bombor, Nori,
Ori, Onar,
Oin, Modvitnir
Vig and Gandalf,
Vindalf, Thorin,
Fili, Kili,
Fundin, Vali,
Thror, Throin,
Thekk, Lit, Vitr,
Nyr, Nyrad,
Rekk, Radsvinn.

But these, too, are dwarves and they live in the rocks, whereas those mentioned before live in the ground:

Draupnir, Dolgthvari,
Haur, Hugstari,
Hledjolf, Gloin,
Dori, Ori,
Duf, Andvari,
Har, Siar.”
  • From The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jesse L. Byock (Penguin Classics edition). This passage is in chapter 14 of the Gylfaginning, within The Prose Edda.

Written by C. Keith Hansley 


  1. Cool find. Dain, Nain, Fundin, and Thror are also Dwarvish names used by Tolkien.

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  3. Using legend to a good end was the intent, Just as Sam Gamgee asks, "How could end be happy?" "...there is some good in this world and it is worth fighting for."