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Eotenas and Hobbits: Finn and Hengest, and Tolkien’s Speculation About Origins


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This essay examines Tolkien’s Finn and Hengest, particularly concentrating on Tolkien’s interpretation of the word eotenas as meaning Jutes rather than ‘monsters’. As opposed to “Beowulf: The Monsters and The Critics,” where Tolkien emphasizes supernatural elements at the expense of history, Tolkien’s lecture on the Finnsburg episode in Beowulf and the Finnsburg fragment semes to present Hengest as an English national hero, despite the bloodiness and vengeance of his reprisals against Hnaef and the Frisian court. He also, through . I argue that Alan Bliss, who edited and provided commentary on Tolkien’s Hengest, work, actually performs a revisionary move on Tolkien by suggesting Hengest was an Anglian, not a Jute. This is significant as it creates further distance between the English and the continental Goths—often said to be connections of the Geats, who, as Michael Drout pointed out, Tolkien at times wished to identify with the Jutes. The essay concludes by looking at the origin-stories of the Hobbits, and the Rohirrim in Tolkien’s’ legendarium and examining what light Tolkien’s work on the Hengest material sheds on the relation of these