The nature of the heroic-ethos changes in the late Third Age of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium. At the beginning of the First Age, a Germanic ethos that Tolkien called the theory of Northern courage accompanied the exile of the Noldor. However, at the dawn of the dominion of Men, a new ethos emerges. It is an ethos of hope rather than the “sad light of fatalism” of the “long defeat.” This ethos is exemplified, ad bono exemplum, in the character of Aragorn who fuses the old ethos and tradition into a new ‘pseudo-chivalry’ appropriate for the Age of Men. Examining Aragorn’s inherited core traditions and his great deeds in contrast to our own historical examples helps us to understand the nature of the changing heroic ethos in Tolkien’s Legendarium. By contrasting Aragorn, his coronation and kingship with our own literary and historical Charlemagne and Carolingian heroic poetry, the role of the Renewal King becomes clearer and we may understand this ‘fusion’ of new and old within Tolkien’s illustrative narrative of Middle-earth.



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