“Eastwards and Southwards”: Philological and Historical Perspectives on Tolkien and Classicism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This article examines the importance for J. R. R. Tolkien of late-C10-early C20 debate on the question of the Indo-European homeland, and how this plays out in his legendary world. Through a series of test-cases (tree- and plant-names, wine, dragons, oliphants) it is argued that Tolkien is fascinated with the spread of culture from an area which seems to map onto the Caucasus-Caspian region. In this he appears to follow the German Indo-Europeanists Otto Schrader and Victor Hehn, rather than the 'Nordicist' school represented by Karl Penka and Hermann Hirt. This has implications for our reading of symbolic topography and ethnography in his work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTolkien and the Classical World
EditorsHamish Williams
Place of PublicationZurich and Jena
PublisherWalking Tree
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)978-3-905703-45-0
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020

Publication series

PublisherWalking Tree


  • Tolkien; classics; nordicism; Indo-European homeland;


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