Alternative Histories. Crypto-Celts and Crypto-Romans in the Legendarium of J. R. R. Tolkien

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This chapter discusses the ways in which various fictional groups in J. R. R. Tolkien's work serve as 'crypto-Celtic', 'crypto-Roman', or 'crypto-Germanic'. It is argues that while such groups exist, 'pure' ethnic groups are rare. Contrary to the frequent perception of Tolkien as an ethnic essentialist, his fiction shows that patterns of interbreeding and assimilation make for survival and mutual respect. Particular consideration is given to his 'crypto-Romans' as 'crypto-Roman Catholics', and the importance of this for our understanding of his work.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCelts, Romans, and Britons
Subtitle of host publicationClassical and Celtic Influence in the Construction of British Identities
EditorsFrancesca Kaminski-Jones, Rhys Kaminski-Jones
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2020

Publication series

NameClassical Presences
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Classical reception; Celts; Romanticism; Tolkien