Baggins of Fun

Today is Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthday, although I don’t think they’re still alive to enjoy it. Even though they sailed off to the Undying Lands, mortal beings who reach there remain mortal. How long they live is unknown, though. J.R.R. Tolkien himself, as quoted here, wrote, “As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time — whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer ‘immortality’ upon them. Their sojourn was a ‘purgatory’, but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing.” I’m not sure what would happen if these mortals never desired to die, but perhaps Tolkien believed that no mortal would really want to live forever, even if they initially thought they did. And Heaven is presumably better than Aman anyway, at least according to the Catholic author.

Picture by Ted Nasmith
Upon leaving Middle-Earth, Bilbo was 131 years old. On average, Hobbits live older than humans, with one hundred being about an average lifespan. Part of the reason for Bilbo’s long life was that he possessed the One Ring for some sixty years. The Ring had the power to retard aging, but would eat away at the soul and cause deterioration in appearance, basically making its wearer more wraith-like. Gollum was about 589 when he fell to his fiery death. Spending that long talking to yourself would drive someone crazy even if they weren’t under Sauron’s power. Actually, since the Ring was supposed to be trying to return to its master, Gollum must have been rather resistant to it in order to spend so many centuries just hanging around underground.

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