Beowulf and The Hobbit: The Monsters and the Magic 3 – Magical Items

This post will be brief.* Magical items are present in both Beowulf and The Hobbit. Most famously, The Hobbit includes a magic ring, discovered by Bilbo in the roots of the Misty Mountains just prior to his game of Riddles in the Dark with Gollum. This ring can turn its wearer invisible (save his shadow) — but, as readers/viewers of The Lord of the Rings know, it is much more than that.**

I interpret this item found at the Canadian Textile Museum as Grendel's Mother

I interpret this item found at the Canadian Textile Museum as Grendel’s Mother

Without rereading Beowulf a third time (I read it in June, after all), I can think of no magic rings. There are, of course, many objects of beauty and great craftsmanship. However, the only mangical item I can think of is the magical, used by Beowulf in his combat against Grendel’s mom after the mighty blade Hrunting fails to protect him. Later, he is given Naegling by Hrothgar in honour of his defeat of Grendel’s mom.

The Hobbit also has magic swords — Glamdring (‘Foehammer’, called by goblins ‘Beater’), Orcrist (‘Goblin-cleaver’, called by goblins ‘Biter’), and Sting. These items were forged in the elder days by elves and prove very useful in the combat against goblins and, in the case of Sting, the spiders of Mirkwood. Being of Elvish manufacture, they glow blue when goblins are in the vicinity.***

These are about all the properly magical items I can think of just now. Here the connexions between Beowulf and The Hobbit are more slender than with the monsters. But still we have magic swords that enable their bearers to wreak terrible deeds.

*Unlike the others in this series on Beowulf and The Hobbit: ‘The Epic and the Episodes‘, ‘The Monsters and the Magic: Grendel and the Goblins‘, and ‘The Monsters and the Magic: Dragons‘.

**Here come in the inevitable references to Wagner and The Saga of the Volsungs, although Tolkien claims no relation to the former.

***More inevitable references to Wagner and The Saga of the Volsungs? Perhaps also The Princess Bride for good measure, right?

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