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BarbaraN
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TTT: Book 4: Chapters 1-3

TTT: Book 4: Chapters 1-3

We left Frodo and Sam back in Book 2 of the Fellowship of the Ring on their way to Mordor with the Ring. In Book 4 we now find out how things are going with them and to meet Gollum, a most interesting character.

May 26-June 1
Chapters 1-3

1. The Taming of Smeagol
2. The Passage of the Marshes
3. The Black Gate is Closed
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lorien
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

Is Smeagol/Gollum Bad?

Gollum is considered evil by most of the characters but I wonder if he is really bad. He has shown more fortitude than anyone else. He inherited the Ring after it had lay dormant for 3,000 years. My feeling is the Ring then was like a rattlesnake, particularly venomous after a winter hibernation. That was the only time Gollum really committed a crime--when he killed Deagol. Gollum could have been totally under the domination of a very powerful Ring then that wanted to get home.

Then he was mistreated and rejected by his family. Then he spent 500 years living with the Ring in dark cave. He never saw the light of day and only had the Ring for a companion during that time--yet he survived. His eating choices are considered particularly disgusting but he had little choice, he had to survive, the Ring would not let him do otherwise. He had to forage for food where he could like fish, grubs and an occasional orc. He could not grow vegetables or grow wheat and bake bread--no light. He could not cook his food -- no fire or fuel. I think eating orcs was a desperate effort. Even Shelob didn't particularly like orc. Eventually, he would come to like these things in preference over his old food.

Still, after all these years of deprivation and living alone in the dark with only The Ring for a companion, he still maintained some sort of humanity. He played the Riddle Game fairly with Bilbo. And then he lost his only companion to Bilbo--the Ring. It must have been devastatingly lonely for him.

Then he was captured and tortured by Sauran, then captured and not well treated by Aragorn, and then kept by the elves. From his reaction to anything elf (the rope, the cloak, even the leaf of the limbas) as something terribly painful, leads me to believe he was not that well treated by them either.

I don't think there are too many who could keep their sanity and some humanity through all that. And his only crime was actually that one murder. I don't think orcs count. Orcs are slaughtered and no prisoners taken in any of the three battles we have encountered so far--when the riders of Rohan come upon the band, at Helms Deep and Isengard. Men are spared but orcs are not.

So I wonder--how is Gollum so evil?

I don't want to get ahead right now but he does continue to show more humanity. But here when we first meet Gollum, what has he really done that is so bad?
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

Is Smeagol/Gollum Bad?
---------------------------------------------------
Well for the longest time I have considered Gollum to be mad.

Now this begs the question of whether we consider the insane responsible for their actions. Historically madness was considered a punishment by god, and therefor if the person wasn't evil they would not be mad. The recent enlightenment of madness as disease not divine retribution, takes a different perspective. The current legal instance is that the mad are not responsible, however in extreme murderous cases we do hold them responsible.(shrug)

So what side of the line do you fall upon? Are the insane responsible for their actions after the onset of insanity?

Now I think Smeagol, before he ever touched the RING was borderline unstable. All it took to shove him into the realm of insanity was his grasping the RING. I can't hold him to blame for anything he did subsequently. Poor guy touched a time bomb.


A couple of pennies worth.
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lorien
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol


TiggerBear wrote:
Is Smeagol/Gollum Bad?
---------------------------------------------------
Well for the longest time I have considered Gollum to be mad.

Now this begs the question of whether we consider the insane responsible for their actions. Historically madness was considered a punishment by god, and therefor if the person wasn't evil they would not be mad. The recent enlightenment of madness as disease not divine retribution, takes a different perspective. The current legal instance is that the mad are not responsible, however in extreme murderous cases we do hold them responsible.(shrug)

So what side of the line do you fall upon? Are the insane responsible for their actions after the onset of insanity?

Now I think Smeagol, before he ever touched the RING was borderline unstable. All it took to shove him into the realm of insanity was his grasping the RING. I can't hold him to blame for anything he did subsequently. Poor guy touched a time bomb.


A couple of pennies worth.




I don't know if I would consider Gollum mad, something we might want to follow as we move along. We may even have to come up with working definitions as to what is "mad" or "insane." I think insane is a legal definition and not a medical one. He is amazingly resilient. I would consider him mildly schizophrenic, because he slips in and out of that. Gollum is very clever and quite capable of behaving in sane and lucid manner when he has to. Except when he is in his schizophrenic phase, he seems very much aware of what he is doing.
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lorien
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

I think I may have been using the wrong term here--schizophrenic. Gollum's condition looks more like Dissociative Identity Disorder. By the time we finish these books we will be experts on just about everything. :smileywink: Here is a definition from Wikipedia:

----------------
Dissociative Identity Disorder, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a single person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. The diagnosis requires that at least two personalities routinely take control of the individual's behavior with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness; in addition, symptoms cannot be due to substance abuse or medical condition. Earlier versions of the DSM named the condition multiple personality disorder (MPD).
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lorien
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

I may have found another appropriate psychotic condition but this time more with the behavior of Bilbo, Frodo and Boromir:

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder essentially is an ongoing, unbased suspiciousness and distrust of people. Along with this, the person suffering from PPD is emotionally detached....These factors include: suspicion that others are exploiting, or deceiving them, that others may not be loyal or trustworthy, believes there are threats or attacks on their character in innocent statements that others do not see, and bears persistent grudges.
----------------------

I'm not sure. But this is kind of what we see flare up for brief periods when someone indicates they may take the Ring, or at least the bearer (Bilbo in Chapter 1 and Frodo later on) thinks so. Or, in the case of Boromir when Frodo refuses to give him the Ring. This also may describe Gollum in The Hobbit when he discovers the Ring is missing.
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TiggerBear
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

You want to give Gollum a diagnosis?

Paranoid -check Multiple personalities -check Delusional -check Psychosomatic pain -check

His great strength and resistance to pain are often attributed to the insane.
Moments of clarity and control are not unknown to the delusional. Psychotic breaks are not necessarily constant.

(shrug) But whether Gollum is crazy is really up to the individual perspective.
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lorien
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

I find this time around I'm really looking at detail--maybe too much. But Frodo threatens Gollum with his sword and asks if he recognizes it--it is Sting. Well, I don't think Gollum ever knew it was called Sting. I don't think Bilbo named it until long after he had acquired the Ring and had had his encounter with Gollum.
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lorien
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

Another loose end. When Frodo was climbing down the cliff there was shriek, an enveloping darkness and a wind that almost blew him off the cliff. It could have been just the passing storm--even a small tornado would fit the situation. There was also some indication that it could have been an Nazgul flying by. The ambiguity and the speculation is fine with me. That is also worthy of discussion.

What I'm having trouble with is the fact that Frodo was completely blind while Sam could see where Frodo was. If Frodo was in total darkness and Sam could not see him I wouldn't have any problem either. But we are not given a clue, at least that I noticed, why Frodo was totally blind until he was able to see the elven rope. No explanation or speculation was offered and that was the end of the incident.
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lorien
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapters 2. The Passage of the Marshes

As we move along, I am coming to Gandalf's conclusions that "everything was meant to be." There were many options on how to get to Mordor. Frodo could have left the group earlier and headed around the marsh. He also realizes that if he knew his way better he could still back-track and then go around the marsh. In fact, Gollum even suggests this route as a possibility--if Frodo wanted to get to Saurun really fast. Orcs would be sure to pick him up on the Orc road on the other side. So the only way to approach Mordor in relative safety and unseen was through the marshes and there is no way they could have made it through without Gollum's aid.

I also like Gollum's cynicism about the subject. Gollum doesn't seem to think too much of the naive Frodo and Sam when dealing with real world situations.
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

What I'm having trouble with is the fact that Frodo was completely blind while Sam could see where Frodo was. If Frodo was in total darkness and Sam could not see him I wouldn't have any problem either. But we are not given a clue, at least that I noticed, why Frodo was totally blind until he was able to see the elven rope. No explanation or speculation was offered and that was the end of the incident.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
I wonder if it has anything to do with the gift from Galadriel?
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol



lorien wrote:
Another loose end. When Frodo was climbing down the cliff there was shriek, an enveloping darkness and a wind that almost blew him off the cliff. It could have been just the passing storm--even a small tornado would fit the situation. There was also some indication that it could have been an Nazgul flying by. The ambiguity and the speculation is fine with me. That is also worthy of discussion.

What I'm having trouble with is the fact that Frodo was completely blind while Sam could see where Frodo was. If Frodo was in total darkness and Sam could not see him I wouldn't have any problem either. But we are not given a clue, at least that I noticed, why Frodo was totally blind until he was able to see the elven rope. No explanation or speculation was offered and that was the end of the incident.




I think Tolkien intended his readers to understand that a Nazgul did in fact fly directly over the hobbits, and that, out here in the wilderness, close upon the margins of Mordor, its screech was redoubled in its paralyzing intensity. Frodo is actually stricken blind by the Nazgul's scream. (TT "The Taming of Smeagol," p 213) I always took Frodo's sudden blindness as a measure of the Ring's increasing power as it was carried ever closer to its source, Orodruin, and Sauron. The Nine Nazgul also seem to increase in power the nearer they are to their home turf. Frodo, bearing the Ring, reacts more violently to the presence of the Nazgul that flies over them, while Sam is less impacted by the Ring, and Sam does not carry Frodo's knife-wound to sensitize him to the wraiths. The rope, having certain "magical" properties (self-unknotting), became faintly luminous to Frodo's eyes when he most needed to be able to see it.

Hammond and Scull have this to say about the incident: II: 213 -- "high shrill shriek -- The sound of a Ringwraith in flight. Tom Shippey suggests that it 'was coming back from a fruitless wait for Grishnakh the orc, dead and burnt that same day, with the smoke from his burning "seen by many watchful eyes"' (The Road to Middle-earth, p. 146)." (H&S LRC, p. 444)
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

Hi, lorien ---
 
I may be speaking up too quickly and too rashly, here - but the way I remember that particular incident [ with Frodo, Gollum and Sting ] It was more a case of Frodo announcing to Gollum something like:
"Yes - you recognize this sword, don't you? Its name is Sting..."
 
And not so much a case of Gollum saying something like:
"Hey - I remember that sword - its name is Sting, right?"
 
Of course, for Gollum, the memory of his meeting with Bilbo ( those decades before ) and the sword that Bilbo carried - was burned in his memory - Gollum could never, ever forget the day he lost his "precious"...   
( and the hobbit who "stole" the Ring from him ) ---
 
Ardo Whortleberry
 
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

Concerning Gollum and "Madness" ---
 
Putting aside ( just for the moment ) any of our modern-day, Post -Freudian psychiatric terminologies -
talking simply in the old-fashioned Fairy-Tale nomenclature,
we can certainly easily describe Gollum as being "Mad" ( or having gone "mad" )...
Whatever his  mental state before he first saw the Ring - the Ring "drove him mad" - by posessing his mind, body and being, eating away at his soul - keeping him alive - and yet making his very existence a misery...
( with only the rarest opportunity for the sensory experience of the simplest of pleasures )...
 
Ardo
 
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: TTT: Book 4: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol

I don't believe this is what Tolkien had in mind at all  - but it does almost seem as though the realtionship between Gollum and the Ring could be compared to the relationship between the Addict and:
 whatever it is he/she is addicted to...
 
This is from "The Hobbit" - Chapter V - "Riddles In The Dark" ---
 
[            ..."My birthday-present! It came to me on my birthday, my precious,"
              So he had always said to himself ....
              Gollum used to wear it at first, till it tired him;  and then he kept it in a pouch
              next to his skin, till it galled him; and now usually he hid it in a hole in the rock
              on his island, and he was always going back to look at it
              And still sometimes he put it on, when
              he could not bear to be parted from it any longer...       ]
 
I guess you can say this is simply an example of the Ring "consuming" Gollum -
  but that's also what ( in real life ) some very serious addictions  
tend to do to people -
 they often "consume" the Addict. ---
 
Ardo Whortleberry 
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Dagor
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Re: Is Smeagol/ Gollum Good or Bad?

We, fortunately, or unfortunately are dealing with two quite different Gollums by the time we get to LotR. The original character was simply a casual monster, some sort of odd creature, a member of a species not even human/ hobbit that lived in the deep places of the world. This Gollum was never specifically assigned a designation "good guy" or "bad," though he was still dangerous as he was quite willing to stake Bilbo's life on the outcome of a riddle-game. But, this 1937 version Gollum was a creature of its word, an honourable thing, and he had promised a gift to Bilbo should the hobbit win the game, as he did. The gift was a ring, not yet The Ring, but still a magical ring that conferred both luck and invisibility upon its bearer. Unknown to Gollum, the ring had been lost and then found by Bilbo who, at the end of the riddle-game already had it in his pocket. Unable to give Bilbo the promised ring/ present, Gollum sought honourably to make up for its lack by showing Bilbo the way out of the caves and mines. "Now Gollum had to agree to this, if he was not to cheat. He still very much wanted just to try what the stranger tasted like; but now he had to give up all idea of it." (Annotated Hobbit, p. 130) At last Gollum faithfully led Bilbo to the final passage that opened onto the Goblin's gate and the two politely said "goodbye" before Gollum padded back to his lake and Bilbo braved the Goblins at the door. So, other than a slightly distressing penchant for eating his fellow "speaking" creatures, Gollum comes off as a fairly decent sort in the pre-LotR days.

With the writing of LotR, Tolkien altered the character of Gollum's magic ring, elevating it to its potent position as The One Ring. It now became necessary to alter Gollum's own nature, and make him a far more desperately dangerous, and deceitful creature, a mind-blasted addict whose dope was the Ring. A more suitable "back-history" had to be developed for Gollum, detailing who/ what he had been; how he had possessed himself of the Ring; and how the Ring eventually possessed him, together with the great changes it made in his personality, body, and mind. Gollum, now Smeagol, was made a hobbit, but the back story was not sufficiently detailed in LotR to give us a chance to class him (in his pre-Ring days) as a "bad" hobbit, like Lotho Pimple, Lobelia, Ted Sandyman, or simply a regular "good" hobbit (like Samwise) who will later be vastly perverted by the Ring. It is perhaps somewhat indicative of his originally "bad" nature that the mere, first sight of the Ring calls so strongly upon some answering evil in Smeagol, that, before he even touches the thing, or wears it, it corrupts him to an immediate act of murder. Had two "regular" or good hobbits come upon the Ring by chance, say Merry and Pippin, would the result have been the prompt murder of one of them by the other? So, I think we are fairly safe in assuming that there was something "wrong" with Smeagol the hobbit from the beginning, some character flaw that left him particularly vulnerable to the Ring's seduction and control.

Still, perhaps because there were two Gollums, the 1937, dangerous but honourable creature, and the LotR degraded addicted character, the final Gollum comes out looking schizophrenic -- he is sometimes motivated by honourable intentions (as was the 1937 Gollum), but now, in LotR, he is sometimes overpowered by his own desires and the rot the Ring has created in his brain. Sometimes he is an object that solicits our pity, sometimes he is a hateful bundle of sheer malice. I think Tolkien's real genius shines out here, he keeps us ever in suspense with Smeagol/ Gollum, never letting us become comfortable with the ever-changing character, never letting us resolve the ambiguities that surround him, never letting us fully assign him a role that can distinctly be said to be "evil" or "good." This constant tension of suspended judgment makes Gollum the most memorable and vitally alive of all Tolkien's characters, or so I believe.
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Re: Is Smeagol/ Gollum Good or Bad?

Dagor wrote:
Still, perhaps because there were two Gollums, the 1937, dangerous but honourable creature, and the LotR degraded addicted character, the final Gollum comes out looking schizophrenic -- he is sometimes motivated by honourable intentions (as was the 1937 Gollum), but now, in LotR, he is sometimes overpowered by his own desires and the rot the Ring has created in his brain. Sometimes he is an object that solicits our pity, sometimes he is a hateful bundle of sheer malice. I think Tolkien's real genius shines out here, he keeps us ever in suspense with Smeagol/ Gollum, never letting us become comfortable with the ever-changing character, never letting us resolve the ambiguities that surround him, never letting us fully assign him a role that can distinctly be said to be "evil" or "good." This constant tension of suspended judgment makes Gollum the most memorable and vitally alive of all Tolkien's characters, or so I believe.
-----------------------------------

What a great theory, Dagor! Of course both Gollums would be fresh in Tolkien's memory at the time he was writing this and he was still probably working out some of the reconciliation. And I think quite brilliantly he made his LOTR Gollum both. This does make Smeagle/Gollum the most interesting character in the book. If we didn't know the outcome, I think there would be more debate over whether Gollum is good or evil. However, even knowing the outcome, I think there is still a debate.

-------------SPOILER--------------

In the end, there is an assumption the "bad" Gollum prevailed but it is possible to see it the other way and argue the point that Frodo failed and Smeagle emerged. Smeagle fully understood the prevailing evil of the Ring and he, more than anyone else, understood how it could destroy the possessor. He also finally understood Frodo's mission, had a strong affection for Frodo and realized that the only solution was to sacrifice himself and the Ring. He did exactly what Brunnhilde did in Wagner's Ring. Note, he did not try to kill Frodo.

From Wikipedia:
Upon their return, Brünnhilde takes charge, and has a pyre built in which she is to perish, cleansing the ring of its curse and returning it to the Rhinemaidens. Her pyre becomes the signal by which Valhalla also perishes in flame.

------------
I might add and then a new world order begins.
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Re: Is Smeagol/ Gollum Good or Bad?

Just a wee bit of extrapolation on these last posts -
continuing on with the idea of "Gollum as the Addict" -
[ by the way, Dagor, that was a great observation to bring up -
and with which to put the whole Gollum/Smeagol discussion in a new light -
( concerning the "original" Gollum character - and the later "revised" version. 
Over forty years ago, I had originally stumbled upon the original, unrevised version of the story when I was still busy re-reading "The Hobbit" many times - but before I ever read LOTR - so I knew that there had been 
that change - but I didn't yet know why it had been made ) ]
 
It might be interesting to speculate in just what way Smeagol might have been "unbalanced" before he ever laid eyes on the Ring.
I think we should also bear in mind that although "Smeagol's People" were supposed to have been
"hobbit-like" - they were not supposed to be "exactly the same" as our Hobbits of the Shire ...Stoors are distantly related to the hobbits of the shire ( possibly ancestors, but then only in part- one of the different earlier "breeds" of hobbitish peoples ) - and perhaps then to be considered possibly to have been somewhat less "advanced" - or slightly more "primitive" than the kind of hobbits we were familiar with in the time of Bilbo and Frodo...
Not that it feels like murder would be an "everyday occurance" among the Stoors - but one gets the impression that murder is a real anomaly among the Shire hobbits we are familiar with...
 
Anyway, to get back to what I was talking about - although addicts often commit evil acts - they themselves are not necessarily evil themselves - their obsession with the object of their desire and the "Thing" that keeps them going ( whatever that "Thing" is ) - obliterates their self-control and their ability to make judgement calls...( perhaps not completely - however - even for the most hardened addict, there may be certain lines over which the remains of their conscience might bar them from crossing over ) ---
 
Ardo Whortleberry
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Ardo Whortleberry
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: Is Smeagol/ Gollum Good or Bad?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Cocerning that SPOILER***SPOILER***SPOILER***^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
 
Yes, that could be an alternate view ( that the "Good Smeagol" emerged just in time to save Frodo's mission ) - but another ( and I think, more plausible ) possibility is that Gollum only did not kill Frodo because his sole motivation ( in attacking Frodo ) was the overpowering, desperate desire to reclaim that Ring - and that he was blind to all else ( and even more desperately desperate after he saw that Frodo had actually finally put the Ring on - and claimed it as his own ) and that the reason he bit Frodo's finger off ( instead of killing Frodo ) was that was the much more expedient method of getting what he just absolutely, positively had to have now - and that nothing else in the world held any importance for him at that moment...---
 
If it was the "Good Smeagol" coming to the rescue - it would have had to have been on the very most
subconcious level for Gollum - as it sounds more like he was simply dancing around in a state of sheer ecstasy ( with the Ring finally back in his posession at last ) and only stumbled and fell by accident - and not by way of self-sacrifice...
[   although, earlier in the story, Frodo did predict ( or even "ordain" ) that this is what would happen - should Gollum ever attempt to take the Ring from Frodo by force...  ]
 
Ardo Whortleberry 
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Ardo Whortleberry
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TiggerBear
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Re: Is Smeagol/ Gollum Good or Bad?

An odd thought: Gollum's diet

*Warning if you're eating or squeamish*

Now this is supposing that goblin flesh has relevance to human flesh, or is similar. But cannibalism has many pitfalls. Both Kuru and Mad Cow(the human version) are insanity causing diseases commonly infections gained through the cannibalistic consumption of human flesh.

Over the years Gollum ate a lot of goblin. (chuckle)Food for thought.
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