Who is Tom Bombadil?

Outline of Sections Regarding Tom Bombadil

Due to the growing popularity of this page and the responses I have been getting I posted an outline which describes each of the eight sections (with links) for easy navigation. If you have any questions you can first read the related section to see if it is addressed there. (FYI this theory is an attempt to explain Tom's origins from within the created work of Middle Earth as found in the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, etc. Theories which try to explain his significance outside of this world are not addressed.)

Thank you all so much for taking time to read this theory and to interact with it. Please feel free to share this theory with other Tolkien fanatics if you feel led to do so.


1. Introduction: In this section I introduced the three major theories and I establish a method to evaluate these theories by establishing three facts or questions which any theory must attempt to answer to be considered legitimate. These three questions are: Tom's unique power and his unique limitations, Tom's relationship with the Ring, and Tom being described as eldest, fatherless, or first.

2. Valar Theory: In this section I weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the Valar theory in light of the three questions. In the end, I argue this theory, though strong on some points, is ultimately flawed for many reasons.

3. Maiar Theory: Here I put forth the case against the Maiar theory of Tom's origins. Again, the three questions are applied to this theory and I argue that there are major problems for this popular theory.

4. Nature Spirit: In this section I weigh the strengths and weaknesses of viewing Tom as either a spirit of the forest or as the Spirit of Arda. Again, the three questions will be applied to this theory and I argue that while there is strength to be found in this theory it possesses some great weaknesses and that it cannot fully answer all of the questions.

5. A Way Forward: In this section I argue for the legitimacy of this conversation and suggest that Tolkien knew exactly who/what Tom was. I introduce Tolkien's description of Tom as an enigma. Being an enigma our theories should view Tom as a one-of-a-kind creature which none of the other theories do. In the end I introduce my theory.

6. Music Theory: In this section I begin by defining my theory. Then I move on to address some initial objections. And finally, I build my theory by looking at what Tolkien has revealed to us about Tom in his writings and what we know of the Music of the Ainur, Ungoliant, and Goldberry.

7. Answering the Questions: Now that the theory has been well established, I apply the same three questions I applied to the other theories and I answer them. in light of Tom being the Incarnation of the Music. Here it is demonstrated that this theory can answer all three in a fuller fashion than the other theories with much less baggage.

8. Conclusion: I summarize what we have discovered about Tom and add some closing reflections.

P.S. If any want a great read on the debate over the origins of dragons in Middle Earth here is the work of my good friend. It is the best and most complete work on this topic I have ever seen