On September 21, 1937, 45-year-old English author J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit, a fantasy novel detailing the journey of its titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, through a magical land called Middle-earth. Originally only 310 pages, The Hobbit was the humble beginning of a sprawling world that greatly expanded with the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), The Two Towers (1954), and The Return of the King (1955), aka the epic Lord of the Rings series, which was adapted into the equally epic film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.
Today, Tolkien’s novels serve as the urtext of modern fantasy, a genre that wouldn’t exist — or at the very least, would be unrecognizable — without Tolkien’s creative influence. Middle-earth’s magical landscapes are filled with fire-breathing dragons, beard-stroking wizards, and evil demigods bent on domination. But underneath all that is a world not so unrecognizable from our own, so it’s little surprise that the wisdom of Middle-earth (or “Arda,” if you know your lore) holds many truths for us living here on Earth.
These 20 quotes — from the mouths of wizards, hobbits, elves, kings, and surly dwarves — speak to the power of friendship, the nature of good versus evil, and the importance of adventure. May these quotes be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.
Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.Gimli, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.Gandalf, "The Return of the King"
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.Thorin II Oakenshield, "The Hobbit"
Not all those who wander are lost.Bilbo Baggins (“The Riddle of Strider”), "The Fellowship of the Ring"
It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.Samwise Gamgee, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.Bilbo Baggins (as told by Frodo Baggins), "The Fellowship of the Ring"
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.Gandalf, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
The wide world is all about you: You can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.Gildor, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.Aragorn, "The Return of the King"
Such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.Elrond, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.Gandalf, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Do not spoil the wonder with haste!Legolas, "The Return of the King"
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.Faramir, "The Two Towers"
It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: It will heal nothing.Frodo, "The Return of the King"
It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.Gandalf, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Courage is found in unlikely places.Gildor, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
We put the thought of all that we love into all that we make.Galadriel, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.Bilbo Baggins, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.Gandalf, "The Return of the King"
Never laugh at live dragons.Bilbo Baggins, "The Hobbit"
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