Ogre of the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo
Orco del Sacro Bosco dei Mostri di Bomarzo
- What do you see in the picture?
- Do you feel scared of it?
- Which fairy-tale monsters do you know?
Read the definition of an ogre:
The ogre is the monster protagonist of many fairy tales for children, greedy for human flesh (especially children’s). It is often represented as a giant with a big head, an enormous mouth, a beard and thick, shaggy hair, who lives in a cave. Sometimes, parents use the ogre as a threat to their children: “If you are not good, I’ll call the ogre”; and “looks like an ogre” might be a way of saying you think someone looks ugly.
Cultural Heritage Background
Tolkien’s monsters are evil beings, such as ogres, trolls, giants and spiders, who oppose and sometimes fight his protagonists in Middle-earth. Tolkien was an expert in Old English literature, especially the poem “Beowulf”, and several of his monsters share aspects of the monsters in “Beowulf”. According to medieval European tradition, monsters had horrible shapes, huge and malevolent, like wild beasts, but also somewhat humanoid. Tolkien’s lords of evil like Sauron are recognised as monstrous enemies in spirit as well as in body.
It is probably thanks to Tolkien that such characters remain widespread in the popular imagination today.
Read the story
Farmer Giles of Ham – a tale of J.R.R. Tolkien
A giant from the north went for a walk, but became lost in the Middle Kingdom and more specifically in the lands of Farmer Giles. Warned by his dog’s cries, Giles took his rifle and managed to drive away the giant, who was about to attack him. The villagers applauded him: Giles had become a hero. His reputation spread far and wide throughout the Middle Kingdom. Therefore, the king rewarded Giles with a sword called the Caudimordax (translated as “tail biter”). This sword was magic and would not remain in its sheath if there was a dragon nearby.
The giant told his monstrous friends that there were no more knights in the Middle Kingdom, only pesky insects (he meant Giles’ rifle shots). This story stimulated a dragon, Chrysophylax Dives, to explore the area for food and treasure. Everyone turned to Giles to take care of this. He was reluctant because the dragon did not threaten his land but in the end he had to intervene. The local blacksmith provided him with some sort of armour, but it was noisy so Giles covered it with a cloak. He searched and searched and was giving up when he actually found the dragon who, after a chase through the village, surrendered to Giles and his sword. To save his life, the dragon swore to return to the village within a week and bring all his treasure. This way he would compensate the inhabitants for the damage he had caused. When the king heard of this, he went to the village with his knights, hoping to gain from the dragon’s treasure too. The days passed but the dragon did not show himself: Chrysophylax had not respected his oath.
So it was that the king hunted down the lying dragon, sending his knights and Giles after him. Along the way the knights humiliated Giles for being a civilian. They didn’t even notice the dragon’s footprints because they were concentrating on a discussion of court etiquette. As soon as they saw the dragon, they all ran away. Giles, left alone with the dragon again, frightened him with Tailbiter. The dragon agreed to load himself with his treasure and follow Giles home. Giles had decided not to go to the palace because he didn’t trust the king’s love of treasure.
The king flew into a rage when he found out what had happened. He went to Giles with his knights, intending to take the treasure by force. Giles responded by unleashing the dragon against the king and the knights and the dragon chased them away. Giles proclaimed himself earl and kept Chrysophylax Dives with him. After many years, Giles became king of the land, and he allowed the dragon Chrysophylax Dives to return to his cave. But once he got there, he discovered that a younger dragon was living in his home. Furious, Chrysophylax Dives retook his home, fighting tooth and nail.
Finally, after driving away his rival, the dragon found the giant who had started all the trouble and told him off very angrily.
- If you want to know more about the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo in Italy https://civitavecchia.portmobility.it/en/bomarzo-and-park-monsters-photos-and-useful-info
- Do you want to read more about Tolkien? https://www.tolkiensociety.org/author/biography/