An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
in the New Line Film
Gimli by Alan Lee
Gimli was a stout-hearted and loyal Dwarf. His father Gloin had been one of Bilbo Baggins' companions on the quest to the Lonely Mountain, and Gimli was a member of the Fellowship that accompanied Frodo Baggins on the quest to destroy the One Ring. Gimli overcame his suspicion of Elves as he grew to admire Galadriel and formed a lasting friendship with Legolas, earning him the name Elf-friend.
Gimli was born in 2879 of the Third Age. His father Gloin was of the line of Durin; his mother's name is not known. In his youth, Gimli lived in the Blue Mountains west of Eriador. After the Dwarves reclaimed the Lonely Mountain in 2941, Gloin relocated his family there and became prosperous.
Around 3017, a messenger came to the Lonely Mountain from Mordor seeking news of Bilbo and the Ring he had found. Gloin and Gimli were sent to Rivendell to warn Bilbo and seek advice from Elrond. They arrived at Rivendell in October of 3018 and on the 25th they attended the Council of Elrond. At the Council it was decided that the Ring must be taken to Mordor and destroyed, and Frodo Baggins volunteered for this task.
Gimli was chosen to represent the Dwarves in the Fellowship of the Ring. When they left Rivendell on December 25, Gimli wore a shirt of steel rings and carried a broad-bladed axe. Elrond told the members of the Fellowship that they were not bound by oath to remain with the Ring-bearer, but Gimli replied, "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." (FotR, p. 294)
As the Fellowship approached the Misty Mountains, Gimli caught sight of the peaks of Barazinbar, Zirakzigil and Bundushathur for only the second time in his life. His heart trembled at the thought of seeing Mirrormere in the Dimrill Dale that lay beyond the mountains.
The Fellowship was prevented from crossing the mountains at the Redhorn Gate by a blizzard. Gimli told his companions that Caradhras had always had a cruel reputation, and he advised them to turn back. But their way was blocked with snow and they had to dig their way out. Gimli claimed it was the ill will of Caradhras.
Gandalf proposed that they take the passage under the mountains through the Mines of Moria. Gimli was the first to agree to this suggestion, for he longed to see the ancient Dwarf realm of the Dwarrowdelf. The Fellowship's decision was forced when they were attacked by Wargs. Gimli fought the beasts stoutly with his axe, and then Gandalf led the way to Moria with Gimli at his side.
They reached the West-gate, which had once been the site of commerce between the Dwarves and the Elves. Both Gimli and Legolas denied that their people were responsible for the rift between the two races. Gandalf urged the Dwarf and the Elf to remain friends for he needed their help.
Gimli was aware that doors made by Dwarves are invisible when shut, but he said that the password to the Gates of Moria was long forgotten. At last Gandalf realized that the password was given in the inscription, "Speak, friend, and enter," and the doors opened.
Gimli was not able give Gandalf much help in finding the right path, for the Mines were vast beyond his imaginings, but he walked at the Wizard's side and his courage did not falter. At length they came to a great hall that revealed the craft of the Dwarves with its high ceiling, many pillars, and black polished walls. Gimli chanted a song that recalled the splendor of the Dwarrowdelf at its height.
The next day in the Chamber of Mazarbul, the Fellowship discovered the tomb of Gimli's kinsman Balin, who had led an expedition to Moria thirty years earlier. Gimli cast his hood over his face in sorrow. From the Book of Mazarbul they learned that Balin's colony had lasted only five years before they were overtaken by Orcs. Gimli took the book for safekeeping to pass on to Dain.
Then drums were heard and Orcs entered the Chamber. The Fellowship fought hard, and Gimli hewed the legs out from under an Orc who jumped onto Balin's tomb. Thirteen Orcs were killed and the rest retreated. The Fellowship fled through the east door, but Gimli remained by Balin's tomb until Legolas dragged him away.
They came to the Bridge of Khazad-dum, and Gandalf told Gimli to lead the others across. Gandalf remained on the bridge and confronted Durin's Bane, the Balrog. Then Gandalf fell into the abyss with the Balrog and was gone.
Outside Moria, Gimli took Frodo to look into the waters of Mirrormere where they glimpsed the stars of Crown of Durin glimmering the deep. When the Fellowship stopped to tend Frodo's injuries from the battle in Moria, Gimli was amazed to see the mithril shirt given to Frodo by Bilbo, for it was of great beauty and value, and he was pleased that Frodo had such protection.
At the edge of Lothlorien, the Fellowship decided to take shelter in the tree branches at Gimli's suggestion. But the tree they chose was occupied by Elves who were border guards of Lothlorien. Their leader Haldir was reluctant to lead a Dwarf into the Golden Wood, but at last he agreed to do so if Gimli wore a blindfold. Gimli refused, and Legolas accused Gimli of being stiff-necked. But when Gimli said he would go blindfolded if Legolas did too, the Elf became angry.
At last Aragorn convinced them to compromise, and the entire Fellowship was led blindfolded into the woods. At Cerin Amroth, Haldir removed Gimli's blindfold and begged his pardon, for he had received a message from Galadriel and Celeborn that the Dwarf and his companions should be allowed to walk freely.
The Fellowship was brought before Celeborn and Galadriel, the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood. When Celeborn learned of Gandalf's fall, he said that he would not have allowed Gimli and his companions to enter Lothlorien had he know that the Dwarves had awakened the Balrog. But Galadriel spoke kindly to Gimli and looked upon him with love and understanding, and Gimli was deeply moved and praised the Lady and her beauty. Celeborn took back his words and said that they would do what they could to help the Fellowship.
During their stay in Lothlorien, Legolas and Gimli spent much time together walking in the woods and a friendship began to grow between them, much to the surprise of their companions. They left Lothlorien on February 16, and Galadriel presented them with parting gifts. She asked what gift Gimli would like to receive.
"None, Lady," answered Gimli. "It is enough for me to have seen the Lady of the Galadhrim, and to have heard her gentle words."Galadriel cut three strands of her golden hair and gave them to Gimli, who said he would set them in crystal and keep them as a symbol of goodwill between the Elves and the Dwarves. Galadriel then said:
"Hear all ye Elves!" she cried to those about her. "Let none say again that Dwarves are grasping and ungracious! Yet surely, Gimli son of Gloin, you desire something that I could give? Name it, I bid you! You shall not be the only guest without a gift."
"There is nothing, Lady Galadriel," said Gimli, bowing low and stammering. "Nothing, unless it might be -- unless it is permitted to ask, nay, to name a single strand of your hair, which surpasses the gold of the earth as the stars surpass the gems of the mine. I do not ask for such a gift. But you commanded me to name my desire."
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Farewell to Lorien," p. 392
"I do not foretell, for all foretelling is now vain: on the one hand lies darkness, and on the other only hope. But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli son of Gloin, that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion."Gimli wept upon their parting and wondered why he had come on the quest, for although he had been prepared for danger and hardship he had not expected to encounter light and joy and be forced to leave it behind. Legolas reassured Gimli that had freely chosen not to forsake his companions and that the memory of Galadriel and Lothlorien would always be with him. The Elf and the Dwarf shared a boat on the Fellowship's journey down the Anduin.
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Farewell to Lorien," p. 392-93
At Amon Hen on February 26, it was time to decide their next course. Frodo went off alone to decide what to do. Gimli said that he would vote to go to Minas Tirith, but that he would not abandon Frodo whatever he chose. Aragorn suggested that if Frodo chose to go to Mordor, he and Gimli and Sam should accompany him while the others went to Minas Tirith.
But then Boromir told them that he and Frodo had argued and that Frodo had vanished. The members of the Fellowship went off in different directions searching for him. Legolas and Gimli encountered Orcs in the woods and slew many, but then they heard Boromir sound the Great Horn. They came to his aid too late, for he had been slain defending Merry and Pippin.
Aragorn determined that Frodo and Sam had set out for Mordor and that Merry and Pippin had been taken towards Isengard. He decided that they should pursue the Orcs who had captured the two young Hobbits. They set out at a swift pace and traveled 45 leagues across the plains of Rohan in less than four days.
On February 30, the Three Hunters encountered Eomer, the Third Marshal of the Mark. He demanded to know their business in Rohan, and when he learned that they had passed through Lothlorien he wondered if they were sorcerers in league with the Lady of the Golden Wood. Gimli took exception to Eomer's slight of Galadriel and the two nearly came to blows, with Legolas coming swiftly to his friend's aid, but Aragorn intervened.
When Eomer had heard their story, he apologized for his words about Galadriel and offered them horses to speed them on their way, but he warned them that there was little hope in finding their friends for his Riders had slain all the Orcs the night before. Aragorn promised he would come to Edoras, and Gimli said he would accompany him.
"And I will come, too," said Gimli. "The matter of the Lady Galadriel lies still between us. I have yet to teach you gentle speech."Gimli was set on the back of Arod behind Legolas and he clung to his friend uneasily as they rode toward Fangorn Forest. They found the burned remains of the Orcs but no trace of the Hobbits. That night they camped in the eaves of the forest and Gimli had the first watch. He saw an old man, hooded and cloaked, approaching the campfire and he cried out, but the man disappeared and their horses ran off as well. Gimli suspected that the old man had been Saruman.
"We shall see," said Eomer. "So many strange things have chanced that to learn the praise of a fair lady under the loving strokes of a Dwarf's axe will seem no great wonder. Farewell!"
The Two Towers: "The Riders of Rohan," p. 42
The next morning the Hobbits' trail led them into the forest, where they encountered another old man. Gimli feared it was Saruman and urged the others to strike. The Dwarf threatened to put a dint in the old man's hat if he did not tell them where the Hobbits were. Then the old man cast aside his cloak and revealed that he was Gandalf. Gimli fell to his knees but Gandalf told him to get up, for he did not blame him for his mistake.
Gandalf told them of his fight with the Balrog from the foundations of stone up the Endless Stair -- long believed lost by the Dwarves -- to the peak of Zirakzigil where Durin's Tower stood. He brought them messages from Galadriel, much to Gimli's joy, and then told them that the Hobbits were safe and that they must now make haste to Edoras in Rohan.
Gimli rode before Gandalf on Shadowfax. At Edoras, Gimli supported Aragorn when Hama the Doorward said that Anduril had to be left at the door of Meduseld. At length Aragorn agreed, and Gimli set his axe beside the legendary sword.
After Gandalf had convinced King Theoden to ride out and confront Saruman, Gimli accepted a shield bearing the emblem of Rohan that had belonged to the king as a boy. Eomer took Gimli up on his horse and they rode to war together.
At Helm's Deep, Gimli was eager to hew Orc necks. He soon got his chance when Saruman's army of 10,000 launched an assault upon the stronghold. Gimli beheaded two Orcs who were about to kill Eomer, but he learned that Legolas had already slain twenty with his bow. The Elf and Dwarf kept a running tally throughout the battle. In the end, Gimli had killed forty-two Orcs to Legolas's forty-one.
After the Battle of Helm's Deep, Gimli told Legolas that he had seen the Glittering Caves behind Helm's Deep and that they were a wonder to behold. He described their beauty with rapture and said that he longed to tend and care for them. Legolas was intrigued by his friend's reverence and he proposed that he would accompany Gimli to the Glittering Caves after the war if Gimli would come with him to Fangorn.
At Isengard, Gimli and his companions were overjoyed to find Merry and Pippin.
"You rascals, you woolly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death, to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling -- and smoking! Smoking! Where did you come by the weed, you villains? Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!"The Hobbits provided their friends with food and pipe-weed, and Pippin even had a spare pipe for Gimli, and the Dwarf forgave the Hobbits the troubled they'd caused. Later Gimli had a chance to see Gandalf and Saruman together, and he saw that they were alike and yet different. When Saruman tried to win his captors over with his silken words, Gimli was not fooled.
The Two Towers: "The Road to Isengard," p. 162
"'The words of this wizard stand on their heads," he growled, gripping the handle of his axe. "In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain. But we do not come here to beg."After the parley with Saruman, Aragorn decided to take the Paths of the Dead to the southern coast, for he had looked into the palantir of Orthanc and had seen that the Corsairs posed a threat to Minas Tirith. Gimli and Legolas chose to accompany him. But when he came to the Dark Door, Gimli found that he was afraid. He gathered his courage and entered, saying, "Here is a thing unheard of! An Elf will go underground and a Dwarf dare not!" (RotK, p. 60) As they passed through the tunnels, Gimli sensed the Dead behind following, but he continued on after Aragorn.
The Two Towers: "The Voice of Saruman," p. 184
At the Stone of Erech, Aragorn called upon the Dead to fulfill their oath, and they proceeded to Pelargir where they seized the ships of the Corsairs. Aragorn and his companions sailed up the Anduin and arrived in Minas Tirith on March 15, while the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was raging. Gimli leapt ashore with his axe and fought until the battle was won.
In Minas Tirith, Gimli took note of the stonework and decided that he would offer the services of his people to Aragorn once he was crowned King. But the war was not yet over, and on March 18, Gimli set out with the Host of the West. They marched to the Black Gate and engaged the Enemy in the Battle of the Morannon in an attempt to distract Sauron long enough for the Ring-bearer to fulfill his quest.
At last the Ring was destroyed and the realm of Sauron was ended. But Gimli had a moment of deep fear and sorrow when he saw Pippin's foot sticking out from under the body of a great Troll. He heaved the corpse off the young Hobbit and was greatly relieved to discover that his friend was still alive. Pippin recovered, as did Frodo and Sam who had been rescued from Mordor, and the Fellowship was reunited at the celebrations on the Field of Cormallen.
Aragorn was crowned King on May 1 and the Fellowship remained in Minas Tirith until after his wedding to Arwen on Mid-year's Day. Then Eomer told Gimli that the Dwarf should fetch his axe, for although Galadriel was fair, Eomer thought Arwen fairer still. But Gimli replied:
"Nay, you are excused for my part, lord," he said. "You have chosen the Evening; but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forebodes that soon it will pass away for ever."The Fellowship left Minas Tirith on July 22. When they arrived at Helm's Deep, Legolas accompanied Gimli into the Glittering Caves as he had promised and the Elf was left speechless by what he saw. At Isengard, the pair said farewell to their companions and went to visit Fangorn.
The Return of the King: "Many Partings," p. 253
Gimli brought a colony of Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain to the caverns of Helm's Deep and became the Lord of the Glittering Caves. He and his people rebuilt the gates of Minas Tirith out of mithril and steel and did many other great works in Gondor and Rohan. Gimli lived contentedly in the Glittering Caves for many years, and his friend Legolas dwelled in the gardens of Ithilien.
Gimli also maintained his friendship with Merry and Pippin, who came to live in Gondor in 64. It was Gimli who provided the information for the history of the Dwarves entitled Durin's Folk that was appended to The Thain's Book.
In the year 120 of the Fourth Age, Aragorn died. Legolas decided to pass over the Sea as he had long desired to do. It is believed that Gimli chose to accompany him because of their deep bond of friendship as well as a desire to see Galadriel one last time. It may be that Galadriel was instrumental in gaining permission for Gimli to be allowed to live the West until his eventual death. And so it is said that Legolas and Gimli, the last two members of the Fellowship in Middle-earth, sailed down the Anduin and over the Sea.
As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time - whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer 'immortality' upon them. Their sojourn was a 'purgatory', but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Letter #325
Birth of Gimli.
The Lonely Mountain is reclaimed by the Dwarves. Gloin and Gimli relocate there shortly afterwards.
A messenger from Mordor comes to the Lonely Mountain seeking news of Bilbo and the Ring.
October 25: Gloin and Gimli attend the Council of Elrond.
December 18: Gimli is selected
to represent the Dwarves in the Fellowship of the Ring.
December 25: The Fellowship leaves Rivendell.
January 11-12: A blizzard
prevents the Fellowship from crossing the pass of Caradhras.
January 13: The Fellowship is attacked by Wargs. They decide to go through the Mines of Moria.
January 14: The Fellowship spends the night in Hall Twenty-one.
January 15: The Fellowship discovers Balin's tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul. They are attacked by Orcs. Gandalf confronts the Balrog and falls into the abyss. Gimli looks into the waters of Mirrormere.
January 16: Gimli balks at being blindfolded until his companions agree to be blindfolded as well.
January 17: Gimli meets the Lady Galadriel.
February 16: The Fellowship
leaves Lothlorien. Gimli receives three strands of Galadriel's hair as
a parting gift.
February 26: The Breaking of the Fellowship. Gimli accompanies Aragorn and Legolas in pursuit of the Uruk-hai who captured Merry and Pippin.
February 30: The Three Hunters meet Eomer. Gimli takes exception to Eomer's words about Galadriel.
March 1: The Three Hunters
are reunited with Gandalf in Fangorn and learn that Merry and Pippin are
March 2: Gandalf, Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn arrive at Edoras and ride to war against Saruman with King Theoden.
March 3-4: Battle of Helm's Deep. Gimli has his first sight of the Glittering Caves.
March 5: The Three Hunters are reunited with Merry and Pippin at Isengard. Parley with Saruman.
March 8: Gimli summons the courage to follow Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead.
March 13: Aragorn and his followers and the Dead seize the Corsairs' ships at Pelargir.
March 15: Aragorn and his followers arrive at Minas Tirith during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
March 18: The Host of the West sets out from Minas Tirith to the Black Gate.
March 25: The Host of the West fights the forces of Sauron until the Ring is destroyed and Sauron's realm falls. Gimli saves Pippin from being crushed beneath the body of a Troll.
April 8: The Fellowship is reunited on the Field of Cormallen.
May 1: Aragorn is crowned King.
July 22: The Fellowship leaves Minas Tirith.
August 19: Gimli and Legolas
visit the Glittering Caves.
August 22: Gimli and Legolas part from their friends and go to Fangorn.
Death of Aragorn. Legolas departs over the Sea and it is said that Gimli accompanied him.
The meaning of Gimli is uncertain. It may be derived from the word gim, which meant "fire" in archaic Old Norse.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Letter #297
Manfred Zimmermann suggests that
is a diminutive form of gim meaning "Little Fire" or "Spark" and
might be a play on words with his father's name Gloin meaning "the
"Miscellaneous Remarks: On Gimli and on Rhythmic Prose," Mythlore 11, no. 3, whole no. 41 (Winter-Spring 1985)
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull: "The Council of Elrond," p. 223
In Norse mythology, Gimlé
- or Gimli - was a golden hall in the heavenly realm of Asgard where
the righteous would dwell after Ragnarok - the battle at the end of the
Gimli came to be called Elf-friend because of his great friendship with Legolas and his reverence for Galadriel.
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Durin's Folk," p. 360
Galadriel called Gimli Lock-bearer in the message she sent him via Gandalf, referring to the lock of hair she had given him.
" 'To Gimli son of Gloin,' she said, 'give his Lady's greeting. Lock-bearer, wherever thou goest my thought goes with thee. But have a care to lay thine axe to the right tree!' "
The Two Towers: "The White Rider," p. 107
Lord of the Glittering Caves:
After the War of the Ring, Gimli and other Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain settled in the Glittering Caves and Gimli acquired the title Lord of the Glittering Caves.
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Durin's Folk," p. 360
Family tree of Gimli
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