Putting aside all neo-pagan and neo-celtic interpretations, of wich Tolkien probably wasn't aware, the green man is a well known architectal motive that can be seen on every medieval facade of Oxford. Besides, Tolkien was familiar with the very similar figure of the "Green Knight " he translated.
Yet, I don't remember any statement from Tolkien that makes the connection between Treebeard and the aforementioned green man, even if it seems pretty obvious. I have read the Letters but none of HoME later tiles so I don't known many about Treebeard conception (I just know about some "evil-giant" version in the earliest drafts of the character).
Has any of the Middle-Earth local scholars heard or read about such mention ?
One should always keep in the forefront of ones mind tolkiens statement in his introduction to tLOtR that many things can be "applicable" but are not "allegorical". Tolkien had a need for a "shepard of trees" for the battle of isengard and that itself might be all there is. the invention of the name "ents" (a bastardizatiom of gi-ants?, the eotens of Beowulf? A "Tree-ent" is a giant who lives among trees?) would have linguistic roots for sure, but the creature itself could have been a codification and agglomeration of differing myths, including perhaps, your green man put into service of tolkiens unfolding narrative.
The green man certainly is "pre Christian"" and Tolkien goes out of his way to reinforce how old the ents are; even making the legolas feel young in comparison. Rather than say tree-beard is the green man, I would say that tree beard and the green man share a common ursprung as it were.
How could tree beard really "be" the green man when the green man is not defined? Certainly they share a physical resemblance (as anything associated so specifically with trees and forests would) but who and what "green men" are is not defined as they are no more (now) than wooden faces on buildings. Orcs are not the gargoyles on gothic buildings although they share the same hideous visage, but what inspired stone masons to carve them also inspired Tolkien if you catch my meaning: the myths of anthropomorphic trees predates both the green man artists and Tolkien and so both Tolkien and the artist have a material to work with.
Maybe the characters of Treebeard and Tom Bombadil are just primal forces of nature personified instead of being the Green Man. Shelob as the spawn of Ungoliant is probably a representation of the Dark Mother or Crone, or the primal essence there of. Likewise Golfberry is an aspect of the maiden, or Eostore from Anglo Saxon mythology. The allegories are there, sure. But they are passing on into a new age. An age foreshadowed by what Sauruman unleashes on Hobbitton, the age of industry, the time of man's ascendance into the modern world.
Frankly, I was not thinking about the mythical / allegorical figure (of which, as a a matter of fact, there is no proof of existance before 1939 and lady Raglan's article) as much as the architectural motive. We know that Tom Bombadil's name and appearance had their origins in a dutch doll, and the Wood-woses where inspired by the name of the road (Woodhouse lane) passing by his office at the University of Leeds. It is plausible that the decorative motive of the foliage head, that Tolkien probably saw every day when riding his bicycle in the streets of Oxford, could have inspired the Professor in the same manner.
Last Edit: Jul 5, 2015 10:12:48 GMT -6 by Porphyre
gronanofsimmerya , what you say about Bombadil makes a good bit of sense. You too, Azafuse. Bombadil and Treebeard are referred to as, respectively, "eldest and fatherless" (Elrond), and "the oldest of all living things" (Gandalf), which makes some ask who is older. Although technically, Gandalf says "when you speak with him you will hear the speech of the oldest of all living things", which could be taken to mean that Treebeard, like the Lorax, "speaks for the trees", and maybe that Treebeard as an entity is not older than Bombadil as an entity.
ent itself appears to be from Old English ent, as in the phrase eald enta geweorc, 'the old work of giants'. Clicking around confirms that ent may ultimately be from a root meaning 'eat', as in 'eaters, man-eaters', but I can't argue for or against that. Seems to make sense, though.
One simple difference between Treebeard and Bombadil is that Treebeard goes to war and Bombadil won't get involved. There are some remarks by Tolkien about Bombadil in this respect, though I can't recall if there's anything like that about Treebeard. Treebeard has lost Fimbrethil, and Goldberry doesn't look like she's going anywhere. Treebeard hasn't had much to do with people in some time (save, I guess, a couple wizards), while Bombadil is up with Farmer Maggot. They really are similar in their care for and mastery "over" (?) trees, but Bombadil is somewhat more involved in the world socially, though he won't leave his land to go to war. Kind of interesting.
"Suddenly a wide yellow beam flowed out brightly from a door that was opened. There was Tom Bombadil's house before them, up, down, under hill." (italics mine) --This bit always makes me feel like TB's house exists in some kind of non-euclidean space, or in a little pocket-realm. Treebeard echoes this when he draws attention to the word hill:
'Hm, tired? No. I am not tired. I do not easily get tired. And I do not sit down. I am not very, hm, bendable. But there, the Sun is going in. Let us leave this – did you say what you call it?'
Treebeard repeated the words thoughtfully. 'Hill. Yes, that was it. But it is a hasty word for a thing that has stood here ever since this part of the world was shaped. Never mind. Let us leave it, and go.'