Cat Got Your Tongue? Part I
A character of which, until recently, seemed to bear no significance to me in The Lord Of The Rings is Grima Wormtongue.
Who Is Grima Wormtongue?
Grima Wormtongue acted as advisor or counsel unto King Theoden of Rohan. His loyalty, as portrayed in film, is allied with the enemy from the very beginning. Pretending to be a devoted man of honor wanting to serve Rohan, Grima proves himself a bit of a skilled actor. Weaseling his way into court, this seemingly minor villain proves his worth in a most uncanny and rather cruel way.
What Did He Do?
Gaining the trust of King Theoden, Grima betrayed the ruler of Rohan by poisoning him. This poison though was not fast acting, nor was it one that was intended to kill the king quickly. Rather, its purpose seemed to be none other than to dull the senses and cloud the mind. Reducing King Theoden to what might appear to be a mindless zombie or beast. In such a weakened state, King Theoden became easy prey for Grima to manipulate. Bending the king’s mind, Wormtongue filled Theoden’s head with ideas that otherwise he would not have had. Thus, Wormtongue drove a wedge between Theoden and his kingdom as well as his family leaving the land in turmoil.
Grima’s treachery did not end there. His service to King Theoden granted him insight into the comings and goings in Rohan. It also permitted him to intimate details in terms of its defenses as well as private details about those who visited as well as lived there. Seeing the powerful armies that supported Sauron and Saruman, he became frightened, and perhaps it was that same fear that drove him to give his fealty to such wicked beings.
Grima Wormtongue, A Judas?
Grima Wormtongue’s story bears a tragic likeness to that of a historical betrayer, who akin to him, might have once appeared the loyal servant or follower of another. To whom does Grima Wormtongue share some similarities? Why, none other than Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
What Do They Have In Common?
- The imminent danger of a rising or present power that could stand against them – Judas Iscariot, being one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus, was likely putting himself at great risk in doing so. The religious and political power of Jesus’ time lay in the hands of the Jewish elders as well as scribes. These individuals who were well versed in scripture as well as God’s laws were called the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Of the two groups, the Pharisees were the ones with the most influence and to be shunned by them could result in the excommunication from a community and given their animosity towards Jesus, it could also potentially end in imprisonment, torture, or even death! Grima faced a similar predicament. Rohan, when compared against the combined might of Isengard and Mordor, seems very small. Seeing himself in the midst of a war that mankind did not look very high to win, unless they aligned themselves with Sauron it is quite possible that he chose to act as a loyal spy for the evil that threatened Middle Earth to save his own skin!
- Saruman: If the wall is breached, Helm’s Deep will fall.
Wormtongue: Even if it is breached, it will take a number beyond reckoning, thousands, to storm the keep.
Saruman: Tens of thousands.
Wormtongue: But, my lord, there is no such force.
[they go out onto the balcony, and see an army of ten thousand Uruk-hai]
Matthew 23:1-36 English Standard Version (ESV)
Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c]9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
- Saruman: If the wall is breached, Helm’s Deep will fall.
- They both worked for some kind of personal gain. – Grima Wormtongue was willing to betray people, king, land, as well as country. All he seemed to want in return was just one thing…or well, in his case, person. Grima Wormtongue wanted the hand of Eowyn Rohir. Judas, likewise was willing to give Jesus up for a price. His price…30 silver coins.
- Eowyn: Leave me alone, snake!
Wormtongue: Oh, but you are alone. Who knows what you have spoken to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all your life seems to shrink, the walls of your bower closing in about you, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in? So fair, yet so cold like a morning of pale Spring still clinging to Winter’s chill.
Eowyn: Your words are poison!
- omer: How long has it been since Saruman bought you? What was the promised price, Grima? When all the Men are dead you would take your share of the treasure?
[Wormtongue looks at Eowyn]
Eomer: Too long have you watched my sister. Too long have you haunted her steps.
[Eomer is seized by two guards]
Wormtongue: You see much, Eomer son of Eomund. Too much.
[Eomer is beaten by the guards]
Wormtongue: You are banished forthwith from the Kingdom of Rohan… under pain of death.
Eomer: You have no authority here! Your orders mean nothing!
Wormtongue: Oh, but this order does not come from me. It comes from the King. He signed it this morning.
[Shows Eomer the banishment order, signed by Theoden’s seal]
Matthew 26:14-16New International Version (NIV)
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
- Eowyn: Leave me alone, snake!