Bilbo's claim to the Arkenstone
#1
In the Hobbit, Bilbo justifies his taking of the Arkenstone by pointing to the agreement with the dwarves that he signed, stating that he was entitled to 1/14 share of the profits (if any).  I believe it is also stipulated that he shall have his choice.  This is the letter of the agreement, and so Thorin was stuck, dwarves being sticklers for the letter of an agreement.

But, in fact, wasn't it the intention of Thorin & co. to split the treasure into 14 equal portions (with the Arkenstone being excluded, being an heirloom and therefore not 'profit'), with Bilbo (maybe) having first choice of which pile he wanted as his share?

Also, how much influence did Smaug's words to Bilbo about the dwarves intending to cheat Bilbo of his share have on Bilbo's decision to keep and hide the Arkenstone?
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#2
If memory serves, the written agreement specified not to exceed 1/14 of the profit net of expenses. Thorin later verbally pledged that Bilbo could select his own share (following one of the rescues, not sure which one, but I think the escape from Thranduil’s dungeons).

Thorin may very well have intended to exclude the Arkenstone from this reckoning, but absent a specific exclusion at the outset, he’s on very shaky ground, IMO. You could argue that the entire hoard represented “heirlooms”. Absent a successful quest, none of those “heirlooms” are in fact in the possession of the Dwarves. Excluding the Arkenstone from a reckoning of the “profit” after the fact just doesn’t fly, unless somewhere in the fine print of the contract it’s explicitly set out that the Arkenstone is not to be considered part of the profits.

Regarding Smaug’s words and their effect on Bilbo, I think they probably weighed quite heavily in the decision. Concealment of the Arkenstone when he KNOWS Thorin is explicitly seeking it indicates a certain distrust of the Dwarves. Smaug’s words must have contributed significantly to that distrust, IMO.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#3
I agree with Bacchus. He made most of the points I was pondering. I don't in any way shape or form think the Dwarves intended any possibility the Arkenstone would fall to Bilbo's share, though its presumed value might be taken into account when the value of the hoard was estimated. In any case, the treasure hadn't actually been won yet. I'm sure Thorin contemplated that if & when they be successful there would ensue an orderly divvying-up of the treasure, with no question of Bilbo claiming the Arkenstone. let's face it, when one must defeat a full-grown Dragon in order to hit the jackpot, details like "...but I get the Arkenstone" might slip by. However, we see here Thorin's decisive error in not stipulating he as the King under the Mountain would claim the Arkenstone and the shares of the team members would come out of the remainder. Perhaps among Dwarves such a stipulation would be understood without saying.

Many have suggested that the Arkenstone was an "adaptation" of one of the Silmarils into The Hobbit (Much as Elrond had been borrowed from the Silmarillion mythos, such arcana as Gondolin were mentioned, and Thranduil and his palace in a sense were an import of Thingol and Menegroth.) The description, including possessing its own inherent or stored light released, matches that of the Silmarils. The Sons of Fëanor claimed the Silmarils as their own forever, and yielding one in any kind of payment would have been unthinkable. I'm sure the Kings under the Mountain and their heirs felt likewise. The Arkenstone was in that sense "priceless".

I would say that Bilbo's rationalization for claiming the Arkenstone has two massive legal flaws: (1) Its value arguably is more than one fourteenth that of the great hoard (especially in Thorin's reckoning), therefore it couldn't be a legit equal share and exceeds the proffered "cash" payment. (2) The terms of the contract arguably hadn't been satisfied yet, or at least acknowledged so, though the Dwarves did indeed access the treasure while the Dragon was absent (it soon unbeknownst to the Dwarves would be dead and no longer a factor), and that was when Bilbo found and pocketed the rock.

One could IMO make a case that the Hand of Eru acted to enable Bilbo to make peace, or at least a truce, between the Dwarves, and the Men and Elves, getting ready to spill blood over the treasure, by giving him that stone to bring forth at the right moment, to serve as a "hostage" the dwarves would have to redeem from the claimants they sought to 'stiff'. After all, the kind of avarice inherent in Bilbo's act of taking the Arkenstone was characteristically very weak in Hobbits and probably not in character even for Bilbo. Of course, he has a documented habit already of scooping up whatever interesting objects he runs across and sticking them in his pockets, and thereby changing the course of history!
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#4
I think the quest was undertaken on the assumption that only some part of the treasure would be rescued, snatched away from Smaug. There was no intention to get rid of the dragon. Hence, "profits" makes more sense and the Arkenstone probably did not enter into the estimation of what would be shared.

I doubt Thorin would have expected it to fall into his hands by burglary.

Smaug's death was unforeseen and at no time did Thorin and Company envision dividing the entire mountain hoard or even a substantial part of it.
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#5
Dragons are very persuasive speakers.
Don't insult the precious, my precious!:book:
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#6
(August 7th, 2019, 10:57 AM)Michael Wrote: I think the quest was undertaken on the assumption that only some part of the treasure would be rescued, snatched away from Smaug. There was no intention to get rid of the dragon. Hence, "profits" makes more sense and the Arkenstone probably did not enter into the estimation of what would be shared.

I doubt Thorin would have expected it to fall into his hands by burglary.

Smaug's death was unforeseen and at no time did Thorin and Company envision dividing the entire mountain hoard or even a substantial part of it.

That’s a really good point. The whole reason for taking Bilbo along was that the Dwarves had discarded the idea of driving off or killing the dragon. What if, instead of the cup, Bilbo had found the Arkenstone first, and that was the only recovered item? Would have been quite the mess, as there’s no way to divide it into shares, and I feel certain that Thorin would not have been interested in selling it. 

Also, since the Dwarves didn’t have a reasonable expectation of recovering the entire hoard, it really paints Thorin’s greedy refusal to consider redeeming the claims of Bard when the demise of the dragon unexpectedly dropped a far larger profit into Thorin’s lap than he could have expected in a highly negative light.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#7
(August 9th, 2019, 09:28 PM)Bacchus Wrote:
(August 7th, 2019, 10:57 AM)Michael Wrote: I think the quest was undertaken on the assumption that only some part of the treasure would be rescued, snatched away from Smaug. There was no intention to get rid of the dragon. Hence, "profits" makes more sense and the Arkenstone probably did not enter into the estimation of what would be shared.

I doubt Thorin would have expected it to fall into his hands by burglary.

Smaug's death was unforeseen and at no time did Thorin and Company envision dividing the entire mountain hoard or even a substantial part of it.

That’s a really good point. The whole reason for taking Bilbo along was that the Dwarves had discarded the idea of driving off or killing the dragon. What if, instead of the cup, Bilbo had found the Arkenstone first, and that was the only recovered item? Would have been quite the mess, as there’s no way to divide it into shares, and I feel certain that Thorin would not have been interested in selling it. 

Also, since the Dwarves didn’t have a reasonable expectation of recovering the entire hoard, it really paints Thorin’s greedy refusal to consider redeeming the claims of Bard when the demise of the dragon unexpectedly dropped a far larger profit into Thorin’s lap than he could have expected in a highly negative light.



There's a reason why Tolkien used the term profits when referring to Bilbo's shares.  No doubt he meant it in the sense of Hollywood movies where the term profits is nebulous at best.  Many high grossing movies have never made a "profit" technically.   With no Gandalf around I wonder what Bilbo's share would have been had he  just been able to filch some  gold from or weaponry from the Dragon's hoard versus what actually happened.
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#8
I think the notorious “Hollywood accounting” is a bit of an anachronism in this context given that TH was published in 1937. Regardless, I don’t think Thorin & Co set out to intentionally cheat Bilbo, and certainly once he had repeatedly proven his worth on the Quest I think they intended to treat him fairly. This intent was strained by Bilbo’s decision to conceal the Arkenstone, of course.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#9
I would say that history is filled with plenty of lawsuits and feuds over "Hollywood accounting". But I think Tolkien was just looking for a way to keep the narrative interesting. He needed minor conflicts along the way to journey's end because it was a series of adventures.
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#10
Is anyone looking at Bilbo's decision to pocket the Arkenstone as being influenced by the Ring?
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#11
(August 29th, 2019, 02:35 AM)ChainSaint Wrote: Is anyone looking at Bilbo's decision to pocket the Arkenstone as being influenced by the Ring?
Hmm, interesting thought. My initial take on the idea, though, is that it’s unlikely that the Ring’s influence played a large role. If it had, I don’t see Bilbo surrendering it against his share in a bid for peace. I’m willing to listen to arguments, though.

BTW, welcome to SF-Fandom!
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#12
Even if only assumes that The Hobbit was written in the context of a One Ring Middle-earth (as the context of the 2nd and 3rd editions implies), I think Bilbo had possessed and used the Ring too seldom for it to have much influence over him.

Bilbo's actions with the Arkenstone were instinctive and Sauron did not yet know the Ring still existed. Although the Ring had left Gollum of its own accord, there was still no plan beyond "get back out into the wide world".
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#13
::: snip:::
(September 2nd, 2019, 10:37 AM)Michael Wrote: Bilbo's actions with the Arkenstone were instinctive and Sauron did not yet know the Ring still existed.
In the second place, it seems to me that Sauron would have known if such a large part of his fea as he had placed in the Ring was dispersed to the winds and lost to him forever, as did happen when the Ring really was unmade at the end of the Third Age.

But that, I admit, is conjecture.

What is not conjecture (and in the first place) is the entry in the Tale of Years for 2939 TA, before the Quest for Erebor began, which says "Saruman discovers that Sauron’s servants are searching the Anduin near Gladden Fields, and that Sauron therefore has learned of Isildur’s end."

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 1089). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#14
Gandalf told Frodo in Bag End that Sauron didn't know the Ring had survived (or remained in Middle-earth, at least) until he captured Gollum. The searchers near the Gladden Fields might have been looking for clues (probably Isildur's remains, which Saruman found and discarded or destroyed according to "The Hunt for the Ring").
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#15
(September 28th, 2019, 05:34 PM)Michael Wrote: Gandalf told Frodo in Bag End that Sauron didn't know the Ring had survived (or remained in Middle-earth, at least) until he captured Gollum. The searchers near the Gladden Fields might have been looking for clues (probably Isildur's remains, which Saruman found and discarded or destroyed according to "The Hunt for the Ring").
Saruman did not share this information with the White Council (says the next line in the Tale of Years after my quote, infra).  Therefore, Gandalf would not have known of it at the time that he spoke to Frodo.  Indeed, he admits, at the Council of Elrond, to being fooled by Saruman on this point.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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