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Asfaloth was the trusted white horse of the Elf Glorfindel.[1]

Biography

One of the horses of the Elves, Asfaloth was naturally faster than ordinary horses, even the steeds of the Nazgûl.


"[M]y horse will not let any rider fall that I command him to bear. His pace is light and smooth; and if danger presses too near, he will bear you away with a speed that even the black steeds of the enemy cannot rival."
Glorfindel speaking to Frodo about Asfaloth

When Glorfindel found Aragorn and the hobbits on their way from Weathertop to Rivendell, Asfaloth carried Frodo Baggins to and across the Bruinen. Asfaloth obeyed verbal commands from his master, racing off when Glorfindel called to him. After the Nazgûl were swept away in the flood while attempting to cross the Ford of Bruinen, Asfaloth stood guard over the fallen Frodo until his friends could reach him.[1]

Etymology

In Sindarin, Asfaloth means "Sunlit foam," from ast ("sunlight") and faloth ("foam"). Nearly all of the words for foam in both Sindarin and Quenya are used interchangeably for the words like ("surge, wave and crest"), hence the Sindarin word with the same prefix falastala which is the present tense verb or adjective for ("surging"). This points to two alternative interpretations for Asfaloth, one meaning "Sun surge" and the other "Surge of Sunlight." These alternatives are also in keeping, like the original interpretation, with the surge in the Bruinen which J.R.R. Tolkien described as resembling a great herd of horses trampling over the Nazgûl, drowning them, and washing them away."[2]

Behind the scenes

In one of letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, he revealed that Glorfindel did not use a bridle and bit when riding Asfaloth. Instead, he would have an "ornamental headstall, carrying a plume, and with the straps studded with jewels and small bells". As promised, he later changed the bridle and bit to headstall.[3]

Portrayal in adaptations

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

Asfaloth in the trading card game

In Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, Arwen (taking Glorfindel's place) rides a gray (not a true white) horse named Asfaloth. Later in Arwen's vision of Eldarion, she rides a gray horse, possibly Asfaloth.

Three gray Andalusians were used: Florian, the hero horse; Hero, used for high speed chases; and Odie, which was used for scenes in which Arwen was unhorsed.

Ralph Bakshi

In Ralph Bakshi's 1978 film The Lord of the Rings, Glorfindel does not appear. Legolas instead carries out his role, but is shown mounted on a white horse similar to that of Asfaloth.

Glorfindel rides Asfaloth to battle

Video games

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter XII: "Flight to the Ford"
  2. Parma Eldalamberon, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 211 To Rhona Beare
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