There's an ongoing disagreement bewteen Gimli and Éomer about Galadriel, one that is only resolved because Gimli accepted that Arwen was an acceptable alternative opinion.

From The Return of the King, chapter "Many Partings":

'Well, lord,' said Gimli, 'and what say you now?'

'Alas!' said Éomer. 'I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives.'

'Then I must go for my axe,' said Gimli.

'But first I will plead this excuse,' said Éomer. 'Had I seen her in other company, I would have said all that you could wish. But now I will put Queen Arwen Evenstar first, and I am ready to do battle on my own part with any who deny me. Shall I call for my sword?'

Then Gimli bowed low. '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.'

Would they have really tried to kill each other? Gimli killing the King of Rohan, I'm sure that would have gone over well with the people of Rohan. Or would this have been more like a non-fatal duel or something?

  • 2
    I don't think they would have tried to kill each other, but maybe a bit of brawling...
    – iammax
    May 18, 2018 at 14:37

2 Answers 2


Yes and no.

Yes, because Gimli was a stubborn dwarf and devoted to Galadriel and had Eomer insisted, he would have fought.

But no, not really, because as the tone of the quoted passage shows (and is supported by the personalities they show in the book which are of intelligent warriors) they approached each other knowing full well what the other would say. This is best thought of as two comrades who had fought together in the great war nudging each other, winking, asking if they still want a fight over this old misunderstanding -- but really saying "Hey, let's go have a beer together."


Something to keep in mind is that much of the mentality and cultural background in the Lord Of The Rings is that of Anglo-Saxon England and Viking England/continental Europe. People, especially warriors, from that milieu were much more willing to fight (to the death) over points of honor and to throw their lives away without hesitation than people in the Western world are nowadays. So there is a good chance that the banter of Gimli and Eomer was closer to violence than similar wordplay would be in modern times. Read Norse sagas and Anglo-Saxon chronicles, and remember how notorious the Anglo-Saxon and Norse warriors were for their readiness to rush into battle and their berkerker rages. The word "berserker" is, after all, Norse. Probably, everyone in the room tensed up until the two heroes resolved their disagreement.

  • 4
    You make a good point, but, I think, it's ultimately a bad analogy. Two reasons. 1) Gimli and Eomer are in some sense the most outward-looking of their peoples and are portrayed as wise -- Eomer fled an impossible situation rather then rebel. I can't imagine Tolkien writing a scene in which they fight to hurt each other. It would simply not be in character. 2) Rohan was not Viking. It was modeled on the Anglo-Saxons who were considerably more civilized, but Rohan had also spent a thousand years in league -- and intermarrying -- with the uber-civilized country of Middle Earth
    – Mark Olson
    May 18, 2018 at 20:17
  • 1
    It's also worth remembering of the Anglo-Saxons that Tolkien Himself wrote The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son, a play set in Anglo-Saxon times. Wikipedia notes that "Literary critics generally agree that "Homecoming" is Tolkien's biting critique of the northern heroic ethos." He admired the North, but not every aspect of it.
    – Mark Olson
    May 18, 2018 at 20:28
  • @markolson He was after all Catholic. May 19, 2018 at 2:58
  • "Rohan had also spent a thousand years in league -- and intermarrying -- with the uber-civilized country of Middle Earth" - @MarkOlson Do you mean Gondor?
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 19, 2018 at 14:56
  • 1
    @MarkOlson - Neither Gimli nor Eomer was portrayed as wise - rather, both are young and impetuous. In any case, I'm not sure what universal yardstick could be used to compare civilizations, but the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons were both highly civilized - just not in the same way as the Romans, for example, who were a partial model for the Gondoreans, yet who were well known by their "barbarian" adversaries for their tendency to create a devastation and call it a peace. May 19, 2018 at 18:16

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