15

Is there any evidence in Tolkien (e.g. NOT movie adaptation) that Aragorn son of Arathorn had (or did not have) a beard? I would prefer specific evidence regarding Aragorn as a person, though if it is missing, answers based on information for his demographics are the next best thing (e.g. do most men in Arda shave or have beards? Dúnedain? Gondor?)

Question motivation: a comment here

4
  • 1
    There is a good description of him in FOTR that doesn't contain a beard, and his facial hair isn't mentioned after that in the books(as far as I can remember). There were probably times during his travels where shaving was the last thing on his mind though so developing some scruff probably occurred.
    – NominSim
    Jul 11 '12 at 18:51
  • 1
    @NominSim - temporary scruff due to lax shaving habits falls under "no beard" in my book. Jul 11 '12 at 20:06
  • In my book as well.
    – NominSim
    Jul 11 '12 at 20:07
  • 1
    It reached all the way to his pants, but Tolkien never mentioned either of them. May 22 '20 at 11:45
24

From the Wikipedia page on Aragon:

Aragorn was voiced by John Hurt in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film version of The Lord of the Rings. Bakshi's Aragorn, unlike all other portrayals that were to follow to date, has no beard. This actually conforms to a statement appearing in Unfinished Tales that implicitly says that Aragorn was not supposed to have one, due to his Elvish ancestry (Elves did not grow beards).[23] However, Tolkien actually wrote elsewhere that Elves did have beards; in The Lord of the Rings itself Círdan is described as having a beard.

5
  • Interesting. So in once spot elves can't grow beards, in another spot they CAN grow them, and in all cases Aragorn is mostly human, and so can probably grow a beard unless the "beardessless gene" is dominate (which by the look of Cirdan, I would say it's not.)
    – JMD
    Jul 13 '12 at 15:43
  • 3
    I think we should focus more on the author's intention for the character's physical appearance, which seems to be, based on a statement in the Unfinished Tales, that Aragon was not supposed to have one, regardless of whether he could or not. Personally I prefer the bearded Aragon depicted in Peter Jackson's film adaptation, but Tolkien appears to have thought differently. Jul 13 '12 at 15:54
  • 1
    Yes, whether J.R.R. or his son completed the Unfinished Tales, it is still canon and says that Aragorn is not supposed to have a beard, regardless of if elves can or not. The poster should accept this as the answer.
    – JMD
    Jul 13 '12 at 15:59
  • 3
    Just a tidbit on this answer: There are plenty of discrepancies in Tolkien's corpus, and perhaps to some folks' surprise, he was ok with that. It was an ongoing, lifelong work and he believed that any discrepancies actually made it more "real" and more like the receptions of cultural stories and myths---certain details are remembered and recorded differently in different locations and over time. As for a source, I can only point to Tom Shippey's book, "The Road to Middle Earth," who (I think) talks about this in a couple places.
    – FoxMan2099
    Nov 23 '13 at 3:25
  • 1
    I always thought that Círdan was the only bearded Elf due to his extreme age. He is first mentioned during the great westward migration, which would make him ancient indeed, possibly as much as ten thousand. Oct 5 '16 at 14:37
16

The initial description of Aragorn (Strider) from the Fellowship of the Ring does not mention any beard:

As Frodo drew near be threw back his hood, showing a shaggy head of dark hair necked with grey, and in a pale stem face a pair of keen grey eyes.

'I am called Strider,' he said in a low voice.

Given Tolkien has no aversion to describing beards. After all this is a man who will describe the styling of a beard on a dwarf in the same book:

Next to Frodo on his right sat a dwarf of important appearance, richly dressed. His beard, very long and forked, was white, nearly as white as the snow-white cloth of his garments. He wore a silver belt, and round his neck hung a chain of silver and diamonds.

I think it's reasonable to assume Aragorn did not have a beard beyond that of occasional not shaving in the wilds, since there is no further evidence for its existence.

1
  • A very long, forked, snow-white beard is, perhaps, more worth noting than the scruffy beard that a man grows when he spends 90% of his time in the wilderness with only what he can carry.
    – Mark Olson
    Aug 6 at 17:49
11

As for direct evidence, I do not believe so. However, it can be perhaps taken as evidence that he must have some sort of beard as he spends almost all of his time trudging about in the wilderness, not even taking time to bathe.

The fact that he is so unkempt and is described as foul to the senses, I would assume that he's not taking the time to shave his beard.

'I see,' laughed Strider. 'I look foul and feel fair. Is that it? All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.'

3
  • Do you have a quote to back up "foul to the senses" please? Thanks Jul 11 '12 at 21:12
  • Edited and added.
    – JMD
    Jul 11 '12 at 21:24
  • 1
    Aragorn is (a) jokily picking up on an unintentional implication of Frodo’s utterance (b) only referring to one sense, so I think “described as foul to the senses” is wrong.
    – PJTraill
    Nov 9 '16 at 23:39
5

Aragorn did not have a beard due to his elvish lineage

In December 1972, seven months before he died, Tolkien replied to a fan letter saying that Aragorn did not have a beard. Sometime after that (though obviously before September), Tolkien wrote an essay about beards, which was briefly quoted from in Unfinished Tales has since been published in full in The Nature of Middle-earth.

Tolkien says that not only did Aragorn not have a beard, he was unable to grow one, and that being beardless was a trait of the royal Númenórean line due to their elvish ancestry.

A note was sent to Patricia Finney (Dec. 9/72), answering a question about beards, that mentioned some of the male characters which she and a friend did not imagine as having beards. I replied that I myself imagined Aragorn, Denethor, Imrahil, Boromir, Faramir as beardless. This, I said, I supposed not to be due to any custom of shaving, but a racial characteristic. None of the Eldar had any beards, and this was a general racial characteristic of all Elves in my "world". Any element of an Elvish strain in human ancestry was very dominant and lasting (receding only slowly — as might be seen in Númenóreans of royal descent, in the matter of longevity also). The tribes of Men from whom the Númenóreans were descended were normal, and hence the majority of them would have beards. But the royal house was half-elven, having two strains of Elvish race in their ancestry through Lüthien of Doriath (royal Sindarin) and Idril of Gondolin (royal Noldorin). The effects were long-lasting: e.g. in a tendency to a stature a little above the average, to a greater (though steadily decreasing) longevity, and probably most lastingly in beardlessness. Thus none of the Númenórean chieftains of descent from Elros (whether kings or not) would be bearded. It is stated that Elendil was descended from Silmarién, a royal princess. Hence Aragorn and all his ancestors were beardless.
The Nature of Middle-earth - "Beards"

5
  • Which is weird, because supposedly Círdan had a beard. Also, Gandalf was (erroneously) thought to be an Elf by some, meaning it wasn't unheard-of for an Elf to have a beard.
    – Spencer
    Aug 6 at 18:29
  • 1
    @Spencer - Tolkien also says that elves only get the beard when they get super old. So not growing beards is still an elvish thing, but perhaps had Aragorn lived a few more thousand years he'd have grown one.
    – ibid
    Aug 6 at 21:22
  • That probably should be in your answer.
    – Spencer
    Aug 7 at 21:19
  • @Spencer - I don't think so. That's a different question. Also I haven't yet managed to read the stuff from Nature about life cycles. The book isn't exactly out yet and I'm limited to whatever pages the Google books algorithm decides to show me.
    – ibid
    Aug 8 at 1:24
  • I idly wonder what fraction of the population of Gondor, at the time of the war of the ring, were descendants of Elros. Aug 8 at 20:23
1

Those who keep saying he must have some scruff due to not shaving while he's roaming the woods are overlooking the key point entirely: He CANNOT grow a beard.

Even with the discrepancy of Cirdan, a thorough look into Tolkien's writings indicates that his ultimate decision was for Elves to not have facial hair at all, and for Men descended from Elves to be marked with this same trait.

So no. Aragorn does NOT have a beard, but he also has no scruff. It has nothing to do with whether or not he has the time to shave, but to do with the fact that he is incapable of growing facial hair at all, due to his elvish ancestry.

2
  • Do you have pointers/cites for " his ultimate decision was ..."? Also, is this in any way different than "Jonathan Miller"'s answer? Thanks Nov 22 '13 at 12:14
  • Actually, elves can grow beards.
    – Martha
    Nov 22 '13 at 17:13
0

Aragorn was not supposed to have a beard. Elves could have beards, but only after a very long lifespan, ie, a first age elf could develop one, Legolas was way too young for one. So the descendants of Elros, being human would either never develop a beard (because they would never live enough to have one) or only develop it in a very late age (if we assume the human side would take that elven characteristic adapted in it's own lifespan).

3
  • Is there any evidence to support this? Could you provide relevant passages? Mar 27 '17 at 16:42
  • 1
    @Gallifreyan see scifi.stackexchange.com/a/149070/4918 "How did Círdan have a beard?"
    – b_jonas
    Mar 27 '17 at 16:45
  • @b_jonas I've seen it (posted a "Very well, thank you!" comment). It isn't me who this user has to convince, and posting links to other questions without providing at least a short summary is not good enough. Mar 27 '17 at 16:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.