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Beside Frodo who volunteered to be the Ring bearer and his Hobbits friends who volunteered as well, the rest of the Fellowship members were named or chosen by Elrond:

‘And I will choose you companions to go with you, as far as they will or fortune allows. The number must be few, since your hope is in speed and secrecy. Had I a host of Elves in armour of the Elder Days, it would avail little, save to arouse the power of Mordor.

‘The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil. With you and your faithful servant, Gandalf will go; for this shall be his great task, and maybe the end of his labours.

‘For the rest, they shall represent the other Free Peoples of the World: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Legolas shall be for the Elves; and Gimli son of Glóin for the Dwarves. They are willing to go at least to the passes of the Mountains, and maybe beyond. For men you shall have Aragorn son of Arathorn, for the Ring of Isildur concerns him closely.’

The Lord of the Rings Book Two, Chapter 3: The Ring Goes South Page 275-6 (Single volume 50th Anniversary Edition)

The question is why Legolas and Gimli were chosen and not other representatives of their races.

Possible answers:

  1. Gimli and Gloin were the only dwarves in Rivendell at that time, and Gloin was too old for the quest.
  2. Gimli and Legolas were among the most formidable warriors of their races, and thus Elrond has chosen the best fighters to escort and protect Frodo.
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    "They are willing to go at least to the passes of the Mountains, and maybe beyond." - the guys had to go that way, even if they decided to go home later on.
    – Mithoron
    Dec 29, 2023 at 16:52
  • One issue was that mighty elves would attract attention. For a secret mission a great fighter is less useful than a great scout/infiltrator.
    – Andrew
    Dec 29, 2023 at 16:54
  • @Mithoron Did Gimli not come from the Blue Mountains, which are westward to Rivendell? Dec 29, 2023 at 17:19
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    @Triceratops Gimli came from the Lonely Mountain.
    – Buzz
    Dec 29, 2023 at 17:29
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    @Triceratops Yes, of course. All the surviving members of Thorin and Company lived at Erebor (although some subsequently left—to Moria, for example), and Gloin must have sent for his family to join him. In any case, we know Gimli and Gloin had come directly to Rivendell from the Lonely Mountain, since they were bringing news from there, of the messengers that Sauron had sent to Dain.
    – Buzz
    Dec 29, 2023 at 18:02

2 Answers 2

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Because they were headed that way anyways

The answer is in the line immediately following the one you had bolded.

Legolas shall be for the Elves; and Gimli son of Glóin for the Dwarves. They are willing to go at least to the passes of the Mountains, and maybe beyond.

It was never the plan for the fellowship to accompany Frodo the whole way. Many of them had different destinations in mind (Aragorn and Boromir were headed to Gondor, Legolas to Mirkwood, and Gimli to Erebor.). But they would all at least need to cross the Misty Mountains together, and so set off in a group.

If you look a few lines past where you quoted, you'll see that Aragorn and Boromir are also explicitly said to only be in the group for convenience.

‘I would have begged you to come,’ said Frodo, ‘only I thought you were going to Minas Tirith with Boromir.’
‘I am,’ said Aragorn. ‘And the Sword-that-was-Broken shall be re-forged ere I set out to war. But your road and our road lie together for many hundreds of miles. Therefore Boromir will also be in the Company. He is a valiant man.’

And as Elrond reiterates right before they set off, everyone else was free to turn aside to their other paths as needed.

The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows.

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    Stone cold Elrond.
    – DKNguyen
    Dec 30, 2023 at 1:46
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    Both could have used the Pass where the Road went, as they probably did getting there. Neither mentioned using Dimrill/Redhorn. Or there is a pass near the sources of the Gladden River.
    – FlaStorm32
    Dec 30, 2023 at 3:55
  • @FlaStorm32 - They were probably willing to go a bit out of their way to help here, provided it was still in the same general direction.
    – ibid
    Dec 30, 2023 at 22:59
  • I don't see how a southern path makes any sense for Gimli to get home, since his father had to get home also and would certainly have taken the same pass he and Gimli came by, probably the one near Rivendell (that the Dwarves took in The Hobbitt.)
    – Mark Olson
    Jan 1 at 15:35
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The reasons were different in the two cases.

For Gimli, it's very simple: There were only two dwarves in Rivendell and Gimli was the younger (and probably the more fit.)

Introducing Gimli's father:

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.

...Not a person to be sent out on a few months of roughing it.

For Legolas, it mainly goes back to the complicated splits among Elves. The High Elves (who were the main Elves in Rivendell and I think the only Rivendell Elves named in LotR) were a small minority of the Elves, forming an aristocracy. Gandalf and Elrond had already concluded that the inherent power of these great Eldar would not help,

'Even if you chose for us an elf-lord, such as Glorfindel, he could not storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire by the power that is in him.'

so selecting as the representative of the Elves a Sindarin Elf was definitely politic and, at worst, did no harm.

Once a Sindarin Elf was decided upon, Legolas was an obvious choice. He was a prince of the nearest (and probably biggest) Sindarin Elvish community in the western Middle Earth. (Doubtless there were Sindarin Elves living in Rivendell -- The Hobbit suggests this -- but any such person would be viewed by other Elves as Elrond's representative, not as representative of Elves as a whole.)

Elvish-politically, the representative had to be a Sindarin and had to be from outside the Rivendell community. Hence, Legolas was a great choice.

Additionally, they were both present at the Council of Elrond, and it made sense to send an Elf who had been privy to the discussions.

Note that both Legolas and Gimli were not just present at the Council but were destined to be at there. Their presence was providential. I doubt that either Elrond or Gandalf would ignore hints given them by Eru.

'That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say. though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.

Their selection was for many reasons not by chance.

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  • Gildor's company, passing through the Shire, were Noldor (high elves). Galadriel was, too. Dec 29, 2023 at 18:58
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    "Not a person to be sent out on a few months of roughing it." Any self-respecting dwarf would rather die a thousand deaths than admit to anybody that the proposed journey was "roughing it".
    – EvilSnack
    Dec 30, 2023 at 1:42
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    @EvilSnack Hence why any self-respecting dwarf who doesn't want to rough it puts him in a position where he will not be chosen to rough it out. Elves aren't the only ones who can scheme.
    – DKNguyen
    Dec 30, 2023 at 1:48
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    "I am needed at Mount Erebor. My son Gimli shall go in my place."
    – EvilSnack
    Dec 30, 2023 at 1:49
  • Excellent answer! I lean heavily on "...by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather..." Cannot see how Elrond, with his wisdom and experience in multiple realms, could say more clearly that he recognizes the strong element of Eru's will and destiny. He already knows that his task is to facilitate and assist, not to argue or delay or push his favored course of action. He concedes immediately to the council's half-baked take-the-ring-to-the-fire idea. He gives in easily to Merry and Pippin going despite obvious misgiving. Higher powers are hard at work, so get out of the way.
    – user535733
    Jan 2 at 0:53

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