When Frodo, Sam, and Gollum/Smeagol are going through the Dead Marshes on the way to Mordor, Sam notices that the waters around them are filled with dead bodies that seem to attract those who look at them (e.g. Frodo). Gollum then says:

"You cannot reach them, you cannot touch them. We tried once, yes, precious. I tried once; but you cannot reach them. Only shapes to see, perhaps, not to touch. No precious! All dead."
TLOTR Book 4 Chapter 2: The Passage of the Marshes

Next there's this:

Sam looked darkly at him and shuddered again, thinking that he guessed why Smeagol had tried to touch them.

But nothing more is explained, and I haven't a clue what Sam guessed.

Why did Smeagol try to touch the dead bodies?

  • 8
    That sentence doesn't imply guessing wrong to me. It's more like ...thinking: "I can guess why..."
    – user11651
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 22:27
  • @Juhana I see your point, I was misinterpreting that line. I've fixed the question.
    – commando
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 16:19
  • 2
    Sam guessed from seeing Smeagol's eating habits when he brought the catch to them raw and recoiled at Sam's cooking of it.
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


It is my belief (and likely Sam's as well) that Gollum, who was known to eat Orcs (and was more than aimable to the idea of eating juicy little Hobbits when he first met Bilbo), would have eaten just about anything. According to the following dialogue from the trios journey through the Dead Marshes in the film The Two Towers there really wasn't much to eat in the swamp other than worms.

[Frodo, Sam, and Gollum have stopped to rest. Gollum eats a large worm, causing Sam to lose his appetite.]

Sam: "I hate this place. It's too quiet. There's been no sight nor sound of a bird for two days."

Gollum: "No, no birdses to eat. No crunchable birdses. We are famished! Yes! Famished we are, precious."

It is likely that he would have tried to eat the corpses in the Dead Marshes if he had been able to reach them.

  • 2
    Yesss, foodses my precious.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 11:32
  • I thought it was goblins.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 14:25
  • 3
    @DantheMan For Tolkien, Goblin and Orc are two words for the same kind of creature. He later considered a mistake his use of the word "Goblin" in The Hobbit, because it brings to mind the wrong kind of creature.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 16:32

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