The Fellowship consisted of nine members: four Hobbits, two Men, one Elf, one Dwarf, and one wizard. Is there a specific in-Universe explanation for:

  • 9 members

    I have seen un-cited references that it was because there were 9 Nazgûl. What I'm looking for (if that's true) is specific in-Universe reference/citation.

  • Specific make-up (how many of whom)?

    Frodo (Ring-bearer by fortune), Boromir (Gondor's representative), Aragorn (being the King/Isildur's Heir/bearer of the Andúril) and Gandalf (duh!) seem like they are there for a good reason.

    I suppose Elf and Dwarf are there for Affirmative Action (e.g. make sure every Good Guy race gets to contribute to the fight). Citation needed if this is the case!

    The other 3 hobbits seem like... well... WHY? (yes they come in handy later, but why did Elrond let them in initially?)

  • 1
    "make sure every Good Guy race gets to contribute to the fight" - what does Treebeard look like to you, chopped liver?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


Elrond addressed this at the council when the Fellowship was being chosen:

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. ... The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil. ... 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.

So it seems that the number, at least, was no coincidence. As for the makeup, it was mostly practical, with Gandalf and Aragorn chosen for their expertise and involvement with the Ring's fate, Sam for his close companionship to Frodo. Legolas and Gimli, as you say, seem to have been chosen simply to represent their races. Remember that Dwarves and Elves had a rocky past (no pun intended) and there surely would have been much offense taken otherwise.

Merry and Pippin then volunteered to fill the last 2 spots, which Gandalf supported. He realized that the Fellowship could not hope to fulfill their quest through conventional means:

I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom. 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.

  • 7
    And as for Bormoir, he was on his way home to Minas Tirith anyway. (Though he could have gone back the way he came, through the Gap of Rohan.) Aragorn had decided to head that way too.
    – TRiG
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 19:50
  • 1
    There were nine good guys because there were nine bad guys. Why there were nine bad guys, you ask? See: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/28608/…
    – xDaizu
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 12:20

Just a theory, but given the Professor's love for the languages of Middle-Earth, it's possible there is an underlying linguistic factor for the number nine: the Sindarin word for ring-finger is nethig, from nedh nine, i.e. the ninth finger.

  • Maybe. But it should be known that originally there weren't actually nine (specifically Nazgûl and I'm pretty sure the same for the Fellowship but I only know for certain without a doubt on the number of Nazgûl). But you're right - he did love language and language along with maps were necessary in his mind first (writing for the languages themselves and not having a map before such a work is difficult). Interesting thoughts anyway though.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 22:51

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