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Note: I was actually going to do “Riders of Rohan” today but my headphones are missing right now and I didn’t want to wait all day to do a post, so I picked this one instead 🙂
Theodred is a character that we, unfortunately, only “meet” after he has been mortally wounded by orcs at the Fords of the River Isen. (In the books we only learn of his death after the fact). He’s brought back to Edoras by his cousin Eomer, but he never recovers. In fact, a deleted scene was going to strongly hint that Wormtongue poisoned Theodred to make sure that he died.
As King Theoden’s only son, the late prince is given a royal burial in the funeral mounds located outside the gates of Edoras, where all the kings of Rohan are buried. As the body is brought down to be interred into the mound, Eowyn (also Theodred’s cousin, being the sister of Eomer) leads a funeral dirge in Rohirric (the native language of Rohan).
As strange as the words sound, Tolkien (being an expert in ancient languages) based Rohirric on a dialect of Old English. This is why, if you listen carefully, the words sound almost familiar, even though they’re not understandable. The basic gist of the dirge is that: death has claimed this noble warrior, and all will wail his passing. He will return home to Meduseld (the house of the king) no longer. The words sound harsh to the ear, but the raw heartache behind them is palpable.
This is clearly a very emotional moment for Eowyn, who has already lost her parents, seen her brother exiled and now must watch her cousin be buried. I’m sure she never imagined that she would witness Theodred’s funeral. It always hurts to lose a family member, but Eowyn does her best to keep her emotions in check (she is a princess of Rohan after all, being a niece of the king).
While Theodred is a character we barely get to meet, his death has far-reaching consequences. For one, Theoden has lived to bury his children (thus affecting him for the rest of the story). For another, this makes Eomer, the king’s nephew, the heir to the throne of Rohan. The problem is: Eomer is currenly riding north and growing more distant by the hour. Unless he can somehow be recalled, Rohan is going to be in a lot of trouble very quickly.
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