But in the days of Bilbo, and of Frodo his heir, they suddenly became, by no wish of their own, both important and renowned, and troubled the counsels of the Wise and the Great.

I usually see 'trouble', as a verb, is often followed by a person, e.g. trouble you. But I don't understand "troubled the counsels" in the quote.

What does the phrase mean here?

  • Is it so hard to get the terms right in a cut and paste? tolkiengateway.net/wiki/The_Council_of_Elrond – Lambie May 2 at 14:29
  • He troubles you. = You were troubled by him. – Lambie May 2 at 14:30
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    The counsels of the Wise and the Great is an obsolete / archaic usage (OED II.7 A body or group of advisers; an adviser, consultant). And the Wise and the Great, which was never very common compared to the Great and the Good, is virtually unknown today outside of Tolkein's use. – FumbleFingers May 2 at 15:03
  • @Lambie this is from the Prologue, and doesn't refer to the Council of Elrond. There was a spelling error but that's been fixed. – James K May 2 at 16:23

They suddenly became [by no wish of their own] both important and renowned (1),

and [they] troubled the counsels of the Wise and the Great (2).

As you correctly pointed out, trouble can be a verb and it's the role it plays in this passage. It's presented in the past simple form. It's a regular verb, thus trouble - troubled - troubled.

When you trouble (verb) someone, you cause them trouble (noun).

In our sentence, they troubled the counsels. Counsels are basically people you go to in order to receive some piece of advice (or, to put it old-fashionedly or formally, counsel). Nowadays, counsel is usually used to refer to a layer who gives legal advice or/and takes part in legal cases.

Moreover, they troubled the counsels of the Wise and the Great. Counsels tend to be highly intelligent and competent because they are expected to provide their "clients" with sound and valuable advice on complicated matters. And of the Wise and the Great is just a nice old-fashioned way to emphasise that, to stress that even exceptionally wise and highly regarded members of society were troubled by them.

  • As a side question, " in the days of Bilbo, and of Frodo his heir", is "his" referring to Bilbo's? – dan May 2 at 23:07
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    @dan yes. Bilbo and Frodo are (both first and second) cousins, but Bilbo adopts Frodo as his heir when he (Bilbo) turned 99 – mcalex May 3 at 5:30

Tolkien tends to use words in an old fashioned style. He is trying to write with majesty and poise, and frequently uses words that had already become rare in English at the time he was writing.

In this case "counsel" means the consultation that kings hold with their advisors and ministers. And "trouble" means "disturb, or make turbulent".

So, the actions of Bilbo and Frodo had a great effect on the politics of the world, even though this was unintentional.

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    I think that what was unintentional was Bilbo and Frodo;s importance and renown, not the troubling they contributed to the Council of Elrond. – Ethan Bolker May 2 at 14:08
  • This question/answer doesn't directly relate to the Council of Elrond. It is the "counsels of the Wise and Great" referred to in the Prologue to LotR – James K May 2 at 16:21
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    I stand corrected thanks as to the source of the quote. I still think the fame was the unintentional part. Not relevant for the question, of course. – Ethan Bolker May 2 at 16:25

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