Nov 19 2016, 8:28pm
of the ‘great council of white wizards’ in _The Hobbit_. Hmm, who were the White Wizards, as there was only one in _TH_, and he was unnamed. Just Necromancer.
But then there was no Gandalf “the Grey” (or White) in _TH_.
The meaning of "white wizards' here seems to refer to magic users who use their abilities for good. That would not seem to include the Necromancer even when we don't know his true identity. He might be described in the book as a 'black wizard' (as we know nothing in TH of the Istari).
On the other hand, Gandalf does fit that definition, as does the named, but not seen, Radagast. So we have those two plus whoever else Tolkien might have envisioned as part of his 'great council of white wizards' before he actually developed the White Council. This might connect with the 1954 essay on the Istari that was included in Unfinished Tales and reads in part:
Of this Order the number is unknown, but of those that came to the North of Middle-earth, where there was most hope (because of the remnant of the Dúnedain and of the Eldar that abode there), the chiefs were five. Of this Order the number is unknown; but of those that came to the North of Middle-earth, where there was most hope (because of the remnant of the Dunedain and of the Eldar that abode there), the chiefs was five. The first to come was one of noble mien and bearing, with raven hair, and a fair voice, and he was clad in white; great skill he had in works of hand, and he was regarded by well-nigh all, even by the Eldar, as the head of the Order. Others there were also: two clad in sea-blue, and one in earthen brown; and the last came one who seemed the least, less tall than the others, and in looks more aged, grey-haired and grey-clad, and leaning on a staff.
So it was only after Tolkien wrote this essay that he seems to have scaled back the number of Istari to five alone.
"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes
(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Nov 19 2016, 8:30pm)