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Who is Tom Bombadil?

Jay236
The Shire

Jun 4 2013, 8:00pm

Post #1 of 63 (1674 views)
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Who is Tom Bombadil? Can't Post

Who exactly is Tom Bombadil, I mean I know he's a wizard but how is he relevant to the rest of LoTR, considering he is only in one chapter.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 4 2013, 8:06pm

Post #2 of 63 (1060 views)
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He's in all the chapters. [In reply to] Can't Post

He's Tolkien.

"Eldest, that's what I am."

And the eldest in any story is the storyteller.

******************************************
Brother will fight brother and both be his slayer,
Brother and sister will violate all bonds of kinship;
Hard it will be in the world, there will be much failure of honor,
An age of axes, an age of swords, where shields are shattered,
An age of winds, an age of wolves, where the world comes crashing down;
No man will spare another.

-From the Völuspá, 13th Century


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 4 2013, 8:32pm

Post #3 of 63 (1010 views)
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He's not a wizard. [In reply to] Can't Post

There were only five wizards: Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and the two Blue Wizards (Alatar and Pallando). Tom was in Middle-earth before the wizards came over Sea from the Undying Lands. And nobody knows for sure what Tom is, though there are lots of theories, everything from a nature spirit to a Maia or Vala, as well as Darkstone's theory of Tom as Tolkien. Even Tolkien didn't define Tom, seeming content to leave him an enigma. The most descriptive Tolkien ever got about him was in a letter to his publisher in which he called Tom "the spirit of the vanishing Oxford and Berkshire countryside". In another letter, he said that Tom was "just an invention...and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely."

Do a search in the Reading Room forum and you'll find a lot of discussion about him.

And welcome to TORN, Jay! Smile

Silverlode

"Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dűm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone."



Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 4 2013, 10:52pm

Post #4 of 63 (978 views)
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Tom Bombadil is an enigma [In reply to] Can't Post

The fandom has been arguing who or what he exactly is for decades, and we still don't know. Even the best guesses are just that, guesses. Tolkien never told us.

His relevance is what he represents; both the unselfish love for countryside (and by extension the whole natural world) as opposed to the enemy's selfish wish to control, and the pacifistic mindset that can only survive if those willing to take up arms protect him.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Mooseboy018
Grey Havens


Jun 5 2013, 12:16am

Post #5 of 63 (934 views)
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He's in three chapters. [In reply to] Can't Post

They meet him in chapter 6, they chill with him in chapter 7, and he saves them in chapter 8.


Barrow-Wight
Rohan


Jun 5 2013, 1:52am

Post #6 of 63 (936 views)
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"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" [In reply to] Can't Post

Tom Bombadil is Master

Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the Little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless—before the Dark Lord came from Outside


Bombadil
Half-elven


Jun 5 2013, 2:07pm

Post #7 of 63 (898 views)
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?...Bomby Agrees with Darkstone! [In reply to] Can't Post

Seems the Only Happy Couple
he wrote about?...was
Bomby & Goldie

sooo.. meThinks he is refer-RING to
Himself & Edith.


wildespace
The Shire

Jun 6 2013, 8:46pm

Post #8 of 63 (865 views)
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Tom is the spirit of nature [In reply to] Can't Post

He was the spirit of English countryside in Tolkien's earlier creations, and Tolkien simply gave him a role in LoTR, keeping him an enigma. Some people decided that Tom is a Maia (like Gandalf or Sauron), but there's no reason to think its definite. He might be simply an aspect (or element) of Arda that gained a life of its own, like Ungoliant.


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 10 2013, 8:36am

Post #9 of 63 (842 views)
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One thing I began wondering about when reading about Tom as a vague entity... [In reply to] Can't Post

(embodiment of nature and the like), was the significance of the unsettling image of Tom's eye seen through the Ring. I am not wholly opposed to this (non-Maiarin) origin for Tom, but Gandalf's words and now also the eye bit seems to me to point towards similarities between Gandalf, Sauron and Tom. I personally read those as hints at Maiarin-ness.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 10 2013, 7:40pm

Post #10 of 63 (782 views)
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Absent Immunities [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I personally read those as hints at Maiarin-ness.

Not likely. The ring was inert to Tom Bombadil. Gandalf feared its effects on himself.

No one has yet suggested here that Bombadil is the embodiment of Eru, but that idea is also on the table. Eru, beyond even the Valar, is the most egregious example of a deity ignoring the pain and suffering of its creations, preferring to watch them dispassionately like one watches ants under a magnifying glass in the Sun. Through Bombadil, he was content to play his in own special area while watching the rest of the world burn.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 10 2013, 7:41pm)


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 10 2013, 8:39pm

Post #11 of 63 (761 views)
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re: [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
I personally read those as hints at Maiarin-ness.

Not likely. The ring was inert to Tom Bombadil. Gandalf feared its effects on himself.


I am not convinced this is a decisive factor. We don't know if the Ring tried to affect Tom or not, we just see that Tom didn't listen to or care for its lure. Tom seems above actively caring (speaking of travelling somewhere to lend aid) for the vast expanse of Middle-earth, content in his little nook. Gandalf travelled far and wide, and it was his task to see to the destruction of Sauron. It seems only logical to me that Gandalf would be much more tempted by the Ring than Tom.


In Reply To
No one has yet suggested here that Bombadil is the embodiment of Eru, but that idea is also on the table. Eru, beyond even the Valar, is the most egregious example of a deity ignoring the pain and suffering of its creations, preferring to watch them dispassionately like one watches ants under a magnifying glass in the Sun. Through Bombadil, he was content to play his in own special area while watching the rest of the world burn.


My turn to say 'not likely'. Tongue If Tom was indeed Eru embodied, I cannot imagine the participants of the council speaking of him the way they did: stating with conviction that he'd fall to Sauron in the end, and that he's forgetful enough to cast the Ring away. I cannot imagine Gandalf talking about himself and Tom as 'stones', either; that would just sound too impious to me. And I cannot see the embodiment of Eru having a female partner, either. He's just One, and I imagine him ever solitary. ;)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 10 2013, 8:56pm

Post #12 of 63 (767 views)
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Eru [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...If Tom was indeed Eru embodied, I cannot imagine the participants of the council speaking of him the way they did: stating with conviction that he'd fall to Sauron in the end, and that he's forgetful enough to cast the Ring away. I cannot imagine Gandalf talking about himself and Tom as 'stones', either; that would just sound too impious to me. And I cannot see the embodiment of Eru having a female partner, either. He's just One, and I imagine him ever solitary. ;)

That requires knowledge by the "impious" of who Bombadil actually is. I would claim that they don't necessarily know.

I thought about Eru's "female partner," as you also question. I don't have a good answer except that she is a natural, intrinsic part of the unique environment that he cares for so much. And if he left, she would not be able to follow.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 3:57pm

Post #13 of 63 (783 views)
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Tolkien Said in one of his letters that Tom is not Eru and.... [In reply to] Can't Post

that there is no embodiment of Eru in Middle Earth so that theory can be placed aside. Tolkien states this in letter 181.

Not all who wander are lost


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 3:59pm

Post #14 of 63 (741 views)
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If you want a good read which covers the major theories... [In reply to] Can't Post

I completed an in-depth study of the major Tom Bombadil theories earlier this year and I posted my results and my own theory of who he is. It is long, but if you are truly interested in the varying thoughts about Tom it is worth a read:

Not all who wander are lost

(This post was
edited by rangerfromthenorth on Jun 11 2013, 4:08pm)


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 4:12pm

Post #15 of 63 (725 views)
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sorry bad link here is the correct one... [In reply to] Can't Post

here.

(This post was
edited by rangerfromthenorth on Jun 11 2013, 4:21pm)


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 11 2013, 4:16pm

Post #16 of 63 (706 views)
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Link [In reply to] Can't Post

The link is still not quite right because there's a space before the http.

Try this:
http://whoistombombadil.blogspot.com/


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 11 2013, 4:22pm

Post #17 of 63 (726 views)
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Relevant Text Of Letter 181 [In reply to] Can't Post

That's very interesting. Could you quote the relevant passage inside more context? It's okay under Fair Use to quote relevant excepts of copyrighted materials.

I still don't believe Tom is Maiar, owing to the severe inequality between his and Gandalf's response to the One Ring.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 11 2013, 4:26pm

Post #18 of 63 (715 views)
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Yes I can [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien was asked specifically by someone if Tom was Eru/Illuvatar. Tolkien's response is as follows, "There is no embodiment of the One, of God, who indeed remains remote, outside the World, and only directly accessible to the Valar or Rulers.”- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien No 181, dated 1956.

I too share your reservations about Tom being a Maia. Indeed, I do not believe he is either a Maia, nor a Vala, nor a traditional Nature Spirit. All of these explanations fall short in my opinion. That is why I recommend you read my work Wink

Not all who wander are lost

(This post was edited by rangerfromthenorth on Jun 11 2013, 4:29pm)


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 11 2013, 4:28pm

Post #19 of 63 (694 views)
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Bombadil Stuies [In reply to] Can't Post

That looks great. I'll give it a read.

There is another online study of Tom Bombadil that I read some years ago. I forget where it was, but was quite exhaustive and was outlined similarly to yours. A search doesn't immediately bring it up for me. Maybe someone else remembers where it was. It would be interesting to see the authors have a comparative discussion about their respective studies to understand where they agree and where they don't.


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 11 2013, 10:30pm

Post #20 of 63 (710 views)
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one last question [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I still don't believe Tom is Maiar, owing to the severe inequality between his and Gandalf's response to the One Ring.


Okay, it seems the two of us are at a moot point regarding Tom's Maiarinness, as your arguments don't convince me, and mine don't convince you - so based on your quote above, I only have one final question to ask, because I'm genuinely curious. If you at least allow the possibility for the Ents to be Ainur -as suggested in 'Of Aule and Yavanna'- do you believe that let's say Treebeard would have been just as tempted by the Ring as Gandalf was, if he was exposed to it? Because I'd imagine him reacting not unlike Bombadil, because of their similar attitudes and motivations. If you disagree with the Ainurinness of Ents, just ignore my question. :)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 1:18am

Post #21 of 63 (691 views)
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interesting thought [In reply to] Can't Post

I have always thought of Ents as some sort of nature spirit being that Tolkien makes mention of fayes and pixies I figured that Ents, stone giants, the Two Watchers, Huorns, were some flavor of nature spirit. I do not believe them to be Maiar, yet what references are you mentioning? I have read that chapter yet I don't remember any allusions to them being Maiarlike. I guess if you apply a broad definition to Ainur to include to any and all spirits even those created after the Valar and Maiar you could call them Ainur yet it seems that Tolkien in the opening chapters of the Silmarillion defines Ainur as just the Maiar and the Valar.

Not all who wander are lost


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 1:34am

Post #22 of 63 (713 views)
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Gandalf offers a great explanation of why the Ring does not affect Tom [In reply to] Can't Post

You wrote

Quote
We don't know if the Ring tried to affect Tom or not, we just see that Tom didn't listen to or care for its lure.





Gandalf says of Tom, "Say rather that the Ring has no power over him." So clearly, according to Gandalf, the Ring has no power and thus no affect on Tom.

Not all who wander are lost


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 12 2013, 3:17am

Post #23 of 63 (664 views)
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Tree Rings [In reply to] Can't Post

That's a great question. I've never heard the supposition of what would happen if Treebeard bore the One Ring.

The wiki says, " It was [Yavanna] who requested the creation of the Ents [by Eru], as she feared for the safety of the trees once her husband had created the Dwarves." This certainly says that the Ents were no more Ainur than Dwarves.

What I understand is that the Valar were Ainur on Middle-earth. The Maiar were lesser Valar. Ents were a race like any other race populated onto Middle-earth by Eru (e.g. Elves, Men) or the Valar.

I have seen debate over who is longer in Middle-earth, or who is older. I believe it is Bombadil. I remember finding good reasoning from Tolkien himself about that, but I don't remember now what that was, so I can't defend the position at the moment. It was probably something either Bombadil or Treebeard said of the other.

I believe in the fact that Tolkien Letter 181 says that Bombadil is not the embodiment of Eru on Middle-earth. Now we just have to eliminate the rest of the Ainur and Maiar. If Gandalf is affected, that leaves the Valar or a race of a single being unlike any other on Middle-earth. Or maybe one of the common beasts that sprung from the Creation.

But what would happen with Treebeard and the One Ring? The logic of the lore suggests that Treebeard should fear it even more than Gandalf. However, Gandalf trusted a Hobbit with the One Ring more than himself. So my gut feeling about Treebeard is that it would have little to no effect upon him even though, like Hobbits, that is contrary to the lineage.


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 7:34am

Post #24 of 63 (669 views)
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Perhaps I used wrong phrasing... [In reply to] Can't Post

I meant that it is not the same thing when the Ring actively tries to affect a person and call to them (which is unknown if it did or not in Tom's case), and when the Ring has power over a person.
So for me, I imagine the Ring tried to affect Tom like it did with anyone else, and Tom either ignored its call or didn't hear it.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 8:10am

Post #25 of 63 (660 views)
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re: ents [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The wiki says, " It was [Yavanna] who requested the creation of the Ents [by Eru], as she feared for the safety of the trees once her husband had created the Dwarves." This certainly says that the Ents were no more Ainur than Dwarves.


Not necessarily. I go by both the account of 'spirits summoned from afar to live among the animals and plants' (or 'dwell therein') from the Silm., and by JRRT's 1963 passage on Ents in The War of the Jewels, stating the High Elves believed that "the Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees."
Neither of those quotes states in black and white that the Ents were Ainur/Maiar, but they were apparently 'souls', and given what we know about them -longevity, doing the bidding of the Valar (in this case, of Yavanna), having a 'field of expertise', ability to assume a likeness- I interpret these as signs of Maiarinness. That's what I believe. If anyone is wholly opposed to that interpretation, fine with me, let's each believe in our own theory. No harm done. :)


In Reply To
If Gandalf is affected, that leaves the Valar or a race of a single being unlike any other on Middle-earth.


I still don't believe it is fair to consider the temptation of two known Maiar (Gandalf and Saruman) to be a decisive evidence that anyone who either doesn't refuse to help out with the Ring (those beyond the Sea), or isn't tempted, is automatically not an Ainu / Maia.


In Reply To
However, Gandalf trusted a Hobbit with the One Ring more than himself. So my gut feeling about Treebeard is that it would have little to no effect upon him even though, like Hobbits, that is contrary to the lineage.


I have the same feeling about what Treebeard would do, except I feel that the unaffectedness by the Ring has everything to do with one's natural disposition and need of the aid it (falsely) promises to give, rather than with being of a certain race.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 8:29am

Post #26 of 63 (320 views)
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I in turn don't recall any reference to spirits *created after* the Valar and Maiar ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

Can you please reference that? I generally prefer working with concrete terms we were given by Tolkien. I gather that to some, this might seem like narrow-minded labelling, but I just see no reason for me to prefer a made-up category of 'nature spirits' (or isn't it made-up?) when a character shows traits I view as Maiarin (mentioned in my reply to JWPlatt below, as are the excerpts on Ent origin I base my assumptions on; I don't feel like copying that word for word).

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 12:36pm

Post #27 of 63 (326 views)
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well, since you asked... [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, there are several instances which mention spirits who are not Maiar or Valar, some of more importance than others. In the Book of Lost Tales we read, “About them fared a great host who are the sprites of trees and woods, of dale and forest and mountain-side, or those that sing amid the grass at morning and chant among the standing corn at eve…heir number is very great: yet must they not be confused with the Eldar, for they were born befoxe the world and are older than its oldest…” pg 66.

Also in the Silmarillion there is mention of “servants and helpers” of the Maiar (Valaquenta: Of the Maiar). Faeries are mentioned in The Hobbit (An Unexpected Party).

Indeed, Tolkien points towards other spirits in many locations including the creation account, “Eight remain, The Aratar, the High Ones of Arda: Manwe and Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna and Aule, Mandos, Nienna, and Orome. Though Manwe is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others, whether of the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Iluvatar has sent into Ea.” (Silmarillion, Valaquenta, 21). In other words, there are other orders sent into Arda that are neither Valar nor Maiar. That is why the term “spirits” is used to describe such things as the barrow-wights who were “spirits” sent into dead bodies of men by the Witch-King, or the story of how the Ents come to being.

Indeed, I find it very difficult to believe that Ents can be Maiar for several reasons. First, we are told that Ents were “cured of their dumbness” by the Elves. The Elves taught them to talk. This would not be characteristic of Maiar. All incarnated and non-incarnated Maiar know how to speak and are certainly not “dumb”.
Second, the creation of the Ents shows that it was Yavanna and Manwe who were central to their creation and we know that the Valar and Maiar were the first creations of Eru and were created by his thought. On the contrary, Ents were at least partially created by the thoughts and music of Yavanna, (the following is taken from lotr.wikia.com):

Yavanna says, “My heart is anxious, thinking of the days to come. All my works are dear to me... Shall nothing that I have devised be free from the dominion of others?” Manwë responds by asking, of all she holds dear, what she would have preserved against exploitation, and she answers: "...the kelvar can flee or defend themselves, whereas the olvar that grow cannot. And among these I hold trees dear... Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!” Manwë, while deliberating, is overcome by a vision of the music of the Ainur, and grants her request: "Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared."

It is the ‘thought” and the “music” of Yavanna which creates the Ents who are in “dumb” and cannot speak until the Elves teach them too. Tolkien uses the term “spirits” instead of Maiar here in the Silmarillion and I believe he does so intentionally because these creatures were created by the melody sung by Yavanna and are commanded to be by Manwe not Eru. The Ainur on the other hand come to be by the thought of Eru before the Music is sung. To me, it is clear that the Ents do not fit the mold of Maiar and are much closer to these other spirits which the general term Tolkienites have embraced is “nature spirit” which is not a canon term but it adequately describes the variety of spirits which seem to exist in the world of Arda that are neither Valar nor Maiar.

Not all who wander are lost


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 12:40pm

Post #28 of 63 (302 views)
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however Tom avoided the call of the Ring... [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf's statement stands, the Ring has no power him, and it is clear when you read Gandalf's own statements about the Ring with Frodo, that the Ring has power over him... and Saruman... and Sauron... This I believe is due to the fact that all the Maiar and Valar are said to have had their powers "tied" to Arda when they chose to enter it. They are now a part of the created order and are subject to the rules of Arda, whereas the Ainur who stayed outside of Arda are not. The Ring, after all, belongs to Middle Earth and all, save Tom, who dwell in Arda are bound to it in some fashion.

Not all who wander are lost


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 1:31pm

Post #29 of 63 (299 views)
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I view this differently. [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf and Saruman are tempted to use the Ring for different reasons. Actually, I am not overfond of the 'power over someone' thing altogether: I did read the Frodo-Gandalf dialogue, and it is plain from it to me that Gandalf is *tempted*, that the Ring is calling to him (the Ring would 'find its way' to Gandalf's heart: those words suggest that the Ring doesn't yet have it). I don't understand why Sauron should be under his own Ring's power, as it's his own essence that's in the Ring.
And that's the only known spiritual beings we have in LotR who have anything to do with the Ring. JRRT states the Ainur / spirits (he seems to interchange the terms) differ in majesty and power, and it is obvious to me taht they differ in temperament and ambition as well. I view Tom simply as a powerful Ainu -probably Maia, as I haven't yet heard an argument which would convince me that he's not one- who due to his temperament is completely incompatible with the Ring.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 2:21pm

Post #30 of 63 (302 views)
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re: ents [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Well, there are several instances which mention spirits who are not Maiar or Valar, some of more importance than others.


I did not question this statement, but rather the one where you stated that some spirits *were created after the Valar and the Maiar*.


In Reply To
In the Book of Lost Tales we read, “About them fared a great host who are the sprites of trees and woods, of dale and forest and mountain-side, or those that sing amid the grass at morning and chant among the standing corn at eve…heir number is very great: yet must they not be confused with the Eldar, for they were born befoxe the world and are older than its oldest…” pg 66.


That sounds just like an early description of the Maiar (whose name apparently didn't exist back then) to me, or another, lesser order of the Ainur. Looking up 'sprites', the references in HoME took me -among other stuff- to: 1. Luthien's mother who was a 'sprite', while she's a Maia in later texts, and 2. Elves and Gods (Valar) and sprites watch the creation of the Sun and the Moon; no other orders are mentioned but it's hard to believe the Maiar and lesser Ainur would miss out on that, ergo IMO 'sprites' must refer to them.


In Reply To
That is why the term “spirits” is used to describe such things as the barrow-wights who were “spirits” sent into dead bodies of men by the Witch-King, or the story of how the Ents come to being.


I am not sure we can safely say these are of the same origin as the Ainur; they may just as well be ensnared fëar of dead Elves. Therefore I would not put an equation mark between barrow wights and Ents.


In Reply To
First, we are told that Ents were “cured of their dumbness” by the Elves. The Elves taught them to talk. This would not be characteristic of Maiar. All incarnated and non-incarnated Maiar know how to speak and are certainly not “dumb”.


How do we know that? IMO, verbal speech was not necessary for spiritual beings to have, as they could communicate through thought transfer. Apparently, even during the Music it is the thoughts that sing (Manwe's words to Yavanna in the paragrph you quoted - that is, in its full version), so it may not be connected to actual words at all.


In Reply To
[these creatures were created by the melody sung by Yavanna and are commanded to be by Manwe not Eru.


@ creation of Ents - they were in the Great Music, and cf. Eru: "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me", which implies the thought for Ent creation came originally from Eru himself, unlike Aule's Dwarves who gain a place in the Music by Eru's later permission.

In a world that is to an extent inconsistent, where Melian is formerly a 'sprite' and turns into a Maia, where Sauron is called 'spirit' although we know he's a Maia as well, I feel quite justified in holding on to me belief that both Ents and Tom are Maiar. They fit the loose criteria for me. :)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 12 2013, 2:40pm

Post #31 of 63 (301 views)
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Ainu [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Ainu


Only regarding your use of the word 'Ainu' I offer this from the wiki:


Quote
Before the Creation, Eru Ilúvatar made the Ainur or "holy ones". This Quenya name comes from the Elvish root ayan- "revere, treat with awe".[2] "Ainur only appears in plural [in Elvish texts] since after the Creation all those were Maiar includes Valar and their lesser kin, but not those who did not take part in the Great Theme, or else did not enter Eä."[2] This means that only apocryphal texts written by Men and Hobbits used the singular Ainu.


The passage also suggests, because the Ents were NOT part of The Great Theme, they are also not Ainur or Maiar.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 7:22pm

Post #32 of 63 (295 views)
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So Maiar can be classified as "dumb"? [In reply to] Can't Post

The reality is the maiar are never classified as dumb and speechless. If you so desire to expand the definition of Maiar as someone who is "dumb", Treebeard's own words, then that's your prerogative. Now as I pointed out in the above post, The Ainur (=Valar/Maiar) were created before the Music by the thought of Eru alone. Ents, contrary to this, are at least partially created by a third party (Yvanna) through the Music. So if you want to go against how the Ainur are defined in the first several chapters of the Silmarillion then that is up to you, but there has been plenty of evidence shown to you that the Ents do not fit what we know of the Maiar nor the Ainur. So the evidence against Ents being Maiar far outweigh any sugestion that they are for there really is no evidence to suggest that they are.

As far as how the Ring works, that is a point where many of us (myself included) are often inconsistent in how we speech/write about it. That is the subject of my work I am preparing for the TORN symposium so I will defer till then on that subject (my research is not yet complete).

Not all who wander are lost


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 8:15pm

Post #33 of 63 (297 views)
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That is not what I said. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The reality is the maiar are never classified as dumb and speechless. If you so desire to expand the definition of Maiar as someone who is "dumb", Treebeard's own words, then that's your prerogative.


I said that they did not necessarily need speech, not that being mute was the common characteristics for them.
Furthermore, I would like to ask where it is written black on white that '*all* Maiar, incarnate and non-incarnate, knew how to speak'. As it's stated by you with absolute certainty, but doesn't ring a bell with me, I'd like to broaden my horizon so to speak. :)


In Reply To
Now as I pointed out in the above post, The Ainur (=Valar/Maiar) were created before the Music by the thought of Eru alone. Ents, contrary to this, are at least partially created by a third party (Yvanna) through the Music.


That's not quite what you said earlier, and what I objected to: the mention of Yavanna only and not Eru as the creator of the Ents, and further that the Ents were 'commanded to be by Manwe, not Eru'.


In Reply To
So if you want to go against how the Ainur are defined in the first several chapters of the Silmarillion then that is up to you, but there has been plenty of evidence shown to you that the Ents do not fit what we know of the Maiar nor the Ainur. So the evidence against Ents being Maiar far outweigh any sugestion that they are for there really is no evidence to suggest that they are.


With all respect, I find this part arrogant, as we are talking about opinions only. We presented our arguments, and I get that I have not convinced you, which is fine by me as your arguments did not convince me. However, I do not care for the hints that your opinion is somehow better than mine, and that mine 'goes against the Silmarillion definitions'.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 12 2013, 8:34pm

Post #34 of 63 (284 views)
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my apologies [In reply to] Can't Post

This is why I am not a big fan of online communication, there is no way to pick up on tone and friendly jest, I do not mean to be arrogant or to belittle anyone. My Point is simple though, you earlier stated that you did not want to use terms which were not used by Tolkien, hence your use of Maiar. So I was focusing on how Tolkien has described the Ainur and the Maiar in his works, And surely he never says, "All Maiar speak," yet we know that all the Maiar sang the Great Music and thus had functioning "brains"... While I do believe that I am correct on this, (as I am sure you think you are correct), I do believe this goes beyond mere Opinion. The question is not whether or not we both have opinions but whose opinions are closer to accounting of what the texts says. The Maiar are explained in detail, never with the negative though though (that is explaining what they cannot do) and the origins of the Ents are explained and all I am saying is that what we know of both of their origins they do not appear to be the same, thus it is arguing with no support that that they are as you suggest. I mean no offense by this, and I am more than willing to reconsider my position if given textual warrant to do so. But for me I agree with your earlier statement, we should be bound to the text of Tolkien when trying to describe things and it appears that the descriptions of Maiar we have are contrary to the descriptions of the Ents beginnings that we have.

I believe this would be a much more pleasant conversation to have in person and we would both enjoy it and perhaps we would come much closer in our definitions/arguments.Wink

Not all who wander are lost


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 8:48pm

Post #35 of 63 (279 views)
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Interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

That's certainly food for thought, thanks!
It'll probably take me some time, but I want to have a look at the online Parma, if that's the same one as the one referenced in the quote. Because I'm wondering about the wording in the quote - especially the odd segmentation of the text in the 'includes Valar' part. And also about the 'or else didn't enter Ea'.

Of course, an incorrigible pro-Maiarin-origin fan like me is already searching for a way to accomodate their mental image with the newly gained info. ;) So I will pipe in yet again, and wonder aloud how we can be sure that the spirits who would, when summoned from afar, become Ents by assuming likenesses or entering the shapes of the olvar, did not take part in the Great Music? As I view it, the spirits could be taking part in the Music, and just the thought/concept of Ents could be newly arisen during the course of the Music.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 12 2013, 8:57pm

Post #36 of 63 (286 views)
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Still [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I said that they did not necessarily need speech, not that being mute was the common characteristics for them.
Furthermore, I would like to ask where it is written black on white that '*all* Maiar, incarnate and non-incarnate, knew how to speak'. As it's stated by you with absolute certainty, but doesn't ring a bell with me, I'd like to broaden my horizon so to speak. :)
.


"Osanwe-kenta -Enquiry into the Communication of Thought" has some interesting statements about the use of speech by the Valar. For example:

"The hröa and tengwesta have inevitably some like effect upon the Valar, if they assume bodily raiment. The hröa will to some degree dim in force and precision the sending of the thought, and if the other be also embodied the reception of it. If they have acquired the habit of tengwesta, as some may who have acquired the custom of being arrayed, then this will reduce the practice of ósanwe. But these effects are far less than in the case of the Incarnate."

Depending on how broad the term "Valar" is used this passage would seem to support your argument.

******************************************
Pippin: "When you guys fall in the forest, does it make a sound?"
Bregalad: "Are you kidding? Scott fell last week and he hasn't shut up about it since!"


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 12 2013, 9:28pm

Post #37 of 63 (280 views)
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no offence taken! :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Glad to have cleared this up. Now where's that handshake smiley when one needs it... Cool


In Reply To
And surely he never says, "All Maiar speak," yet we know that all the Maiar sang the Great Music and thus had functioning "brains"... While I do believe that I am correct on this, (as I am sure you think you are correct), I do believe this goes beyond mere Opinion.


I'm beginning to think it doesn't - my (re)reading of that part of the Silm. left me with the impression that during the Great Music no words were used, but rather sounds as if of music instruments, or perhaps it was all imagined, on the level of thoughts (bizarre to try to conceive of something like that!). I guess I ought to look into the mind-to-mind talking and Valarin again as well, now that I got myself into this, oh boy. ^ ^

I agree on Maiar being - well, not being brainless, but perhaps with varying degrees of brightness as well as of power. That's why I read 'dumb' and 'mute' as perhaps some of the lesser ones (because frankly, I never took the Ents to be exceptionally powerful) having issues mastering their forms enough to produce speech, let alone a verbal one which was probably quite unnecessary until the meeting with the first Elves.


In Reply To
The question is not whether or not we both have opinions but whose opinions are closer to accounting of what the texts says.


But I think it's apparent from the discussion we've had so far, that there is seldom a unified reading of a text for each and everyone, which makes me leery of the entire 'let's judge who is closer to the text/truth' concept. Exchange of pro and con arguments is fine with me, claiming one set is closer to JRRT's words when there's a clear difference in people's readings - not so much. I think there was a very enlightening discussion on multiple readings and elitism in a recent much-posted-in thread in Feedback, where others stated what I'm aiming at here in more fitting words. :)


In Reply To
thus it is arguing with no support that that they are as you suggest. I mean no offense by this, and I am more than willing to reconsider my position if given textual warrant to do so. But for me I agree with your earlier statement, we should be bound to the text of Tolkien when trying to describe things and it appears that the descriptions of Maiar we have are contrary to the descriptions of the Ents beginnings that we have.


But that's just the thing: it appears *to you* that the descriptions of Maiar and Ents are contrary, they do not seem very remote to me. I too am willing to reconsider my viewpoint, but so far am not convinced that certain characters' Maiarinness is impossible, whereas others are certain of it. And again it is *to you* that it appears that my claims have no support; I gave my reasons which didn't satisfy you, whereas yours haven't satisfied me, hence my continual counterarguments. Pity there is so little known of the Maiar, I'd have welcomed more information to work with.


In Reply To
I believe this would be a much more pleasant conversation to have in person and we would both enjoy it and perhaps we would come much closer in our definitions/arguments.Wink


Very true. :)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


KasDel
Rivendell


Jun 12 2013, 11:49pm

Post #38 of 63 (298 views)
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Who is Tom Bombadil ? [In reply to] Can't Post

Father Time... Mother Nature. IMHO!

KasDel the Last


gandalfsbeard
Registered User

Jun 13 2013, 12:15pm

Post #39 of 63 (275 views)
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I believe both of you, Dik and Ranger, are missing an important fact... [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien wrote on several occasions that the Maiar and Valar could not reproduce with one another. It is for this very reason that he rules out the Great Eagles from being Maiar, even though there was plenty of evidence to suggest they were Maiar. So Tolkien said they could not be all because they reproduce with each other, ie Entings.

Yes, I know and Tolkien knew that Melian had Luthien but that was with an Elf not another Maiar. And yes Ungoliant reproduced with spiders (we are even sure what she is) but he offers a clear interpretation that the Maiar and Valar cannot reproduce with each other, so it appears that Ranger is in the right here... When the creator of the world speaks, we would be wise to listen...


(This post was edited by gandalfsbeard on Jun 13 2013, 12:15pm)


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 13 2013, 3:57pm

Post #40 of 63 (269 views)
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Loose Ends [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Tolkien wrote on several occasions that the Maiar and Valar could not reproduce with one another. It is for this very reason that he rules out the Great Eagles from being Maiar, even though there was plenty of evidence to suggest they were Maiar. So Tolkien said they could not be all because they reproduce with each other, ie Entings.


Which brings us back to several points of this thread which caused this digression about the Ent's lineage. There is substantial evidence and reason, and very little to the contrary, that the Ents are not Maiar and are probably lower in order than Bombadil. Therefor it is consistent that Treebeard could be affected by the ring - moreso than Gandalf - while Tom is not. This is not to say Treebard might not be affected, but that Tom's immunity does not confer to Treebeard by lineage.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 13 2013, 5:35pm

Post #41 of 63 (253 views)
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exactly... [In reply to] Can't Post

Platt, that is why I am focusing my studies on the Ring right now trying to better understand its power and functions for at the heart of the Bombadil mystery is why the Ring "has no power over him." I should have it ready for the TORN Symposium.

Not all who wander are lost


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 13 2013, 7:43pm

Post #42 of 63 (255 views)
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Good one, thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

I have no answer to this one. Smile

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 13 2013, 7:56pm

Post #43 of 63 (257 views)
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But can we be sure that resistance to the Ring can be measured by greatness? [In reply to] Can't Post

I still believe it has more to do with motivation and certain character traits, as seen in the slow influence of the Ring on the hobbits, as opposed to its influence on some greater people (Galadriel, Faramir etc.).

I am still not sure I understand in what sense you guys use 'affected'. I distinguish between the Ring itself trying to call to people, and between people reacting to it, while Tom's extraordinariness is for me in his failing to respond, in not letting himself be affected. There's IMO no evidence that the Ring tried to call to him, but neither is there evidence that it didn't.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 13 2013, 8:11pm

Post #44 of 63 (248 views)
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Affected [In reply to] Can't Post

Invisibility, the change of perspective between the wraith and living worlds, and the inability for Sauron or the Nazgul to detect the ring while Tom wore it would be high on my list of effects. The One Ring was utterly inert to Bombadil. It was just a band of metal to him where it had no influence over him, nor he over it.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 13 2013, 8:11pm)


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 13 2013, 8:39pm

Post #45 of 63 (253 views)
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But we can only compare these effects between Tom and mortals who put the Ring on... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Invisibility, the change of perspective between the wraith and living worlds, and the inability for Sauron or the Nazgul to detect the ring while Tom wore it would be high on my list of effects.


... There's no saying, it appears, what the Ring would have done for another high being, say, an Elf, or a Maia (unless we count Sauron himself).

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 13 2013, 8:48pm

Post #46 of 63 (260 views)
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Speaking For The Elves And Maiar [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Galadriel and Gandalf made their case very well to Frodo.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 13 2013, 8:48pm)


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 13 2013, 9:08pm

Post #47 of 63 (253 views)
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Gandalf, Galadriel, and Saruman all make that case [In reply to] Can't Post

I do not think that "greatness" or power has much to do with being "under the power of the Ring" as Gandalf states. For if Tom is greater than Sauron why would he not be able to defeat Sauron if they gave the Ring to Tom and thus Sauron was Ringless? If Tom is greater Maiar than Sauron and thus not under power of the Ring then he should be able to defeat Sauron when Tom possessed the Ring (theoretically as they talk about it at Elrond's Council). But they say he could not defeat a ringless Sauron, yet Gandalf says the Ring is the only thing which will give them surety of defeating Sauron, Saruman believes the same thing and are clearly under the power of the Ring... So how is Tom both greater than Sauron and less than? Again this is why the Maiar theory of Tom is flawed, it can't have it both ways, if Tom is greater than Sauron then Sauron would fall to him, if Tom is a less powerful Maiar then he would be under the sway of the Ring.

It may have to do more with motivation but I have reservations about that too (Gandalf said he would take the Ring to do good but through him it would twist motivation and turn him to evil) The Ring appears to affect both the will and motivation of its wearer.... But perhaps Tom's will is different, but then again why? In the Silmarillion we are told that all of the Ainur (=Vala/Maia) who entered Arda had there powers bound to the Earth. So again, we have a problem explaining Tom as a Maia....

Not all who wander are lost


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 13 2013, 9:39pm

Post #48 of 63 (241 views)
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Misunderstanding? [In reply to] Can't Post

I was speaking about the three characteristics you listed as effects of the Ring - invisibility, indetectability, both worlds. I said we have no immortals who put the Ring on except for Tom for us to compare with Tom on these three. Only mortals put on the Ring apart from Tom.

You seem to be talking about temptation and effect on one's mind. That's a different thing for me, and one I believe to stem from one's personality and nature, not from immortality/origin/greatness/power/etc.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 13 2013, 10:04pm

Post #49 of 63 (242 views)
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Wearing The Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

I see. We saw six characters I can think of actually wear the ring: In order - one Maiar, one man, one Stoor Hobbit, two Harfoot (?) Hobbits and Bombadil. Galadriel certainly put on a display effected by the temptation of the ring.

I don't think the absence of a comparative sample is all that germane to the discussion. It feels more like a fallback position. Wink I think we can trust the word and evidence of Saruman, Gandalf, Galadriel, and Bombadil.


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 13 2013, 10:45pm

Post #50 of 63 (234 views)
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moot point ahead...? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
We saw six characters I can think of actually wear the ring: In order - one Maiar, one man, one Stoor Hobbit, two Harfoot (?) Hobbits and Bombadil. Galadriel certainly put on a display effected by the temptation of the ring.


Yes, but one cannot say with certainty that she would have disappeared or become visible to the wraiths or be in both worlds. That was your choice of attributes that define being affected by the Ring, not mine. For me these three are more like physical manifestations that are shown on mortals, as the only immortal to wear the Ring except for its maker was Tom. We cannot know if Galadriel, Gandalf etc. would have disappeared/been detectable for the nazgul, thus for me these three characteristics are not a reliable evidence of the Ring's influence on Tom as opposed to other immortals.

Temptation on the other hand, is something entirely different for me, and I agree that Tom wasn't tempted by the Ring's call, whereas Galadriel or Gandalf were.


In Reply To
I don't think the absence of a comparative sample is all that germane to the discussion. It feels more like a fallback position. I think we can trust the word and evidence of Saruman, Gandalf, Galadriel, and Bombadil.


Evidence of what? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the entire discussion we've had on Tom vs. others, revolves around the fact that I'm convinced it was Tom's character that prevented him from being mentally affected by the Ring (or if you wish, the Ring having no power over his mind). You on the other hand, seem to imply it's not because of Tom's selfless/unambitious/etc character, but rather because of him being a greater being than anyone else in Middle-earth. Is that it?

I am definitely not 'falling back', but I think it's becoming clear our readings are very different, and our views and reasonings apparently cannot be compromised.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 13 2013, 11:22pm

Post #51 of 63 (340 views)
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Character [In reply to] Can't Post

The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining. That is why Frodo failed and why Galadriel resisted the temptation to wear it. She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar - as AinurOlorin should heartily agree. Wink


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 14 2013, 3:28am

Post #52 of 63 (357 views)
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Function between wearing it and being tempted to wear it [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo fell to it because he possessed it and and wore it therefore its influence on him was greater. Galadriel never wore it so it did not have a hold on her all it could do was tempt her to wear it that was her test. If she would have failed and put on the Ring we are led to believe she would have fallen.

Tom wears the Ring like Frodo and yet is not affected both physically and in his will... This is more impressive then Galadriel's simply not putting it on... Does character have to do with it? I am sure it does, but why is his nature and character different from Gandalf and Saruman? For Tom chose to put the Ring seemingly knowing it would not affect him physically and it would not affect his will...

Not all who wander are lost


AinurOlorin
Half-elven


Jun 15 2013, 7:02am

Post #53 of 63 (320 views)
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Indeed, my friend. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wink

In Reply To
The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining. That is why Frodo failed and why Galadriel resisted the temptation to wear it. She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar - as AinurOlorin should heartily agree. Wink


"Hear me, hounds of Sauron, Gandalf is here! Fly if you value your foul skins, I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this circle!"

"Do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 16 2013, 10:48am

Post #54 of 63 (321 views)
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Re: TB [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining.


I agree that it's Tom's nature that is defining in his unaffectedness by the Ring - but rather his human nature so to speak (or rather his character... struggling to find an English equivalent for the word in my native language). All in all, because of the unique characteristics given to him in one of JRRT's letters, as an observer who unlike others doesn't wish to 'do' anything with the knowledge he has. For me that's quite independent on his origins, on 'what' he is, and he can happily be a Maia of a one-of-a-kind temperament for me.


In Reply To
She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar -


I'm not sure I understand you - what should there be with Maiar against Noldor?

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 16 2013, 4:18pm

Post #55 of 63 (315 views)
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Nature & Comparison [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining.


I agree that it's Tom's nature that is defining in his unaffectedness by the Ring - but rather his human nature so to speak (or rather his character... struggling to find an English equivalent for the word in my native language). All in all, because of the unique characteristics given to him in one of JRRT's letters, as an observer who unlike others doesn't wish to 'do' anything with the knowledge he has. For me that's quite independent on his origins, on 'what' he is, and he can happily be a Maia of a one-of-a-kind temperament for me.


In Reply To
She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar -


I'm not sure I understand you - what should there be with Maiar against Noldor?

Heh, I'm not going to accept the twisting of my use of "nature" to mean character - the very thing I argue against - but nice Orwellian try with that one. Tongue

In "Maiar against Noldar," I meant that the One Ring has the essence of Sauron, a Maiar. In a contest between a Maiar like Sauron and a Noldar elf like Galadriel, Sauron wins handily and mightily. It was also a sly reference to AinurOlorin's persistent and well-argued discussions on these forums about how the writers of The Hobbit appear to be making Gandalf, a Maiar, subservient to Galadriel in the name of Boyen's "feminine power," contrary to the spirit of Tolkien, the factual history of Middle-earth, and the lineage of the various races. AinurOlorin doesn't like the emasculation of Gandalf simply to artificially elevate Galadriel. Neither do I. It's not even in the feminist ideal to elevate a woman at the expense of a man because it is still conditional on men being more equal than women. It is the wrong sort of lesson for feminism.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 16 2013, 4:19pm)


RustyF
Registered User

Jun 18 2013, 9:15pm

Post #56 of 63 (291 views)
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Tom Bombadil as a type of Adam [In reply to] Can't Post

I know that Tolkien despised allegory, so please don't take this response as Allegory. Take it instead as a theology student who uses the language of metaphor and type to define the undefinable. With that understanding, I will use a character that I know a little about from the Bible (Adam) to help describe a character that is more
mysterious (good old Tom Bombadil).

First, let's look at some things about Adam. He is the first, the eldest. He communes with nature. He has a special relationship with nature. He named the animals, and in Biblical days and culture that meant that he had some authority or influence over them. He "discovered" his wife, after waking up from a rib transplant surgery. Adam is this perfect man, made in God's image and made to live forever. These are the things we know about Adam before the fall. Before he ate of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

Now, Tom has a special relationship with nature, he communicates with animals and trees. He discovers his wife. He has been around since the beginning. Several similarities are seen.

Now, let's play a what if. What if we pictured an Adam who had never sinned. An Adam who hadn't succumbed to the desire for wisdom and power that the Tree of Knowledge promised to give? What if this Adam had continued to live in nature, with his wife, in perfect harmony with the world. If that had happened, this Adam would not be tempted by the desire of power. This Adam would not have had any special power over the ring, but the ring would not have had any special power over him. The ring would not corrupt him or influence him, because the "will to power," the basic impulse drive that causes humans to desire to exert their authority onto others, would not be present in this Adam's life. This Adam would be the ideal man, the man who has learned to live in harmony with nature, the man who would be so unique, so different, that he wouldn't fit into a clearly defined category.

I am not saying Tom Bombadil is Adam. That's not what I'm saying at all. What I am saying is that Bombadil represents something innocent and pure. A creature who has never succombed to the desires and temptations for greed & excess & power. A man who never lost his original authority over nature because he never sold if for the desire for more.


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 18 2013, 9:31pm

Post #57 of 63 (297 views)
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Responsibility To The Greater Good [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll answer this way.

If Tom Bombadil was unable and powerless to help Middle-earth because he was confined to his portion of it by his very being, or essence, and incapable of any more, I find no fault with him.

If, on the other hand, he could have affected the outcome for the greater good of all the inhabitants of Middle-earth, I fault him for standing aside and not coming to the aid of his friends and neighbors, for I believe it is told that eventually even Tom would fall.

Innocence does not survive without the support of those with knowledge.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jun 18 2013, 10:18pm

Post #58 of 63 (314 views)
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That's my theory, too // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Narn_i_Chin_Hurin
Registered User

Jun 20 2013, 9:39pm

Post #59 of 63 (279 views)
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Bombadil can make the ring disappear [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmmm, besides the ring not affecting Bombadil, isn't it key that he can make the ring disappear? This suggests, to me, that he is not Maia (Gandalf can't make it disappear), and it seems he's more like the only other thing that can make the ring "disappear"--the fires of Mount Doom, or the very fire of middle-earth. In other words, Bombadil is the embodiment of some aspect of middle-earth--perhaps not a nature spirit, but an entity that arose simultaneously with the earth's creation, after the Ainur but before everyone else, and he's thus the "master" of middle-earth. I really like RustyF's analogy to Adam, I think he's onto something--not literally Adam, but a similar relationship to the world, as Rusty F notes.


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 20 2013, 10:08pm

Post #60 of 63 (275 views)
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Disappear? [In reply to] Can't Post

Please acquaint me with where Tolkien wrote that Bombadil can make the One Ring disappear. That would be interesting.


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 20 2013, 10:14pm

Post #61 of 63 (275 views)
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It's in FOTR [In reply to] Can't Post

in The House of Tom Bombadil chapter. When Tom asks Frodo to show him the Ring, first he puts it on and doesn't disappear, and then he "spun the Ring in the air - and it vanished with a flash. Frodo gave a cry - and Tom leaned forward and handed it back to him with a smile." In addition to that, he can see Frodo while wearing it.

Silverlode

"Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dűm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone."



JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 20 2013, 10:28pm

Post #62 of 63 (276 views)
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Disappearing Trick [In reply to] Can't Post

That is interesting to recall. Bombadil seeing Frodo, I remember, and is part of why I use "inert" as the word to describe the One Ring's interaction with Tom. It is possible I didn't remember the ring toss because I took it for sleight of hand instead of magic - so it did not impress me. In any case, I'll have to go back to read it fully and rethink the word "inert" unless Bombadil can do that with any object such that the ring is no different from anything else.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 20 2013, 10:28pm)


Narn_i_Chin_Hurin
Registered User

Jun 21 2013, 9:41pm

Post #63 of 63 (276 views)
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master and caretaker [In reply to] Can't Post

It could be sleight of hand, but it always seemed more important to me when I read it, part of Tom's power over the materials of the world--the ring is imbued with Sauron's power, but it is made from metals of the earth, we can assume, and perhaps that's why Bombabil has mastery over the ring (and can make it vanish). Taking the previous quote from Tolkien that says Bombadil represents the English countryside, and following RustyF's Adam analogy, perhaps Bombadil somehow combines the ideas that middle earth itself is enduring and neutral but also is meant to be used by the Children of Iluvatar, used in harmony with it, but not to despoil it recklessly. Bombadil does live in a type of farmhouse, after all, with suggestions of a garden, not in the forest--he is tied to the land, but also master and caretaker of it.

 
 

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