The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
A discussion of "Law and Arda" by Douglas Kane



Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 1:36pm


Views: 2019
A discussion of "Law and Arda" by Douglas Kane

Some discussion points I thought were interesting from the fascinating Law and Arda article from Tolkien Studies (Volume 9) that Douglas Kane, our own Voronwe the Faithful, kindly made available to us! Angelic

Feel free to address as many or as few points as you have ideas about...and as always in the RR, bring up any thoughts or questions you have too! Enjoy all! Can't wait to hear your thoughts!


** Order in the Court! Let us gaze at the Wizard in the dock: a question of "Undue Influence." Is it a charge that can be levelled at Gandalf, for his leading role in giving Bilbo "a little nudge out of the door..."? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undue_influence
The article above provides the legal definition of 'undue influence'. Do you feel that Gandalf can defend against the charge? Does his stature in relation to Bilbo make him more likely to have undue influence? We can consider two things: Bilbo's own indecisiveness in the matter - "Bilbo’s attempt to retreat into a modern, business-like air is defeated by the Dwarf song "Far Over Misty Mountains Cold," which evokes the ancient world and awakens in Bilbo’s heart "the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and magic." (Shippey 73) - as well as his emotional state as described above. Yet also taking into account his own independent inclination to proceed, do you feel his free will was, or may have been, violated?


** JRRT uses Smaug as the voice of legalistic reason to shake Bilbo's resolve, by cunningly asking him: "But what about delivery? What about cartage? What about armed guards and tolls?" (H, xii, 192). As Douglas Kane demonstrates in Law and Arda, the viability of the Contract rests on its executability by both parties. So let's discuss the point raised by Smaug the Barrister: the carting of the 1/14th share - is it a contract breaker? Is the letter of the Contract fulfilled without taking into consideration the return journey, and does 'delivery' simply mean the handing over the Reward? Is Thorin or his representative legally or ethically responsible for the Burglar's management of the Reward once it is provided to Bilbo?


** Douglas Kane sums up Bilbo's choice in the Trollshaw, where he has taken the step in deciding to live up to the title of "Burglar." In Letter #163 JRRT says; "Anyway I myself saw the value of Hobbits, in putting earth under the feet of 'romance', and in providing subjects for 'ennoblement' and heroes more praiseworthy than the professionals..." Let us discuss the role of the Talking Purse: to set the charming scene for Dwarves-in-sacks, or to maintain Bilbo's status as a non-professional burglar/adventurer? Is maintaining the legal fiction of Bilbo as an (non-gifted) amateur needed to advance the story and Bilbo's arc, or is it more of a plot-driven point?


** As Douglas Kane points out, the event in which Bilbo finds the Ring is of enormous and apparently fateful importance, to Bilbo and to Middle Earth. "Although Bilbo found the Ring as opposed to taking it from Gollum by force or stealth, once he learned for certain that it was property belonging to Gollum he would be duty-bound by law to return it to him; failing to do so was as much a theft as if he had taken it by force. On the other hand, one defense that a person accused of a crime can assert is the defense of necessity, and it seems likely that Bilbo could have successfully claimed that it was necessary that he keep the Ring in order to avoid getting throttled and eaten. Moreover, he did not use more force than was necessary, since he used the Ring to escape Gollum by leaping over him instead of his original inclination of 'stabbing the foul thing, putting its eyes out, killing it' [H, v, 81](Kane, L and A)." A turning point in his career. Based on the revised version of Riddles, where do you stand here, in the moral, legal and/or psychological implications of Bilbo keeping the Ring? Theft, necessity or the hand of Fate?


** Burglary or Recovery: whose cup is it anyway? Since the Dwarves have possession of the Key, (a legitimate means of entry, and the Key being undisputed legal property of Thorin) does that legally and ethically sanctify their entry into the Mountain? Taking the Cup: does or does it not make Bilbo a burglar? And how does it compare with Bilbo removing the Arkenstone?


** After Bilbo's departure form the Shire, Frodo faces conflict and "legal folderol", as Douglas Kane quite properly calls it, surrounding the Will, with its seven signatures in red ink; in Hobbiton, apparently it takes a village to sign a will! What does this particular legal fiction say about Hobbit (and possibly in JRRT's mind idealized, countrified, pre-industrial English) society?


** The crucial distinctions of morality over law. In the examples Douglas Kane gives us in Law and Arda, circumstances in which JRRT highlighted morality over law (Frodo allowing Gollum to swear fealty on the Ring; Finrod's oath; the sanctioned Death of Miriel resulting in the birth of the children of Indis; Theoden sparing Grima) each event has a significant story consequence - except for the case of Grima and Theoden. With the idea that in JRRT's world legal fictions create meaning, why might choosing this legally unprecedented act of mercy for Grima, especially after his numerous dark deeds, be so morally (or psychologically) important for Theoden?


** Tolkien experienced deep love in his life, yet through the legendarium shows the reader that he is well aware of strife and unhappiness in marriage (though he did not believe in divorce) and what its grave consequences can be. As Douglas Kane notes: "There is no provision made for Elvish divorce, but Tolkien notes in "The Laws and Customs of the Eldar" that no ceremony was necessary for marriage; a couple was automatically married when they consummated their relationship [Morgoth 211-211].(Kane, L and A) ." No option for divorce is available to star-crossed Numenoreans Aldarion and Erendis either; but then likewise no legal ceremony seems to have taken place. So what do you think JRRT is saying about marriage in a morality vs. law context, by using a lack of formal legal structure in his literary depiction of a highly legalized real-world state; perhaps in both an idealized and real-world sense?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."

(This post was edited by entmaiden on May 28 2013, 2:44pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 5:09pm


Views: 1347
Persons in Middle-earth

Something I found myself thinking about while reading is "who is a person in Middle-earth". This question, while a bit curious, is relevant since a lot of law only applies to persons.

In real life, only humans qualify as persons. To remove trinkets found in a magpies nest is not a crime against the magpie, because its not a person. Similarly, there must be many contracts about for slaughtering livestock for meat production. These contracts can be legal, whereas slaughtering people for meat production would obviously be criminal, and no contract to do it could be valid. To be sure slaughterhouses must conform to animal welfare law, but I think that's a distinct thing.

If we are worrying that Bilbo might be criminal in removing gold from trolls or cups from dragons, then I think this means we are assuming that trolls and dragons are persons. If they weren't it would be like my magpie example, I think.

It seems reasonable that trolls and dragons are persons- they can reason and talk, for example. Middle-earth Has a number of species which might qualify as persons. That contrasts with real life, where only humans are persons. Law in Middle-earth would need to decide which races qualified for personhood and which didn't.

It wouldn't necessarily be easy- consider the legal and moral issues which we have about "who is a person" with just our own species. These include
When does personhood start? (Brings up issues such as abortion)
Whether all humans are persons equally. Societies and legal systems have differed about whether every person has the same legal standing, or do rights depend on gender, race, social standing, or other factors.

Similarly, who in Middle-earth is a person and why? Quite easy to see elves, Ents, dwarves, hobbits, wizards and men in this light. But we push quickly into trickier areas: is Old Man Willow a person or a sort of dangerous beast, for example?

Hope that seems interesting!

Hmm- this talk of wizards in the dock and under the influence is concerning. Wearing the traffic cones was Elrond's idea, you know.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


telain
Rohan

May 28 2013, 5:32pm


Views: 1325
Law and Arda: M-eU (Middle-earth Unit)

 
In the criminal justice system, the Children of Eru (adopted or otherwise) are influenced by three separate, yet equally important groups. Morgoth who is the root of all evil, the High Kings who prosecute the offenders, and the Valar who oversee the proceedings dispassionately.

These are their stories. Dun Dun

First of all I want to thank Douglas "Voronwe the Faithful" Kane for his excellent contribution and to thank Brethil for this excellent discussion thread!

Gandalf and Undue Influence

Here is a question (And many of these fall under this category, so I won't belabour it after this), to me, of Real World (RW) v. Middle-earth (ME) definitions of "nudging". I do think in RW terms Bilbo does have free will, though Gandalf surely is using potentially unethical means to direct him to a decision (nudging). However, in ME terms I think Gandalf may be exerting perhaps more influence than the Ainur would deem reasonable and that the nudging would certainly be frowned upon with an inscrutable glance from Manwe.

Just how much of 1/14 can a Hobbit carry?

Definitions are important here. I think that "on delivery" means "hand over"; not "deposit at the doorstep of Bag End" The terms of Thorin's contract do not specify the definition of "on delivery", nor are they clear on whether cartage is "impossible" or merely "unreasonable". Since the contract ends with Bilbo's successful completion of his portion of the contract and the handing over of Reward, then any cartage is not part of the original terms of the contract, especially and since Thorin & Company planned to stay at Lonely Mountain (in either condition, living or dead).

How Does One Become a Burglar?

I think that the scene in the Trollshaw is important to Bilbo's character development. He has been nudged out the door, but that does not mean he has done an about-face. I think he feels the need to become what he contracted to be and sees in himself a great deficiency. Stealing from a Troll surely cannot be considered a "real" crime and facing the danger inherent the undertaking would put him on track to face larger dangers.

Here I would like to add a few of my own questions about "Law and Arda". Does the nature of a Troll preclude it from being treated as a part of a legal system? Would their inherent evilness (compare trolls to enemy combatants). Or their non-Children status? Are they more animal than person? Animals have some limited rights in some legal systems, but we in the RW still take things from animals (and plants) without it being considered larceny and adopt pets without it being considered kidnapping (note: I neither advocate for nor argue against these positions, I merely posit them.)

Kane raises the discussion of whether Thorin's contract is a problem because it is for a criminal act. Is it, though? I don't think it is necessarily a criminal act 1) for the reasons I describe below in "the Key is the Key" and also for the differences (which Kane does treat) regarding RW and ME morality. A contract for a burglar seems quite reasonable in the ME Tolkien describes in The Hobbit because in it there seems to be a professionalism surrounding burglary; it feels like the old adage "Honour Among Thieves" would apply here. Like the Game of Riddles with Gollum, there are rules, but they are of a different time and place.

The Key is the Key

I agree with Brethil's argument, since Bilbo is in possession of a key and the means to an unforced entry, and those means were given freely by the rightful owners, then Bilbo does not in fact steal the cup. If an armed person (or dragon) unlawfully took up residence in another's home, the original crime is the unlawful entry by Smaug, not the lawful re-entry by Thorin & Co.

The Arkenstone is another matter, and it is clear that Bilbo think so as well. He knows what he is doing is "wrong" yet there is a higher good that he seems to have access to.

Signatures in Red: A Bloody Business

Not to be too squick-inducing, but I think "red" signifies "blood", as when contracts demanded a "blood oath". While it is not de rigour today, I think it was an ancient/past way of ensuring fealty to the oath/contract. In the case of a will, it may also signify blood relations.

Kings Take the High Road

I think that Theoden's act of mercy for Grima is a signal to his people that he is cured of past Saruman-induced ills, and that he is morally healed. He takes a very high road to do this, but it is this unprecedented act, perhaps, that makes his healing unquestionable. I also think it is shows the incredible power a King must have -- especially in light of events that follow this scene in LOTR -- in order to lead his people and have their loyalty and faith.

On the Sanctity of Marriage and Other Personal Relationships

I apologize profusely, Voronwe, for I am about to commit a crime more heinous than any described here. I am about to ask, "Why didn't you include ____?" By _____, I mean Maeglin (and Eol and Aredhel). Here is a sad story that I don't wish to describe too fully, since it will be next weeks Sil discussion, but there is entrapment and treachery and it ends with Turgon sitting in judgement over Eol on "his high seat holding his staff of doom" and punishment is, well, rather final. I do think that Tolkien understood the happiness that could come from marriage to someone you truly loved, and therefore he wanted to portray that as part of the best qualities of Elves and Edain, but he did not really shy away from showing some horribly tragic circumstances.

As far as lack of ceremony, I turn to our discussion of organized religion a few weeks back. If there is no need to create ways to understand the spirituality of the world because the spiritual and physical are one and the same, then it would seem unnecessary to have a ceremony or other ritual to mark a very personal relationship that is life-long and cannot be undone or otherwise complicated (apart from the few very select cases).

Fabulous, article, Douglas -- hannon le!


telain
Rohan

May 28 2013, 5:38pm


Views: 1340
very interesting

and something that I thought/wrote about as well!

And if not "as persons", then what about "as enemies"? People "at war" or enemy combatants have very different rights under the law than do non-combatants.

Would it be wrong to murder a troll? Or is it self-defense? Or is it always OK because there is a state of the world in which all trolls try to kill all Elves, Edain, Dwarves, Hobbits and vice-versa?

Does the nature of the beast (i.e., "good" or "evil") determine the legality of the act?


Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 6:33pm


Views: 1314
Legal 'personhood' in ME....


In Reply To
Something I found myself thinking about while reading is "who is a person in Middle-earth". This question, while a bit curious, is relevant since a lot of law only applies to persons. In real life, only humans qualify as persons. To remove trinkets found in a magpies nest is not a crime against the magpie, because its not a person. (Of course, there are magpie's trinkets and Magpie's Trinkets....!) Smile

If we are worrying that Bilbo might be criminal in removing gold from trolls or cups from dragons, then I think this means we are assuming that trolls and dragons are persons. If they weren't it would be like my magpie example, I think. It seems reasonable that trolls and dragons are persons- they can reason and talk, for example. Middle-earth Has a number of species which might qualify as persons. That contrasts with real life, where only humans are persons. Law in Middle-earth would need to decide which races qualified for personhood and which didn't. It wouldn't necessarily be easy- consider the legal and moral issues which we have about "who is a person" with just our own species. These include When does personhood start? A legal and ethical conundrum - where do we apply 'law' at all....great question Furuncurunir (exactly as I would expect..) I am sure there would be racial and social limits on who would be considered a recipient of legal protection/rights: is sentience itself enough to apply 'law' to an individual? Does one have to be verbally sentient to be a 'person of law'? And of course in a fantasy setting such as ME the gradient of who qualifies is a much more diffuse scale than we have in the real world. So the some questions: in JRRT's world, do we see sentience as the legal threshold for 'personhood?' Or is there more of a species line drawn, along humanoid lines? If so, where would that leave Orcs, for example? Is there a mandate that parallels creatures 'natural' and created by Eru, thus excluding Orcs from humanoid law? Hmm- this talk of wizards in the dock and under the influence is concerning. Wearing the traffic cones was Elrond's idea, you know. Poor Half-Elves, they just don't hold their liquor like a Maiar. But WHO TP'd Galadriel's favorite Mallorn tree? That's the question. (Although I am fairly certain it was Gandalf who put that lit sparkler in Legolas' breeches.)


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 6:38pm


Views: 1310
Great post, telain. I guess I owe you a beer at the Green Dragon for cross- posting

Cross-posting rather than cross-dressing...
*sigh* is the entire Council of the Wise Christmas Party story going to come out here? I was hoping that only the traffic cones were widely known.

It was only Saruman who thought it was funny to moon at the Palantir, you know. Just thought I'd get that in first.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 6:44pm


Views: 1306
Miruvor slammers....never again...//

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 7:07pm


Views: 1323
Some more interesting ethics...


In Reply To
Would it be wrong to murder a troll? Or is it self-defense? Or is it always OK because there is a state of the world in which all trolls try to kill all Elves, Edain, Dwarves, Hobbits and vice-versa?

Does the nature of the beast (i.e., "good" or "evil") determine the legality of the act?




Excellent questions. If the nature of the creature (Trolls, Orcs) are inherently evil and imply destruction (and roasting with sage) of other sentient life forms: so then is a continuous case of self-defense feasible, clear cut across species lines?

And therefore the inverse: is NOT destroying such a threat 'wrong'?

JRRT has some rather surprisingly utilitarian thoughts on a related tangent: (discussing the overthrow of Sauron) "So even if 'the West' had bred or hired hordes of orcs and had cruelly ravaged the lands of other men as allies of Sauron, or merely to prevent them from aiding him, their Cause would have remained indefeasibly right." (Letter # 183)

I have always found this piece of philosophy on JRRT's part fascinating. There is a ruthlessness to the concept, that victory over evil must be obtained even by unconventional means. And he uses the word 'indefeasible' in describing their cardinal aim, a law term implying the lack of ability of legal negation.So based on that sort of idea, that any and all actions are justified in the destruction of evil by 'good' people (with some vocabulary of the Court thrown in), it seems like your idea is on track in ME Telain.

So are we safe in concluding that in ME, the nature of the beast determines the 'good' and perhaps even then the 'lawfulness' of the act; and that maybe a constant state of moral and lawful 'self-defense' can apply? (I am inclining that way myself...)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 7:27pm


Views: 1298
So many questions back Telain!


In Reply To
In the criminal justice system, the Children of Eru (adopted or otherwise) are influenced by three separate, yet equally important groups. Morgoth who is the root of all evil, the High Kings who prosecute the offenders, and the Valar who oversee the proceedings dispassionately.
These are their stories. Dun Dun
Thank you for the intro there!!! Gandalf and Undue Influence
Here is a question (And many of these fall under this category, so I won't belabour it after this), to me, of Real World (RW) v. Middle-earth (ME) definitions of "nudging". I do think in RW terms Bilbo does have free will, though Gandalf surely is using potentially unethical means to direct him to a decision (nudging). However, in ME terms I think Gandalf may be exerting perhaps more influence than the Ainur would deem reasonable and that the nudging would certainly be frowned upon with an inscrutable glance from Manwe. Ahhh, interesting take...so perhaps that inscrutable glance doesn't happen *only* because the task at hand is such a small Dwarven walking party? So do you feel Gandalf is pulling a bit of a fast one here with his mandate?

Just how much of 1/14 can a Hobbit carry?
Definitions are important here. I think that "on delivery" means "hand over"; not "deposit at the doorstep of Bag End" The terms of Thorin's contract do not specify the definition of "on delivery", nor are they clear on whether cartage is "impossible" or merely "unreasonable". Since the contract ends with Bilbo's successful completion of his portion of the contract and the handing over of Reward, then any cartage is not part of the original terms of the contract, especially and since Thorin & Company planned to stay at Lonely Mountain (in either condition, living or dead). I tend to agree with you here...so in that case we may say that on that point the Contract is not voided by the reasonability (or lack thereof) of the carting issues?

How Does One Become a Burglar?
I think that the scene in the Trollshaw is important to Bilbo's character development. He has been nudged out the door, but that does not mean he has done an about-face. I think he feels the need to become what he contracted to be and sees in himself a great deficiency. Stealing from a Troll surely cannot be considered a "real" crime and facing the danger inherent the undertaking would put him on track to face larger dangers.
Agreed! Does his failure though make him a Burglar yet...is the intent enough to classify him, do you think?

Here I would like to add a few of my own questions about "Law and Arda". Does the nature of a Troll preclude it from being treated as a part of a legal system? Would their inherent evilness (compare trolls to enemy combatants). Or their non-Children status? Are they more animal than person? Animals have some limited rights in some legal systems, but we in the RW still take things from animals (and plants) without it being considered larceny and adopt pets without it being considered kidnapping (note: I neither advocate for nor argue against these positions, I merely posit them.) Excellent point, NoWiz brought up similar ideas as well...and I addressed the ideas about self-defense in the post upthread. But this is larceny, not self-defense; so is the same argument applicable, that based on their (OK, I will crack and use the D and D term) alignment, are Trolls exempt from protection from theft? Taking into consideration that they make nothing, so that all they have is stolen from someone else...?

Kane raises the discussion of whether Thorin's contract is a problem because it is for a criminal act. Is it, though? I don't think it is necessarily a criminal act 1) for the reasons I describe below in "the Key is the Key" and also for the differences (which Kane does treat) regarding RW and ME morality. A contract for a burglar seems quite reasonable in the ME Tolkien describes in The Hobbit because in it there seems to be a professionalism surrounding burglary; it feels like the old adage "Honour Among Thieves" would apply here. Like the Game of Riddles with Gollum, there are rules, but they are of a different time and place.
The Key is the Key
I agree with Brethil's argument, since Bilbo is in possession of a key and the means to an unforced entry, and those means were given freely by the rightful owners, then Bilbo does not in fact steal the cup. If an armed person (or dragon) unlawfully took up residence in another's home, the original crime is the unlawful entry by Smaug, not the lawful re-entry by Thorin & Co. And of course we can ask the same question here, as applied to the Trolls: as an inherently evil creature, would the Dragon come under the protection of Law at all? Potentially he would be exempt, as an evil creature (who is also clearly a law-breaker).

The Arkenstone is another matter, and it is clear that Bilbo think so as well. He knows what he is doing is "wrong" yet there is a higher good that he seems to have access to. I agree here: in a way, I think this is the ONLY time Bilbo actually 'steals' anything! And it does rather sanctify him, that he can give up the Jewel for the intention of greater good, a Doug points out, showing the way for Bilbo to later give up the Ring.

Signatures in Red: A Bloody Business

Not to be too squick-inducing, but I think "red" signifies "blood", as when contracts demanded a "blood oath". While it is not de rigour today, I think it was an ancient/past way of ensuring fealty to the oath/contract. In the case of a will, it may also signify blood relations. So a very symbolic statement here...

Kings Take the High Road
I think that Theoden's act of mercy for Grima is a signal to his people that he is cured of past Saruman-induced ills, and that he is morally healed. He takes a very high road to do this, but it is this unprecedented act, perhaps, that makes his healing unquestionable. I also think it is shows the incredible power a King must have -- especially in light of events that follow this scene in LOTR -- in order to lead his people and have their loyalty and faith.
Perhaps he must go beyond Rohirrim law, considering that he himself has probably crossed that line as Saruman's captive...?

On the Sanctity of Marriage and Other Personal Relationships

I apologize profusely, Voronwe, for I am about to commit a crime more heinous than any described here. I am about to ask, "Why didn't you include ____?" By _____, I mean Maeglin (and Eol and Aredhel). Here is a sad story that I don't wish to describe too fully, since it will be next weeks Sil discussion, but there is entrapment and treachery and it ends with Turgon sitting in judgement over Eol on "his high seat holding his staff of doom" and punishment is, well, rather final. I do think that Tolkien understood the happiness that could come from marriage to someone you truly loved, and therefore he wanted to portray that as part of the best qualities of Elves and Edain, but he did not really shy away from showing some horribly tragic circumstances.
As far as lack of ceremony, I turn to our discussion of organized religion a few weeks back. If there is no need to create ways to understand the spirituality of the world because the spiritual and physical are one and the same, then it would seem unnecessary to have a ceremony or other ritual to mark a very personal relationship that is life-long and cannot be undone or otherwise complicated (apart from the few very select cases).
It highlights his intrinsic idea of fea and hroa then...the link between the spirit and the body. And perhaps that supersedes the definition of that relationship by a law? Making it the higher mandate?

Fabulous, article, Douglas -- hannon le!
Agreed!


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 7:30pm


Views: 1304
Disturbingly ruthless

I have to save a full reply to the OP for when I get home from work, but for now, just a quick dash to say I find Tolkien's rationale very disturbing. It's okay to employ orcs to fight Sauron? One of the things that made Saruman bad was that he employed orcs. It would have been okay for Aragorn or Eomer to hire orc mercenaries and pillage Dunland to prevent the Dunlendings from aiding Saruman? Shocking, to me. It sounds like "to fight the enemy, we must become like the enemy," or maybe without the "must," it's still okay to become like the enemy. But the enemy is evil, so if you're fighting evil and become evil yourself...

It seems at odds with positions taken by Tolkien's noblest characters:
Faramir didn't enjoy killing anybody, Frodo pitied the ruffians (even half-orcs) and forgave Saruman, and Gandalf pitied Sauron's slaves, which I interpret as nearly all of Sauron's servants, because orcs serve him out of fear and not voluntarily, and if we're just talking about slaves that have been taken captive (e.g., people of Gondor), then everyone would feel sorry for them anyway, and there'd be no need for Gandalf to state the obvious to Denethor.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 28 2013, 7:42pm


Views: 1304
Saruman and Orcs

Dealing with Orcs was a sign of Saruman's corruption. He did not do so openly at first, but only in secret. It wasn't until he fell completely into evil that he gave up any serious pretense of innocence of meddling in Rohan.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 7:46pm


Views: 1316
Letter 183 is an eye-opener then

Maybe the idea is that causes and methods are both open to moral and legal questioning. Your cause can be right but your methods wrong. And I suspect the danger is that wrong methods remain all to convenient after right cause has been abandoned or compromised.

Otherwise, surely, its OK for Gandalf to accept the Ring from Frodo, and use it to down the Dark Lord...

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 8:07pm


Views: 1307
Yes, that's what is puzzling

The Wise repeatedly refuse to take the Ring for the purpose of fighting Sauron because they don't want to become like him. But Tolkien said it was okay to be like Sauron in using orcs to pillage and plunder other men? Doesn't add up for me.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 10:02pm


Views: 1291
I think the issue must be intent


In Reply To
I have to save a full reply to the OP for when I get home from work, but for now, just a quick dash to say I find Tolkien's rationale very disturbing. It's okay to employ orcs to fight Sauron? One of the things that made Saruman bad was that he employed orcs. It would have been okay for Aragorn or Eomer to hire orc mercenaries and pillage Dunland to prevent the Dunlendings from aiding Saruman? Shocking, to me. It sounds like "to fight the enemy, we must become like the enemy," or maybe without the "must," it's still okay to become like the enemy. But the enemy is evil, so if you're fighting evil and become evil yourself...

It seems at odds with positions taken by Tolkien's noblest characters:
Faramir didn't enjoy killing anybody, Frodo pitied the ruffians (even half-orcs) and forgave Saruman, and Gandalf pitied Sauron's slaves, which I interpret as nearly all of Sauron's servants, because orcs serve him out of fear and not voluntarily, and if we're just talking about slaves that have been taken captive (e.g., people of Gondor), then everyone would feel sorry for them anyway, and there'd be no need for Gandalf to state the obvious to Denethor.




Of course Saruman was using Orcs for his own purposes of domination - I guess in the statement that if he had marched on Mordor, the intent would have been different. Evil or dark power in the right hand being able to be used for good? It's a strong statement I think about the ethics of war, which of course he had seen firsthand in a very real way. I feel like he had no illusions on that front.

Of course I guess Orcs are different than the Ring - (and I don't know how literally we can take the statement) - as no one can actually use the Ring but Sauron. In the same Letter JRRT discusses that he does nor believe in Absolute Evil...so I think it comes back to the cardinal goal. He also discusses how in modern day times the analogy applies to people fighting tyranny, even if their methods aren't always drawing-room pretty.

I related it right away to Telain's point about the nature of the target of an action sort of defining its legality (and morality). It seems like he is saying that if the target is oppressive evil, the actions are justified.

I think your point about using evil to fight evil is a tightwalk rope: if you keep true to your purpose, you are good. Once your purpose varies (like Sauron's did) you have indeed crossed over.

(Can't wait to see your full reply BTW!) Cool

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

May 28 2013, 10:10pm


Views: 1318
That's not what Tolkien actually said

The quote from Letter 183 is being taken out of context. While he does say that if the Free Peoples had engaged in evil actions such as using orcs to pillage and plunder their "Cause would have remained indefeasibly right" that does not mean that the taking of those evil actions would be justified or right. As he says earlier in the same letter:

"Of course to a judge whose moral ideas have a religious or philosophical basis, or indeed to anyone not blinded by partisan fanaticism, the rightness of the cause will not justify the actions of its supporters, as individuals, that are morally wicked."

Cheers! (Glad my paper has stimulated such an interesting discussion for y'all!)

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 10:49pm


Views: 1294
Would Orcs be evil...in a war machine sense?


In Reply To
The quote from Letter 183 is being taken out of context. While he does say that if the Free Peoples had engaged in evil actions such as using orcs to pillage and plunder their "Cause would have remained indefeasibly right" that does not mean that the taking of those evil actions would be justified or right. As he says earlier in the same letter:
"Of course to a judge whose moral ideas have a religious or philosophical basis, or indeed to anyone not blinded by partisan fanaticism, the rightness of the cause will not justify the actions of its supporters, as individuals, that are morally wicked."


Of course if one did use Orcs against a dark power, ie: Sauron, would their actions be morally wicked in the context of war? Considering that is rather their bailiwick, and total war against evil would be the aim. I have sort of read the whole argument in that Letter as rather equalizing actions in war: in the context of battle and war, do the actions of good or evil vary all that much? (Not any actions taken outside of that, for example Orcs allied with the Men of the West casually eating a village of Rohirrim on the way to the fight would definitely be a moral/clearly legally wrong issue!)

Cheers! (Glad my paper has stimulated such an interesting discussion for y'all!)
Thank YOU again Doug!!!! AngelicSmile Indeed it has!


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 11:22pm


Views: 1269
Wonder if we can see ME as a continual state of war?


In Reply To

And if not "as persons", then what about "as enemies"? People "at war" or enemy combatants have very different rights under the law than do non-combatants.
Because if the underlying divinity and anti-divinity theme it the ME universe....in which case 'enemies' are always enemy combatants, at any time? That perhaps too would impact the legality of actions taken against some of the examples you named earlier - Trolls, Orcs, etc?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 11:31pm


Views: 1276
Finally have time to ponder all your points Telain...


In Reply To

Signatures in Red: A Bloody Business
Not to be too squick-inducing, but I think "red" signifies "blood", as when contracts demanded a "blood oath". While it is not de rigour today, I think it was an ancient/past way of ensuring fealty to the oath/contract. In the case of a will, it may also signify blood relations. I was feeling too that the need for so many signatures - as you say 'in blood', symbolic even - stresses both the familial connections in the society, as well as implying a certain lack of privacy! Just asking enough people in for the 7 signatures rather guarantees that your business isn't very secret! It seems to tell of a rather simple, transparent culture maybe? In Hobbiton it seems everyone knows everyone's business, and nothing is 'hole and corner' (despite Lobelia's irritation) not without that many eyes upon it!



Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 12:39am


Views: 1259
It comes in pints!?!

Beer at the Green Dragon (check) just name the time and place.

Doesn't it strike you odd that the line "It comes in pints" is delivered by a character that might be called "pint-sized"?

Yes. The fatigue. Has set in.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 12:45am


Views: 1259
The ideal Hobbit T-shirt?


In Reply To

"It comes in pints"




Really a perfect shirt logo for a Hobbit, isn't it?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 1:01am


Views: 1260
questions! questions that don't have answers!

Or don't have very coherent ones, considering I'm rather tired at the moment!


Quote
Ahhh, interesting take...so perhaps that inscrutable glance doesn't happen *only* because the task at hand is such a small Dwarven walking party? So do you feel Gandalf is pulling a bit of a fast one here with his mandate?


Oh I think Gandalf is flying -- by Eagle or Balrog -- under the radar here. But! And this may have some bearing on further discussions, Reading The Hobbit by itself does not (obviously) garner this opinion -- it is only when reading it in the context of the rest of the works that it does.

I think that while Douglas has produced a very good argument about the nature of legality in the main works (TH, LoTR, Sil) i.e., how legality goes from very like RW in TH to very green sun-ish in the Sil, I also think it is important to understand the nature of these works. please forgive the shorthand, happy to explain further if this is all a bunch of nonsense... TH is a children's book, so (to me) the legality is there in some ways as a conduit and as comedy. LoTR is an epic, so the legality is a juxtaposition of RW and Higher Morality/Higher Ground issues. The SIl is a collection of archival notes, papers, legends, stories, etc., so the legality there is very tenuous and very much in favour of how the Higher Powers (Valar) understand what is morally good (or bad). Almost "the making of morality".


Quote
so in that case we may say that on that point the Contract is not voided by the reasonability (or lack thereof) of the carting issues?


Agreed!


Quote
Does his failure though make him a Burglar yet...is the intent enough to classify him, do you think?


I think so, because in Bilbo's mind he is trying.

As for whether trolls or dragons come under the protection of the law -- just as you wrote that, I would say "no." It seems to put it into sharp relief. Trolls and dragons are bent on evil/immoral acts, what exactly would the law be protecting? Tolkien's world is actually much simpler than ours in some ways, as evil is almost definable, and those that are good and have been corrupted are also easy to identify.


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 1:19am


Views: 1260
Criminal minds think alike

1. Yet also taking into account his own independent inclination to proceed, do you feel his free will was, or may have been, violated?
I think Gandalf used trickery at most but not mind control on Bilbo, and Bilbo was never under any duress, so I think Bilbo was responsible for his decisions. And no matter how many times he wished he was safe back in his hobbit hole, he never once blamed Gandalf for getting him into that mess, though he periodically got angry with the Dwarves. So this juror lets Gandalf off the hook.

2. JRRT uses Smaug as the voice of legalistic reason to shake Bilbo's resolve, by cunningly asking him: "But what about delivery? What about cartage? What about armed guards and tolls?" (H, xii, 192). As Douglas Kane demonstrates in Law and Arda, the viability of the Contract rests on its executability by both parties. So let's discuss the point raised by Smaug the Barrister: the carting of the 1/14th share - is it a contract breaker? Is the letter of the Contract fulfilled without taking into consideration the return journey, and does 'delivery' simply mean the handing over the Reward? Is Thorin or his representative legally or ethically responsible for the Burglar's management of the Reward once it is provided to Bilbo?
This is such a great point, not least because Smaug is a criminal himself, and he doesn't let that dissuade him from playing a crooked legal advisor in this case. He plants a legitimate doubt in Bilbo's mind, and on first read, I wondered if the Dwarves were laughing at Bilbo's naivete also. When considering the Dwarves, however, they are consistently honorable, and I think they themselves gave no thought to the logistics of Bilbo transporting his fortune home, and once Thorin was established as a king with more than 12 servants, he would have provided a guard to Bilbo. That's my take on Dwarves: they take the law seriously, which is why they can be very vindictive when they're wronged. It's not just the personal betrayal, it's the breach of contract that upsets them. Given how much Dwarves depend on commerce for their livelihood, I would say that laws matter to them more than to any other race. Thus to answer your question, I think the contract is executable. (And so was the dragon, har har.)

3. Is maintaining the legal fiction of Bilbo as an (non-gifted) amateur needed to advance the story and Bilbo's arc, or is it more of a plot-driven point?
I like your question, but am I permitted to answer yes and yes? I think it was primarily to show that Bilbo remained inept at anything other than being a pampered aristocrat, and that for the Took in him to take over, it was going to happen gradually, not dramatically. But his purse snatching turned into a great part of the story that I believe is a favorite for most readers, and not a lot had been happening plot-wise for awhile, so that encounter livened up the story. And of course led to things like Sting and Glamdring, and we got to see how clever Gandalf is.

But there was also some good character development involved: Bilbo trying to prove himself as a burglar, the Dwarves loyally coming to save him, and Thorin standing out as the most sensible of all of them by being cautious. Then there was Bilbo showing his loyalty by going Took and grabbing a troll's leg (unfortunately a failure), then the Baggins in him cowering where he fell while his friends were going to be eaten. All of that milked from one failed attempt at snatching a purse! Yet odd as it is, since I have no sympathy for the trolls, it does seem like Bilbo was stealing from them, and unlike Smaug's treasure, Bilbo and the Dwarves had no claim on what the trolls had, even though they were thieves too. So the Baggins is guilty in this case.

4. Based on the revised version of Riddles, where do you stand here, in the moral, legal and/or psychological implications of Bilbo keeping the Ring? Theft, necessity or the hand of Fate?

Well, the Valar ("Authorities") ruled that Gollum was bound by his promise in the riddle game, and it only came dimly to Bilbo that the Ring belonged to Gollum, in fact, only when Gollum was prepared to murder him. So if you accidentally find something that could be anyone's, and later realize who the owner is only when the owner is going to eat you, I think there is legal justification for running away and using that object to save your life. But if you want to stick to the law, Bilbo should have thrown the Ring back to Gollum once he was clear of him, or even once he was outside. He knew he had stolen property, and he hadn't been hired to steal from Gollum. There is a legal paradox at work in The Hobbit. Bilbo wants to become a burglar in a noble way by stealing from a criminal dragon, but burglary is not noble, and practicing it along the way, such as stealing from Gollum, doesn't improve Bilbo's character. So it's significant when he begins to repudiate the burglar role by giving up the (stolen) Arkenstone, not to its owner, of course, but with the hope that it would go back to its owner by averting a war.

And though the pity of Bilbo ruled the fate of many, it's no excuse for stealing the Ring.

5. Burglary or Recovery: whose cup is it anyway? Since the Dwarves have possession of the Key, (a legitimate means of entry, and the Key being undisputed legal property of Thorin) does that legally and ethically sanctify their entry into the Mountain? Taking the Cup: does or does it not make Bilbo a burglar? And how does it compare with Bilbo removing the Arkenstone?
I have no ambivalence about this one: Smaug stole from the Dwarves, and they were entitled to get their property back. Bilbo thought that taking the cup made him a burglar, and I suppose it did since he was taking something from its possessor, but it feels pretty neutral, and was just a little thrill to him. Taking the Arkenstone was different. He knew it legally belonged to Thorin, he knew how much Thorin wanted it, and most tellingly, he felt guilty about keeping it. So Bilbo stole from his employer, which made him a bad burglar.

6. The Will.
I personally don't read much into this except that hobbits were ridiculous sticklers for detail (another example was their obsession over family trees). The part about red ink stands out to me as something that isn't as common as blue or black ink, and somehow it invokes a greater sense of absurd ceremony to have the witnesses employ it, along with seven witnesses being overkill. But when hobbits go to extremes, they're just absurd, and no one gets hurt. (*Points at Denethor.*)

7. Clemency: each event has a significant story consequence - except for the case of Grima and Theoden. With the idea that in JRRT's world legal fictions create meaning, why might choosing this legally unprecedented act of mercy for Grima, especially after his numerous dark deeds, be so morally (or psychologically) important for Theoden?

Tolkien likes his characters to keep the high ground and show clemency (*cough* except Thingol), and specifically for Theoden, it seems to me that his story unfolds in a way that shows him clearing away all petty concerns so that he can die in peace. He's aware of that himself and hints at it a few times. The Theoden/Grima mercy parallels the higher level Gandalf/Saruman mercy, and each of the bad guys comes close to repenting, then stick to their evil ways. It seems to me that there may be written laws in Rohan that Theoden could follow, but both he and Gandalf are following Valar or Iluvatar laws (ditto Frodo/Gollum) in showing mercy, so the higher set of laws trumps the lower.

I would also say that all this mercy does have generally good consequences. Frodo would not permit Saruman to be killed, so Grima did it, eliminating a spirit of malice from the world who could clearly still do harm. The pity of Theoden ruled the fate of the hobbits and whoever else Saruman would have tormented.

8. Marriage: So what do you think JRRT is saying about marriage in a morality vs. law context, by using a lack of formal legal structure in his literary depiction of a highly legalized real-world state; perhaps in both an idealized and real-world sense?
I'm a little puzzled that someone who believes that marriage is forever with no possibility for divorce doesn't believe in having a great big, formal ceremony to cement a marriage. But I think that Tolkien, who so often stressed that what was natural was best, was showing that mating for life (which plenty of intelligent animals do) was natural and didn't need a ceremony. It was willed by Eru, and that was that.

This was a lot of fun, Breth, and you clearly toiled over it more than a Dwarf over a labor of love. Thanks so much for creating this discussion!


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 1:37am


Views: 1251
That's a really fascinating question, Wiz.

And has me a-pondering. Maybe I can come back with questions and comments later. Initially, I'm tempted to say that persons in MEarth are the good guys, and being a bad buy makes you an un-person (since everyone was good at some point).

I think Men are persons, even those led astray by bad guys. It's significant that all the orcs at Helm's Deep are slaughtered, but the Dunlendings are spared. And there's Sam feeling pity for the Southron soldier (though there's no pity for them on the Pelennor Fields). There are virtually no bad hobbits or bad Elves, and though there may be some bad Dwarves, we only see the good ones. Treebeard comments that there are bad trees, but as you say, is a sentient tree a person? There are intelligent mammals like bears and wolves that aren't granted personhood (and they can talk in Narnia if not in MEarth). So I keep coming back to persons being virtuous, but I'll stew some more (with some herbs and rabbits).


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 1:43am


Views: 1248
Oops, forgot the obvious: Thank you too for sharing your work, Mr Kane!! //

 


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 1:59am


Views: 1267
There's context and then there's canon, I suppose

Depending on the day of the week that you ask me and what I've seen on the news, I am either for or against capital punishment. I could put in writing "I want that @^#&!! to burn!" and another day write, "Well, let him rot in jail with the .00000001% chance that he'll redeem himself." By comparison, I don't think that everything Tolkien wrote in a letter should be taken as canon, so I probably overreacted in my hasty reply from work. He was clearly following a train of thought and writing in a certain context. I think context equally applies to his famous quote about LOTR being "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work"--he said that to a priest, right? In college, I would say mild, gentle things in letters to my grandmother that of course were contradicted in letters to my friends. We all tailor messages to an audience.

Going back to our discussion of Tolkien and the Law, what I would distill in general from his sentiments is that he felt that Good should fight against Evil, and given a divine moral imperative, that meant what Good did in that fight was legally permissible. Hence there are no antiwar activists outside Minas Tirith waving a red flag of Sauron chanting, "Better red than dead." And while Frodo is a noble peace activist, Merry bluntly tells him he's not going to save the Shire that way. Was it legally right to kill the ruffians? Are they persons, as Wiz asks? They fall between the cracks, it seems. But hobbits are clearly persons and Frodo forbids killing any of them, and it seems that no one else has an appetite to kill them either despite their treason. There also seems no desire to kill Lotho, but the hobbits are tempted to kill Saruman--is he a person, according to Shire laws? I don't think so, therefore they see it as permissible. And I think he'd forfeited his rights to being a legal person within the context of the story and the Valar, hence there was no forgiveness for him from that wind from Manwe that blew him the wrong way.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:04am


Views: 512
You make a lot of sense when you are tired Telain...


In Reply To

Tolkien's world is actually much simpler than ours in some ways, as evil is almost definable, and those that are good and have been corrupted are also easy to identify. This is really kind of an essential distillation: is it part of the appeal of JRRT's world for us? I think it is for me! I love this point. You should always post when you are tired. Wink

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:09am


Views: 523
The end of Saruman


In Reply To
Depending on the day of the week that you ask me and what I've seen on the news, I am either for or against capital punishment. I could put in writing "I want that @^#&!! to burn!" and another day write, "Well, let him rot in jail with the .00000001% chance that he'll redeem himself." By comparison, I don't think that everything Tolkien wrote in a letter should be taken as canon, so I probably overreacted in my hasty reply from work. He was clearly following a train of thought and writing in a certain context. I think context equally applies to his famous quote about LOTR being "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work"--he said that to a priest, right? In college, I would say mild, gentle things in letters to my grandmother that of course were contradicted in letters to my friends. We all tailor messages to an audience.
Going back to our discussion of Tolkien and the Law, what I would distill in general from his sentiments is that he felt that Good should fight against Evil, and given a divine moral imperative, that meant what Good did in that fight was legally permissible. Hence there are no antiwar activists outside Minas Tirith waving a red flag of Sauron chanting, "Better red than dead." And while Frodo is a noble peace activist, Merry bluntly tells him he's not going to save the Shire that way. Was it legally right to kill the ruffians? Are they persons, as Wiz asks? They fall between the cracks, it seems. But hobbits are clearly persons and Frodo forbids killing any of them, and it seems that no one else has an appetite to kill them either despite their treason. There also seems no desire to kill Lotho, but the hobbits are tempted to kill Saruman--is he a person, according to Shire laws? I don't think so, therefore they see it as permissible. And I think he'd forfeited his rights to being a legal person within the context of the story and the Valar, hence there was no forgiveness for him from that wind from Manwe that blew him the wrong way.




Love all this - but that last sentence especially CG. The real Court of Last Appeal, and damnation past all worldly ends, having forfeited the right of Mercy. A powerful image!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:18am


Views: 518
I really like that question, Brethil--what about hobbit laws? And death penalties?

And therefore the inverse: is NOT destroying such a threat 'wrong'?
I think Tolkien would agree with the statement that "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." The whole mission of the Istari is to motivate good people to do something about Sauron, which implies the Valar don't trust the people of MEarth to do the right thing to get rid of evil on their own. While the Valar don't wipe out Sauron himself for fear that the tumult would be ruinous to MEarth, I think the moral foundation of Arda is that everyone must oppose evil and not expect the Higher Powers to do all the work. That principle is embodied by the hobbits, who are weaker than any race, but of course carry within them the seed of courage and strength to heroically combat evil.

And hobbits are moral people, aren't they? Their only need for police is for their boundaries. What does that say about hobbits? Do they have laws? They must, if they have lawyers and legal requirements for inheritance, but do people ever break them? If you don't have police, my guess is no. Frodo notes indignantly that Gollum couldn't be a hobbit because he'd meant to cheat Bilbo in the riddle game, and hobbits don't cheat. They also NEVER kill other hobbits. The worst that happens are acts of mischief, such as children stealing fruit from orchards, which is hardly a society-shattering crime. (Think of the source of Sam's attitude when confronting Faramir in Ithilien.)

What does it say about the Shire living in a state of blissful near-anarchy, versus Gondor and Rohan which clearly do have laws and kings/stewards to enforce them with the death penalty?
Lorien seems to have laws too, at least about outsiders. The Ents, however, don't seem to have any laws. Their reaction to Saruman is more about emotions, revenge, and self-preservation than a legal consideration of "he trespassed and violated our property." Or maybe the Entmoot did decide the latter legal point; I'm not sure. And of course Sauron has laws, which is odd for someone so immoral, but not odd for a tyrant--they love using laws for oppression. Do other races oppress with their laws?



Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:51am


Views: 511
Some new points...


In Reply To
(Some of what you bring up CG I had never thought of! Thank you!) In the Matter of Undue Influence: So this juror lets Gandalf off the hook. Your vote is counted!

That's my take on Dwarves: they take the law seriously, which is why they can be very vindictive when they're wronged. It's not just the personal betrayal, it's the breach of contract that upsets them. Given how much Dwarves depend on commerce for their livelihood, I would say that laws matter to them more than to any other race. Thus to answer your question, I think the contract is executable.
I like this point you raise about Dwarves and commerce, and how contracts and business agreements figure much more prominently in their lives. For example in the Dwarven heyday its described that they never have to grow a single ear of their own corn because their entire fortunes are built upon their crafting, and the trade with other People's of ME. (And so was the dragon, har har.) WinkOuch. Very nice there.
3. Is maintaining the legal fiction of Bilbo as an (non-gifted) amateur needed to advance the story and Bilbo's arc, or is it more of a plot-driven point?
I like your question, but am I permitted to answer yes and yes? If yes and no is Elven, what's Yes and Yes...? Sounds like a Manwe special. I think it was primarily to show that Bilbo remained inept at anything other than being a pampered aristocrat, and that for the Took in him to take over, it was going to happen gradually, not dramatically. But his purse snatching turned into a great part of the story that I believe is a favorite for most readers, and not a lot had been happening plot-wise for awhile, so that encounter livened up the story. And of course led to things like Sting and Glamdring, and we got to see how clever Gandalf is. But there was also some good character development involved: Bilbo trying to prove himself as a burglar, the Dwarves loyally coming to save him, and Thorin standing out as the most sensible of all of them by being cautious. I like this point - if you read it superficially it doesn't seem that way - but caution is the correct word. And as Expedition Leader its really the right choice. Then there was Bilbo showing his loyalty by going Took (LOL!!!!!!More Circus Acts? The Lunging Tooks?) and grabbing a troll's leg (unfortunately a failure), then the Baggins in him cowering where he fell while his friends were going to be eaten. All of that milked from one failed attempt at snatching a purse! Yet odd as it is, since I have no sympathy for the trolls, it does seem like Bilbo was stealing from them, and unlike Smaug's treasure, Bilbo and the Dwarves had no claim on what the trolls had, even though they were thieves too. So the Baggins is guilty in this case. Yes, as Doug points out in Law and Arda the purpose here was not high-minded, to return stolen property or to right a wrong! Bit of Hobbit bravado (Hobbado?)

4. Based on the revised version of Riddles, where do you stand here, in the moral, legal and/or psychological implications of Bilbo keeping the Ring? Theft, necessity or the hand of Fate?

Well, the Valar ("Authorities") ruled that Gollum was bound by his promise in the riddle game, and it only came dimly to Bilbo that the Ring belonged to Gollum, in fact, only when Gollum was prepared to murder him. So if you accidentally find something that could be anyone's, and later realize who the owner is only when the owner is going to eat you, I think there is legal justification for running away and using that object to save your life. But if you want to stick to the law, Bilbo should have thrown the Ring back to Gollum once he was clear of him, or even once he was outside. He knew he had stolen property, and he hadn't been hired to steal from Gollum. There is a legal paradox at work in The Hobbit. Bilbo wants to become a burglar in a noble way by stealing from a criminal dragon, but burglary is not noble, and practicing it along the way, such as stealing from Gollum, doesn't improve Bilbo's character. So it's significant when he begins to repudiate the burglar role by giving up the (stolen) Arkenstone, not to its owner, of course, but with the hope that it would go back to its owner by averting a war. Paradox indeed! Good word here. His whole 'thief' arc is a bit of a paradox isn't?
And though the pity of Bilbo ruled the fate of many, it's no excuse for stealing the Ring. It's a big question...as you say, once Bilbo was aware that the item belonged to Gollum and perhaps the moral thing to do was return it when he was free of danger. Of course, that would have proved disastrous overall very likely...so the temptation of the Ring (clearly why Bilbo doesn't do the right thing) ultimately leads to its destruction. Another unintended good achieved by evil? Interesting that the right thing to do and what saves the world in this instance are two different things...

I have no ambivalence about this one: Smaug stole from the Dwarves, and they were entitled to get their property back. Bilbo thought that taking the cup made him a burglar, and I suppose it did since he was taking something from its possessor, but it feels pretty neutral, and was just a little thrill to him. Taking the Arkenstone was different. He knew it legally belonged to Thorin, he knew how much Thorin wanted it, and most tellingly, he felt guilty about keeping it. So Bilbo stole from his employer, which made him a bad burglar. Bad Burglar Bilbo.. has a nice ring to it! I have a lot of conflict about that whole Arkenstone business. not sure if I understand my entire thoughts, but I know that it feels 'wrong'.

6. The Will.
I personally don't read much into this except that hobbits were ridiculous sticklers for detail (another example was their obsession over family trees). The part about red ink stands out to me as something that isn't as common as blue or black ink, and somehow it invokes a greater sense of absurd ceremony to have the witnesses employ it, along with seven witnesses being overkill. But when hobbits go to extremes, they're just absurd, and no one gets hurt. (*Points at Denethor.*)
Nice...point! Wink

7.
Clemency: each event has a significant story consequence - except for the case of Grima and Theoden. With the idea that in JRRT's world legal fictions create meaning, why might choosing this legally unprecedented act of mercy for Grima, especially after his numerous dark deeds, be so morally (or psychologically) important for Theoden?
Tolkien likes his characters to keep the high ground and show clemency (*cough* except Thingol), and specifically for Theoden, it seems to me that his story unfolds in a way that shows him clearing away all petty concerns so that he can die in peace. He's aware of that himself and hints at it a few times. The Theoden/Grima mercy parallels the higher level Gandalf/Saruman mercy, and each of the bad guys comes close to repenting, then stick to their evil ways. It seems to me that there may be written laws in Rohan that Theoden could follow, but both he and Gandalf are following Valar or Iluvatar laws (ditto Frodo/Gollum) in showing mercy, so the higher set of laws trumps the lower. I would also say that all this mercy does have generally good consequences. Frodo would not permit Saruman to be killed, so Grima did it, eliminating a spirit of malice from the world who could clearly still do harm. The pity of Theoden ruled the fate of the hobbits and whoever else Saruman would have tormented. Wow, I never connected those dots! So the moral needs of Théoden, as you say, pay off in other ways...to Esquire Merry's people. Nice.

8. Marriage: So what do you think JRRT is saying about marriage in a morality vs. law context, by using a lack of formal legal structure in his literary depiction of a highly legalized real-world state; perhaps in both an idealized and real-world sense?
I'm a little puzzled that someone who believes that marriage is forever with no possibility for divorce doesn't believe in having a great big, formal ceremony to cement a marriage. But I think that Tolkien, who so often stressed that what was natural was best, was showing that mating for life (which plenty of intelligent animals do) was natural and didn't need a ceremony. It was willed by Eru, and that was that.
I think that's what he may be saying here, that the sacredness of the bond itself trumps earthly law, which is why there is no ceremony - and no easy severing.

This was a lot of fun, Breth, and you clearly toiled over it more than a Dwarf over a labor of love. Thanks so much for creating this discussion! Thanks for your thoughts! And of course to Doug for sharing his work!


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:01am


Views: 512
Nice succinct comparison, Telain

And I love Law and Arda!!

TH is a children's book, so (to me) the legality is there in some ways as a conduit and as comedy. LoTR is an epic, so the legality is a juxtaposition of RW and Higher Morality/Higher Ground issues. The SIl is a collection of archival notes, papers, legends, stories, etc., so the legality there is very tenuous and very much in favour of how the Higher Powers (Valar) understand what is morally good (or bad). Almost "the making of morality".
I agree that the legality in The Hobbit is intended for levity, whereas the other books are more serious in tone and have a more serious examination of legality and right/wrong. It almost seems in The Sil that everyone (except Melkor) is still learning the finer points between right and wrong as they go along, which is not too surprising in a world that's just been born and among races just born.

I get that sense in LOTR, when Gandalf says things like "The Elves may fear the Dark Lord, and they may fly before him, but never again will they listen to him or serve him." It's as if they've grown up as a race from the First and Second Ages and have matured in their understanding in the Third Age. Likewise, it took the Valar literally ages to figure out Melkor, the extent of his evil, and how to deal with it. Whether intended or not, maybe Tolkien's message is that figuring out morality and the legal system spawned by it takes a lot of time and plenty of trial and error. I consider that a real-world experience as well.

Well, I'm off to steal stuff to sell on craiglist. Oops, did I put that in writing? I will blame the glamorization of burglary in The Hobbit at my trial. Wouldn't it be cool to screen the entire 3 movies as defense at my trial? And if my jury was packed with women, and they swooned over the Dwarves, well, I ain't gonna worry about no guilty verdict.


Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 7:12am


Views: 529
Ask the U. S. Supreme Court...

...which has held that corporations are "persons" entitled to many protections and guarantees in US law.. Wikipedia has an interesting discussion on this issue here.








noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 8:40am


Views: 542
letter 183 considered and rebutted, "just wars" etc.

I re-read it yesterday and concluded that Tolkien was being more logical than reasonable as he works up to the idea of Aragorn's orc mercenary force. Logical because he is advancing linearly down a chain of reasoning. Not reasonable in that he's following just that single line, not seeing it as part of a wider picture.

His argument goes that, if one side is Right and one side is Wrong, then that principle should hold consistently. The Right side might do wrong actions (and conversely the Wrong side might do right actions) but the actions can be right or wrong independently of the rightness or wrongness of the cause.

That kind of sentence makes my head spin, and I feel I need an example. I'll take CuriousG's one of the Souring of the Shire (thanks CG!)

For sake of the argument that follows, please accept that Frodo and Co. are Right in their cause to liberate the Shire from the ruffians who have taken it over, and to restore the customary liberties and freedoms of the shire folk. Correspondingly, the ruffians and their leaders (Lotho, ultimately Saruman) were Wrong to take over the Shire and subvert it.

As the story pans out, Frodo makes every effort to achieve this morally (e.g. minimizing the number of deaths, refusing to succumb to revenge). But let's do a series of thought experiments in which things instead get nastier and nastier:
  1. The ruffians (actually, anyone over hobbit height found in the Shire that day, too few questions asked sadly) are all hacked to pieces
  2. As (1) but additionally there are acts of revenge on hobbits who are taken to have collaborated
  3. As (2) with additional carpetbagging, opportunistic score-settling, looting, etc
  4. Frodo et al. hire an army of their own ruffians (it would seem there were plenty for hire around Bree), and invade with all-out war, followed by (3)
  5. Frodo uses a weapon he found in Mordor (or Pippin uses one he found at Orthanc) . The entire Shire is reduced to a smoking, radioactive and uninhabitable crater.

Real history offers plenty of parallels for 1-4!
In the early examples, I'd probably agree with letter 183 - in (1) we can continue to think its Right to liberate the Shire from the ruffians who have taken it over, and to restore the customary liberties and freedoms of the shire folk, without it being inconsistent to think that summary extra-judicial killings are wrong. That is, it doesn't follow that the ruffians were Right to take over the Shire and Frodo et al. have now become Wrong to want it back.

As we mount through 2-5, more and more of the spirit of Frodo's cause gets lost. If Frodo went for 5, he might find Wormtongue or Saruman a useful servant to argue that he had indeed "liberated the Shire from the ruffians who have taken it over, and restored the customary liberties and freedoms of the shire folk". Destroying something to "save" it is the kind of thing that Gimli rebuts when he says to Saruman "the words of wizards stand on their heads..." Similarly (4) is politically foolish - plenty of examples from history show that mercenaries are easier to hire than to get rid of: Lotho as nominal leader but actually as prisoner would most likely be replaced by Frodo in much the same position.

Tolkien's Orc armies of the West idea from #183 is too extreme an example to back his position - perhaps meaning to give an extreme example to show how independent rightness of cause is from rightness of action, he instead deflates his own argument with what looks like a reducto ab adsurdum attack. It gets even more chilling when he argues that the West (in his tale) is on the side of God, and that anything in God's cause is justified. That way lies the argument of the suicide bomber, among others. Fortunately, as several of us have commented, it seems at odds with much else that he wrote.

What Tolkien is missing in letter 183 is the principle of proportionality. This idea, which Frodo exemplifies so well in Tolkien's story, is that one should do the minimum of the nasty stuff. Not only is the nasty stuff wrong in itself (independent of whether the cause it is done for is Right or Wrong) but, we see elsewhere in Tolkien's writings, the nasty stuff and the quick if short-term results it seems to offer, are frightfully addictive. That's what goes wrong with Saruman, as has already been commented. To offer a counter-letter, 131 (Also appears in some editions of the Sil):



Quote
"...frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root: the desire to benefit the world and others - speedily and according to the benefactor's own plans - is a recurrent motive."



Or, if you like, NK Jemisin's The Killing Moon (which is a very good fantasy story, BTW):


Quote

"[His teachers had told him that] Those who consort with the corrupt eventually become corrupt themselves....One's sense of what was normal, acceptable, became distorted by proximity to wrongness; entire nations had succumbed this way...

NK Jemisin




Bringing this back towards points of ethics and law, proportionality is one of the principles in the theory of a "Just War". A handy BBC page on the topic tells me that a just war has 6 principles:


Quote
  • The war must be for a just cause.
  • The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority.
  • The intention behind the war must be good.
  • All other ways of resolving the problem should have been tried first.
  • There must be a reasonable chance of success.
  • The means used must be in proportion to the end that the war seeks to achieve.

...

A war that starts as a Just War may stop being a Just War if the means used to wage it are inappropriate.
  • Innocent people and non-combatants should not be harmed.
  • Only appropriate force should be used.
    • This applies to both the sort of force, and how much force is used.
  • Internationally agreed conventions regulating war must be obeyed.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/.../war/just/what.shtml


A longer (very good) article on Just War from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out that it tends to be a theory used in wars between societies seeing themselves as more or less equal. It's less likely to be used if, on the basis of religious, political, racial or other differences the other side can be seen as not being persons (and so anything may be done to them). The article also points out various objections to the theory and alternative points of view.

Topical stuff once more since 9/11, sadly.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 8:46am


Views: 505
"It comes in pints" T-shirt

Sounds all too likely as a wheeze of the Hobbiton Brewery Marketing department. I'm imagining Rosie with such a T-shirt on her...er.. very feminine figure. Any double-meaning is of course in the eye of the beholder.Wink

Ow, why did Sam slap my head just then?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 10:02am


Views: 596
the only good orc is a dead orc?

I see the orcs as something of a moral problem. On the one hand, Tolkien seems to want them as the evil killing machines that therefore it's OK for his heroes to kill in battle. (I'm thinking back here to a conversation some of us had as part of the Sil Chapter 2 discussion, when it unexpectedly took a turn into whether there were any lady-orcs etc.). On the other hand when we hear orc-conversation in LOTR, it's all too human-sounding.

I think it's probably true that real personhood requires moral sense as well as intelligence. We restrict the rights and freedoms of children (below certain ages that cannot commit theft, or cannot vote or marry) because the law regards people under a certain age as lacking the moral sense for these actions to have their adult significance. Similarly, what do we do with someone who has committed atrocious murders, sees nothing wrong with what they did and expresses the hope that they will soon have an opportunity to do more of the same? It's not important how articulately or intelligently they express their view - their messed-up moral sense is what justifies action to protect the rest of society from them. Some times and places exact a death penalty, most societies see the need to protect others from this murder to outweigh his or her right to freedom, if not to continued life. So, whether they are held in a building labeled "Prison" or one labeled "Hospital", they are likely to be confined securely and permanently, unless there seems good reason to think they've ceased to be murderous.

I'm mentioning that because I can't quite decide whether the orcs are irredeemably a race of raving psychopathic murderers, or whether it is their culture rather then their very nature which the Enemy has perverted. If the latter, orcs are capable of learning to behave better, and so would potentially be redeemable.

Real-life comparisons are depressing - in many times in history one group has been all too willing expediently to label another as incapable of any moral sense and so sub-human and so exempt from the need for moral treatment or protection by law. For example -"The only good Indian is a dead Indian." (Philip Sheridan, attrib)

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 11:15am


Views: 501
Law in Rohan and Gondor - Lets either Court-Marshal Eowyn, or award her the order of Maria Theresa!!

I'd certainly like to add my thanks to Douglas Kane for sharing his paper and so allowing this discussion of his work. Among many things I enjoyed in the Law and Arda paper is the section pp10-11 comparing and contrasting Theoden's treatment of Hama and Grima, with Aragorn's treatment of Beregond.

To recap -
Hama uses his own judgment to allowing Gandalf to keep his staff when visiting the bewitched (or poisoned?) King Theoden. This is a technical breach of his orders, though use of his staff helps Gandalf to heal Theoden (or whatever it is he does). Furthermore, Hama is sent to release Eomer, and is perhaps over-zealous in returning Eomer his sword. Certainly, Theoden is surprised to see Eomer released and armed, offering up a sword when reachers for his sword and realises its missing.. Theoden checks that his royal authority is not being flouted, but does not see any need to discipline someone who broke his orders for a good reason. Loyalty and good intention seem more important than obedience to formal orders. Theoden is even, as the article points out, willing to grant Grima Wormtongue a chance to redeem himself by riding to battle with his king. Hama dies at Helms Deep, and his body is mutilated by Saruman's forces - and it's clear from Theoden's talk at the parley of Orthanc that this insult to a brave and loyal Thane is not something he's going to overlook.

Beregond leaves his post during the siege of Minas Tirith in order to try and save Faramir from being burned to death by the insane Denethor. "He ended up committing a number of crimes in his haste to save Faramir" as Douglas Kane puts it. Aragorn's judgment of Beregond later is a careful balance between the letter of the law (which requires Beregond to be banished for his acts) and the spirit of the law and a sense of justice and mercy (Beregond's "banishment" is to be a promotion to Captain Faramir and Eowyn's guard in Ithilien - a reward which also happens to meet the needs of the law).

In addition to the common thread of mercy, which Douglas Kane picks out, I see a contrast between a more rule-driven Gondorian law versus a more what did-you-mean-by-it? Rohan law.

Meanwhile, no one considers court-marshaling Eowyn, though they all know she deserted her post (she was explicitly left in charge of Theoden's defences while he rode to war, but turns up disguised on the battlefield, having git there with the connivance of a number of brother officers). Moreover, Aragorn specifically reminded her at the time that neither he nor she can do as they wish when they have their duties to do. Are we not a cross at all? Perhaps, based on her good intentions, she did no wrong in the eyes of opinion in Rohan (I imagine it would be different if she had left her post in cowardice to run away) . Besides, of course, she's the hero of the battle, and that probably means that if "why weren't you at your post" comes up, everyone just changes the subj...

..to the order of Maria Theresa:

Quote
It was specifically given for "successful military acts of essential impact to a campaign that were undertaken on [the officer's] own initiative, and might have been omitted by an honorable officer without reproach." This gave rise to a popular myth that it was awarded for (successfully) acting against an explicit order. It is considered to be the highest honor for a soldier in the Austrian armed services.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Order_of_Maria_Theresa


I read about this in an entertaining article by consultant Gerald Weinberg, who uses the order of Maria Theresa as a starting point for some interesting thoughts about beneficial rule breaking. He concludes


Quote
When Jefferson was drafting the United States Constitution, he naturally wrote an article concerning amendments. But when asked to write something granting the people the right to throw out the Constitution entirely and start afresh, Jefferson refused. He argued—correctly, I think—that the people had such a right whether or not it was written in the Constitution. It was a right superseding any government and any written rules of government. It was, in effect, a tautology, for without the consent of the governed, there is no government. A shadow, perhaps, but no government.

The same is true in any modern bureaucracy.Rules are not made to be broken, but neither are they made to be not broken. Rules are made so that the organization operates more effectively. The rule above all other rules is "Do what is necessary to operate effectively." You ultimately get punished for not operating effectively, but not for breaking the rules.

http://secretsofconsulting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/order-of-maria-theresa.html


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 12:19pm


Views: 505
Brian Eno, Chekhov and Rambo go to the movies

I guess that part of what we're debating is, in fact, this:

Quote
It's interesting to note that neither the proposed world nor the value system [we see when watching a movie] needs to be 'realistic' for us to be interested, just as a chess game doesn't have to represent a realistic military conflict. We are interested in our own grasp of those processes. We want to know the rules, and we want to rehearse our ability to extrapolate from them.

When Chekhov wrote his stories, what was revolutionary about them was his reluctance to imply a moral judgement of his characters. He portrayed a world not of free will -where people are 'good' or 'bad' because they want to be - but a world where people are more or less the results of their environment: where their choices are limited, a repertoire of possibilities derived from the grammar of their upbringing and circumstances. In this world, we try to cope with people by being sympathetic to their plight. If they hurt us, we do not call them 'evil' but instead we see them as victims too. In fact we do not believe in 'evil' as an intrinsic quality that they might have.

The Rambo series represents a different kind of story. In these films the world is clearly divided into 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. There is a life-or-death struggle, where there is no time for fine judgements or discussions of how things got that way. Just as the existence of evil is a given thing so is the duty to fight it. In a Rambo film, people 'are what they are'. They are not emergent, changing, complex or fluctuating. There is no point in trying to delve into their motives, since these are obvious: they are us and therefore good, or they are possessed of the devil and want to eradicate us. It is fashionable to regard these films as stupid, but don't they in fact depict some kind of real crisis? There could, surely, be times when we are required to act with such blunt distinctions, times when it is 'them' or 'us'. And how would we do that? Maybe Rambo knows how, where Chekhov wouldn't.

Brian Eno - A Year with Swollen Appendices

What do you think? I seem to be taking a Chekhovian line in this discussion, but "don't push me" Smile

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:01pm


Views: 523
Orcs as 'persons' - excellent points on a debatable topic


In Reply To
I see the orcs as something of a moral problem. On the one hand, Tolkien seems to want them as the evil killing machines that therefore it's OK for his heroes to kill in battle. (I'm thinking back here to a conversation some of us had as part of the Sil Chapter 2 discussion, when it unexpectedly took a turn into whether there were any lady-orcs etc.). On the other hand when we hear orc-conversation in LOTR, it's all too human-sounding. Very true. Which is why I thought Telain had a great point about the ceaseless 'self-defense' position...because as you say below....
I think it's probably true that real personhood requires moral sense as well as intelligence. And JRRT's Orcs seem to have some sort of moral code - just not one we can live with! Certainly they have intelligence, even the planning type. There's that passage where Shagrat (I think) is talking about wanting to just find a little backwater to hide in, away from the Eye and the fuss...it's not the quiet life we would enjoy certainly, but that he gave them a desire to live a quieter life and long for something different really 'humanizes' them .... and when Fingolfin finally falls - the Orcs don't boast about that fight. It's touching somehow. So he did not make them 'inhuman'. They are close enough to us to make it debatable. We restrict the rights and freedoms of children (below certain ages that cannot commit theft, or cannot vote or marry) because the law regards people under a certain age as lacking the moral sense for these actions to have their adult significance. Similarly, what do we do with someone who has committed atrocious murders, sees nothing wrong with what they did and expresses the hope that they will soon have an opportunity to do more of the same? It's not important how articulately or intelligently they express their view - their messed-up moral sense is what justifies action to protect the rest of society from them. Some times and places exact a death penalty, most societies see the need to protect others from this murder to outweigh his or her right to freedom, if not to continued life. So, whether they are held in a building labeled "Prison" or one labeled "Hospital", they are likely to be confined securely and permanently, unless there seems good reason to think they've ceased to be murderous. There's the rub: the question of redeemability. Would Orcs ever cease being murderous, to be safely part of or to be safe near Elf or Human or Dwarf societies? And from a Law sense, how do you apply rights to the Orcs while protecting the populace that originates the local Law?
I'm mentioning that because I can't quite decide whether the orcs are irredeemably a race of raving psychopathic murderers, or whether it is their culture rather then their very nature which the Enemy has perverted. If the latter, orcs are capable of learning to behave better, and so would potentially be redeemable. Real-life comparisons are depressing - in many times in history one group has been all too willing expediently to label another as incapable of any moral sense and so sub-human and so exempt from the need for moral treatment or protection by law. For example -"The only good Indian is a dead Indian." (Philip Sheridan, attrib) It is an open question for me still Furuncurunir. We did discuss it a while ago, and while I think its clear Orcs were created from Elves, the question remains as to their ability to be anything but what they currently were in JRRT's world. As Telain pointed out last night, making an excellent point when tired, perhaps part of what draws us into the conflict of ME is that its mandates are so clear! There are good and bad lines drawn along (quite visible) species lines and the worries we have (the serial killer looking "just like the rest of us") about how to judge our fellows is clarified in that equation.


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:29pm


Views: 484
Law as an opression...continuum?


In Reply To
And therefore the inverse: is NOT destroying such a threat 'wrong'?
I think Tolkien would agree with the statement that "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." The whole mission of the Istari is to motivate good people to do something about Sauron, which implies the Valar don't trust the people of MEarth to do the right thing to get rid of evil on their own. While the Valar don't wipe out Sauron himself for fear that the tumult would be ruinous to MEarth, I think the moral foundation of Arda is that everyone must oppose evil and not expect the Higher Powers to do all the work. That principle is embodied by the hobbits, who are weaker than any race, but of course carry within them the seed of courage and strength to heroically combat evil. This brings to my mind the question of the Company and the Trolls. (Granted, before I get started, I know I am back-dating deep philosophy onto TH where initially I know it wasn't primarily woven in; although the mores of JRRT of course are.) If one encounter a trio of Trolls, for example, near a Hobbit or Human settlement, and one knows of their taste for sentient meals, is there an unlawfulness in allowing them to persist? Especially if by doing so people (grouping the races) one knows perhaps will be devoured? So although Bilbo trying to nick the Purse gets the ball rolling, I wonder if as a writer JRRT simply could not have the Company move on and leave those highly dangerous Trolls alive.

And hobbits are moral people, aren't they? Their only need for police is for their boundaries. What does that say about hobbits? Do they have laws? They must, if they have lawyers and legal requirements for inheritance, but do people ever break them? If you don't have police, my guess is no. Frodo notes indignantly that Gollum couldn't be a hobbit because he'd meant to cheat Bilbo in the riddle game, and hobbits don't cheat. They also NEVER kill other hobbits. The worst that happens are acts of mischief, such as children stealing fruit from orchards, which is hardly a society-shattering crime. (Think of the source of Sam's attitude when confronting Faramir in Ithilien.)
Hobbits seem highly moral, with a community (?) sense of morality? The Police in Hobbit lands seem more around to keep the fabric of life orderly and neat...

What does it say about the Shire living in a state of blissful near-anarchy, versus Gondor and Rohan which clearly do have laws and kings/stewards to enforce them with the death penalty? Lorien seems to have laws too, at least about outsiders. The Ents, however, don't seem to have any laws. Their reaction to Saruman is more about emotions, revenge, and self-preservation than a legal consideration of "he trespassed and violated our property." Or maybe the Entmoot did decide the latter legal point; I'm not sure. And of course Sauron has laws, which is odd for someone so immoral, but not odd for a tyrant--they love using laws for oppression. Do other races oppress with their laws?
This is a fantastic question. Gondor does seem more 'book law' certainly than other cultures...do we see an evolution of Law corresponding with the closeness of the more elemental (ie spirit) parts of the ME legendarium? The Elves and Ents, close to spirit realms and older, have hardly any formality and its rather 'elemental' law. Dwarves (very far from Spirit planes) are highly legalistic and contractual sort of folk. As Numenor evolves Men seem to get more 'bookish' about Law. And then the Hobbits, rather earthy folk, sort of have Law just to keep everything tidy in the garden.... I like your point about Sauron's lawfulness - same analogy maybe? That he has drifted so far from the native rights and elements of Arda (in so many ways) that his take on Law reflects his insatiable need for Control? And thus becomes oppression. I honestly don't know if other races oppress with law...though I have to say as an individual ruler Denethor seems to be moving that way perhaps?


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:42pm


Views: 488
I find the exceptions interesting


In Reply To
...which has held that corporations are "persons" entitled to many protections and guarantees in US law.. Wikipedia has an interesting discussion on this issue




Like the exclusion of the Fifth Amendment, having that apply only to distinct individuals and not to a legal 'person' in the corporate sense. (So our favorite dummy corporation, Noruas, loses its protection against self-incrimination...!) Thanks for the link Elizabeth!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:51pm


Views: 478
Youv'e gone and got Sam all muttery now...


In Reply To
Sounds all too likely as a wheeze of the Hobbiton Brewery Marketing department. I'm imagining Rosie with such a T-shirt on her...er.. very feminine figure. Any double meaning is of course in the eye of the beholder.Wink

Ow, why did Sam slap my head just then?




I like your points above about just wars...very often the sticking point seems to be dehumanizing the enemy. Sadly I think in actual cases of combat I think its the only way violence on a mass scale CAN be waged (maybe 'sadly' is the wrong assessment...maybe its better that it isn't easy or right-feeling!)

(And I suggest you DON'T look at Rosie in that t-shirt at all, or Sam will have a fit. He does carry gardening tools you know.)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


elaen32
Gondor


May 29 2013, 10:25pm


Views: 459
Late to the party and lots to catch up on!

Firstly, thanks to Doug/Voronwe for a really interesting article and for letting us discuss it here. And secondly, thank you Brethil for organising all of this

In Reply To

1) Gandalf certainly wields influence here, but I don't believe that it is "undue". I think that Gandalf basically tapped into a deeper part of Bilbo's nature and brought this to the fore. I believe Bilbo made the decision of his free will and initially (ie before joining the Company and then before getting too far from the Shire) he had "plenty of chances to turn back, only he didn't"
2) Like other opinions here, mine is that Smaug is acting as both devil's advocate and devil here. The contract merely states that Bilbo will take delivery of 1/14th of the treasure. This is not the same as it being delivered to the door of BagEnd. How he uses his share is up to him. He could go and blow it all in the casinos of Lake Town, er, except Smaug has burnt it down! As you state, Smaug is acting like a barrister in order to get his audience (in this case Bilbo) to see things in a specific way. I imagine that Tolkien based this aspect of Smaug on some RL lawyers he had met along the way!
3) I'm a little disturbed about the concept of person and non-person being discussed here, since this has been used to justify atrocities so many times throughout history, both ancient and modern (think the Nazi holocaust, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda, a little further back, the murder of indiginous people's both in America and by European imperialists in their respective territories) So this is quite a dangerous concept. However, there is also the counter argument of when is it right to do something "a bit wrong" in order to avoid a much greater wrong? In the Trollshaws, Bilbo is trying out his skills (or lack of them) ? to prepare him for bigger things in the future? And the trolls are fair game because they are evil, stupid and have stolen what they have anyway? In taking the Ring from Gollum, I see this as a non-theft, at least in intent, by Bilbo, although as was posted before, he could have thrown the ring back at Gollum after escaping, although I doubt Gollum would have left it at that. However, this is the Ring we are talking about here- a "non person" certainly, but something which seems to have a certain sentience of its own. The ring would probably not have seen the light of day and got back to Sauron if left with Gollum in his cave for aeons. But, the fact that Bilbo arrived, unexpectedly, a being not of the caverns under the mountains and likely, therefore, to remove the ring from its isolation, changed this. So, is the ring here acting on Bilbo's free will as well? re Bilbo taking the cup- a) he didn't enter Erebor illegally and b) he was taking the cup back to its rightful owner. But the Arkenstone was another matter, in that he intended keeping it from its rightful owner (Thorin). The fact that he then tried to remedy this by handing it over to Bard was well intentioned but possibly misguided from the point of view of atoning for his crime of theft 4) I like Telain's (was it?) comment about the significance of the red ink! The hobbits seem to have very set ideas about the proper way of doing things, with fairly strict societal rules of social etiquette (eg with regards to table manners, greeting and parting, speeches at parties, referring to hobbits such as a "gross of hobbits" being offensive) It therefore is in keeping with this, that so many signatures are required. I suppose that Bilbo's was a slightly irregular situation, being a wealthy bachelor, with no clear heir (no blood nephew etc)- Frodo was a distant cousin, as were the SBs. he also had loads of Took relatives who could have staked a claim, so it was important for things to be as clear and unambiguous as possible, so as to protect Frodo's position. However, I think the fussiness of this probably is quite in keeping with British Victorian era society Well, that's it for tonight- will have a think about the rest of the paper...




"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 10:39pm


Views: 463
you are too kind!

I do think that while sometimes we like subtleties and nuance, we also like certainty -- especially in life or death situations and with potentially troublesome concepts like "good and evil" floating about. We want to know who is bad and whether that is a permanent condition and how extreme (are we talking just "nick a talking purse" bad or full on "will destroy all light and life and everything associated with it" evil), because at the end of the day we want to be able to relax by the fire with a glass of (insert favourite beverage) and a clear conscience.

Being able to identify those true baddies means that we can be assured that when we do what we have to do with them, we are guilt-free.

And I agree with you about Middle-earth; it would be nice to know that doing "this" or not doing "that" are clearly good things that seem to contribute to the overall goodness of the world and Middle-earth does allow for that wonderful idealistic romanticism.


telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 10:53pm


Views: 461
Telain, acting sub-counsel for the defence of Bilbo Baggins, Esq.

To sum, I took this idea:

Quote
I think Gandalf used trickery at most but not mind control on Bilbo, and Bilbo was never under any duress, so I think Bilbo was responsible for his decisions.


and...


Quote
And though the pity of Bilbo ruled the fate of many, it's no excuse for stealing the Ring.


But, did the Ring use trickery? I think it did and Bilbo is absolved of the crime. The Ring was tired of watching Gollum hunt and eat nasty orcses and raw and wriggling fishes and needed someone who would take him places. Besides, the Ring really wasn't Gollum's and Gollum did murder Deagol to obtain it in the first place. Those facts -- the Ring's trickery and Gollum's previous crime -- added to the self-defence argument and I think Bilbo is in the clear.

Of course some of those facts did not really come out until later, but I think they may still be admissible during the appeals.



telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 11:53pm


Views: 463
a thought about proportion... and orcs...prop-orcs-tion?

Interesting post! I am curious about discussions regarding justifications for war and the means used in such conflict. I would have to read the aforementioned letter, but your post inspired a few musings...

I would think that not only should the action be in proportion to what the ends that the war seeks to achieve, but also in proportion to what the enemy can dole out. Not that it may be necessary, but there must come a time when the destructive capacity of the enemy combatants dictate what means are possible.

I the case for the war against Sauron, it actually doesn't take much (a couple of Hobbits on a mission!) but one could see that if evil should prevail, the consequences would be so dire as to justify some fairly extreme measures.

The orc question perplexes me not because I don't see Frodo or Aragorn enlisting them (which, actually I don't see them doing, but whatever...) but I don't see the orcs joining their side. What would be the draw? All I see is Hobbit lunch and Edain dinner. And ruffians? Orcs seem more likely to be attracted to their destructiveness first and then eat them later. They are enslaved to Sauron and/or Saruman -- and though we have discussed orcs at length in other threads, I'm not sure we've ever declared that any of them are redeemable. As discussed in this thread elsewhere, bad is bad; good can be corrupted and returned to some state of grace, but I don't think bad things can be coerced or enlisted to fight on the side of good.

This does not mean that bad things don't accidentally do good things in Middle-earth. For all Morgoth's evil, Arda (according to Eru, anyway) will be better for it.

I think movie Gimli would take issue with one of the points in the BBC article, namely "There must be a reasonable chance of success." Wink


telain
Rohan

May 30 2013, 12:00am


Views: 456
Well, Hobbiton is a "small" town!

Oh, I do apologise. To everyone. Apparently working in the garden results in horrible puns and other wordplay.

But that does characterize small towns, doesn't it? Knowing everyone's business (not puns). My parents live in a rather miniscule hamlet and my does the gossip fly!

The ridiculous (to us) number of signatures also speaks to me of officiousness and bureaucracy, which also I think Tolkien meant for us to equate in some ways with Hobbit society (perhaps because it also typified aspects of British society as well.)


telain
Rohan

May 30 2013, 12:11am


Views: 452
Funny thing is...

I didn't catch the connection to Douglas' article title right away. I showed it to my husband and he immediately started humming (actually da-da-dumming) the Law and Order theme song. Ah, 'tis a strange and wondrous household...


Quote
Whether intended or not, maybe Tolkien's message is that figuring out morality and the legal system spawned by it takes a lot of time and plenty of trial and error.


"Trial" and error! Nice.

But I think that is an important thing to consider and to remember when we turn our discussions back to the Sil chapters. It is easy for us to say "Can't they see Melkor is evil?" Well, no, they can't. We can, because in the blending of RW and ME we have had many Ages to figure these things out (and we are still figuring out their subtleties...)

But, wait! Does this mean I have to start giving Thingol a break? (I hope not... Too much fun to be had there...)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:19am


Views: 450
Greetings Elaen!


In Reply To
Firstly, thanks to Doug/Voronwe for a really interesting article and for letting us discuss it here. Many thanks!And secondly, thank you Brethil for organising all of this (You are very welcome! Its been a pleasure!)

In Reply To

1) Gandalf certainly wields influence here, but I don't believe that it is "undue". I think that Gandalf basically tapped into a deeper part of Bilbo's nature and brought this to the fore. I believe Bilbo made the decision of his free will and initially (ie before joining the Company and then before getting too far from the Shire) he had "plenty of chances to turn back, only he didn't" Ah yes that bold streak...'Took' over... (ouch. Terrible.)
2) Like other opinions here, mine is that Smaug is acting as both devil's advocate and devil here. The contract merely states that Bilbo will take delivery of 1/14th of the treasure. This is not the same as it being delivered to the door of BagEnd. How he uses his share is up to him. He could go and blow it all in the casinos of Lake Town, er, except Smaug has burnt it down! As you state, Smaug is acting like a barrister in order to get his audience (in this case Bilbo) to see things in a specific way. I imagine that Tolkien based this aspect of Smaug on some RL lawyers he had met along the way! Interesting and amusing idea, of JRRT describing some lawyers met along the way...I get that sort of vibe from Smaug, which is why I called him barrister, and I like that he is intelligent enough to play on that bit of doubt in Bilbo's mind...can the Dwarves be trusted? Am I really part of the Company?

In taking the Ring from Gollum, I see this as a non-theft, at least in intent, by Bilbo, although as was posted before, he could have thrown the ring back at Gollum after escaping, although I doubt Gollum would have left it at that. However, this is the Ring we are talking about here- a "non person" certainly, but something which seems to have a certain sentience of its own. The ring would probably not have seen the light of day and got back to Sauron if left with Gollum in his cave for aeons. But, the fact that Bilbo arrived, unexpectedly, a being not of the caverns under the mountains and likely, therefore, to remove the ring from its isolation, changed this. So, is the ring here acting on Bilbo's free will as well? I absolutely *love* this point, and had not considered it before. The Ring is perhaps not a person, but it has its own level of sentience, even though its silent. So perhaps the Undue Influence can be leveled here?! In an insidious way, and quite above the law, the Ring uses silent action on the spirit to dominate the will, a distinct advantage, as verbal and intellectual arguments can be countered but the Ring's way of working is so invisible it can't be countered. Or tried! Really fabulous point here Elaen!

re Bilbo taking the cup- a) he didn't enter Erebor illegally and b) he was taking the cup back to its rightful owner. But the Arkenstone was another matter, in that he intended keeping it from its rightful owner (Thorin). The fact that he then tried to remedy this by handing it over to Bard was well intentioned but possibly misguided from the point of view of atoning for his crime of theft I agree with the idea of the cup as Recovery I think...and that Arkenstone bit is dicey, isn't it? That Bilbo's conscience is stronger than the pull of the Arkenstone says volumes about him I think. (I completely understand the squickiness of the nonhuman argument, noted your excellent comments, and as its tangential I think we can move off it - that's for another discussion perhaps! Or not....)

4) I like Telain's (was it?) comment about the significance of the red ink! The hobbits seem to have very set ideas about the proper way of doing things, with fairly strict societal rules of social etiquette (eg with regards to table manners, greeting and parting, speeches at parties, referring to hobbits such as a "gross of hobbits" being offensive) It therefore is in keeping with this, that so many signatures are required. I suppose that Bilbo's was a slightly irregular situation, being a wealthy bachelor, with no clear heir (no blood nephew etc)- Frodo was a distant cousin, as were the SBs. he also had loads of Took relatives who could have staked a claim, so it was important for things to be as clear and unambiguous as possible, so as to protect Frodo's position. However, I think the fussiness of this probably is quite in keeping with British Victorian era society Well, that's it for tonight- will have a think about the rest of the paper... I love the Drawing Room fussiness of the Hobbits - like Bilbo's special 'money lending' pose and voice...really even as a young bachelor, after returning from the Quest he was always going to be the Odd Uncle, no matter how Hobbity he behaved afterwards.



Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:25am


Views: 445
Would this be a pro-bono defense...?


In Reply To
To sum, I took this idea:

Quote
I think Gandalf used trickery at most but not mind control on Bilbo, and Bilbo was never under any duress, so I think Bilbo was responsible for his decisions.


Quote
And though the pity of Bilbo ruled the fate of many, it's no excuse for stealing the Ring.


But, did the Ring use trickery? I think it did and Bilbo is absolved of the crime. The Ring was tired of watching Gollum hunt and eat nasty orcses and raw and wriggling fishes and needed someone who would take him places. Besides, the Ring really wasn't Gollum's and Gollum did murder Deagol to obtain it in the first place. Those facts -- the Ring's trickery and Gollum's previous crime -- added to the self-defence argument and I think Bilbo is in the clear. Ahh, I must bring up Elaen's excellent point, about the Ring having sentience and (to Bilbo) inexplicable and imperceptible powers. So indeed - there may be an element of Undue Influence / Good Old Fashioned Trickery here. I think you two are on the same path, and maybe can co-author the Brief....

Of course some of those facts did not really come out until later, but I think they may still be admissible during the appeals. How true...we have the luck in getting the whole story don't we?


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:34am


Views: 442
Gondor vs Rohan law


In Reply To

In addition to the common thread of mercy, which Douglas Kane picks out, I see a contrast between a more rule-driven Gondorian law versus a more what did-you-mean-by-it? Rohan law. I like this point Furuncurunir...as you say, no one court-marshals Eowyn for her valor, although it was technically desertion of her assigned post. The law of Rohan more rustic, maybe, more driven by emotion, than Minas Tirith? The mercy extended to Beregond is definitely more of a 'kingly' decision and seems to be much more formal than the acceptance of Eowyn's actions. Nice point here that I hadn't seen...thanks!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 7:21am


Views: 483
Letter 183

...was discussed in detail as part of our discussion of all published Tolkien letters, in 2005-6. Specifically, in these threads:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The letter is in response to a review by W. H. Auden, and includes extensive quotes both from Auden's review and Tolkien's response. It's hard to fully appreciate what Tolkien is saying without a view of both sides of the conversation.








noWizardme
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 11:29am


Views: 587
Thanks for finding those earlier discussions, Elizabeth!

I see that we're worrying at (or about) the same issues - e.g.
is Tolkien really arguing that the end justifies the means?
And something similar to trying to decide whether orcs are "persons" (or could be persons if bought up right)

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 1:45pm


Views: 569
A discussion quite all its own...


In Reply To
I see that we're worrying at (or about) the same issues - e.g.
is Tolkien really arguing that the end justifies the means?
And something similar to trying to decide whether orcs are "persons" (or could be persons if bought up right)




An extremely complex issue! I am regretting (ooops!) including that idea and bringing # 183 in, as ultimately it takes us down quite another (long and winding...!) road from Law...and into quite another land altogether...!

(Hint, hint, (wink) Furuncurunir....'someone' clever leading us in another fascinating discussion perhaps....?) Wink

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:20pm


Views: 561
I think it's doing just fine as a subthread!

 I think discussions or law would have either to stick to the technical nature of the rules (which would be tough for non-practitioners to discuss). Or they are about the meaning and appropriateness of the rules, which lets hope anyone can discuss, since that's one of the roles a citizen takes in a democracy. The law ultimately reflects a society's culture and its peoples feelings of their duties and obligations to each other.

So issues like "who is a person" come in at the level of domestic law (can you steal from a dragon? Can it steal from you?). International Law is obviously a lot less mature than national-level law, but ideas such as Just War influence who might end up accused of War Crimes and on trial at the Hague. Or who might find a UN resolution bringing the blue helmets into their war.

Not sure I have much else to say on the issues, though - we can hardly raise a bunch of orcs and see if they can be taught moral sense...

International Law is even more lacking in Middle-earth, of course. Maybe things will go that way in the Fourth Age, with courts in Minas Tirith which might have been able to hear "Thorin Oakenshield Vs Smaug" But in the Third Age, there is no legal body to enforce their rights and as Thorin says, Thorin & Co. have to take their curses home to Smaug if they can.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:28pm


Views: 567
This is a splendid take on accountability


In Reply To
Not sure I have much else to say on the issues, though - we can hardly raise a bunch of orcs and see if they can be taught moral sense... yes that's bound to be messy. ('1001 Ways we Bit the Hand that Fed Us...': another one for your TV lineup!

International Law is even more lacking in Middle-earth, of course. Maybe things will go that way in the Fourth Age, with courts in Minas Tirith which might have been able to hear "Thorin Oakenshield Vs Smaug" But in the Third Age, there is no legal body to enforce their rights and as Thorin says, Thorin & Co. have to take their curses home to Smaug if they can.




You raise a great point here, about there being so little in the way of enforceability in ME, on a grand scale. I am sure Smaug would love to roast and chow down on process servers...and as you say Orcs at their best aren't going to sign any documents or abide by any rulings. So in a small sense, in the worlds of Men and Hobbits and Dwarves - intersociety - you have ways to enforce law. But on that grand elemental plain of ME really, as you say, its taking the curses home yourself or nothing.

Certainly may impact how we see any violations against Smaug, for example: if they are 'above the law' in the sense of having complete disdain and lack of accountability, rather an 'outlaw' in a sense? Does that change the legal sense of what the Company is trying to achieve? I think it does.

Love this idea.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 5:23pm


Views: 576
which leads us back into legal fictions...

Who says the law applies to me? I never signed anything to say it did. Born in Britain to British parents makes me British by default (and I'm not complaining). But I've never been called upon to affirm that I will obey the laws of my country - it must be an undertaking that my ancestors made on my behalf. But when and who exactly, and what did they agree? Legal fiction time.

Nonetheless, my obedience to British law can be expected - partly simply because the authorities can have their way by force if needed, but partly because of the link between law and Justice, ethics, good and evil, which are perhaps more likely to transcend jurisdictions and cultures


Quote
'Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves, and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.'


..and so Smaug who has not (as far as I know) visited the Shire and Bilbo can have a quasi-legal conversation. That is partly Tolkien getting humour by being incongruously applying law (or something quasi-legal) to a heroic epic story. But there's also a sense that any person ought to understand that they have certain obligations and certain rights. Its as if (as indeed the law uses as a legal fiction at times) sort of natural law from which all the written codes flow.

Not that this always works out, of course - we try to base law on morals, but find that there are cultural or individual differences. Something I find very interesting on this is


Quote
"Haidt, Graham and Joseph propose that the world’s diverse moralities are built on top of five psychological foundations, each primed to detect and react emotionally to transgressions or violations of different moral concerns:
  1. harm to, and care, of individuals;
  2. justice and fairness;
  3. in-group loyalty;
  4. respect for authority/tradition;
  5. and issues of purity and sanctity.
Although we’re all equipped with these psychological foundations, the ones that are actually built on varies across and within cultures. Using questionnaires, Haidt and Joseph have found that self-identified liberals in the US typically draw on the harm/care and justice/fairness in deciding moral issues. By contrast, religious and social conservatives generally take all five foundations to be relevant to their moral judgements. So when liberals and conservatives disagree, at stake is not just whose rights should be protected and how, but what counts as a legitimate moral concern in the first place. It is little wonder people so frequently talk past each other in the emotionally charged atmosphere of moral disputes."

The Emerging Moral Psychology by Dan Jones / Prospect Magazine April 27, 2008


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 5:49pm


Views: 589
Spectrum of thoughts and law formulation


In Reply To
Who says the law applies to me? I never signed anything to say it did. Born in Britain to British parents makes me British by default (and I'm not complaining). But I've never been called upon to affirm that I will obey the laws of my country - it must be an undertaking that my ancestors made on my behalf. But when and who exactly, and what did they agree? Legal fiction time.
Nonetheless, my obedience to British law can be expected - partly simply because the authorities can have their way by force if needed, but partly because of the link between law and Justice, ethics, good and evil, which are perhaps more likely to transcend jurisdictions and cultures

Quote
'Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves, and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.'
..and so Smaug who has not (as far as I know) visited the Shire and Bilbo can have a quasi-legal conversation. That is partly Tolkien getting humour by being incongruously applying law (or something quasi-legal) to a heroic epic story. But there's also a sense that any person ought to understand that they have certain obligations and certain rights. Its as if (as indeed the law uses as a legal fiction at times) sort of natural law from which all the written codes flow. Not that this always works out, of course - we try to base law on morals, but find that there are cultural or individual differences. Indeed, quasi-legal is a good term, as with Smaug's intelligence he can probably work out the 'meaning' of things, and how the people he interacts with regulate their society (he just doesn't care.) The common language for Bilbo and Smaug (sort of the Venn diagram center) is the fear of being cheated, and the concept of reward and its value (which we read Smaug understands very well.) So while I guess Smaug has no interest or skill in debating, say, the rights of individuals - other than himself - he has an intimate and facile knowledge of his own materialistic view of the world. And thus as you say, can discuss this easily and convincingly with Bilbo. Something I find very interesting on this is


Quote
"Haidt, Graham and Joseph propose that the world’s diverse moralities are built on top of five psychological foundations, each primed to detect and react emotionally to transgressions or violations of different moral concerns:
  1. harm to, and care, of individuals;
  2. justice and fairness;
  3. in-group loyalty;
  4. respect for authority/tradition;
  5. and issues of purity and sanctity.
Although we’re all equipped with these psychological foundations, the ones that are actually built on varies across and within cultures. Using questionnaires, Haidt and Joseph have found that self-identified liberals in the US typically draw on the harm/care and justice/fairness in deciding moral issues. By contrast, religious and social conservatives generally take all five foundations to be relevant to their moral judgements. So when liberals and conservatives disagree, at stake is not just whose rights should be protected and how, but what counts as a legitimate moral concern in the first place. It is little wonder people so frequently talk past each other in the emotionally charged atmosphere of moral disputes."

The Emerging Moral Psychology by Dan Jones / Prospect Magazine April 27, 2008 The points here remind me a bit of the great thread Macliel Telpemairo began, about how creativity is expressed, and we discussed the internalizing and externalizing thought patterns. It seems that the 5 points are a bit of a continuum, starting with the highly person, internalized care of individuals, and heading up the spectrum to the more externalized ideals of faith and authority. In-group loyalty, in the center, being almost the philosophical center as well as it balances right between intimate self (internalizing) and outer responsibilities (externalizing). So it would depend on a societies stand in majority on this continuum as to what issues decide their behaviors and responses (ie then crafted into law.) Seems like the ideal would be to incorporate all 5 somehow; not an easy task though, especially depending on how dramatically societies change and how different present life may be from traditions in that culture.



Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 8:32pm


Views: 540
five, two or zero?

I don't think its so much that Haidt's 5 moral foundations are meant to be a continuum or succession, it's more that there is disagreement as to how to weight them when they run into conflict with each other

So, to give a topical example, imagine a liberal and a conservative debating same-sex marriage; they both see that all 5 of Haidt's aspects exist. But they differ in that the liberal (according to Haidt et al.'s research) is likely to see "harm to/care of individuals" and "fairness" as the outstandingly important principles, the others being of lesser standing. Whereas the conservative understands
the need for fairness or care of individuals but sees "respect for tradition" and "issues of sanctity and purity" as things which might outweigh them. So the liberal wants to update or over-rule tradition to meet the need of fairness and to care for the people who want to get married and can't see the onjection to that, whereas the conservative is willing to disappoint the people who want to get married and to deny them something others can have if that's necessary in the interests of upholding their principles about "respect for tradition" and "issues of sanctity and purity". (And can't see why the liberal doesn't understand this is so). And so they argue without much promise of reaching agreement. That does indeed seem to be how the debate goes. I've found this helpful in respecting and understanding friends who I find are on the oppsite side to me of this particular issue (which I suggest we use only as an example, rather than debate here!)

Meanwhile, I'm sure you're right - Smaug or Gollum have no moral code and so see Zero of these as morally binding points that affect them. They can see them as things which other people could feel bound or obliged by, and that is very useful to know. But it's all "Wii-FM" (What's In It For Me?")



Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Elwen
Lorien


May 31 2013, 2:23pm


Views: 533
Also late, but a few thoughts.

Thanks for organizing. I've been reading some excellent comments and I'm afraid mine are not as insightful as some.

On the charge of exercising "Undue influence," I find Gandalf not guilty. He didn't nudge all that hard. All he did was invite himself and some friends over for dinner, and since Bilbo never actually attempted to kick out his unexpected guests, there was no trespass there. Bilbo had that spark of Tookishness that was going to push him out the door someday.

On the matter of Thorin & Co. and whether they are legally responsible for Bilbo's cartage, delivery, and return expenses, my opinion is that legally speaking, they are not. One could debate whether the omission of those terms was by oversight or design. If by design it was ethically questionable, but any concern such as that would have been incumbent upon Bilbo to raise before accepting the contract. (Perhaps Mr. Baggins should have stopped by his solicitor's office as he dashed through Hobbiton, just to be sure....)
As an aside, I think it's funny that the dragon is the one dragging up these cynical, but very real points. I'll refrain from making lawyer jokes, but I'm sure there's one in there somewhere.

Skipping down to the bit about finding the Ring, let me start by saying that Bilbo is much more innocent from a legal standpoint in a the books than in the movies. I think if Gollum wanted to press theft charges against Bilbo, he'd have a hard time proving that Bilbo knew the Ring was Gollum's. Gollum never specifically mentioned that his Precious was a ring. Bilbo found it, took it, and kept it. Ethically wrong? Yes, but that's the power of the Ring for you. Legally wrong? Not really. Of course, once Gollum's intent becomes to kill, then the legal dynamics change. For example, if the Misty Mountains had a "stand your ground" law, as they do in Florida, Bilbo could be legally justified in killing Gollum.

Smaug is not the legal owner of the Lonely Mountain and it's treasure. He is an invader, and later a squatter in a sense. The lawful of the cup is Thorin, and Bilbo getting it is not theft in the legal sense, though Smaug may disagree. Bilbo keeping the Arkenstone, after the lawful owner (Thorin) lays claim to it I think is definitely theft, or at least some misdemeanor level "dealing in stolen property" type charge.

I agree with the poster who likened the red ink to a blood oath. It wasn't something I had thought of before, but I could see it as a very old tradition. The number of signatures I think is a necessity in a place with so many intertwined and entangled family trees. I could see very contentious problems erupting over wills when there are so many "second cousins once removed on his mother's side" tripping over each other.

I too find it surprising that Grima was spared. In a militaristic society such as Rohan has always seemed to me, treason of this sort should have resulted in execution. However, I can only think of one execution (I'm fairly certain, but not 100%) in Tolkein's Middle Earth lore. I think it was perhaps important for Theoden, who was not long for the world in Tolkien's story, and would be painted as a fatherlike figure, to show mercy, just on a character sympathy basis. Is it also possible, that Tolkien, a devout Catholic, was uncomfortable with exercising the death penalty in a story that he knew was going to have wide distribution?

Just a few thoughts.

Before kids, exercising with LOTR meant listening to the soundtrack while I ran.

After kids, exercising with LOTR means having an all out dance party with the little ones to the "Break the Dam Release the River" disco mix form the Lego game.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 31 2013, 3:27pm


Views: 532
Thoughts back Elwen ;-)


In Reply To
Thanks for organizing. Really, I'm thrilled to have had the chance! Its been great to delve into Doug's wonderful article! I've been reading some excellent comments and I'm afraid mine are not as insightful as some. They have been excellent - so are yours Elwen!

On the charge of exercising "Undue influence," I find Gandalf not guilty. He didn't nudge all that hard. All he did was invite himself and some friends over for dinner, and since Bilbo never actually attempted to kick out his unexpected guests, there was no trespass there. ***Bilbo had that spark of Tookishness that was going to push him out the door someday
.*** So you see Gandalf as a catalyst instead if direct influence? I agree that Tookish strain was there all along, really I think that's way Gandalf had marked him down, so many years earlier as something special among Hobbits! That bit of divine vision, seeing in Bilbo something Bilbo is not even aware of, but that in the Istari form Gandalf can sense.

On the matter of Thorin & Co. and whether they are legally responsible for Bilbo's cartage, delivery, and return expenses, my opinion is that legally speaking, they are not. One could debate whether the omission of those terms was by oversight or design. If by design it was ethically questionable, but any concern such as that would have been incumbent upon Bilbo to raise before accepting the contract. (Perhaps Mr. Baggins should have stopped by his solicitor's office as he dashed through Hobbiton, just to be sure....) Another 'Contract Stands" on that point...noted!
As an aside, I think it's funny that the dragon is the one dragging up these cynical, but very real points. I'll refrain from making lawyer jokes, but I'm sure there's one in there somewhere. Indeed! as NoWiz pointed out Smaug has excellent what's-in-it-for-me skills; and I suppose it would be hard to find the sentient soul who doesn't have some, even tiny, level of insecurity or covetousness that such a mind can play upon.

Skipping down to the bit about finding the Ring, let me start by saying that Bilbo is much more innocent from a legal standpoint in a the books than in the movies. I think if Gollum wanted to press theft charges against Bilbo, he'd have a hard time proving that Bilbo knew the Ring was Gollum's. Gollum never specifically mentioned that his Precious was a ring. Bilbo found it, took it, and kept it. Ethically wrong? Yes, but that's the power of the Ring for you. Legally wrong? Not really. Of course, once Gollum's intent becomes to kill, then the legal dynamics change. For example, if the Misty Mountains had a "stand your ground" law, as they do in Florida, Bilbo could be legally justified in killing Gollum. The power of the Ring itself I think does come into play in a large way...especially since its influence is silent.

Smaug is not the legal owner of the Lonely Mountain and it's treasure. He is an invader, and later a squatter in a sense. The lawful of the cup is Thorin, and Bilbo getting it is not theft in the legal sense, though Smaug may disagree. Bilbo keeping the Arkenstone, after the lawful owner (Thorin) lays claim to it I think is definitely theft, or at least some misdemeanor level "dealing in stolen property" type charge. I think 'squatter' might be an excellent choice of term here, and once we dismiss "possession as 9/10 of the law" as Doug points out his ownership of the property is, I think, negated. Of course enforceability in ME becomes a problem when the issue is one as large and hungry as Smaug...

I agree with the poster who likened the red ink to a blood oath. It wasn't something I had thought of before, but I could see it as a very old tradition. The number of signatures I think is a necessity in a place with so many intertwined and entangled family trees. I could see very contentious problems erupting over wills when there are so many "second cousins once removed on his mother's side" tripping over each other. Yes, Telain made that excellent analogy, which harkens back to an 'antique' feel to Hobbit inheritance traditions. On your other point I agree, that's the feeling I got from the 7 signatures: a widely an complicatedly connected Hobbit community with - face it - NO privacy! Literally everyone in everyone else's business. Overall I feel like it's a portrayal of a both simple and very 'humanized' society, so maybe that's why I see idealization there, since I feel like the importance of individuality and humanization was a crucial part of JRRT's world view.

I too find it surprising that Grima was spared. In a militaristic society such as Rohan has always seemed to me, treason of this sort should have resulted in execution. However, I can only think of one execution (I'm fairly certain, but not 100%) in Tolkein's Middle Earth lore. I think it was perhaps important for Theoden, who was not long for the world in Tolkien's story, and would be painted as a fatherlike figure, to show mercy, just on a character sympathy basis. Is it also possible, that Tolkien, a devout Catholic, was uncomfortable with exercising the death penalty in a story that he knew was going to have wide distribution? Very interesting point here, with Théoden being granted the insight of mercy above the law - knowing he would be 'judged' soon himself. (Not sure on the Death Penalty views and how it relates - would have to research a bit.). But in any case giving Théoden that merciful judgment beyond their laws (I agree, in a military-ish society, on the brink of war) I think helps absolve some of what happens to him and to Rohan during his time under Saruman's influence as well; and if he sense his own end is near, feeling a need for compassion maybe, and to spare a life. Nice Elwen!

Just a few thoughts. Thanks! Good to see you! Angelic

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 31 2013, 10:01pm


Views: 524
Quick point on executions

Great post, Elwen, and I hope to reply more fully later when I get the time.

I was trying to think of formal executions, and the only I could think of was Turgon executing Eol for killing Aredhel in Gondolin. A zillion deaths in battle, of course, and various murders, but it's hard to think of a government execution. Maybe others can think of examples, but they would still be few, so your point is well-made.


Elwen
Lorien


May 31 2013, 11:15pm


Views: 548
That was the one I thought of too.//

 

Before kids, exercising with LOTR meant listening to the soundtrack while I ran.

After kids, exercising with LOTR means having an all out dance party with the little ones to the "Break the Dam Release the River" disco mix form the Lego game.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 1 2013, 6:37pm


Views: 529
Bilbo and the Ring

I agree that book-wise, Bilbo is not guilty of stealing from Gollum. But then even if he was, it's not as though the Ring is actually Gollum's. He murdered Deagol in order to take it from him. If Bilbo is guilty, then Deagol is equally guilty because in both cases the person simply found it lying about unclaimed.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 1 2013, 9:36pm


Views: 510
I guess Deagol has the least guilt...


In Reply To
I agree that book-wise, Bilbo is not guilty of stealing from Gollum. But then even if he was, it's not as though the Ring is actually Gollum's. He murdered Deagol in order to take it from him. If Bilbo is guilty, then Deagol is equally guilty because in both cases the person simply found it lying about unclaimed.




...then Bilbo - for the argument of needing to keep in for self-defense: Gollum of course, with murder on his soul for the Ring, is the guiltiest of all. It seems the simple, earthy society of the Riverfolk don't have a death penalty or even imprisonment - they cast Sméagol out. I think the crime of murder is rather beyond their experience.

(Good to see you Ardamire!) Cool

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 2 2013, 7:56am


Views: 479
I don't think that Sméagol's community knew he was a murderer...

 

Quote
No one ever found out what became of Déagol; he was murdered far from home, and his body was cunningly hidden.


What leads to Sméagol's exile is that he keeps the Ring secret ...

Quote
And he used it to find out secrets, and he put his knowledge to crooked and malicious uses. It is not to be wondered at that he became very unpopular and was shunned (when visible) by all his relations. They kicked him, and he bit their feet. He took to thieving, and going about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat. So they called him Gollum, and cursed him and told him to go far away; and his grandmother, desiring peace, expelled him from the family…


So it's a nice little downward spiral of delinquency. I think I like the story better that way: there's something creepy about the mundaneness of it which we wouldn't get if it had been exile as a punishment for murder.

Presumably Sméagol must have made up some story to explain Déagols disappearance - I wonder what that was, and whether Sméagol's relations had their suspicions about this, and about Sméagol's new (or enhanced?) abilities as a malicious gossip.

Later we're told that Deagols murder is very much on Sméagol's conscience: but I don't think it's a known crime on the "charge sheet"until Gandalf figures it out for us.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Yngwulff
Gondor


Jun 2 2013, 8:02am


Views: 544
I think deagol was Smeagols brother

Just on the similarity in the names ... cousins at the least.
If they were close as I suspect they were, many may have guessed Smeagols involvement in Deagols dissapearance(death), although no one could prove anyhting as the body was never found.


Take this Brother May it Serve you Well
Vote for Pedro!


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 2 2013, 4:58pm


Views: 470
You are probably quite right


In Reply To

Quote
No one ever found out what became of Déagol; he was murdered far from home, and his body was cunningly hidden.


What leads to Sméagol's exile is that he keeps the Ring secret ...

Quote
And he used it to find out secrets, and he put his knowledge to crooked and malicious uses. It is not to be wondered at that he became very unpopular and was shunned (when visible) by all his relations. They kicked him, and he bit their feet. He took to thieving, and going about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat. So they called him Gollum, and cursed him and told him to go far away; and his grandmother, desiring peace, expelled him from the family…


So it's a nice little downward spiral of delinquency. I think I like the story better that way: there's something creepy about the mundaneness of it which we wouldn't get if it had been exile as a punishment for murder.
Presumably Sméagol must have made up some story to explain Déagols disappearance - I wonder what that was, and whether Sméagol's relations had their suspicions about this, and about Sméagol's new (or enhanced?) abilities as a malicious gossip.
Later we're told that Deagols murder is very much on Sméagol's conscience: but I don't think it's a known crime on the "charge sheet"until Gandalf figures it out for us.




Great points all (so we have another character - Gandalf P.I. Cool) Glad you posted that bit of text; his habits are what drove him out. Somehow I thought I remember Deagol being discussed, but I must be mixing that part of Gandalf's tale in. I see as Yngwulff says above - wonder if there was suspicions, as Deagol never reappeared.
"Spiral of Delinquency: excellent phrase. The Ring at work, slowly twisting an already twisty will.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."

(This post was edited by Brethil on Jun 2 2013, 4:59pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 2 2013, 5:01pm


Views: 466
I think cousin too Yngwulff


In Reply To
Just on the similarity in the names ... cousins at the least.
If they were close as I suspect they were, many may have guessed Smeagols involvement in Deagols dissapearance(death), although no one could prove anyhting as the body was never found.




I think I have read 'friend' and 'cousin'. Of course one can be both - I wonder too about the 'suspicion' part; I can only imagine how horrified his family would be with even contemplating it, as peaceful as their society is. But of course Deagol is never seen again...

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 2 2013, 6:06pm


Views: 471
"Spiral of Delinquency" = Indie band I was in during college

Nah, I made that up. Smile

I did enjoy reading Gandalfs account of Sméagol's fall again though: there's a murder but then, Sméagol's gone back to type, and is using Middle-earths Most Evil Object to find Uncle Roger's horde of dirty postcards, sneaking Great Aunt Doris's sherry or trying to spy on pretty cousin Lulu in the bath. Stuff like that. He's such a pitiful villain, in many senses...

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 2 2013, 6:09pm


Views: 472
Good to see you too, Brethil! :)

I just can't see Bilbo as guilty at all since the Ring isn't Gollum's anyway. He has no more claim to it than Bilbo does.

As for the penalty for murder, it's something that I'd never even thought about it. Now that I do, it does seem strange that Deagol's death was never investigated. As I recall, they only cast Smeagol out because he started slinking around and acting strange - not because it was known he had killed Deagol.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




Yngwulff
Gondor


Jun 3 2013, 2:31am


Views: 455
Banishment

In old times, of which JRRT was a lifelong student, banishment was a common sentence for crimes real or percieved.
Look at Eomer in TTT. More often than not banishment was a as good as a death sentence in reality, as people were held to be accountable if they offered a banished person food or shelter.


Take this Brother May it Serve you Well
Vote for Pedro!


sador
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 7:28am


Views: 689
An apology...

At the moment, I am very pressed for time, and it turns out that the chapter I must lead next week is more complex than I thought at first. So I might not get around to responding to this thread until a fortnight hence.*

However, when Voronwe's essay was accepted, he has kindly sent me his last draft, to which I have responded with a long list of comments, most of which are probably relevant to this discussion (although it is likely some have been raised already). Should I post them here?



* Dear noWiz, if you are reading this - the same apology applies to you! I'm sure your discussion of Maeglin will be brilliant, but I am likely to return to it only together with your discussion of the Ruin of Beleriand.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 1:59pm


Views: 446
Good to hear from you Sador!

And yes, time constraints are always an issue! No matter when you get around to other business,, I would love to read your thoughts - feel more than free to post them! Smile

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 3 2013, 2:30pm


Views: 442
Banishment

I wasn't trying to say banishment wasn't a common sentence, but I don't remember Deagol's death being the reason for his banishing. As far as I remember (which could be incorrect), he was only banished because of his weird slinking about and golluming.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 2:41pm


Views: 440
I agree here about the reasons


In Reply To
I wasn't trying to say banishment wasn't a common sentence, but I don't remember Deagol's death being the reason for his banishing. As far as I remember (which could be incorrect), he was only banished because of his weird slinking about and golluming.




As NoWiz evidenced above, I think that we was cast out because his golluming (good verb there!) I guess we can speculate on whether the Riverfolk had any suspicions - I think they may have, just as a feeling (one of those 'things you just assume')- but as JRRT wrote it presumably they felt Gollum's darkness in his mean, small ways.

A contrast still to other, more world-weary (? searching for a good word?) ME cultures we know of - say Rohan - where perhaps a suspicious disappearance would be investigated; and if the crime revealed, a definite penalty would have been exacted and I doubt in that case it would have been banishment.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 3 2013, 5:36pm


Views: 434
Yeah, I don't know.

It just seems odd to me now that I think about it. Did no one care that Deagol never showed back up?

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 9:07pm


Views: 445
I wonder if close familial ties helped Smeagol hide his crime

If someone you don't know too well disappears on a fishing trip with you, it's harder to explain that away. But if you say, "My dearly beloved brother/cousin was swept away by the river," and you burst into tears, people are more likely to believe your story.

I like the fact that Deagol's murder haunted Smeagol centuries later. It says a lot about the resilience of a hobbit's conscience, and that there's a sort of moral justice subtly at work in MEarth.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 9:44pm


Views: 442
I am hexed by Gollum

Great point, Ardamire, which I missed entirely. I was talking as if the Ring was Gollum's (since he'd had it for centuries), but it wasn't his legally since he stole it via murder. Can we say that Isildur "stole" it? He claimed it as compensation for the death of his father, and there are old legal traditions like that (you kill a man, and then pay his family in money or cows or whatever). Was that legitimate?

I still hold Bilbo responsible for knowingly withholding it from its owner but only in a technical sense; I'm not morally blaming him. But it seems like Deagol is the only one who clearly took the Ring without any legal or moral crime at all, isn't it? Because I would say finders keepers when clearly there was no one around on their fishing trip who could claim to have just dropped it . He didn't know it was Sauron's, as Bilbo knew it was Gollum's.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 10:07pm


Views: 437
I can see it playing that way CG...


In Reply To
If someone you don't know too well disappears on a fishing trip with you, it's harder to explain that away. But if you say, "My dearly beloved brother/cousin was swept away by the river," and you burst into tears, people are more likely to believe your story.

I like the fact that Deagol's murder haunted Smeagol centuries later. It says a lot about the resilience of a hobbit's conscience, and that there's a sort of moral justice subtly at work in MEarth.




...especially as with only JUST having acquired the Ring, and being fearful I am sure of the consequences of his action (possibly still a bit shocked by his own actions?), he may have given quite an Oscar-worthy performance when he came home alone. Yes, that perseverance of conscience, that even the Ring could not fully exterminate (doesn't Gandalf say that Gollum retained a little corner of his mind as his own? I don't think the Ringwraiths did for example- I think Men once taken, were taken completely) speaks volumes to that spiritual resilience that Gandalf always had the wisdom to see within those little people.

Good points all.Cool

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 10:19pm


Views: 436
I see a parallel in Ardamire's point


In Reply To
Great point, Ardamire, which I missed entirely. I was talking as if the Ring was Gollum's (since he'd had it for centuries), but it wasn't his legally since he stole it via murder. Can we say that Isildur "stole" it? He claimed it as compensation for the death of his father, and there are old legal traditions like that (you kill a man, and then pay his family in money or cows or whatever). Was that legitimate? A parallel to Smaug: possession of their treasures as the result of crimes rather morally negates their right of ownership? Criminal Possession of Stolen Property for them both? Though its a modern charge, I think the concept is probably fairly universal. In which case, as far as Smaug goes, Thorin's decision to reclaim the Mountain and its goods are the 'enforcement' action of an unenforceable principle - as Furuncurunir pointed out, the only option in the circumstances is to 'bring home the curses' yourself. As far as Gollum goes - I like your 'hexing' term...! He's a complex little patch of misery. As JRRT says, the Ring never would have snared him if he wasn't a mean little being to start out with. He certainly had no legitimate claim to it, having murdered for it...Bilbo thankfully was saved from doing murder due to his conscience. Not as sure on Isildur, as the action taken was in battle during a declared war...so does that provide a different interpretation?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 10:28pm


Views: 449
Bilbo knew.


Quote
Suddenly Gollum sat down and began to weep, a whistling and gurgling sound horrible to listen to. Bilbo halted and flattened himself against the tunnel-wall. After a while Gollum stopped weeping and began to talk. He seemed to be having an argument with himself.

“It’s no good going back there to search, no. We doesn’t remember all the places we’ve visited. And it’s no use. The Baggins has got it in its pocketses; the nassty noser has found it, we says.”


So, at this point, Bilbo knew that the Ring belonged to Gollum, that Gollum was in great distress over its loss, and that Gollum knew Bilbo had it. Weaseling about whether it was the Ring or something else that Gollum was fussed about isn't credible. Bilbo knew. It's additionally incriminating that Bilbo initially made up a different story about the episode.

So, I don't know what the letter of the law says, but not returning it at this point certainly seems like theft to me.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Jun 3 2013, 10:29pm)


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 3 2013, 10:46pm


Views: 443
What is theft?

According to one definition I found, it's the generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale).

Is it necessary to prove that the person who takes something knows that the person from whom it was taken owned it legally in order to call it theft? We presume that the original possessor has legal ownership unless there is some strong indication to the contrary (i.e. the guy running down the street carrying a sack of money just exited a bank pursued by cops).

If I see a wallet lying on the ground and pick it up, open it, and see a clear ID with name and address, I am morally bound to attempt to return it to the owner. If I do not, is it theft? What about the money in it? Suppose I say that I don't know that the wallet owner acquired that cash legally. Does that let me off the hook?

As I indicated in my other recent post, Bilbo knew the Ring belonged to Gollum. He knew that Gollum missed it, and was deeply distressed about its loss. He had no way of knowing how Gollum came by it or anything about its history, but I can't help but think that if you meet someone deep underground who is profoundly attached to an object and grieving its loss, the appropriate presumption is that it belongs to him.








Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 4 2013, 5:06am


Views: 436
Last Bleak House East of the Sea.

I would say Bilbo is guilty of "theft by finding", which he commits again with the Arkenstone.

Determining ownership of the ring might be dicey. It's Sauron's ring, but one can argue it was created with stolen technology, in which case it belongs to Celebrimbor. But then it seems to have been awarded as legal weregild to Islidur, so it would belong to Aragorn. Then again, it is an article of Elven antiquity so it could be claimed by Celeborn and Galadriel. But it was found on Stoor land and Gollum would be the last clear descendant of the Gladden Field settlement. But it was found *in* the northern reaches of the Anduin and other inhabitants of the Vale of Anduin were Beorn, Radagast, and the Northmen of Framsburg so.....

Obviously Tolkien missed the far longer, more darker, and much less happy tale of "The Lawsuit of the Ring".

******************************************
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


imin
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 8:42am


Views: 449
Sauron taught Celebrimbor

Not the other way around.

And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 11:43am


Views: 431
Yes, I think the Ring is undeniably Sauron's

He taught the Elves how to make Rings of Power, then made his own.

This is when you hate the law, when it legally turns to the advantage of someone evil like Sauron.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 4 2013, 1:02pm


Views: 421
So then...

...it was Celebrimbor who secretly used proprietary information and processes to make the Elven rings, Therefore it can be argued that legally the Elven rings were Sauron's and that he was fully justified in trying to reclaim his rightful property.

******************************************
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


imin
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 1:23pm


Views: 419
Well kinda

But he freely gave the information, he went there to do that. So it's not like they stole the information or there was an agreement that only Sauron could use this technology.

I am sure he sees them as his rings, but it's not like he put a patent on the tech and he freely gave it to them, showing them how to make the lesser rings, so i would go with they are not his but made with knowledge he taught them - he was their teacher.

And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 2:57pm


Views: 425
War booty or weregild, some interesting Law points

I agree Darkstone, that a significant legal change of ownership occurs as the result of military action. As weregild, it conforms to ancient European traditions to compensate for the loss of a loved one - in this case a King. Not of course that any compensation causes the party to cease their efforts to destroy the offender: so in that sense it is not the usual application. As a 'prize of war', I found this information on the Geneva Convention in regards to War Booty, and although a modern interpretation it has evolved from long standing traditions: http://www.icrc.org/...g/docs/v1_rul_rule49 Rule 49. War BootyRule 49. The parties to the conflict may seize military equipment belonging to an adverse party as war booty.SummaryState practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in international armed conflicts.International armed conflicts
The rule whereby a party to the conflict may seize military equipment belonging to an adverse party as war booty is set forth in the Lieber Code.[1] It reflects long-standing practice in international armed conflicts. It is also implicit in the Hague Regulations and the Third Geneva Convention, which require that prisoners of war must be allowed to keep all their personal belongings (as well as protective gear).[2]
This rule is also contained in numerous military manuals.[3] As Australia’s Defence Force Manual explains, “booty includes all articles captured with prisoners of war and not included under the term ‘personal effects’”.[4] The rule has also been referred to in case-law.[5]
According to the Lieber Code, war booty belongs to the party which seizes it and not to the individual who seizes it.[6] This principle is reflected in numerous military manuals.[7] It is also supported in national case-law.[8] As a result, individual soldiers have no right of ownership over or possession of military equipment thus seized. Some manuals explicitly state that it is prohibited for soldiers to take home “war trophies”.[9]
Practice also indicates that booty may be used without restriction and does not have to be returned to the adversary.[11]

Interesting application if we class the Ring as 'military equipment'. It would belong presumably, based on such a code, to the House of Isildur (as the 'party') and has no restrictions in its use - too bad because trying to use it didn't work out so well for them...if it's a 'personal effect' the implication is that it still belongs to Sauron. Of course in any case, although very fond of making his own rules, Sauron would have no patience with any else's rules - so form his side, a moot point.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 3:48pm


Views: 409
That's a fascinating passage, Breth

I had no ideas such rules existed. As they apply to Sauron, I would say that the Ring was primarily created to seek dominion over others, so it counts as a war weapon, so seizing and using it was justified. Hence when Frodo said to Aragorn at the Council of Elrond that it belonged to him, not only was he (sensibly) trying to get rid of the thing, he was right.

Frodo should have tried to get rid of it as a mathom on his birthday.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 5:30pm


Views: 403
Isildur

I've been thinking about this, and I really don't know what to make of Isildur. In one sense I want to say that he's legally wrong for taking it from Sauron, but I can't bring myself to say that Sauron should have been able to keep it. I think Deagol is the only one who is guiltless.

As for Bilbo, he didn't know it was Gollum's until after their riddle game, right? By that time Gollum was freaking out and I can't see any good coming to Bilbo by offering it up. That would probably only make Gollum angrier. I don't think there's a good solution for Bilbo at all.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 5:37pm


Views: 403
I read the other post.

I didn't remember that, so I was just going by what I'd read in this thread. As it is, I guess I have no option but to agree that Bilbo knew it was Gollum's. But as I was just saying to CuriousG, I don't think any good would have come to Bilbo for returning it at that point.

I wouldn't liken the scenario to finding a wallet with ID in it. I see it more as finding a twenty dollar bill on the ground with no one around to claim it. It's only later that Bilbo realizes it's Gollum's twenty that it becomes stealing, right?

I still stand by my assertion that Gollum doesn't have any more legal right to it than Bilbo does though, even if Bilbo didn't know that at the time. At least Bilbo didn't kill Gollum for it, a fact which later led to it's destruction.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 5:39pm


Views: 407
I see it as a weapon as well


In Reply To
I had no ideas such rules existed. As they apply to Sauron, I would say that the Ring was primarily created to seek dominion over others, so it counts as a war weapon, so seizing and using it was justified. Hence when Frodo said to Aragorn at the Council of Elrond that it belonged to him, not only was he (sensibly) trying to get rid of the thing, he was right.

Frodo should have tried to get rid of it as a mathom on his birthday.




So I would agree with the seizure by party rule.

As it concerns Bilbo, as Elizabeth correctly points out at some point he did know what it was that Gollum had lost - so there is some aspersion cast upon his retaining it for that part; as Doug said in Law and Arda, Bilbo *potentially* has the claim of self-defense in retaining it once the information came to him, as retaining it may have saved his life, and he did no violence to Gollum despite threats of violence towards him. All in all, with the holders of the Ring, ultimately Sauron and Deagol have the least amount of question to their possession: Sauron did make it (sorry there CG - the law serving Sauron!) and Deagol simply found it with no reasonable way to return it to a previous owner.

And perfectly true, when Frodo says 'it belongs to you' he is quite right, in the war-booty sense. Hmmm, giving it away as a mathom...suddenly we have the Nine incognito at a Hobbit birthday party (Sam..pssstt...who's that over by the buffet? Tell then to stop hogging all the deviled eggs....)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."

(This post was edited by Brethil on Jun 4 2013, 5:40pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 5:44pm


Views: 400
The self-defense idea


In Reply To
I've been thinking about this, and I really don't know what to make of Isildur. In one sense I want to say that he's legally wrong for taking it from Sauron, but I can't bring myself to say that Sauron should have been able to keep it. I think Deagol is the only one who is guiltless.

As for Bilbo, he didn't know it was Gollum's until after their riddle game, right? By that time Gollum was freaking out and I can't see any good coming to Bilbo by offering it up. That would probably only make Gollum angrier. I don't think there's a good solution for Bilbo at all.




Very true Ardamire - potentially that is where the self-defense idea comes into play! Agreed! It would have cost him his life I think, at that point. So even with the knowledge that it was Gollum's, is there anything else you think he could have reasonably done?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 5:47pm


Views: 395
One solution

He could have just put it back where he found it (or thereabouts).

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 6:10pm


Views: 392
Does an art teacher...

...own the art produced by his/her pupils?








Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 6:17pm


Views: 393
A semi-relevant tale:

I have some friends I keep up with online, whom I met here years ago. One lives in OK but went to grad school in Irvine, the other lives on SoCal. Once the SoCal friend was reminiscing about having found $60 cash in an ATM many years ago. The OK friend confessed that he had lost it. They didn't know each other at all at the time. She offered to repay him, but he declined.








Ardamírë
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 6:28pm


Views: 395
Weird.

Weird how things work out like that!

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall.
As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last.
For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men,
it is bitter to receive." -Arwen Undómiel




Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 7:38pm


Views: 381
Wow....!


In Reply To
I have some friends I keep up with online, whom I met here years ago. One lives in OK but went to grad school in Irvine, the other lives on SoCal. Once the SoCal friend was reminiscing about having found $60 cash in an ATM many years ago. The OK friend confessed that he had lost it. They didn't know each other at all at the time. She offered to repay him, but he declined.




What a karmic tale Elizabeth!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 4 2013, 7:53pm


Views: 386
Well

Generally no, although recently one or two schools have proposed taking ownership of work developed by teachers and students for school. (From course syllabi to first grade fingerpainting.)

Of course the ring is more technology than art. Again speaking generally, colleges and universities allow professors and students to retain ownership of their inventions unless faculty or staff involvement is substantial, the work is part of a larger school project, or the use of school facilities, equipment, etc. is substantially in excess of what is normal for educational purposes.

******************************************
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

(This post was edited by Darkstone on Jun 4 2013, 7:54pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 5 2013, 12:23pm


Views: 359
Noruas Inc.


In Reply To
But he freely gave the information, he went there to do that. So it's not like they stole the information or there was an agreement that only Sauron could use this technology.

I am sure he sees them as his rings, but it's not like he put a patent on the tech and he freely gave it to them, showing them how to make the lesser rings, so i would go with they are not his but made with knowledge he taught them - he was their teacher.




I think that despite the teaching of the technology, the other rings seem to me to belong to their crafter - Celebrimor. I think the One was legally Sauron's - of course the issue being with Sauron as a business partner is that no matter what agreements may have been made he will never honor them anyway. So I do agree, that although he contributed knowledge he does not actually own them; maybe the rights become 'public domain' if he shared them with the Elves, and physical manufacture decides ownership?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 5 2013, 3:34pm


Views: 355
International law?

What do people think about international laws on diplomacy in Arda? I can only think of two examples:

1. Right after their return to MEarth and their first battle with Morgoth, the Noldor agree to a parley over peace. Each side justifiably suspects the other will send more troops than agreed on, so they both cheat and send more. Did they make up the rules on the spot (both Noldor and Morgoth had just come from war-free Valinor), or was there some longstanding agreement on legal proceedings for negotiations?

2. The other one that strikes me is the conversation with the Mouth of Sauron at the Morannon. He starts off by insulting everyone, then Aragorn holds him with his eye and seems to telepathically harm or threaten him, since the Mouth recoils and says he can't be harmed, claiming diplomatic immunity. Gandalf replies that where such laws hold, diplomats are supposed to be more, after all, diplomatic. Then the Mouth presents peace terms, which do sound like a rather typical peace treaty after a war in real life (no matter that they were lopsided). If there were no diplomacy and no laws, there would be no talk of treaties, and the Mouth would just say at the beginning, "You are all going to die."

Were there other treaties in the past with Sauron? What rules of diplomacy existed between kingdoms of Men? If Gondor fought Harad and the Easterlings in its prime, were there peace treaties afterward complete with diplomatic immunity? Were these treaties mere pieces of paper, or were they considered binding legal documents? I'm not really talking about fealty, since that's different (Rohan swearing to come to Gondor's aid seems more an oath of fealty than a treaty between equals). Or maybe I'm wrong and fealty is a treaty too.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 5 2013, 4:19pm


Views: 347
NICE set of inquiries CG!


In Reply To
What do people think about international laws on diplomacy in Arda? I can only think of two examples:
1. Right after their return to MEarth and their first battle with Morgoth, the Noldor agree to a parley over peace. Each side justifiably suspects the other will send more troops than agreed on, so they both cheat and send more. Did they make up the rules on the spot (both Noldor and Morgoth had just come from war-free Valinor), or was there some longstanding agreement on legal proceedings for negotiations?
I do think it was on-the-spot, especially for Maehdros, as the emissary comes within minutes of Feanor's death: he has emotions running high. But, I wonder here if Melkor, having learned from the assault on Utumno and his imprisonment, wanted to 'talk' to his enemy this time, to see if he could either work his will into the situation or take advantage of a weaker, trusting enemy (ha, Maehdros gotcha there.) Is this a first in ME? Would Morgoth have been 'negotiating' with anyone else? It seems his prior activities were elf-napping, mountain-rearing and fog-making, not anything diplomatic. Potentially the 'emissary' concept - was this where it began?

2. The other one that strikes me is the conversation with the Mouth of Sauron at the Morannon. He starts off by insulting everyone, then Aragorn holds him with his eye and seems to telepathically harm or threaten him, since the Mouth recoils and says he can't be harmed, claiming diplomatic immunity. Gandalf replies that where such laws hold, diplomats are supposed to be more, after all, diplomatic. Then the Mouth presents peace terms, which do sound like a rather typical peace treaty after a war in real life (no matter that they were lopsided). If there were no diplomacy and no laws, there would be no talk of treaties, and the Mouth would just say at the beginning, "You are all going to die." Were there other treaties in the past with Sauron? What rules of diplomacy existed between kingdoms of Men? If Gondor fought Harad and the Easterlings in its prime, were there peace treaties afterward complete with diplomatic immunity? Were these treaties mere pieces of paper, or were they considered binding legal documents? I'm not really talking about fealty, since that's different (Rohan swearing to come to Gondor's aid seems more an oath of fealty than a treaty between equals). Or maybe I'm wrong and fealty is a treaty too. I see Sauron as a very talky sort, more so than Melkor. I think he would try any means to exert control, even with the pretense of treaty; and as you say, we have Gandalf's mention of the process. As far as Sauron goes, I think he would have learned from Melkor (if the above theory might hold, that he began the 'emissary' way of trying to talk one's way out of difficulty or create distraction at least) if he could try to bargain his way out of a bad scenario, I feel certain he would. So I think the Mouth did have practice in negotiations. An example here might be the Haradrim, who I never saw ruled by fear but by their own old hatreds for Numenor. Such people may certainly 'deal' with Sauron, and perhaps have oaths but as fear might not have been the primary cause for the political union, also have negotiated agreements relating to borders, perhaps the limitations of Orc raids and activities, conscription requirements and possibly even weapons trading. So I tend to think documents *may* come into place, depending on the literacy of the Haradrim. (For example, we have the Rohirrim as holding vocal traditions versus paper. Not sure on Haradrim.) So I think sauron might have simply used whatever form of international interactions that suited him, in the cardinal plan...interested in other people's ideas, this is a fascinating topic (I should say Symposium-worthy potentially...) Awesome thoughts CG!


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."

(This post was edited by Brethil on Jun 5 2013, 4:26pm)