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Who controls Moria FOTR/TT

owenj544
Registered User

Apr 29 2010, 6:17pm

Post #1 of 21 (430 views)
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Who controls Moria FOTR/TT Can't Post

Hi! I am trying to make sense of Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers and would appreciate any ideas supported by documentary evidence that would answer the following questions.

Orcs:
  • Is the goblin/orc takeover of Moria orchestrated by Sauron during his occupation of Mirkwood (Dol Guldur), by the Balrog, or by their own design?
  • Does Sauron, the Balrog, or the orc chieftain command the orcs in Moria?
  • When the orcs pursue the Fellowship and seek to kill them are they mourning and avenging the death of the orc chieftain, the Balrog, or both?
  • Were the Moria orcs aided by orcs from Dol Guldur?
  • Did the Moria orcs receive instructions from a nazgul to kill the Fellowship and wake the Balrog?
  • Why are the Moria orcs only interested in killing the Fellowship to avenge their loss, while the forces from Isengard and Mordor want to capture the Fellowship and bring back prisoners to their respective towers? If the Moria orcs are serving Sauron, why do they seem to thwart the Mordor orcs in taking the hobbits to Barad-dur?

Balrog, Durin's Bane:
  • When does the Balrog enter Moria, and is he sent or does he move there by free will? What attracted the Balrog to Moria: wealth (making the move similar to the greed of the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit), a good hiding place (offered by the deep caverns - suggesting an entrenching after the War of Wrath), or a plan (suggesting a movement by Sauron to strike at the dwarves and elves, or even a possible palantir vision used by the forces of Mordor to plant obstacles to the eventual coming of the Fellowship)
  • Was the Balrog awakened by the dwarven delving or by Sauron's presence at Dol Guldur?
  • Is the Balrog serving his own machinations or Sauron's?
Watcher in the Water
  • Who created the Watcher - Melkor, Sauron, or Eru?
  • Is the Watcher sapient and consciously carrying out evil or is it a hungry and disturbed beast?



Curious
Half-elven


Apr 29 2010, 8:42pm

Post #2 of 21 (252 views)
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At first I thought this was homework, but as I examined the questions, [In reply to] Can't Post

they seem legit, especially since many of them have no easy answer. So I'll take a stab at it, although I don't have time to collect cites.

Orcs:
  • Is the goblin/orc takeover of Moria orchestrated by Sauron during his occupation of Mirkwood (Dol Guldur), by the Balrog, or by their own design? Yes, or maybe Morgoth is responsible.
  • Does Sauron, the Balrog, or the orc chieftain command the orcs in Moria? Yes.
  • When the orcs pursue the Fellowship and seek to kill them are they mourning and avenging the death of the orc chieftain, the Balrog, or both? Yes.
  • Were the Moria orcs aided by orcs from Dol Guldur? Maybe.
  • Did the Moria orcs receive instructions from a nazgul to kill the Fellowship and wake the Balrog? Doubtful, but possible. Tolkein never mentions a Nazgul visiting Moria, but a Nazgul could have sent instructions indirectly through the Mordor orcs.
  • Why are the Moria orcs only interested in killing the Fellowship to avenge their loss, while the forces from Isengard and Mordor want to capture the Fellowship and bring back prisoners to their respective towers? It seems that the Moria orcs have not been trusted with the secret of the Ring. If the Moria orcs are serving Sauron, why do they seem to thwart the Mordor orcs in taking the hobbits to Barad-dur? It's a loose relationship and the Moria orcs are intimidated by the Isengard orcs. Remember, Saruman serves Sauron too, even though he is a treacherous servant.

There are no clear answers to these questions. Although the goblins may have thought of themselves as free agents, it is very possible that they were called to Moria by the Balrog or sent there by Sauron. It is also possible that Morgoth was orchestrating matters from the Void.

In LotR Evil tends to be hierarchical, with Sauron at the top of the hierarchy, and even Sauron still bound by terrible oaths to his old master Morgoth. But the individual agents of evil tend to think they are their own masters, even when that is not true. They are slaves, but they are treacherous slaves.

Sauron has to pay constant attention to his agents or they will stray. The Nazgul are the most slavish to his will, even when he is not focused on them, but even they are not as capable when they are on their own, far from Barad-dur. Saruman may be the most untrustworthy agent. But even the orcs in Mordor fight amongst themselves when they are not watched.

Moria is far from Barad-dur, and that may mean that Sauron has little direct control over the residents of Moria unless he turns all of his attention to them. Apparently he sent some orcs from Mordor to Moria just before the Fellowship arrived, presumably because he did not entirely trust the Balrog and the Moria orcs to do his will, or did not trust them with the secret of the Ring.

Balrog, Durin's Bane:
  • When does the Balrog enter Moria, and is he sent or does he move there by free will? Yes. What attracted the Balrog to Moria: wealth (making the move similar to the greed of the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit), a good hiding place (offered by the deep caverns - suggesting an entrenching after the War of Wrath), or a plan (suggesting a movement by Sauron to strike at the dwarves and elves, or even a possible palantir vision used by the forces of Mordor to plant obstacles to the eventual coming of the Fellowship) Yes. The Balrog fled to Moria, or the deep tunnels under Moria, at the end of the First Age. I think his first priority was to hide. It does seem like an interesting coincidence that he hid directly under the greatest concentration of mithril in the world and the ancient home of Durin the Deathless -- perhaps the mithril did attract him for some reason, as gold attracts dragons, or perhaps he counted on the dwarves digging him out in the future. But all that is rather speculative.
  • Was the Balrog awakened by the dwarven delving or by Sauron's presence at Dol Guldur? We know that the dwarves had something to do with it. I think the Balrog awoke before Sauron returned to Dol Guldur, but I could be wrong about that. Furthermore, the dwarves may have dug too deep and too greedily because Sauron had given them one of the Seven Rings for the Dwarves, so indirectly Sauron may have been responsible for their folly.
  • Is the Balrog serving his own machinations or Sauron's? Or Morgoth's? Yes. Again, most evil agents are treacherous, but when Sauron pays attention they serve his will.

Watcher in the Water
  • Who created the Watcher - Melkor, Sauron, or Eru? Eru is ultimately responsible for all life, but Melkor may well have warped this creature to turn it or its ancestor into a monster. Other answers are possible, but less likely.
  • Is the Watcher sapient and consciously carrying out evil or is it a hungry and disturbed beast?
    The Watcher apparently chose to go for Frodo, the ringbearer, and Tolkien hints that this is no accident. That suggests evil sapience, although an animal can be trained to fetch.



Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Apr 29 2010, 11:35pm

Post #3 of 21 (227 views)
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One answer [In reply to] Can't Post

I think I can answer one of your questions. Did the Orcs of Moria have help from Dol Guldor? I can't help but think almost certainly. I find it difficult to believe that such an important place as Moria wasn't known about by Dol Guldor and that the Orcs that were bred in that place didn't pass over to Moria!


TheNazgul
Rivendell


Apr 30 2010, 1:12am

Post #4 of 21 (228 views)
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About the Nazgul quetion why not ask me??? [In reply to] Can't Post

I do not beleave it had anything to do with the Nazgul because this wasnt long after the got caught in Elronds flood and their next apearance is not untill when their going down Anduin and Legolas shoots one of their winged steeds.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.


GAndyalf
Valinor

Apr 30 2010, 1:19am

Post #5 of 21 (227 views)
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If the Nazgul were involved... [In reply to] Can't Post

Which I believe they were not, then they would have left their instruction as they were passing up towards Rivendell and would not have gone directly (they passed through Rohan) but sent message. It is not impossible that it could have been either Khamul directly or indirectly somewhat later after they were reformed and sent out again as Khamul was in command at Dol Guldur but I think it highly unlikely that he would have left after being sent by Sauron explicitly to command from DG. As those are the most likely scenarios concerning the Nazgul I think that it's reasonable to rule them out.

"Be good, be careful, have fun, don't get arrested!"
---Marcia Michelle Alexander Hamilton, 7 Nov 1955 - 19 Nov 2009

sample


GAndyalf
Valinor

Apr 30 2010, 2:09am

Post #6 of 21 (229 views)
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Some answers and some speculation... [In reply to] Can't Post

Orcs:
  • Is the goblin/orc takeover of Moria orchestrated by Sauron during his occupation of Mirkwood (Dol Guldur), by the Balrog, or by their own design?

Sauron returned to Dol Guldur approximately 1100 of the Third Age though it’s said specifically that the Wise are aware of “an evil Power” and they believe it’s a Nazgul (Tale of Years, RoTK pg 456). C. 1300 “Evil things begin to multiply again. Orcs increase in the Misty Mountains and attack the dwarves. The Nazgul reappear. The chief of these comes north to Angmar. 1980 – A Balrog appears in Moria and slays Durin VI. 1981 – Nain I slain. The dwarves flee from Moria. C. 2480 – Sauron begins to people Moria with his creatures.
The above from The Tale of Years illustrates that the dwarves awoke the Balrog who slew their king and the heir and then fled Moria. Even so, it took Sauron 499 years to send “his creatures” to Moria as he was as yet much too weak to do much more than slowly grow his Power in the East and what strength he did have he spent on the remnant of the Dunedain in Arnor and Gondor. It’s my opinion that he didn’t need to worry about Moria as the Balrog was the mightiest force in Middle-earth unless the White Council were to go there. Remember a balrog is a Maia, equal to Sauron himself in power if not in cunning and a match for any of the Istari alone. It can be debated why the Wise did not seek to destroy the balrog or at least drive it out during that time. On your last question, it’s instructive to remember that without a powerful will to drive them that most evil creatures are “witless and wandering” and orcs are perhaps the most prone to this of any. Even orc chieftains tend to have no greater ambition than petty squabbling without a powerful overlord driving them.
  • Does Sauron, the Balrog, or the orc chieftain command the orcs in Moria?

Nominally it would be Sauron, given the exerpts from the Tale of Years above. In practice it would be the balrog as it would be the power in proximity, as it were. It can be up for debate as to whether the balrog would heed Sauron or not. I am inclined to think that it is a 50-50 proposition. After all, Sauron it was who was Morgoth Bauglir’s chief lieutenant and not any balrog, not even Gothmog the Lord of Balrogs. That said, without his Ring Sauron was possibly not strong enough to command over a fellow Maia. Then again, why wouldn’t the balrog have ambition of it’s own if it perceived a weakness in Sauron? This last would be the strongest argument I can think of AGAINST my own notion that balrogs were at least as sentient as dragons and therefore capable of their own designs. Yet if there was a “Lord of Balrogs” that implies that there is some sentient capability for them.
  • When the orcs pursue the Fellowship and seek to kill them are they mourning and avenging the death of the orc chieftain, the Balrog, or both?

This is a multi-answer question. They are nominally avenging both, yes. However they are also pursuing based upon a hatred of Elves (Legolas), elf-friends (all the rest of the Fellowship), and dwarves.
  • Were the Moria orcs aided by orcs from Dol Guldur?

When? When the attack was made on Lothlorien during the War of the Ring, most certainly they were. When they made their attack on the heels of the Fellowship there would not have been time to get word to Dol Guldur.
  • Did the Moria orcs receive instructions from a nazgul to kill the Fellowship and wake the Balrog?

No, (see above plus the Nazgul were performing other functions during the time of the Fellowship – see my post replying to TheNazgul)
  • Why are the Moria orcs only interested in killing the Fellowship to avenge their loss, while the forces from Isengard and Mordor want to capture the Fellowship and bring back prisoners to their respective towers? If the Moria orcs are serving Sauron, why do they seem to thwart the Mordor orcs in taking the hobbits to Barad-dur?

It is my belief that this is because until the Fellowship passes into Lorien that Sauron does not perceive clearly where the Ring is. He knew it went to Rivendell, but because of the treachery of Saruman I do not believe he knew where the Ring was again until it entered Lorien. Not certain what you mean by the Moria orcs thwarting the Mordor orcs? The two never met that I recall. The two different bands of orcs together that I remember were some Mordor orcs with uruk-hai of Isengard. They thwarted the Mordor orcs because Saruman wanted the Ring and did NOT want it going to Barad dur.


Balrog, Durin's Bane:
  • When does the Balrog enter Moria, and is he sent or does he move there by free will? What attracted the Balrog to Moria: wealth (making the move similar to the greed of the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit), a good hiding place (offered by the deep caverns - suggesting an entrenching after the War of Wrath), or a plan (suggesting a movement by Sauron to strike at the dwarves and elves, or even a possible palantir vision used by the forces of Mordor to plant obstacles to the eventual coming of the Fellowship)

As noted by Curious, he enters Moria at the end of the First Age when Angband is overthrown by the Valar. This, I believe, is of his own free will as an “every evil thing for itself” sort of manoeuver. I believe your speculation of “a good hiding place” was the reason.
  • Was the Balrog awakened by the dwarven delving or by Sauron's presence at Dol Guldur?

Dwarven delving. Sauron wasn’t strong enough yet (Tale of Years citations)
  • Is the Balrog serving his own machinations or Sauron's?

Difficult to say (see my theories and ruminations above)

Watcher in the Water
  • Who created the Watcher - Melkor, Sauron, or Eru?

It’s ancestor(s) were undoubtedly created by Eru. It’s ancestors were equally undoubtedly corrupted by Melkor. I do not believe it was moved or motivated by Sauron, but was attracted to the powerful evil of the One Ring as why it chose Frodo, but that might be a great topic for debate here.
  • Is the Watcher sapient and consciously carrying out evil or is it a hungry and disturbed beast?

Very difficult to tell. I’m inclined to believe it is semi-sapient and was simply drawn to the Power of the One Ring though that is entirely speculation on my part.

"Be good, be careful, have fun, don't get arrested!"
---Marcia Michelle Alexander Hamilton, 7 Nov 1955 - 19 Nov 2009

sample


CuriousG
Valinor

Apr 30 2010, 12:57pm

Post #7 of 21 (223 views)
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Instructions to Moria about Frodo [In reply to] Can't Post

"Did the Moria orcs receive instructions from a nazgul to kill the Fellowship and wake the Balrog?"

You raise a good point. I don't believe the Nazgul knew what Frodo looked like until they attacked him on Weathertop and he put on the Ring. They just knew they were looking for a hobbit named Baggins.

So they're dispersed at the Ford of Bruinen, but not all of them or their horses are accounted for. They clearly withdrew in defeat, as spirits or otherwise.

Now in Moria: Gandalf is troubled that the Watcher goes for Frodo first and the orc-chief in the Chamber of Mazarbul goes straight for Frodo. I'm not convinced they could sense the Ring on him, so it seems someone gave them a detailed physical description of Frodo as the one to target. Who else could do that besides the Nazgul? Well, Bill Ferny and the half-orc in Bree could have done it also, but Bree was a long way from Moria, and it's hard to think that they trotted off there thinking Frodo would pass through it.

Waking the Balrog: I'm not sure anyone needed to. When the dwarves had their big war with the orcs which culminated in the battle outside Moria, Dain pursued Azog right into Moria to kill him, but came back shaken because he had seen the Balrog. I think once awoken, it never went back into hibernation. And being the most powerful figure in Moria, it seems likely he was in command of the orcs there, probably as Sauron's lieutenant. When Glaurung the dragon was wreaking havoc in Nargothrond, he had orcs under his command and could tell them what to do as Morgoth's field agent.

What I find curiously unanswered is why did the Balrog stay hidden in Moria? Only a handful of people could have opposed it, so why hide, almost like it's scared? Why not go about the West causing trouble? Or are Balrog's more like robots who need to be told what to do?




sador
Half-elven


May 2 2010, 12:47pm

Post #8 of 21 (207 views)
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Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

  • Is the goblin/orc takeover of Moria orchestrated by Sauron during his occupation of Mirkwood (Dol Guldur), by the Balrog, or by their own design?

Which takeover? The one after Durin VI was slain and the dwarves fled? The Mines were apparantly deserted; but it could be that for a year (under Nain I, IIRC) there was actually a war between dwarves and orcs. Tolkien doesn't tell.
Seeing how blithely Azog called hinself the Master, I would suggest that the Balrog settled back to sleep after driving the pesky Naugrim away, and the orcs coming found it deserted. But I can't say.

Another point worth considering is the fact that the Balrog rose only six years after the realm of Angmar was destroyed. Was there a connection between the two? At the very least, based on the first scenario, were Azog and his crew fugitives from that battle, seeking a new realm? Just think of Azog as the Witch-king's Gothmog, 1150 years before the Pelennor Fields!
  • Does Sauron, the Balrog, or the orc chieftain command the orcs in Moria?

While Azog lived, he did. After that, when Moria was retaken - well, I would like to think it was the orc-chieftain that Aragorn slew; but the way the orcs greeted the Balrog in the chamber of Mazarbul (as described by Gandalf) suggests that they were familiar with it somehow (at least some of them). I could speculate on this - but no more.
  • When the orcs pursue the Fellowship and seek to kill them are they mourning and avenging the death of the orc chieftain, the Balrog, or both?

I think the orc-chieftain is more likely. Just consider the Ugluk-Grishnakh and Gorbag-Shagrat conversations.
I see no reason why the orcs should love the Balrog better than the Nazgul.
  • Were the Moria orcs aided by orcs from Dol Guldur?

I doubt it. I trust the guardians of Lorien would prevent such doings.
On the other hand, those in the Golden Wood must have known that Balin's colony was destroyed (at least that's how I read Celeborn's words about the dwarves having awakened it again) - so why didn't they send the word to Elrond and Gandalf?
  • Did the Moria orcs receive instructions from a nazgul to kill the Fellowship and wake the Balrog?

Not necessarily. The simplest assumption is that they are alerted to the Fellowship by Pippin's stone and/or Gandalf's smoke.

However, I wouldn't discard the possibility that a Nazgul alerted them - that depends on how we understand the sahdow that passed over the high stars when they arrived at Hollin.
  • Why are the Moria orcs only interested in killing the Fellowship to avenge their loss, while the forces from Isengard and Mordor want to capture the Fellowship and bring back prisoners to their respective towers? If the Moria orcs are serving Sauron, why do they seem to thwart the Mordor orcs in taking the hobbits to Barad-dur?

They do not know the orders to keep the halflings alive.

  • When does the Balrog enter Moria, and is he sent or does he move there by free will? What attracted the Balrog to Moria: wealth (making the move similar to the greed of the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit), a good hiding place (offered by the deep caverns - suggesting an entrenching after the War of Wrath), or a plan (suggesting a movement by Sauron to strike at the dwarves and elves, or even a possible palantir vision used by the forces of Mordor to plant obstacles to the eventual coming of the Fellowship)

It (he?) was hiding.
  • Was the Balrog awakened by the dwarven delving or by Sauron's presence at Dol Guldur?

I raised before a third possibility - that of the remnants of theAngmar realm.

But Gloin seems to blame the dwarves, and in a note in Durin's Folk Tolkien mentions both as possible. If he doesn't know, how can I?
  • Is the Balrog serving his own machinations or Sauron's?

I would say his own. For instance, he wasn't bothered to unite with Sauron and destory Lorien, was he?

I do not doubt that Sauron was more powerful, and that had the two met, the Balrog would accept him as a superior; but Mordor is far away, and the Balrog seems to pursue his own agenda.

  • Who created the Watcher - Melkor, Sauron, or Eru?

Created? Eru.
Possibly Melkor sub-created him, as one of the monsters at the time of the music - but that was only in thought, and the actual creation was Eru's, like everything else.

And the Watcher was persumably older than Sauron - which means, came before him into Arda; I would guess he was a major one of those older creratures which even Sauron didn't know, and lurked in the deep places of Khazad-dum (see The White Rider).
  • Is the Watcher sapient and consciously carrying out evil or is it a hungry and disturbed beast?

Good question! Since it worked against the dwarves - taking Oin, and probably blocking the Sirannon and making the pool in order to block their way of escape - I would suggest it is evil.
But perhpas it was evil in a Shelobian way, always hungry rather than consciouly seeking power. However, note that Gandalf was concerned by its going specifically for Frodo - while Tolkien provides a "rational" explanation why Shelob attacked him rather than Sam.

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"...Still, undespairing, do we sometimes slowly file
Discursive threads regardless of our doom..."
- squire.



squire
Valinor


May 2 2010, 2:40pm

Post #9 of 21 (193 views)
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The Watcher made the Pool? [In reply to] Can't Post

I never heard that one before. I imagined that orcs did it, using traditional mining stonecraft to build a dam and block the West road and hamper the Dwarves' easy escape from the Mines.

How the Watcher got there: swimming up the stream before the dam was completed, or coming up the subterranean spring that is the river's source in the black roots of Moria, or being introduced by the orcs from sources further East -- seems a different problem from the simple one of damming up the Sirannon.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
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sador
Half-elven


May 2 2010, 2:44pm

Post #10 of 21 (188 views)
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Maybe I was too hasty. [In reply to] Can't Post

I possibly jumped to the conclusion, based on the Watcher's later blocking of the West-gate.
But it was wrong to write it as the simple history.

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"...Still, undespairing, do we sometimes slowly file
Discursive threads regardless of our doom..."
- squire.



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 2 2010, 2:50pm

Post #11 of 21 (191 views)
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I always thought so. [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought of the dam as the equivalent in rubble of beaver's work. There don't seem to be orcs on the west side of the mountains, and I don't think they could have gotten through Moria from the east while Balin's folk held the mines.

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CuriousG
Valinor

May 3 2010, 12:07am

Post #12 of 21 (167 views)
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Origin of the Watcher; more on the Balrog--why quiescent for 5 years? [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf says right after they escape its attack: "Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains." To me that implies the Watcher is a beast being "herded" in a way to do someone else's bidding if it's possibly been "driven out" of its home in the mountain roots.

The Balrog: sorry for missing the obvious earlier in claiming he didn't hibernate. Balin's mission lasted 5 years. Surely the Balrog was quiet all that time or it would have led some orcs to drive them out as soon as they first arrived, or maybe it would have done the deed on its own.

Then if that's the case--that it hibernates to the point of letting dwarves live unchallenged in its domain for 5 years--back to the question of why was it awake when Frodo & Friends traversed Moria. A party of nine, and there only a few days--why the fuss? Either it has some clairvoyance of what's going on, or maybe Sauron tipped it off somehow, or maybe it senses Gandalf's power as a threat.


Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

May 3 2010, 11:24pm

Post #13 of 21 (319 views)
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A party of nine, why the fuss? [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, maybe the presence of a Wizard, an Elf and a Ranger like Aragorn might have sparked the Balrogs interest. And also there was the small matter of the Ring. I think it perfectly possible that the Balrog was drawn by the Ring in roughly the same manner as the Nazgul or the Watcher were. It was a powerful and evil Maia remember. Something like the Ring in it's realm would have been noticed by it.


Grotug
The Shire

May 8 2010, 11:27pm

Post #14 of 21 (121 views)
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Myth and Epistemology [In reply to] Can't Post

I have nothing to add to this thread other than to ask an epistemological question: Do these questions have a truthful or definitive answer if the author (Tolkien) didn't know the answer to them?


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


May 8 2010, 11:29pm

Post #15 of 21 (139 views)
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And the sound of one hand clapping is... [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Kangi Ska

There is no place like the Shire...There is no place like the Shire...There is no place like the Shire...

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.


Man on Fire


Grotug
The Shire

May 9 2010, 12:03am

Post #16 of 21 (128 views)
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seriously... [In reply to] Can't Post

come on it was a serious question. I want to know how other people experience myth. And when we ask these kinds of questions we try to answer them based on evidence, but if there isn't evidence, then what? It's just a big uknown? Is there still a definitive answer?. I mean, for Tolkien, questions he didn't know the answer to still had answers. "For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected."


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


May 9 2010, 12:46am

Post #17 of 21 (126 views)
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My answer was serious. [In reply to] Can't Post

Please clarify your question(s. It sounds as if you are asking how can we know the unknowable. I also am confused as to weather you are speaking of Mythology in general or the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Kangi Ska

There is no place like the Shire...There is no place like the Shire...There is no place like the Shire...

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.


Man on Fire


Grotug
The Shire

May 9 2010, 1:18am

Post #18 of 21 (93 views)
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Tolkien was a Mythologist [In reply to] Can't Post

I think of them as one and the same. Tolkien was a mythologist if you will. He was sad at the lack of myths of the kind to his liking, and so wrote The Silmarillion and LOTR to fill that lack. I guess I was speaking about mythology in general and the writings of Tolkien (specifically LOTR and The Silmarillion)

Yes, I'm asking whether we can know the unknowable or not; whether there is a definitive answer to the questions where an answer was never recorded by Tolkien. Just because he never recorded it or spoke about it, doesn't mean he didn't have an answer in mind, or impressions of what the answer might be.. or, more to my interest, simply didn't know the answer to himself, because he either didn't take enough interest, or wasn't wise enough or connected enough to the source (or his muse if you want). It still doesn't mean that there isn't an answer. Maybe if he meditated long enough on it he'd be able to find it. And if he never does take interest in it, it still doesn't mean there isn't a definitive answer.. but that those who seek the answer lack the the faculties for finding it. Which brings up another interesting question. If one were to study Tolkien's work in depth enough, might s/he be able to find the answer? Might s/he be able to find answers that Tolkien himself didn't know? Or is only Tolkien able to know the truth about certain unexplained things in the legendarium?


squire
Valinor


May 9 2010, 2:33am

Post #19 of 21 (113 views)
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Good question [In reply to] Can't Post

That is something we debate regularly here.

Did Tolkien know the "truth" about his own fictional universe? Do his thoughts about events in The Lord of the Rings inform our reading of the text, if his thoughts are expressed in letters written a decade after he wrote about the events in question? Can we "logically" argue that so-and-so must be "true" about Middle-earth, when the so-and-so was never actually expressed in the published texts, but the premises and terms of the arguments are soundly based in the texts? Does the fact that Tolkien's unpublished works show his own willingness to alter (sometimes quite radically) the "events" and timelines of Middle-earth, mean that it is folly for any of us to say that thus-and-so "must have" or "would have" been true in Middle-earth had Tolkien taken the time to write about it? Do the unpublished works merit the same authorial respect as the published "canon"?

We can take two different approaches to discussing Tolkien's "off-camera" events or facts. One is called "Middle-earth studies". It attempts to analyze the world and events of the legendarium as if they existed historically. Logic, probability, references to all of Tolkien's writings (published and unpublished alike), and analogies to the real world are mustered in arguments about what "happened" inside and outside the stories as published. The other approach is called "Tolkien studies". It embraces the reality that Tolkien is an author, and that Middle-earth is a literary construct. Contradictions between the various texts are acknowledged and analyzed, rather than papered over or ignored. The events and characters of his stories are approached more in terms of how they relate to the larger worlds of medieval, Victorian, and 20th-century literatures and societies.

Which approach do you prefer? I enjoy Middle-earth studies as the kind of "game" that Tolkien himself said it was; but I also enjoy the more conventionally intellectual exercise that Tolkien studies provides. To answer your question: for me, no - there are no "truthful or definitive" answers to questions about Tolkien's literary inventions, and that includes Tolkien's own answers by the way. But the inquiry, not the unreachable truth, is (or can be) reward enough to justify the time spent on it.



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Curious
Half-elven


May 9 2010, 10:46am

Post #20 of 21 (120 views)
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I would never waste my time on these questions [In reply to] Can't Post

for most authors, because most authors did not construct their fictional worlds from the ground up, and if so did not take the pains Tolkien took to make their fictional worlds internally consistent. Nevertheless even Tolkien could not fill in every blank, and in some areas (like economics) he does not even make much effort to fill in the blanks.

So what do we do if we want to fill in the blanks? First of all, we may want to study all of Tolkien's writings to see whether he really left that question unmentioned. It is amazing how many questions he did address, often long after the publication of LotR. Of course, that sometimes raises the question of what is canon and what is not, but that's a different issue.

Where Tolkien himself did not answer a question, often we can come up with a range of answers based on what seems consistent with other aspects of Tolkien's world. Sometimes, though, we may have to admit that there is no great answer to the question, as for example the question of why there are so few laborers in the Shire, or servants in Rivendell and Lothlorien, or slaves in Rohan. It's worth noting how Tolkien's societies are skewed towards the middle and upper class, but I'm not sure it's worth inventing a plausible reason for that fact. It's just an element of the fantasy that probably has no plausible explanation.


CuriousG
Valinor

May 10 2010, 12:12pm

Post #21 of 21 (182 views)
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Definitive answers? No. Discussion? Yes. [In reply to] Can't Post

We can have definitive answers to questions such as "How many Black Riders were there?"

Otherwise, we speculate, analyze, pose hypotheses, discuss, and debate. For me, the joy of this group is to find like-minded people who are not content to read the books and be "finished." I want to know more. I also just want to talk about Tolkien's works, because I can only read them so many times, and I am not "finished." Also, I greatly appreciate the perspectives of others: they see things I miss, and interpret things in ways I never would. Whether I agree or not, I still enjoy all the various points of view, and the discussions keep alive the joy I derive from reading Tolkien.

My greatest disappointment in reading Tolkien was reaching the Grey Havens and Frodo's departure and realizing "This is the End!?!? How dare he stop here!!!" I wanted the story to continue. Since it doesn't, discussing it is the next best thing.

 
 

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