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**The Muster of Rohan** The Red Arrow
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Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 23 2011, 6:58pm

Post #1 of 26 (2291 views)
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**The Muster of Rohan** The Red Arrow Can't Post

The discussion of the Paths of the Dead was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of an "errand rider" (messenger) from Gondor:

A tall man entered, and Merry choked back a cry; for a moment it seemed to him that Boromir was alive again and had returned. Then he saw that it was not so; the man was a stranger, though as like to Boromir as if he were one of his kin, tall and grey-eyed and proud.

1. Why is he so like Boromir? Are the genetics really that strong, or was it just that Merry hasn't seen that many Men other than Aragorn and the Rohirrim (who are apparently all blonde).

The messenger, whose name is Hirgon, presents Théoden with "a single arrow, black-feathered and barbed with steel, but the point was painted red." This appears to be a token that is only used as a summons in the most dire emergency. Indeed, Théoden knows its significance, but has never seen one in "all his years." Denethor has not only sent an urgent summons, but also further instructions: 'But ere long it may well come to pass that Minas Tirith is surrounded, and unless you have the strength to break a siege of many powers, the Lord Denethor bids me say that he judges that the strong arms of the Rohirrim would be better within his walls than without.'

A negotiation ensues. Théoden reminds Hirgon that the Rohirrim fight on horseback, and in the open. Then he asks, Is it not true, Hirgon, that the Lord of Minas Tirith knows more than he sets in his message?

2. What does Denethor know about the events in Rohan and Isengard, and how does he know it?

Hirgon deflects this question, but summarizes the strategic situation as he understands it, emphasizing the extreme urgency. Théoden proceeds to outline his proposed response (preparations for which are already in an advanced state): He himself will lead a host of at least 6,000 Riders, which should arrive "a week from tomorrow" (March 16). Hirgon is underwhelmed: 'A week!' said Hirgon. 'If it must be so, it must. But you are like to find only ruined walls in seven days from now, unless other help unlooked-for comes. Still, you may at the least disturb the Orcs and Swarthy Men from their feasting in the White Tower.'

3. What, actually, did Denethor expect? He knows how far Edoras is from Minas Tirith, and what it takes to muster an army.

4. Is Hirgon's sarcasm good diplomacy?

5. Are you offended by the "Swarthy Men" reference?


On the night of March 6 (as I count it), Gandalf and Pippin saw the Beacons lit in the Beacon Hills. But unless I missed something, no message regarding beacons has reached Théoden, just Hirgon and the Red Arrow. And at the end of this chapter, we'll see that the Beacons are extinguished.

6. Are the Beacons actually more dramatic than useful? Denethor seems to have realized that he needed at least to back them up with the Arrow and a messenger to fill in the details, yes?

7. Should Denethor have sent his messages a week earlier? What would have been the consequence if he had done so?


The king promises to sleep on it, and will meet with Hirgon in the morning, to let him witness the muster and develop a suitable response to take back to Denethor.

The next morning doesn't look much like a morning: it is the terrible "Dawnless Day," due to the clouds apparently sent by Sauron. Everyone in the camp is feeling the gloom. Hirgon has been joined by another rider from Gondor, who apparently came with him but was not included in the audience with Théoden. Recognizing that this cloud means the war has begun, Théoden announces that he will accelerate the muster and ride on the fast road, rather than taking cover in the hills as Gandalf had advised. Moreover, he will take only enough supplies to get there, relying on stocks in Minas Tirith to sustain his army after they arrive. Hirgon assures him that they have ample stores.

8. What would be the minimum amount of supplies to sustain 6,000 men and horses during a 5-day forced march? How would they transport it?

Next: Call me Dernhelm!






Join us in the Reading Room for "The Return of the King" Book V! starting now!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 24 2011, 8:35am

Post #2 of 26 (1817 views)
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1. Why is [Denethor's messenger] so like Boromir? Are the genetics really that strong, or was it just that Merry hasn't seen that many Men other than Aragorn and the Rohirrim (who are apparently all blonde).

A bit of each, I expect. In ancient times people were much more homogeneous and shared a much smaller gene pool than we are used to now (the modern mixing is said to have started with the invention of the bicycle...Tongue) And as you say, Merry hasn't seen many Men yet, and so is likely to classify them according to the few he has met.

2. What does Denethor know about the events in Rohan and Isengard, and how does he know it?

Well, we will learn that he is keeping an eye on things via the palantir. But at the moment, his sources are obscure. It's interesting that Denethor hopes to get the Rohirrim to arrive in time to get inside the walls and garrison the City, despite the fact (as Theoden says) that their strength as cavalry is in the open. It sounds as if Denethor would like to use the Rohirrim mostly as reinforcements to help with the sorties he orders, rather than as the independent fighting force they prefer to be. I wonder if part of Theoden's sense of Denethor's lack of candour ("
the Lord of Minas Tirith knows more than he sets in his message") relates to that.

3. What, actually, did Denethor expect? He knows how far Edoras is from Minas Tirith, and what it takes to muster an army.

I think Denethor expects, or at least hopes, that the Rohirrim will ride full-speed to Minas Tirith and get inside the walls before the siege begins. Theoden wants to arrive as an organised body still with the strength to fight immediately if need be.

4. Is Hirgon's sarcasm good diplomacy?

It seems to be a fairly accurate reflection of the high-handed approach Denethor is taking. And Theoden doesn't seem to be offended in any way - in fact, he courteously invites Hirgon to stay the night and see the preparations the next day, implying as he does so that Hirgon's sarcastic and defeatist words may be caused by his tiredness: "Tarry here this night. Then you shall look on the muster of Rohan and ride away the gladder for the sight, and the swifter for the rest. In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts." How wise and generous Theoden is. Hirgon's bitter sarcasm is probably derived from Denethor's own thinking, but Theoden puts the best interpretation on it, and by offering kindness in return perhaps does give Hirgon a glimmer of hope to take back home.

5. Are you offended by the "Swarthy Men" reference?

Me? No. I understand that context is everything.

6. Are the Beacons actually more dramatic than useful? Denethor seems to have realized that he needed at least to back them up with the Arrow and a messenger to fill in the details, yes?

Unlike in the movie, the beacons are not used to send a message to Rohan, but to arouse the country around Minas Tirith. They are not designed just to be seen by one another, but to be seen by the people living in the land around Minas Tirith who can then come into the city for protection and to reinforce its defence. I don't think they would ever have extended as far as Rohan. Lighting the beacons and sending the Red Arrow are two different emergency responses, triggered at the same time but not otherwise linked.

7. Should Denethor have sent his messages a week earlier? What would have been the consequence if he had done so?

Should the Wise have gone after the Necromancer before he could escape to Mordor? Should they have looked for the Ring sooner? Should Gandalf have acted on his suspicions about Bilbo's ring earlier than he did? Yes, yes, and yes. But people always hope for the best, and put off the evil hour as long as they can.
Some things are just too horrible to contemplate, until you're finally forced to face up to them. (Living in Ireland, and reading about Greece, this is being brought home to me quite vividly right now...)

8. What would be the minimum amount of supplies to sustain 6,000 men and horses during a 5-day forced march? How would they transport it?

Do they have to transport all their supplies? They are not in enemy territory. Can't they hope to find supplies along the way, by sending messengers ahead of the main force? (I don't actually have any idea about the amounts involved, so I'm just asking.) But I think that's why the enemy tries to burn every "rick, cot and tree" - to destroy the food and fuel that otherwise the people would be able to provide for their defending army as it passes through. Assuming much of the land has not been laid to waste, I think supplies should be available - although I'm sure there were plenty of pack-horses along with the cavalry too. Since most of the 6,000 men had come from their farms to fight, it makes sense to imagine that they brought their own supplies with them.



They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



sador
Half-elven


Jun 24 2011, 1:04pm

Post #3 of 26 (1759 views)
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The last beacon was upon the Halfirien, on the border of Rohan. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"Why is Merry able to see Eowyn's emotional state when no one else can? Has Eomer and Theoden been around Eowyn so much that it just seems to them to be her normal countenance?"
- Child of Manwe
.


The weekly discussion of The Lord of the Rings is back. Join us in the Reading Room for The Muster of Rohan!



FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 24 2011, 1:19pm

Post #4 of 26 (1759 views)
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Thanks. [In reply to] Can't Post

I checked the map too, now you've told me what to look for. It seems to confirm what I said - the beacons line the edge of Gondorian territory and are there to rouse Gondor. The line of beacons would have to be twice as long to be visible from Edoras or Dunharrow.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



PhantomS
Rohan


Jun 24 2011, 3:04pm

Post #5 of 26 (1822 views)
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Red Arrow = red target painted on someone's bum? [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Why is he so like Boromir? Are the genetics really that strong, or was it just that Merry hasn't seen that many Men other than Aragorn and the Rohirrim (who are apparently all blonde).

Merry hasn't seen Gondorians apart from Boromir; many references are made to the South being as some sort of very distant place from places in the North like Rivendell, Erebor, the Shire and Dale, hence the climate and the peoples are strange to him. What's more, Hirgon is wearing the same uniform Boromir was, and given that he is Denethor's messenger, probably holds a high rank too.


2. What does Denethor know about the events in Rohan and Isengard, and how does he know it?

We can read ahead and know why (the Palantir of course!) but seeing as Gondor is the local superpower these things should be known to them in any case.


3. What, actually, did Denethor expect? He knows how far Edoras is from Minas Tirith, and what it takes to muster an army.

He is not of sound mind, since he now knows Boromir is dead. Sauron has also been delaying his responses by bothering him in the Palantir of Minas Anor and apparently slaying his messengers (read on, people!). Given that Sauron sends an army to the crossroads near Anorien and the border, it's amazing Hirgon got through in the first place.

4. Is Hirgon's sarcasm good diplomacy?

Like Boromir, he does not speak with much tact. He is representing the Lord of Gondor, so he must act haughty.

5. Are you offended by the "Swarthy Men" reference?


At this point we have no idea who the Swarthy Men are , but at first reading I thought Hhirgon literally meant Orcs and Men eating people in the Tower!


6. Are the Beacons actually more dramatic than useful? Denethor seems to have realized that he needed at least to back them up with the Arrow and a messenger to fill in the details, yes?

The beacons are meant for Rohan to ask for help from Gondor as well, and the last one is miles from Edoras - must assume Rohan had riders from there to send messages if they saw them lit. They are extinguished, because either the Men have left them to go to Minas Tirith or they have lost hope. The Red Arrow is a "c'mon dude, we're desperate here!" message. Theoden clearly knows what it is, although we're not sure it's because he was born and raised in Gondor or that it is a known fact that the Red Arrow means danger for Rohan.

I'm reminded of a movie moment here; when the beacons were lit , my mother turned to me and told me, " what a job, sitting up there in the mountains minding that big torch all year round! Must be cold...."

7. Should Denethor have sent his messages a week earlier? What would have been the consequence if he had done so?


At this point Denethor is probably waiting for the sandcastles to crumble.

8. What would be the minimum amount of supplies to sustain 6,000 men and horses during a 5-day forced march? How would they transport it?

Seems they are taking only food for the men carried in Merry-sized bags and letting the horses drink river water while eating grass. The Rohirrim don't seem to be carrying wagons (unusual for a horse-based army), but until they hit Anorien they are still on home turf and thus may have supply depots along the way- some of those beacons are manned by Rohirrim, so there must be stores for riders to some degree.



Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 24 2011, 10:49pm

Post #6 of 26 (1772 views)
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Well if Hirgon had arrived a week earlier wouldn't he have found Rohan under the invasion from Isengard and in no position to send help to anyone. Which one thing had puzzled me is if Theoden had at his dispossal Ten Thousand riding knights, all good warriors as we see later, what was all that fuss with the Uruk-hai all about? Shouldn't Ten thousand mounted men be capable of dealing with ten thousand Orcs even tought ones with wolves? Was it just the political paralysis with the King and Wormtongues influence that caused the crisis?


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 25 2011, 1:00am

Post #7 of 26 (1777 views)
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Timing is everything! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, that's what I was getting at: Hirgon (and Denethor, presumably) are desperate and need the Riders now. But they delayed till the very last minute sending the summons, and are torqued that Rohan can't respond more quickly.

But if they had sent their messenger in a timely fashion, Rohan would have been unlikely to respond at all, or at least not effectively, due partly to Wormtongue's influence and also to the fact that the Rohirrim were engaged against Saruman's forces in the Westfold.

The figure of 10,000 riders was hypothetical, in the sense that that represents the entire force, which (a) was not all mustered (due to lack of time and distance the more far-flung riders had to come) and (b) the fact that it's impossible to leave parts of the country entirely undefended. Even heading for Gondor, Théoden left a few thousand riders for homeland defense.






Join us in the Reading Room for "The Return of the King" Book V! starting now!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


PhantomS
Rohan


Jun 25 2011, 6:58am

Post #8 of 26 (1780 views)
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Ten Thousands [In reply to] Can't Post

Well if Hirgon had arrived a week earlier wouldn't he have found Rohan under the invasion from Isengard and in no position to send help to anyone. Which one thing had puzzled me is if Theoden had at his dispossal Ten Thousand riding knights, all good warriors as we see later, what was all that fuss with the Uruk-hai all about? Shouldn't Ten thousand mounted men be capable of dealing with ten thousand Orcs even tought ones with wolves? Was it just the political paralysis with the King and Wormtongues influence that caused the crisis?

Rohan is a massive country, plus the people tended not to congregate in large cities and towns being semi-nomadic. Gathering people in haste as the Rangers did is a massive undertaking; three days gave Theoden 6000, Halabarad got 30 in a rush. The Westfold-men are scattered and spread out thanks to Saruman's initial assault while the Eastfold forces are hampered slightly by Wormtongue's imprisonmant of Eomer. At the Hornburg there were about three thousand plus a thousand from Erkenbrand's forces. Others were gathered later, coming from all the corners of the country. Had Rohan been on full alert and fully mobilized Saruman would have a fight on his hands, though Isengard would be a tough nut to crack without the Ents- but Rohan was not on full alert and barely mobilized, hence the need to 'equalize' Isengard with the Hornburg.

Theoden himself couldn't summon ten thousand at once, and the Muster only gathered those that could arrive on time. The others were left with standing orders to guard the Burg and other places, as per orders of the King.

Another note: not all the Riders are knights, Theoden's knights and household are clearly distinguished from the others at the Pelennor.



FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 25 2011, 10:54am

Post #9 of 26 (1806 views)
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What triggered the decision [In reply to] Can't Post

to light the beacons and send the Red Arrow?

Beregond told Pippin already in the chapter Minas Tirith:
"‘But if you would know what I think set the beacons ablaze, it was the news that came that eve out of Lebennin. There is a great fleet drawing near to the mouths of Anduin, manned by the corsairs of Umbar in the South."
In hindsight, we can see that that's also what made Aragorn's journey so urgent, once he had seen the corsairs in the palantir.

Even if the Rohirrim hadn't been busy elsewhere (as Denethor may have known through the palantir), it's not clear they would have ridden directly to Minas Tirith if the summons had come in a "timely fashion", before Minas Tirith's plight became so serious. Even as it is, Theoden sounds reluctant to allow his men to be cooped up inside the city at the command of its lord, rather than out on the field under his own command. Coming as late as he does, of course, allows him to lead a cavalry charge of the kind he knows is most effective for his people's fighting style. Although, as we know, it's a close-run thing!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



PhantomS
Rohan


Jun 25 2011, 4:59pm

Post #10 of 26 (1783 views)
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Cavalry coming early [In reply to] Can't Post

Although the Rohirrim are an entirely cavalry-based force that fights enemies that are already on the ground, that doesn't mean they can't come help defend a stone fortress. The Knights of Dol Amroth are an example of cavalry that can fight from inside a fortress. Minas Tirith can also be garrisoned and protected at the same time from the outside, with the Rohirrim setting up camp outside the City and providing some sort of buffer range, especially if they have archers as well. The reason the seige was so bad was that Gondor didn't have anyone to push the siege machines back with the Knights occupied with the flank and the other men stuck behind the walls. Were the Rohirrm there , perhaps Grond would not be so near the walls as it was when they did arrive.

Theoden is reluctant to have his men dismount and man the walls and understandably so- since the Rohirrim generally have few walls to defend , they are used to protecting places while on horseback (the Hornburg is something they adapted to, rather than adopted as their own). They would establish a zone on the field and allow Gondor's footsoldiers some room to move behind and beside them, maybe even set up stockades and trenches. Minas Tirith could supply them, as Hirgon suggested, from a safe supply line through the Gate.

There is no guarantee the Rohirrim can win by coming late or early- it is Aragorn with the new troops from the South that turns the tide, allowing Eomer and Imrahil to send their cavalry in sudden onset and let the waters do the rest. Eowyn and Merry killing the Witch-King rather helped though it led to Gothmog throwing the kitchen sink at Minas Tirith.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 25 2011, 6:32pm

Post #11 of 26 (1758 views)
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I was thinking about the sorties [In reply to] Can't Post

that Denethor would order but then pull back. It struck me that if the Rohirrim were available, Denethor might have wanted to use them in the same way. That doesn't seem like something that would suit the Rohirrim's style, although perhaps if Denethor had had more mounted men he wouldn't have been so conservative. I didn't mean to imply that Theoden's men wouldn't be useful to Denethor - but I was wondering whether Theoden would have been happy to put his men at Denethor's disposal.

Point taken that it's really Aragorn who turns the tide. But it's the Rohirrim who hold back the flood until he gets there. Of course we don't know how things would have gone if the Rohirrim had been at Minas Tirith before the siege began. But I think we would have to assume that Eowyn and Merry wouldn't have been there to take down the Witch-King. They could hardly have stayed hidden all that time.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 25 2011, 7:36pm

Post #12 of 26 (1802 views)
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A surprise attack from the rear... [In reply to] Can't Post

...can be remarkably effective, and this one certainly was. The siege force would be prepared for sorties from the defenders, but they were entirely unprepared for the Rohirrim, secure in the belief that they had blocked the road. Although it's certainly true that the Rohirrim didn't entirely win the battle, they successfully prevented MT from being overwhelmed until Aragorn's force could arrive.

But perhaps we should save some of this for a future chapter. Smile






Join us in the Reading Room for "The Return of the King" Book V! starting now!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'

(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Jun 25 2011, 7:38pm)


PhantomS
Rohan


Jun 26 2011, 11:36am

Post #13 of 26 (1736 views)
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Sorties and armies [In reply to] Can't Post

It struck me that if the Rohirrim were available, Denethor might have wanted to use them in the same way. That doesn't seem like something that would suit the Rohirrim's style, although perhaps if Denethor had had more mounted men he wouldn't have been so conservative. I didn't mean to imply that Theoden's men wouldn't be useful to Denethor - but I was wondering whether Theoden would have been happy to put his men at Denethor's disposal.

Theoden is telling Hirgon that his men and horses fight in the open, and the word of the King of the Mark should take primacy over the lord of Gondor in any case- Aragorn (via Eomer most likely) appoints Elfhelm to lead the remaining contingent of Rohirrim, probably because they cannot or will not take orders from Gondorian commanders who are unfamiliar with their style of warfare. Pity that Theoden and Denethor never met, since they are contrasted in the book and have different effects on their respective Hobbits.

Gondor's strategy gives them no choice but to turtle; the forces coming in are mostly but a tenth of their actual strength, and they are missing their navy because of the Corsair threat. If Denethor was already cracking under pressure, the Rohirrim would just be more bodies to throw at Mordor's might; if he was still thinking of winning he would just let Theoden run the field operation and die in the process. Aragorn and Gandalf are the only ones thinking of winning and the latter criticizes Denethor's strategy (though Bergerond notes to Pippin that in his youth Denethor actually won the other side of the Osgiliath bank).



FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 26 2011, 11:59am

Post #14 of 26 (1749 views)
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Yes, it is a pity, isn't it? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Pity that Theoden and Denethor never met, since they are contrasted in the book and have different effects on their respective Hobbits.

Tolkien chose not to have these two characters meet, and left the contrasts for us to work out for ourselves. As you say, we can read a lot of those contrasts in the effects the two have on the hobbits through whose eyes we see them. But it would have been interesting to have a scene where the two leaders actually meet, wouldn't it? Perhaps the nearest we come to seeing them interact is right here in this chapter, as Hirgon transmits his lord's wishes (and attitudes) and Theoden responds to them.



They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



sador
Half-elven


Jun 26 2011, 8:17pm

Post #15 of 26 (1742 views)
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Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Why is he so like Boromir?
Hirgon is a high noble. The Red Arrow would not be committed to just any soldier, it is a responsible office of the State (note that his name is made of elements from the words 'Rohir' and 'Gondor' - probably a mere coincidence, but perhaps not).
As such, his family is likely to have blood ties with the House of the Stewards.

Are the genetics really that strong, or was it just that Merry hasn't seen that many Men other than Aragorn and the Rohirrim (who are apparently all blonde).
That might be; but the second messenger (who arrives at Edoras) is shorter and broader.

So I'll go with my first answer.

2. What does Denethor know about the events in Rohan and Isengard, and how does he know it?
Well, the palantir is hinted at; but even if one of Denethor's messengers met the riders Theoden sent from Helm's Deep with tiding of victory, Denethor would know of it - not before sending Hirgon, but at least before Gandalf arrived.

3. What, actually, did Denethor expect? He knows how far Edoras is from Minas Tirith, and what it takes to muster an army.
If he used the palantir, he knew a weapontake was planned.
And even if not - he probably knew enough of Rohan to know that the full moon of March is high time for one!

4. Is Hirgon's sarcasm good diplomacy?

He is a high noble. A Numenorean noble will easily outrank a king of the Middle People any day.
Note the relative meekness of the second messenger.

5. Are you offended by the "Swarthy Men" reference?

Offended? Is it supposed to refer to me?

I suppose you mean to ask whether I find this supremacist, racist, offensive, badly politically incorrect - well, perhaps; but I don't mind it that much in the context of Tolkien's world.

6. Are the Beacons actually more dramatic than useful?
I'm pretty sure that in the time of the Kings and early Stewards, the Beacons went far into Calenardhon.
Perhaps they still do; Gandalf might be only recounting the Gondorian side, in his futile attempt to educate Pippin.

Denethor seems to have realized that he needed at least to back them up with the Arrow and a messenger to fill in the details, yes?
A Beacon can only raise the alarm. It cannot discuss strategy, nor bear back a detailed answer. A high-ranking messenger is crucial.

7. Should Denethor have sent his messages a week earlier?

If (as most readers assume) he knew of the events in Rohan through the palantir - he must have known that it was pointless to send messengers before.

What would have been the consequence if he had done so?

They might have actually made it through Anorien before being intercepted by the Mordor forces.

Regarding the debate before - of course Denethor knows that the cavalry of Rohan would best be used in the open field! But he does not underestimate his adversary, and knows that a detachment would surely be sent to block the main road.
The Riders of Theoden would serve him behind the walls of Minas Tirith far better that stranded somewhere around Min-rimmon.

8. What would be the minimum amount of supplies to sustain 6,000 men and horses during a 5-day forced march? How would they transport it?
I don't really know anything about equesterian logistics. I'm sure they would live off the land - however, the land is guaranteed enough fertiliser to reproduce abundantly next year!


"Why is Merry able to see Eowyn's emotional state when no one else can? Has Eomer and Theoden been around Eowyn so much that it just seems to them to be her normal countenance?"
- Child of Manwe
.


The weekly discussion of The Lord of the Rings is back. Join us in the Reading Room for The Muster of Rohan!



Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 27 2011, 8:00am

Post #16 of 26 (1736 views)
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In the books [In reply to] Can't Post

And correct me if I'm wrong I might be, but do the beacons actually go as far as Rohan? I have a feeling this was a bit of Jackson artistic licence! I think as far as the books are concerned they need the Red Arrow to confirm the urgency of the case. Of course, as it happens Theoden was going to aid Gondor anyway, but I suppose that some higher-level discussion about tactics is useful.


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 27 2011, 8:19am

Post #17 of 26 (1756 views)
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They go as far as the border. [In reply to] Can't Post

Others in this discussion have noted that they were apparently intended primarily to alert Gondorians in Anorien, although some have suggested that there may have extended further into Rohan long ago.

As you note, further information is necessary, as well as the ability to send a verbal response (although that didn't work in this case).






Join us in the Reading Room for "The Return of the King" Book V! starting now!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


squire
Half-elven


Jun 27 2011, 2:39pm

Post #18 of 26 (1732 views)
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Chronology of the Red Arrow and the palantir - messages and messengers crossing in the night [In reply to] Can't Post

Some of Tolkien’s chronology regarding the communications between Gondor and Rohan is unclear, even though he put a lot of effort into getting it right. Below I have given the relevant entries from LotR Appendix B, “The Tale of Years: The Third Age – The Great Years”. Entries in bold brackets are my additions, taken from the text.

March
5 Théoden reaches Isengard at noon. Parley with Saruman in Orthanc. [After dark, Pippin looks into the palantír and encounters Sauron. III.11] Winged Nazgûl passes over the camp at Dol Baran. Gandalf sets out with Peregrin for Minas Tirith [While riding into the night, Pippin discusses the palantír with Gandalf. III.11]. Frodo hides in sight of the Morannon, and leaves at dusk.

6 Aragorn overtaken by the Dúnedain in the early hours. Théoden sets out from the Hornburg for Harrowdale. Aragorn sets out later. [Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron in the palantír of Orthanc. He sees the corsairs attacking the coasts of Gondor. V.2] [Gandalf spends the day at Edoras; a second Nazgul flies over Edoras; Gandalf and Pippin ride towards Gondor that night. V.1]

7 Frodo taken by Faramir to Henneth Annûn. Aragorn comes to Dunharrow at nightfall. [Gandalf and Pippin sleep by day, ride by night. In Anorien by moonrise they see the beacons lit, and cross paths with the messengers of Gondor. V.1]

8 Aragorn takes the ‘Paths of the Dead’ at daybreak; he reaches Erech at midnight. Frodo leaves Henneth Annûn. [Gandalf and Pippin sleep by day, ride by night. V.1] [News comes to Gondor that the corsairs are attacking Lebennin and Belfalas; the next day, Beregond will tell Pippin this news arrived “yestereve.” V.1]

9 [At dawn, V.1] Gandalf reaches Minas Tirith. [Pippin mistakenly(?) tells Beregond that he saw the beacons lit “last night”. V.1] Faramir leaves Henneth Annûn. Aragorn sets out from Erech and comes to Calembel. At dusk Frodo reaches the Morgul-road. Théoden comes to Dunharrow. Darkness begins to flow out of Mordor. [After sundown, the messenger of Gondor reaches Théoden at Dunharrow with the Red Arrow. V.3]

10 The Dawnless Day. [A second messenger from Gondor reaches Dunharrow; he reports he was chased west by the Darkness through the night. V.3] The Muster of Rohan: the Rohirrim ride from Harrowdale. Faramir rescued by Gandalf outside the gates of the City. Aragorn crosses Ringló. An army from the Morannon takes Cair Andros and passes into Anórien. Frodo passes the Cross-roads, and sees the Morgul-host set forth.

If I have interpreted the story correctly, Gandalf and Pippin leave Edoras at dusk on March 6. We read about this in Pippin’s flashback at the beginning of Book V, Chapter 1. At this point, Pippin remembers it is now the... the second, no, the third night since he had looked in the Stone.” Thus Chapter 1 begins in the night of March 7, one night’s ride (and one day’s rest) after they set out from Edoras. At this point, as the moon rises, Gandalf tells Pippin they are in Anorien. Pippin sees the beacons lit, and three riders of Gondor speed past them going west towards Rohan.

Yet that is not the last night of their journey. We skip forward a whole day. When Pippin awakes at dawn to hear Gandalf speaking with the guards at the Rammas of Minas Tirith, Another day of hiding and a night of journey had fleeted by.” Thus it is now March 9, as Tolkien’s timeline agrees.

But later this day, after meeting Denethor in the early morning hours, Pippin and Beregond are talking of the preparations for war. Pippin says “…I saw the beacons last night and the errand-riders;” and Beregond speculates that the beacons were lit and the errand-riders were sent as soon as Denethor heard the news “yestereve” that the Corsairs were attacking the southern coasts.

Here is the contradiction. “Yestereve” on the morning of March 9 should mean sundown of March 8. Presumably the beacons were lit sometime after the riders left that evening, and both the beacons signal and the riders crossed paths with Gandalf and Pippin in the middle of the night in eastern Anorien. But that is not what we just read: Gandalf and Pippin saw the beacons and the riders the night before, March 7.

None of this is made clearer in this chapter 3, where we read that two sets of errand riders were sent to Rohan: Hirgon, who arrives in Dunharrow just after Théoden does, at dusk on March 9; and the second messenger, who arrives the next morning of the 10th with his news that the black cloud comes from Mordor. Perhaps Hirgon is the messenger that passed Gandalf and Pippin on the night of the 7th, and the second messenger is the one that Beregond is referring to? Although that still leaves the beacons out of synch – luckily they do not get mentioned by the Rohirrim, because they serve only to summon help from Anorien (which additional help – soldiers? militia? druedain? – we never hear about further, by the way).

So the text is just vague enough for the reader to skip over this problem. The narrative is scrambled out of time order between chapters, day and night are reversed, and our sense of the chronology in Chapter 1 comes from a sleepy and confused Pippin, remembering past events even as he witnesses new ones.

But as Beregond says in Chapter 1, Denethor has many ways of gathering news, and he reveals to Pippin and us (in retrospect, to be sure) that Denethor uses a palantír to gather news as well as more traditional methods. I wonder if some of the confusion is not because Tolkien only later added Denethor’s palantír into the mix of cause and effect.

Consider this: Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron on the morning of March 6, just as Gandalf and Pippin reach Edoras. Later (in Chapter 4, upcoming!), Gandalf will speculate to Pippin that Sauron’s attack on Minas Tirith has begun too soon and too hastily. He guesses that Aragorn has used the palantír to prod Sauron forward, as indeed we know he did! Can we suppose that Denethor was in on that interview via his own palantír – or rather, since that coincidence is unlikely, did Denethor within a few hours discover from his own stone that Sauron was suddenly ordering an immediate advance? Of course, we also know that Denethor, just like Aragorn, would know of the assault of the Corsairs through the stone; and as has already been speculated here, it seems clear that Denethor also knows that the Rohirrim have defeated Saruman. How much Sauron had to do with manipulating Denethor’s thinking is also unclear here – did Sauron reveal Aragorn’s assumption of his kingly title to Denethor, knowing it would sow confusion in the Steward’s mind even as it did in his own?

In any case, it seems likely that it could be as early as mid day, certainly the end of the day, on March 6, that Denethor had several new and imperative reasons to summon the aid of Rohan via the Red Arrow. Those riders - riding relay, as Gandalf tells us, rather than resting, at least as far as the Anorien/Rohan border - by the night of March 7 would thus be half way to Rohan, in western Anorien, where they would of course pass Gandalf and Pippin!

But why were the beacons not lit that same night (March 6) as when the Arrow was apparently dispatched? Why wait for the second night (March 7), which was still one day before the news of the Corsairs publicly reached Minas Tirith (March 8)? Why was the second rider sent to Rohan on the 7th, twelve hours after the first one – for it still seems impossible that he could have left the city on the 8th (as Beregond and Pippin seem to agree) and arrived in Dunharrow on the morning of the 10th? I don’t know.



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PhantomS
Rohan


Jun 27 2011, 3:38pm

Post #19 of 26 (1717 views)
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They were not meant for Gondor to summon Rohan initially [In reply to] Can't Post

They were built on the spine of Gondor, namely the White Mountains in order to summon help from the western provinces of Calenadhon, the Anfalas and Morthond, Belfalas and others like Lossanarch- that's how the captains from the Outlands were signalled to come to Minas Tirith and probably why they all arrived together. The beacons stopped exactly on the halfway point of old Gondor- namely the Halfirien where Elendil was buried. They are actually situated on both the nothern and southern sides of the White Mountains.

As the beacons were built by the Stewards (the Kings before Eldacar just used the Palantri ), the southern and eastern bits of Gondor like Ithillien, Harondor, the area of Dagorlad and Osgiliath don't have beacons as they became contested lands.

As Cirion had given Calendhon to Rohan the beacons could be used to summon instant help from there, though the Red Arrow is a sign of incredibly desperate need- perhaps why Folcwine's sons rode to Gondor and died there despite their father not really wanting them to go. Yet messengers do come and go to Edoras, it seems as the men of Mundburg are mentioned as being exceptions to the 'non-foreigners' rule.


sador
Half-elven


Jun 27 2011, 4:35pm

Post #20 of 26 (1722 views)
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Didn't Pippin and Gandalf meet the two messengers together? [In reply to] Can't Post

They actually passed three riders. Where was the third?

As usual, an excellent post! A few points:

Can we suppose that Denethor was in on that interview via his own palantír?
According to the essay reagrding the palantíri in Unfinished Tales, that would be quite impossible.
Do you see any reason to think otherwise?

Did Denethor within a few hours discover from his own stone that Sauron was suddenly ordering an immediate advance?
After the last collumn of Haradrin, no more reinforcements came - at least none through Ithilien. Denthor surely knew the assault was imminent.

Did Sauron reveal Aragorn’s assumption of his kingly title to Denethor, knowing it would sow confusion in the Steward’s mind even as it did in his own?
I've thought of this option. It seems not unlikely.

But why were the beacons not lit that same night (March 6) as when the Arrow was apparently dispatched?

Not to sow panic too early.

Why was the second rider sent to Rohan on the 7th, twelve hours after the first one – for it still seems impossible that he could have left the city on the 8th (as Beregond and Pippin seem to agree) and arrived in Dunharrow on the morning of the 10th?
I think the two errand-riders left together. The third might have went on to the Eastfold, or passed through the townships of Anorien to recruit.
Why did the second reach Edoras later? We have no information, but my guess is that he went to Aldburg.
While Denethor saw Saruman's defeat, I doubt that he had seen all the particulars. He questioned Pippin long about the internal politics in Rohan and of Eomer's position. It is possible he thought the young marshal's influence might still be tenous, and he knew that Eomer would ride to his aid anyway (as he told Aragorn on their first meeting).
So Hirgon himself, as bearer of the Red Arrow, went to seek the King. The secnd messenger went on North, returning to Edoras after learning that Eomer and the muster of his household were already going to the weapontake.

Just a little UUT.


"I’m not sure if that list is of any use, but having done the rest, it was relatively easy to create. What other kinds of word-sorting would be useful for understanding this chapter?"
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.


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Darkstone
Immortal

Jun 29 2011, 9:06pm

Post #21 of 26 (1806 views)
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The Mustard of Rohan [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Why is he so like Boromir? Are the genetics really that strong, or was it just that Merry hasn't seen that many Men other than Aragorn and the Rohirrim (who are apparently all blonde).

Merry just has typical lateralization of brain function as far as his event-related potential goes, especially regarding his N170 component, along with a pretty standard vertex positive potential.

In other words, they all look alike to him.


2. What does Denethor know about the events in Rohan and Isengard, and how does he know it?

Sauron is giving him a rather slanted view. “The glorious armies of Isengard are in victorious retreat while the shattered forces of Rohan are advancing in hopeless disorder.”


3. What, actually, did Denethor expect?

Same as in the movie. Personally I think it was Gandalf who suckered Hirgon into bringing the red arrow.


He knows how far Edoras is from Minas Tirith, and what it takes to muster an army.

Precisely.


4. Is Hirgon's sarcasm good diplomacy?

But he’s a soldier, not a diplomat. A diplomat would not have made it past the orcs. As it is, Hirgon won’t make it twice.


5. Are you offended by the "Swarthy Men" reference?

A lot of my family have swarthy complexions and what of it? Anyway, I’m sure if Hirgon thought that there was any chance of any pasty faced people feasting in Minas Tirith he’d have mentioned them as well. In fact, I’m kinda surprized he didn’t throw them in anyway, along with ninjas, pirates, bears with chainsaws for arms, and anything else he could think of. Yep, poor Hirgon is most definitely not a diplomat.


6. Are the Beacons actually more dramatic than useful?

Both.


Denethor seems to have realized that he needed at least to back them up with the Arrow and a messenger to fill in the details, yes?

Actually John Von Neumann would have advocated triple redundancy, and he would have had the mathematics to back him up.


7. Should Denethor have sent his messages a week earlier?

Early can be good, but if it was too early the arrow could have gotten left on Theoden’s desk and then covered up by all sorts of stuff and so it would have gotten lost. That’s why I send out permit reapplications and self-monitoring report packets around a month in advance. Too early and they sit around and get lost, too late and the industry might not have enough time to get them done.


What would have been the consequence if he had done so?

Isengard would have had a walkover with all the troops gone. Such is the importance of maintaining proper liaison between allies.


8. What would be the minimum amount of supplies to sustain 6,000 men and horses during a 5-day forced march?

About 3 pounds of food per day per man, 8 pounds of grain and 10 pounds of roughage per day per horse. (Hobbit requirements are much more, which is a good enough reason for Theoden's decision to leave Merry behind.)

Also a gallon of water per day per man. (Ladies need around half that much.) A horse needs 10-30 gallons of water per day depending on heat and humidity.


How would they transport it?

On their own persons, on the horses, especially the spare horses.

There’s no doubt plenty of known water sources along the way. But have they been rendered undrinkable by the orcs? A dead body or two could make a water hole too contaminated to drink.

Some of the food can be made up by foraging, but they do need to get there quick, don’t they? Besides, again, how much have the orcs ravaged the land between here and Gondor? Burning fields, crops, grasslands, Rick Cottontree, etc. Probably best not to depend on foraging even disregarding the time element.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Jun 29 2011, 9:08pm)


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 29 2011, 10:19pm

Post #22 of 26 (1717 views)
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6,000 Riders and horses need a lot of supplies. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
8. What would be the minimum amount of supplies to sustain 6,000 men and horses during a 5-day forced march?

About 3 pounds of food per day per man, 8 pounds of grain and 10 pounds of roughage per day per horse. (Hobbit requirements are much more, which is a good enough reason for Theoden's decision to leave Merry behind.)

Also a gallon of water per day per man. (Ladies need around half that much.) A horse needs 10-30 gallons of water per day depending on heat and humidity.


How would they transport it?

On their own persons, on the horses, especially the spare horses.

There’s no doubt plenty of known water sources along the way. But have they been rendered undrinkable by the orcs? A dead body or two could make a water hole too contaminated to drink.

Some of the food can be made up by foraging, but they do need to get there quick, don’t they? Besides, again, how much have the orcs ravaged the land between here and Gondor? Burning fields, crops, grasslands, Rick Cottontree, etc. Probably best not to depend on foraging even disregarding the time element.


Thank you, that's what I was hoping to get with that question. Most people imagine the Riders carrying nice little snack packs and the horses grazing by the side of the road on rest stops. The Riders probably can carry the bulk of their own provisions, but feeding and watering 6,000 horses is a major operation. My guess is they have a few wagons along, too.






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FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 30 2011, 8:11am

Post #23 of 26 (1735 views)
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Riding light [In reply to] Can't Post

Theoden mentions these practicalities to Hirgon: "Have you good store in Minas Tirith? For if we must ride now in all haste, then we must ride light, with but meal and water enough to last us into battle."

That sounds to me as if Theoden is deciding whether or not to bring wagons, which would move much more slowly than pack-horses. Hirgon assures him that there is "great store" in Minas Tirith, and urges him to come with all speed. So I think that, although wagons would obviously be necessary for an army going on a long expedition, they are not going to be used for this ride. It's not something where you can compromise and just have "a few wagons". Either you ride slowly enough for wagons to keep up, or you do without. I think Theoden is choosing to do without, and carry everything on horseback.

Although there might be some doubt about the reliability of water-sources, as Darkstone says, this seems to be a well-watered landscape with plenty of mountain streams. It's described like this near the end of the chapter:
"In the willow-thickets where Snowbourn flowed into Entwash, twelve leagues east of Edoras, they camped that night. And then on again through the Folde; and through the Fenmarch, where to their right great oakwoods climbed on the skirts of the hills under the shades of dark Halifirien by the borders of Gondor; but away to their left the mists lay on the marshes fed by the mouths of Entwash."
The Snowbourn and the Entwash are close by, and the presence of willow and oak suggest plenty of water. It's unlikely that orcs could have poisoned all the mountain streams coming off the White Mountains. So perhaps the Riders could get away with skins of water carried by packhorses to supplement the water supplies they would expect to find along the way.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Darkstone
Immortal

Jun 30 2011, 3:38pm

Post #24 of 26 (1721 views)
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Speeds and time. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lessee...

Supposedly it’s 578 miles from Dunharrow to Minas Tirith.

Top speed of cavalry with fast wagons on good roads (How well maintained is the Great West Road?) is about twenty miles a day.

So it’d take around 29 days, or almost a month.

Horses alone average about 40 to 50 miles per day.

So that's about two weeks.

The top record for calvary speed is in 1241, where Mongol cavalry (naturally) covered almost 300 miles in less than 3 days to get to the Battle of Legnica.

So that’s about 5 days.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”


PhantomS
Rohan


Jun 30 2011, 5:02pm

Post #25 of 26 (1758 views)
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Eorl's ride [In reply to] Can't Post

was much longer and through unpaved roads plus he had to cross the Great River, but it took 20 days. He had more men than Theoden and no hint of supplies. Of course he was accelerated by Galadriel's mist, one could argue (plus Felarof was one of the mearas).

I don't think Theoden would bother with supply trains, as he is running a great race (as he tells Merry) with no hope of returning ("...if Mundburg falls we will all be under the Shadow"). With no huge wagons they can thunder across like the aforementioned Mongols, completely safe and without fear of being stopped by a hostile force as they are in Rohan. There is a danger from the Misty Mountains later on, but they are too far ahead to turn round to face it. They don't really need roads and the plains are as flat as can be.

I don't think the Rohirrim have 'snack packs' - each Rider can be outfitted with enough gear and feed, as there is an outfitting/weapontake called with a proper distribution of gear and logistics. Dernhelm is the one that looks out of place with a slender figure but a rather unusually sized Mr Bag. Theoden is taking 6,000 men, all on horseback, on a ride that is hard with few stops- after Dunharrow it seems like they only stop to scout the roads at Anorien.. The Entwash and other river streams described above are easy water sources for the steeds, and I'm sure the Rohirrim know how to hydrate themselves and the horses well enough without much delay and as much efficiency as possible.

Both Elfhelm and Widfara note that the road travelled here is one they have taken in times of peace with no seeming problems, so the road must be well maintained for horses, including grazing land and/or supply areas (barns, depots etc) The only hiccup is the large army on the Anorien side- otherwise it's a very nice ride.. Gondor's roads seem to last- the Stonewain Valley is pretty nice for the Rohirrim, yet no one has touched it in centuries!

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