Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Need help with a question!

Roheryn
Grey Havens

May 8 2013, 10:48am

Post #1 of 17 (299 views)
Shortcut
Need help with a question! Can't Post

Eldarion (age 7) is asking questions. His latest one is this:

If the White Council is only called the White Council because the leader is Saruman the White, then, if Gandalf didn’t turn into Gandalf the White after Saruman’s downfall, would the Council then be known as the Grey Council?

Can anyone answer this? And could you explain the rest of what he wanted to know: why the Council is called the White Council, and how it got its name? Are we just to assume it's "White" because it opposes Dark (or is this made explicit somewhere?)?

I turned this one over to NZ Strider, and for once, he failed me. So I'm hoping someone else here can help!

(And last night, Eldarion wanted to know all about Morgoth. I read him a three-page summary of the origins and doings of Melkor/Morgoth, and he was fascinated.)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 11:43am

Post #2 of 17 (173 views)
Shortcut
Such good questions, so young! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you have both parts of the answer too (good work!)- it's both named after its chairperson, and has connotations of being "White" because it opposes the Dark Lord. I don't think we find out whether one meaning is more important than the other.

Gandalf becomes "the White" so I guess that had the Council met late in the War of the Ring it could still have been the White Council (but I think they were all too busy to meet up!).

I think I remember that Galadriel says she had wanted Gandalf to be the leader of the White Council when he was still Gandalf the Grey - maybe it would have been "the Grey Council" then (or still the White Council, or some other name like "Council of the Wise",).

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, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


CuriousG
Valinor


May 8 2013, 12:28pm

Post #3 of 17 (163 views)
Shortcut
Well, if NZStrider doesn't know [In reply to] Can't Post

I can only guess that it's White opposed to Black. My only parallets would Elrond setting "The Nine Walkers" against the Nine Black Riders as a symbolic statement of good opposing eveil, since of course they were not well-matched.

When they meet Gandalf the White, Aragorn proclaims they need only one White Rider to oppose the Nine black ones. Gandalf could have back as himself anyway (i.e., Grey), but there was special signifance attached to White. So I think it would have been the White Council no matter who headed it because of the importance of white as a color (the Brown Council if Radagast had led it? The Blue Council if the others showed up to lead it? Just doesn't work.)


Darkstone
Immortal


May 8 2013, 12:38pm

Post #4 of 17 (163 views)
Shortcut
Well [In reply to] Can't Post

Since the First White Council was held before any of the wizards arrived in Middle-earth, "white" would seem to refer just to the general black/white, evil/good thing.

******************************************
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.”



Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 2:46pm

Post #5 of 17 (148 views)
Shortcut
Councils of the Wise [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Since the First White Council was held before any of the wizards arrived in Middle-earth, "white" would seem to refer just to the general black/white, evil/good thing.



There were Councils of the Wise held long before the Istari came to Middle-earth (if I remember right, Imladris/Rivendell was founded as the place for them to meet); however, I don't think the term "White Council" came into use until Lady Galadriel invited the Istari into the meetings of the Eldar.

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


Ardamírë
Valinor


May 8 2013, 3:11pm

Post #6 of 17 (143 views)
Shortcut
Council of White Wizards [In reply to] Can't Post

This is what Gandalf refers to it as in The Hobbit. I expect from a real world perspective, Tolkien kept the "White" part when writing LOTR in order to make sure the readers knew they were the same thing.

Just a thought.

"...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


Darkstone
Immortal


May 8 2013, 3:11pm

Post #7 of 17 (151 views)
Shortcut
Yes, and no. [In reply to] Can't Post

From Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn:

"The army that was besieging Imladris was caught between Elrond and Gil-galad, and utterly destroyed. Eriador was cleared of the enemy, but lay largely in ruins.
"At this time the first Council was held,* and it was there determined that an Elvish stronghold in the east of Eriador should be maintained at Imladris rather than in Eregion. At that time also Gil-galad gave Vilya, the Blue Ring, to Elrond, and appointed him to be his vice-regent in Eriador; but the Red Ring he kept, until he gave it to Círdan when he set out from Lindon in the days of the Last Alliance"

* CT's footnote: "The text was emended to read "the first White Council." In the Tale of Years the formation of the White Council is given under the year 2463 of the Third Age; but it may be that the name of the Council of the Third Age deliberately echoed that of this Council held long before, the more, especially as several of the chief members of the one had been members of the other."


******************************************
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.”



Brethil
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 3:15pm

Post #8 of 17 (134 views)
Shortcut
Agreed, Darkstone. Checked UT for details [In reply to] Can't Post

I reviewed Unfinished Tales, and just as Darkstone states there was indeed Council held about 1700-01 after the landing of Tar-Minastir and the destruction of Sauron's forces based in Eregion. Although the text says "At this time the first Council was held," there is an editorial note from CT stating that 'the first Council' was amended to 'the first White Council."
So I think the name does predate the coming of the Istari, and is more of a symbolic name, though not explicitly stated, for White pitted against Black. Please tell Eldarion to keep asking such excellent questions. Angelic So the concept of White working against Black would explain the naming of the head of the Istari order when they did arrive.

ADDED: Haha, I see you checked the same spot Darkstone! Wink

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

(This post was edited by Brethil on May 8 2013, 3:17pm)


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 3:15pm

Post #9 of 17 (137 views)
Shortcut
I had forgotten that... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the reminder. Although, I'm not sure that Tolkien's note for the passage in Unfinished Tales makes it completely canonical. The Professor, himself, is not consistent on the subject.

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


Darkstone
Immortal


May 8 2013, 3:18pm

Post #10 of 17 (141 views)
Shortcut
That's why... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I said "Yes, and no."

Wink

******************************************
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.”



CuriousG
Valinor


May 8 2013, 3:29pm

Post #11 of 17 (111 views)
Shortcut
How very Tolkienesque of you. :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Ardamírë
Valinor


May 8 2013, 3:38pm

Post #12 of 17 (109 views)
Shortcut
Very Elvish! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"...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


squire
Valinor


May 8 2013, 6:44pm

Post #13 of 17 (117 views)
Shortcut
That's my take on it, too. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Hobbit, with Gandalf as one of Tolkien's most notable contributions to his growing body of legends, precedes all later development of the wizards (who became the Istari), the Council, and the Wise as they appear in The Lord of the Rings and the ephemera that followed its writing. In The Hobbit, the original line is:
It appeared that Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic; and that they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in the south of Mirkwood. (The Hobbit, XIX; bold by squire)
Anyone familiar with the fairy-tale traditions of the time would recognize that "white" in this context is a specific reference to what the passage calls "lore and good magic" - the type of wizardry that is always opposed to "black" as in the term "black magic". Necromancy, of course, is the very essence of black magic, so it would be important to Tolkien for his young readers to be able to distinguish the good wizards like Gandalf from the bad wizard that was driven from Mirkwood.

As you say, the first reference to this council in The Lord of the Rings is as "the White Council". Christopher Tolkien warns in his notes that this reference (in the draft called "Chapter II: 'Ancient History'", in HoME VI, p 319) appears in a manuscript that was much reworked, leaving us in some doubt if the term wasn't retrofitted after further development in later writing. But occurring as it does in the context of Gandalf first discussing the return of the Necromancer/Dark Lord to Frodo (originally Bingo), it seems clear to me that you're right that Tolkien kept "White" in the name so that his readers would make the Hobbit connection.



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 (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Roheryn
Grey Havens

May 9 2013, 9:49am

Post #14 of 17 (101 views)
Shortcut
Thank you all! [In reply to] Can't Post

You're a huge help. I didn't get the chance to discuss this with Eldarion before bedtime tonight (*grumble* electric fences *grumble* ponies *grumble* steers), but I'm sure he'll be delighted with this info tomorrow.

I actually myself figured it would have been White regardless of the colour of its head, but then I realized I didn't have any particular support for that idea. So I'm happy to know that its colour preceded the arrival of the Istari.

Eldarion did wonder if it would have been the Brown Council, if Radagast had succeeded Saruman.


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 9 2013, 5:30pm

Post #15 of 17 (72 views)
Shortcut
What supremely lucky kids... [In reply to] Can't Post

...to be introduced to Tolkien by you and NZS!

Somehow "Brown Council" doesn't have the same cachet, does it? I grew up in the South during the civil rights era. I often argued that if we could just describe people as being "pink" and "brown" all the energy would drain out of the conflict.








CuriousG
Valinor


May 9 2013, 6:07pm

Post #16 of 17 (59 views)
Shortcut
I would love to see the signs back then changed to "Pinks Only." :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


wildespace
The Shire

Jun 5 2013, 4:24pm

Post #17 of 17 (17 views)
Shortcut
Gandalf would have become the White anyway, [In reply to] Can't Post

as he would have taken Saruman's position. Gandalf becoming the White after his return from Mandos signified that Saruman is no longer the head of the Council. The Coincil itself remains White, and whoever is the head of the council is [such and such] the White.

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.