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Is Gandalf (or any of the Maiar, for that matter) aware that he is a Maia?
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WingShield210
The Shire


Aug 17 2013, 6:22am

Post #1 of 30 (649 views)
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Is Gandalf (or any of the Maiar, for that matter) aware that he is a Maia? Can't Post

I'm terribly, terribly sorry if this sort of discussion has been posted before, but I'm wondering: Is there any canonical evidence that Gandalf is actually consciously aware of the fact that he is explicitly a Maia?

Needless to say, I know that he is aware of the fact that he is separate from the other species of Middle-earth (especially after his rebirth as Gandalf the White), but is he fully aware of his origins and connection to the Valar?

"I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable; I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again." - Frodo

"Not all those who wander are lost."


Arandir
Gondor


Aug 17 2013, 7:59am

Post #2 of 30 (428 views)
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Interesting question [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never considered asking myself that one, but I'm guessing the answer can be found in 'The Silmarillion' which states in the Valaquenta that Olorin (Gandalf) dwelt in the gardens of Irmo in Valinor and he was a pupil of Nienna. This was before the awakening of the Elves, so I'm guessing he would have had a pretty good idea of 'what' he was - especially after being sent back as Gandalf the White in 'The Lord of the Rings'.

'A Tolkienist's Perspective' Blog
'How Peter Jackson inches closer to making 'The Silmarillion'


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 17 2013, 1:30pm

Post #3 of 30 (435 views)
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His words on the bridge of Khazad-dum [In reply to] Can't Post

Would imply a knowledge of things beyond the Elves. Also, his longevity might give a hint, (oh look, I'm not dead!!). He also has said that he once knew EVERY spell in the tongues of men, elves, and dwarves. Not a norm. Then he can describe the West to Pippin. The biggest factor in my answer.

YES!!


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Aug 17 2013, 2:19pm

Post #4 of 30 (390 views)
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Agree! [In reply to] Can't Post

In addition, as Gandalf the White, he tells somebody (don't recall whom) thatr he is the most dangerous being that person is likely to meet, unless that person is brought before the Dark Lord himself. This suggests Gandalf is aware he belongs to the same order of beings as Sauron.


WingShield210
The Shire


Aug 17 2013, 5:58pm

Post #5 of 30 (365 views)
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Specifically a Maia? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hm, you see, that's sort of the idea I had too. However, even though he knows he's powerful, I've wondered if he specifically knows that he is a Maia.

As in, he could walk up to someone and say, "Hi, name's Gandalf, I'm a Maia."

"I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable; I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again." - Frodo

"Not all those who wander are lost."

(This post was edited by WingShield210 on Aug 17 2013, 6:03pm)


Elizabeth
Valinor


Aug 17 2013, 6:19pm

Post #6 of 30 (379 views)
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They knew some things. [In reply to] Can't Post

In his 1954 essay, The Istari (UT), Tolkien wrote:

Quote
For it is said indeed that being embodied the Istari had need to learn much anew by slow experience, and though they knew whence they came the memory of the Blessed Realm was to them a vision from afar off, for which (so long as they remained true to their mission) they yearned exceedingly.


So, I'd say they knew they were different, that they had some powers (which they explored over time), and that they were sent with a mission. I think it's very unlikely that Gandalf remembered much about his life as Olórin or his conversations with Nienna, although some of the wisdom he gained in those conversations may have survived.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Aug 17 2013, 6:21pm)


squire
Valinor


Aug 17 2013, 9:29pm

Post #7 of 30 (369 views)
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The term 'Maiar' postdates the writing of The Lord of the Rings [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe it was around 1951 that Tolkien decided the host of lesser spirits (i.e., not the Valar) that populated his Silmarillion legends needed a name as a class. For that reason, I don't think we'll find any use of the word in The Lord of the Rings.

As some here have commented already, the book is quite ambiguous on the subject of just how much Gandalf knows about his Valinorean identity as the Maia Olorin. Tolkien added the name to the lists of the 'Valaquenta' in the same 1951 typescript in which he coined the term 'Maiar'. I have always thought it likely that Tolkien invented the name Olorin for Gandalf as a distant memory ("Olorin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten." LotR IV.5) and then developed that name into an identity as one of the people of the Valar (i.e. a Maia) when he revisited and revised his existing Silmarillion text -- after finishing LotR.

I think the term is more important to readers than it was to Tolkien. These days, especially since the rise of games like Dungeons and Dragons where any entity can meet and compete with any other entity, we expect an author's fantasy world to have consistent rulebook-like definitions, and his creatures to have relative powers that can be compared and contested. Tolkien admitted he was susceptible to the "game" aspects of creating a secondary world, but he fought these urges as often as he indulged them. He never really says who or what the Maiar are or what they can and cannot do - all we really know is they are of the "same order" but not the same power as the ruling Valar.



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Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Aug 17 2013, 9:44pm

Post #8 of 30 (319 views)
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Of course [In reply to] Can't Post

I doubt the Istari could carry out their mission(s) if they didn't remember even that much about themselves.

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


WingShield210
The Shire


Aug 17 2013, 9:58pm

Post #9 of 30 (358 views)
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Great reply, and an excerpt from The Unfinished Tales [In reply to] Can't Post

My friend, that was a truly brilliant reply. Great insight with the point about Dungeons and Dragons; I had really never thought of it that way.

Also, I posted this discussion somewhere else, and I got the perfect reply:

"For it is said indeed that being embodied the Istari had need to learn much anew by slow experience, and though they knew whence they came the memory of the Blessed Realm was to them a vision from afar off, for which (so long as they remained true to their mission) they yearned exceedingly. Thus by enduring of free will the pangs of exile and the deceits of Sauron they might redress the evils of that time."

-- "The Istari," The Unfinished Tales

"I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable; I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again." - Frodo

"Not all those who wander are lost."


Elizabeth
Valinor


Aug 17 2013, 10:31pm

Post #10 of 30 (334 views)
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The perfect reply... [In reply to] Can't Post

...is also posted 2 messages above. Smile








sador
Half-elven


Aug 18 2013, 5:31am

Post #11 of 30 (309 views)
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Well (part I) [In reply to] Can't Post

On one level, squire is of course right. The DnD attitude he mentions comes up every now and then, whenever someone argues (normally regarding the scene in Jackson's RotK EE) that "of course, according to Tolkien himself, Gandalf would have knocked the Witch-king silly. After all, he was a Maia and not a mere Man-turned-wraith".
It is pointless to argue that:
1. Gandalf himself expressed fear of the Witch-king twice.
2. According to the LotR drafts, the Wiki himself was a renegade member of Gandalf's order (not yet named Maiar).
and most important,
3. This reading robs the end of the Siege of Gondor chapter, one of the most powerful of Tolkien's of all it's majesty; it becomes silly and pathetic, with Gandalf letting the people of Minas Tirith bleed when he can take on the mastermind of the siege and the one who broke their Gate - for what reason? Cowardice, or some deep political scheme of his own? It serves him right that he is robbed of the glory himself?
(shudder)
No, of course Gandalf is staring complete, ignominious defeat in the face. When the Witch-king raises his sword and says: "die now, and curse in vain" this is what should happen - if not for the breaking of the day, and Gandalf's success in redeeming Theoden and encouraging Aragorn. And the whole point is that Gandalf sees the turn of the tide, but remains in Rath Dinen and then the Houses of Healing when his strategy triumphs.

(By the way, this has been discussed before - but as far as I know, your angle wasn't. And even had it been, that shouldn't stop anyone from raising it again.)

So, based on squire's caveat, what did Gandalf know?
That simple answer is, more or less, whatever Tolkien himself did.

In the Book of Lost Tales, many classes of spirits are mentioned as populating the world. Some are the Children of the Valar; but most are really non-defined, save that they are clearly distinct from Elves and Men on one hand, and from the Valar on the other. The chief servants of the Enemy seem to also be a part of this loose group, which essentially is "all the rest". Of these fine fellows, two were endowed by Tolkien in his early Silmairillion drafts with an actual character: Melian the Fay, and Thu the wizard (later named Sauron).
So when The Hobbit was written, the only thing which was known about Gandalf was that he belonged to more or less the same undefined class as Thu did (of course, he was good - which led to the concept of White wizards, each considerably weaker than the Necromancer, but able to unite and defeat him). However, Gandalf was both fallible and suspect to fear - as he is when the goblins burn the forest around him, and he is described as quite desperate at the Battle of Five Armies.

Phew! I've been at this for so long, and haven't even begun to properly answer!
The rest will come later today.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 18 2013, 12:47pm

Post #12 of 30 (275 views)
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I must have missed something [In reply to] Can't Post

Where does it say that the Witch King was Maiar? I must have missed it.

What are the children of the Valar?


squire
Valinor


Aug 18 2013, 2:57pm

Post #13 of 30 (324 views)
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"Die now and curse in vain! For... I am no Maia!" [In reply to] Can't Post

It would be wrong, I think, to base arguments about matters in The Lord of the Rings by using quotes from the drafts in History of Middle-earth - except in the rare cases where the drafts are both consistent with the final published text and yet the published text itself gives no information about the subject. In the case of the Witch-King of Angmar, the HoME drafts are well outbid by the fact that Tolkien gives this villain a perfectly understandable identity: he is a mortal man enslaved by one of the Nine Rings commanded by Sauron's One Ring. Was he a Black Numenorean? Not clear. Was he always a sorceror, even before Sauron took him? Not clear either. But was he a Man, not a Maia? Certainly: "Nine Rings for Mortal Men, Doomed to Die", etc.

Of course as sador notes, Tolkien considered other structures while he was inventing the story. Just as Gandalf was not from the beginning a messenger of the Valar and a member of the so-called Maia order, but simply one wizard among an unnumbered company of "White Wizards", so too his nemesis at the siege of Gondor was not always the fiend with the resume given above. Here, in the form of story-notes to himself, is Tolkien's first stab at the passage in Book V where Gandalf discusses the Witch King with Denethor and Faramir, while Pippin listens in. (In the actual writing, this actually takes place later, after Faramir has returned to battle):
Denethor and Faramir marvel at Gandalf's power over Nazgul. Gandalf says things are still not so bad -- because the W[izard] King has not yet appeared. He reveals that he is a renegade of his own order ... [?from] Numenor. 'So far I have saved myself from him only by flight -- for many an age he has lain in hiding or sleep while his master's power waned. But now he is grown more fell than ever. Yet it was foretold that he should be overthrown, in the end, by one young and gallant. But maybe that lies far in the future.' - 'The War of the Ring', HoME IX, 326.
Those were the notes. Then Tolkien wrote out the first draft, and things had already changed:
'But he has come whom I feared.' 'Not the Dark Lord,' cried Pippin. 'No, he will not come except in triumph, ' said Gandalf. 'He wields others as his weapons. I speak of one whom you have met. The Wizard King, captain of those you called the Black Riders. Most fell of all the servants of the Dark Tower. But he has not [struck out (?): yet] taken to winged steeds. [In him I am not overmatched, and yet still I am matched, for he was a member of our order before evil took him.] *Note 13. - HoME IX, p. 331. [Note 13, p. 340: "The square brackets are in the original."]
Finally, embedded in his commentary on the draft history of this chapter, Christopher Tolkien gives us one last stage in the progression by which the Wizard King, a renegade of the same order as Gandalf and Saruman and thus one of what would be later named as an order of embodied Maiar, became the Witch King of Angmar, a mortal like the other ringwraiths:
Gandalf still as in the draft (p. 331 [just above - squire]) reminds Pippin who the Black Captain is: 'You have met him, Peregrin son of Paladin, though then he was far from home, veiled to your eyes, when he stalked the Ringbearer. Now he is come forth in power again, growing as his Master grows.' Gandalf now names him 'King of Angmar long ago', and this is the first appearance of the conception of the Kingdom of Angmar in the texts of The Lord of the Rings. To Denethor's [challenge as to his courage in facing this foe, the wizard] recalls a prophecy concerning the fate of the Lord of the Nazgul different from that in the brief outline given on page 326 [two quotes above - squire]:
'...And if words spoken of old come true, he is not doomed to fall before warrior or wise [>men of war or wisdom]; but in the hour of his victory to be overthrown by one who has never slain a man [>by one who has slain no living thing]. ...' - HoME IX, pp. 334-35.
It's interesting stuff, HoME. But as I said, it's iffy to use it to make points about the LotR legendarium - drafts are drafts, and Tolkien changed a lot in the final writing, from details of tone to major innovations or revisions in the nature of the world he was inventing as he wrote. Not to mention the fact that editor C. Tolkien does not in the least present all the drafts that were available to him; as readers become aware, he carefully picks and chooses his selections to illustrate points of composition that he finds most interesting or important. The reader is left to scrabble desperately or in vain for information about the composition of a section of the text that does not make CT's final cut in his effort to keep the books within the boundaries of a decent page count. In this case, at least, I think we do see how it is that a villain once called the Wizard King and thus rightly included within what would later be called the Maiar, by slow degrees became the Witch King, powerful indeed and yet the wraith of a mere mortal man like the rest of the Nazgul.



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


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arithmancer
Grey Havens


Aug 18 2013, 4:41pm

Post #14 of 30 (269 views)
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Classification vs. Meaning [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for that, it is very interesting to see the various different ideas Tolkien had for this character!

I would agree, the WiKi is not a Maia, as a point of (fictional) fact in this (fictional) universe. He is a mortal man, possibly a sorceror in his own right, possibly granted powers by his Ring and Sauron (who is a Maia).

What I take away from all of those passages (together with LotR as published) is that it remained Tolkien's fixed intent, in all revisions we have available to us, that the WiKi be a "fell" adversary Gandalf would not defeat. Thus while his precise origin is interesting, it's not (in my opinion) that relevant to assessing what would have ensued in a duel between Gandalf and this character. Gandalf could not have defeated him.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 18 2013, 5:54pm

Post #15 of 30 (256 views)
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Another inquiry [In reply to] Can't Post

I had thought the sword that Pippin used, was forged by the Numenorians, for use against the WK. I had, rightly or wrongly, assumed that he was an evil sorcerer king, leagues with Sauron in the SA, fighting Gil-galad and the Dunedain. The barrow wights were the dead of those battles, I thought, making references to "the men of Carn Dum"(Dum-Dun?-Dunedain?)

Was I the only one that thought that?


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Aug 18 2013, 6:31pm

Post #16 of 30 (252 views)
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Nope, I also thought that. [In reply to] Can't Post

A basis for my thought is tis citation from the Battle of Pelennor Fields chapter of LotR:

"So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will."


squire
Valinor


Aug 18 2013, 6:43pm

Post #17 of 30 (282 views)
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I think we are meant to be uncertain of the outcome [In reply to] Can't Post

It's not Tolkien's way to foreshadow anything in his story as being inevitable. Obviously, such writing eliminates suspense and drama. For a reader to think that Gandalf is inevitably doomed in his confrontation with the Witch King would be as fatal to the story as the opposite impression that he can defeat any antagonist.

We can see that in the way Tolkien revised his initial idea (as seen in my previous post). At first, Gandalf actually says
'So far I have saved myself from him only by flight.... But now he is grown more fell than ever.' (HoME IX, p. 326)
But that kind of suggests Gandalf has about zero chance of stopping the "Wizard King". No drama there. By the time Tolkien found his balance in this scene, we read:
[Denethor:] 'Or can it be that you have withdrawn because you are overmatched?’ Pippin trembled, fearing that Gandalf would be stung to sudden wrath, but his fear was needless. ‘It might be so,’ Gandalf answered softly. ‘But our trial of strength is not yet come.' (LotR V.4)
This leaves us with a real sense of tension: is Gandalf 'overmatched' by the Witch King, or not? Why does he sit, unmoving, on Shadowfax when the wraith raises his flaming sword? What will happen in the next second - just as the horns of Rohan break the unbelievable tension of a scene the book has not predicted the end of?

I agree with you that we can see a steady trail of Tolkien's fixed intent throughout the sequence of revisions I cited. But I would suggest that that trail is about the mysterious prophecy regarding the Witch King's doom. From the beginning Tolkien imagined a story whereby not Gandalf, but some unknown party, would destroy the head wraith. Who? That's what changes. Here's his first stab at an idea:
Yet it was foretold that he should be overthrown, in the end, by one young and gallant. (HoME IX, p. 326)
This becomes:
'...if words spoken of old come true, he is not doomed to fall before warrior or wise [>men of war or wisdom]; but in the hour of his victory to be overthrown by one who has never slain a man [>by one who has slain no living thing].' (HoME IX, p. 335)
which is finally resolved into the classic riddle we all remember from the book:
'...if words spoken of old be true, not by the hand of man shall he fall.' (LotR V.4)
Of the three, the first is a mere boring cliche from fairy tales, and the third cleverly echoes the riddling prophecies we find in Greek myth, like the story of Oedipus. But look at the second idea. I was most intrigued by the concept of a "virgin" warrior: one who has never killed anything, but who will prove able to kill the demon. In some ways this somewhat impractical idea must have suggested to Tolkien his move to the classic "not a man" commission that only a woman can seemingly fulfill; it's even possible we can think that perhaps Eowyn had, indeed, never before killed anything, although there's no hint of that in the story. (Her maiden status as a virgin does seem to have been an effective source of power against the shadow of the Witch King, as we see what the athelas reveals about her in the Houses of Healing: "...a keen wind blew through the window, and it bore no scent, but was an air wholly fresh and clean and young, as if it had not before been breathed by any living thing and came new-made...")

But I was reminded too of another point in the story, where Tolkien may have (as he so often did) recycled a story idea that he liked but could not use where he had originally intended to. During the Scouring of the Shire, remember, Frodo declares that
'No hobbit has ever killed another on purpose in the Shire...' (LotR VI.8).
This gives substance to Frodo's new status as a prophet and a saint among the hobbits, at the end of his long agony. But doesn't this also, we now can see, point back to the scene on the Pelennor Fields, when the prophecy against the Witch King is fulfilled, surprisingly, not just by a woman who is "No man", but also by a hobbit, Merry, who is not a Man and who comes of a race that, it is later revealed, has never committed murder?



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.


sador
Half-elven


Aug 19 2013, 8:07am

Post #18 of 30 (243 views)
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Well, (part II) [In reply to] Can't Post

I thank squire for quoting the HoME passages I've cited, and for ensuing discussion. My whole point, of course, was that the climax of Book V was when Gandalf was staring at defeat, and the identity of the Witch-king, or how he received his extraordinary powers are tangential points. I just must add that
1. Unlike with the Balrog, Gandalf is passive after the first defiance.
2. I am not too convinced by the "Nine for Mortal Men..." proof, especially once this verse is recited by the non-elf bearer of Narya. And unlike the Three Rings which we can more or less trace from the moment Celebrimbor sent them to be hidden, we know absolutely nothing regarding the history of the Nine. For all we know, the Captain of the Nazgul might have ruled Angmar before he received a ring from Sauron.

Back to the plot - what did Gandalf know (or more correctly, what did Tolkien "know"), during the War of the Ring?

As I've established in my previous post, it is clear that wizards were some class of powerful minor spirits from the beginning.
In Book I we learn that Saruman is the Head of the Order (presumably, of The Hobbit's council of good wizards), and we also get hints of Gandalf's hidden greatness - from Gildor, and more explicitly from Aragorn.
This is further confirmed in Many Meetings by Frodo's amazement that Gandalf could have been held captive, and by Gandalf's conceding that there are some powers greater than him; he also significantly states that he has not yet been measured against The Lord of the Black Riders, the brush-off at Weathertop notwithstanding.
After that, Elrond names Gandalf as the most important counsellor, keeping him for last; and Gandalf also shows off on Caradhras, further cementing his greatness (such a contrast to Out of the Frying-pot Into the Fire!).
And as has been commented before, in his challenge to the Balrog he apparently reveals himself. Actually, the Flame of Anor cryptic reference could be explained away as referring to his being the bearer of Narya, but I don't think Tolkien himself had thought of this twist yet; but I must point out that he is referring to the Sun, rather than to the Flame Imperishable (it might be both; we do not know the Elvish name for the Flame).

For the sake of simplicity, I will ignore the drafts published in HoME in this discussion; I'll just mention that for a fleeting moment, the Balrog was envisioned as one of the Black Riders.
And as a matter of fact, taking on a Balrog was less impressive than it seems; just remember that no Balrog ever defeated an Elven-lord in a fair battle, as far as we know (Feanor and Fingon were both slain by Gothmog after having been overpowered by fighting more than one); in the 1917 Fall of Gondolin Tuor kills five of them, and Ecthelion three before Gothmog (which he felled while being wounded).
In the 1950 Annals of Aman, hundreds of Balrogs are mentioned - before Tolkien remembered that one of them battled Gandalf for several days (and effectively slew him), destroyed the greatest Dwarf-kingdom in Middle-earth and was named by Legolas and Celeborn as second only to Sauron, a greater elf-bane than even dragons were! (and this was said in Galadriel's presence... what of Glaurung and Nargothrond?) After this, Tolkien wrote on the manuscript that there were never more than five, or seven, Balrogs.
So I think we could correctly state that the Balrog became more formidable as Gandalf's status was enhanced, in order to make it a worthy adversary.

In book III we glean more information, when Treebeard states that the wizards came with the great ship over the Sea, and Gandalf says that he was sent back for a short time, until his task was done. I suppose that this was the point at which the Istari as "angels" (in the original sense, of messengers) came into the story. Tolkien "knew" for a long time that Gandalf will return (according to the drafts), but the concept of resurrection for a special cause took time to develop.
In The White Rider we also have Aragorn's exuberant assertion that Gandalf is mightier than the Nine, which the wizard not necessarily qualifies (he might be only saying that Sauron is mightier still), but at Minas Tirith he does not respond to Denethor's taunt, which squire quoted.

But yes, it seems clear that Gandalf did know he had a mission; and it is noteworthy that he did reveal his true name to Faramir. Even Theoden, who normally distrusted folklore, referred to Gandalf's "old home". So this must have been common knowledge!


I conclude that the LotR-Gandalf did know what and who he was, and moreover, this was no secret.
But the Istari essay in Unfinished Tales confuses the issue; and I assume you we're asking according to a more unified approach, whether the "final" version of Gandalf knew what he was here for. Alas, it becomes even more complicated - and I have to stop now. More later.


sador
Half-elven


Aug 19 2013, 9:07am

Post #19 of 30 (242 views)
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Tolkien thought so, too. [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have the book at the moment, but in a footnote to appendix A, of the Northren Kingdom, he mentions that the Barrow in which the hobbits were imprisoned was that of the last prince of Cardolan. Carb Dum also appears in one of the maps at the Northren end of the Misty Mountains (maybe only in the map in UT - I don't remember).
It is Merry who seems to be possessed by the ghost of a Cardolan warrior, and he who stabs the Witch-king. Did all four swords have the same virtue, or only his, and had he exchanged swords with Sam or Pippin he would have failed and Eowyn with him? The text could be read either way.
And another question - did Elrond examine the hobbits' swords, as he did Gandalf's and Thorin's? If every step of their journey was examined at the Council, surely this was, too! But there is no indication of this in the text, either.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 19 2013, 11:16am

Post #20 of 30 (236 views)
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Another thought [In reply to] Can't Post

Reverend,(Old member, who has sadly passed) had a masterly analysis of the topic on Balrogs, and I believe that it deserves mention here. You can find it in the archives.

Now on their number, we must specify the part, and editing draft of the legendarium. In LotR, few Balrogs could work, but if we open it up to the Sil, there were legions of them at Gondolin and Angband. We can only truly say what Tolkien had in mind during the current draft, and as you have said, a 'final' solution, or authorized version, eludes us completely.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Aug 19 2013, 5:41pm

Post #21 of 30 (237 views)
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The "Final" version [In reply to] Can't Post

The essay "The Istari" published in UT and including the passage cited above by me and Wingshield210 was written in 1954, the year LotR was published and well after the writing was finished, so presumably it represents Tolkien's last thoughts on the subject. Its conclusion suggests that the Istari knew that they had a mission and some things about their powers, but had forgotten much of their former lives in the Blessed Lands.

Reverend's classic analysis of Balrogs cited by Rembrethil may be found here.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Aug 19 2013, 5:41pm)


Dis15
Bree

Aug 19 2013, 6:45pm

Post #22 of 30 (223 views)
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Elizabeth has a good point. The fact that [In reply to] Can't Post

the Maia had to take on physical bodies in order to live in Middle Earth would have prohibited them from having any memory of their former lives in the Blessed Realm.

This is something I have been thinking about: In UT, Yavanna gives Radagast a specific mission to guard her creations above all else. Does this mean that Radagast really did not fail his mission in MIddle Earth?


elaen32
Gondor


Aug 19 2013, 9:23pm

Post #23 of 30 (206 views)
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That's a really interesting point Sador [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is Merry who seems to be possessed by the ghost of a Cardolan warrior, and he who stabs the Witch-king. Did all four swords have the same virtue, or only his, and had he exchanged swords with Sam or Pippin he would have failed and Eowyn with him? The text could be read either way.
.


Not one that had occurred to me, but yes, did Merry have more connection with his sword because he had been briefly possessed by the spirit of its previous owner?

Incidentally, weren't the actual wights, evil spirits sent to inhabit the tombs of the fallen by the WitchKing?


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



sador
Half-elven


Aug 20 2013, 5:35am

Post #24 of 30 (230 views)
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Ah, Reverend's classic [In reply to] Can't Post

It is not quite serious (at least its conclusion isn't), but behind the whimsical facade there is a well-reasoned argument.
Reverend passed away a decade ago; I think it was sometime in 2003. I've only discovered the message boards in 2007, but at the time, many who knew and remembered him were still active posters, and he was often praised as a person and cited. Elizabeth, especially, loves his balrog-wings theory, and mentions it nearly every time the topic comes up - as she did below.
I'll add a bit more about balrogs on the next post - and it's becoming so long, I don't have the time to respond to your Akallabeth thread!


Elthir
Gondor

Aug 21 2013, 2:11pm

Post #25 of 30 (182 views)
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'Final' version? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmm, I can't agree at least when we speak generally about this essay. It may be that a given point within 'The Istari' holds up against other texts or arguments, as maybe the citation you raised for example, but it's not necessarily final concerning all matters I think.

The 1954 essay is still earlier than certain other texts or statements about the Wizards -- for example, it's earlier than Tolkien's letter in which he 'doubts' the other two wizards had distinctive colours [the 'Blue Wizards' only hails from the earlier essay, as far as I recall to date].

This essay also pre-dates the publication [at least] of the Appendices, concerning which I can think of a couple matters that at least appear to conflict with something in this essay. Here I can't speak specifically as to what came first with respect to writing, but when we have an arguable conflict, for myself I would usually consider text published by the author to be considered more 'final' than posthumously published accounts.

Again that's more of a general characterization of The Istari considered as a final version...

... noting that you wrote 'final' not final in any case Smile


(This post was edited by Elthir on Aug 21 2013, 2:21pm)

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