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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Silmarillion Chapter Discussion: Akallabeth (Downfall of Numenor)
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Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Aug 21 2013, 8:31am

Post #26 of 45 (166 views)
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I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

That Sauron was only in it for himself, he did not intentionally do the world a favour. But the thought has occured to me that rather than been deadly enemies, had Sauron and the Numenoreans simply decided to divide the world up between them, there would be no power, other than the Valar, that could have opposed them. Or, if Sauron had been destroyed, say early in the Second Age, how could anyone have stood up to the strength of the Numenoreans?


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 21 2013, 4:32pm

Post #27 of 45 (132 views)
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Political partition [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't seen a political partition, of any part of the world, work. Look at the division of Berlin, the Treaty of Tordesillas, the current Middle East situation, and others in history.

Political partition doesn't work. The one side will always want something more, or will want to influence the other, perhaps in a benevolent way, but their would still be friction.

As much as we would like to let everyone live their own way, there will be some people who will take their argument too far, and aggravate the problem.


Riven Delve
Grey Havens


Aug 21 2013, 6:39pm

Post #28 of 45 (127 views)
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Just to throw another idea into the mix [In reply to] Can't Post

with regard to the New Testament comparison...



Quote


The idea of God/the Valar withdrawing and
becoming less active is sort of there. To me it is most tied to the Elves
gradually leaving for Valinor, since it is only they who may go to where the
Valar actually dwell. Men can't, so in a future where Elves are gone, yes, it
seems there would be less contact with spiritual beings.


Viewing the LotR period (and a good deal before) as like the New Testament makes some sense to me as well. I would not compare the Wizards to Christ directly as there are significant differences. (One or more of the Wizards fell into error, and wizards are lesser then even the Valar who sent them, whereas Christ, to Christians, is both without sin, and the One God incarnate). But there are also similarities in that the Wizards were spiritual beings, and they came in the guise of men, only with greater powers. I don't know that Tolkien would have intended this deliberately, but as he was clearly very familiar with both the Old and New Testaments that may have informed his idea of what this sort of text "should" look like.

On the other hand - have we not been discussing the long periods of inactivity of the Valar even in the Silmarillion? In modern real world religions that exist today it seems to me the continuing possibility of angelic/Divine involvement in a less hidden, more active way, is there, either in the world today or in the future. I am most familiar with Catholicism as it happens, as that is the religious background of my family. And Catholics can believe in miraculous happenings in the present day, mediated by saints, people who have (recently) been alive. (I am thinking specifically of Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005 and is likely to be declared a saint before the end of this year). A different example is the position of some fundamentalist Protestant groups in the US, who expect the Rapture, or the Second Coming, or similar, in the near future. Finally, in both these groups the faithful may believe that they have received answers to their prayers.



How would the idea of God/the Valar withdrawing work with the New Testament concept of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Godhead, and is represented in the NT as being present within every believer in Christ after Christ's ascension/Pentecost. In fact, the work of the HS is the undercurrent of most of the NT epistles, and even Revelation. Assuming there are still believers, we can assume God is still at work, at least through them, ad infinitum or until the Second Coming...can't we?

If this stands to reason (and I'm not sure it does in Catholic theology, because I confess I'm not all the familiar with it), then how does Tolkien legendarium assimilate this idea of "God STILL with us"? Can we fall back on the Istari coming in the world? (I don't think so, because of some of them failed, as noted above.) Do the Valar move around in the background, unseen and unreported? Does the Holy Spirit's presence somehow correspond with the rise of Men? Or does Tolkien not feel the need to get all allegorical? Tongue

Not sure about any of this...just musing. Smile

"It was just a sword, beautiful in the way of a weapon, with the jewels in the hilt set in gold scrollwork, and the blade glimmering and eager, as if it would fight of itself. Weapons are named for this; some are eager fighters, some dogged, some unwilling; but all are alive."--The Hollow Hills



Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 21 2013, 6:45pm

Post #29 of 45 (125 views)
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Just a vague idea [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw a vague relation, but as I have said elsewhere, the Legendarium is a mix of many cultures, and this pattern might not hold up throughout. It might be melded with the other ideas, in this case.

Do you see any others here?


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 27 2013, 8:51pm

Post #30 of 45 (115 views)
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I'm not sure what's worse [In reply to] Can't Post

being beaten by a girl and her boyfriend, or a girl and her dog. I suppose all their macho world-enslaving and destruction was overcompensation for their loss of masculinity.


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Aug 27 2013, 10:21pm

Post #31 of 45 (107 views)
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Heh! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
being beaten by a girl and her boyfriend, or a girl and her dog. I suppose all their macho world-enslaving and destruction was overcompensation for their loss of masculinity.




Morgoth should have gotten used to losing to a girl; it happens to all of us. I remember the first time I fenced with the most beautiful 16 year old girl I've ever known. I went easy on her so the pretty little girl wouldn't get her feelings hurt playing with the big boys. She beat me. During the rematch, I didn't hold back, she had proved she could hold her own with me, so I went after her all out. She beat me again. Not long after, we became good friends and she became my favorite fencing opponent.

I had a point, but I don't remember what it was. Maybe I'll come back later...


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 28 2013, 11:59am

Post #32 of 45 (106 views)
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Some possibilities [In reply to] Can't Post

I figure there's some divine/Valar/Eru inspiration at work in LOTR, such as Sam drawing inspiration from the last star he saw when entering Mordor (Varda's influence) and his fight with Shelob when he calls out in Quenya, which he didn't even know. (One could say he'd heard the words before from Bilbo without understanding them, just knew they'd fit in context.)

When Frodo drew inspiration from the crown of flowers on the head of the king's statue at the crossroads, I wonder if that's just Frodo, or a sign of hope from Yavanna to bolster him, which it clearly does. Last, there's the psychic message that Sam and Frodo receive on Mt Doom that they have to get to the top NOW, though I suspect that was Gandalf, the way the wizard strove with Sauron on Amon Hen, helping Frodo from afar.

These are all "maybe's" and easily disputed; we're all familiar with Tolkien's ambiguities, which leaves him open to interpretation, and any writer can write things that unintentionally reveal their inner thoughts/feelings. So, these are just maybe's related to an ethereal influence.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 28 2013, 12:00pm

Post #33 of 45 (103 views)
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Sounds like you fought with Eowyn, lol. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 28 2013, 12:19pm

Post #34 of 45 (104 views)
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Brainwashing [In reply to] Can't Post

My guess is that certainly Morgoth influenced and scared Sauron but couldn't control him the way he couldn't control Ungoliant or even Glaurung. Leaders, even evil ones, can leave "bonds" on their followers after their gone.

With weaker minds, Morgoth proved adept at brainwashing them: I'm thinking of the Elven slaves of Angband, who could be released as his spies and continued to do his will even when back among their own kind, and some would wander back to Angband on their own.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 28 2013, 12:27pm

Post #35 of 45 (103 views)
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Dunedain [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the reference to the Dunedain could make things unclear, since it means from Numenor or those in Middle-earth of Numernean descent.

As I remember it, it was the armies of Dunedain armies of Arnor and Gondor that defeated the Witch-King. There was some mystery about him at the time: he created the kingdom of Angmar as a base to destroy Arnor, and people knew he was a sorcerer, but I *think* it was only figured out late in the game that he was a Nazgul and very far from home. (Hey, FarFromHome is a TORN member. You don't suppose...?)

I'm not sure who all was at Carn Dum, but somewhere Tolkien wrote that it was a prince of Cardolan who was buried in the barrow the hobbits were held captive in, hence Merry picking up his memory of being killed. Not sure if the W-king was there or just his troops.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 28 2013, 12:38pm

Post #36 of 45 (99 views)
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Tinkering with religion [In reply to] Can't Post

In most polytheistic religions there is a chief god, but they are the first among equals and owe their rank to greater strength. Tolkien created a hybrid religion that may be unique. Eru is clearly in his own class, not a chief Vala--that's Manwe. I have seen interpretations of Tolkien's hierarchy that say that the Valar are really angels serving Eru, who is a god, the only one, and they shouldn't be equated with gods.

Which may be true, but they have the trappings of gods from other religions, Ulmo - the Sea, Varda - stars, etc. Christian angels (don't know about other religions) don't usually have the same associations. "This is Gabriel, the angel of the sea." Though there are patron saints associated with specific qualities, aren't there? A patron saint for travelers, one for doctors, etc. I'm still not sure it's the same thing. I think the Valar are something between angels and gods and don't equate with anything else. Which is fine. I find it fun to figure out where they fit in the scheme of things according to different beliefs, even if it can't be all worked out.


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Aug 28 2013, 4:14pm

Post #37 of 45 (98 views)
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Eowyn? [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, she certainly is "no man." Here's a picture of us. She's the pretty one.



They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 4:58pm

Post #38 of 45 (88 views)
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Elf envy [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I think it is the relieved pressure of their Mortality, and in a not-so-good way. I think the illusion of the length of their life, and the perceived closeness of the Blessed Realm makes them feel a bit less Edain and more Firstborn...which may make them not so tied to their own mortality, and feel that need to create new life to replace that which will be lost. A Fool's Paradise.

Do you ever think the Edain were set up to fail in this scenario? They're given their own island by "the gods," for Pete's sake. It's like getting Tol Eressea as your cruise ship to Valinor. Then they got longer lifespans too. Doesn't that raise expectations too much? One could say, "You already got your birthday presents. Go play with them and don't be greedy and ask for more," but when you see that your older sibling got exactly what you got plus some extra chocolate pony muffins, it's reasonable that you want it all. Greedy and not really excusable, but understandable. Here, more than in the summoning of the Elves to Valinor, it seems that conflict was baked into the cake. Without Feanor/Melkor, the Eldar could have lived happily ever after in Valinor, as the Vanyar and Teleri did. It's hard to see Men as remaining forever content, however.

Now to back up to the Nazgul:

Quote
I would say that seems to leap from the page doesn't it? Certainly the Witch King was one of the three named. As far as power, I think these Kings of Men had innate power to dominate (that's how they rose to Sauron's attention) so they both had pre existing corruption of spirit in the sense of desire to dominate which would have been played upon by Sauron and used to his advantage.

Pure speculation, but what do you think would have happened if Sauron gave Tar-Palantir one of the Nine? I think he'd become a wraith no matter what, unless he found the will to get rid of the ring before it was too late. But as someone with a good heart who, though king, doesn't seem overly bent on dominating other people, would he become a sort of hippie-wraith, wanting love and peace in his ghastly, ghostly form? Gandalf told Frodo that had the Morgul knife succeeded, Frodo would have become a wraith, but not a powerful one and not able to combat the Nazgul, only to be their minion. Did Sauron have to pick nine evil or evil-leaning Men to get good Ringwraiths out of them, or would any bloke who wandered along the street be amenable to his aims?


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 29 2013, 5:48pm

Post #39 of 45 (85 views)
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Numenor and random Wraiths [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
I think it is the relieved pressure of their Mortality, and in a not-so-good way. I think the illusion of the length of their life, and the perceived closeness of the Blessed Realm makes them feel a bit less Edain and more Firstborn...which may make them not so tied to their own mortality, and feel that need to create new life to replace that which will be lost. A Fool's Paradise.

Do you ever think the Edain were set up to fail in this scenario? They're given their own island by "the gods," for Pete's sake. It's like getting Tol Eressea as your cruise ship to Valinor. Then they got longer lifespans too. Doesn't that raise expectations too much? One could say, "You already got your birthday presents. Go play with them and don't be greedy and ask for more," but when you see that your older sibling got exactly what you got plus some extra chocolate pony muffins, it's reasonable that you want it all. Greedy and not really excusable, but understandable. Here, more than in the summoning of the Elves to Valinor, it seems that conflict was baked into the cake. Without Feanor/Melkor, the Eldar could have lived happily ever after in Valinor, as the Vanyar and Teleri did. It's hard to see Men as remaining forever content, however. To me, Numenor feels like a sort of the Summoning on a different scale, sort of proportionally changed to the retreat of the Divine from Arda, just as proportionally the foes change as well (Morgoth sort of scaled down to Sauron, though JRRT did account Sauron as closer to true evil). It also, as the first Summoning does, causes destruction and pain but through it provides hope to Middle-earth. Can we account it as the Valar simply not being in tune with the mortal mind yet? Just as perhaps they were not entirely in-tune with the Firstborn back in the day? So another learning curve - the result of which is both disaster yet slender hope for Men, and more reason for the Valar to retreat further; to where, if Men are destined to inherit Arda, they would most likely have to stay and which open the door to evolving JRRT's own real world theology to the legendarium with the removal of the multi-faceted divine, to be replaced by Eru alone. I agree, this learning curve seems like even more of an inevitable train wreck - but is that mirroring what I was theorizing above, the distance in mutual comprehension between the Valar and Men? So in a theological sense, the same story retold in our metaphor, in the human place in the cosmos as JRRT saw it?

Now to back up to the Nazgul:

Quote
I would say that seems to leap from the page doesn't it? Certainly the Witch King was one of the three named. As far as power, I think these Kings of Men had innate power to dominate (that's how they rose to Sauron's attention) so they both had pre existing corruption of spirit in the sense of desire to dominate which would have been played upon by Sauron and used to his advantage.

Pure speculation, but what do you think would have happened if Sauron gave Tar-Palantir one of the Nine? I think he'd become a wraith no matter what, unless he found the will to get rid of the ring before it was too late. But as someone with a good heart who, though king, doesn't seem overly bent on dominating other people, would he become a sort of hippie-wraith, wanting love and peace in his ghastly, ghostly form? Gandalf told Frodo that had the Morgul knife succeeded, Frodo would have become a wraith, but not a powerful one and not able to combat the Nazgul, only to be their minion. Did Sauron have to pick nine evil or evil-leaning Men to get good Ringwraiths out of them, or would any bloke who wandered along the street be amenable to his aims? OH: that's a fascinating idea to speculate on. Well my initial reaction is that the real danger is taking one of the Rings in the first place, with what is implied by the gift itself, and ignoring what perhaps one's own insights tell you about questioning 'free power'. So maybe the largest risk and first sign of decay is reaching out one's hand in the first place? (We know JRRT's feelings on grasping for pure 'power'). As Bugs Bunny would say, watch that first step, its a doozie. So maybe the question would be: would Tar-Palantir accept it? I think (mixing metaphors here) that when it comes to Rings possession is 9/10ths of the doom. If perhaps Sauron offered it with something he wanted, like long-lasting peace... its a possibility. But as you say, maybe that would not make the *best* type of Wraith, not with aggression and lust for *more* (which Sauron seems to work with) and not what Sauron was seeking? So it feels like there must have been selection criteria here, for the metaphysical muscle, as it were, of Sauron's realm. Nice folks need not apply.


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!








(This post was edited by Brethil on Aug 29 2013, 5:49pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 6:26pm

Post #40 of 45 (74 views)
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Non-omniscient gods [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I agree, this learning curve seems like even more of an inevitable train wreck - but is that mirroring what I was theorizing above, the distance in mutual comprehension between the Valar and Men? So in a theological sense, the same story retold in our metaphor, in the human place in the cosmos as JRRT saw it?
I agree, the Valar have as much to learn in their own way as the Men and Eldar do. Which seems a little unusual in religions. Aren't the gods usually all-knowing? In Norse and Greek mythology, they could be tricked often, but those were sneaky tricks and not a fundamental lack of comprehension about lesser beings. The Valar's naivete seems the root of half the problems that happen, and I think that Tolkien intended that they, as children of Eru, are born incomplete and are meant to learn, grow, and make mistakes like the other Children of Iluvatar are. If they did concoct a recipe for disaster in "spoiling" the Edain, their point of reference was the Eldar, a reasonable example to uphold. Feanor & Co. rebelled and left, but they didn't try to drive the Valar out of Valinor and steal the crown off of Manwe's head. There wasn't a way (barring Mandos speaking up) to foresee that Men would go beyond a Feanorian rebellion and try to supplant the Valar. The tragedy happened from ignorance on both sides of the Valar/Edain coin.

RE: rings. I agree, Tar-Palantir, especially being so intuitive, might have rejected one of the Nine Rings based on the creepiness of its giver, as Gil-Galad and Cirdan distrusted Annatar without knowing his identity. But the allure, as you noted, might have won him over. Gandalf said the way of the One Ring would be to appeal to his desire for goodness. Palantir could be equally seduced by a ring that would promise to bring peace and harmony, only betrayed later. But maybe his good sense would have prevailed no matter what. Faramir passed the temptation test, and that was with the One, not a lesser ring like the Nine.


Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 29 2013, 6:41pm

Post #41 of 45 (81 views)
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Indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

Some see God having a similar learning curve from the start of the Old Testament to the end of the New Testament. Some even compare the evolution to that of a tempestuous child growing into a loving and caring adult.

******************************************
Once Gandalf dreamt he was a moth, a moth flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Gandalf. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Gandalf. But he didn't know if he was Gandalf who had dreamt he was a moth, or a moth dreaming he was Gandalf. Between Gandalf and a moth there must be some distinction! But really, there isn't, because he's actually Olórin dreaming he's both Gandalf *and* a moth!
-From Gandalfi: The Moth Dream


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 7:00pm

Post #42 of 45 (77 views)
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A stark contrast to Eru [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, and that's an interesting contrast to Iluvatar, who appears in the Ainulindale to be omniscient and fully developed. Everyone else in the cosmos has to grow and learn, but Iluvatar is already at the end of the growth journey, beckoning for the rest to catch up to him someday.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 29 2013, 8:23pm

Post #43 of 45 (71 views)
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Recipe for a wraith-- Step one: find the subject to be wraith-ified [In reply to] Can't Post

This is an interesting thought. How would the original man's power, translate into 'wraithy-ness'?

I seem to remember a passage, saying that they were '(great?) kings of men'. Now, even with the 'great' portion omitted, they were kings, more strong-willed, battle hardened, a great leader, etc... So they would have mental and, presumably physical, prowess. Also, you have a ruthless 'Witch-King' as a subject. Was their will power, inner power, (what Gandalf referred to that the Ring enhanced, 'according to their measure'), the measure of their power as wraiths?

There would seem to be a hierarchy within the Ulari. The WK as chief, and a reference to Khamul, his lieutenant. This would seem to shoe that the preexisting measure of power, translated into his effectiveness as a wraith. Or did he just wow the others with his sorcery? Did they lose their memories? Or was memory unaffected by the wraith-ification, and only the will enslaved? The WK doesn't seem to be suffering from amnesia.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 9:46pm

Post #44 of 45 (69 views)
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Job opening: gain awesome powers, live forever, wear cool black, ride big bird-things [In reply to] Can't Post

Who wouldn't apply? But Brethil hints that applicants need a resume, and probably character references to boot. Would Grima make it to the interview? He was pretty easily corrupted, took orders extremely well, had no morals to speak of, and was willing to do overnight travel. Would he have been scary as a wraith, or do you pick that up in the 6-week training seminar in Aruba? Did he have the potential to lead and dominate others, or would he have been the Whiny of the Nine, the runt of the litter, doomed to clean up the carcasses that they amassed?

If he failed, I think we'd have a perfect candidate in the Mouth of Sauron. He had all the right characteristics, including unscrupulous ambition and a decided talent for duplicity and sadism. I'm sure if he'd been born at the right time and there had been Ten Rings for Men, he'd be #10 in good standing.

Anyway, I'd say yes to your question. I think they need to bring some inner power to the job, and it is enhanced. I don't think you could turn a weanie guy into a meanie. Bill Ferny would be a flop.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 30 2013, 8:16pm

Post #45 of 45 (75 views)
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So what would the first day on the job look like? [In reply to] Can't Post

So after they have passed the interviews with flying colours, what would they be like after they don the rings? What power did they get right away? How did they turn into wraiths? I can't imagine a Morgul Blade/ Frodo sickness. Did he just wait for them to die, and then did they rise at his call? Did they remember their past life?

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