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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Gandalf and the eagles...

Salmacis81
Grey Havens


Aug 22 2013, 3:09pm

Post #1 of 17 (414 views)
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Gandalf and the eagles... Can't Post

There is a thread over the The Hobbit movie forum which brings up the age-old question "Why didn't the eagles just fly the group to Erebor/Mordor". Now normally I'd roll my eyes at this question, but this time it got me thinking; there are a few legitimate questions regarding the eagles and their history with Gandalf. Anyway, here goes...

In The Hobbit it's stated that the eagles refuse to fly near settlements of men for fear of being shot at, but in LOTR, Gwaihir takes Gandalf to Edoras. If the eagles won't fly near the Woodmen settlements or Lake-town in TH, why then would one drop Gandalf off at Edoras in LOTR? Regarding Mordor, I can completely understand the eagles not going there while Sauron was around, as he certainly would have seen them, and sent the Nazgul after them. As far as TH is concerned, this seems a bit problematic, as "they won't fly near men" is the only explanation given for why the eagles would go no further than the edge of Mirkwood. Yet Gwaihir flies Gandalf right to Edoras in LOTR. So it would seem here that Tolkien just forgot all about his earlier explanation for why the eagles won't go certain places.

Another related question is, was Gwaihir the same as the "Lord of the Eagles" that rescues Gandalf in The Hobbit? In The Hobbit, we learn that the Gandalf once saved the life of the Lord of Eagles, and so the Lord of Eagles is willing to bear Gandalf as a burden as payment for saving his life. Now, during LOTR, we know that Gwaihir bore Gandalf three times (first saved him from Orthanc and took him to Edoras, then was saved from Zirakzigil and taken to Lothlorien, and finally to look for Frodo and Sam in Mordor after the Ring was destroyed). When Gandalf asks Gwaihir to take him into Mordor, he mentions that he has been borne twice by Gwaihir, and that "thrice shall pay for all".

So this means two things - first, that Gwaihir IS NOT the Lord of the Eagles that saved the group in TH, because if he was, then Gwaihir bearing Gandalf to Mordor would have been the fourth time, not the third. And secondly, the statement "thrice shall pay for all" implies that Gwaihir owes some Gandalf some sort of debt. If Gwaihir is not the Lord of the Eagles whose life was once saved by Gandalf, then what is Gwaihir's debt to Gandalf? I can think of two explanations. The first is that the Lord of Eagles is sending Gwaihir as a sort of courier (for lack of a better term) to help Gandalf on the Lord of Eagle's behalf. The second explanation is that it's an overlooked mistake on Tolkien's part.

A google search doesn't reveal much in the way of concrete answers, and I don't recall reading anything in the HoME or the Letters regarding this matter. So does anyone have any better explanations for these seeming inconsistencies?


(This post was edited by Salmacis81 on Aug 22 2013, 3:13pm)


malickfan
Gondor


Aug 22 2013, 8:39pm

Post #2 of 17 (171 views)
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Yes as you say, it's not apparently not possible The Lord of the Eagles is Gwaihir [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't really view The Hobbit as part of the mythology anyway so the characters are sorta seperate from LOTR to me anyway, but In the Annotated Hobbit (which coincidently I finished reading barely a hour ago) Douglas Anderson states:


Quote

Some Tolkien commentators, including Robert Foster in his Complete Guide to Middle-earth, have been tempted to equate the Lord of the Eagles in The Hobbit with Gwaihir the Windlord, the eagle who rescues Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings. However this cannot be the case, for in Cahpter 4 of Book V of Return of The King, 'The Feld of Cormallen' Gandalf says to Gwaihir: 'Twice you have borne me. Gwahir my friend'. The two previous times were demonstrably Gandalf's escape from Orthanc and when Gwaihir bore Gandalf to Lorien after finding him on the peak of Zirak-zigil subsequent to his ight withe the Balrog. These two instances exclude the possibility of Gwaihir being the eagle who rescued Gandalf in The Hobbit.

The Annotated Hobbit, Revised and Expanded Edition 2003, Page 162 'Queer Lodgings'.

Case closed...or is it?

Although I'm not exactly an expert on H.O.M.E (own all, read about half, remeber barely a quater) this does seem to me to be an obvious oversight that Tolkien would have corrected if it was a mistake-but on the other hand the draft manuscripts are often so confusing it may simply have been something that he missed out or made a mistake on in writing the sequel, it would be natural move to link Gwaihir with the Eagles Lord, though I don't recall Gwaihir having any sense of royalty about him.

It also mentions in The Hobbit that 'the wizard and the eagle-lord appeared to know one another slightly and even be on friendly terms. As a matter of fact Gandalf who had often been in the mountains...' if Gandalf were often in the mountains, it seems likely he could have befriended any of the other eagles as well, taxi service indeed.

The whole eagles issue makes my head hurt a little so I'll stop now.

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Aug 22 2013, 10:12pm

Post #3 of 17 (164 views)
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Name or title? [In reply to] Can't Post

Is Gwaihir a name or a title? I assume it translates to wind lord, which could be an eagle term equivalent to king, a title passed down from one eagle to another.

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.


Salmacis81
Grey Havens


Aug 22 2013, 10:24pm

Post #4 of 17 (164 views)
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Pretty sure it's a proper name... [In reply to] Can't Post

He is called Gwaihir the Windlord. He's named alongside his brother Landroval, which I assume is also a proper name.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Aug 22 2013, 11:57pm

Post #5 of 17 (162 views)
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Father and Son (or Grandson)? [In reply to] Can't Post

After taking part in past debates about the Eagles of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I finally concluded that Gwaihir was probably the son or grandson of the Lord of the Eagles from The Hobbit (I expect that the Great Eagles were very long-lived compared to normal raptors).

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


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 23 2013, 2:24am

Post #6 of 17 (167 views)
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Just a thought [In reply to] Can't Post

It's not Thorondor, from the Sil, is it? Perhaps he I'd the Durin the Deathless of the Eagles?


Salmacis81
Grey Havens


Aug 23 2013, 4:01am

Post #7 of 17 (146 views)
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Never thought of this... [In reply to] Can't Post

This seems to me to be, so far, the best way to make sense of the Gwaihir/Lord of the Eagles conundrum, even if it's not what Tolkien had in mind.


Salmacis81
Grey Havens


Aug 23 2013, 4:02am

Post #8 of 17 (139 views)
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I don't think so... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm pretty certain that Gwaihir and his brother Landroval at one point were referred to as "the mightiest descendants of Thorondor", or something like that.


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 24 2013, 3:54am

Post #9 of 17 (112 views)
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Interesting idea O-S! [In reply to] Can't Post

Honestly I 'd never considered Eagle lineage before but that makes sense to me.

Despite all the logistical issues and points raised, all in all I would say that philosophically JRRT would never want the Eagles (as representing nature to some degree) to be saddled with transporting the Ring and thus cleaning up the folly of the Peoples of Middle Earth. It would be Our Job, I'm sure, in his mind, and not left to others.

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!








Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Aug 24 2013, 8:49am

Post #10 of 17 (110 views)
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Possibly the difference is in Gandalf been the Grey and the White? [In reply to] Can't Post

In the Hobbit the eagles don't really appreciate the subtlies of Gandalf's works, they just don't like the Goblins doing evil things on their patch, but maybe when Gandalf changed to the White he did have a chat with them and they appreciated the danger to the world that Sauron presented.


Xaromir
Registered User

Aug 26 2013, 2:22am

Post #11 of 17 (89 views)
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Do we need them? [In reply to] Can't Post

Y'all gonna hate this, but: Personally i wish he never would have created the eagles. Yes, it's a bit blunt to ask why they didn't just use the eagles, but alone how often this question comes up makes it very valid, it shows that this is an issue for a good portion of the readers. Personally, i think everyone would have been happier without them, it's all just a bit much.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Aug 31 2013, 4:48pm

Post #12 of 17 (59 views)
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Why did JRRT keep them, I wonder? [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome to the Reading Room, Xaromir!

I do agree! The eagles are a chronic deus ex machina.

But I kinda like them anyway.Wink


Maybe they are supposed to be feathered miracles - the eagles turn up to help you only when Manwe is on your side??

Do any of the History of Middle Earth or Letters Loremasters among us know the history of the eagles in Tolkien's writing? Did he simply not foresee the "why don't the eagles just..." whingeing? Or did he keep them anyway, and did he give reasons?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Aug 31 2013, 4:50pm

Post #13 of 17 (63 views)
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What? You've never considered Eagle Lineage?!?!? Boy you're missing the fun...// [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially when autocorrect wishes me to write about "Eagle Lingerie" Wink

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 31 2013, 5:58pm

Post #14 of 17 (68 views)
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Eagle lingerie [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmmm... Googling it gives many examples of NFL-Eagles related, underwired attire, presumably for under-jersey wear. (Depending on the company of course.)

Our majestic eagles themselves in lingerie should really just be one of those taboo things I suppose... Wink

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!








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Aug 31 2013, 6:55pm

Post #15 of 17 (54 views)
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I can truthfully say I have not previously considered Eagle Lingerie… // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Aug 31 2013, 7:00pm

Post #16 of 17 (47 views)
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Would Eagles (NFL) lingerie be a jocks trap? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 31 2013, 7:03pm

Post #17 of 17 (83 views)
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(*helpless laughter interlude*) [In reply to] Can't Post

New meaning to third and long. Wink

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!







 
 

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