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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Istari Questions, Melian, Galadriel & Saruman
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AinurOlorin
Half-elven


Oct 11 2013, 12:24am

Post #51 of 92 (390 views)
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My comment about the presence of the Maiar was regarding the war of wrath, and The Coming of The Host of The West, [In reply to] Can't Post

in which Eonwe himself was present.

As to the Wizards. . . no, they were not fully able to access their Maiar powers and they could not readily shed their forms. True, agreed and and no point disputed by me.

Saruman certainly had powers not available to an ordinary or real Man, even after the breaking of his staff and his casting from the order, though he was much diminished. Gandalf, returned, says that no weapon of Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli, including Anduril, could hurt him, so I don't think I would go so far as to say they had no protections from having their forms slain beyond those of an ordinary man or Elf, though Gandalf returned was in some ways, perhaps, more elevated than any before and something more of his true self was able to come through.

In Reply To
The Istari had limitations in addition to their "rules of engagement" (which have been described here):

Quote
...clad in bodies of Men, real and not feigned, but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth, able to hunger and thirst and be slain...

So, comparing Olorin and Curunir with Gandalf and Saruman, or measuring their powers as maiar against TA maiar is simply not appropriate. They were not empowered to "shed their bodies" nor protected from being killed, so Wormtongue could have stabbed Saruman at any time: he did not because he was mentally enslaved, not because Saruman had extra powers or escape options.


"Hear me, hounds of Sauron, Gandalf is here! Fly if you value your foul skins, I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this circle!"

"Do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."


AinurOlorin
Half-elven


Oct 11 2013, 12:59am

Post #52 of 92 (392 views)
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Exactly, and a very important point. I find people often [In reply to] Can't Post

point to it as suggestion of the relative lack of force on Olorin's part, yet it points much more to his wisdom. Curomo, despite also being a mighty spirit, did not properly weigh the trials and limitations that would be set upon him, and the vision and dark cunning of his foe. Curumo was too weak for such a task, but not Wise enough to see or acknowledge it.

In Reply To
I didn't include that part. Curumo/Saruman put himself forward, having been chosen by Aule, and Alatar came forward, chosen by Orome. It goes on to say that Yavanna afterwards persuaded Curumo to take Radagast and Alatar took Pallando, who was his friend.


"Hear me, hounds of Sauron, Gandalf is here! Fly if you value your foul skins, I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this circle!"

"Do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."


squire
Valinor


Oct 11 2013, 1:26am

Post #53 of 92 (384 views)
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It's not about peace, love, and dove, but the 'overly besotted' part of craftwork [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a slightly different take on that. I think Tolkien was just fine with those who possessed artistic skill and technical facility. What he was against was the sin of possessiveness of the results - what you called the danger of being 'overly besotted' with the above talents.

What Aule has that his disciples don't is the ability to create, feel pride, and then liberate or set free the work, moving on to new projects. And I get the feeling that Tolkien, as an artist and craftsman himself, was torn between his love of his own work and his realization that one must let go of art or be owned by it. That's why Aule was a god, not a man or elf; only a god can be that superhuman.

As admirable as 'peace, healing, understanding, and wisdom' are - and Tolkien assigned those great virtues their own Valar - he did not think the world could survive by those qualities alone. Craft is necessary, and so is material culture. Given the will to power that such things require, it takes a god to show us how to do it right, and it's easier to fail at such things than it is to fail at working towards peace and healing.



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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Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Oct 11 2013, 1:43am

Post #54 of 92 (381 views)
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then you and i... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
... are in agreement. although i will add that things like wisdom and healing were certainly extremely important and admired qualities for tolkien. the examples of nienna and gandalf flower swiftly in the mind when these are considered.

saruman and sauron shared qualities of not only of being besotted too much with their own inventiveness and an overlove of order, but part of the danger is seeing these things as separate from the fabric of the whole. by overvaluing these things, they overlooked the value that mercy and nurturing have. which is partly why saruman resented gandalf; he evaluated gandalf via saruman calculus, which devalued the types of things (pity and patience) that gandalf learned from nienna.

so, yes, i agree that tolkien does not say that craftsmanship, inventiveness, the arts, invention are unworthy of admiration -- they are very worthy -- but that they must be considered with the whole, and the humanity of the universe they serve must be of greater consideration than the narrow-minded or selfish love of their products.

i like your assessment of aule, btw.


.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Eärwen of Mithlond
The Shire


Oct 15 2013, 2:12am

Post #55 of 92 (360 views)
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Gandalf [In reply to] Can't Post

"Tolkien wrote that Gandalf was the only faithful Istari..."
Can you tell me where this is? I'd like to find out more.


Occupation: Ship-building
Hobbies: Swimming, long walks on the shore


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 15 2013, 3:04am

Post #56 of 92 (367 views)
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Hello Earwen! [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien discusses the Istari and their relative successes in a number of places, but I find Letter #156 to be a very clear reference:

"The 'wizards' were not exempt, indeed being incarnate were more likely to stray, or err. Gandalf alone fully passes the tests, on a moral plane anyway (he makes mistakes of judgment)."

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!





rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 15 2013, 3:42pm

Post #57 of 92 (442 views)
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Thank you brethil that is one of the quotes... [In reply to] Can't Post

But I was also thinking of this quote from the Book of Unfinished tales in the Chapter on the Istari Tolkien wrote this, "Indeed, of all the Istari, one only remained faithful, and he was the last-comer. For Radagast, the fourth, became enamoured of the many beasts and birds that dwelt in Middle-earth, and forsook Elves and Men, and spent his days among the wild creatures."- Page 390.

The context is that the Istari were given a specific mission, to battle Sauron and to unite the Children of Iluvatar against him, but the only one who did that was Gandalf. The rest failed.

I have read somewhere on these boards that some believe the two Blue Wizards are largely responsible for the spread of black magic out east, I am not sure though if that is just conjecture or if there is some evidence to back that up, it is an interesting thought though for sure.

Not all those who wander are lost

(This post was edited by rangerfromthenorth on Oct 15 2013, 3:43pm)


Elciryamo
Rivendell

Oct 17 2013, 6:51am

Post #58 of 92 (327 views)
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Interesting discussion [In reply to] Can't Post

The idea of the Istari needing to be matched up or "who can be who" doesn't seem to be the intent of this thread, and for that, I am glad. Often times many quotes are read out of context ("...but Black is stronger still.") without full understanding of context or Tolkien's intent.

The Istari are one of my favorite aspects of Tolkien's world, especially the different interplay, rules and appearances of the Five Wizards. I don't think it is far to say that one Wizard could go toe to toe with any being in ME without first understanding each being. The Istari must abide by specific rules set forth, and even in their rebellion, do not violate ALL of the rules. Radagast simply abandons his mission, but is still powerful enough to be thought as an ally by the Council of Elrond.

Clearly the rules of the Istari were designed to limit them to keep from trying to meet power with power against the Dark Lord, and risk destruction, like what happened with Numenor. It also could be an idea of helping them to sympathize with the plight of the Free Peoples, since they would be as limited as those who they were sent to serve.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 17 2013, 2:19pm

Post #59 of 92 (297 views)
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Yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

Agreed very much!!!

Welcome to the Reading Room!

It's always nice to see new 'faces'!! I hope that you will stick around and join in. We are about to go through the Unfinished Tales, and I think that you will enjoy the upcoming section 'On the Istari'. We'd love for you to join in the sooner though.

Thoughts, comments, questions? Don't hesitate to start a new topic, of you cannot find one that we have discussed recently.

Cheers, hope to see you around.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 17 2013, 2:45pm

Post #60 of 92 (311 views)
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I agree mostly with what you have wrote... [In reply to] Can't Post

except this, "Clearly the rules of the Istari were designed to limit them to keep from trying to meet power with power against the Dark Lord,"

If I remember correctly, they are never said not to use their power against the against the Dark Lord or to not try to match his power if confornted with it, but that they were not to use their power to try dominate the Children of Iluvatar and set up a force under their power to take Sauron's place.

I mean, Gandalf and Saruman most definitely used their power in the destruction of Dol Guldor. Gandalf used his power against the Balrog. These were not violations of their commands from the Valar, but Saruman using his power to rule over others and try to supplant Sauron was.

And as far as the Council viewing Radaghast as possible ally, sure they did. But he still failed at his mission, he may not have been an enemy but he certainly was not an ally as he directed to be by the Valar. So in the cosmic view, he who should have known better, simply decided not to care and this after a pretty bad plight.

Not all those who wander are lost


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 17 2013, 2:53pm

Post #61 of 92 (302 views)
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Quote from the Appendices [In reply to] Can't Post

"It was afterwards said that they came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his (Sauron) power with power , or to seek to dominate Elves or Men by force and fear." --Appendices

Partly true, yes. I think that they were forbidden to do so so that no one got power hungry and usurped his place. Saruman's case is a great example!! The reason that the Ring was so dangerous to Gandalf was this exact reason that he had been warned against.

I think the second part "seeking to dominate Elves or Men.." Flowed from the first, matching power.


(This post was edited by Rembrethil on Oct 17 2013, 2:57pm)


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 17 2013, 2:58pm

Post #62 of 92 (300 views)
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I stand corrected... [In reply to] Can't Post

So how then should view cases like Dol Guldor? Or gandalf confrontation with the winged riders?

Also, the reality that power versus power, Gandalf at least did not stand a chance. So do we think that this is a reference then to taking the Ring or in Saruman's case making a ring?

Not all those who wander are lost


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 17 2013, 3:57pm

Post #63 of 92 (336 views)
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Hmmmm..... [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps their powers were given so that they could do what Men and Elves could not? Gandalf's command;

"Fly, this foe is beyond any of you!"--FotR; The bridge of Khazad-Dum

Might give insight. Gandalf stayed/sacrificed to give aid to the fellowship, but he did not blast open the way to Mt.Doom with his power. The fate of the world rested in the choices of the Free People's, and Gandalf just have them "the push out of the door". He did not take authority unless there was nothing anyone else could do without power/magic( see the conflict with the Nazgul on Pelennor Field). He also used power to prove his mandate on occasion. Al a Bilbo's last time in Bag End and the healing of Theoden. In these cases he did not FORCE anything, merely gave a few nudges, some stronger than others, to the right action.

So if we separate the instances into "tasks beyond Men and Elves" and "encouragement" we could have an explanation.

BTW I hope that my last post didn't come across as an attempt to show anyone up. I merely wanted to clarify, not putting anyone down. If I offended unintentionally, I apologize now.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 17 2013, 4:11pm

Post #64 of 92 (287 views)
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no offense taken at all... [In reply to] Can't Post

it was on point and correct and there was no sense of arrogance or anything even close!

I take the power for power command not as a limit of their actual inherent power as Maiar, but rather that they were not to setup their own Kingdoms and try to beat Sauron and take over his position, that at least is what the Istari essay seems to be getting at, and i believe that Gandalf and Saruman most definitely used their Maia-powers many times and even did so with full blessing like the Bridge of Khazad-Dum and of course Dol Guldor and Gandalf's encounters with the Nazgul.

Gandalf, before taking the role of the Istari, refused because he knew he would not be a match for Sauron's power. This of course implies that Gandalf recognizes that he could use his power, just not dominate as Saruman did.

You see I think these "restrictions" or "rules" could indeed be disobeyed and were. In other words, I know some have suggested that the Istari actually lost some of the Maiar power in the process of being incarnated via the Valar, but I find that absurd. The Valar cannot take away the power of Maiar, they are both Ainur after all, the only one who could do that is Eru, or an emissary given that task by Eru (as Gandalf the White did to Saruman). But the lives of Saruman and gandalf show that they both used their Maiar powers and Saruman shows that he indeed was able to disobey the commands, it was not until later that his powers were taken.

Not all those who wander are lost


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 17 2013, 4:21pm

Post #65 of 92 (285 views)
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Yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

'Power' in the sense 'power of command/ authority/ kingship' would make more sense. Funny how English can be so imprecise! I think the restriction was on ego rather than power. I don't know if they were restricted in the latter, but your scenario works beautifully, factoring in the fatigue of physicality.

Free will I'd a very important topic. Everyone had it and was given it by Eru or a proxy. The Istari had it, and u think bound by their mandate to not infringe it. That is where the fall might be. "If I can MAKE them do this MY master plan to defeat Sauron will work!" Dangerous thoughts....


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 17 2013, 4:31pm

Post #66 of 92 (282 views)
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perfect! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love the part about physical fatigue, but that was definitely a factor, and perhaps the biggest restriction placed on them.

Not all those who wander are lost


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 17 2013, 4:41pm

Post #67 of 92 (280 views)
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Flawed gods? [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe this incarnate form was chosen FOR them so that they would be handicapped in any attempt to abuse their power? Who would follow an old crotchety looking man into battle, or put him as king? Their looks were definitely against them in any scheme involving Men or Elves.

The forms chosen to dominate (see Morgoth and Sauron) were imposing, formidable, or beautiful. Not so the Istari. In trying to set themselves up as god-kings they would have acute troubles. Everyone would see their comparative weakness and eventually truth would out itself. They would make "puny gods".


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Oct 17 2013, 11:06pm

Post #68 of 92 (272 views)
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You are not corrected rangerfromthenorth you were right in the first instance [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien wrote the following about Gandalf "He is still under the obligation of concealing his power and of teaching rather than forcing or dominating wills, but where the physical powers of the Enemy are too great for the goodwill of the opponents to be effective he can act in emergency as an 'angel'-no more violently than the release of St Peter from prison. He seldom does so, operating rather through others, but in one or two cases in the War (in Vol III) he does reveal a sudden power: he twice resuces Faramir. He alone is left to forbid the entrance of the Nazgul to Minas Tirith, when the City has been overthrown....."

So there you go, super duper Maia smackdown allowed against evil foes when supernatural forces of opponents are beyond the power of the free people to resist.


Elciryamo
Rivendell

Oct 17 2013, 11:17pm

Post #69 of 92 (264 views)
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First of all, thank you for the welcome... [In reply to] Can't Post

Elendiltheshort is closer to my thoughts, which I would like to clarify my point.

The Istari are limited in so far that they are not allowed to take Men under their command and lead them, force for force, blow for blow, against the Enemy. In other words, they could not demonstrate their full strength as Maia against Sauron. Saruman subverts that rule, slowly at first and then more openly as the LOTR moves on. Radagast, in a similar way, just abandons it, save for the moments were they are directly acting against him.

Gandalf cultivates the more down to earth wisdom of the Hobbits, as well as the higher knowledge of Numenor and drawing them all together. So, that illustrates his use of Wisdom, as well as drawing upon his Power (capitalize on purpose) to intervene only when absolutely necessary. Which, I believe, is ElendiltheShort's point.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 18 2013, 12:08am

Post #70 of 92 (269 views)
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I think we agree. [In reply to] Can't Post

In looking back at my comments up-thread, I believe that we do agree that they were not 'forbidden-under-pain-of-death-to-use-their-power-ever' but were they not to become powerful Lords themselves in order to overthrow Sauron.

Re-read my previous posts and I think you will see that we were saying the same things, just in two different waysSmile


Elizabeth
Valinor


Oct 18 2013, 7:34am

Post #71 of 92 (272 views)
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Dol Guldur? [In reply to] Can't Post

Galadriel razed it to the ground following the destruction of the Ring. Gandalf and Saruman were otherwise occupied.

Little is known about the earlier assault in TA2941, beyond the fact that Sauron "feigned flight" and withdrew to Mordor. I don't think it's accurate to say "Gandalf and Saruman most definitely used their power in the destruction of Dol Guldor."

Gandalf vs. Balrog was a battle mostly irrelevant to Gandalf's charter to oppose Sauron, and hence he got a pass for that.








Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 18 2013, 2:06pm

Post #72 of 92 (241 views)
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Thoughts.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Galadriel ''cast down the walls'' but wasn't it the 'devices of Saruman' that drove the Necromancer out?

Yes, we know too little about Dol Guldor......sadly..... One point of ME history I'd love to see completed.

Perhaps with the Balrog, it was indirectly related to his mission to defeat Sauron, in that the Quest of the Fellowship was to destroy the Ring? In any case, Eru gave Gandalf his approval by sending him back.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 18 2013, 2:14pm

Post #73 of 92 (240 views)
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Ah yes.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I was referring to more of my sloppy thinking/explanation Elendil. Rembrethil and I are on the same page now I believe. Terms like "power" need clear definitions and that we have established that and fleshed it I think the three of us for sure are on the same page and I dare say correct.

Not all those who wander are lost


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Oct 18 2013, 2:43pm

Post #74 of 92 (239 views)
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The Devices of Saruman [In reply to] Can't Post

I love how imprecise and open to interpretation that phrase is. Devices could be anything from plans and strategies to explosives to magical artifacts or any combination of the above. Jackson could have the Council invade Dol Guldur using a combination of Saruman's and Galadriel's abilities.

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


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 18 2013, 4:49pm

Post #75 of 92 (224 views)
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to quote Elendil the Short who is quoting Tolkien (See above)... [In reply to] Can't Post

"Tolkien wrote the following about Gandalf "He is still under the obligation of concealing his power and of teaching rather than forcing or dominating wills, but where the physical powers of the Enemy are too great for the goodwill of the opponents to be effective he can act in emergency as an 'angel'-no more violently than the release of St Peter from prison. He seldom does so, operating rather through others, but in one or two cases in the War (in Vol III) he does reveal a sudden power: he twice resuces Faramir. He alone is left to forbid the entrance of the Nazgul to Minas Tirith, when the City has been overthrown....." "
__________________________________________

Gandalf clearly could and did on several occasions use his powers to resist not only Sauron but evil. Tolkiens cites the rescue of Faramir twice, the blocking of the gate of Minas Tirith. We also have the incident with the Balrog which is not something he needed a pass for because I do not believe it was a violation taken in context of Tolkien's words above. We can even go back to the Hobbit and the Great Goblin to see this.

One way or another, the Istari clearly still had access to their Maiar powers, indeed it wouldn't much sense if they did not when one considers Saruman's betrayal. How or why would he try to setup his own kingdom in rivalry to Sauron if he did not know that he had access to his powers. And perhaps the devices Saruman used to clear Dol Guldor gave him some false hope that his power could indeed match Sauron's power.

Not all those who wander are lost

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