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Were there more than five Istari?
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Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 6 2014, 4:49pm

Post #1 of 29 (665 views)
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Were there more than five Istari? Can't Post

In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (and Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) we learn of the existance of the five Wizards: Saruman the White, Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown and the two Blue Wizards (who don't come into the main story). Tolkien's essay in The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age", names the first three, but after only speaks of an unspecified number of others that went into the East and South.

Perhaps the most curious statement concerning the Istari comes from the essay entitiled "The Istari" in Unfinished Tales. There, it is said:


Quote
Of this Order the number is unknown; but of those that came to the North of Middle-earth, where there was most hope (because of the remnant of the Dunedain and of the Eldar that abode there), the chiefs were five.



The five being, of course, Saruman, Radagast, the Blues, and Gandalf. This suggests that even in the North there were more Istari, perhaps lesser Maiar, that we are unfamiliar with. The essay was to be part of Tolkien's intended index for the first printing of The Return of the King, although there was in fact no published index until the second edition of 1966.

So, the question remains, could there have been other Istari, lesser in rank than the five, chiefest? Or were they as ephemeral as Balrog wings? Or, for that matter, as the thousands of Balrogs of the First Age whose numbers were eventually revised to "seven at most."

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


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 6 2014, 5:13pm

Post #2 of 29 (490 views)
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Nope. [In reply to] Can't Post

See http://www.barrowdowns.com/faq_istari.php

******************************************
Brothers, sisters,
I was Elf once.
We danced together
Under the Two Trees.
We sang as the soft gold of Laurelin
And the bright silver of Telperion,
Brought forth the dawn of the world.
Then I was taken.

Brothers, sisters,
In my torment I kept faith,
And I waited.
But you never came.
And when I returned you drew sword,
And when I called your names you drew bow.
Was my Eldar beauty all,
And my soul nothing?

So be it.
I will return your hatred,
And I am hungry.




Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 6 2014, 5:45pm

Post #3 of 29 (476 views)
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Maybe. [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't agree that the article you cite is absolutely correct in its conclusions. However, I do see how it can explain the apparent discrepency between Unfinished Tales and our other sources.

A different, but related, question is whether there might have Men, not Istari, who were also known as Wizards (as well as Conjurers, Magicians, Mages, etc.)? After all, Wizard would have been a Mannish term and only roughly equivalent to the Istari. There were Men who were capable of some form of magic or other: Skin-changers and Easterling or Black Numenorean Sorcerers at the very least. Tolkien himself uses the term hedge wizards, suggesting Men with minor magical talents (or perhaps frauds who pretend to abilities that they do not possess).

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


Smeagol Bagginsess
Rivendell


Mar 6 2014, 7:14pm

Post #4 of 29 (450 views)
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I do not believe there is a definitive answer to this [In reply to] Can't Post

, and that it is difficult to disentangle the apparently conflicting ideas Tolkien had regarding the Istari. However, it seems the "unknown number" refers to the number of the order of lesser Ainur in Valinor who are the Istari.

It can confidently be said that three Istari came to Middle-earth in the Third Age (although this does not seem to be a first journey for all. It is implied Olorin at least had made the journey before). The Blue wizards may have journeyed to Middle-earth in the Second Age, possibly with Glorfindel. These five are the wizards of the five rods, the Istari who came to the North of ME, with joint purpose.

Of other wizards, who may have been sent to the south of ME, there is nothing written, only obliquely implied, such as the five being "chief". If five are chief, it could logically be argued that there are others who are "lesser", but there are always difficulties when referring to works of Tolkien that had not been readied for publication, and Tolkien's construction of a history for the Istari was comparatively rough and continuously being revised.

Attempting to cut through the apparent contradictions, I would settle on only five coming to the ME that Tolkien provides the reader with any description. Arda may well extend for great distances east and west, but Tolkien's middle earth does not. Considering the legends are filtered through the recollections of Bilbo and Frodo, and Bilbo's translations from when he resided in Rivendell, it is little surprising that the records are incomplete.

I would go further, and propose that the very history and mythology of the Elves and Valinor which we read is inherently unreliable, having been filtered through Bilbo's comprehension and understanding. For how could Bilbo possibly comprehend Valinor, and the relationship between "Gods", Elves, Men and the land? He is an outsider looking in, trying to translate words and ideas from which he is removed by not being a part. Bilbo is not of the world of faerie, and thus the world of faerie he describes is diminished.


(This post was edited by Smeagol Bagginsess on Mar 6 2014, 7:18pm)


Bracegirdle
Tol Eressea


Mar 6 2014, 9:11pm

Post #5 of 29 (436 views)
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Ithryn Luin [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Quote
The five being, of course, Saruman, Radagast, the Blues, and Gandalf.


Unfinished Tales tells us the two Blue Wizards were named Alatar and Pallando.

Which brings to mind that only Gandalf, of the five, remained steadfast in his raison de faire. Saruman became obsessed with power; Radagast became enamored with the flora and fauna of Middle-earth; and, I believe that Alatar and Pallando went into the Extra-far East and started a Rock & Roll band; playing the steel-beam and keys as The Two Boys Blue
Evil


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 6 2014, 9:35pm

Post #6 of 29 (451 views)
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Alatar and Pallando [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien also came up with an alternate pair of names for the Blue Wizards. Alatar was also called Morinehtar while Pallando was also known as Rómestámo. Although Tolkien originally guessed that the pair had failed in their mission(s) to Middle-earth, in later writings he did not seem so sure.

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


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 6 2014, 9:54pm

Post #7 of 29 (423 views)
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So... [In reply to] Can't Post

..there were five Istari, but then there's the more numerous istari.

Like the difference between The Wise and the wise, and the Eldest and the eldest.

******************************************
Brothers, sisters,
I was Elf once.
We danced together
Under the Two Trees.
We sang as the soft gold of Laurelin
And the bright silver of Telperion,
Brought forth the dawn of the world.
Then I was taken.

Brothers, sisters,
In my torment I kept faith,
And I waited.
But you never came.
And when I returned you drew sword,
And when I called your names you drew bow.
Was my Eldar beauty all,
And my soul nothing?

So be it.
I will return your hatred,
And I am hungry.




Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 6 2014, 10:24pm

Post #8 of 29 (418 views)
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Or... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
..there were five Istari, but then there's the more numerous istari.

Like the difference between The Wise and the wise, and the Eldest and the eldest.



That is what Tolkien seems to imply in his essay "The Istari". However, Tolkien may have abandoned this idea after completion of this essay.

Alternately, there might have been the five Istari (Wizards), but also Mannish wizards who were never Maiar or in the Order of the Istari. This is implied by the common knowledge or belief in Middle-earth in hedge wizards and other conjurers besides Gandalf and his fellows. That assumes that such wandering mages aren't just stories and legends inspired by the travels Gandalf, Radagast, and the other Istari.

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


Bladerunner
Gondor


Mar 6 2014, 10:33pm

Post #9 of 29 (399 views)
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My belief.... [In reply to] Can't Post

....is that the five Istari would have previously traveled to Middle-earth at the end of the First Age as part of Eonwe's host during the War of Wrath...



Bracegirdle
Tol Eressea


Mar 7 2014, 3:21am

Post #10 of 29 (400 views)
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Hmmmm.... [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Quote
Like the difference between The Wise and the wise, and the Eldest and the eldest.


There are wise and Wise. But I've wondered about "Eldest".
Goldberry (I believe) said that Tom Bombadil was the "Eldest", but Celeborn called Treebeard "Eldest".


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 7 2014, 1:21pm

Post #11 of 29 (388 views)
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You'll have to ask Darkstone what he meant by that. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think, though, that Bombadil must be even older than Treebeard, and is either a personification of the land itself or an Ainu who arrived in Arda in the earliest days of the world.

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


Elthir
Gondor

Mar 7 2014, 5:46pm

Post #12 of 29 (374 views)
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my opinion... [In reply to] Can't Post

... here is: I think Tolkien revised that there were more than 5 -- and although it's difficult to be wholly certain at the moment I can't remember a single later remark that seems to allow for more than 5 anyway. In any case I think he had at least implied [imo] that there were five wizards in already published text [Saruman], all of whom seemed to have arrived in Middle-earth in the Third Age [Appendix B].

And I think he revised that the other two were blue [there's a later letter to consider here in any case, later than the text in which 'Ithryn Luin' and sea blue robes appear].

And I think he just lost the note with Alatar and Pallando on it, so later he just made up two more Quenya names for the 'other two'.


Plurmo
Rohan

Mar 8 2014, 12:52am

Post #13 of 29 (353 views)
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Treebeard is the oldest living being in Middle-earth. [In reply to] Can't Post

Bombadil is not a living being nor was Middle-earth his first abode. That's the way I read it. Both are the Eldest, but Bombadil is the Eeeeldest.


Plurmo
Rohan

Mar 8 2014, 1:01am

Post #14 of 29 (354 views)
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Young Bilbo knew that Gandalf was a wizard, [In reply to] Can't Post

but what surprised him was that he was immortal. The idea of a wizard seems to be natural in Middle-earth, but the idea of an Istari would be strange. Someone who behaves as if immortal but clearly ages, and who meddles in other's affairs while no one can meddle in theirs? I wonder why they weren't called tv journalists instead of wizards...

Anyway, if you mean wizards with Valar backing, I suppose there were only five Istari sent to Middle-earth and after that perhaps there were always five Wizards.

I interpret that Faramir, the window on the West, took the place of Saruman two days after the later was cast out of the Order (them being the Two Towers, in my view.) Faramir seems to be a reincarnated* númenorean with unlikely powers of command over Men and beast. He certainly is under Ulmo's guidance (who didn't chose any Istari). His wizard status was discerned by Samwise.

And I entertain the idea that it was Samwise who took the place of Gandalf. He receives the call of the Sea (in what could be called Wizard fashion, a call of reassurance with no compelling) exactly after Gandalf departs. His wizard's fate was perceived by Frodo (after the Old Troll rhyme.) I take those insights seriously.

*just a word meaning that there seems to be continuity in the "music of Faramir." Five is also just a number, but it does rhyme with wise.

Samwise and Faramir were born in the same year. Sam made good use of the staff he received from Faramir.


Bracegirdle
Tol Eressea


Mar 8 2014, 2:08am

Post #15 of 29 (356 views)
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We got us a dead Bombadil - RIP [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Bombadil is not a living being nor was Middle-earth his first abode. That's the way I read it. Both are the Eldest, but Bombadil is the Eeeeldest.
----------------------------------------------------------
Hmmm !

Not living?? Then he's dead. What are your other choices?
Pretty good Old Man Willow-whacking for a dead being!!

But I agree that he was Eeeeldest....


Bracegirdle
Tol Eressea


Mar 8 2014, 2:31am

Post #16 of 29 (348 views)
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Young Bilbo [In reply to] Can't Post

but what surprised him was that he was immortal.
------- I don't recall Bilbo's knowledge of Gandalf's immortallity; also did not Gandalf die on Zirak Zigal? (Then Resurrected); Wounded at the Battle of Five Armies?------

. Someone who behaves as if immortal but clearly ages, and who meddles in other's affairs while no one can meddle in theirs?------ I don't recall any immortality behavior. How does that work?? -----------

I interpret that Faramir, the window on the West, took the place of Saruman two days after the later was cast out of the Order------??---------
Faramir seems to be a reincarnated* númenorean with unlikely powers of command over Men and beast.----------------He did have Numenorian blood as a Dunedan, but reincarnated? ------------

And I entertain the idea that it was Samwise who took the place of Gandalf. ------------- Huh? He took the place of Will Whitfoot as Mayor. He was a Hobbit not a Maia, although he recieved the grace to go across the Sea as a Ring Bearer-------

In kindness Smile


Plurmo
Rohan

Mar 8 2014, 6:00am

Post #17 of 29 (353 views)
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My take on Bombadil is literal. [In reply to] Can't Post

Otaku-sempai gives enough meaning to Bombadil without me having to interfere with my outlandish claims. If you already objected to my mere views on wizards, my views on Bombadil would enrage you altogether.

Thankfully in this specific case I'm inferring on what is written.


Plurmo
Rohan

Mar 8 2014, 6:21am

Post #18 of 29 (357 views)
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Indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

Immortal is not right word. It's just a way to express the idea of permanence as opposed to human impermanence. Gandalf was very old when Bilbo was a child, and he was still very old when Bilbo was fifty. Bilbo was surprised that Gandalf was still in business. Bilbo didn't ask if Gandalf he was "immortal," but Bilbo is more knowledgeable about the world around him than the common hobbit. He would understand that Gandalf is... queer. And of course Gandalf can "die" like an elf can "die" although Gandalf is a Maia and his "dying," even while Istari has an altogether different meaning.

Reincarnation is also not the right word. I rather think about a thread connecting people who live at different times who seem to be part of a shared experience. That's why I use the "music of Faramir" figure of speech. When Faramir says 'It reminds me of Númenor' he is not talking about what he read or heard, but what he saw with eyes of past people. This is personal interpretation. There are other ways to understand those things. I used this idea when discussing how Meriadoc continues the protection of Primula over Frodo. I tend to interpret things according to the way I see the world. As you're probably suspecting, I'm an Arkham Asylum regular.

I'm speculating on the idea that while the five Istari were of Maiar origin with Valar mandate, Wizards, as "awakened" beings under Valar minding, could be mortals. Saruman catching Merry and Pippin (through the Uruk-hai) accelerated his ruin. In the meantime Faramir caught Frodo and Sam and his choice (remember that Faramir is in the real East, not under a Palantir working as a window on the East) put him on a higher spiritual standing. Both events, the casting of Saruman out of the order and the choice of Faramir happen within a few hours. Those events are very meaningful to me. The falling Ainu tower and the rising númenorean tower. Those are my Two Towers.

As for Sam, Frodo had told him that one day he would be allowed to take the ship, but he didn't need to receive the call of the Sea for that. Let alone in person and while a guest of Círdan. That call he received is a gift so he could finally understand the heart of an elf. It is also the last part of his long process of awakening that begun with Bilbo, then with Gildor Inglorion and then over the whole Quest. Frodo said that Sam would become a wizard or a warrior. Sam became a wizard (that's just my interpretation) at the very moment that he received the Call. Since that moment coincides with the parting of Gandalf and since in contrast with an elven call (think about Galadriel's message to Legolas Greenleaf,) Sam's call is not compelling (it doesn't drive his mind towards the West, but maybe to his mission in Middle-earth,) then I assume that his is a wizard's call and that he takes the place of Gandalf at the order (so to speak.)

While Sauron is gone, it is against Morgoth and his enduring will that the wizards of later Ages will guard. The Shire was an important place for Gandalf. It would be fitting for any wizard taking his place to understand and protect it.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 8 2014, 1:18pm

Post #19 of 29 (366 views)
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Samwise and Faramir as Wizards? I don't think so. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry. I don't follow your reasoning that either Sam or Faramir can be considered to be wizards. Yes, they do gain in wisdom due to their various experiences, but that doesn't make them wizards. If we need a definition that encompasses more than just the five Istari, then I suppose we could say that wizards are individuals who are knowledgable in the lore of what we would call magic and who are able to manipulate magic and/or magical devices.

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


Bracegirdle
Tol Eressea


Mar 8 2014, 5:45pm

Post #20 of 29 (326 views)
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Bombadil query [In reply to] Can't Post

Otaku-sempai gives enough meaning to Bombadil without me having to interfere with my outlandish claims. If you already objected to my mere views on wizards, my views on Bombadil would enrage you altogether.

Thankfully in this specific case I'm inferring on what is written.
----------------------------------------------------
Ok, enlighten me. Where is it written that Bombadil was NOT a living being?? And again, if he's not living what is he? I can only comes up with "dead".


Bracegirdle
Tol Eressea


Mar 8 2014, 7:02pm

Post #21 of 29 (316 views)
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Color me confused [In reply to] Can't Post

Immortal is not right word. It's just a way to express the idea of permanence as opposed to human impermanence. Immortal 'seems' the proper wordGandalf was very old when Bilbo was a child, and he was still very old when Bilbo was fifty. Would about 10,000 years old suffice?Bilbo was surprised that Gandalf was still in business. Yes, as a conjurer and firework expert,


. I used this idea when discussing how Meriadoc continues the protection of Primula over Frodo. Don't follow this. Primula was Frodo's mother. She "drownded" in SR 1380, before Merry was born in 1382. I'm sure I'm misinterpreting this sentence?

I'm speculating on the idea that while the five Istari were of Maiar origin with Valar mandate, Wizards, as "awakened" beings under Valar minding, could be mortals. No speculation, UT clearly states the Istari were Maiar-- I know of no "Valar mandate". The Ainur, Valar, Maiar, Elves, Men, Dwarves (although created by Aule, Eru gave them the life-force) were ALL created by Illuvatar,
In the meantime Faramir caught Frodo and Sam and his choice (remember that Faramir is in the real East, not under a Palantir working as a window on the East) put him on a higher spiritual standing. We can differ here. Faramiir was a Man. A great warrior and even greater leader of men; but a Man. Any attempt to give him supreme qualities lessens his accomplishments as a Man.

. Frodo said that Sam would become a wizard or a warrior. Where can I find this most intriquing information?==which never came to pass....


(This post was edited by Bracegirdle on Mar 8 2014, 7:04pm)


Plurmo
Rohan

Mar 8 2014, 8:57pm

Post #22 of 29 (294 views)
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I'm too much slow to argue. Thank you.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Plurmo
Rohan

Mar 8 2014, 9:03pm

Post #23 of 29 (297 views)
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You're working under a specific definition of wizard. [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought you wanted to inquiry on who took the place of the Istari after Middle-earth went into the dominion of Men. I misread your post. Apologies.

PS:

What I infer when Denethor calls Faramir a 'wizard's pupil' is not that Denethor suspects that Gandalf had been teaching magic to him, but that Gandalf had been teaching his son certain values that were incompatible with the hard worldview under which his mind operated. But then Gandal was a steward under a different mandate, just like Faramir became a steward under a renewed worldview.

Grima on the other hand could also qualify as a wizard's pupil. Arguably even with some teaching assistance on incantation by Saruman. And he was, perhaps, also initiated in the magic lore of cannibalism. Hadn't Saruman died he would have spawned a multitude of wizards without wisdom, but well versed in magic lore.


Bracegirdle
Tol Eressea


Mar 8 2014, 9:26pm

Post #24 of 29 (295 views)
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Didn't want to argue ... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
just discuss. I'm fairly new on this site and just trying to figure where you're coming from.

No harm intended! Smile


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 8 2014, 9:38pm

Post #25 of 29 (313 views)
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Okay. I see what you're saying. [In reply to] Can't Post

The essay "The Istari" in Unfinished Tales seems to say that there were other Istari sent to Middle-earth besides the chiefest five. Tolkien's other writings on the Istari suggest that he ultimately abandoned this idea.

What Gandalf saw in Faramir is the qualities of a good steward; qualities that Denethor had lost or abandoned. It is still quite a stretch to call Faramir a wizard. I don't buy into the idea that there were mortals who were invested with the powers of the Istari--even if only to a lesser degree. I see no indication of that anywhere in Tolkien's writing.

If Grima Wormtongue actually showed any magical ability, we would probably call him a sorcerer rather than a wizard (semantics, I know, but as we are using it, it emphasizes the desire to control and dominate rather than advise and teach). As it is, though, he doesn't seem to be anything more than a lackey.

My secondary question involved the idea of human conjurers who were not under the sway of Sauron and who might have been attempting to do good on their own--or at least not attempting to do harm. I am imagining Men, perhaps with some Elvish blood, who are possessed of some limited magical ability and/or lore (like, say a Gondorean scholar of Numenorean descent).

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

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