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Unfinished Tales Discussion: The Istari
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demnation
Rohan

Mar 31 2014, 5:33am

Post #1 of 27 (2017 views)
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Unfinished Tales Discussion: The Istari Can't Post

Well, here we are discussing the ever enigmatic Istari. I think the amount of info we know about the Istari is somewhere between "very little" and "next to nothing."

Still, there are some tantalizing little tidbits in this section.

We start off with the fullest account of the Istari, written sometime around 1954. Here are some of the things we learn about them, sent to Middle-earth to aid the Free peoples against Sauron:

1.The wizards that came to Middle-earth where numbered five: The first, with raven hair and clad in white, is well regarded by all and is considered head of the Order. Three others follow, two in sea blue and one in brown. The last, clad in grey, seemed the least of them all. Cirdan, however, deems this one the wisest and gives into his keeping the Third Ring, Narya the red. The white clad one learns of this, and it is the beginning of the ill will he holds towards the grey.

2.The white wizard is known as Curunir, or Saruman.He becomes proud and impatient and enamored of power, and so forgets his mission. Of the blue wizards (Ithryn Luin) we know little, only that they passed into the east and never returned. It is assumed that they perished or where ensnared by Sauron. Radagast the Brown becomes enamoured of birds and beasts and forsakes his mission. Only the last, the grey, fulfills his mission by giving aid to the free peoples. He eventually becomes the great mover of the resistance against Sauron, thought he suffered greatly. (He came back from the dead, after all!)
There are some other bits, but that's basically it in a nutshell.

Time for some burning questions!

What is the significance of the colors? Why those particular ones? Do they even matter?

Who are the Blue Wizards? What happened to them? Again, do their colors give any clues about them?

The 1954 piece is the fullest account we have of The Istari. Do you find it satisfying in anyway (as in, does it answer any of your questions), or does it
add fuel to the fires of speculation?


At the end of that section, Christopher remarks that the rest of the writings of The Istari are "unhappily no more than very rapid jottings." However, he does bring up an interesting "hasty sketch of a narrative", telling of a council of the Valar summoned by Manwe. There, it is determined that three emissaries will be sent to Middle-earth. They must forgo might, disguising themselves in the flesh of men, even though it might dim their wisdom and knowledge, confusing them with the fears, cares and weariness coming from the flesh. Only two come forward: Curumo, chosen by Aule; and Alatar, chosen by Orome. Manwe then asks about Olorin, but Olorin declares himself too weak for such a task, and that he fears Sauron. Manwe tells him that is all the more reason he should go, and so he commands him to go. Varda says "not as the third", and Curumo remembers it. The note ends with the statement that Curumo (Saruman) took Aiwendil (Radagast) because Yavanna begged him, and that Alatar took Pallando (the two blue wizards are given names) as a friend.

It is stated the the meaning of the relations between Istari and Valar is that each was chosen for his innate characteristics. In simpler terms, the Valar wanted their own pawns on the board.

What do you think of the Valar council piece? It certainly expands a little on the origins of the Istari and their relationship with the Valar. And for the first time the blue wizards are given names.

There is then a small piece about the origins of the name Gandalf and the many different names he is given by the various peoples of Middle-earth. Tolkien went to great pains to explain that Gandalf never traveled into Harad or far south, which I find very curious. Any thoughts on this?

As ever, please feel free to point out all the interesting stuff I missed or add your own thoughts! (And one day I promise to try to be as good at this as squire or brethil!)

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."

(This post was edited by demnation on Mar 31 2014, 5:34am)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Mar 31 2014, 8:24pm

Post #2 of 27 (1648 views)
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Colours [In reply to] Can't Post

White, grey, brow, blue: the colours of undyed cloth, or colours put into it with everyday vegetable dyes. So my private, unprovable theory is that its part of the wizards being meant to look humble and plain.

It doesn't seem to make sense, does it, to invent the two Blue Wizards merely to send them off never to be seen again. Hence, I suppose, the recurring idea that there must be more to their story. But maybe it's just how Tolkien's imagination worked: it would tell him things like that there were Blue Wizards, then leave him to figure it out.

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë 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!"

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Mar 31 2014, 8:26pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 31 2014, 8:38pm

Post #3 of 27 (1604 views)
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More than five Istari? Only five in Middle-earth? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Of this Order the number is unknown; but of those that came to the North of Middle-earth...the chiefs were five.



The word chiefs implies that other Istari, followers or servants of the chiefs, also came to Middle-earth. There is also the suggestion that other Istari could have come to Middle-earth by other routes, never arriving in the North.

Comments?

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


Mikah
Lorien

Apr 1 2014, 12:29am

Post #4 of 27 (1580 views)
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You may be onto something here.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe that your unprovable theory is very probable indeed.. My husband's theory on this is that the robes may be representations of various elements. Blue for water, brown for earth, white for air, and grey for smoke (as in fire). As for me, I simply do not know. Although I am fairly certain that there is a certain amount of symbolism here.

I agree with you also that there is probably more to the story of the blue wizards than we now know. Is it possible that Tolkien had something in mind initially for them and perhaps was not able to work it into the story in a cohesive manner? Is it at all possible that he simply forgot about them? There is so little mention of them in his many thousands of pages of ME history, I can not help but wonder. I simply can not remember if there is any mention of them in any of the HOME books. Does anyone have any idea?


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Apr 1 2014, 2:36am

Post #5 of 27 (1538 views)
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Interesting subject: [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Saruman the White: White can be broken into all other colors with a prism. During the WR Saruman called himself “Saruman the Many-Coloured. He was broken?

Gandalf the Grey: I like the idea that grey is the color of smoke (fire?). Might we say this is a color of insignificance or humility.

Radagast the Brown: I also like that this is interpreted as the earth color as the flora and fauna seemed to be his forte.

The Blue Wizards: Alatar and Pallando: Blue is the only primary color mentioned in connection with the Istari. A primary color cannot be broken into any other color, only combined with other primaries. Any significance here?
I think I mentioned on another post that Alatar and Pallando went to the East of East to the Last Desert (as Bilbo called it) and started a successful rock & roll band, playing the Steel-beam and Keys as The Two Boys Blue Cool Dude!

"I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold
and leaves of gold there grew.
Of wind I sang, a wind there came,
and in the branches blew."

I, Narvi, didn't make this up, but I made some other real neat stuff.


Dame Ioreth
Tol Eressea


Apr 1 2014, 4:38am

Post #6 of 27 (1892 views)
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Blue and Brown [In reply to] Can't Post

My personal reaction to Radagast the Brown was to immediately think of St. Francis, patron saint of animals and lover of nature, who wore a brown habit and whose followers still wear the same color.

The Blue Wizards - I was watching a program about the Armed Forces and their official "songs" and it made me think about the phrase "Into the blue" or "wide blue yonder". When folks kind of wander off, they are said to have gone "off into the blue". Could something as simple as that be where the color came from?

As for Gandalf the Grey - I took that to be grey as in nondescript. It is no color but relates to all colors. Gamblin oil paints for artists creates a unique grey paint at the end of their runs each year out of all the sediments from the different colors they manufacture. It's called Torrit Grey and it's different every year. Gandalf strikes me as someone who fades into the background (nondescript), gets along with many different groups of beings(grey goes with just about everything) and gathers his information from a myriad of sources (just like Torrit Grey is made from different colors). In other words, he does just what the color does.

It's all headcanon, but it makes sense to me! Smile

Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings







demnation
Rohan

Apr 1 2014, 4:41am

Post #7 of 27 (1523 views)
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Hey, that makes perfect sense! [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe the blue wizards were a private joke of Tolkien's, where he could just send them of "into the blue" and not have to think or write about them anymore. And your thoughts on Gandalf sound spot on to me!

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Apr 1 2014, 7:33am

Post #8 of 27 (1529 views)
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Headcanon [In reply to] Can't Post

I love that term!

Yes, Gandalf lingers in the background, exploring widely but with subtlety, learning everything, staying in the background. What did he, actually, do? He identified the Ring and sent Frodo out of danger toward Rivendell. He defeated the Balrog (arguably not part of the main conflict). He provided some "intelligence" (information as to the motives & movements of Saruman, Grima & Théoden), minor direct intervention (rescuing Faramir's men and later Faramir himself), and one significant piece of strategic advice (going to the Black Gate).

Just as "small persons" can be powerful, so can Grey (even, or especialy, after it turns White).








noWizardme
Half-elven


Apr 1 2014, 4:46pm

Post #9 of 27 (1513 views)
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It must have been tempting ... [In reply to] Can't Post

With fans so eager for more information on every subject, it must have been at least a little tempting to do a wind up.

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë 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!"


Darkstone
Immortal


Apr 1 2014, 11:46pm

Post #10 of 27 (1532 views)
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The Hobbit Istari [In reply to] Can't Post

"....so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures."

As for why *two* Blue Wizards, obviously one was in the form of a Hobbit lad, the other a Hobbit lass.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Apr 1 2014, 11:47pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 8:38pm

Post #11 of 27 (1465 views)
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Terrific, Dame! [In reply to] Can't Post

"As for Gandalf the Grey - I took that to be grey as in nondescript. It is no color but relates to all colors. Gamblin oil paints for artists creates a unique grey paint at the end of their runs each year out of all the sediments from the different colors they manufacture. It's called Torrit Grey and it's different every year. Gandalf strikes me as someone who fades into the background (nondescript), gets along with many different groups of beings(grey goes with just about everything) and gathers his information from a myriad of sources (just like Torrit Grey is made from different colors). In other words, he does just what the color does. "


CuriousG
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 8:45pm

Post #12 of 27 (1501 views)
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Chiefs and numbers [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder about that one a lot too. Was is just one of many drafts, an idea to be quickly tossed aside? Or were there "lesser wizards" sent all over Middle-earth, and we only hear about the major ones, and only one of the majors was successful, and he went unaided by the minors?

What makes me think that Tolkien discarded the concept of many was Saruman's jibe to Gandalf at Isenard about wanting the staffs of five wizards, and not saying something like, "the staffs of all the great wizards" [meaning 5] or "the staffs of all the wizards" [meaning many]. That is not at all conclusive, of course, it just makes me think that wizards were akin to balrogs. First there were many in Tolkien's head, then he realized they seemed less powerful and impressive if they were numerous, so he cut back on their quantity to augment their stature.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 2 2014, 8:48pm

Post #13 of 27 (1493 views)
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Yes. Tolkien likely discarded the idea [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree. The idea of many Istari only pops up in this essay which does suggest that Tolkien ultimately abandoned it. It is still an intriguing idea.

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

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Apr 2 2014, 9:01pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 8:52pm

Post #14 of 27 (1467 views)
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Why are we meddling in the affairs of wizards? Isn't that trouble? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for leading this chapter, Dem!

To go back to my subject line, doesn't that make you wonder about its origin since it's in the plural? How many wizards did Elves know about for them to come up with that proverb? Saruman, for instance, didn't spend much time among Elves, nor did the others, except Gandalf. Are the Elves only referring to Gandalf and him being subtle and quick to anger? Then again, that's not a huge stretch, because in real life people can meet someone from another country, Greece or wherever, and say, "They're all like that, you know."

Within the scheme of things, the Blue Wizards and Radagast aren't important, only Gandalf for saying true to his mission and Saruman for joining The Wrong Side. Why do you suppose Tolkien even came up with the other wizards if they're to remain irrelevant?

Another question I have is why didn't Ulmo put forward a candidate? Or did he miss the meeting? And was Olorin representing Irmo, or Nienna, or Manwe? Or was that why he was gray, as the "everyone" candidate? Even Varda had a high opinion of him.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 9:18pm

Post #15 of 27 (1498 views)
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Gandalf's travel zone; why were they men? Did Sauron know what they really were? [In reply to] Can't Post

Given that Gandalf was willing and able to enter Moria and Dol Guldur, it seems he should have been up for a trip to Khand. I'm not sure why Tolkien thought it so important to limit the map that Gandalf walked on, unless it was 1) if he went everywhere and knew everything, he'd be too perfect, or 2) the three that went East were tainted somehow.

For such an important character as Gandalf, it's remarkable how little we know about him, except that mystery is packaged with wizardry, I suppose. But here are 2 more questions:
1. Why were the wizards Men and not some other race? Doesn't it give something away that they don't die of old age so they can't pretend they're just another guy? Why weren't they Elves, or even hobbits? Or Dwarves?

2. Were the Valar trying to fool Sauron about the real identity of the Istari, and if so, did they succeed, or succeed until Saruman presumably confessed all to his new master in his palantir reports? And whether the Istari were meant to be a secret just from Sauron or not, were there some rules of engagement in war where he wasn't supposed to target them directly? It seems that Gandalf often traveled alone, and while he could fight the Nazgul to a stalemate, he was afraid of them. Why didn't Sauron hunt him down as Troublemaker #1?


CuriousG
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 9:24pm

Post #16 of 27 (1477 views)
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Which leads to another idea/question [In reply to] Can't Post

The Istari didn't all arrive on the same boat. OK, I'll stop there and ask why, but won't expect an answer since I doubt there is one, but my real question is why there weren't more Istari sent to replace those that failed. While he's not conclusive about the Blue Wizards, it seems that Tolkien thinks they failed, or at best, made very little contribution. Radagast seems to have gone native early on. Seen from afar, the Valar might have concluded that Saruman was sensibly building up a strategic location, and Gandalf was running around as "anti-evil consultant," but it was clear they needed backup. Why weren't more sent, or did the Valar conclude it was a bad idea not worth repeating?


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 10:13pm

Post #17 of 27 (1464 views)
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Great chapter lead Dem! As for some of your questions... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

What is the significance of the colors? Why those particular ones? Do they even matter? I do think they have significance; I love Dame Ioreth's analysis of the Grey color question. Saruman with his raven hair and white robes: a study in contrasts so like his personality and ultimate fate. Brown certainly, for the closeness of Radagast to Yavanna and her connection with the earth (his brown reminds me of the 'mould' they talk about the Two Trees being born in - I picture it rather reddish brown and mulchy). And brown would fit him well, as camouflage, from a practical point of view.

That's the colors from the Istari perspective; I wonder if they were assigned colors to aid them in remembering their places, and their deities. We read in other places that their memory of the Blessed Realm will dim, and as incarnate beings they become prey to fatigue, hunger, fear and change in purpose...a reminder, calling cards from the Valar? Both marking them and reminding them of their origins?

In which case Saruman's color change is a deeper rejection then even the text describes: a rejection of the color and thus the role given to him by the Valar themsleves.

Who are the Blue Wizards? What happened to them? Again, do their colors give any clues about them? Well I have to agree that they went Into the Blue...sort of color denoting the horizon and almost presages their loss, in a way; whether this was intentional or it is a matrixing of ideas here that's the feel I get from them. (Aside form my frequent Blues Brothers jokes, that is.)Sly

The 1954 piece is the fullest account we have of The Istari. Do you find it satisfying in anyway (as in, does it answer any of your questions), or does it add fuel to the fires of speculation? The kicker is making us wonder how large the 'order' is - even as a discarded idea.


At the end of that section, Christopher remarks that the rest of the writings of The Istari are "unhappily no more than very rapid jottings." However, he does bring up an interesting "hasty sketch of a narrative", telling of a council of the Valar summoned by Manwe. There, it is determined that three emissaries will be sent to Middle-earth. They must forgo might, disguising themselves in the flesh of men, even though it might dim their wisdom and knowledge, confusing them with the fears, cares and weariness coming from the flesh. Only two come forward: Curumo, chosen by Aule; and Alatar, chosen by Orome. Manwe then asks about Olorin, but Olorin declares himself too weak for such a task, and that he fears Sauron. Manwe tells him that is all the more reason he should go, and so he commands him to go. Varda says "not as the third", and Curumo remembers it. The note ends with the statement that Curumo (Saruman) took Aiwendil (Radagast) because Yavanna begged him, and that Alatar took Pallando (the two blue wizards are given names) as a friend.

It is stated the the meaning of the relations between Istari and Valar is that each was chosen for his innate characteristics. In simpler terms, the Valar wanted their own pawns on the board.
What do you think of the Valar council piece? It certainly expands a little on the origins of the Istari and their relationship with the Valar. And for the first time the blue wizards are given names.
Absolutely so - this ties in with the color idea I wrote about above. And highlighting Olorin (who I seem to remember was off quietly in a garden when he was recruited?...I may be wrong) as the humblest of the five, and noting his fear, lends a lot to the later Gandalf as a subtext. He conquered a Balrog but the fear may have been the bigger triumph: maybe that's why JRRT gets that into the Istari backstory...the Common man theme again, and nothing noble existing without the mean and small? Everything Gandalf achieves is from his own heart and mind really - and he didn't begin as Saruman did (presumably) with confidence and 'plans' but with well-justified fear of the Enemy. I think from a literary and philosophical perspective it makes his victory mean even more.

There is then a small piece about the origins of the name Gandalf and the many different names he is given by the various peoples of Middle-earth. Tolkien went to great pains to explain that Gandalf never traveled into Harad or far south, which I find very curious. Any thoughts on this? Well the sense of menace of 'the East' and its unknown is a repeating theme...and the South has its air of menace as well. I suppose here the issue could be for Gandalf that there is the constant and maybe subconscious call to stay close to the Blessed Realm as possible? Knowing (subliminally) that his ultimate goal is to return?

As ever, please feel free to point out all the interesting stuff I missed or add your own thoughts! (And one day I promise to try to be as good at this as squire or brethil!) Pshaw Dem! This is wonderful! Cool

As a side note, I am intrigued by Yavanna's imposition (as it is said) of Aiwendil, who then loses himself in the fauna and forests of ME. Is there an underlying idea that perhaps this is what Yavanna may have meant for him in the long term, versus existing incarnate for the defeat of Sauron only?


Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room April, 2014. *The Call for Submissions is up*!





**And Rem, you are doing that CoH chapter. Don't forget. **


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 10:49pm

Post #18 of 27 (1463 views)
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Men shall inherit Arda. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the reason the Istari came as Men was that the Valar could see that it was the Followers who would inherit Middle Earth.They were intended to be as inconspicuous and unthreatening as possible, because they were sent as coaches, not players.

It's entirely possible that the fact that they didn't die was unremarkable, given their relative inconspicuousness. It could just be accepted that "wizards live longer than we do" so the fact that they outlive any particular generation would be unremarkable. Saruman was apparently considered as a key counselor to the rulers of Gondor, and probably worked almost exclusively behind the scenes. Gandalf wandered widely, and so wouldn't be known in any particular locale except incidentally, by rumor or reputation.








Escapist
Gondor


Apr 2 2014, 11:02pm

Post #19 of 27 (1468 views)
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knowledge of failure? [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman's treachery wasn't revealed until right before war broke out and matters got settled. The blue and brown may have been questionable and mysterious - but would that seem so suspicious necessarily?

If all the world's a stage then who's writing the script?


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 11:16pm

Post #20 of 27 (1443 views)
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Ulmo and the Color Grey [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Another question I have is why didn't Ulmo put forward a candidate? Or did he miss the meeting? And was Olorin representing Irmo, or Nienna, or Manwe? Or was that why he was gray, as the "everyone" candidate? Even Varda had a high opinion of him.





Grey as the everyone's candidate...intriguing CG! I wonder too since Gandalf is 'the wanderer' is there is a (superficial only) connection between him and Odin is often depicted as a wanderer in grey? Odin was a very complex god and not always a very nice one (which is why I use 'superficial') but that Norse legend that JRRT loved certainly features him in this context .... maybe another air of the Poetic Edda and Voluspa that JRRT wanted to include?


Ulmo not choosing - somehow I think his ideas and those of the rest of the Valar don't always mesh. He didn't get involved in Numenor and stayed hands-on in Arda. Not sure of the sending of envoys was quite his 'thing' - he was there in Arda himself and I bet not part of the selection committee. He probably just deleted the emails without reading them.

Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room April, 2014. *The Call for Submissions is up*!





**And Rem, you are doing that CoH chapter. Don't forget. **


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 2 2014, 11:31pm

Post #21 of 27 (1526 views)
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The Lost Wizards and their faerie meaning? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I agree with you also that there is probably more to the story of the blue wizards than we now know. Is it possible that Tolkien had something in mind initially for them and perhaps was not able to work it into the story in a cohesive manner? Is it at all possible that he simply forgot about them? There is so little mention of them in his many thousands of pages of ME history, I can not help but wonder. I simply can not remember if there is any mention of them in any of the HOME books. Does anyone have any idea?




In Letters he says that he doesn't know what happened to them himself, and he seems to have not thought of the Blue colors as deeply as we are now.. he says in #211 in 1958:


"I have not named the colors (of the unnamed Wizards), because I do not know them. I doubt if they had distinctive colors. Distinction was only required in the case of the three who remained in the relatively small area of the North-west...I really do not know anything clearly about the other two - since they do not concern the history of the N.W. I think they went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of the Numenorean range: missionaries to 'enemy occupied' lands, as it were. What success they had I do not know; but I fear they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults and 'magic' traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron."


What intrigues me about this quote is what the writer of On Fairy Stories feels about incorporating his world into real-world myths. We have the faded Elves, quiet Hobbits and maybe the squat Druedain all blurring into 'the hedge' of the faerie: in this case maybe the darker, poison-sumac side of the hedge? The basis of the darker legends and practices that humanity has indulged in?

Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room April, 2014. *The Call for Submissions is up*!





**And Rem, you are doing that CoH chapter. Don't forget. **


noWizardme
Half-elven


Apr 3 2014, 1:52pm

Post #22 of 27 (1443 views)
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Why were wizards like Men? [In reply to] Can't Post

I can see some sense in them being - or at least looking like - Men*. Men seem to be increasingly ubiquitous in the Third Age, whereas the other races are keeping to themselves. Also, looking like Men would not be a barrier to dealings with the elves, whereas looking like elves might be a barrier to dealing with men (and perhaps with dwarves too).

There could be another reason. I have been enjoying Verlyn Flieger's book Green Suns and Faerie, Essays on Tolkien. It contains an essay entitled The Music and the Task: Fate and Free Will in Middle-earth Dr Flieger argues that Men have the unique role in the interplay between Fate and Free Will in Middle-earth. She sums up her argument in her final paragraph thus:


Quote
The struggles undergone by the characters who inhabit Tolkien's fictive world require both order and spontaneity to justify them, to give them their meaning, and above all to create that uncertainty of outcome which is a hall-mark of effective fiction. The story needs its readers awareness of both the Music and the Task. Thus , we as readers must recognize that the original great theme, proposed by Iluvatar and spoiled in the making by Melkor, is embedded first in the ensuing Music and then in the world created through that Music. We must see that the spoiled Music goes uncorrected by the godhead, who instead assigns that task to one race of his created beings. We must honor the decision (not really Eru's but Tolkien's) to introduce into this unhappy, unfinished world the two unanticipated races of Elves and Men; and the further decision to give one race, men, the freedom to change their lives and through those lives to change the Music and thus the fate of Middle-earth and its inhabitants.


If that is right, then it would be appropriate and possibly essential for the wizards to be Men (or Man-like; at least): they are to rally Men to change their lives appropriately, in order to fulfil their Task of undoing Melkor's mischief. And they may need that partial freedom from Fate themselves (even if it does lead to a 1 in 5 success rate, with Gandalf sticking to the task - or Task - but the other four getting distracted.

* This is about why I think they were like 'Men' (rather than elves, hobbits, dwarves) not why I think they were 'men' (i.e. adult male Men, as opposed to being women or children)

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë 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
Half-elven


Apr 3 2014, 4:38pm

Post #23 of 27 (1421 views)
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Plotinus/Gandalf's fear of Sauron mirrors Frodo's "I am not made for perilous quests!"// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë 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!"


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Apr 6 2014, 1:19pm

Post #24 of 27 (1394 views)
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*mods up w/goosebumps* That was so cool!!! :D // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



6th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - November 28, 2013
3rd draft of TH:DOS Geeky Observation List - January 2, 2014



sample

"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!



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Dame Ioreth
Tol Eressea


Apr 6 2014, 3:56pm

Post #25 of 27 (1406 views)
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I just had another thought about Gandalf the Grey [In reply to] Can't Post

Grey is the color of ashes.

One thing that struck me immediately about Gandalf is the fact that he didn't think he was strong enough, worthy enough to go. He is the most humble of beings in Middle Earth even though as a Maiar his power would probably be considerable in proportion to many in ME. I thought of "Sack cloth and ashes" - a public sign of repentence and humility. The evil of ME stem from an over-proud being creating dissonance (Melkor/Morgoth). Gandalf therefore could stand for the message of repentance and humility to those in ME who think to follow that over-proud power.

Grey = ashes. What else comes to mind? The phrase "ashes to ashes" from the Anglican (among others) Book of Common Prayer Burial Service which derives from Genesis 3:19 KJV "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." To me it's another way to look at the theme of the Maiar being sent into Middle Earth as emissaries of the Valar to do a job. They are not supposed to be the end result (they are not supposed to rule), they are a means to an end and then they are supposed to return home. Those Istari that failed did so because they thought to rule (Saruman) or they got caught up in ME so much they forgot they weren't supposed to stay. Only Gandalf remembered that he was ash, he was here for a time to do the will of a higher power and then he was supposed to leave. Even when he is given the status of being The White, he retains that remembrance of having a job to do that is finite. Makes me wonder what kind of marching orders he got while "dead" once the Valar saw how their emissaries failed in various ways.

Geez, my headcanon is wandering today... Hopefully I didn't get too lost... Cool

Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings






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