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Question About the Silmarillion and Ents

Tolkien R.J.J
Bree

Feb 6, 12:27am

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Question About the Silmarillion and Ents Can't Post

In of aule and Yavanna, Ents [not called so of course] are spirit beings that indwell trees to protect the forest from dwarves who will cut them down. However at this period of time are not the only spirit beings valar and Maiar? does this make the spirits of ents...Maiar?

At this same time of balrogs [Maiar] it says "The spirits...balrogs they were named in middle earth in later days"

Or are their other spirits already created by Iluvatar at this time not mentioned? or did i miss something?

thanks.


(This post was edited by Tolkien R.J.J on Feb 6, 12:28am)


Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 6, 12:41am

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There are other classes of spirits... [In reply to] Can't Post

...although as far as the Ents go, I see no reason why the initial generation of them can't be Maiar, although their descendants would almost certainly not be (cf. Lúthien and the later generations of Great Eagles as I mentioned in another post). This is actually one of my favorite Lore mysteries/topics but I'm in a hurry so I'm gonna quickly adapt a post I recently made about this on another forum. Tongue The version of the Valaquenta published as the second section of the 1977 Silmarillion touches on this very briefly:


Quote
Among them [the Valar] Nine were of chief power and reverence; but one is removed from their number, and Eight remain, the Aratar, the High Ones of Arda: Manwë and Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna and Aulë, Mandos, Nienna, and Oromë. Though Manwë is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others, whether of the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Ilúvatar has sent into Eä.


To key part here is the phrase "any other order that Ilúvatar has sent into Eä". In the early phases of the mythology, especially The Book of Lost Tales, there were references to many different classes of spirits, including "brownies, fays, pixies, [and] leprawns", which Tolkien was clear to distinguish from the Eldar (HoMe I, The Coming of the Valar). However, most vaguely defined spirits of the early mythology were subsumed into the catch-all category of Maiar in the early 1950s when Tolkien was reworking the Annals of Valinor into the Annals of Aman (a process documented in HoMe X). The interesting thing about the "any other order" line from the published Valaquenta, though, is that it's source is from the same time period as the introduction of the Maiar, some thirty years after the Lost Tales (HoMe X, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, Of the Valar):


Quote
Thus it may be seen that there are nine Valar, and Seven queens of the Valar of no less might; for whereas Melkor and Ulmo dwell alone, so also doth Nienna, while Estë is not numbered among the Rulers. But the Seven Great Ones of the Realm of Arda are Manwë and Melkor, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, and Nienna; for though Manwë is their chief [> king], in majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others whether of the Valar and their kin, or of any other order that Ilúvatar has conceived [> caused to be].


Unfortunately there aren't very many other clues on this subject in Tolkien's later writing. I tend to interpret the passage as referring to unaffiliated Ainu who entered into Eä but were not counted among either the Valar or the Maiar and instead went off and did their own thing. One of the more plausible theories about Tom Bombadil (in my opinion) is that he is one such unaffiliated Ainu, though he could also have been a Maia who "went native" early on, somewhat similar to Melian's situation. However, it's also possible to interpret the passage as referring to a wholly different class (or classes) of beings who were ultimately created by Ilúvatar (as was everything else) but were neither Ainu nor Incarnates. Ungoliant's origin is shrouded in mystery and we are told only that the Eldar suspect she was a corrupted Maia (TS, Of the Darkening of Valinor). In LOTR it is strongly suggested that Caradhras possesses some level of sentience or will and that the mountain itself was responsible for blocking the Fellowship's passage across it. And most intriguingly (to me) is Gandalf's description of the "nameless things" beneath Moria (TTT, III 5):


Quote
‘Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin’s Bridge, and none has measured it,’ said Gimli.

‘Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,’ said Gandalf. ‘Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.

‘We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin’s folk, Gimli son of Glóin. Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dûm: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.’


One particularly interesting thing about this quote is that the "nameless things" are stated to be older than Sauron. On the face of it this seems impossible; Sauron (as an Ainu) existed before the creation of the physical universe or even time itself, and so would seem to be older than anything in Eä. However, I think the implication here is that the nameless things existed in Eä before the arrival of Sauron or, presumably, any of the other Maiar or Valar. If they were part of Eä from its earliest moment of existence, while the Ainu were still in the Timeless Halls, than they have a valid claim to have existed for more time than Sauron did, but we can only speculate as to what their nature was. "Echoes of the music of the Ainur" is one idea that periodically gets floated in these debates, though.


(This post was edited by Eldorion on Feb 6, 12:42am)


Tolkien R.R.J
The Shire

Feb 6, 1:02am

Post #3 of 13 (2615 views)
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Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...although as far as the Ents go, I see no reason why the initial generation of them can't be Maiar, although their descendants would almost certainly not be (cf. Lúthien and the later generations of Great Eagles as I mentioned in another post). This is actually one of my favorite Lore mysteries/topics but I'm in a hurry so I'm gonna quickly adapt a post I recently made about this on another forum. Tongue The version of the Valaquenta published as the second section of the 1977 Silmarillion touches on this very briefly:


Quote
Among them [the Valar] Nine were of chief power and reverence; but one is removed from their number, and Eight remain, the Aratar, the High Ones of Arda: Manwë and Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna and Aulë, Mandos, Nienna, and Oromë. Though Manwë is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others, whether of the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Ilúvatar has sent into Eä.


To key part here is the phrase "any other order that Ilúvatar has sent into Eä". In the early phases of the mythology, especially The Book of Lost Tales, there were references to many different classes of spirits, including "brownies, fays, pixies, [and] leprawns", which Tolkien was clear to distinguish from the Eldar (HoMe I, The Coming of the Valar). However, most vaguely defined spirits of the early mythology were subsumed into the catch-all category of Maiar in the early 1950s when Tolkien was reworking the Annals of Valinor into the Annals of Aman (a process documented in HoMe X). The interesting thing about the "any other order" line from the published Valaquenta, though, is that it's source is from the same time period as the introduction of the Maiar, some thirty years after the Lost Tales (HoMe X, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, Of the Valar):


Quote
Thus it may be seen that there are nine Valar, and Seven queens of the Valar of no less might; for whereas Melkor and Ulmo dwell alone, so also doth Nienna, while Estë is not numbered among the Rulers. But the Seven Great Ones of the Realm of Arda are Manwë and Melkor, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, and Nienna; for though Manwë is their chief [> king], in majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others whether of the Valar and their kin, or of any other order that Ilúvatar has conceived [> caused to be].


Unfortunately there aren't very many other clues on this subject in Tolkien's later writing. I tend to interpret the passage as referring to unaffiliated Ainu who entered into Eä but were not counted among either the Valar or the Maiar and instead went off and did their own thing. One of the more plausible theories about Tom Bombadil (in my opinion) is that he is one such unaffiliated Ainu, though he could also have been a Maia who "went native" early on, somewhat similar to Melian's situation. However, it's also possible to interpret the passage as referring to a wholly different class (or classes) of beings who were ultimately created by Ilúvatar (as was everything else) but were neither Ainu nor Incarnates. Ungoliant's origin is shrouded in mystery and we are told only that the Eldar suspect she was a corrupted Maia (TS, Of the Darkening of Valinor). In LOTR it is strongly suggested that Caradhras possesses some level of sentience or will and that the mountain itself was responsible for blocking the Fellowship's passage across it. And most intriguingly (to me) is Gandalf's description of the "nameless things" beneath Moria (TTT, III 5):


Quote
‘Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin’s Bridge, and none has measured it,’ said Gimli.

‘Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,’ said Gandalf. ‘Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.

‘We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin’s folk, Gimli son of Glóin. Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dûm: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.’


One particularly interesting thing about this quote is that the "nameless things" are stated to be older than Sauron. On the face of it this seems impossible; Sauron (as an Ainu) existed before the creation of the physical universe or even time itself, and so would seem to be older than anything in Eä. However, I think the implication here is that the nameless things existed in Eä before the arrival of Sauron or, presumably, any of the other Maiar or Valar. If they were part of Eä from its earliest moment of existence, while the Ainu were still in the Timeless Halls, than they have a valid claim to have existed for more time than Sauron did, but we can only speculate as to what their nature was. "Echoes of the music of the Ainur" is one idea that periodically gets floated in these debates, though.





Thanks for your great knowledge on the subject. It brings up one more question for me. Do the ents die? dident gandalf say treebeard was the oldest living being or something like that. That he was around since the elves were first made.


Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 6, 2:03am

Post #4 of 13 (2602 views)
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My pleasure [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks for your great knowledge on the subject. It brings up one more question for me. Do the ents die? dident gandalf say treebeard was the oldest living being or something like that. That he was around since the elves were first made.


Pippin asks this same question in the chapter "Treebeard" (TTT, III 4; my emphasis).


Quote
Why are there so few, when you have lived in this country so long?’ asked Pippin. ‘Have a great many died?’

‘Oh, no!’ said Treebeard. ‘None have died from inside, as you might say. Some have fallen in the evil chances of the long years, of course; and more have grown tree-ish. But there were never many of us and we have not increased. There have been no Entings – no children, you would say, not for a terrible long count of years. You see, we lost the Entwives.’



Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 6, 10:09pm

Post #5 of 13 (2545 views)
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Other possible explanation [In reply to] Can't Post

In the course of responding to a PM I just now checked the chapter "Of the Ents and the Eagles" from HoMe XI which I had not done earlier since I was in a hurry, and it mentions that the Eldar speculated the Ents "were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees." If true, that would seem to suggest that Ents had fëar, which was already my hypothesis regarding later generations of Ents, though not the original generation. However, this is explicitly stated in the text to be speculation by the Elves from an in-universe perspective.

I think that Tolkien's suggestion that the original generation of Eagles were Maiar (in HoMe X, Myths Transformed) remains valid circumstantial evidence for the original Ents being Maiar as well since they and the Eagles are similar in many ways, but it's always hard to say for sure what ideas from MT Tolkien would or would not have preserved in the long run. In any event, the exact nature of Ents remains a mystery as I noted above and I still think that the Maiar hypothesis is the most likely, but in the interest of full disclosure I wanted to mention this additional evidence as well.

Smile


Tolkien R.R.J
The Shire

Feb 6, 10:47pm

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Thanks once more [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your help.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit, eventually I thought I’d better find out what hobbits were like. But that’s only the beginning”
- J.R.R Tolkien

“If you really want to know what middle earth is based on, it’s my wonder and delight in the earth as is, particularity the natural earth”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“If literature teaches us anything at all, it is this that we have in us an eternal element.”
-J.R.R Tolkien


jlj93byu
Bree

Feb 7, 9:05pm

Post #7 of 13 (2482 views)
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Just read that passage [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
‘Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin’s Bridge, and none has measured it,’ said Gimli.

‘Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,’ said Gandalf. ‘Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.

‘We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin’s folk, Gimli son of Glóin. Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dûm: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.’


Thank you for your excellent insights! I just read that passage two days ago and it struck me as something I didn't recall from earlier readings. I must have been distracted, but this time when I read it, it made me think for a few minutes about what Gandalf may have been referring to. It reminded me of the casual reference to the were-worms from Hobbit that inspired their introduction in the films, as that was a reference I had never really thought about much before either.


(This post was edited by jlj93byu on Feb 7, 9:06pm)


Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 7, 9:20pm

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Were-worms [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm inclined to think that the were-worms were simply creatures of Hobbit folklore rather than actual beings, but they're certainly the subject of speculation as well, yeah. In any event, if they did exist, they were presumably related to dragons since that's generally what "worm" meant in Tolkien's writing, rather than being like sandworms from Dune.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 7, 9:25pm

Post #9 of 13 (2466 views)
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"Older and fouler things..." [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I just read that passage two days ago and it struck me as something I didn't recall from earlier readings. I must have been distracted, but this time when I read it, it made me think for a few minutes about what Gandalf may have been referring to. It reminded me of the casual reference to the were-worms from Hobbit that inspired their introduction in the films, as that was a reference I had never really thought about much before either.


The cited passage dovetails nicely with something that Gandalf says in The Fellowship of the Ring soon after the encounter with the Watcher in the Water:


Quote
'Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.'


"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Attalus
Lorien


Feb 8, 5:26am

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Classes of Spirits? [In reply to] Can't Post


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... I tend to interpret the passage as referring to unaffiliated Ainu who entered into Eä but were not counted among either the Valar or the Maiar and instead went off and did their own thing. One of the more plausible theories about Tom Bombadil (in my opinion) is that he is one such unaffiliated Ainu, though he could also have been a Maia who "went native" early on, somewhat similar to Melian's situation.

Okay, I followed you closely before, with considerable admiration, but the idea of "unaffiliated Maiar" is pretty heretical, considering JRRT's Catholicism. In dogma, an "Elemental Spirit of the Universe," to quote St. Paul, is either an angel or a demon, and if I read him right (a considerable leap) most certainly a demon. The term came to designate personified beings or “elemental spirits.” These could be simply personifications of natural forces, or could be individualized as demons or, possibly, as angels. Recent scholarship has tended to interpret the language of Colossians 2:8, 20 in this way. Some interpreters have so understood Galatians 4:3, 9 as well.. And, as much as we might be seduced by theology to start personifying them, Tom B. is stated firmly in the Letters as a "mystery," which all good fantasies have, and he firmly refused to quantify further. I have always heeded JRRT's prohibition and refuse to classify Tom, or even Goldberry, any further. Pirate

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Mûmak. But we got him!


Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 8, 6:27am

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Er... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm uncertain whether your phrase "unaffiliated Maiar" is meant to refer to the notion of Ainur who were neither Valar nor Maiar (what I called "unaffiliated Ainur" in previous posts), or to the concept of Maiar who "went native". If the former, then I return to the quote from the Valaquenta in my first post in this thread, which I think is unambiguous that there were spirits in Eä that were neither Valar nor Maiar. If the latter, then I confess I'm not sure what your objection is from a lore standpoint, as I think I have been fairly thorough in citing sources as a basis for my speculation. I'll try to explain my reasoning in a bit more detail, though.

Melian and Radagast are both known to be Maiar and both could be described as having "gone native", though in different ways. Melian left Valinor and eventually became a queen among Elves who failed to reach Aman while Radagast devoted himself to animals to the point of neglecting his mission as an Istar (UT, The Istari). I don't think there is any reason to assume they were the only such examples of this. On the contrary, the Valaquenta says of the Maiar that "[t]heir number is not known to the Elves, and few have names in any of the tongues of the Children of Ilúvatar; for though it is otherwise in Aman, in Middle-earth the Maiar have seldom appeared in form visible to Elves and Men." I think the meaning here is clear that there were a significant number of Maiar in Middle-earth (in forms not visible to Incarnates) and that this is the reason why only a small percentage of Maiar were known to have names.

As for Bombadil, Tolkien did not issue a "prohibition" on attempting to classify him. If we look at the famous "enigma" quote in context, Tolkien is discussing Bombadil's role as a literary construct, not a component of the Secondary World (Letters, no. 144):


Quote
There is of course a clash between 'literary' technique, and the fascination of elaborating in detail an imaginary mythical Age (mythical, not allegorical: my mind does not work allegorically). As a story, I think it is good that there should be a lot of things unexplained (especially if an explanation actually exists); and I have perhaps from this point of view erred in trying to explain too much, and give too much past history. Many readers have, for instance, rather stuck at the Council of Elrond. And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).


It is important to take note of Tolkien's statement that many such enigmas do, in fact, have answers as to their place in the Secondary World. Tolkien elsewhere (not in the context of Bombadil) referred to the concept of having an answer but not explicitly sharing it as "my subcreator's right ... to leave the question a 'mystery', not without pointers to the solution" (Letters, no. 153). Nowhere in any of this does Tolkien forbid his readers from attempting to puzzle out the answers themselves. Whether or not Bombadil is one of the cases where Tolkien had an answer in mind remains one of the outstanding questions surrounding the character, however.

I'm not sure how Tolkien's Catholicism is relevant here since he did not consider himself obligated to reproduce Christian theology verbatim or to entirely avoid ideas that are contrary to it. He touched on this in Letters, no. 131:


Quote
In the cosmogony there is a fall: a fall of Angels we should say. Though quite different in form, of course, to that of Christian myth. These tales are 'new', they are not directly derived from other myths and legends, but they must inevitably contain a large measure of ancient wide-spread motives or elements. After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.


And again in no. 153 (emphasis in the original):


Quote
We differ entirely about the nature of the relation of sub-creation to Creation. I should have said that liberation 'from the channels the creator is known to have used already' is the fundamental function of 'sub-creation', a tribute to the infinity of His potential variety, one of the ways in which indeed it is exhibited, as indeed I said in the Essay. I am not a metaphysician; but I should have thought it a curious metaphysic – there is not one but many, indeed potentially innumerable ones – that declared the channels known (in such a finite comer as we have any inkling of) to have been used, are the only possible ones, or efficacious, or possibly acceptable to and by Him!

'Reincarnation' may be bad theology (that surely, rather than metaphysics) as applied to Humanity; and my legendarium, especially the 'Downfall of Númenor' which lies immediately behind The Lord of the Rings, is based on my view: that Men are essentially mortal and must not try to become 'immortal' in the flesh.† But I do not see how even in the Primary World any theologian or philosopher, unless very much better informed about the relation of spirit and body than I believe anyone to be, could deny the possibility of re-incarnation as a mode of existence, prescribed for certain kinds of rational incarnate creatures.


The dagger in that quote indicates a footnote which reads:


Quote
Since 'mortality' is thus represented as a special gift of God to the Second Race of the Children (the Eruhíni, the Children of the One God) and not a punishment for a Fall, you may call that 'bad theology'. So it may be, in the primary world, but it is an imagination capable of elucidating truth, and a legitimate basis of legends.


Anyway, I hope that clarifies my position a little. Sorry for this response getting out of hand!


(This post was edited by Eldorion on Feb 8, 6:40am)


Attalus
Lorien


Feb 8, 6:43am

Post #12 of 13 (2401 views)
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Tom, Tom, diddely bom [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
As for Bombadil, Tolkien did not issue a "prohibition" on attempting to classify him. If we look at the famous "enigma" quote in context, Tolkien is discussing Bombadil's role as a literary construct, not a component of the Secondary World (Letters, no. 144):


There is of course a clash between 'literary' technique, and the fascination of elaborating in detail an imaginary mythical Age (mythical, not allegorical: my mind does not work allegorically). As a story, I think it is good that there should be a lot of things unexplained (especially if an explanation actually exists); and I have perhaps from this point of view erred in trying to explain too much, and give too much past history. Many readers have, for instance, rather stuck at the Council of Elrond. And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).

I will just say that the phrase (which you quote)

Quote
And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)

is my justification for posting what I did, even if "prohibition" is too strong a word, I think you will agree that Tollers declined to further delineate Tom's "status"

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Mûmak. But we got him!

(This post was edited by Attalus on Feb 8, 6:43am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 8, 9:27pm

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That is an amazing post for being in a hurry—thanks! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

 
 

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