Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Was Aragorn's granddaddy a Ringwraith?

Hasuwandil
Rivendell


Feb 21, 2:08pm

Post #1 of 11 (879 views)
Shortcut
Was Aragorn's granddaddy a Ringwraith? Can't Post

No, not Arador.

I imagine the thought has occurred to someone before, but it just recently occurred to me. We know from The Silmarillion that three of the Nazgûl, including the Witch-king himself, were originally lords of Númenor. Apparently the Ruling KIngs and Queens of Númenor are all accounted for. We also know that Númenor was governed by the monarch and lords from six regions. Ignoring the possibility that some of the "lords" may have been colonial governors of, say, Umbar or Pelargir, and assuming that the three Nazgûl all received their rings at the same time, there's a 50% chance one of them was the Lord of Andúnië, right? And if so, there's also a pretty good chance he was a direct patrilineal ancestor of Aragorn.

Even if one of them wasn't the Lord of Andúnië, unless they were all childless there's a pretty good chance Aragorn had a Ringwraith somewhere in his family tree.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 21, 3:40pm

Post #2 of 11 (845 views)
Shortcut
Lord or Lordling? [In reply to] Can't Post

How specific was Tolkien when he wrote about the lords of Númenor? Besides the governors themselves, might that have included their families? Maybe even extended families? That opens up the possibilities a bit.

#FidelityToTolkien


InTheChair
Lorien

Feb 21, 8:12pm

Post #3 of 11 (829 views)
Shortcut
Extremely unlikely. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Lords of Andúnië I think were known for their opposition to Saurons advices. I very much doubt any of them would have accepted gifts from him.



squire
Half-elven


Feb 21, 8:18pm

Post #4 of 11 (834 views)
Shortcut
It seems mythically incorrect [In reply to] Can't Post

Aragorn is a symbol of the best of Numenor, almost magically preserved by true descent through an Age of decline and failure by his race. It would go against that entire construction to invent an ironic 'gag' whereby one of his line fell to Sauron's seductions.

When engaging in fun speculation about possible connections and consequences of the legendarium's complexities, one might adopt as a rule that although Tolkien is not averse to irony, he is averse to mocking himself.



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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Morthoron
Gondor


Feb 22, 12:29am

Post #5 of 11 (818 views)
Shortcut
Agreed.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Rather too ironic that great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpappy Arawhomever would be a Nazgûl.

Considering the Nine Rings were forged in 1500 SA (Sauron forged the One Ring in 1600 SA), Sauron was driven from Eriador in 1700 SA, yet the Nazgûl did not appear until 2251 SA, I would suggest in the 500+ year interregnum between 1700 and 2251 SA is when Sauron doled out the Rings to mortal men. Therefore, it is likely that the 3 Númenóreans inferred to hold Rings were from the South, in Harad and Pelargir, as the Havens of Umbar and other Southron settlements were began around 1800 SA.

During Tar-Ciryatan's rule 1869 - 2029 SA was when Númenóreans first oppressed and conquered populations in Middle-earth and openly spoke against the Ban of the Valar. I am guessing that would be when Sauron began cultivating candidates.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on Feb 22, 12:29am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 22, 2:22am

Post #6 of 11 (812 views)
Shortcut
From Man to Ring-wraith [In reply to] Can't Post

How long would the transition take from Númenórean to Nazgûl anyway? We don't know, but it must have taken decades, if not centuries. Sauron wouldn't have begun circulating the Rings before the end of his war with the Elves (S.A. 1701), but, yeah, it might have been a while before he could seduce any of the lords of Númenor.

#FidelityToTolkien


noWizardme
Half-elven


Feb 23, 11:47am

Post #7 of 11 (752 views)
Shortcut
Well I like the idea (if it's not interpreted over-literally). [In reply to] Can't Post

I accept the points people are making so far, but I wonder if the arguments are being over-literal? (They are also coming across to me as verging on the argumentative, but perhaps that is interpretation rather than intention.)

OK, The Ringwraith candidate most likely isn't any of Aragorn's literal grandfathers because it seems plausible that whoever too the ring took it too long ago. Oh, an I just looked up who this Arador mentioned in the OP was, and discovered that he's Aragorn's grandfather in the line of kings. So possibly Hasuwandil was meaning all along to rule out this literal interpretation?

It seems to me that the longer ago it was that someone in the Arnor or Gondor nobility took rings, the more likely they are to be related to Aragorn somehow. The reasoning is that we all have one genetic father (the bloke who would be identified by a paternity test as opposed to any males involved in parenting), two genetic grandfathers, for great-grandfathers and so on. The number of ancestors expands each generation until it exceeds the population alive at that time, which is explained by distant ancestors being one's ancestor several times over. Cultures that have a nobility tend to exaggerate this effect as you can't officially have babies with any random person you fancy, you have to marry someone of the right social class. European nobles also tended to have sex with anyone they wanted to because nobody was realistically going to stop them. As a consequence, genetics says I'm almost certainly descended from Charlemagne or any other arbitrary royal. "Sometime at the end of the 13th century lived a man or woman from whom all Europeans could trace ancestry" says that reference (I'm not sure whether given a time machine, someone could theoretically go back and greet this person - don't shoot them please Smile - or whether they are more of a statistical construct. Presumably, anyone a time-traveler of European heritage met having arrived in 13th century Europe is quite likely an ancestor, and go further back in time and anyone you see anywhere in the world is likely to be an ancestor).


Other people are far more likely than me to enjoy the exercise of estimating how many generations back from Aragorn someone took one of the nine rings, and how many (genetic) ancestors Aragorn had then. But I feel the argument that Aragorn is related to Ring-wraiths somehow seems highly plausible based on logic and biology. Indeed perhaps it's inevitably true?
Then to squire's point - does having a ring-wraith ancestor turn Aragon into a sort of joke? I see that someone doing an interpretive project (fan fiction say) could do that deliberately or inadvertently, and the joke might or might not be funny. I agree it's not a joke Tolkien seems likely to have intended. But I don't think this absolutely rules Hasuwandil's idea out. It might of course mean that the fan-fiction writer, film-project maker etc. might want to handle the issue carefully and be mindful of the effect being generated, but that seems a different point to me. I think squire's right that Aragorn is supposed to be a sort of against-the-odds preservation of (or reversion to) a sort of virtue mostly lost from the Dunadain. Of course if we imagine that some of the ring-wraiths are Aragron's ancestors in a wider sense then I think that problem goes away: all of Aragorn's ancestors in the royal line of descent could have been unusually noble people, and he could still be related to a ring-wraith. In fact, we know he's related to somebody who had a narrow escape -- Isildur. Isildur is one of Aragorn's Ancestors, and Aragorn additionally is Isildur's heir (an anthropological rather than exclusively biological connection). Isildur takes a ring (The Ring, of course) -- a fault that Aragorn specifically says he should labour to repair. I realize that Tolkien gives us his usual ambiguity and multiple versions of what Isildur planed to do after that - was he already irredeemably compromised (a plausible interpretation of what we learn from LOTR; certainly my interpretation)? Or was he attempting to to get help to get rid of the Ring (an idea Tolkien tries in an Unfinished Tale*)? But Isildur's story makes me feel it is perfectly reasonable to imagine someone from Aragorn's family tree taking a ring.

--* I led a discussion about this Unfinished Tale back in 2014. I included a synopsis of it, whcih might be useful here for anyone who doesn't have the book. That discussion went on to consider Prof Shippey's idea that the repentant Isidur is a bad development artistically. That's because (Shippey argues) we need the noble Isildur to take the Ring and go bad to emphasis that nobody is too high, mighty or pure to be safe. If that were true, then LOTR doesn't' work - you give the Ring to a party of pure incorruptible Great Ones to deal with it, rather than needing virtuous everymen such as Frodo and Sam. And they, still and importantly, aren't pure enough to succeed completely.





~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Hasuwandil
Rivendell


Feb 24, 8:35am

Post #8 of 11 (711 views)
Shortcut
Not literal [In reply to] Can't Post

To be clear, the Ringwraiths appeared long before Arador and Dírhael (Aragorn's paternal and maternal grandfathers) were born. By "granddaddy", I am referring to possible distant ancestors of Aragorn.

I agree with the others that Tolkien probably would not have had a Lord of Andúnië be one of the three Númenórean lords who became Ringwraiths. However, given their long lives, I was intrigued by the idea that Aragorn might be fighting against someone who was his actual ancestor.

However, perhaps the lords were all living in Middle-earth, where Sauron would have had more direct access to them (until his capture). In that case the likelihood of Aragorn's descent from a Ringwraith would seem to diminish considerably, especially if they were all from around Umbar.

That brings up another question: supposedly the Ringwraiths "appeared" in S.A. 2251, but did they all "appear" at once? Did Sauron hand out all nine rings about S.A. 1700, or did he hold some in reserve? Did he take some with him to Númenor?

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


squire
Half-elven


Feb 24, 1:10pm

Post #9 of 11 (690 views)
Shortcut
What if, in Middle-earth, "blood heritage" is not 50-50? [In reply to] Can't Post

Your point about the realities of 'ancestry' over the long term in a contained population (say, Europe) is excellent. As you say, we often read about how everybody is related to royalty, or Charlemagne, etc.

But in Tolkien's world of Middle-earth, I've often thought that part of his fantasy is that the male 'blood-line' counts for far, far more in rating who ones ancestors are than the female line does. It might even be the case that, after a few generations, ones great-great-great-grandmothers on the entirely maternal line quite literally cease to be ancestors, and have no "blood" to be counted in later descent!

Why suppose this? Well, one of the biggest reasons is the constant assertion that Aragorn, many dozens of generations later, still has the 'blood of Luthien' in him and so is rated both worthy of ruling the united kingdom of Men, and of wedding Arwen as a recapitulation of the Beren/Luthien and Tuor/Idril matches. Eliminating the many, many female-based ancestors of the line of the Dunedain across the entire Third Age would ensure that Aragorn's unquestioned direct descent male-by-male from Elros actually means something, genetically (if we may even use that word, under the system I'm proposing!). It would eliminate the nasty paradox you pointed out, that interbreeding in a limited aristocratic class like the Dunedain rulers of Numenor and Arnor is inevitable. Tracking only the male-to-male line from Elros to Aragorn, and filtering out the female contributions at no matter what height of ancestry, makes his claim (and the author's claim behind it) a heck of a lot more credible -- especially to those who've studied real-life geneaology and royal bloodlines with all their powers of two complicating things.

But there are numerous other instances where Tolkien presupposes that male ancestry is all that counts in reckoning someone's inheritance of noble to magical qualities. In this, I would guess, he's simply continuing the strong patriarchal theology of aristocracy and nobility that characterizes English and European cultures right up until his own slightly more democratic and egalitarian century.



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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Feb 24, 2:13pm

Post #10 of 11 (689 views)
Shortcut
Culture beats biology in how the Dunadain think about descent? Sounds very likely [In reply to] Can't Post

I certainly agree with that - as I understand it, different cultures around the world have extremely different ideas about how kinship and descent work as a social thing. Which relatives are regarded as important (or are defined as relatives at all) is a cultural thing. Possibly the only kind of kinship that matters to people in Middle-earth is the father-to-son sort - or that is the most impressive kind of relationship to be able to claim. Certainly that would follow (the little I know about) medieval European nobility - direct father-to-son inheritance was regarded as the ideal, though this usually didn't stop a claimant with a bigger army.

Cultural ideas can be remarkably flexible (or so it can seem to an outsider). I do notice that when you rightly say that Aragorn is crucially descended from Luthien, she's a female ancestor not a male one. And isn't Aragorn's initial title to being King of Gondor something complicated, perhaps through the female line (I forget the details)? I'm not meaning to point those out as 'gotchas' for your argument in some quarrelsome way - I think it's entirely consistent with how historical cultures behave that they prioritize one kind of kinship, make exceptions, and then hand-wave away the fact that they've made exceptions. And anyway, Tolkien was writing fantasy fiction, rather than an anthropological study into kinship and inheritance systems in the Dunadain. So perhaps he didn't think it out all that far or consistently.

To put it this way, lets imagine that someone in Arnor - let's call him Artex, or Articuno, or Andrex or Arudun or whatever, so we know we're not taking this too seriously: I think I prefer Arudun, because it would be good if I was soon. Let's imagine Arudun did become an Ring-wraith. Arudun (let's also imagine) is related to Aragorn according to the genetics-based logic I used, and someone could draw up a family tree showing the precise relationship - he's some Great, Great......Great uncle, maybe. I think the point you're making squire (and certainly the one I'm agreeing with) is that you could present this research to someone in Gondor during Aragorn's reign and they might agree that was factually correct, but might be completely unable to see how it was at all relevant to Aragorn.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Feb 24, 2:13pm)


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Mar 2, 8:41pm

Post #11 of 11 (407 views)
Shortcut
That line could go wrong, though [In reply to] Can't Post

Ar-Pharzon the Golden and the Kings of Numoner where of that line and they turned to evil. And that line of the Kings of Gondor could turn to lazinesses or ease one reason as to why the Kings of Gondor failed. Faramir would later even suggest that the Stewards where wiser albeit it with a smaller reign.

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.