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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
A so called "inconsistency"
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Oct 14 2012, 4:51pm

Post #26 of 39 (760 views)
Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

That's the point I was trying to make earlier Smile

In the movies Elrond, Denethor, Haldir, Galadriel, and Celeborn stink.


Oct 14 2012, 5:10pm

Post #27 of 39 (759 views)
A couple great points here [In reply to] Can't Post

I had also thought about the Mordor Orc dialogue Merry/Pippin and Sam/Frodo overhear, and noted the exemption of the name "Sauron."

I am also intrigued by the implications of the Nazgul's thoughts when Fatty rings the alarm bell. It makes the Nazgul seem very...shall I say, human? Now I want to learn more about them!

In the movies Elrond, Denethor, Haldir, Galadriel, and Celeborn stink.


Oct 14 2012, 5:19pm

Post #28 of 39 (787 views)
Question [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess the big question all this is making me ask myself is, "When reading the book, who is the 'Supreme Deity' here, the author or the reader?"

Does it really matter if the author goofed if the reader believes that an "inconsistency" makes sense on some level?

I think the only person who could answer the question of whether he goofed or not would be the Professor.

I believe this is why we are debating this. To borrow a concept from Sir Ian, who said that this story never really happened, "...except somewhere in our hearts," it seems like in the story that occured in some of our hearts there was a goof up, either on the part of Aragorn or Tolkien, whereas, in the story that happened in other hearts, Aragorn was speaking in a general sense and there was no mistake.

In the movies Elrond, Denethor, Haldir, Galadriel, and Celeborn stink.

(This post was edited by aruman on Oct 14 2012, 5:27pm)


Oct 14 2012, 8:21pm

Post #29 of 39 (768 views)
Good point [In reply to] Can't Post

"Willing" and "unwilling" don't really apply to the Nazgul, do they? Yet the sense that they identify with Sauron, share his goals and have no desire to rebel was what I was getting at. It's hard to pin down just what a "magical" subservience might entail, although I sometimes find myself thinking of the kind of brainwashing that was believed to be possible at the time Tolkien was writing.

I was struck by this phraseology of Tolkien's in the first passage you quote: "the Ringwraiths... had no will but his [Sauron's] own." Interesting phraseology - implying not so much that the Nazgul have no will, but that they share Sauron's own will. Can't get much more loyal than that!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings


Oct 15 2012, 6:52am

Post #30 of 39 (755 views)
I'm of the opinion loyalty must be a willing choice [In reply to] Can't Post

whereas the ringwraiths no longer have a choice and the excerpts squire quoted were largely what my comments were based on. In a way I do see your meaning, they are completly loyal in a sense that they will not do anything but what they believe to be Saurons will. They were not automotons, they still had conscious thought as evidenced by the Witch Kings fear during and after the encounter at Weathertop, fear of the name Elbereth, Sauron's wrath at their failure, and possibly even fear of Aragorn as an unknown but obviously great power.

Tweezers of Thu

Oct 15 2012, 1:25pm

Post #31 of 39 (825 views)
You might be right, i.e., . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
... I know you're just having fun


In Reply To
A 'problem' there might be that _S_aruman was not a true name at the time but a modern translation, but one can assume that whatever name 'Saruman' meant to translate begins with the same sound.

And a good point!

Slightly off-topic here and going back to the SAWA root. I'm no linguist by any stretch of the imagination, and really no more than a dilettante when it comes to the Serious Study of Things Tolkienian. With that proviso, I noticed something that kind of tickled me: in Tolkien's notes as compiled in PE17, it's noted under the FANA discourse that disembodied Maiar could be detected by their fragrance, and furthermore, that those Maiar corrupted by Melkor stank. Adds a whole new "flavor" to the SAWA meaning, don't you think? Wink

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau


Oct 18 2012, 3:47am

Post #32 of 39 (753 views)
Another distinction [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Aragorn's statement is pretty definitive. There's no hint of "generally" about it, or any suggestion that he is only talking about what mere orcs are allowed to say or write.

On the other hand, as you and others have pointed out, the Mouth of Sauron not only calls Sauron by the right name, the Black Numenorean's own non-name does so inherently, and he works for the guy! As well, why not bring up the fact that the Dark Lord's Messenger speaks the name repeatedly in his visits to Dain, as described by Gloin at the Council of Elrond. And of course, when we read the thoughts of the Nazgul as they search the house at Crickhollow, they think the name Sauron while comforting themselves that the only good hobbit is an enslaved hobbit.

I think Christopher Tolkien is being charitable by suggesting that Aragorn's information is out of date. Aragorn was at the Council of Elrond, after all. I go with the idea that JRRT goofed while trying to achieve a little dramatic effect for Aragorn, Sherlock-wise, in a moment of hasty writing. Otherwise we have to twist the meaning of a plain sentence too much, and I hate doing that just to keep Tolkien's creation impeccably consistent.

Beyond that which others have noted of the Mouth and the Nazgūl being the elite corps of the dark lord's horde as opposed to run-of-the-mill grunts, and the possible interpretation of the Mouth as the actual surrogate of his own voice in the absence of a physical form capable of producing one...

In each of the three cases cited, Sauron is in the act of openly declaring himself (or being contemplated as on the verge of doing so) to unconquered, stranger nations for the first time in centuries. It is necessary that the Dwarves of Erebor know who their master is before they bend knee and turn tithe. Although Sauron has previously declared himself to Gondor, at the Black Gate, Aragorn is being addressed as its presumptive king for the first time, and again, formal declaration must be made in order for the subsequent annihilation to have its proper savor. When the Nazgūl think Sauron's name, they are in a position of disadvantage; they must still operate in sly secrecy under cover of night and are driven away by a mere cockcrow and toot of a horn. However they anticipate the day, soon to come, when Sauron will openly declare his name, here, as well, and the now-happy hobbits will be enslaved.

After so long preparing in the shadows, Sauron is finally having his coming out party. Yes, his name will be trumpeted. Dogs must be made to know who their master is. Afterwards, presumably, they will fear to speak that name as well as the orcs now do.

Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream.


Oct 18 2012, 8:13pm

Post #33 of 39 (744 views)
Excellent question [In reply to] Can't Post

And superb quote too. While I think it's true that all fiction & poetry occur only "somewhere in our hearts," (except for really bad writing, which fouls our bowels), I think that quote is especially true regarding Tolkien's fans. It's an emotional, personal story to each of us, and that competes with our analytical thought.

So we forgive and overlook some things, the way you do with a friend, and pick on other things, the way you do with the same friend. Hence for me, this isn't a goof, or even inconsistent, since I hold to the view that Aragorn wasn't omniscient and wasn't supposed to be, and was speaking generally, not categorically, and I move happily along as a reader with the little bit I've learned that Sauron may want everyone in Middle-earth to obey him, but he doesn't want any slaves on a first-name basis with him. Others, obviously, see it as a crack in the foundation of Tolkien's constructed universe. I'm not sure we can all reach agreement on this.

That leads me back to your question, where I would answer that the author is mostly the deity, but every author makes mistakes that they overlook, and then readers assume a position of power, in a way, because they become "right" when they spot it. I can't think of anything off the bat, but let's say Tolkien wrote in one spot, "But the hobbits dreaded to return to the valley of Rivendell, which had forever been the home of orcs." Then the reader would be right to call it a goof, and Tolkien would be wrong. And of course he'd correct if it was pointed out to him.

It would be a gray/grey zone to decide who's the deity if Tolkien wrote "Boromir looked upon Galadriel, and he was filled with great dread." A reader could argue that Tolkien had mistakenly made her "dreadful" as if she were evil, and the reader now disliked Galadriel, who's supposed to be good, though the author could argue back that the intent was that Boromir's dread arose from having Galadriel perceive the corruption that was gnawing at his heart, and that it was Galadriel's goodness that exposed the problem. So the argument could go either way there.

Which means I'm playing Elf today, because if you come to me for an opinion, I will say yes and no.Smile


Oct 19 2012, 3:49am

Post #34 of 39 (740 views)
The Difficulty of having a Lord one can't name... [In reply to] Can't Post

I wrote a story once that had a dialogue between two orcs regarding this very topic. It is quite germane for this discussion. Well, maybe not, but just the same:

The two Orcs halted their belletristic tźte-ą-tźte briefly as a fierce Mordorion destrier passed close by. Astride the hideous steed sat a grim man, clad wholly in black with a tall helm. An Orc slavedriver tipped the bill of his rusty iron helmet and lowered his eyes in deference as the haughty figure rode further up the line.

"Who's the 'ell is that?" Shiznit said, rather surprised to see a man that wasn't meant for supper.

"Who, him?" Slūtbag shrugged again. "That's the Mouth."

"The Mouth? Mouth of who?" Shiznit asked.

"Him what can't be named," Slūtbag answered in a whisper.

"And who is Him what can't be named?" Shiznit continued.

"Go on," Slūtbag spat, "you can't be that dense. Him what can't be named – the Great Eye."

"Oh, that Him," Shiznit nodded dimly. The Orc arched a ratty eyebrow and glanced dubiously at his comrade. "So…this feller's name…is...The Mouth of Him What Can't Be Named?"

"No, stupid," Slūtbag grumbled, "that aint it. But I can't repeat his name."

Shiznit rolled his eyes. "How can the feller have a name what can't be named?" he chuckled. "That makes no sense."

Slūtbag lowered his voice and in a choked whisper said, "I can't name his name because of the prohibition."

Shiznit frowned. "Prohibition? What prohibition?"

"The prohibition against naming Him what can't be named."

"Him? You mean the Great Eye?"

"Yes-s-s," Slūtbag hissed.

"So, let's see if I follow you here," Shiznit sighed in irritation. "That feller is the Mouth…"

"Yes-s-s," Slūtbag repeated.

"The Mouth of S-s-s…"

"Don't you dare say it!" Slūtbag barked.

"But how can he have a name what can't be said?" Shiznit growled in frustration. "That's bloody idiotic! I mean, its not like we're takin' the lord's name in vain."

"It can't be helped, even when taken out-of-context," Slūtbag stated matter-of-factly. "It's a literary convention of the plot."

"Well, what the 'ell do you call him then?"

"Oh, 'round here we don't call him nothin'. It's best not to mention him at all."

Not to be put off, Shiznit decided to attack the problem at a different angle. "Okay then. This feller - this Mouth of Him What Can't Be Named - what's he do, exactly?"

"Why, he's the Lieutenant of Barad-dur, that's what he is," Slūtbag said reverently.

Shiznit glowered. "He don't look like no Nazgul."

"He aint," Slūtbag replied, "that's the thing: he's a man - a mortal man."

"He aint got no Ring?"


"No great pterodactyl-like flyin' beastie thing?"


"He aint got that Nazgulish high-pierced shriek whats I hate?"

"Oh, I hates that as well! But no, he aint got any of that."

"Well, what's he good for then?"

"I don't rightly know. But he'd flay you alive as soon as look at ya, that's what I says."

"Mean, is he?"

"Over-the-top cruel, he is. Worse than any Orc."

Shiznit was quite impressed. "Where'd he come from then?"

Deep in thought, Slūtbag stroked his chin and after a moment's consideration, answered, "No one rightly knows, but my best guess is he's a Black Numenorean."

"What makes you think that?"

"Well, he dresses all in black."

"That makes sense, I guess" Shiznit nodded. "But what's his real name? I mean, he can't have gone through his whole life bein' called The Mouth of Him What Can't Be Named."

"That's just it," Slūtbag replied, now as equally perplexed, "he's forgotten it!"

"Forgot his own name? And how do you go about forgettin' yer own name? I mean, it's not like yer social security number or the wife's birthday."

"Just the same, he don't know it anymore."

"Odd bird."

"I'll say."

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


Oct 19 2012, 1:19pm

Post #35 of 39 (726 views)
My take on it as well and what is Aragorn's "real" name anyway? [In reply to] Can't Post

Names are always powerful in mythology (e.g., "Rumplestilskin") and Tolkien surely understands this point. Knowing Sauron's true name would surely be a detriment to his relative "well"-being.

Also, how many names does Aragorn have? Which is his "real" one? This is somewhat of a rhetorical question. If anyone knows what it's like to have many names, it's Aragorn. But wait! Who in Middle-earth doesn't have a dozen names -- especially when you take into account who is doing the naming? Even Gandalf has several depending on which culture is speaking to him.

So, I think it is very likely that Aragorn simply means Sauron's "true" name, i.e., the name that has not been given to him by someone else (i.e., one of his enemies).

Now I wonder what Sauron's "real" name might have been -- what would his mother have called him...?

Grey Havens

Oct 19 2012, 6:09pm

Post #36 of 39 (703 views)
S is for Sauron [In reply to] Can't Post

So, I think it is very likely that Aragorn simply means Sauron's "true" name, i.e., the name that has not been given to him by someone else (i.e., one of his enemies).

I think Aragorn must mean Sauron however, whatever Sauron's right or true name is, due to the context... otherwise such a comment tells his listeners very little about whether or not these are Sauron's orcs, based on the S-rune.

‘S is for Sauron,’ said Gimli. ‘That is easy to read.’
‘Nay!’ said Legolas. ‘Sauron does not use the Elf-runes.’
‘Neither does he use his right name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken,’ said Aragorn.

In my opinion both Legolas and Aragorn are correcting Gimli here, not simply adding stuff about Sauron in general. Thus S is not for Sauron, because not only does Sauron not use the Elf-runes, he does not permit the name Sauron to be spelt or spoken (although again, it's only natural that Aragorn not digress about exceptions in my opinion, since what he is saying is pertinent to the matter at hand).

If Aragorn means (which I don't think he means): neither does Sauron use or permit (to be spelt or spoken) some other name that is not Sauron (Mairon, Joe, or whatever it might be) then why can't the S-rune here be for Sauron (outside of Legolas' comment of course)?

(This post was edited by Elthir on Oct 19 2012, 6:14pm)


Oct 20 2012, 11:25am

Post #37 of 39 (675 views)
true, true! [In reply to] Can't Post

That's what happens when I try to post without thinking things through first. Still, the entire post poses an interesting question -- and obviously one that has caught the attention of the Reading Room!

Noel Q. von Schneiffel

Oct 20 2012, 12:49pm

Post #38 of 39 (699 views)
Why do you assume the MoS was permitted to use the name? [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder why we all, in this discussion, assume that the Mouth of Sauron was permitted to use his master's name. He did so, but that is a difference. Maybe he sometimes did, but just accidentally and illegally, and whenever he was within hearing range of Barad-dūr, Sauron slapped him for it. Maybe these repeated head beatings are precisely why he forgot his own name, and became generally weird.

The Glorious Truth of J.R.R. Tolkien
Radiates from his Holy Writings



Oct 21 2012, 8:25am

Post #39 of 39 (827 views)
Very nice! [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Forgot his own name? And how do you go about forgettin' yer own name? I mean, it's not like yer social security number or the wife's birthday.

This also puts a new twist on the sergeant's threat

'I'll give your name and number to the Nazl,' said the soldier lowering his voice to a hiss. 'One of them's in charge at the Tower now.'

Is it a threat to deny the tracker his hunting license?

"Like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is a tale that grew in the telling, beginning as a children's fairy tale and evolving into the epic of fairy tales... The Gathering of the Clouds completes this transition. Unlike a typical children's story, the sides of good and evil are no longer clear-cut: the good peoples that we have been introduced to earlier are preparing to fight a war, and if that war happens, good people will die no matter who wins. Moreover, everyone, the good guys included, have character flaws that bring this situation about... and it is hinted that although the Dragon's body may be dead, his evil will remains to corrupt those who defeated him."
- Beren IV

The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for The Gathering of the Clouds!

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