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Were there any restrictions on Galadriel as an Elf becoming as powerful as a Maiar?

Girdle of Melian
Lorien

Nov 27 2013, 8:12am

Post #1 of 20 (437 views)
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Were there any restrictions on Galadriel as an Elf becoming as powerful as a Maiar? Can't Post

Tolkien already mentioned, that Galadriel was the greatest of the Noldor, "maybe" Feanor, and that she was wiser, and with wisdom comes also more power. We know that some high elves who weren't even directly gone under the tutelege of a Mair (like Melian and Galadriel) were capable of slaying Balrogs (although the Balrogs also slew them, I think). Gandalf, when he fought the Balrog, was it as an Istari or Maiar? Was there a difference...could he have really chosen on what powers he could or could not use? I am under the impression as a Maiar, they are more freely able to use their powers, but not as an Istari -- is this accurate?

How about Elrond... Doesn't seem to be a problem with his lineage....he's still pretty powerful, enough to be trusted with a ring of power.

and how about the older race of Men? and Dwarves? How powerful can they become on their own without any ring of power?

GOM


Elizabeth
Valinor


Nov 27 2013, 7:03pm

Post #2 of 20 (294 views)
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About Gandalf... [In reply to] Can't Post

The Istari were a group of Maiar who were sent to Middle Earth in the Third Age as representatives of the Valar, to help in the struggle. They were "clothed" in the bodies of old men, with limited powers, so they would only help the peoples of Middle Earth and not seek domination. They were ordered by the Valar to work through persuasion and encouragement, not force or fear. Being clothed in the bodies of Men they were susceptible to all the weaknesses of a physical body: they felt hunger, pain, greed, sorrow, joy, and all other emotions and pains of Men. They remained immortal, however, and aged only very slowly. They could be killed: Gandalf did indeed die in the battle with the Balrog, and only through the intervention of Eru was restored to his body and "sent back".

He apparently fought the Balrog as a Maia, with greater powers than in his form as an Istar. And he did selectively use powers beyond those of Men on a few other occasions. He apparently had control over when he could do this, guided by his wisdom and obedience to his instructions.

Generally speaking, I think it is inappropriate to try to rate Tolkien's characters with comparative power levels as in computer games, because that is very contrary to the spirit of his work.








Ethel Duath
Valinor


Nov 28 2013, 6:17pm

Post #3 of 20 (233 views)
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I think it is a question of "kind." [In reply to] Can't Post

The type of beings that Elves are limits the powers available to them. Although not mortal in the human sense, Elves were not created as "spirits" but as physical beings on Earth, although of course they "have" spirits (souls). In fact, they are so tied to the Earth that they don't leave even after death. Their powers were limited to what would be "natural" for earthly beings with an enhanced spiritual "component." Maiar, on the other hand, were created as non-corporeal spirits, who were not tied to Arda. Some of them came to Arda and took on actual physical form, but Earth is not their natural home, and bodies are optional. Their powers, by nature, would not only be greater, but I think possibly of a different kind, at least in some respects.


dormouse
Half-elven


Nov 28 2013, 6:45pm

Post #4 of 20 (232 views)
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There are no power tables in Middle Earth [In reply to] Can't Post

Truly, questions of 'who's the most powerful' have little meaning. That's not what Tolkien's about.

As for Elrond and his ring, there is no question of trust in choosing the bearers of the elven rings. The elven rings were never touched by Sauron and had no corrupting power. They were about healing and preserving.

The One, because it was Sauron's, was so evil that even Gandalf and Galadriel could not trust themselves with it.


Girdle of Melian
Lorien

Dec 1 2013, 12:14pm

Post #5 of 20 (185 views)
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Regarding this... [In reply to] Can't Post

There seems to be a contradiction with "limited powers" and then he was allowed to fight the Balrog in full Maia powers - would he have then not been allowed to fight Sauron with the same might if he was capable of overcoming the restrictions? Perhaps he deemed that his duty was not to be compromised by the Balrog, but then again didn't the Balrog tolerated the presence of the orcs from Moria, which is technically Sauron's allies?

My purpose is not to start vs. thread, otherwise I would have addressed my questions as such. I am trying to understand how Tolkien can regard an Elf as the most powerful being on middle earth (left there) and disregard the Istari on his appendices comment (I mean Gandalf the White was back), unless he believed that the Elf can learn to be as powerful as a Maiar even though they have different lineages. This is why I am asking. If it is not possible, then I am fine with that as well. Then again, he is full of inconcistencies it seems in many areas.... someone pointed out that the Balrog could have overcome Lorien unless Sauron came there, but then the Balrog was already dead then as well. And in earlier years, it seems some elves though they died as well, slew Balrogs were Mair in origin.

GOM


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Dec 1 2013, 12:53pm

Post #6 of 20 (206 views)
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the most powerful being in middle earth [In reply to] Can't Post

 
g-of-m.... re your phrase <quote>"how tolkien can regard an elf as the most powerful being on middle earth"</quote>

perhaps you are referencing the phrase / concept stated by philipa boyens that "galadriel is the most powerful being in middle earth"? this is something that tolkien did not state, so there's no real conflict with what tolkien did say about the istari.

also, re balrogs, tolkien's idea of them changed as his universe developed. i believe the version of the balrog he envisioned fighting feanor, ecthelion, and glorfindel is not the mega-monster we saw in jackson's fellowship of the ring. so, it's tempting to apply the transitive property to an extent (e.g., "ecthelion beat a balrog; galadriel was more powerful than ecthelion; therefore galadriel could vanquish a balrog"), it's probably not a universal revealer of truth.

i think the question of whether galadriel could vanquish a balrog is an interesting question, however.


cheers --


.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 1 2013, 6:48pm

Post #7 of 20 (182 views)
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Confronting the Balrog is not the same as confronting Sauron. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Balrog was an "ancient evil" and essentially a free agent, more aligned with Morgoth than with Sauron. Insofar as the mission of the Istari was to aid the Free Peoples in the fight against Sauron, protecting Frodo from the Balrog was sufficiently high priority to justify taking him on. There was also, of course, the potential threat that the Balrog, once aroused, might become allied with Sauron, which would definitely not be good. Had the Balrog not attacked as he did, Gandalf would certainly not have confronted him.

As Maciliel pointed out, the notion of Galadriel being "the most powerful being in Middle Earth" is more a Phillipa Boyens concept than a quote from Tolkien. She did not have any record as a warrior; she might or might not have been involved in the Kinslaying (depending on which version you read, she was either allied with the Noldor or protecting the Teleri). At the end of the War of the Ring she "threw down" Dol Guldur, but that may have been a demolition process after the hostilities were over. In any case, the power of her ring was mainly used to protect and preserve her enclave in Lorien.

Galadriel was undoubtedly the most respected Elf in ME, having dwelt in Valinor and seen the light of the Two Trees. Any Elf in ME would have followed her. In that respect, she was indisputably the most powerful Elf.








dormouse
Half-elven


Dec 1 2013, 7:46pm

Post #8 of 20 (166 views)
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Yes... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the problem with all this really comes down to the meaning of 'powerful'. All the different races and individual characters in Middle Earth have strengths and abilities which derive both from what they are - Elf, Dwarf, Man, Maia - and also who they are. But those qualities can't be fitted into any comparative table of 'who's the most powerful' - 'X' will always trump 'Y' because 'X' has such-and-such a power.' For the most part, Tolkien's characters don't seek confrontation. When it happens, there's no certainty of the outcome no matter who is involved. It rests on circumstance, chance, help from another character (even an apparently weak one) - and that makes the attempt to compare powers difficult, and ultimately pointless.

We don't know if Galadriel could have dealt with a Balrog and we never will know, because Tolkien never faced her with one. Had he done so, he would have chosen the circumstances in which the confrontation took place, and the outcome.


Girdle of Melian
Lorien

Dec 1 2013, 11:50pm

Post #9 of 20 (157 views)
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To Clarify [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, just to clarify...I was not referring to Boyens comment, although it would be interesting to know where she based that on. I only meant when Tolkien mentioned that in the appendices he mentioned that the power that dwelt there (not just the Elven people) was too great to overcome unless Sauron himself came there, presumably with the one ring in his finger (PJ's crew seems to have thought of this as well, as I remember in the companion book for the movie , now out of publication and not that is cannon, they mentioned that she is no fey being and with also a ring on her finger was a match for Sauron. As for Nenya, it seems to be contradicting whether or not it can be used for war or not.

GOM


Thanks for the responses.


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Dec 2 2013, 1:04am

Post #10 of 20 (153 views)
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yes, that is certainly a ..... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
tolkien does assert (was it through gandalf, the appendices, or both?) that galadriel's power in lothlorien was too great to overcome, unless sauron himself came there. the protective powers of nenya and the general powers of galadriel combine to make a forest fortress.

... yes. that is certainly a .... powerful statement by tolkien.

and i can see where that statement lends itself to all sorts of debate. the native power of nenya was protection and preservation. but who is to gainsay that perhaps a portion of that power might be bent (especially infused with galadriel's own native power) towards not just defense.... but direct action. especially if that direct action was to preserve lothlorien (think pre-emptive strike).

i strongly suspect that galadriel would also be a formidable opponent at arms. tolkien envisioned her (and consistently re-envisioned her) as the mightiest female elf, who stood taller that most male elves, and whose mother name, "nerwen," meant "man-woman" or "man-maiden." she was someone who had the will, ambition, physique, and mindset that tolkien associated with males (male elves).

galadriel had physical prowess as well as "supernatural" powers (powers that elves possess and the edain do not, and which galadriel in particular had in abundance).


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Girdle of Melian
Lorien

Dec 2 2013, 1:57pm

Post #11 of 20 (147 views)
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GOM [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for response, Maciliel...

It is actually weird that many do not doubt that Feanor was one of the greatest Elves; great enough to have slain a balrog (and died as well I believe) and him and Galadriel have been compared in power and might (though Galadriel has no specific mention of actual fight scenes); but she is even to have been thought to be wiser...and even then Tolkien said, well Maybe so only...did not Galadriel also learned from the Valar while living in the Undying Lands. I believed she learned from Yavanna, the Vala of growing things, and Aule, the master of crafts. Then from Melian, who I believe served Este and another Valar (I could be wrong).

This is why i was curious, partially, and asked what their limitations were..I am pretty sure they could not willfully shed their bodies but obviously they learned lore and crafts for sure...

GOM


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 2 2013, 8:52pm

Post #12 of 20 (139 views)
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The trouble I'm having with this discussion... [In reply to] Can't Post

...is that the focus continues to return to fighting ability: who can whip a Balrog.

Tolkien doesn't work that way. Melian's greatest power was in her "girdle" that you clearly admire, hence your nick. If Galadriel learned anything from her, it is how to defend Lorien: not necessarily by fighting (and certainly not personally), but through wisdom, good strategy, and defenses aided by her ring.

There was incredible lore in Lorien (so to speak!). The building of the flets, the cloaks, the "waybread", the phial, the mirror, on and on -- some lore probably brought from Valinor, some learned from Melian, some probably invented locally. It's the power to live a rich life, which is far more important than being able to whip a Balrog.








Girdle of Melian
Lorien

Dec 3 2013, 11:46pm

Post #13 of 20 (115 views)
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Okay, Forget the Balrog... [In reply to] Can't Post

My question on Galadriel is more an inquiry on how women is regarded in Tolkien's world, or how may be they are seen by readers. Eowyn, we all know was a warrior, yet but in able for her to have beaten the witch king she had to be a woman. I do not seen Entwives nor Dwarf women (not sure how Tolkien regarded them). It is just when there is quote regarding how Feanor and Galadriel are almost equal; the same does not apply to Galadriel because of the fact that there is no one mention of her actually fighting in battle, although it's been mentioned and suggested several times that participated and led her other elves before she established Lorien. Tolkien mentioned that Feanor and Galadriel were the greatest of the Elves, that she was an exceptional athlete, etc., but for some reason, that only applies to Feanor because he is a "dude." Not sure, kind of sense a double standard here, but I could be wrong, so enlighten with the light of the two trees, please :)

Thanks for the post, Elizabeth.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 4 2013, 12:35am

Post #14 of 20 (126 views)
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What does "greatness" mean? [In reply to] Can't Post

Fëanor was "the mightiest in skill of word and of hand, more learned than his brothers; his spirit burned as a flame." His brilliance produced the Silmarils and possibly the Palantíri, but his stubbornness and hotheadedness caused the loss of the Light of the Trees (since he wouldn't produce the Silmarils when asked), and further lead to the revolt of the Noldor, the Kinslaying, the burning of the Teleri ships, the abandonment of the rest of the Noldor, and many other evils, until he died in an ill-conceived assault on Angband.

Galadriel was (at least in the published Silmarillion) eager to join the departing Noldor, and may have participated in the Kinslaying. But, upon arriving in Middle Earth, she chose to reside in Doriath until it was destroyed. She then led her followers to Lorien, and established a civilization there that survived for millennia, during which time she and her Elves developed and maintained the culture we find in LotR.

To my mind, Galadriel is significantly greater than Fëanor, without our having any information whatsoever about her fighting prowess. Results count.








Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Dec 4 2013, 4:33am

Post #15 of 20 (100 views)
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well...to be fair... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
well, to be fair... feanor also produced results. ; ) and often these were just what he wanted. : )

but most of probably esteem most of galadriel's results higher than most of feanor's.


cheers --


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Elthir
Gondor

Dec 4 2013, 12:37pm

Post #16 of 20 (89 views)
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the kinslaying [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Galadriel was (at least in the published Silmarillion) eager to join the departing Noldor, and may have participated in the Kinslaying.



I note your 'may' here and it's true that the 1977 Silmarillion makes no mention of Galadriel with respect to the Kinslaying; however Angrod explains [same source] that the children of Finarfin are guiltless of the Kinslaying [but we came not red-handed], and I think it can be shown that in this phase he is speaking the truth: Finarfin's children arrived late after all was over, as explicitly noted in the Silmarillion of the mid to later 1930s for example [despite that Galadriel herself was yet to be imagined as a character in this version].



Quote
But, upon arriving in Middle Earth, she chose to reside in Doriath until it was destroyed.




I think that is the best version, but her words in The Lord of the Rings ['ere' the Fall of Gondolin or Nargothrond] at least suggest that she left Beleriand before the fall of Nargothrond. I have tried to counter this using Galadriel's lack of mention of which mountains she crossed before the fall of Nargothrond -- she just says 'mountains' here while RGEO notes she crossed the Blue Mountains specifically, at some point after the fall of Morgoth.




Quote
She then led her followers to Lorien, and established a civilization there that survived for millennia, during which time she and her Elves developed and maintained the culture we find in LotR.




Maybe you mean ultimately, but after the Fall of Morgoth Galadriel and Celeborn went to Eregion, and although visiting Lorien [more than once] after the fall of Eregion, she with Celeborn did not take up rule there until almost two thousand years had passed in the Third Age, after the death of Amroth.

I think this much is the history imagined when Tolkien published The Road Goes Ever On [1967] and wrote the late texts related to the Amroth and Nimrodel story, and by 'this much' I mean this rather sparse description. It's true that Tolkien later imagined Galadriel [and Finrod] fighting at Swanhaven, now in defense of the Teleri, but this is not the phase of writing employed for the published Silmarillion.

A very very late text takes Galadriel right out of the Rebellion and has her leaving Beleriand again, but this note contradicts description that Tolkien himself had already published.


Elthir
Gondor

Dec 4 2013, 1:07pm

Post #17 of 20 (85 views)
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minor point on height [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
(...) who stood taller that most male elves, and whose mother name, "nerwen," meant "man-woman" or "man-maiden." she was someone who had the will, ambition, physique, and mindset that tolkien associated with males (male elves).



Galadriel was said to be taller than other 'women of the Eldar of whom tales tell', at 'man-high' according to the measure of the Dunedain, which meant about 6 foot 4 inches.

If Tolkien went with this [from UT], while tall for an Eldarin woman, Galadriel would yet be shorter than many Eldarin Men according to either of Tolkien's two late texts about Eldarin height in general. A minor point in any case.


(This post was edited by Elthir on Dec 4 2013, 1:11pm)


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 4 2013, 6:27pm

Post #18 of 20 (90 views)
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I don't much care for the "rehabilitated" Galadriel. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for filling in the details... you're obviously much fresher on your HOME details than I am!


In Reply To
A very very late text takes Galadriel right out of the Rebellion and has her leaving Beleriand again, but this note contradicts description that Tolkien himself had already published.


Even Celeborn was caught up in the revisions, becoming no longer a Sindarin Elf Galadriel met in Doriath, but a Teleri noble. She apparently got this makeover because a friend likened her to the BVM, which I can't see at all. Very unconvincing Wink








Elthir
Gondor

Dec 4 2013, 11:07pm

Post #19 of 20 (71 views)
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I agree... [In reply to] Can't Post

... Elizabeth. I much prefer the penitent rebel Galadriel than the 'unstained' version too [and Celeborn the Sinda over Telporno the Telerin Elf of Aman who moved closer to Galadriel in the family tree].

Hmm, have we Lord Halsbury to blame, at least in part, for this very late text? That would be my guess Smile

I am only fresh on the Galadriel details due to a recent and rather long thread about her elsewhere. It's a real sleep aid [my parts anyway], but it helped disperse some of the swirling mist in Nerwen's seemingly ever changing history.


Girdle of Melian
Lorien

Dec 5 2013, 1:35pm

Post #20 of 20 (81 views)
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Quotes From Tolkien... [In reply to] Can't Post

"Galadriel, the only woman of the Noldor to stand that day tall and valiant among the contending princes, was eager to be gone. No oath’s she swore, but the words of Fëanor concerning Middle-earth had kindled in her heart, for she yearned to see the wide, unguarded lands and to rule there a realm at her own will."

"Nevertheless, it was not until the disaster in Moria, when by means is beyond the foresight of Galadriel Sauron's power actually crossed the Anduin and Lórien was in great peril, its king lost, its people fleeing and likely to leave it deserted to likely occupied by Orcs, that Galadriel and Celeborn took up their permanent abode in Lórien, and its government. But they took no title of King or Queen, and were the guardians that in the event brought it unviolated through the War of the Ring."

"Galadriel was strong of body, mind and will and she grew taller than most of any Noldor. Galadriel was accountet beuatyful, her hair was rich and golden and radiant like it was touched by the light of the two Trees. Galadriel was the greatest of the Noldor except for Fëanor but she was wiser than he and her wisdom increased within the long years. Galadriel was proud, strong and self-willed."

"A queen she was of the woodland Elves, the wife of Celeborn of Doriath, yet she herself was of the Noldor and remember the Day before days in Valinor, and she was the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth."
""These two kinsfolk (Feanor and Galadriel), the greatest of the Eldar in Valinor*, were unfriends for ever." "Who together with the greatest of all the Eldar, Luthien Tinuviel, daughter of Elu Thingol, are the chief matter of the legends and histories of the Elves."
It is true that Tolkien never mentions specifically that Galadriel took up sword, but certainly he used the words greatest, mightiest, taller than most of any Noldor, power that dwelt there was far too powerful unless Sauron came there himself. However, the problem I have with this is people just automatically assumes that this just means her power is mere sorcery at best because she gave fellowship gifts, did mind reading, destroyed Dol Guldur, etc. Tolkien also made it a point that she was an athlete - why would he even bother to say that (just to show that Galadriel can run fast?). It's really quite easy to read in between the lines, although I could see how other people will misinterpret this, or could just be just a bit sexist enough that the same words such as greatest, mightiest, etc. can only apply to her in terms of magic and not of physical skill (unlike Feanor). Obviously, she led people, she established Lorien with Celeborn and became the guardian, and they were obviously confident enough of her skills both militarily in terms of knowledge and skill to trust both of them to be the guardian. Now whether or not Nenya played a really important part in the defense of Lorien, is more open to debate I think.


 
 

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