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Post by halfwise Thu May 20, 2021 12:56 pm

It seems like a direct contradiction because you put too much weight on the wrong bits.

"...expression of their desires [to deceive], moods [of delight at successful deception], wills [to deceive] and functions [a deceiver]."

You seem to think the ill will is more important than the will to deceive. Tolkien concieved the Valar and Maiar along the lines of the Olympians, who could appear as anything while seducing maidens or giving advice to Odysseus, but appeared in their classic forms while acting in the role of gods.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu May 20, 2021 3:30 pm

{{ Id still have to disagree, as Sauron is not a Valar, which you are right have their basis in Olympian and Norse mythology. Sauron is Maiar and Tolkien is quite explicit about what comparison we should draw for them, they are equivelent to angelic orders, to catholic dogma not to ancient Greek or Norse. Thet reflect Tolkiens Catholic beliefs. And as such when angels appear physically they appear in fair forms, and when fallen angels manifest they appear as demons in horrible guises. Not as matter of choice but as a matter of the outward form reflecting the inner state. Which is precisely what Tolkien says of Maia and their forms in Letter 200. It fits perfectly with Catholic representaion of angels and demons, and Tolkien himself draws us to the direct comparison between Maia and angels.
I'd see no contradiction if it were Melkor appearing in fair form, as he is a Valar and there is no catholic equivelency to them only Olympian or Norse where such outward deceptions in appereance are common. But not for angels rooted in catholic dogma such as Sauron.}}

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Post by halfwise Thu May 20, 2021 5:28 pm

Banghead

Maia are lesser orders, beyond that I think you are reading far too much into which matches greek/norse gods versus catholic angels.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu May 20, 2021 5:31 pm

{{ Tolkien himself draws the direct compatison between Maia and the angelic orders. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri May 21, 2021 12:05 pm

Yes but did he mean to imply that the Maia are wholly one set of characteristics while the Valar are wholly another set of characteristics? I think you risk setting up a false dichotomy.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 4:25 pm

{{ I dont think he does imply, its just connecting dots. He is devoutly catholic and states LotR's is an inherently catholic work, he directly compares Maia to the Catholic idea of angelic orders, and then when discusing in Letter 200 how they physically manifest gives a description that exactly matches catholic dogma on how angelic orders manifest. So I dont think its a stretch to say that he imagined Maia manifesting physically in the same way angels do. He says as much. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri May 21, 2021 5:13 pm

Yes, but that doesn't mean Vala would be different.  I don't think Tolkien was attempting to set up a rigid 1:1 correspondence between Maia and Catholic angels.  Just some aspects.   He also says somewhere that Vala and Maia are the same order, just lesser or greater versions of the same. "Like the Valar, but of less degree." So they are NOT intrinsically different.


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 5:19 pm

{{I agree its not 1 to 1 but the 'just some aspects' going on Letter 200 seems to include how they physically manifest as its exactly the same as if he were describing catholic ideas of angels. If he'd been commenting in that letter about angels instead of Maia the description would be exactly the same. So it doesnt seem a stretch to say he envisioned how they manifest as being the same. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri May 21, 2021 5:20 pm

"Like the Valar, but of less degree." So they are NOT intrinsically different. I'd say both are a mix of both Norse and Catholic aspects, though in the roles they take the Vala tend towards Norse and the Maia tends towards Catholic. But note that Melkor and Sauron were capable of playing essentially the same role because they are not fundamentally different.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 5:37 pm

{{Problem is in Letter 200 he is specifically talking about Maia not Valar. Or more precisily specifically Sauron in this instance, as he is responding to a query about Sauron specifically and his ability to physically mainfest. The whole bit goes-

"They were self-incarnated, if they wished; but their incarnate forms were more analgous to our clothes than to our bodies, except that they were more than are clothes the expresion of their desires, moods, wills and functions.... some had attached themselves to such major artists (of the Valar) and knew things chiefly indirectly through their knowledge of the minds of these masters. Sauron had been attached to the greatest, Melkor, who ultimately became the inevitable Rebel and self-worshipper of mythologies that began with a transcendent unique Creator."

We know whenever Melkor manifested he was never fair, his inherent desires, will, moods and function (presumably function within the scope of the plan of Eru no other knew) always manifested itself in his physical form. And Sauron learned from Melkor. and nowhere in this Letter does it indicate Sauron or any other of the angelic orders were exempt from these manifesting rules.
And if the Higher Orders, such as the Valar and Melkor followed the rule then its hard to see how Sauron did not. When Ulmo manifests physically its out of the ocean as he is associated with water he appears physically in a watery guise- 'he was described as having a tall crown like silver, and his hair was like shimmering sea foam. He wore a grey cloak which appeared as a mist veiling a coat of mail which glittered like fish scales flickering green.' This follows the rule- his manifestation follows his inner spirit, its desires, will and purpose. And Varda, whose association is with the stars and the light of Eru manifests as having a beautiful face, beauty beyond human or elvish comprehension as it shines with the light of Eru.
As far as I can tell only Sauron when he appears fair manifests in a guise thats not reflective of his true spirit.}}

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Post by Amarië Fri May 21, 2021 6:21 pm

I assume Ulmo was trying to be himself. His appearance had a different purpose from the wizards and Sauron.

To complicate things, allow me to add Melian to the mix. A maia and Luthien's mother.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 6:31 pm

{{ We dont know directly Melians will, mood, or function, but we can make educated guesses. She was associated with Yavanna and with nature, and she was associated with wisdom, song and bird song. We do know she was a 'good' Maia, or if you like a good angel not fallen. And she stayed true throughout all we know of her in Valar and in ME. It follows therefore that her physical body would reflect her goodness and her purity of spirit, and indeed she appears as a beautiful woman and her association to Yavanna the Valar of nature is also reflected in her physical form and her ability to commune with nature and use her song to affect it.
So I'd say Melian does in fact follow the rule in Letter 200 pretty well. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri May 21, 2021 6:33 pm

I think the wizards are the strongest counter argument: they were NOT allowed to manifest their full power, taking the guise of weak old men.

I don't get the impression that Melian ever looked like anything except an elf.  Beautiful, yes, but still an elf.

They take on whatever form is useful to their purposes.  They DON'T have to show themselves for what they are.  Tolkien was saying that their forms were more malleable than clothing, more capable of expressing their desires.  That doesn't mean they couldn't hide their desires.  "Sauron the Deceiver".  This wasn't just a one-off thing - Tolkien didn't just forget that he failed to make Sauron a good Catholic angel.  Such constraints were never his intention.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 6:36 pm

His appearance had a different purpose from the wizards and Sauron.- Amarie

{{There you hit upon something i have been pondering but cannot find back up for directly in Tolkiens writings, only by inference. And thats the 'function' part of the statement in Letter 200. Whose function? Their's or the greater function within the whole of the Music of creation of Eru? Given presumably nothing happens without Eru's will behind it, he doesnt remove Melkor discordance afterall from the Music, he just incorporates it to make things not otherwise envisioned. And we are told in Letters (not sure if elsewhere) that Eru didnt just finish the Music and step back, but rather He still adds to the Music.
So perhaps the reason Sauron alone appears able to manifest in a form that is other than his true spirit is because that is a part of the function within the Music Eru has set for him, adapted as needed by the unfolding of the worlds events. }}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 6:40 pm

{{ Halfy, 'they were more than are clothes the expresion of their desires, moods, wills and functions' just doesnt sound voluntary to me. If it were it would have made more sense for Tolkien to have mentioned, especiallyin response directly about Saurons physical form, that they could choose their form as we do our clothes or their form would reflect their moods etc, but he doesnt say that. There is no such caveat.
My gut feeling, as it sits best with Tolkiens catholic outlook is that Sauron ability to appear fair was indeed an allowance made by Eru who can see all ends. I just cant point to an exact quote, yet, if there even is one, to prove that.}}

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Post by halfwise Fri May 21, 2021 6:47 pm

Actually it sounds MORE voluntary to me.  

We are limited by the clothes we can get, they were not.  They can change from looking like a beggar to looking like a king; a beggar can not.  I'd say they have forms they would relax into - Sauron would have a "resting bitch face" while Melian would still look like a beautiful elf when nobody was looking. It would take effort to take a form that doesn't reflect their innermost desires, just as it does for us.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 6:59 pm

I think the wizards are the strongest counter argument: they were NOT allowed to manifest their full power, taking the guise of weak old men.- Halfy

{{Not allowed to yes, but it was still there- Gandalf still has an uncanny ability to inspire hope in mens hearts, he threatens Bilbo in Bag End effectively with the equivelent of "you don't know who you are really messing with here" and he reveals himself in simple ways like making wood or trees burst ito flame, or confronting the Balrog or using light to drive off the Nazgul. Its not that his form is inhibited, just that hes been told he cant use his powerrs directly. But the angelic is still present and occasionally glimpsed. So I wouldnt call it a disguise as such as its always there and sometimes shown and visible. And again they seem to follow that what powers they have retain their associations of will and purpose- Gandalfs is to rally the people, Sarumans to study the crafts of the Enemy, Radagast to do something with nature- but in each case they are all associated before they become manifest with these areas already, Saruman to Aule the Smith, Gandalf to Manwe who had the greatest authority of the Valar, and Radagast to Yavanna the Valar of Nature. Their spirits are indeed manifest in their physical incarnation in line with the moods, wills and functions of their spirits before they were manifest. There is nothing about their physical appearence which contradicts these original spirits, Sauron appearing fair is a contradiction of his spirit.}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 7:05 pm

Actually it sounds MORE voluntary to me.- Halfy

{{ Of all the examples we have of Valar or Maia becoming physically manifest in the world, including Melkor, Sauron alone doesnt appear in a form which directly reflects his spirit. He is the sole example I can find of this. Which indicates, along with Tolkien directly not saying Valar/Maia could choose form in his answer but rather it reflects their moods ect, that Sauron is an exception, for whatever reason. All other cases they manifest in some form reflective and in line with their inner moods and functions, as Letter 200 states they do. }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 7:15 pm

{{ And if you take Saruman, he falls after he is physically manifest, so Tolkien doesnt give him horns or something to denote it, he has him give off bad vibes Gandalf is capable of picking up on before he has even seen Saruman, he puts a white light in Sarumans eye that Gandalf can detect, and he changes Sarumans outward appearence in terms of his robe. But they all indicate his change of state, his spirit having fallen. Outwardly he is reflecitng the inward.
And if you think about what Srauman is tryting to achieve- to lure Gandalf in and either get Gandalf to join him or to capture him then putting out bad vibes so strong Gandalf picks up on them as soon as he passes under the gate, a mile from Orthanc, having an obvious nasty look in his eye and putting on his new eye bewildering robes is not a good plan. It's obviously not the best way to achieve his aims, which indicates to me the outward changes Tolkien put in or not meant to be entirely voluntary so much as Saruman cant help but now reflect his fallen inward state in his appearance. All of which Gandalf senses and picks up on almost immediately becuase there are these outward physical tells. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri May 21, 2021 9:15 pm

Once again, the description of Saruman's bad vibes would be true of any man, has NOTHING to do with being Maia. NOTHING.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 9:18 pm

{{ You can put out bad vibes detectable a mile away?! Shocked The point is that Tolkien didnt change Sarumans appearence by accident, as writer he is saying something about the character with his robesa and describing the white cold light in his eyes, and what he is sayng is Saruman has fallen. Thee things were not there before. This is entirely in keeping with the view Tolkien gives in Letter 200. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri May 21, 2021 9:24 pm

And it's even more in keeping with anything ever written about a human character going bad.  Detected it a mile away?  Of course ... there's orcs running around these days, even if their impact is not as immediately detectable as when Saruman goes into full war mode.  You'll know something is off.

Maia can change in form, like Saruman's spirit drifting up like a plume of smoke when his body is killed.  Not a single thing before that hints at Saruman being Maia - he doesn't even do any magic the way Gandalf does.

And I'll remind you, before the appendices and other writings came out, readers had no clue the wizards were much more than the typical conception of wizards - long lived men with magic to be sure, but still men.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 21, 2021 9:33 pm

{{ The reader doesnt have to know for it to be the intent of the writer- thats where stuff like his Letters are so interesting, as we get his thinking, and his thinking seems pretty clear that they are angelic in nature, and when manifest do so in forms which reflect their inherent traits as spirits. So when he wrote the changes to Saruman he did so in light of this idea. Saruman was fallen so its reflected in how he looks, clothing and the look in his eyes. Its not that no one else coulds pot it, its that it wasnt that way before he fell, and he doesnt seem able to conceal it- which would be to his benefit to start with when dealing with Gandalf. Anyone could have picked up on it, but its still a change from before he fell.
A mile away as when Gandalf enters through the Gate of Isengard he says a feeling of fear fell on him though he did not know why it would. At that time Saruman hadnt done anything to change Isengards appeareance, so there was no tell, he was just sensing Sarumans corruption now hehad enterd Sarumans sphere of influence. And if memory serves the gate in the outer wall is a mile from the tower in the centre.
Saruman also has his Voice, which is clearly more than normal and magical.}}

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Post by Elthir Sat May 22, 2021 5:58 pm

With respect to Melkor being ultimately unable to mask himself as fair in appearance (from Osanwe-kenta):

"Also he had dissipated his native powers in the control of his agents and servants, so that he became in the end, in himself and without their support, a weakened thing, consumed by hate and unable to restore himself from the state into which he had fallen. Even his visible form he could no longer master, so that its hideousness could not any longer be masked, and it showed forth the evil of his mind."


And it's also clear that Sauron could look fair, up to a certain time: "A mask he still could wear so that if he wished he might deceive the eyes of Men, seeming to them wise and fair." OTROPATTA

And in letter 200 Tolkien talks about the greater difficulty of rebuilding (the body) that Sauron had after each "de-bodying", culminating with the inability to rebuild a body at all, after a loss of power when the One is unmade.

Anyway . . .

In author-published description, Tolkien only says this much: that the Valar usually took the shapes of Elves and Men because of their love and desire for the Children: "In these fanar they later presented themselves to the Elves, and appeared as persons of majestic (but not gigantic) stature, vested in robes expressing their individual nature and functions." RGEO

And it's noted here that some could take wholly "inhuman" shapes. And we know from posthumously published texts that JRRT considered some Maiar being able to take the shapes of yukky orks . . .  or trees, flowers, beasts and birds.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat May 22, 2021 6:06 pm

{{ Cheers Elthir, was hoping you'd pop by. Are there any Tolkien published examples of any other Valar or Maia being able to disguise their true natures in similar fashion? Or was it an ability unique to Sauron in published writings? As I struggled to find another example.

Also I note Tolkien says Sauron could decieve the eyes of Men, but he also deceived elves, but not all of them Gil-Galad and Galadriel seem to have been suspicious from the get go with him. Is there any indication of what made them suspcious? Were they sensing his true nature, similar to how Gandalf senses something is amiss with Saruman as soon as he enters Isengard or did they just find this guy suspicous for other reasons? }}

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