Questions for the Lore Masters.

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Post by halfwise Sat May 22, 2021 10:12 pm

Elthir - please take over, I'm about worn out wrassling with this stubborn Scotshobbit. Mad

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Post by Elthir Sat May 22, 2021 11:12 pm

Smile

Back to Vala versus Maia for a moment, if we're going to use letters, Tolkien refers to the Valar as angelic beings, or to them being of a high angelic order, or angelic guardians, or as late as 1973: "The angelic immortals (incarnate only at their will), the Valar or regents under God, and others of the same order but less power and majesty . . ."

And even without these descriptions, I'm not sure I fully understand the distinction you've drawn (Petty) -- with respect to putting on incarnate raiment in Tolkien's own world, I mean. The Valar take the imaginative place of the "gods", and within Tolkien's world they are distinct in power and majesty for example, but why should we necessarily draw an in world distinction when it comes to wearing incarnations -- concerning masking natures anyway. Melkor incarnates and lessens in power until he can no longer mask himself. That seems to me to echo Sauron, generally speaking.


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?

I note "Tolkien published examples" here . . . do you mean using only Tolkien published works? If so, I'm going to have to refresh my melon to see if we know what Sauron looks or looked like . . .

. . . stripped of his posthumously published "raiment", so to speak. Okay, checked the most obvious place:

"For in that time he was not yet evil to behold . . ." The Council of Elrond

At the moment I can't think of anything else: the Istari of course. To my mind Appendix B suggests that they came in the shapes of old Men as they were forbidden to match power with power, or seek to dominate Elves or Men by force or fear.

So, don't show up as a nine foot, blazing young Apollo riding liquid fire horse. Old sage figures fit the purpose better. Or something.


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun May 23, 2021 12:03 am

{{ Well with the exception of Silmarillion, Unfinshed Tales and Letters I dont have any of the other books published outside of Tolkiens lifetime, so I cant check those for any other references. So I can only go on what was published really.

I think there is some confusion over the point Im making, mainly in Halfy's head Very Happy - which is not that Sauron could not disguise himself, he clearly did and we are told he did, but that his ability to conceal his true will, mood and purpose seems at odds with how Tolkien seems to say such beings physically manifest when they do, which is in a manner which reflects their will, mood and purpose. And that as far as I can tell from the books I have Sauron alone seems to appear in a guise which is contradictory to his will, mood and purpose- that of being an evil bugger. As all the other examples I can find of Valar/Maia popping up physically they look like what you'd expect- reflecting their noncorporeal interests or at the least not contradicting them. }}

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Post by Elthir Sun May 23, 2021 12:39 am

Everything published is published . . . Wink  


. . . but I see what you mean, and right now I can only think of the example of Melkor from Osanwe-kenta (published in Vinyar Tengwar), if it doesn't say this precisely in the constructed Silmarillion, Letters or Unfinished Tales.

Also, I don't think JRRT really went into why Gil-galad and Elrond doubted Annatar's fair seeming -- so much so that Anny didn't even come to Lindon (according to OTROPATTA anyway)!

Part of why I reject the version of Galadriel being the ruler (co-ruler) of Eregion when Anny came to town, by the way. Even Christopher Tolkien notes that: "No explanation is offered in this rapid outline of why Galadriel scorned Sauron, unless she saw though his disguise, or of why, if she did perceive his true nature, she permitted him to remain in Eregion."

My short answer: Tolkien dropped the idea, and Celebrimbor the Feanorian becomes lord of Eregion . . . but I feel like I just posted this here . . . somewhere?


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Post by Elthir Sun May 23, 2021 12:46 am

And as far as the section of letter 200 goes . . . maybe interpret it in light of the evidence of at least two bad guys masking as good guys.

Or if that doesn't work for ya . . . well it wouldn't be the only thing people question from Letters.

How's that for an . . . [cough] "answer"?

Very Happy

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun May 23, 2021 5:24 am

interpret it in light of the evidence of at least two bad guys masking as good guys.- Elthir

{{ Um who was the other one? I am assuming Melkor, and not that I'd ever doubt someone who gets their own Tower, but I cant seem to find a physical description of him when incarnate, or of him hiding his true nature from anyone only that he spread lies and rumours among the elves to turn them against the Valar. Though I may have missed something in a quick flick through the Silmarillion. Its not an easy book to flick through.

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{{Well its an answer, i'll give you that. }}

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Post by Elthir Sun May 23, 2021 6:59 am

The other guy is Melkor, from my post on page 25 of this thread -- which is from a section of Osanwe-kenta, published in Vinyar Tengwar 39.

It's from author's note 5 to Osanwe-kenta -- or "in story" -- this Osanwe-kenta (long O actually) is an abbreviation by an unnamed redactor of a work by Pengolodh, thus note 5 begins: "Here Pengolodh adds a long note on the use of hroar by the Valar. In brief . . ."

In the last paragraph of note five we get to Melkor being bound to his bodily form, and so on as I quoted earlier . . . and then there's more.

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Post by chris63 Sun May 23, 2021 7:28 am

True or false.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun May 23, 2021 8:16 am

which is from a section of Osanwe-kenta, published in Vinyar Tengwar 39.- Elthir

{{ All I can find on that is that it's from stuff not even Chris Tolkien published in History of ME-

'Several of these texts were mentioned in volumes of The History of Middle-earth, edited by Christopher Tolkien, but not published in that series owing to their specialist or recondite nature.'

All I could find in relation to that was some stuff about telepathy dropping out of use. Which wasnt very useful  Mad
As a Lore Master I'll take your word on the quote you gave as I cant find it and you certainly count as a specialist, and possibly recondite too.  Very Happy
But nothing Tolkien actually published then? Or Christopher for that matter. And what is published still follows what he set out in Letter 200- that the physical manifestation is reflective of their spirit. Except Sauron who could conceal it. Except to a few elves who it didnt work on, in some fashion and for reasons that are never made clear? Yes?
I suspect much like Galadriel Tolkien may have had different views on how this worked at different times. But I am curious is the quote from something he wrote early, Silmarilion period, or is it something he wrote post LotR's publication?

Chris- I assume you mean in the films, as that line isnt actually in the book, Elrond picks all but two of the fellowhip and informs them who is in it after the Council has taken place. So Im going to say false for the book and true for the films, as PJ and the Coven cant write a lot of characters at once unless they are all just shouting at each other. Mad }}

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Post by halfwise Sun May 23, 2021 2:09 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
I think there is some confusion over the point Im making, mainly in Halfy's head    Very Happy  - which is not that Sauron could not disguise himself, he clearly did and we are told he did, but that his ability to conceal his true will, mood and purpose seems at odds with how Tolkien seems to say such beings physically manifest when they do, which is in a manner which reflects their will, mood and purpose. And that as far as I can tell from the books I have Sauron alone seems to appear in a guise which is contradictory to his will, mood and purpose- that of being an evil bugger. As all the other examples I can find of Valar/Maia popping up physically they look like what you'd expect- reflecting their noncorporeal interests or at the least not contradicting them.


I knew exactly what you were saying, no confusion in my head at all.  And what you were saying is wrong. Nod


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Post by Elthir Sun May 23, 2021 5:43 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote: All I could find in relation to that was some stuff about telepathy dropping out of use. Which wasnt very useful

Well yes, as I say it's note five in which the redactor summarizes Pengolodh about the bodies of the Valar and Maiar, and only a part of that pertains to the matter in question here: Melkor becomes so weakened that "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."


But nothing Tolkien actually published then? Or Christopher for that matter.

I know you know this, but just to set it out here . . .

. . . in a Middle-earthian context, Tolkien published The Hobbit (3 editions) The Lord of the Rings (2 editions) The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, The Road Goes Ever On, and he worked on a map by Pauline Baynes.

And Christopher Tolkien put just about everything else on bookshelves, except, for example, over the years he gave Carl Hostetter and his editorial team copies of a number of linguistic based texts. Carl Hostetter and team present the material, give it any known context, any any notes the team offer are clearly distinguished from Tolkien-written text. They will even note if a given word is uninterpretable. Carl also has a new book coming out that presents more Tolkien written work not included in The History of Middle-earth.

My point is: Christopher Tolkien trusts his scholarship  study

Like he gave John Rateliff access to materials to present The History of The Hobbit (way too wordy version, in my opinion, which has since been edited to being less wordy).

My other point is that Melkor's masking echoes Sauron's  Very Happy

But I am curious is the quote from something he wrote early, Silmarilion period, or is it something he wrote post LotR's publication?

Christopher Tolkien thinks 1959-60, as part of the Quendi And Eldar appendix material, and the reasons for arriving at that date are set out in The History of Middle-earth, or by Carl in his introduction to this text.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun May 23, 2021 7:52 pm

{{ So two exmaples, one of which comes from a very obscure source. I still say Tolkien just seems to have had differing views on it, or the the good old 'well I need this to happen so the plot can'.

And hey Halfy on the plus side I got three pages of Tolkien discussion out of this place, long overdue, and even eeked Elthir out of his tower- thats a win in my book Very Happy }}

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Post by halfwise Sun May 23, 2021 8:23 pm

That IS an accomplishment, these days!

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Post by Eldy Fri May 28, 2021 1:26 am

A couple points in favor of Petty's position, based on evidence from "Words, Phrases and Passages"—another one of those extremely obscure texts, published in 2007 as issue no. 17 of Parma Eldalamberon. Very Happy

halfwise wrote: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.

I'm broadly sympathetic to your perspective, halfy, but a couple months ago I was going through WPP and came across an really interesting paragraph that gave me pause, and seems to imply (at least in one possible reading) that there are some intrinsic differences between the Valar and the Maiar in terms of how they manifest.

In Quenya, owing to close relations of the Eldar in Valinor with the Valar and other lesser spirits of their order, fana developed a special sense. It was applied to the visible bodily forms adopted by these spirits, when they took up their abode on Earth, as the normal "raiment" of their otherwise invisible being. In these fanar they were seen and known by the Eldar, to whom glimpses of other and more awe-inspiring manifestations were seldom given. But the Elves of Valinor asserted that unclad and unveiled the Valar were perceived by some among them as lights (of different hues) which their eyes could not tolerate; whereas the Maiar were usually invisible unclad, but their presence was revealed by their fragrance.

While this is not presented as an absolute rule, I think it's food for thought. A footnote to this paragraph reads:

This applied only to those uncorrupted. Melkor, they said, was invisible, and his presence was revealed only by great dread and by a darkness that dimmed or blotted out the light and hues of all things near him. The Maiar corrupted by him stank. For this reason neither he nor any of the evil Maiar ever approached one of the Eldar that they wished to persuade or deceive except clad in their fanar. These they could still make to appear beautiful to Elvish eyes, if they wished—until after the great treachery of Melkor and the destruction of the Trees. After that Melkor (Morgoth) and his servants were perceived as forms of evil and enemies undisguised [originally "as enemies of dreadful shape"].

(Pause for snickering at the idea of disembodied evil being discernible because it's literally stinky.)

The last bit there is obviously incompatible with Sauron's role in the Second Age—it would make his actions in both Eregion and Númenor impossible—but it could be read as a point in favor of Petty's idea that Sauron's ability to assume a pleasing-to-free-peoples form was a unique quality of his, or at least unusual (until he lost it after the Downfall of Númenor). We don't see much of him in the First Age, but it's worth noting that when convincing Gorlim the Unhappy to betray Barahir and co., Sauron is implied not to have been in a friendly guise, but rather had a "dreadful presence" (TS, Of Beren and Lúthien). Not conclusive, but at least it doesn't contradict my brand-new hypothesis that Sauron lost his fair-form-assuming ability in the First Age but regained it in the Second.

I'm intrigued by the idea that this was because Sauron genuinely repented at the end of the First Age, thereby regaining the ability to assume a non-terrible fana. I'm of the strong belief that Sauron's repentance was genuine, though I'm not aware of any textual evidence tying said repentance to Sauron's shape-changing abilities. My first question would be why it took so long for Ilúvatar to take that ability away, since Sauron had been up to no good for at least a millennium and a half before the Downfall. It's possible that he simply hadn't changed his physical form in a long time, and so he continued being in his "fair" form until he was forced to construct a new body and found he couldn't make anything pleasant. But this is pure speculation.

Pettytyrant101 wrote: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.

This is something I'll need to think on for a while to have a firm opinion, but it perhaps says something about my view of Eru that it doesn't seem out of character for him. Razz But this line of thinking quickly runs into the generic problem of evil, and such a conversation inevitably becomes as much about Christian theology and philosophy as it is about Tolkien's writing. Let it suffice to say I think Eru's policy of allowing fallen Ainur (to say nothing of evil Incarnates) to torture and murder their way across Middle-earth because they are his "instrument[s] in the devising of things more wonderful" (TS, Ainulindalë) is horrifying if taken seriously. Sorry, everyone who experienced life-destroying trauma, we hope you understand your sacrifice was necessary because "'Arda Healed' (or Remade) shall not be 'Arda Unmarred', but ... greater" (HoMe X, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth). :pac:

Anyway, thanks all for a really interesting several pages of discussion to catch up on. Smile Right now I'm leaning towards a synthesis of Petty's posts and WPP, with Sauron losing his ability to appear "fair" in the First Age but regaining it in the Second after he repented. But I make no claim that Tolkien himself thought this, and I reserve the right to change my mind after further thought. :prof:



PS I wouldn't look to Saruman or Gandalf for evidence about how Maiar manifest fanar; the Istari were in the unique position of being spirits stuck into human bodies, "real and not feigned"—a metaphysical anomaly so serious the Valar had to request Eru's permission (UT, The Istari).


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Post by halfwise Fri May 28, 2021 1:40 am

How good of you to drop in, Eldy! I'm waiting now for Petty to fit the light/scent dichotomy into his Greek/Norse dichotomy. Should be interesting. Cool

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri May 28, 2021 1:53 am

{{ Blimey Lore Masters and Mistresses are like buses, wait ages for one to turn up and you get two at once Laughing

Great to see you back here Eldy, and thank you for chipping in on this one. I find it a fascinating subject since stumbling on that bit of Letters, and I agree Sauron genuinely repented. That would fit well with the notion of Tolkiens personal beliefs that genuine repentance comes with, for want of a better phrase, genuine rewards. Catholism among all the variants of Christian branches is probably the biggest on the idea of repentance, including monitzing the idea in the middle ages as a direct quid pro quo for rewards. Tolkiens version is 'purer' than that but it still comes down to the same Catholic notion that repentance can have direct benefits.
In Saurons case his repentance once more made his spirit pure and good, so of course when he manifests a physical body it would reflect that pureness and goodness. He would appear fair.
As to why so long even though he had already turned back to evil ways?  I like your idea that it was simply not until he had to create a new body that he discovered it was no longer possible to make it fair- this would be as that attempt would be a deceit, an untrue reflection of his again corrupted spirit and so imposible to do. Whereas the original fair body was a genuine reflection of his spirts state at the point of creating his physical being, a state of genuine repentance.

Working on it Halfy Very Happy }}

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Post by Eldy Fri May 28, 2021 4:51 pm

Cheers, guys. Smile

The more I think about it, the more I like this idea—and your elaboration on it plays a part in that, Petty. Though in the interest of objectivity, I should note that while working on my Sauron headcanons threads I reread the first paragraph of OTROP, which says:

Of old there was Sauron the Maia, whom the Sindar in Beleriand named Gorthaur. In the beginning of Arda Melkor seduced him to his allegiance, and he became the greatest and most trusted of the servants of the Enemy, and the most perilous, for he could assume many forms, and for long if he willed he could still appear noble and beautiful, so as to deceive all but the most wary.

Depending on how you read it, this could be a point against the idea of Sauron temporarily losing the ability to assume a fair form during the First Age, but it's vague enough that I don't think it's a dealbreaker on its own.
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Post by Elthir Sat May 29, 2021 12:58 am

I know the following quotes are from another thread, but . . .

"Furthermore, this good phase lasted much longer than people give Sauron credit for. Virtually ever discussion of Sauron-as-Annatar claims that he was deceiving the Elves from the start, but—while it's understandable that the Eldar later described events that way in their own histories—this is inconsistent with many statements in the texts. ODAM tells us that "Sauron came out of hiding and revealed himself in fair form ... and endeavoured to win the friendship and trust of the Eldar. But slowly he reverted again to the allegiance of Morgoth and began to seek power by force" (HoMe XII, Of Dwarves and Men). Note the chronology here: Sauron did not revert to evil until after he approached the Elves as Annatar, and even then his fall was a gradual process.

Hi Eldy. Great to "see" you!

I don’t necessarily agree about the chronology here in ODAM though. This text also states that “in year 600” of the S. A. Sauron:

“ . . . came out of hiding and revealed himself in fair form. For long he paid little heed to Dwarves and Men and endeavoured to win the friendship and trust of the Eldar. But slowly he reverted again to the allegiance of Morgoth and began to seek power by force, marshaling again and directing the Orks and other evil things of the First Age, and secretly building his great fortress in the mountain-girt land in the south that was afterwards known as Mordor. The Second Age had reached only the middle of its course (c.  Second Age 1695) when he invaded Eriador and destroyed Eregion . . .”

The year 600 is my starting point, moving to the building of Barad-dur (Appendix B c. 1000) and so on . . . and the building of Barad-dur precedes “Sauron endeavors to seduce the Eldar (Appendix B S. A. 1200). In other words, I don’t think this endeavour in ODAM necessarily equates to Sauron seducing the Mirdain – despite the use of endeavour.

And for me this agrees with Akallabeth:

“In this Age, as is elsewhere told, Sauron rose again in Middle-earth, and grew, and turned back to the evil in which he was nurtured by Morgoth, becoming mighty in his service. Already in the days of Tar-Minastir, the Eleventh King of Numenor, he had fortified the land of Mordor and had built the tower of Barad-Dur, and thereafter he strove ever for the dominion of Middle-earth, to become a king over all kings and as a god unto Men.”

And OTROPATTA: “Seeing the desolation of the world, Sauron said in his heart that the Valar, having overthrown Morgoth, had again forgotten Middle-earth; and his pride grew apace. He looked with hatred on the Eldar, and he feared the Men of Numenor who came back at whiles to the shores of Middle-earth; but for long his dissembled his mind and concealed the dark designs that he shaped in his heart.”

In the text this description “sets up” Sauron’s ring ruse, where his desire was to “set a bond upon the Elves” – and he needed the ruse because he found Men easier to sway.


This is supported by OTROP, which actually puts Sauron full reversion to evil even later than ODAM. It's not until after the War of the Elves and Sauron that "Sauron's lust and pride increased, until he knew no bounds, and he determined to make himself master of all things in Middle-earth, and to destroy the Elves, and to compass, if he might, the downfall of Númenor. He brooked no freedom nor any rivalry, and he named himself Lord of the Earth."

I read this with emphasis on “increase” with respect to already bad stuff. Anyway,  in Tolkien's letters I can’t find anything but vague references with respect to chronology here, at least under the “Sauron: stages of fall” index references.

I have more to say. If I get round to it!

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Post by Eldy Sat May 29, 2021 1:28 am

Hi Elthir! It's good to hear your thoughts, as always. Looking back at ODAM, you're clearly right. This is what I get for copying and pasting from a Scrivener subdocument I worked on seven months ago and only double-checking the context of some of the quotes. :/

One of the reasons I posted this material in a different thread is that it's not "proper" Lore argumentation in a strict sense, and certainly not something I would put forward as anything like an authoritative answer to questions about the books. Rather, it's my own idiosyncratic take on a variety of concepts from the legendarium, and I'm well aware that it diverges from the standard narrative at certain points—hence describing it as revisionist. My objective was to sketch out a portrait of the character that I find more interesting than the consensus version, and to demonstrate that a textual case can be made for my interpretation. I make no claim that mine is the only valid interpretation of Sauron, nor that my case can account for every statement about him in the texts.

In regular Lore, my disagreement with important parts of Tolkien's moral philosophy would not merit an entire section of an essay, since (as I said in the other thread) I think understanding Tolkien's perspective is key. But in a looser, more personal, creative endeavor, I'm much more liberal about disregarding certain things, especially since my threshold for when Sauron reached the point of being evil again is not necessarily the same as Tolkien's. Though the Akallabêth's mention of Tar-Minastir is broadly consistent with my mish-mash of a timeline, since his reign coincided with the War of the Elves and Sauron (or, according to "The Line of Elros", postdated it), and I think the events of the war are what broke Sauron's resolve and led him to conclude that becoming a God-King was a reasonable life choice.

I freely admit (as I did in the other thread) that the Ring is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to my take on Sauron. My "tentative solution" to that problem is definitely one of the least textually-grounded parts of the whole enterprise. The "looked with hatred on the Eldar" line in OTROP is something I thought about and chose to set aside, because I think it meshes poorly with some other parts of that text. But I am, of course, biased on this matter, because I find "good!Sauron in Eregion" a much more compelling story than the alternative.
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Post by halfwise Sat May 29, 2021 2:31 am

Somewhere (think it was one of the videos Chris posted) was floated the idea that Sauron considered ORDER to be an intrinsic good, so did not view his career in Middle Earth as evil. Of course no "bad guys" except sociopaths view themselves as intrinsically evil, but this theory provides the pathway for Sauron to look upon himself approvingly.

It's important though to understand what Sauron means by "order". His involvement in creating the Rings of Power show him to be essentially an artist and craftsman; which is not what most people envision in a tyrant. But an artist can be very domineering in the attempt to bring his vision into being.

I have a difficult time bringing all these aspects together into a being who would look fondly upon orcs and create the wasteland that is Mordor. For these reasons the concept of Sauron ever being "good" jars my sense of reality.

Eldy's beguiling conception of Sauron as the good buddy who feels betrayed and slowly backlashes into evil works well as a parallel reality fan fiction, but as Elthir pointed out it's not a perfect fit. However, I'm not convinced Tolkien's version can be made self consistent either - what was he up too between the destruction of Eregion and the seduction of Numenor? That's what, a millenium and a half? For someone intent on world domination if beggars belief that he'd just sit on his duff for that long. Gondor was set up right next to Mordor, why wasn't it overrun with orcs?

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Post by Eldy Sat May 29, 2021 3:41 am

halfwise wrote:Eldy's beguiling conception of Sauron as the good buddy who feels betrayed and slowly backlashes into evil works well as a parallel reality fan fiction, but as Elthir pointed out it's not a perfect fit.

I'm more inclined to describe my version of Sauron as something trying to be good while his psyche was held together with duct tape and bubble gum, but in any event, yes, it is a matter for fanfiction. Razz

halfwise wrote:However, I'm not convinced Tolkien's version can be made self consistent either - what was he up too between the destruction of Eregion and the seduction of Numenor?  That's what, a millenium and a half?  For someone intent on world domination if beggars belief that he'd just sit on his duff for that long.  Gondor was set up right next to Mordor, why wasn't it overrun with orcs?

Sauron was preoccupied with conquests to the east and south (relative to northwest Middle-earth) for much of this era. He spent long periods—centuries at a time—avoiding the west coast of Middle-earth because the Númenóreans were too strong for him, though at other times he felt secure enough to fight numerous wars with them. It's doubtful any of them approached the scale of the war of 1693–1701. While it seems most lasting victories went to the Númenóreans, Sauron remained an ongoing threat to the colonies except during his periods of withdrawal, and he did at times get the better of them. The Akallabêth credits then-Prince Pharazôn with keeping Sauron in check while serving overseas, but after he became King, the commander(s) who replaced him were much less successful at keeping Sauron contained. Sauron only claimed the title "King of Men" after his victories in Pharazôn's absence.

It is admittedly odd that Pelargir became such an important colony when it was practically on Sauron's doorstep. I'd speculate that Mordor's unnaturally strong geographic defenses made it hard for Sauron to invade his neighbors to the west, just as it made it hard for his enemies to invade Mordor. The only way to move an army across Sauron's western border was through one of two narrow valleys: Cirith Gorgor, which may or may not have had the Black Gate built across it yet, and the pass near the future location of Minas Ithil, referred to in LOTR as the Morgul Pass and the Nameless Pass. There was also Cirith Ungol, which was known as Cirith Dúath in the Second Age (UT, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields, note 11), but that was too narrow, steep, and dangerous for large numbers of soldiers to traverse, much less all their necessary supplies. (The only other option was to march a couple hundred miles east, then circle back once the mountain chains end, but that would be difficult to pull off in its own right.) Perhaps the Númenórean colonial forces in the area were able to contain these choke points somehow. I don't have any quotes to back this up; it's just an attempt at making sense of something strange.
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Post by Elthir Sat May 29, 2021 6:33 am

Sorry Eldy, I should have kept the distinction between the two threads. You did it for a purpose and I didn't think enough about that purpose before my unasked-for mixing.

drunken

Anyway, in this thread you posted:

PS I wouldn't look to Saruman or Gandalf for evidence about how Maiar manifest fanar; the Istari were in the unique position of being spirits stuck into human bodies, "real and not feigned"—a metaphysical anomaly so serious the Valar had to request Eru's permission (UT, The Istari)."

Are you referring to something in the whole Istari section, or the first Istari text? In the text "real and not feigned" appears, but in the paragraph concerned (at least), my take is that the consent of Eru was needed to send the Istari upon this mission, rather than their bodies being so singular.

In one of the PHAN entries, Tolkien refers to the Istari as a good example of physical incarnation as a mode of communication with the incarnates > versus other modes of communication between minds that might take visual forms. In another, he refers to the fana of an old but vigorous man, used by Gandalf.

That said, I'm not sure how their memories being affected fits into the larger scenario!


For now, onward to what I call PHAN entry 2 -- already posted by Eldy of course:


The Maiar corrupted by him stank. For this reason neither he nor any of the evil Maiar ever approached one of the Eldar that they wished to persuade or deceive except clad in their fanar. These they could still make to appear beautiful to Elvish eyes, if they wished—until after the great treachery of Melkor and the destruction of the Trees. After that Melkor (Morgoth) and his servants were perceived as forms of evil and enemies undisguised [originally "as enemies of dreadful shape"].

Part of this tells me that an evil Maia could take on a deceptively fair form, it's just that the reason they ultimately could not (do this) appears to be different than my inference from Osanwe-kenta -- which again, for me works well enough and better (at least so far): Sauron echoing Morgoth with respect to why he ultimately couldn't maintain a fair guise.


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Post by Eldy Sat May 29, 2021 10:24 pm

Elthir wrote:Are you referring to something in the whole Istari section, or the first Istari text? In the text "real and not feigned" appears, but in the paragraph concerned (at least), my take is that the consent of Eru was needed to send the Istari upon this mission, rather than their bodies being so singular.

It could be read in multiple ways (I think UT suggests they sought Eru's blessing for the whole endeavor), but given that it's emphasized in multiple texts that the Children are Eru's own special area of responsibility (and WPP tells us the Valar's authority over them was strictly limited), I'm inclined to think the Istari's manifestation required permission at least us much, and probably more than, sending people to assist in the fight against Sauron. I'm not sure what else "real and not feigned" bodies would mean, other than them being different than the typical kind of Ainur manifestation, but of course I have no special insight into Tolkien's thought processes.

Elthir wrote:In one of the PHAN entries, Tolkien refers to the Istari as a good example of physical incarnation as a mode of communication with the incarnates > versus other modes of communication between minds that might take visual forms. In another, he refers to the fana of an old but vigorous man, used by Gandalf.

That said, I'm not sure how their memories being affected fits into the larger scenario!

I don't think their memories are the only thing that is inconsistent with the idea of Istari bodies being fanar. For example, Valar and Maiar could teleport (not that Tolkien used that term), which is presumably how Melian returned to Valinor after Thingol's death, since it was impossible to sail there. This would've been an extremely valuable ability for Gandalf during the War of the Ring, but there's no indication that he was capable of non-mundane forms of travel.* WPP also tells us the clothing worn by the Ainur's assumed physical bodies was part of their fanar ("includ[ing] both the assumed bodily shape and its vesture"; p. 175), whereas Gandalf was sent back "naked ... and naked I lay upon the mountaintop" and did not have clothing again until after he reached Lórien and "was clothed in white" (TTT, III 5).

*This point is disputable. There are two relevant comments in WPP. Valar and Maiar "could move or pass over Sea. For their bodies were self-made. The houseless[?] as spirits could go where they would (either slowly or immediately), and could then reclothe themselves" (p. 176); however this note was struck through. "They could go where they will, that is be present at any point in Eä where they desired to be ... subject only to special limitations voluntarily taken upon themselves or decreed by Eru" (p. 177). The only example limitation given is the Valar staying on Earth because they were "the spirits destined to be most concerned with this chosen state for combat with Melkor". We might assume that the rules placed on the Istari were a similar case. UT says the Istari "were forbidden to reveal themselves in forms of majesty, or to seek to rule the wills of Men and Elves by open display of power, but coming in shapes weak and humble were bidden to advise and persuade Men and Elves to good..." One could argue whether or not teleportation counts as an open display of power, and also whether this was an axan or únat. Saruman obviously broke the ban on seeking to rule others, but as far as we know he did not assume a greater than human-sized form, as Sauron (Letter 246) and the Valar (WPP, p. 175) both had. To me, that's a point in favor of the idea that the Istari were locked into their forms in a way meaningfully different from how fanar functioned, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I'll concede we can't definitively say the Istari didn't have fanar, given that none of these arguments change the fact that Tolkien said they were an example of such, but on the whole I think the balance of evidence points away from this idea.
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