CotW: LOTR, Book 5, Chapter 4: "The Siege of Gondor"

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Morgoth's Curse

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Dec 23, 2004, 4:17:09 AM12/23/04
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Apologies for the late post. Merry Christmas!!!

"The Siege of Gondor"

Summary

This chapter is viewed largely from the perspective of Pippin.
[1-2] He accompanies Gandalf to the Citadel to begin the payment of
the debt that he owes to the late Boromir. Denethor demonstrates that
he still does not completely trust Gandalf and his new companion: He
wants Pippin close at hand where he can keep an eye on him and
accordingly designates Pippin as his new esquire complete with
matching livery and gear. [3]
Tolkien skillfully uses a conversation between Pippin and
Beregond to illustrate the mood in Minas Tirith - grim and dreary (and
only getting worse) and yet determined. Even Pippin's "unquenchable
cheerfulness" (as Merry put it) seems to all but disappear as the
darkness flowing out of Mordor deepens and the city wonders what has
befallen Faramir while it races to complete the defenses against the
imminent storm. [4] It provides an effective contrast to the joy and
relief that shortly occurs when Faramir is rescued from the pursuit of
the Nazgul by Gandalf. [5-7]
Pippin accompanies Faramir and Gandalf to the Citadel and
eagerly listens to Faramir's report. Faramir begins by describing the
results of his attack on the Southrons [previously described in "Of
Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"] and then astounds both Gandalf and Denethor
by describing his encounter with Frodo and Sam. [8]
Denethor is greatly displeased by Faramir decision to allow
Frodo to enter Mordor and makes it clear in no uncertain terms: He
even declares that he wishes it was Faramir who had died instead of
Boromir. Gandalf promptly rebukes Denethor and asserts that the worst
thing that Boromir could have done was to bring the Ring to Minas
Tirith. [9-10] A confrontation seems imminent, but Denethor suddenly
seems to lose interest in the contest of wills and permits Faramir and
the others to seek some much needed rest. [11]
Pippin's last action of the day is to ask Gandalf whether
there is any hope for Frodo. Gandalf gives essentially the same
answer that Aragorn gave Gimli: "Oft the hasty stroke goes astray."
Sauron may have made a serious error by launching the war before he is
truly ready.
Yet this is by no means clear. When Denethor hold a council
with his military captains early the next morning, he is advised that
Gondor does not have the strength to mount an offensive operation.
The men of Minas Tirith can only defend their city and even that hope
is faint. Denethor demands that Faramir personally direct the defense
at the crossings of Osgiliath. [12] Faramir accepts the charge and
makes one final attempt to reconcile with his father, but is coldly
rebuffed. ('Then farewell!' said Faramir. 'But if I should return,
think better of me!" 'That depends on the matter of your return,' said
Denethor.)
It is now that Faramir's military skill is truly revealed: He
must defend Minas Tirith against two well-equipped and well-trained
armies with an army that has relatively few professional soldiers:
Most of his men are farmers, fishermen and craftsmen, accustomed to
using weapons perhaps, but not trained in the arts of war as, say, the
knights of Dol Amroth would be. Yet, even though he is outnumbered
and outmatched, Faramir manages to prevent the enemy from crossing the
Anduin for several hours and then retreats to the Rammas [the outer
wall defending Minas Tirith] and then finally retreats to Minas Tirith
itself while losing only a third of his men.
This remarkable achievement is overshadowed by the fact that
Faramir is among those lost - apparently struck down by the Nazgul
while covering the final retreat to Minas Tirith and only rescued from
certain death by a desperate sortie led by Gandalf and Prince Imrahil.
[13-14]
Dread and despair within Minas Tirith continues to grow
throughout the day and evening as bad news flows in. Cair Andros has
fallen and a second army now blocks the road to Rohan; the messengers
that Denethor has dispatched to Theodon have not returned; the enemy
has captured all of the Pelennor and is busily digging trenches to
prevent any counterattack and setting up engines and siege towers to
begin the assault on the city itself. The presence of the Nazgul
terrifies even the most courageous men and soon Gondor is essentially
leaderless because Faramir has not regained consciousness and Denethor
has effectively abandoned his people.
The Steward of Gondor is a very different man now that his
only remaining son has apparently been fatally wounded. His pride and
resolve have been replaced by grief, remorse and despair: 'I sent my
son forth, unthanked, unblessed, out into needless peril, and here he
lies with poison in his veins. Nay, nay, whatever now may betide in
war, my line too is ending, even the House of the Stewards has failed.
Mean folk shall rule the last remnant of the Kings of Men, lurking in
the hills until all are hounded out.' He refuses to leave his son's
side for any reason and Gandalf has no choice but to take command of
the last defense of the City of Gondor. [15]
Even as the Witch-king is directing the final assault on the
walls of Minas Tirith, Denethor slides into madness and decides that
he will not wait for death, or risk being captured. Certain that his
enemy has recovered the Ring and that his city and realm are now
doomed, Denethor decides that he and Faramir shall at least die
together. He releases Pippin from his service (though Pippin refuses
the offer) [16] and orders the servants to bear Faramir to Rath Dinen,
the Silent Street that leads to the tombs of the Kings and Stewards.
The funeral procession pauses for a moment besides the withered White
Tree and then proceeds to the tomb in which Denethor intends to build
his pyre. [17] There they halts and await the delivery of wood and
oil. [18-19]
Pippin, however, believes that fire is a bad cure for
Faramir's wounds and resolves to seek Gandalf's help. As soon as
Denethor dismisses him, Pippin speeds from the Silent Street in search
of Gandalf At the gate of the Citadel, however, he encounters
Beregond. Pippin quickly recounts Denethor's strange words and
terrible intention and urges Beregond to prevent it if he can. When
Beregond answers that his orders do not permit it, Pippin declares
that Beregond has a choice between obeying his orders and saving
Faramir's life. He then runs down to the first circle of the city in
search of Gandalf. Unfortunately, he arrives just as the assault
reaches his climax and the Gate is breached. Before Pippin can ask
Gandalf for help, the Witch-King enters the city...
The armies of Mordor have not been idle. During the night,
they have dug trenches filled with fire to prevent any sorties, set up
engines to cast missiles into the city (and have thereby set the first
circle of the city on fire) and succeeded in thoroughly demoralizing
the defenders. (Most have fled to the second circle of the city.)
[20] Now at last a great battering ram is brought forward to breach
the Gate. The gate proves sturdier than the attackers had hoped,
however, and the Witch-king must resort to sorcery to successfully
destroy the gate. [21] Grond must be swung three times before the gate
finally tumbles to the ground in ruins. [22]
The Lord of the Nazgul is the first to enter the city, beneath
the archway through which no enemy had previously ever passed, but he
does not ride far. Seated astride Shadowfax, Gandalf bars the passage
and commands the Witch-king to depart. [23] The Black Captain is only
too eager to teach this meddlesome old man a lesson about the power of
Sauron. Just as he raises his sword to smite his enemy, however, the
great horns of Rohan sound....


Discussion


[1] This is significant because Pippin is the only hobbit who meets
Boromir, Faramir AND Denethor. Do you think that this influences his
decision to become a knight of Gondor?

[2] "Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very
inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of
thin milk." This choice of milk as a beverage is rather puzzling.
Most medieval European societies consumed wine or beer since it was
safer than unpasteurized milk. Moreover, Pippin had been drinking
wine, beer and water for at least several months (possibly since
leaving the Shire and certainly since departing from Rivendell.) Was
this menu chosen by Gandalf as a thoughtful gesture to make Pippin
feel more at home in a strange environment or was it yet another
example of Denethor's mockery?

[3] Anybody else ever wonder how the tailor managed to craft a
uniform that fit perfectly without measuring Pippin? I also wonder
how often Pippin had to replace the livery and gear over the years and
whether he had to order it from Minas Tirith or from local merchants.
:)

[4] Whenever I try to imagine the darkness created by fumes from Mt.
Doom, I tend to think of the sky in the hours following the eruption
of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980. I was living thousands of miles away,
but I remember the television coverage of the event. It is rather
curious that Tolkien does not describe any ash settling on the city of
Minas Tirith. I don't know whether Tolkien ever saw a volcanic
eruption personally, but I do seem to remember that he visited Italy
at one time and possibly may have seen Mt. Etna or Mt. Vesuvius. I
checked Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, but did not find any
references. Can anybody else provide a reference?

[5] One of the reasons why I love this chapter is that provides a
very effective contrast to so many of the earlier chapters. The
amplified menace of the Nazgul and the fear and despair that they
inspire is just one example. It increases our respect for Glorfindel,
for example, who drove away five of the Nazgul during his rescue of
Frodo and his companions before they reached the Ford of Brunien.
This in turn provides us with a glimpse of the power that the Elves
wielded during the earlier ages.

[6] I have often been moved by Tolkien's descriptions of Beregond's
love for his Captain as well as Pippin's reactions. Have you ever met
anybody who similarly inspired you? I genuinely regret that I have
not. :(

[7] This point has been debated before, but it is worth mentioning
again. "...but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and from
it a shaft of white light stabbed upward." Was this an example of
Narya [the Ring that Gandalf bore] in action or just another example
of the knowledge acquired by Gandalf during his studies of fire and
explosives? It is interesting to note that there is no mention of
Gandalf's staff in this passage.

[8] It is a somewhat off-topic, but the phrase "shorn of their
renown" now brings to mind the tragedy of the shuttle Columbia. I
remember only too well the outpouring of grief that followed the
explosion of the Challenger and the accolades bestowed upon the
astronauts who repaired the Hubble Telescope and felt that the crew of
the Columbia was slighted in comparison. The Iraq war began shortly
thereafter, of course, but I always felt that the press never really
devoted much attention to the fate and tragedy of the Columbia. :(

[9] Classic Tolkien Moral Dilemma (TM): Who was right? 'Would that
have availed to change you judgement?' said Denethor. 'You would have
done just so, I deem. I know you well. Ever your desire is to appear
lordly and generous as a king of old, gracious, gentle. That may well
befit one of high race, if he sits in power and peace. But in
desperate hours gentleness may be repaid with death.'
'So be it,' said Faramir.
'So be it!' cried Denethor. 'But not with your death only,
Lord Faramir; with the death also of your father, and of all your
people, whom it is your part to protect now that Boromir is gone.'

I fully expect this discussion to turn ugly, as it usually
does, but I am thinking of the American occupation of Iraq as I write
this. The fact of the matter is that our occupation has been
relatively mild compared to, say, the unspeakable horrors suffered by
the Koreans and the Chinese during the Japanese occupation in the
1930's or the agony of all those conquered by the Nazis. I know that
our troops struggle with this same dilemma daily: Do you treat all of
the citizens as potential friends because it is the right thing to do
even though that will inevitably cause your fellow soldiers to die or
do you place the lives of your comrades first and treat everybody as
potential enemies?

[10] It is interesting to compare Denethor's behavior toward both
Pippin & Faramir with that of Aragorn. I can't imagine Denethor
waiting patiently while two hobbits chatted about the trivial affairs
of the Shire as Strider did in Rivendell. No matter how many times I
read LOTR, I am still amazed at Tolkien's ability to subtly illuminate
the personalities of even minor characters.

[11] Why did Denethor abruptly back down? Did he simply realize
that he had nothing to gain from a confrontation or did Gandalf subtly
influence his mood somehow? Did the presence of Faramir and Pippin
make any difference?

[12] Was Denethor's military strategy right or wrong? Should Faramir
have kept his forces within the walls of Minas Tirith and reserved his
strength for a possible counterattack or was it wiser to contest the
fields of the Pelennor with the enemy?

[13] 'The hosts of Morgul, taken at unawares in wild career, broke,
scattering like sparks in a gale.' Does the use of "career" in this
context refer to a disorganized charge? Why does Tolkien use "career"
instead of the term "careen?"

[14] Am I the only one who loved Prince Imrahil's none-too-subtle
rebuke of his liege? "Your son has returned, lord, after great
deeds!" :)

[15] "No hours so dark had Pippin known, not even in the clutches of
the Uruk-hai." I don't know whether Tolkien is unique in this
respect, but he is one of the very few fantasy writers who understands
that it is often far worse to see others in pain--knowing that you can
do nothing about it--than it is to experience pain yourself.

[16] Would you agree that this is Pippin's most noble decision?

[17] What is the significance of this? Is it a ritual reserved for
all of the Kings & Stewards or is it a sentimental gesture on
Denethor's part? Did Faramir previously spend quite of his time in
this courtyard? (I can imagine Faramir, ever enamored of his
Numenorean heritage, staring at the White Tree as a child and vainly
wishing that he could see it in flower.)

[18] I always wondered how "those who bore the token of the tombs and
tended the houses of the dead" were chosen for that duty.

[19] Have you ever visited any place that reminded you of the Silent
Street?

[20] One question that has always bugged me ever since I first read
LOTR is "Where is Prince Imrahil during all of this?" As a military
commander, he should theoretically be at the walls with his men,
helping to defend the city. Yet we are told that when the Witch king
finally breaks the Gate, all flee from him. This presumably includes
the Prince, but that does not seem to accord with the fearless warrior
that we see on the Pelennor and before the Black Gate of Mordor. I
can only speculate that the Prince was attempting to rally the men who
had fled to the second circle while Gandalf defied the Witch-king.

[21] I wonder what happened to Grond? I presume it was destroyed
after the battle, of course, but how? It could not be easily burned
and presumably would have required quite a bit of fuel and time to
turn it into ash and slag. Perhaps the "spells of ruin" that lay upon
it were nullified by the fall of Sauron? Or perhaps it was just
dumped into the Anduin?

[21] 'Then the Black Captain rose in his stirrups and cried aloud in
a dreadful voice, speaking in some forgotten tongue words of power and
terror to rend both heart and stone." Is that not a perfect
description of the Black Speech? :)

[22] One of the reasons why I love Tolkien's works so much is because
he has no equal in terms of tying his mythology together. This
passage is a perfect example. It not only describes an important
event, but the symbolism inherent in it evokes the older, underlying
mythology. Gondor is the last vestige of Numenor, the land of
Westernesse that foundered. The repetition of certain
sentences--'Grond crawled on'--helps to convey the impression that
this army, the hosts of Orcs and Southrons and Easterlings that swarm
outside the walls are like "the great dark wave climbing over the
green lands and above the hills, and coming on, darkness unescapable."
This is agony of Numenor being repeated on a lesser scale by the same
implacable enemy who brought about the downfall of Numenor.
Another interesting question is whether this was deliberate
ploy on the part of the Witch-king. The darkness that Sauron covered
the lands with was almost certainly intended to evoke similar cultural
memories in his enemies and I think the Lord of the Nazgul intended to
reinforce that dread. As a Numenorean, he would have been quite
familiar with the tale of the Downfall and what it meant to the people
of Gondor. He ordered his troops to destroy the Rammas not only to
fulfill his master's orders to destroy Gondor stone by stone, but also
to add to the defender's perception that Minas Tirith is being
overwhelmed.

[23] '...Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth
endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath
Dinen.' What is the significance of this passage? Why is it so
important that only Shadowfax can endure the terror of the Nazgul? (I
also appreciate this sentence unconsciously reminds us of the tragedy
that is unfolding in the Silent Street.)

Morgoth's Curse

Pete Gray

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Dec 23, 2004, 2:52:21 PM12/23/04
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In article <t12ls051ppo4n5mu0...@4ax.com>,
morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com says...


> [13] 'The hosts of Morgul, taken at unawares in wild career, broke,
> scattering like sparks in a gale.' Does the use of "career" in this
> context refer to a disorganized charge? Why does Tolkien use "career"
> instead of the term "careen?"
>

Because 'career' means 'rush', while 'careen' means 'to turn over on
the side, esp. for repairing or cleaning', and I assume the hosts of
Morgul weren't lying on their sides having their bottoms scraped.
Though that certianly would have left them somewhat vulnerable.

--
Pete Gray
while ($cat!="home"){$mice=="play";}

Paul W

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Dec 23, 2004, 3:19:43 PM12/23/04
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[11] - I always took it, that the loss of his favorite son puts
Denethor in a state where he starts to not really care about what is
going on around him. This to me is the first step of Gandalf taking
over the defense of the city. The loss of Faramir along with the
hopelessness of the situation is, of course, the finishing blow.

[12] - I would contend that it was a mistake for a number of reasons:

1) While Faramir made the best of it, Odds are the city could have held
out longer if it had these men. Turns out that he didn't need the
extra time, but they didn't know that at the time. Faramir had no hope
to drive the enemy back over the river, which is the only way that it
would have been worth while.
2) By losing Faramir you lose one of the few leaders you have in the
city. Also you lost Denethor with the same stroke.

[20] & [23] - The Prince is not there but Shadowfax ready to fight. I
really think Tolkien is trying to make Shadowfax as important a minor
character as possible for one who can't talk.

Paul W

TeaLady (Mari C.)

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Dec 23, 2004, 4:07:58 PM12/23/04
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Morgoth's Curse <morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> wrote in
news:t12ls051ppo4n5mu0...@4ax.com:

> [2] "Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he
> thought) very inadequate pat of butter which was set out for
> him, beside a cup of thin milk." This choice of milk as a
> beverage is rather puzzling. Most medieval European
> societies consumed wine or beer since it was safer than
> unpasteurized milk. Moreover, Pippin had been drinking
> wine, beer and water for at least several months (possibly
> since leaving the Shire and certainly since departing from
> Rivendell.) Was this menu chosen by Gandalf as a thoughtful
> gesture to make Pippin feel more at home in a strange
> environment or was it yet another example of Denethor's
> mockery?
>

I never thought of the contrast between beer/wine/water and
thin milk as a medieval item, or even preferred drinks. I did
think it might have been an insult to Pippin, based on his
size and the tendancy of large men-folk to look upon the
hobbits as "young men" or large boys rather than adults due to
their smallness. I also think of the lack of hearty fare as a
sign of the impending shortages expected in the face of attack
- a pre-rationing rationing of foods, as it were.

--
TeaLady (mari)

"I keep telling you, chew with your mouth closed!" Kell the
coach offers advice on keeping that elusive prey caught.

Raven

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Dec 23, 2004, 2:34:05 PM12/23/04
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"Morgoth's Curse" <morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:t12ls051ppo4n5mu0...@4ax.com...

> [1] This is significant because Pippin is the only hobbit who meets
> Boromir, Faramir AND Denethor. Do you think that this influences his
> decision to become a knight of Gondor?

Well, he becomes a knight before he ever sees Faramir. He becomes a
knight of Gondor in payment of his debt. Presumably Merry would have done
so as well, had he been there too. Of course eventually Merry comes to
Gondor too, but by then he already serves Théoden - and Théoden being dead
at the time does not change that.

> [2] "Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very
> inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of
> thin milk." This choice of milk as a beverage is rather puzzling.
> Most medieval European societies consumed wine or beer since it was
> safer than unpasteurized milk. Moreover, Pippin had been drinking
> wine, beer and water for at least several months (possibly since
> leaving the Shire and certainly since departing from Rivendell.) Was
> this menu chosen by Gandalf as a thoughtful gesture to make Pippin
> feel more at home in a strange environment or was it yet another
> example of Denethor's mockery?

We don't know if Minas Tirith had milch cows and hay for them even during
a siege. Also we don't know that the Gondorians didn't know how to
pasteurize milk and why it is a good idea. As a process it is not a very
complex one requiring advanced technology.

> [3] Anybody else ever wonder how the tailor managed to craft a
> uniform that fit perfectly without measuring Pippin? I also wonder
> how often Pippin had to replace the livery and gear over the years and
> whether he had to order it from Minas Tirith or from local merchants.
> :)

Perhaps the tailor was very skilled, enough to very quickly make the
livery from mere eye measurement. Or perhaps the livery was there already -
like Bilbo's mithril mailshirt, that had been made for a child prince but
fitted Bilbo and later Frodo well. For that matter Gondor may have had
hobbits in its service long ago, perhaps of a branch different from those
who eventually went to Eriador - perhaps kinsmen to the Stoors that Sméagol
came from. While hobbits were quite a novelty to the Gondorians, they knew
them by their Sindarin name, which does not prove but does open the
possibility that earlier Gondorians had had personal experience with
Periain.
As for replacing it over the years, I get the impression that the
craftsmanship that had gone into the livery was such that with care it might
last for generations of wear.

> [7] This point has been debated before, but it is worth mentioning
> again. "...but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and from
> it a shaft of white light stabbed upward." Was this an example of
> Narya [the Ring that Gandalf bore] in action or just another example
> of the knowledge acquired by Gandalf during his studies of fire and
> explosives? It is interesting to note that there is no mention of
> Gandalf's staff in this passage.

I would not presume that the shaft of white light had anything to do with
Narya, which was not a weapon of war. It might simply be one of the powers
of Olórin the Maia.

> [11] Why did Denethor abruptly back down? Did he simply realize
> that he had nothing to gain from a confrontation or did Gandalf subtly
> influence his mood somehow? Did the presence of Faramir and Pippin
> make any difference?

He might have known well enough that although he had the authority to
command even Gandalf within the territory of Gondor, Gandalf was innately
the stronger. I do not think that the presence of Faramir and Pippin made a
difference, since Denethor was not one to be swayed by the opinions of
others, and very probably not concerned with "face". He would be concerned
with being this and that, not with seeming this and that.

> [12] Was Denethor's military strategy right or wrong? Should Faramir
> have kept his forces within the walls of Minas Tirith and reserved his
> strength for a possible counterattack or was it wiser to contest the
> fields of the Pelennor with the enemy?

Faramir did not contest the fields of the Pelennor against the enemy, but
the passage of the river. That strategy was sound enough, since during the
crossing the invaders would be vulnerable, first to the arrows of the
defenders and then they would have to scramble in disarray from boats up a
riverbank against prepared enemies. Their much larger numbers and the
unexpectedly strong effect of the presence of the Black Captain ensured
their victory, but they paid dearly. We are not given numbers of enemies
fallen, but it may well be that this defence of the bank reduced the enemy
in numbers sufficiently to make a positive difference when the counterattack
from the Rohirrim and the men from Pelargir came. The strategy was of
course also risky, since once the enemy did win across and once other
enemies pressed from the north, where they had taken Cair Andros and passed
on, the surviving defenders had some miles to retreat to the City. And but
for the counterattack of Gandalf and the knights of Dol Amroth they would
indeed have been destroyed. Denethor may have had his personality issues,
but he was no military fool.

> [21] I wonder what happened to Grond? I presume it was destroyed
> after the battle, of course, but how? It could not be easily burned
> and presumably would have required quite a bit of fuel and time to
> turn it into ash and slag. Perhaps the "spells of ruin" that lay upon
> it were nullified by the fall of Sauron? Or perhaps it was just
> dumped into the Anduin?

Grond was well protected against stonecast and fire from the defenders.
This does not imply that it could not be easily destroyed once the defenders
had seized it. They may have found it easy to set fire to it once they were
able to get some torches *beneath* the roof.

Rob.


John Jones

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Dec 23, 2004, 11:11:28 AM12/23/04
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"Morgoth's Curse" <morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> wrote in message
news:t12ls051ppo4n5mu0...@4ax.com...

>
> [13] 'The hosts of Morgul, taken at unawares in wild career, broke,
> scattering like sparks in a gale.' Does the use of "career" in this
> context refer to a disorganized charge?

Yes.

>Why does Tolkien use "career" instead of the term "careen?"

Because it's English English! 'Careen' means to tilt a ship over so you can
access the bottom, often done in the days of sailing ships.


AC

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Dec 26, 2004, 9:49:26 PM12/26/04
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On Thu, 23 Dec 2004 09:17:09 GMT,
Morgoth's Curse <morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> wrote:
> Apologies for the late post. Merry Christmas!!!

No prob! Saved my a**!

<snip excellent summary>

>
> [3] Anybody else ever wonder how the tailor managed to craft a
> uniform that fit perfectly without measuring Pippin? I also wonder
> how often Pippin had to replace the livery and gear over the years and
> whether he had to order it from Minas Tirith or from local merchants.
>:)

I would imagine it was probably for some princeling or another.

>
> [4] Whenever I try to imagine the darkness created by fumes from Mt.
> Doom, I tend to think of the sky in the hours following the eruption
> of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980. I was living thousands of miles away,
> but I remember the television coverage of the event. It is rather
> curious that Tolkien does not describe any ash settling on the city of
> Minas Tirith. I don't know whether Tolkien ever saw a volcanic
> eruption personally, but I do seem to remember that he visited Italy
> at one time and possibly may have seen Mt. Etna or Mt. Vesuvius. I
> checked Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, but did not find any
> references. Can anybody else provide a reference?

I imagine Tolkien would have read about eruptions like Vesuvius and
Krakatoa.


> [7] This point has been debated before, but it is worth mentioning
> again. "...but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and from
> it a shaft of white light stabbed upward." Was this an example of
> Narya [the Ring that Gandalf bore] in action or just another example
> of the knowledge acquired by Gandalf during his studies of fire and
> explosives? It is interesting to note that there is no mention of
> Gandalf's staff in this passage.

I think it's probably Gandalf's knowledge of pyrotechnics. To see Narya in
action, I think you have to look at the healing of Theoden.

>
> [10] It is interesting to compare Denethor's behavior toward both
> Pippin & Faramir with that of Aragorn. I can't imagine Denethor
> waiting patiently while two hobbits chatted about the trivial affairs
> of the Shire as Strider did in Rivendell. No matter how many times I
> read LOTR, I am still amazed at Tolkien's ability to subtly illuminate
> the personalities of even minor characters.

As I've said before, Aragorn is the traditional, mythical king; gracious,
kindly and genuinely concerned for his lessers. Denethor is not that sort
of a ruler, though I'm not necessarily saying he's a bad leader, just more
like the ones I expect one would meet.

>
> [11] Why did Denethor abruptly back down? Did he simply realize
> that he had nothing to gain from a confrontation or did Gandalf subtly
> influence his mood somehow? Did the presence of Faramir and Pippin
> make any difference?

No, I think he recognized Gandalf's greater innate power.

>
> [12] Was Denethor's military strategy right or wrong? Should Faramir
> have kept his forces within the walls of Minas Tirith and reserved his
> strength for a possible counterattack or was it wiser to contest the
> fields of the Pelennor with the enemy?

Let's be blunt. The situation for Minas Tirith was grim, and its salvation
was ultimately from a direction unexpected. Denethor was obviously planning
for a siege.

>
> [13] 'The hosts of Morgul, taken at unawares in wild career, broke,
> scattering like sparks in a gale.' Does the use of "career" in this
> context refer to a disorganized charge? Why does Tolkien use "career"
> instead of the term "careen?"

I'll give a nod to our language experts. I'm uncertain of the usage.

>
> [14] Am I the only one who loved Prince Imrahil's none-too-subtle
> rebuke of his liege? "Your son has returned, lord, after great
> deeds!" :)

Imrahil is another great character that we sadly see too little of.

> [18] I always wondered how "those who bore the token of the tombs and
> tended the houses of the dead" were chosen for that duty.

Quite possibly inherited. Gondor, and the Numenoreans in general, seemed to
be quite concerned with lineage.

>
> [19] Have you ever visited any place that reminded you of the Silent
> Street?

Nothing quite like that.

> [21] 'Then the Black Captain rose in his stirrups and cried aloud in
> a dreadful voice, speaking in some forgotten tongue words of power and
> terror to rend both heart and stone." Is that not a perfect
> description of the Black Speech? :)

And of the power of the Witch King. He was one bad dude.

> [23] '...Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth
> endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath
> Dinen.' What is the significance of this passage? Why is it so
> important that only Shadowfax can endure the terror of the Nazgul? (I
> also appreciate this sentence unconsciously reminds us of the tragedy
> that is unfolding in the Silent Street.)

I suppose it points out that Shadowfax is the last of his kind, another
example of the fading away of the older, mythical ages of Middle Earth.

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 8, 2005, 4:30:14 PM1/8/05
to
On Thu, 23 Dec 2004 09:17:09 GMT, Morgoth's Curse
<morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> wrote:

>Denethor demands that Faramir personally direct the defense
>at the crossings of Osgiliath.

Actually, its more a case of calling for a volunteer and Faramir being
the one who accepts this unhappy task.

> The Steward of Gondor is a very different man now that his
>only remaining son has apparently been fatally wounded.

I think it is more the final use of the palantir and what it reveals
than Faramir's wound. If he had any hope left of striking back at
Sauron for his hurt, I think he would have taken it.

> Even as the Witch-king is directing the final assault on the
>walls of Minas Tirith, Denethor slides into madness and decides that
>he will not wait for death, or risk being captured.

I am also not convinced that Denethor was mad, if by that one means
irrational or mentally ill. What the palantir revealed appeared to be
the ultimate victory of the Enemy. If Gandalf's plan had returned to
Sauron his Ring, all resistance would be an empty gesture. Denethor's
failing is a loss of hope. In despair, he seeks to arrange a death
more pleasing to himself. This fault he shares with Eowyn.

>[2] "Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very
>inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of
>thin milk." This choice of milk as a beverage is rather puzzling.
>Most medieval European societies consumed wine or beer since it was
>safer than unpasteurized milk.

Gondor is not a medieval European society. I don't think one can read
anything into this.

>[4] Whenever I try to imagine the darkness created by fumes from Mt.
>Doom, I tend to think of the sky in the hours following the eruption
>of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980. I was living thousands of miles away,
>but I remember the television coverage of the event. It is rather
>curious that Tolkien does not describe any ash settling on the city of
>Minas Tirith.

How much is actually ash and how much is cloud? Sauron had sent forth
storms before. For that matter, how much is supernatural darkness?

>[9] Classic Tolkien Moral Dilemma (TM): Who was right? 'Would that
>have availed to change you judgement?' said Denethor. 'You would have
>done just so, I deem. I know you well. Ever your desire is to appear
>lordly and generous as a king of old, gracious, gentle. That may well
>befit one of high race, if he sits in power and peace. But in
>desperate hours gentleness may be repaid with death.'
> 'So be it,' said Faramir.
> 'So be it!' cried Denethor. 'But not with your death only,
>Lord Faramir; with the death also of your father, and of all your
>people, whom it is your part to protect now that Boromir is gone.'

Denethor is certainly right to some extent. If George Washington had
never told a lie, he wouldn't have been qualified to be President.
While scrupulous honesty is a merit in a man, it is a failing in a
leader who must be able to bluff and conceal information according to
the needs of state. Any leader must balance being a good person and
being a good leader, because they are not always compatible.

>[11] Why did Denethor abruptly back down? Did he simply realize
>that he had nothing to gain from a confrontation or did Gandalf subtly
>influence his mood somehow? Did the presence of Faramir and Pippin
>make any difference?

Denethor and Gandalf both distrust each other's motives to some
extent, but they both know the real Enemy is the Lord of Mordor.
Denethor asserts himself to let Gandalf know he is neither fool nor
tool for the wizard's game, but he doesn't want to waste time nor does
he wish to alienate Gandalf to the point where he might withdraw aid.

I think his comments about Gandalf and the Witch-King may have been
meant to prick his pride and encourage Gandalf to confront the Nazgul
-- Denethor surely realized that if anyone was a match for their dread
power, it would be Gandalf.

>[12] Was Denethor's military strategy right or wrong? Should Faramir
>have kept his forces within the walls of Minas Tirith and reserved his
>strength for a possible counterattack or was it wiser to contest the
>fields of the Pelennor with the enemy?

It was the only possible chance to attack the enemy with advantage and
had the assault been less strong, less well organized, or unassisted
by the Witch-King's terror, more might have been done. Also, the best
hope they had of adequate strength was if Theoden could reach them, so
any delay that gave them more time was to be welcomed.

>[15] "No hours so dark had Pippin known, not even in the clutches of
>the Uruk-hai." I don't know whether Tolkien is unique in this
>respect, but he is one of the very few fantasy writers who understands
>that it is often far worse to see others in pain--knowing that you can
>do nothing about it--than it is to experience pain yourself.

Actually, that's rather a cliche of fantastic fiction, although
perhaps more common in sci-fi. "No, I will not bother to torture you.
You are very brave. But it is much harder to be brave if I am
torturing... this innocent puppy!" "Nooooo!"

>[21] I wonder what happened to Grond? I presume it was destroyed
>after the battle, of course, but how?

No. Trophy for the war museum.

>[23] '...Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth
>endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath
>Dinen.' What is the significance of this passage? Why is it so
>important that only Shadowfax can endure the terror of the Nazgul? (I
>also appreciate this sentence unconsciously reminds us of the tragedy
>that is unfolding in the Silent Street.)

Yes, that ties it to events above, but Shadowfax also gets credit for
more than just running fast here. He's quite a horse. It also serves
as foreshadowing for Snowmane's terror.

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

Morgoth's Curse

unread,
May 24, 2005, 1:26:11 AM5/24/05
to
On Thu, 23 Dec 2004 20:34:05 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>"Morgoth's Curse" <morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> skrev i en meddelelse
>news:t12ls051ppo4n5mu0...@4ax.com...
>
>> [1] This is significant because Pippin is the only hobbit who meets
>> Boromir, Faramir AND Denethor. Do you think that this influences his
>> decision to become a knight of Gondor?
>
> Well, he becomes a knight before he ever sees Faramir. He becomes a
>knight of Gondor in payment of his debt. Presumably Merry would have done
>so as well, had he been there too. Of course eventually Merry comes to
>Gondor too, but by then he already serves Théoden - and Théoden being dead
>at the time does not change that.

Well, Denethor had technically released Pippin from his service.
Pippin replied that he did not wish to be released from his oath, of
course, but I am not sure whether the oath was still legally binding.
I wonder if Pippin renewed the oath to King Elessar. It is unlikely
that Aragorn would have insisted on it, but hobbits were sticklers for
formalities in such matters. :)

>
>> [2] "Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very
>> inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of
>> thin milk." This choice of milk as a beverage is rather puzzling.
>> Most medieval European societies consumed wine or beer since it was
>> safer than unpasteurized milk. Moreover, Pippin had been drinking
>> wine, beer and water for at least several months (possibly since
>> leaving the Shire and certainly since departing from Rivendell.) Was
>> this menu chosen by Gandalf as a thoughtful gesture to make Pippin
>> feel more at home in a strange environment or was it yet another
>> example of Denethor's mockery?
>
> We don't know if Minas Tirith had milch cows and hay for them even during
>a siege.

That is precisely why the choice of milk puzzled me. The existence of
the milk can be explained by the butter: It is hard to make butter
without milk. The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to
think that it was a thoughtful gesture by Gandalf to both make Pippin
feel more at home and yet simultaneously remind him that he was not in
the Shire and needed to be careful about what he said and thought.
Denethor might not be able to resist mocking Pippin when an
opportunity arose, but I cannot see him as so mean-spirited as to
actively seek such an opportunity.

> Also we don't know that the Gondorians didn't know how to
>pasteurize milk and why it is a good idea. As a process it is not a very
>complex one requiring advanced technology.

I can't imagine Gondor pasteurizing milk on an industrial scale, but I
could accept that the healers and loremasters of the Houses of Healing
might know how to do that. Since there was a mountain peak with
(presumably) ice and snow on it quite near, it may have been possible
to fetch ice regularly in order to preserve food and beverages longer.

>> [3] Anybody else ever wonder how the tailor managed to craft a
>> uniform that fit perfectly without measuring Pippin? I also wonder
>> how often Pippin had to replace the livery and gear over the years and
>> whether he had to order it from Minas Tirith or from local merchants.
>> :)
>
> Perhaps the tailor was very skilled, enough to very quickly make the
>livery from mere eye measurement. Or perhaps the livery was there already -
>like Bilbo's mithril mailshirt, that had been made for a child prince but
>fitted Bilbo and later Frodo well. For that matter Gondor may have had
>hobbits in its service long ago, perhaps of a branch different from those
>who eventually went to Eriador - perhaps kinsmen to the Stoors that Sméagol
>came from. While hobbits were quite a novelty to the Gondorians, they knew
>them by their Sindarin name, which does not prove but does open the
>possibility that earlier Gondorians had had personal experience with
>Periain.
> As for replacing it over the years, I get the impression that the
>craftsmanship that had gone into the livery was such that with care it might
>last for generations of wear.

I suppose that is possible, but considering that Pippin wore it during
battles as well as the journey back to the Shire and quite regularly
after that, I just figured that it would have to be replaced every so
often especially since the Shire did not yet have a dry-cleaning
service. Or maybe the King had had a few spare outfits prepared for
him before Pippin departed from Minas Tirith. Or Perhaps had one set
for ceremonial occasions and another for daily use?

I have also recently been reminded that Bilbo had entire rooms
dedicated to clothes at Bag-End, so evidently the Shire possessed
skilled tailors who could duplicate the clothing if they had access to
the right materials.


>
>> [7] This point has been debated before, but it is worth mentioning
>> again. "...but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and from
>> it a shaft of white light stabbed upward." Was this an example of
>> Narya [the Ring that Gandalf bore] in action or just another example
>> of the knowledge acquired by Gandalf during his studies of fire and
>> explosives? It is interesting to note that there is no mention of
>> Gandalf's staff in this passage.
>
> I would not presume that the shaft of white light had anything to do with
>Narya, which was not a weapon of war. It might simply be one of the powers
>of Olórin the Maia.

I think it is the fact that Narya was known as the Ring of Fire that
is what causes so much confusion--especially fire is one of the
primary weapons of war. I agree that Narya was not intended to be
used in that matter and probably only amplified or accentuated
Olorin's native abilities.


>
>> [11] Why did Denethor abruptly back down? Did he simply realize
>> that he had nothing to gain from a confrontation or did Gandalf subtly
>> influence his mood somehow? Did the presence of Faramir and Pippin
>> make any difference?
>
> He might have known well enough that although he had the authority to
>command even Gandalf within the territory of Gondor, Gandalf was innately
>the stronger. I do not think that the presence of Faramir and Pippin made a
>difference, since Denethor was not one to be swayed by the opinions of
>others, and very probably not concerned with "face". He would be concerned
>with being this and that, not with seeming this and that.

It just struck me as curious. Denethor is still grieving over the
loss of his eldest son and had just learned that his worst enemy now
has an excellent chance of recovering the one weapon that would make
him absolutely invincible and, as if that was not enough, he has been
betrayed by his own son. In other words, Denethor's mood is already
perilous and Gandalf provokes him by asserting that Boromir would have
betrayed his father as well had he taken the Ring. Yet Denethor
masters his wrath rather suddenly and becomes almost conciliatory.


>
>> [12] Was Denethor's military strategy right or wrong? Should Faramir
>> have kept his forces within the walls of Minas Tirith and reserved his
>> strength for a possible counterattack or was it wiser to contest the
>> fields of the Pelennor with the enemy?
>
> Faramir did not contest the fields of the Pelennor against the enemy, but
>the passage of the river. That strategy was sound enough, since during the
>crossing the invaders would be vulnerable, first to the arrows of the
>defenders and then they would have to scramble in disarray from boats up a
>riverbank against prepared enemies. Their much larger numbers and the
>unexpectedly strong effect of the presence of the Black Captain ensured
>their victory, but they paid dearly. We are not given numbers of enemies
>fallen, but it may well be that this defence of the bank reduced the enemy
>in numbers sufficiently to make a positive difference when the counterattack
>from the Rohirrim and the men from Pelargir came. The strategy was of
>course also risky, since once the enemy did win across and once other
>enemies pressed from the north, where they had taken Cair Andros and passed
>on, the surviving defenders had some miles to retreat to the City. And but
>for the counterattack of Gandalf and the knights of Dol Amroth they would
>indeed have been destroyed. Denethor may have had his personality issues,
>but he was no military fool.

That strategy is founded on the assumption that reinforcements would
arrive. You must remember that Denethor himself doubted that the
Rohirrim would come and that he had no reason at all to think that the
men of southern fiefs could quickly overcome the corsairs and come to
the aid of Minas Tirith. Faramir and Imrahil, both seasoned warriors
well schooled in military tactics, seem to think that contesting the
passage of the river with only the limited forces available was
unwise. Denethor himself later admits the battle was "needless."

You are correct that it was difficult for any besieging army to cross
the river. You overlook two facts, however: The enemy had their own
archers (who were much more accustomed to shooting in darkness and dim
light than the archers of Gondor) and it was impossible to defend
every foot of the Rammas Echor. That wall was at least thirty miles
long and the enemy had sufficient forces to make assaults at different
points. (That was how the wall was taken, in fact. Faramir's men
were unable to prevent the forces of Mordor from placing charges that
blew breaches in the wall.) Your argument about the attrition of the
enemy works both ways: Every man that died on the ramparts of Rammas
Echor was one less man to defend Minas Tirith. "For he can afford to
lose a host better than we can to lose a company."


>
>> [21] I wonder what happened to Grond? I presume it was destroyed
>> after the battle, of course, but how? It could not be easily burned
>> and presumably would have required quite a bit of fuel and time to
>> turn it into ash and slag. Perhaps the "spells of ruin" that lay upon
>> it were nullified by the fall of Sauron? Or perhaps it was just
>> dumped into the Anduin?
>
> Grond was well protected against stonecast and fire from the defenders.
>This does not imply that it could not be easily destroyed once the defenders
>had seized it. They may have found it easy to set fire to it once they were
>able to get some torches *beneath* the roof.

That is true. I never imagined Grond being protected in that manner.
I always assumed that "housing" referred to the wheels and carriage of
the massive ram and that some spell had been placed upon it to prevent
it from being burned.

Morgoth's Curse

aelfwina

unread,
May 25, 2005, 2:15:33 PM5/25/05
to

"Morgoth's Curse" <morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> wrote in message
news:iovv819pescl2v2p2...@4ax.com...
(snip)

> Well, Denethor had technically released Pippin from his service.
> Pippin replied that he did not wish to be released from his oath, of
> course, but I am not sure whether the oath was still legally binding.
> I wonder if Pippin renewed the oath to King Elessar. It is unlikely
> that Aragorn would have insisted on it, but hobbits were sticklers for
> formalities in such matters. :)
>

It's my personal opinion that Pippin renewed his oath with Aragorn sometime
during those missing two weeks between the battle at teh Black Gate and the
time Sam awakened at Cormallen.

>>
>>> [2] "Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very
>>> inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of
>>> thin milk." This choice of milk as a beverage is rather puzzling.
>>> Most medieval European societies consumed wine or beer since it was
>>> safer than unpasteurized milk. Moreover, Pippin had been drinking
>>> wine, beer and water for at least several months (possibly since
>>> leaving the Shire and certainly since departing from Rivendell.) Was
>>> this menu chosen by Gandalf as a thoughtful gesture to make Pippin
>>> feel more at home in a strange environment or was it yet another
>>> example of Denethor's mockery?
>>
>> We don't know if Minas Tirith had milch cows and hay for them even
>> during
>>a siege.

Minas Tirith is not on an exact parallel with Medieval Europe. For example,
they seem to have held on to the healing technologies of lost Numenor. So
it is quite possible that they *did* know how to pasteurize--although of
course it would not be called that, since there was no Louis Pasteur, LOL!
The fact that it was "thin milk" makes me think it was "skim milk"--skim
milk at one time was thought only of use as livestock food, but if they were
making butter from the cream, they would not have wanted to waste the milk.


>
> That is precisely why the choice of milk puzzled me. The existence of
> the milk can be explained by the butter: It is hard to make butter
> without milk. The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to
> think that it was a thoughtful gesture by Gandalf to both make Pippin
> feel more at home and yet simultaneously remind him that he was not in
> the Shire and needed to be careful about what he said and thought.
> Denethor might not be able to resist mocking Pippin when an
> opportunity arose, but I cannot see him as so mean-spirited as to
> actively seek such an opportunity.

I don't see it as mockery or anything else significant. He ate what was
available and on the menu. Milk just happened to be. They might have been
rationing the ale or wine to the soldiers in order to avoid drunkeness.

>
>> Also we don't know that the Gondorians didn't know how to
>>pasteurize milk and why it is a good idea. As a process it is not a very
>>complex one requiring advanced technology.
>
> I can't imagine Gondor pasteurizing milk on an industrial scale, but I
> could accept that the healers and loremasters of the Houses of Healing
> might know how to do that. Since there was a mountain peak with
> (presumably) ice and snow on it quite near, it may have been possible
> to fetch ice regularly in order to preserve food and beverages longer.
>

They wouldn't necessarily have needed ice. Carved into the side of a
mountain, and with everything of stone, they could possibly have managed a
cold room. Especially if there was a stream or spring of fresh cold water.
Leaving containers of food submerged in cold running water is a long-time
low-tech method of keeping food cold.
And I could imagine that the Houses of Healing might have had leave to keep
one or two milk cows or even goats, since they might need it for the
patient's diets. It's possible the quartermaster of the Guardsmen had leave
as well. You will notice that they call the place Beregond and Pippin go
for food the "buttery".


(snip)


Or perhaps the livery was there already -
>>like Bilbo's mithril mailshirt, that had been made for a child prince but
>>fitted Bilbo and later Frodo well.

This is my opinion. Mention is made that at one time pages were used at the
Citadel. I would think that they would have had livery. I am sure there
would have been some stored away against future need, even if they had not
been used in a long while.

For that matter Gondor may have had
>>hobbits in its service long ago, perhaps of a branch different from those
>>who eventually went to Eriador - perhaps kinsmen to the Stoors that
>>Sméagol
>>came from. While hobbits were quite a novelty to the Gondorians, they
>>knew
>>them by their Sindarin name, which does not prove but does open the
>>possibility that earlier Gondorians had had personal experience with
>>Periain.

It's possible, of course, but I find it very unlikely.

>> As for replacing it over the years, I get the impression that the
>>craftsmanship that had gone into the livery was such that with care it
>>might
>>last for generations of wear.
>
> I suppose that is possible, but considering that Pippin wore it during
> battles as well as the journey back to the Shire and quite regularly
> after that, I just figured that it would have to be replaced every so
> often especially since the Shire did not yet have a dry-cleaning
> service. Or maybe the King had had a few spare outfits prepared for
> him before Pippin departed from Minas Tirith. Or Perhaps had one set
> for ceremonial occasions and another for daily use?

I think the latter suggestion makes sense. If the uniforms had belonged to
pages, they would have needed something sturdy, possible linsey-woolsey or
some such, for when they were doing their daily tasks, and something a bit
fancier for when they did such things as serving at a feast.


>
> I have also recently been reminded that Bilbo had entire rooms
> dedicated to clothes at Bag-End, so evidently the Shire possessed
> skilled tailors who could duplicate the clothing if they had access to
> the right materials.

I would think that likely. Both Merry and Pippin would have filled out a
bit in their maturity, and would be unlikely to fit in their same livery at,
say fifty or sixty, as they had when they returned from the Quest. And I
would be certain that they wore livery on visits to the King at Annuminas,
or even on possible visits to the South before they permanently retired
there in their later years.


(snip)

>>> [11] Why did Denethor abruptly back down? Did he simply realize
>>> that he had nothing to gain from a confrontation or did Gandalf subtly
>>> influence his mood somehow? Did the presence of Faramir and Pippin
>>> make any difference?
>>
>> He might have known well enough that although he had the authority to
>>command even Gandalf within the territory of Gondor, Gandalf was innately
>>the stronger. I do not think that the presence of Faramir and Pippin made
>>a
>>difference, since Denethor was not one to be swayed by the opinions of
>>others, and very probably not concerned with "face". He would be
>>concerned
>>with being this and that, not with seeming this and that.
>
> It just struck me as curious. Denethor is still grieving over the
> loss of his eldest son and had just learned that his worst enemy now
> has an excellent chance of recovering the one weapon that would make
> him absolutely invincible and, as if that was not enough, he has been
> betrayed by his own son. In other words, Denethor's mood is already
> perilous and Gandalf provokes him by asserting that Boromir would have
> betrayed his father as well had he taken the Ring. Yet Denethor
> masters his wrath rather suddenly and becomes almost conciliatory.

I think that at this point he simply did not wish to force the issue. And
remember at one point Gandalf accuses him of "using" his grief--and I think
Gandalf would have been fairly perceptive on that point.

Barbara



Raven

unread,
May 24, 2005, 4:34:22 PM5/24/05
to
"Morgoth's Curse" <morgoths...@nospamyahoo.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:iovv819pescl2v2p2...@4ax.com...

[In reply to me]

> Well, Denethor had technically released Pippin from his service.
> Pippin replied that he did not wish to be released from his oath, of
> course, but I am not sure whether the oath was still legally binding.
> I wonder if Pippin renewed the oath to King Elessar. It is unlikely
> that Aragorn would have insisted on it, but hobbits were sticklers for
> formalities in such matters. :)

I suppose that since Pippin had sworn an oath of allegiance to the Lord
of Gondor and been released from it by a madman, he held himself bound by
it - and Aragorn agreed.

Denethor doubted that the Rohirrim would come, but was not certain that
they would not. He must similarly have at least hoped that the men from
Pelargir would win and send reinforcements. At any rate, in a battle such
as that your hope of victory hinges on the number of enemy casualties you
inflict. If Denethor could slay a large number of enemies on the west bank
of Anduin then this would be in his interest, whether he was hoping for
external succour or merely to endure a siege until the besiegers gave up and
left - or even if he hoped only to make Sauron's victory as expensive as
possible.

> You are correct that it was difficult for any besieging army to cross
> the river. You overlook two facts, however: The enemy had their own
> archers (who were much more accustomed to shooting in darkness and dim
> light than the archers of Gondor) and it was impossible to defend
> every foot of the Rammas Echor. That wall was at least thirty miles
> long and the enemy had sufficient forces to make assaults at different
> points. (That was how the wall was taken, in fact. Faramir's men
> were unable to prevent the forces of Mordor from placing charges that
> blew breaches in the wall.) Your argument about the attrition of the
> enemy works both ways: Every man that died on the ramparts of Rammas
> Echor was one less man to defend Minas Tirith. "For he can afford to
> lose a host better than we can to lose a company."

The enemy archers in the boats would be at a disadvantage compared to the
Gondorian archers on the river bank, presumably behind some sort of
fortification. And Faramir apparently did not try to defend the entirety
of the Rammas, but the much shorter "front" of the riverbank, the one place
where the River was narrow enough to be crossed in force. Or even if he
wanted to defend the Rammas as a whole, he would not have needed to dispatch
strength to all of it. Not when the strike against Minas Tirith came
through Anórien and across the River. Enemies could not attack the southern
and south-western parts of the Rammas Echor in force, unless they came
marching from a victory in the south. Since the south and south-east of the
Rammas was built upon the riverbank, the hosts from the Morannon and Morgul
could not simply spread south and west and encircle it. Judging by the
detailed map in my copy of the RotK, about two fifths of the Rammas would be
inaccessible to the Morannon and Morgul hosts.
This said, when I look at the map I wonder why the Rammas was not built
upon the river bank along a much greater distance. It would have been a
small additional effort to build the entire western face of the wall upon
the bank, all the way to West Osgiliath, rather than leaving a strip of
land, narrow but wide enough for enemy armies to maneuver in, from the bend
opposite Emyn Arnen to West Osgiliath. Then only the north face of the wall
would have needed to be strongly defended, and the enemy could have breached
the wall only in the north. As it happened, they breached it both in the
north and the north-east, adding entry points from which they could pursue
the retreating defenders.
Perhaps they could even have dug a moat along the north face of the wall.
They had been threatened by Mordor for generations, and they certainly had
the historical understanding to undertake a labour that would take many
years. But this depends on how steeply the land rose from the River to the
eastern end of the White Mountains. It would have been too difficult if
they would have had to dig the moat hundreds of feet deep most of the way.

Voron.


Graham Lockwood

unread,
May 24, 2005, 4:49:32 PM5/24/05
to
On Tue, 24 May 2005 15:34:22 -0500, Raven wrote
{snip}

> The enemy archers in the boats would be at a disadvantage compared to the
> Gondorian archers on the river bank, presumably behind some sort of
> fortification. And Faramir apparently did not try to defend the entirety
> of the Rammas, but the much shorter "front" of the riverbank, the one place
> where the River was narrow enough to be crossed in force.
{snip}

One of the things I thought odd in the move version of Faramir's battle at
the river was that Faramir LET THE ORCS CROSS THE RIVER before fighting them.
What's the point of trying to hold a river crossing if you let the enemy
cross before fighting?

---
Graham

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 24, 2005, 5:10:10 PM5/24/05
to
Graham Lockwood <g-...@yeehawgropes.com> wrote in
news:0001HW.BEB8FD8C...@news.x-privat.org:

One of the classic methods of river defence to allow part of the
enemy force across before hitting them. By defending the banks and
not letting any across, one is committed to defending an entire
stretch of land. By letting some across, the enemy is committed to
crossing in that area. One then hits the fraction that has crossed,
and any reinforcements that make it across will be vulnerable and
good for little except dying.

Can't remember if Sunzi explicitly makes the point, but Clausewitz
certainly does in detail.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
May 24, 2005, 5:16:49 PM5/24/05
to
Raven <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

<snip>

> when I look at the map I wonder
> why the Rammas was not built upon the river bank along a much greater
> distance.

<snip>

> But this depends on how steeply the land rose from the River
> to the eastern end of the White Mountains. It would have been too
> difficult if they would have had to dig the moat hundreds of feet
> deep most of the way.

This sounds like a plausible reason. Some others might be because they
built the quays of the Harlond there, or that the course of the river
changed slightly over the centuries, edging away from the Rammas and
depositing new land. But I don't find any of these theories totally
satisfactory.

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard

Morgil

unread,
May 24, 2005, 5:39:23 PM5/24/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:
> Graham Lockwood <g-...@yeehawgropes.com> wrote in
> news:0001HW.BEB8FD8C...@news.x-privat.org:

>>One of the things I thought odd in the move version of Faramir's


>>battle at the river was that Faramir LET THE ORCS CROSS THE RIVER
>>before fighting them. What's the point of trying to hold a river
>>crossing if you let the enemy cross before fighting?
>
>
> One of the classic methods of river defence to allow part of the
> enemy force across before hitting them. By defending the banks and
> not letting any across, one is committed to defending an entire
> stretch of land. By letting some across, the enemy is committed to
> crossing in that area. One then hits the fraction that has crossed,
> and any reinforcements that make it across will be vulnerable and
> good for little except dying.

But this is not what happens in the movie. Instead Faramir lets
the enemy across, lets them advance, and then engages in man to
orc combat with the the advace troops, all the while new enemy
troops keeps pouring in freely. In addition, he makes no actual
use of his archers, and his men seem to be so poorly trained
that they appear to lose in most of the one-on-one combats -
it's no wonder Denethor has so low opinion of his abilities. <g>

Morgil

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 24, 2005, 6:07:18 PM5/24/05
to
Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:d706uc$gk9$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:

Then it's a poor execution of a tactic, not a bad tactic in itself.
The idea of the tactic is to fix the enemy in place without allowing
swift and free reinforcement. Reinforcement of the enemy isn't a bad
thing in itself, since it can mean that more of them can be killed in a
single engagement, but the reinforcements should not be allowed to
overwhelm the defence.

For Christopher Kreuzer: the Time Commanders episode Tigranocerta
illustrated this almost to perfection, if stumbled upon by accident by
the team playing the Armenians. The Romans took the initiative by
crossing the ford, but the players had rushed units of archers and foot
to a nearby hillock. The advance guard of Roman horse was allowed to
cross, but the Armenian archers opened up once the legionaries started
to enter the water. As a result, the horse were isolated on the
Armenian bank while their infantry were losing order and crossing
slowly. Meanwhile, the rest of the Armenian army was marching up. By
the time enough Romans had crossed the river and wiped out the Armenian
van on the hill, they were disordered and in pieces, and the team
obligingly took them apart.

IIRC the dictum in the miscellaneous section of On War, where
Clausewitz discusses the correct use of the different arms, how to deal
with terrain, etc. I can't recall offhand an exact parallel in The Art
of War, but I do recall a Chinese example of the tactic in the notes of
my copy, recounted here in aft a few weeks back.


--
Cheers, ymt.

the softrat

unread,
May 24, 2005, 9:43:33 PM5/24/05
to
On Tue, 24 May 2005 15:49:32 -0500, Graham Lockwood
<g-...@yeehawgropes.com> wrote:
>
>One of the things I thought odd in the move version of Faramir's battle at
>the river was that Faramir LET THE ORCS CROSS THE RIVER before fighting them.
>What's the point of trying to hold a river crossing if you let the enemy
>cross before fighting?
>
Ask Byrhtnoth. Tolkien knew him well.

the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Pop psychology is from
Uranus. Deal with it.

Speaking Clock

unread,
May 25, 2005, 4:42:47 AM5/25/05
to
aelfwina wrote:

> And I could imagine that the Houses of Healing might have had leave
> to keep one or two milk cows or even goats, since they might need it
> for the patient's diets. It's possible the quartermaster of the
> Guardsmen had leave as well. You will notice that they call the
> place Beregond and Pippin go for food the "buttery".

They must have bottled the milk, then, since "buttery" comes from
"botelerie" (bottle store). :)
--
Speaking Clock


Derek Broughton

unread,
May 25, 2005, 9:08:19 AM5/25/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:

> Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> ...Faramir lets

>> the enemy across, lets them advance, and then engages in man to
>> orc combat with the the advace troops, all the while new enemy
>> troops keeps pouring in freely. In addition, he makes no actual
>> use of his archers, and his men seem to be so poorly trained
>> that they appear to lose in most of the one-on-one combats -
>> it's no wonder Denethor has so low opinion of his abilities. <g>
>
> Then it's a poor execution of a tactic, not a bad tactic in itself.

And remember, it's not an army trying to fight another, possibly larger,
army. It's one small unit trying to harrass as much as possible an
enormous army. He obviously was in no position to defend the whole
riverbank, so he lets enough come across that he's got something to chew
on, then retreats when it gets too overwhelming. Given Faramir's
resources, I don't think there were really any opportunities for "good"
executions of tactics.
--
derek

Morgil

unread,
May 25, 2005, 11:42:49 AM5/25/05
to

Agreed, but again, this is not what happens in the movie.
Instead Faramir lets too many orcs across before encountering
them, and is unable to retreat in time, which results in high
losses in his troops, including his second in command.

Morgil

Raven

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May 25, 2005, 4:05:35 PM5/25/05
to
"the softrat" <sof...@pobox.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:gvl791p7akug9dvbv...@4ax.com...

> On Tue, 24 May 2005 15:49:32 -0500, Graham Lockwood
> <g-...@yeehawgropes.com> wrote:

> >One of the things I thought odd in the move version of Faramir's battle
> >at the river was that Faramir LET THE ORCS CROSS THE RIVER
> >before fighting them. What's the point of trying to hold a river
> >crossing if you let the enemy cross before fighting?

> Ask Byrhtnoth. Tolkien knew him well.

What has Tolkien to do with this?

Hrafn.


Derek Broughton

unread,
May 25, 2005, 3:11:09 PM5/25/05
to
Morgil wrote:

> Derek Broughton wrote:
>>
>> And remember, it's not an army trying to fight another, possibly larger,
>> army. It's one small unit trying to harrass as much as possible an
>> enormous army. He obviously was in no position to defend the whole
>> riverbank, so he lets enough come across that he's got something to chew
>> on, then retreats when it gets too overwhelming. Given Faramir's
>> resources, I don't think there were really any opportunities for "good"
>> executions of tactics.
>
> Agreed, but again, this is not what happens in the movie.
> Instead Faramir lets too many orcs across before encountering
> them, and is unable to retreat in time, which results in high
> losses in his troops, including his second in command.

I don't think you can know whether he let "too many" across or not. Faramir
isn't concerned about retreating - they're at the end of the line. It's a
matter of taking out the most orcs possible with the resources at hand -
and knowing they're going to cross in the end, no matter what.
--
derek

Jim Harker

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May 26, 2005, 8:50:07 AM5/26/05
to

The movie isn't a documentary! The book gives no clues about Faramir's
tactics, we just know that Sauron's army had overwhelming numbers and
crossed the river despite heavy casualties inflicted by Faramir's force.
The book makes clear that Faramir was a gifted commander so presumably
his tactics were good. The movie just dramatises thing for a good
picture. I remember viewing a movie about the battle of the Bulge in
world war 2. It showed the Americans building a wall of logs around this
town in belgium, then the German tanks just drove through it. No such
tactics would have been used in the real battle, the movie director just
made them up.

Jim Harker

Morgil

unread,
May 26, 2005, 10:47:38 AM5/26/05
to
Jim Harker wrote:
>
>
> Morgil wrote:

>> Agreed, but again, this is not what happens in the movie.
>> Instead Faramir lets too many orcs across before encountering
>> them, and is unable to retreat in time, which results in high
>> losses in his troops, including his second in command.
>>
>> Morgil
>
> The movie isn't a documentary! The book gives no clues about Faramir's
> tactics, we just know that Sauron's army had overwhelming numbers and
> crossed the river despite heavy casualties inflicted by Faramir's force.
> The book makes clear that Faramir was a gifted commander so presumably
> his tactics were good. The movie just dramatises thing for a good
> picture.

The book Faramir and the movie Faramir are two different characters.
What was showed in the *movie* was bad tactics leading to poor
results at high price. So the movie Faramir was clearly far less
gifted then the book Faramir. He had other poor qualities as well,
so it's not really surprising either.

Morgil

Morgil

unread,
May 26, 2005, 11:07:09 AM5/26/05
to
Derek Broughton wrote:
> Morgil wrote:
>
>
>>Derek Broughton wrote:
>>
>>>And remember, it's not an army trying to fight another, possibly larger,
>>>army. It's one small unit trying to harrass as much as possible an
>>>enormous army. He obviously was in no position to defend the whole
>>>riverbank, so he lets enough come across that he's got something to chew
>>>on, then retreats when it gets too overwhelming. Given Faramir's
>>>resources, I don't think there were really any opportunities for "good"
>>>executions of tactics.
>>
>>Agreed, but again, this is not what happens in the movie.
>>Instead Faramir lets too many orcs across before encountering
>>them, and is unable to retreat in time, which results in high
>>losses in his troops, including his second in command.
>
>
> I don't think you can know whether he let "too many" across or not.

They were clearly far too many for him to handle.
So if he "let" them across, he let in too many.

Faramir
> isn't concerned about retreating - they're at the end of the line.

How do you figure that? He most definetely should have been.
The city defences were seriously undermanned, and there were
even fewer able leaders at hand. The more people he could
have brought back the better.

It's a
> matter of taking out the most orcs possible with the resources at hand -
> and knowing they're going to cross in the end, no matter what.

It has been the point all along that more orcs could have been
taken out with less casualities if he had used better tactics.
In the movie it does not look like he gets hardly any more orcs
killed then the losses on his own side.

Morgil

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 26, 2005, 12:05:13 PM5/26/05
to
Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:d74nic$mb3$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
> Jim Harker wrote:
>>
>> The movie isn't a documentary! The book gives no clues about
>> Faramir's tactics, we just know that Sauron's army had
>> overwhelming numbers and crossed the river despite heavy
>> casualties inflicted by Faramir's force. The book makes clear
>> that Faramir was a gifted commander so presumably his tactics
>> were good. The movie just dramatises thing for a good picture.
>
> The book Faramir and the movie Faramir are two different
> characters. What was showed in the *movie* was bad tactics leading
> to poor results at high price. So the movie Faramir was clearly
> far less gifted then the book Faramir. He had other poor qualities
> as well, so it's not really surprising either.

So the book Faramir was clearly far more gifted because the tactics
that led to the retreat weren't shown, even though the end result was
the same as the movie's? Is this your latest approach in the anti-
movie crusade?

On War 6:18 (p522-536 in my Everyman edition) discusses river
crossings in some detail.


--
Cheers, ymt.

TT Arvind

unread,
May 26, 2005, 1:04:15 PM5/26/05
to
Wes ğu Yuk Tang hal!

>
> So the book Faramir was clearly far more gifted because the tactics
> that led to the retreat weren't shown, even though the end result was
> the same as the movie's? Is this your latest approach in the anti-
> movie crusade?

We know the book Faramir is a good captain because characters who have
had the ability to judge him - including Denethor - say he is. The
books also explain that he lost the battle for the river because the
enemy had built far more barges and floats to cross the river than they
had expected. Neither of these are apparent in the movies (which, by
the way, I liked overall). I certainly got the feeling that part of the
"denoblification" of Faramir effected by PJ was making him less capable
in addition to less wise.

--
Arvind

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 26, 2005, 1:35:05 PM5/26/05
to
TT Arvind <ttar...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:MPG.1d001022d...@news.individual.net:

It was my impression in the film that they were overwhelmed by forces
more willing than expected to endure casualties and continue to
cross. Which isn't that far from the above - if anything, misjudging
enemy logistics, which is quantifiable, is more heinous than
misjudging enemy morale, which isn't.

There were many things which the film got obviously wrong. This
wasn't one of them.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Morgil

unread,
May 26, 2005, 2:21:14 PM5/26/05
to

Is this everything you are able to do these days - twist my words
around to make reasonable arguments to seem like "anti-movie crusade"?

Morgil

Morgil

unread,
May 26, 2005, 2:41:52 PM5/26/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:
> TT Arvind <ttar...@hotmail.com> wrote in
> news:MPG.1d001022d...@news.individual.net:

>>We know the book Faramir is a good captain because characters who


>>have had the ability to judge him - including Denethor - say he
>>is. The books also explain that he lost the battle for the river
>>because the enemy had built far more barges and floats to cross
>>the river than they had expected. Neither of these are apparent
>>in the movies (which, by the way, I liked overall). I certainly
>>got the feeling that part of the "denoblification" of Faramir
>>effected by PJ was making him less capable in addition to less
>>wise.
>
>
> It was my impression in the film that they were overwhelmed by forces
> more willing than expected to endure casualties and continue to
> cross. Which isn't that far from the above - if anything, misjudging
> enemy logistics, which is quantifiable, is more heinous than
> misjudging enemy morale, which isn't.

The book says the enemy paid less then expected from the crossing
because of the rafts, but they still paid heavily. In the movie
they suffered only minimal casualities, and the rafts were in
fact only a meaningless decoration since they also had built
bridges across the ruins and crossed through there as well.

> There were many things which the film got obviously wrong. This
> wasn't one of them.

Amusingly, this seems to be your answer to *any* specified point
of criticsm against the movies. It gets less and less credible
every time.

Morgil

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 26, 2005, 4:06:31 PM5/26/05
to
Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:d7559j$3qe$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
> Yuk Tang wrote:
>> TT Arvind <ttar...@hotmail.com> wrote in
>> news:MPG.1d001022d...@news.individual.net:
>
>>>We know the book Faramir is a good captain because characters who
>>>have had the ability to judge him - including Denethor - say he
>>>is. The books also explain that he lost the battle for the river
>>>because the enemy had built far more barges and floats to cross
>>>the river than they had expected. Neither of these are apparent
>>>in the movies (which, by the way, I liked overall). I certainly
>>>got the feeling that part of the "denoblification" of Faramir
>>>effected by PJ was making him less capable in addition to less
>>>wise.
>>
>> It was my impression in the film that they were overwhelmed by
>> forces more willing than expected to endure casualties and
>> continue to cross. Which isn't that far from the above - if
>> anything, misjudging enemy logistics, which is quantifiable, is
>> more heinous than misjudging enemy morale, which isn't.
>
> The book says the enemy paid less then expected from the crossing
> because of the rafts, but they still paid heavily. In the movie
> they suffered only minimal casualities, and the rafts were in
> fact only a meaningless decoration since they also had built
> bridges across the ruins and crossed through there as well.

So movie Faramir was different from book Faramir. Everyone knows that.
How was the tactic that movie Faramir used, that of allowing a section
of the enemy army across before attacking them, intrinsically bad? I
repeat the question, was it a bad tactic, or a bad execution of a good
tactic? Or even a good execution of a good tactic, rendered inadequate
by the enemy forces?

A Publius Claudius Pulcher was once blockading an enemy fleet when he
received news that enemy reinforcements were arriving. He decided that
he needed to force the issue, and took omens. The sacred chickens
refused to eat, upon which he threw them into the sea, remarking,
"Well, let them drink." His ships were stretched out and pinned
against the shore, and most of the fleet was lost. Was it a bad
decision to fight early, or was it a good decision rendered inadequate
by bad execution?

A Gaius Flaminius was following the superior Carthaginian army,
refusing to be drawn into a fight, but never allowing the enemy to rest
and driving them into an eventual junction with his fellow consul
Gnaeus Servilius. Hannibal found an ideal place and conditions for an
ambush beside the Trasimene lake, and having prevented adequate Roman
reconnaisance with his cavalry, caught Flaminius in the fog.
Flaminius's army was annihilated, and detachments from Servilius were
also destroyed as they tried to link up with the other army. Were
Flaminius's tactics bad, or were they good but badly executed, or were
they good and well executed, but rendered inadequate by enemy forces?

There aren't many examples in recorded history of minor forces holding
river crossings against overwhelmingly superior numbers (Clausewitz
notes that one's ambitions must be limited in those circumstances), but
Hannibal allowed some of the Romans to cross the Trebia before hitting
them. IIRC Caesar described the crossings of the Medway, Thames and
other rivers in his Commentaries, and Arrian also gives a fairly
detailed account of Alexander's crossing of the Hydaspes. These
examples all have a numerically superior force defending the crossing,
but they also have a common thread of extremely light patrols, if that,
watching the river while the bulk of the defence was held in reserve
waiting for the enemy to commit itself.

Criticisms of Faramir's tactics in the film are coloured by the modern
era of conscription warfare, in which the line can be strongly held in
all places, and mechanised weapons allow a few defenders to hold off an
attack for long enough to allow reinforcements to be rushed in from
another sector. One can criticise PJFaramir's tactics for not being
the same as JRRTFaramir's, but the original incredulity at allowing the
enemy to cross is misplaced.


>> There were many things which the film got obviously wrong. This
>> wasn't one of them.
>
> Amusingly, this seems to be your answer to *any* specified point
> of criticsm against the movies. It gets less and less credible
> every time.

I posted my thoughts on the portrayals of the characters soon after
seeing RotK, in which I described things I found unconvincing. I've
also done so on other aspects of the films in other posts. Ie. I've
listed things which I thought the films did wrong, and discussed (in
give and take fashion) them with others. How is this incredible?


--
Cheers, ymt.

Morgil

unread,
May 26, 2005, 5:43:14 PM5/26/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:
> Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
> news:d7559j$3qe$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
>
>>Yuk Tang wrote:

>>>It was my impression in the film that they were overwhelmed by
>>>forces more willing than expected to endure casualties and
>>>continue to cross. Which isn't that far from the above - if
>>>anything, misjudging enemy logistics, which is quantifiable, is
>>>more heinous than misjudging enemy morale, which isn't.
>>
>>The book says the enemy paid less then expected from the crossing
>>because of the rafts, but they still paid heavily. In the movie
>>they suffered only minimal casualities, and the rafts were in
>>fact only a meaningless decoration since they also had built
>>bridges across the ruins and crossed through there as well.
>
>
> So movie Faramir was different from book Faramir. Everyone knows that.

Really? So it wasn't just my "anti-movie crusade" to claim that?

> How was the tactic that movie Faramir used, that of allowing a section
> of the enemy army across before attacking them, intrinsically bad? I
> repeat the question, was it a bad tactic, or a bad execution of a good
> tactic? Or even a good execution of a good tactic, rendered inadequate
> by the enemy forces?

IMO it was not a good tactic. It definetely was a bad execution
of the tactic, because too many humans and not enough orcs died.
The enemy forces acted as they would be expected to have, they
landed in numbers and rushed ahead attacking everyone they saw.
Good tactician would have been prepared for this.

> A Publius Claudius Pulcher was once blockading an enemy fleet when he
> received news that enemy reinforcements were arriving. He decided that
> he needed to force the issue, and took omens. The sacred chickens
> refused to eat, upon which he threw them into the sea, remarking,
> "Well, let them drink." His ships were stretched out and pinned
> against the shore, and most of the fleet was lost. Was it a bad
> decision to fight early, or was it a good decision rendered inadequate
> by bad execution?

It was bad tactics from him not to make sure the chickens were
hungry enough when he took the omens.

> Criticisms of Faramir's tactics in the film are coloured by the modern
> era of conscription warfare, in which the line can be strongly held in
> all places, and mechanised weapons allow a few defenders to hold off an
> attack for long enough to allow reinforcements to be rushed in from
> another sector.

Criticism is based only on what we are shown on the screen and
not coloured by anything. Faramir could gladly have used whatever
tactic he wanted, as long as it would have resulted into some
serious orc-ass kicking, instead of orcs kicking his ass.

One can criticise PJFaramir's tactics for not being
> the same as JRRTFaramir's, but the original incredulity at allowing the
> enemy to cross is misplaced.

Concentrate the archers around the landing spot, rain the
landing troops with arrows, then hit the remains and retreat
quickly would have worked 10 times better. Allowing the
enemy to land freely and then advance into your lines was
clearly the wrong way to go.

Morgil

Derek Broughton

unread,
May 26, 2005, 8:45:17 PM5/26/05
to
Morgil wrote:

> Derek Broughton wrote:
>>
>> I don't think you can know whether he let "too many" across or not.
>
> They were clearly far too many for him to handle.
> So if he "let" them across, he let in too many.

But you can't tell that it was a bad tactic, because...



> Faramir
>> isn't concerned about retreating - they're at the end of the line.
>
> How do you figure that? He most definetely should have been.
> The city defences were seriously undermanned, and there were
> even fewer able leaders at hand. The more people he could
> have brought back the better.

Not necessarily. We have no way of telling if he got more value out of
killing what orcs he could at Osgiliath than he would have got from saving
more of his men. Clearly in the books, his prime concern was to eliminate
as many of the enemy as possible, at _any_ cost, before they got to Minas
Tirith.


>
> It has been the point all along that more orcs could have been
> taken out with less casualities if he had used better tactics.

Ah, well in that case it's purely a matter of opinion, and I don't think
you're right.

> In the movie it does not look like he gets hardly any more orcs
> killed then the losses on his own side.

Well, it wouldn't. It would make for a damn poor movie (I know, you think
it was one) if they simply showed the good guys endlessly killing the bad
guys. So they showed us the essence of what was in the book - Faramir lost
almost all of his men.
--
derek

Graham Lockwood

unread,
May 26, 2005, 9:45:52 PM5/26/05
to
On Thu, 26 May 2005 16:43:14 -0500, Morgil wrote
> Yuk Tang wrote:
{snip}

> One can criticise PJFaramir's tactics for not being
>> the same as JRRTFaramir's, but the original incredulity at allowing the
>> enemy to cross is misplaced.
>
> Concentrate the archers around the landing spot, rain the
> landing troops with arrows, then hit the remains and retreat
> quickly would have worked 10 times better. Allowing the
> enemy to land freely and then advance into your lines was
> clearly the wrong way to go.

MovieFaramir didn't use any archers that I recall (it's been a while). He
also didn't seem to actually do any defending. He had no defensive line at
all. Read "The Disaster of the Gladden Field" in UT to get a good
descriptions of Numenoreans inflicting devastating casualties on a FAR
numerically superior force on (more or less) open ground. And they did it by
sticking together and holding a line. What MovieFaramir did was split up,
hide, wait until his ranks were completely inundated by Orcs, and then attack
one-on-one. Whether that was a "poorly executed good tactic" or a "poorly
executed bad tactic" or a "well executed bad tactic" or whatever is a matter
of semantics IMO. It was a bad idea.

---
Graham

Odysseus

unread,
May 27, 2005, 3:07:30 AM5/27/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:
>
<snip>

>
> There aren't many examples in recorded history of minor forces holding
> river crossings against overwhelmingly superior numbers (Clausewitz
> notes that one's ambitions must be limited in those circumstances), but
> Hannibal allowed some of the Romans to cross the Trebia before hitting
> them. IIRC Caesar described the crossings of the Medway, Thames and
> other rivers in his Commentaries, and Arrian also gives a fairly
> detailed account of Alexander's crossing of the Hydaspes. These
> examples all have a numerically superior force defending the crossing,
> but they also have a common thread of extremely light patrols, if that,
> watching the river while the bulk of the defence was held in reserve
> waiting for the enemy to commit itself.
>

Robert Bruce's defeat of Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314 is a
notable example of an inferior force winning a river defence. The
English outnumbered the Scots by nearly three to one (25,000 to
9,000) and included substantial forces of armoured knights and of
archers, neither of which the Scots had in significant quantity.
Although the stream, before Stirling Castle, was small (nothing like
the lower Anduin!) it was surrounded by bogs and pools. On the second
day of the battle Bruce allowed the English heavy cavalry to gain the
firm ground on his side of the burn; his _schiltrons_ (pike
formations) were able to withstand the initial charge, which had
little concentration or momentum because of the difficulty of the
approach. They then counterattacked, driving the disorganized knights
back into the mass of infantry still negotiating the ford and narrow
gaps in the marsh, while the Scottish cavalry attacked the English
archers who threatened their flank. With no manoeuvring room between
the ranks of pikes and the boggy ground behind them, the large size
of the English force actually became a disadvantage, and their
confusion soon turned to panic and a complete rout.

--
Odysseus

Morgil

unread,
May 27, 2005, 5:58:27 AM5/27/05
to
Graham Lockwood wrote:

> MovieFaramir didn't use any archers that I recall (it's been a while). He
> also didn't seem to actually do any defending. He had no defensive line at
> all. Read "The Disaster of the Gladden Field" in UT to get a good
> descriptions of Numenoreans inflicting devastating casualties on a FAR
> numerically superior force on (more or less) open ground. And they did it by
> sticking together and holding a line. What MovieFaramir did was split up,
> hide, wait until his ranks were completely inundated by Orcs, and then attack
> one-on-one. Whether that was a "poorly executed good tactic" or a "poorly
> executed bad tactic" or a "well executed bad tactic" or whatever is a matter
> of semantics IMO. It was a bad idea.

Precisely. :-)

Morgil

Morgil

unread,
May 27, 2005, 6:38:02 AM5/27/05
to
Derek Broughton wrote:
> Morgil wrote:
>
>
>>Derek Broughton wrote:

>> Faramir
>>
>>>isn't concerned about retreating - they're at the end of the line.
>>
>>How do you figure that? He most definetely should have been.
>>The city defences were seriously undermanned, and there were
>>even fewer able leaders at hand. The more people he could
>>have brought back the better.
>
>
> Not necessarily. We have no way of telling if he got more value out of
> killing what orcs he could at Osgiliath than he would have got from saving
> more of his men. Clearly in the books, his prime concern was to eliminate
> as many of the enemy as possible, at _any_ cost, before they got to Minas
> Tirith.

Clearly in the books it was *not* so:
"he can afford to lose a host better than we to lose a company".
In the movies situation was even worse since Denethor apparently
had completely neglected to prepare for the attack.
"Where are Gondor's armies?", "foreseen and done nothing".

>>It has been the point all along that more orcs could have been
>>taken out with less casualities if he had used better tactics.
>
>
> Ah, well in that case it's purely a matter of opinion, and I don't think
> you're right.

They did a poor job. That is not a matter of opinion - it is
what we are shown in the screen.

>>In the movie it does not look like he gets hardly any more orcs
>>killed then the losses on his own side.
>
>
> Well, it wouldn't. It would make for a damn poor movie (I know, you think
> it was one) if they simply showed the good guys endlessly killing the bad
> guys.

It was even worse to have bad guys endlessly killing the good guys.

So they showed us the essence of what was in the book - Faramir lost
> almost all of his men.

Incorrect. In the book Faramir lost one third of his men, and
the enemy paid dear for the crossing. Not so in the movie.

Morgil

TT Arvind

unread,
May 27, 2005, 6:45:17 AM5/27/05
to
Wes ğu Derek Broughton hal!

> Well, it wouldn't. It would make for a damn poor movie (I know, you think
> it was one) if they simply showed the good guys endlessly killing the bad
> guys. So they showed us the essence of what was in the book - Faramir lost
> almost all of his men.

Faramir lost a third of his men in the book. That's not "almost all" by
any measure.

--
Arvind

Synonym: a word you use when you can't spell the other one.

Derek Broughton

unread,
May 27, 2005, 8:28:36 AM5/27/05
to
TT Arvind wrote:

> Wes šu Derek Broughton hal!


>> Well, it wouldn't. It would make for a damn poor movie (I know, you
>> think it was one) if they simply showed the good guys endlessly killing
>> the bad
>> guys. So they showed us the essence of what was in the book - Faramir
>> lost almost all of his men.
>
> Faramir lost a third of his men in the book. That's not "almost all" by
> any measure.

Ah, memory. I didn't have the books at hand, but my recollection was that
he returned with about as many men as in the movie (though I do recall that
he describes deploying other survivors elsewhere).

> Synonym: a word you use when you can't spell the other one.

LOL
--
derek

Larry Swain

unread,
May 27, 2005, 11:32:31 AM5/27/05
to

The Battle of Maldon, a poem in Old English, that was an influence on
Tolkien in many ways. Certainly B allowed the enemy Norse to cross
over, in this case a small channel rather than just a river, before
engaging in battle.

Raven

unread,
May 27, 2005, 4:25:39 PM5/27/05
to
"Larry Swain" <thes...@operamail.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:IumdnbIR3-A...@rcn.net...

This is well known to any regular on the Tolkien NGs. My point was
another. I was being facetious.

Craban.


the softrat

unread,
May 27, 2005, 6:21:00 PM5/27/05
to
God, how I love to read these arm-chair generals! Related to Gilbert's
'Major-general', aren't we? Or the Duke of Plaza-Toro? Of course you
guys all have much more experience than PeeJay. And JRRT knew
*nothing*!

Carry On!

Carry Forth!

Excelsior!


the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--

"Aim towards the enemy." - Instruction printed on U.S. Army
rocket launcher

TT Arvind

unread,
May 27, 2005, 6:37:30 PM5/27/05
to
Wes ğu Raven hal!

> > >>>One of the things I thought odd in the move version of Faramir's battle
> > >>>at the river was that Faramir LET THE ORCS CROSS THE RIVER
> > >>>before fighting them. What's the point of trying to hold a river
> > >>>crossing if you let the enemy cross before fighting?
>
> > >>Ask Byrhtnoth. Tolkien knew him well.
>
> > > What has Tolkien to do with this?
>
> > The Battle of Maldon, a poem in Old English, that was an influence on
> > Tolkien in many ways. Certainly B allowed the enemy Norse to cross
> > over, in this case a small channel rather than just a river, before
> > engaging in battle.
>
> This is well known to any regular on the Tolkien NGs. My point was
> another. I was being facetious.

*I* thought you were engaging in a bit of irony about what the movies
have to do with Tolkien, O feathered one.

--
Arvind

How many hardware engineers does it take to change a light bulb? None:
"We'll fix it in software."

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
May 27, 2005, 6:39:37 PM5/27/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
> Raven wrote:
>> "the softrat" <sof...@pobox.com> skrev:

>>> Graham Lockwood <g-...@yeehawgropes.com> wrote:
>>
>>>> One of the things I thought odd in the move version of Faramir's
>>>> battle at the river was that Faramir LET THE ORCS CROSS THE
>>>> RIVER before fighting them. What's the point of trying to hold a
>>>> river crossing if you let the enemy cross before fighting?
>>
>>> Ask Byrhtnoth. Tolkien knew him well.
>>
>> What has Tolkien to do with this?
>
> The Battle of Maldon, a poem in Old English, that was an influence on
> Tolkien in many ways. Certainly B allowed the enemy Norse to cross
> over, in this case a small channel rather than just a river, before
> engaging in battle.

I think he meant: "What has the movie to do with Tolkien"?

Raven

unread,
May 27, 2005, 7:39:45 PM5/27/05
to
"TT Arvind" <ttar...@hotmail.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:MPG.1d01b188...@news.individual.net...

> *I* thought you were engaging in a bit of irony about what the movies
> have to do with Tolkien, O feathered one.

Good.

> How many hardware engineers does it take to change a light bulb? None:
> "We'll fix it in software."

How many religious fanatics does it take to change a light bulb?
One. He holds it still. Then God obediently turns the Universe around
him.

Hraban.


Jette Goldie

unread,
May 27, 2005, 8:15:43 PM5/27/05
to

"Yuk Tang" <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote

> A Publius Claudius Pulcher was once blockading an enemy fleet when
he
> received news that enemy reinforcements were arriving. He decided
that
> he needed to force the issue, and took omens. The sacred chickens
> refused to eat, upon which he threw them into the sea, remarking,
> "Well, let them drink." His ships were stretched out and pinned
> against the shore, and most of the fleet was lost. Was it a bad
> decision to fight early, or was it a good decision rendered
inadequate
> by bad execution?


There were those who said it was divine punishment for
his impiety!

:-)


--
Jette
je...@blueyonder.co.uk

"Organised religion is a disease and the most dangerous symptom is
that
those suffering from it believe that infecting others is a Good Thing"


Yuk Tang

unread,
May 28, 2005, 2:27:05 AM5/28/05
to
"Jette Goldie" <j...@blueyonder.com.uk> wrote in news:PKOle.41161
$G8.2...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:

> "Yuk Tang" <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote
>> A Publius Claudius Pulcher was once blockading an enemy fleet when
>> he
>> received news that enemy reinforcements were arriving. He decided
>> that
>> he needed to force the issue, and took omens. The sacred chickens
>> refused to eat, upon which he threw them into the sea, remarking,
>> "Well, let them drink." His ships were stretched out and pinned
>> against the shore, and most of the fleet was lost. Was it a bad
>> decision to fight early, or was it a good decision rendered
>> inadequate
>> by bad execution?
>
> There were those who said it was divine punishment for
> his impiety!

It's one of the more amusing stories from the early-mid republic. In
an early version of Nelson, the Gaius Flaminius whom I'd mentioned
earlier refused to read instructions ordering him to return and
instead fought a Gallic army and won. According to ancient sources
(which were strongly biased against him), his deployment was
tremendously risky, backing his legions against a river and forgoing
the customary Roman freedom of manouevre. Was this a good execution
of a bad tactic? Did the fact that he won mean that the tactic was
good?

In another battle from slightly later on, Hasdrubal Barca fought
against the Scipio brothers in Spain, using the same tactics his
brother Hannibal deployed at Cannae. His Spanish centre crumpled
before his African wings could complete their manouevre, and his
valuable African troops lost heavily. Was it a bad tactic to hold a
weak centre and outflank with strong wings?

Those who snipe at PJFaramir's defence of Osgiliath should read some
accounts of river defences, plus Sunzi or Clausewitz's thoughts on
the matter. Clausewitz is better, since he writes more material on
the subject. If JRRTFaramir lost fewer troops in exchange for
heavier enemy losses, does that mean that PJFaramir was a buffoon, or
does it mean that JRRTFaramir was unrealistic? Or could it mean
both?


--
Cheers, ymt.

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 28, 2005, 2:40:45 AM5/28/05
to
the softrat <sof...@pobox.com> wrote in
news:ng4f91l0a6o29drg3...@4ax.com:
>
> God, how I love to read these arm-chair generals! Related to
> Gilbert's 'Major-general', aren't we? Or the Duke of Plaza-Toro?
> Of course you guys all have much more experience than PeeJay. And
> JRRT knew *nothing*!

One suspects that Clausewitz, veteran of several campaigns against
Napoleon, knew somewhat more about those situations than either. If
the ancients fought the way that they did, there must have been a
ruddy good reason for it. If they did not care to strictly defend
the bank of a river, there must have been a ruddy good reason for it.
Could it be that defending a little way back was considered more
advantageous? See the Flaminian story for a possible explanation of
why (can't remember source, may have been Polybius or Livy). And did
the fact that Faramir's troops were routed mean that his tactics were
at fault? What's that dictum, that plans do not survive contact with
the enemy?

Saying that movie Faramir was different from text Faramir is one
thing, saying that movie Faramir's tactics were bad is another. The
former is obvious and incontestable. The latter is arguable.
AFAICS, his tactics were fairly competent, but he was just
overwhelmed by a considerably stronger enemy. The movie mission
should never have been attempted in the first place, and once in
place, there were no good tactics possible beyond what was shown.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Morgil

unread,
May 28, 2005, 5:51:33 AM5/28/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:

> Those who snipe at PJFaramir's defence of Osgiliath should read some
> accounts of river defences, plus Sunzi or Clausewitz's thoughts on
> the matter. Clausewitz is better, since he writes more material on
> the subject.

As someone pointed out in this thread - it's only a movie,
not a documentary. Only things that matter are what PJ
intended to tell with it, and how it came out.

If JRRTFaramir lost fewer troops in exchange for
> heavier enemy losses, does that mean that PJFaramir was a buffoon, or
> does it mean that JRRTFaramir was unrealistic? Or could it mean
> both?

In the bottom line the difference between thee book and
movie was that in the book the defenders of Gondor had
an actual *strategy* to inflict heavy damages to the
attacker by striking at them when they were most
vunerable, and they deployed considerable forces for
that purpose. In the movie it was just a small band
of guys who put up a bit of fight for no actual reason.

Morgil

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 28, 2005, 6:52:05 AM5/28/05
to
Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:d79ev9$nc6$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
> Yuk Tang wrote:
>
>> Those who snipe at PJFaramir's defence of Osgiliath should read
>> some accounts of river defences, plus Sunzi or Clausewitz's
>> thoughts on the matter. Clausewitz is better, since he writes
>> more material on the subject.
>
> As someone pointed out in this thread - it's only a movie,
> not a documentary. Only things that matter are what PJ
> intended to tell with it, and how it came out.

And as I said, I'm not going to argue if you want to point out that
PJFaramir was different from JRRTFaramir. However, I will dispute
the argument that PJFaramir's tactic of allowing a portion of the
enemy to cross before attacking is obviously wrong, considering that
all the ancients fought that way.

Semi-modern theory, especially following the example of Overlord, is
to defend the line and not give an inch. However, weapons were
different in pre-conscription days, and so were tactics. If the
ancients fought that way, they must have had a reason for it. Gaius
Flaminius was criticised for leaving his army in a position somewhat
akin to having made a river crossing, despite winning the battle.
Hannibal famously destroyed a Roman army at the Trebia having allowed
them, or at least a portion, to cross the river. There are numerous
other examples of the defender not defending the banks, but standing
a little further back.

It's strange that people should take issue with something which was
considered sound tactics, but not talk about the tidal wave cavalry
tactics that were shown. That, to me, was far more anachronistic and
ridiculous. Even if the riders were willing, horses just do not
crash into a solid line as shown in the movies. Squares and phalanx
type formations were devised specifically to exploit this
characteristic. The British may have held on to such romantic ideas
even into the C20, but everyone else had abandoned them as
impractical and stupid.


> If JRRTFaramir lost fewer troops in exchange for
>> heavier enemy losses, does that mean that PJFaramir was a
>> buffoon, or does it mean that JRRTFaramir was unrealistic? Or
>> could it mean both?
>
> In the bottom line the difference between thee book and
> movie was that in the book the defenders of Gondor had
> an actual *strategy* to inflict heavy damages to the
> attacker by striking at them when they were most
> vunerable, and they deployed considerable forces for
> that purpose. In the movie it was just a small band
> of guys who put up a bit of fight for no actual reason.

See above.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 28, 2005, 6:52:33 AM5/28/05
to
Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:d79fv5$o9f$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
> Yuk Tang wrote:
>
>> Saying that movie Faramir was different from text Faramir is one
>> thing, saying that movie Faramir's tactics were bad is another.
>> The former is obvious and incontestable. The latter is arguable.
>> AFAICS, his tactics were fairly competent, but he was just
>> overwhelmed by a considerably stronger enemy. The movie mission
>> should never have been attempted in the first place, and once in
>> place, there were no good tactics possible beyond what was shown.
>
> So to you not using the archers, and fighting individually
> instead as a team is the best possible tactics? Fair enough.

Can't remember whether there were archers or not, but not forming a
line is pretty understandable when there aren't many on one's side.
A single formation only gives the enemy something to aim at.
Attacking from many directions at least gives them something to think
about, and perhaps spook them into thinking that they're being
attacked by a much larger force.

So it didn't work. That's war. If one wants certain victory, one
should have made preparations for it. If one is fighting with
spectacularly inferior forces, victory is only possible if one is a
genius, _and_ if the enemy makes some spectacular errors. Otherwsie
one should limit one's ambitions, and not be surprised if disaster
happens.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Morgil

unread,
May 28, 2005, 8:06:35 AM5/28/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:
> Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
> news:d79fv5$o9f$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
>
>>Yuk Tang wrote:
>>
>>
>>>Saying that movie Faramir was different from text Faramir is one
>>>thing, saying that movie Faramir's tactics were bad is another.
>>>The former is obvious and incontestable. The latter is arguable.
>>> AFAICS, his tactics were fairly competent, but he was just
>>>overwhelmed by a considerably stronger enemy. The movie mission
>>>should never have been attempted in the first place, and once in
>>>place, there were no good tactics possible beyond what was shown.
>>
>>So to you not using the archers, and fighting individually
>>instead as a team is the best possible tactics? Fair enough.
>
>
> Can't remember whether there were archers or not, but not forming a
> line is pretty understandable when there aren't many on one's side.

You have already been given an example where Numenoreans
(remember those guys who were the ancestors of Faramir)
formed a defence line against superior enemy forces with
far more effective results then fighting individually.
The entire early history of warfare is about smaller but
well organised and trained troops using line formations
to defeat larger, but disorganised enemy forces. It is
surprising that you never came across that little fact
with your extensive military history studies.

Morgil

Yuk Tang

unread,
May 28, 2005, 9:02:53 AM5/28/05
to
Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:d79msf$u14$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
> Yuk Tang wrote:
>> Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> wrote in
>> news:d79fv5$o9f$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi:
>>>Yuk Tang wrote:
>>>
>>>>Saying that movie Faramir was different from text Faramir is one
>>>>thing, saying that movie Faramir's tactics were bad is another.
>>>>The former is obvious and incontestable. The latter is
>>>>arguable.
>>>> AFAICS, his tactics were fairly competent, but he was just
>>>>overwhelmed by a considerably stronger enemy. The movie mission
>>>>should never have been attempted in the first place, and once in
>>>>place, there were no good tactics possible beyond what was
>>>>shown.
>>>
>>>So to you not using the archers, and fighting individually
>>>instead as a team is the best possible tactics? Fair enough.
>>
>> Can't remember whether there were archers or not, but not forming
>> a line is pretty understandable when there aren't many on one's
>> side.
>
> You have already been given an example where Numenoreans
> (remember those guys who were the ancestors of Faramir)
> formed a defence line against superior enemy forces with
> far more effective results then fighting individually.

And these are Last Alliance Numenoreans?


> The entire early history of warfare is about smaller but
> well organised and trained troops using line formations
> to defeat larger, but disorganised enemy forces. It is
> surprising that you never came across that little fact
> with your extensive military history studies.

Actually, most of the early history of warfare is about smaller but
well organisied and trained armies getting massacred by larger, well
organised and trained armies. That's why people generally prefer
outnumbering the opposition.

If the objective is to kill as many of the enemy as possible, then a
formed line might indeed be the best tactic, even though it
virtually guarantees one's eventual annihilation (it's harder to
escape notice). If the objective is to drive the enemy back, a
scattered, but coordinated attack may have a better chance of
scaring them into running. The chance of success and survival is
virtually nil in the first instance, and just slightly higher than
nil in the second.

In any case, what I saw of the battle was that PJFaramir got some of
his men to hide until some of the enemy had got past them, and then
those in hiding attacked the enemy who were near, while those who'd
got themselves into the pocket were mopped up by a few held back for
that purpose. Pretty decent tactics, used throughout history. It
all went wrong thereafter, but that's war.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Taemon

unread,
May 28, 2005, 3:38:00 PM5/28/05
to
Raven wrote:

> "TT Arvind" <ttar...@hotmail.com> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:MPG.1d01b188...@news.individual.net...

>> How many hardware engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
>> None: "We'll fix it in software."
> How many religious fanatics does it take to change a light bulb?
> One. He holds it still. Then God obediently turns the Universe
> around him.

How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They just declare "Darkness tm" the new standard.

T.


Yuk Tang

unread,
May 28, 2005, 4:23:19 PM5/28/05