CotW LotR Bk 5 Ch 9 'The Last Debate'

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Speaking Clock

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Jan 31, 2005, 1:06:30 PM1/31/05
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As we have begun, so we must go on.

Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
Book 5, Chapter 9: The Last Debate

To read previous Chapter of the Week discussions, or to sign up for a future
chapter, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org

*****************************************************************

CHAPTER SUMMARY

The events in this pivotal chapter occur during the morning of 16th March.
After the rush and stress of battle and its aftermath, we are treated to a
brief interlude of calm and consolidation. After a wait of nearly one
hundred pages (UK 2nd edition) we finally discover what happened on
Aragorn's journey between Erech and the Pelennor; and the strategy for the
final stage in the war against Sauron is decided upon.

Legolas and Gimli enter Minas Tirith for a reunion with Merry and Pippin.
They observe that the appearance of the city could be improved and both
express a desire to assist Aragorn with this task "if he comes into his own"
after the war. They reflect upon the fading glory of the men of Gondor and
while Gimli speaks of how Men often fail of their early promise, Legolas
foretells that the deeds of Men will outlast both Elves and Dwarves.

A joyful reunion with Merry and Pippin takes place in the Houses of Healing
and the four friends sit in the sun on the city walls looking out over the
river. Pippin asks for an account of the "strange journey with Strider".
Gimli is unwilling to recall its horrors, so Legolas starts the tale. He
describes the arduous 93 league (279 miles/446 km) ride from Erech to
Pelargir. Aragorn and the Grey Company left Erech on 9th March accompanied
by the Shadow Host. It was at Linhir on 11th that Legolas first heard the
seagulls that Galadriel warned him against. As Legolas's mood darkens at
this memory, Gimli takes up the tale and describes the capture of the enemy
fleet at Pelargir on 13th March and Aragorn's releasing of the Dead from
their oath. Legolas remarks on how great and terrible Aragorn could have
been had he taken the Ring. Then follows an account of the 42 league (126
miles/202 km) voyage up the river in the captured ships to arrive at the
Harlond and thence the Pelennor Fields on 15th.

While this meeting of friends is taking place, Aragorn, Gandalf, Éomer,
Imrahil and the sons of Elrond are holding a council of war. Gandalf points
out that victory by arms is impossible. However, "into the midst of all
these policies comes the Ring of Power, the foundation of Barad-dûr, and the
hope of Sauron." Frodo is their last hope. A diversion is needed to give
Frodo his only chance of reaching Mount Doom. The Enemy's forces must be
called out of Mordor. Aragorn urges the other leaders to accept Gandalf's
advice and the unanimous decision is taken to send a force of seven thousand
troops to the Black Gate, departing on 18th. The hope is that Sauron will
try to "trap the fly and take the sting" while Frodo makes his way,
unnoticed, to Mount Doom.

COMMENTS

I have always loved 'The Last Debate'. As a child when I first read LotR
and found some parts of the plot quite hard to follow, this chapter made
everything clear again. At last I understood how Aragorn came to be in
those black-sailed ships. Gandalf's plan was devastatingly simple but the
risk was terrible and I could hardly breathe from excitement. How many of
us wish we could experience that first, thrilling reading again?

Nowadays, I am struck by Tolkien's beautiful use of balance and contrast in
this chapter. A few examples:

* The first half of the chapter looks back, the second looks to the future.

* Gimli views the city as an engineer, Legolas as a lover of nature and
beauty. In fact, they are like yin and yang whenever they speak.

* The relaxed meeting of friends (where Legolas even has a chance to deliver
a little poetry) is in dramatic contrast to the terse style of the council
of war with its short, stabbing sentences.

* The sun is shining and the view across the river is beautiful but the
memories of the Paths of the Dead are dark.

* "Hope and despair are akin."

With something of the same idea in mind, Ursula le Guin writes in 'Rhythmic
Pattern in The Lord of the Rings':

"The rhythm that shapes and directs [Tolkien's] narrative is noticeable
[...] because it is very strong and very simple, as simple as a rhythm can
be: two beats. Stress, release. Inbreath, outbreath. A heartbeat. A
walking gait. But on so vast a scale, so capable of endlessly complex and
subtle variation, that it carries the whole enormous narrative straight
through from beginning to end, from There to Back Again, without faltering.
The fact is, we *walk* from the Shire to the Mountain of Doom with Frodo and
Sam. One, two, left, right, on foot, all the way. And back."

This sense of two beats, of balance, of contrast, is stronger in 'The Last
Debate' than in any other chapter and for me this is what makes it
particularly remarkable.

QUESTIONS and POINTS FOR CONSIDERATION

1. Could horses really cope with 93 leagues in four days?

2. Some of the horses had been with the Dúnedain since the journey from the
far North, and passed through the Paths of the Dead only because of the love
they bore for their riders. And yet they don't appear to have been brought
on board ship at Pelargir. What happened to them? Could the horses and the
riders they were devoted to ever be reunited?

3. Although Aragorn states, "I do not yet claim to command any man" (let
alone any elf or dwarf) Legolas and Gimli "begged leave" to go up into the
City. I am not sure whether this is a mark of the respect they bear for
him, or whether they have become subject to military discipline now that the
war is in full swing.

4. "How great and terrible a lord Aragorn might have become if he had taken
the Ring to himself." Would not the same have been true of Isildur? Is
there any evidence that the Ring *chose* to betray him? What possible reason
could it have had for doing so, when it was apparently content to remain
with Gollum for so long?

5. The use of a diversion as a tactic as old as the hills. In recent
times, we have witnessed the deception used in the first Gulf War when it
appeared the invasion of Iraq would come from the sea instead of across the
Kuwaiti border. What more ancient military diversions might Tolkien have
been drawing his inspiration from?

6. Legolas's observation that Imrahil has elven blood in his veins is one
of those tantalising glimpses into the pre-history of LotR. As far as I can
tell, Tolkien never fully resolved the matter of when and why Elves ended up
living in the Bay of Belfalas. Is there a definitive explanation?

REFERENCES

'The Return of the King' Second Edition (UK) 1970
'Rhythmic Pattern in The Lord of the Rings' by Ursula K Le Guin, in
'Meditations on Middle-Earth (2002) by Karen Haber (ed)

--
Speaking Clock


Glenn Holliday

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Jan 31, 2005, 9:53:47 PM1/31/05
to
Speaking Clock wrote:
>
> As we have begun, so we must go on.
>
> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 5, Chapter 9: The Last Debate

Thanks for the essay.

> 3. Although Aragorn states, "I do not yet claim to command any man" (let
> alone any elf or dwarf) Legolas and Gimli "begged leave" to go up into the
> City. I am not sure whether this is a mark of the respect they bear for
> him, or whether they have become subject to military discipline now that the
> war is in full swing.

At this point Aragorn has begun behaving as the king, even if he
hasn't yet pressed the claim. "Begging leave" is something you do
of your lord. I think Legolas and Gimli here are choosing to
treat Aragorn as not just their military commander, but the
king and their lord. They might also be setting an example
because Aragorn refuses to go into the city and be acclaimed as king yet

> 4. "How great and terrible a lord Aragorn might have become if he had taken
> the Ring to himself." Would not the same have been true of Isildur? Is
> there any evidence that the Ring *chose* to betray him? What possible reason
> could it have had for doing so, when it was apparently content to remain
> with Gollum for so long?

The Ring may not have been content to remain with Gollum. Bilbo
may have been its first opportunity to leave Gollum.

Isildur is more interesting. Obviously, the Ring influenced him,
but it also seems that he avoided using it until the end. How well
did Isildur understand the danger he placed himself in? Did he
recognize the Ring's pull on him? Did Isuldur know, and perhaps
refuse to admit to himself, that he refused to destroy the Ring
because it was already acting upon him?

--
Glenn Holliday holl...@acm.org

Jim Harker

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Feb 2, 2005, 5:01:32 AM2/2/05
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In Unfinished Tales there is a story on 'The Disaster of the Gladden
Fields'. When Isildur's men are surrounded by the Orcs Isildur's eldests
son, Elendur, asks why he doesn't use the Ring to command the Orcs.
Isildur replies:
"Alas, it is not, senya. I cannot use it. I dread the pain of touching
it. And I have not yet found the strength to bend it to my will. It
needs one greater than I now know myself to be. My pride has fallen. It
should go to the Keepers of the Three."

Jim Harker

Öjevind Lång

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Feb 2, 2005, 6:25:29 AM2/2/05
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"Jim Harker" <jnha...@netspace.net.au> skrev i meddelandet
news:ctq8de$1dr9$1...@otis.netspace.net.au...

[snip]

> In Unfinished Tales there is a story on 'The Disaster of the Gladden
> Fields'. When Isildur's men are surrounded by the Orcs Isildur's eldests
> son, Elendur, asks why he doesn't use the Ring to command the Orcs.
> Isildur replies:
> "Alas, it is not, senya. I cannot use it. I dread the pain of touching it.
> And I have not yet found the strength to bend it to my will. It needs one
> greater than I now know myself to be. My pride has fallen. It should go to
> the Keepers of the Three."

Incidentally, what does "senya" mean?

Öjevind


Derek Broughton

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Feb 2, 2005, 8:58:38 AM2/2/05
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Öjevind Lång wrote:

Shouldn't that have been "it is not Senya"? Wasn't Senya one of the Three
(Nenya, Narya, Senya?)
--
derek

james rich

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Feb 2, 2005, 10:17:55 AM2/2/05
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"Derek Broughton" <ne...@pointerstop.ca> wrote in message
news:et27d2-...@othello.pointerstop.ca...

The Three were Nenya, Narya and Vilya, IIRC.
Barbara
> --
> derek


Öjevind Lång

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Feb 2, 2005, 11:03:55 AM2/2/05
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"Derek Broughton" <ne...@pointerstop.ca> skrev i meddelandet news:et27d2-

[snip]

>> "Alas, it is not, senya. I cannot use it. I dread the pain of touching
>>> it. And I have not yet found the strength to bend it to my will. It
>>> needs
>>> one greater than I now know myself to be. My pride has fallen. It should
>>> go to the Keepers of the Three."
>>
>> Incidentally, what does "senya" mean?
>
> Shouldn't that have been "it is not Senya"? Wasn't Senya one of the Three
> (Nenya, Narya, Senya?)

No, this is clearly something Isildur calls his son.

Öjevind


Tar-Elenion

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Feb 2, 2005, 12:09:56 PM2/2/05
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In article <LR6Md.19719$Of5....@nntpserver.swip.net>,
dnivej...@swipnet.se says...

Senya, 'My child'

--
Tar-Elenion

He is a warrior, and a spirit of wrath. In every
stroke that he deals he sees the Enemy who long
ago did thee this hurt.

Derek Broughton

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Feb 2, 2005, 12:47:05 PM2/2/05
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Öjevind Lång wrote:

Well, I would still have expected a proper noun :-)
--
derek

Michele Fry

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Feb 2, 2005, 2:14:21 PM2/2/05
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In article <et27d2-...@othello.pointerstop.ca>, Derek Broughton
<ne...@pointerstop.ca> writes

>Shouldn't that have been "it is not Senya"? Wasn't Senya one of the Three
>(Nenya, Narya, Senya?)

No, they were called Nenya, Narya and Vilya. As for "Senya", it is
Sindarin for "son", I believe...

Michele
==
"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is
silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation
at a standstill."
- Barbara Tuchman
==
Now reading: The Gambler's Fortune - Juliet E McKenna
Tolkien Studies Journal - various
==
Commit random acts of literacy! Read & Release at Bookcrossing:
http://www.bookcrossing.com/friend/Sass-80

Tar-Elenion

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Feb 2, 2005, 2:41:29 PM2/2/05
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In article <qJgAyIAN...@sassoonery.demon.co.uk>,
mic...@sassoonery.demon.co.uk says...

> In article <et27d2-...@othello.pointerstop.ca>, Derek Broughton
> <ne...@pointerstop.ca> writes
>
> >Shouldn't that have been "it is not Senya"? Wasn't Senya one of the Three
> >(Nenya, Narya, Senya?)
>
> No, they were called Nenya, Narya and Vilya. As for "Senya", it is
> Sindarin for "son", I believe...
>
I think it is Quenya. From RGEO: "Children of God (Erusen)", with a
diacritic mark ('-') over the 'e'. '-nya' is a possessive pronomial
suffix, 'my'. Senya is thus 'my child'.

Öjevind Lång

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Feb 2, 2005, 6:27:42 PM2/2/05
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"Michele Fry" <mic...@sassoonery.demon.co.uk> skrev i meddelandet

[snip]

> No, they were called Nenya, Narya and Vilya. As for "Senya", it is
> Sindarin for "son", I believe...

That makes sense. Thank you!

Öjevind


AC

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Feb 3, 2005, 1:02:02 AM2/3/05
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On Mon, 31 Jan 2005 18:06:30 -0000,
Speaking Clock <speakin...@despammed.com> wrote:

<snip>

>
> 3. Although Aragorn states, "I do not yet claim to command any man" (let
> alone any elf or dwarf) Legolas and Gimli "begged leave" to go up into the
> City. I am not sure whether this is a mark of the respect they bear for
> him, or whether they have become subject to military discipline now that the
> war is in full swing.

I suspect a bit of both. Aragorn had been head of the Fellowship, and they
clearly still see him as holding a role like that. Beyond that he is their
friend, and this will be his city if all goes well.

>
> 4. "How great and terrible a lord Aragorn might have become if he had taken
> the Ring to himself." Would not the same have been true of Isildur? Is
> there any evidence that the Ring *chose* to betray him? What possible reason
> could it have had for doing so, when it was apparently content to remain
> with Gollum for so long?

Well, part of the reason it remained with Gollum so long was that there was
no one that came along until Bilbo that had a hope of yanking it out of the
Misty Mountains.

<snip>

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

AC

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Feb 3, 2005, 1:04:38 AM2/3/05
to
On Mon, 31 Jan 2005 21:53:47 -0500,
Glenn Holliday <holl...@acm.org> wrote:
> Speaking Clock wrote:
>>
>> As we have begun, so we must go on.
>>
>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>> Book 5, Chapter 9: The Last Debate
>
> Thanks for the essay.
>
>> 3. Although Aragorn states, "I do not yet claim to command any man" (let
>> alone any elf or dwarf) Legolas and Gimli "begged leave" to go up into the
>> City. I am not sure whether this is a mark of the respect they bear for
>> him, or whether they have become subject to military discipline now that the
>> war is in full swing.
>
> At this point Aragorn has begun behaving as the king, even if he
> hasn't yet pressed the claim. "Begging leave" is something you do
> of your lord. I think Legolas and Gimli here are choosing to
> treat Aragorn as not just their military commander, but the
> king and their lord. They might also be setting an example
> because Aragorn refuses to go into the city and be acclaimed as king yet

Well, technically he isn't their lord, as they are both subjects of realms
which, in fact, predate the Numenorean kingdoms. However, it is the city
that Aragorn will lead, so it would be disrespectful not to beg his leave.

>
>> 4. "How great and terrible a lord Aragorn might have become if he had taken
>> the Ring to himself." Would not the same have been true of Isildur? Is
>> there any evidence that the Ring *chose* to betray him? What possible reason
>> could it have had for doing so, when it was apparently content to remain
>> with Gollum for so long?
>
> The Ring may not have been content to remain with Gollum. Bilbo
> may have been its first opportunity to leave Gollum.
>
> Isildur is more interesting. Obviously, the Ring influenced him,
> but it also seems that he avoided using it until the end. How well
> did Isildur understand the danger he placed himself in? Did he
> recognize the Ring's pull on him? Did Isuldur know, and perhaps
> refuse to admit to himself, that he refused to destroy the Ring
> because it was already acting upon him?

Well, Isildur did claim the Ring during a period of relative peace in the
aftermath of the defeat of Sauron. Perhaps that timing was critical, as the
temptations to use it in certain ways (dominating the wills of allies and
subjects as well as daunting the wills of enemies) simply wasn't that
strong.

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

AC

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Feb 3, 2005, 1:07:05 AM2/3/05
to

The Three were named Narya (fire), Nenya (water) and Vilya (air).

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

R. Dan Henry

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Feb 3, 2005, 6:54:04 PM2/3/05
to
On Mon, 31 Jan 2005 18:06:30 -0000, "Speaking Clock"
<speakin...@despammed.com> wrote:

>Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>Book 5, Chapter 9: The Last Debate

>Legolas and Gimli enter Minas Tirith for a reunion with Merry and Pippin.


>They observe that the appearance of the city could be improved and both
>express a desire to assist Aragorn with this task "if he comes into his own"
>after the war.

Yes, they're all ready to conform to racial stereotype and put stone
and leaf into place. Aragorn himself has thought of the Dwarves of
Erebor as the only craftsmen of these days who can repair the gate.
And Legolas refers (prematurely, really) to Aragorn as "Lord of the
White Tree".

>They reflect upon the fading glory of the men of Gondor and
>while Gimli speaks of how Men often fail of their early promise, Legolas
>foretells that the deeds of Men will outlast both Elves and Dwarves.

This is an ambiguously gloomy exchange. For all that Legolas sees Men
outlasting Elves and Dwarves, he cannot contradict Gimli's foreboding
that it shall be a long history of unfulfilled potential.

>A joyful reunion with Merry and Pippin takes place in the Houses of Healing
>and the four friends sit in the sun on the city walls looking out over the
>river. Pippin asks for an account of the "strange journey with Strider".
>Gimli is unwilling to recall its horrors, so Legolas starts the tale.

For someone unwilling to discuss the journey, Gimli ends up talking
quite a bit. He leaves the actual Paths of the Dead to Legolas, but he
relates parts where the Dead are in full sight.

>While this meeting of friends is taking place, Aragorn, Gandalf, Éomer,
>Imrahil and the sons of Elrond are holding a council of war. Gandalf points
>out that victory by arms is impossible. However, "into the midst of all
>these policies comes the Ring of Power, the foundation of Barad-dûr, and the
>hope of Sauron." Frodo is their last hope.

I do wonder what this council would have been like if Denethor hadn't
decided to go to his death with a knowledge that smarty-pants Wizard
lacked and had blurted out "Your Ringbearer is a captive of the Enemy.
Your gamble failed, grey fool! It is over!"

>A diversion is needed to give
>Frodo his only chance of reaching Mount Doom. The Enemy's forces must be
>called out of Mordor. Aragorn urges the other leaders to accept Gandalf's
>advice

And Elrond's advice, too, according to his son. Given that everyone
left if looking to Gandalf and Aragorn for leadership, there isn't any
real exploration of alternatives.

>* The first half of the chapter looks back, the second looks to the future.

Even the early exchanges between Gimli and Legolas first look back at
the ancient Numenorean stonework, then suggest future civic
improvements.

>With something of the same idea in mind, Ursula le Guin writes in 'Rhythmic
>Pattern in The Lord of the Rings':
>
>"The rhythm that shapes and directs [Tolkien's] narrative is noticeable
>[...] because it is very strong and very simple, as simple as a rhythm can
>be: two beats. Stress, release. Inbreath, outbreath. A heartbeat. A
>walking gait. But on so vast a scale, so capable of endlessly complex and
>subtle variation, that it carries the whole enormous narrative straight
>through from beginning to end, from There to Back Again, without faltering.
>The fact is, we *walk* from the Shire to the Mountain of Doom with Frodo and
>Sam. One, two, left, right, on foot, all the way. And back."

Not sure how seriously I should take this. It's extremely difficult
*not* to write with a stress, release, stress, release, pattern,
especially when writing of an Adventure. I think this sweeping
statement goes too far. OTOH, Tolkien certainly does use rhythms in
his writing (I've already commented on the rhythms in The Battle of
the Pelennor Fields -- which is a riding, rather than walking, rhythm
IMO) and this does give a sense of the journey.

>QUESTIONS and POINTS FOR CONSIDERATION
>
>1. Could horses really cope with 93 leagues in four days?

These are horses that would dare the Paths of the Dead! Sure they can!

>2. Some of the horses had been with the Dúnedain since the journey from the
>far North, and passed through the Paths of the Dead only because of the love
>they bore for their riders. And yet they don't appear to have been brought
>on board ship at Pelargir. What happened to them? Could the horses and the
>riders they were devoted to ever be reunited?

Why do you say this? Especially when the Dunadain are grouped with the
sons of Elrond and the knights of Dol Amroth as the second cavalry
group (the first being Rohirrim)?

>3. Although Aragorn states, "I do not yet claim to command any man" (let
>alone any elf or dwarf) Legolas and Gimli "begged leave" to go up into the
>City. I am not sure whether this is a mark of the respect they bear for
>him, or whether they have become subject to military discipline now that the
>war is in full swing.

Given that he would not be *their* King even were Arnor and Gondor
under his rule and both extended to their furthest previous borders, I
think this has to be based on their personal relationship. He has led
them since Moria (even when Gandalf returns, he has taken on a new
role) and they formed a special bond in their pursuit of Merry and
Pippin.

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

Speaking Clock

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Feb 4, 2005, 5:52:36 AM2/4/05
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R. Dan Henry wrote:

> Speaking Clock wrote:
>
>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>> Book 5, Chapter 9: The Last Debate

First of all, thank you for your detailed and considered response. :)

>> 2. Some of the horses had been with the Dúnedain since the journey
>> from the far North, and passed through the Paths of the Dead only
>> because of the love they bore for their riders. And yet they don't
>> appear to have been brought on board ship at Pelargir. What
>> happened to them? Could the horses and the riders they were devoted
>> to ever be reunited?
>
> Why do you say this? Especially when the Dunadain are grouped with the
> sons of Elrond and the knights of Dol Amroth as the second cavalry
> group (the first being Rohirrim)?

I have always pictured Aragorn, Halbarad et al as fighting on foot on the
Pelennor. Looking back at The Battle of the Pelennor Fields to find out why
I gained this impression, I read:

"For now men [which includes specific mention of Legolas, Gimli wielding his
axe - difficult to do on a horse - Halbarad, the sons of Elrond and the
rest of the Dúnedain, but not of horses] leaped from the ships to the quays
of the Harlond and swept north like a storm".

Then we find that Éomer is now on foot, because he STRODE south, whereas the
forces of Dol Amroth RODE east. This is relevant because: "And so at length
Éomer and Aragorn met in the midst of the battle, and they leaned on their
swords and looked on one another and were glad." I'm sure Aragorn wouldn't
have leapt off his horse in the middle of battle simply so that he could
lean on his sword (although it's possible, I suppose, that Roheryn had been
killed under his rider). I find it more likely that Éomer and Aragorn were
both on foot and maybe even had a big manly reunion with a bit of
back-slapping. ;)

All of this created the not-wholly-unjustified, imho, impression in my mind
that Aragorn and the Dúnedain were without their horses at the Pelennor.
(And since there were only thirty of them, I'm sure they could have been
easily rehorsed for the march to the Black Gate.)
--
Speaking Clock

R. Dan Henry

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Feb 5, 2005, 1:05:37 AM2/5/05
to
On Fri, 4 Feb 2005 10:52:36 -0000, "Speaking Clock"
<speakin...@despammed.com> wrote:

>R. Dan Henry wrote:
>> Speaking Clock wrote:
>>
>>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>>> Book 5, Chapter 9: The Last Debate
>
>First of all, thank you for your detailed and considered response. :)
>
>>> 2. Some of the horses had been with the Dúnedain since the journey
>>> from the far North, and passed through the Paths of the Dead only
>>> because of the love they bore for their riders. And yet they don't
>>> appear to have been brought on board ship at Pelargir. What
>>> happened to them? Could the horses and the riders they were devoted
>>> to ever be reunited?
>>
>> Why do you say this? Especially when the Dunadain are grouped with the
>> sons of Elrond and the knights of Dol Amroth as the second cavalry
>> group (the first being Rohirrim)?
>
>I have always pictured Aragorn, Halbarad et al as fighting on foot on the
>Pelennor. Looking back at The Battle of the Pelennor Fields to find out why
>I gained this impression, I read:
>
>"For now men [which includes specific mention of Legolas, Gimli wielding his
>axe - difficult to do on a horse - Halbarad, the sons of Elrond and the
>rest of the Dúnedain, but not of horses] leaped from the ships to the quays
>of the Harlond and swept north like a storm".

Of course they fought the battle on foot, at least until there was a
pause -- it's a lot quicker to get men off a ship than men and their
horses and then you'd have to get mounted up and they probably didn't
have all the gear on their horses in transit, either. You *can* mount
a cavalry attack off a ship, but its a pretty specialized tactic and
trying it without training could be a disaster (plus the horses
probably could have used a rest by then, too). So their fighting on
foot in this battle is hardly good evidence that they left their
horses behind.

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

T.M. Sommers

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Feb 5, 2005, 4:16:09 AM2/5/05
to
Speaking Clock wrote:
>
> 1. Could horses really cope with 93 leagues in four days?

[93 leagues = 279 mi = 449 km]

Making allowance for the fact that we are dealing with fiction, I
would say that that would not be impossible, but would be at or
near the upper limit of believability. For example, Davout
marched his corps 140 km (87 mi) in 48 hrs to reach the battle at
Austerlitz. Augereau marched a division 50 mi in 36 hrs to reach
the battle at Castiglione. Napoleon placed a premium on speed,
so these rates of advance are very good. They are also for large
bodies of all arms. Smaller mounted parties could go faster, but
not much faster. Over long distances, horses are not much faster
than humans, especially if you want the horse to be in good
condition at the end of the march. Cavalry troopers spend much
of their time on the march using their own feet.

Moreover, the marches cited above are relatively short, and their
speeds might not be sustainable for longer distances. As
examples of longer marches, Soult move his troops 275 miles in 22
days during the Ulm campaign. In the American Civil War,
Grierson took 950 cavalry over 400 mi (I've seen the distance
given as 475 and 600 mi; I think the lower end of the range is
more likely) in 16 days. (His force started out larger, but
about a third were sent back as a diversion.) They did the first
36 mi in about 6 hr. They had to stop along the way to do things
such as tear up railroads, so they presumably could have
travelled faster.

Note also that Grierson's force lost a number of horses (made
good from plunder). Since his casualties were almost zero, I
would suppose that many or most of the horses were lost to
exhaustion.

If we are generous with Grierson's numbers, Aragorn's men would
have covered about half the distance Grierson did in about a
quarter of the time, for a speed of twice Grierson's. Making
allowance for the smallness of Aragorn's party, and their
above-normal abilities (being fictional heroes), this seems just
barely plausible.

> 2. Some of the horses had been with the Dúnedain since the
> journey from the far North, and passed through the Paths of
> the Dead only because of the love they bore for their riders.
> And yet they don't appear to have been brought on board ship
> at Pelargir. What happened to them? Could the horses and the
> riders they were devoted to ever be reunited?

The above discussion might provide the answer: the horses were
too exhausted to continue.

> 5. The use of a diversion as a tactic as old as the hills.
> In recent times, we have witnessed the deception used in the
> first Gulf War when it appeared the invasion of Iraq would
> come from the sea instead of across the Kuwaiti border. What
> more ancient military diversions might Tolkien have been
> drawing his inspiration from?

As you say, diversions are a dime a dozen. I don't think any one
in particular would have inspired Tolkien. Rather I think it was
the heroic ideal, as exemplified in "The Battle of Maldon", that
inspired him, if anything did.

--
Thomas M. Sommers -- t...@nj.net -- AB2SB

Emma Pease

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Feb 5, 2005, 5:46:35 PM2/5/05
to

My own thought is the horses were left in Pelargir and brought up
later. Remember

1. Aragorn got to Pelargir on March 13
2. The battle at Minas Tirith took place on March 15
3. The combined forces left on March 18.

So there were a couple of days for the horses to have arrived and be
used if they were the horses used by Aragorn's company on the journey
to the Gates.

I doubt they were brought on the initial ships for the following
reasons

1. The ships were probably not built for carrying horses and fitting
them to do so would have taken valuable time.
2. Any available space on the ship would have been needed to carry
armed warriors so that Aragorn would have a large a force as
possible. Horses take up space as does their food.
3. The horses must have been exhausted and needed extended rest.

Ships and men did come up later from Pelargir so the horses could have
come with slower but more suitable ships.

--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht

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