COTW: Silmarillion ChapterVIII: The Darkening of Valinor

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Larry Swain

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Feb 25, 2006, 6:23:13 PM2/25/06
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When we last looked into the story, Feanor had rebuffed Melkor who
revealed his lust for the Silmarills; Melkor was enraged and went north,
but after a time,
hid himself and invisibly doubled back and went into the far south.
Meanwhile Tulkas and Oronwe were hunting him in the north.

Melkor heads to Avathar, a land south of the Bay of Eldamar which was at
the foot of the Pelori, a region dark and unexplored. Ungoliant lived
there, a being in the shape of a spider of unknown origin, though it is
thought that she entered Arda from the void before even Melkor and that
Melkor had corrupted her when he first came. It was further speculated
that she had forsaken Melkor wanting to be queen of herself, so to
speak. She was lusty gal, needing the light and hating it, consuming
it and weaving a darkness that no light penetrated or escaped from. She
was too successful and so very hungry when Melkor found her.

So Melkor seeks her out. According to HOME X, if you don't mind me
bringing that in here, relates that Melkor had a difficult time
convincing Ungoliant to side with him, something that the version of the
story in the Silmarillion only hints at. In the end Melkor in Home
gives her some bright jewels to eat with the promise of much more on
which to feed. This too is in the Silm. version, but in truncated form.
Ungoliant is relunctant, torn between desire and fear. Eventually
desire overcomes fear and she agrees to help Melkor. She weaves her
webs and shrouds herself and Melkor in darkness, in fact in what Tolkien
calls an "Unlight", and so bit by bit they make their way to the peak of
Mt. Hyarmentir from which they could look down on the Blessed Realm.
The Valar were not watching that direction, thinking that geography
protected them: the mountains on the east of the Pelori looked on the
"pathless sea" and to the west it was empty, or so they thought.

Meanwhile, it is festival time! The first fruits are grown, but the
rule of Yavanna who set such seasons though time is yet meaningless
(compare to the seeming arrest time in Rivendell and Lorien in LoTR),
and as they are gathered the festival is set to honor and worship Eru.
Manwe hoped at this festival time to be able to heal relationships and
so invited all to this great feast, but commanded Feanor to appear in
order to make peace between Feanor and Finwe, his half brother. For
Finwe's part, he extended the hand of peace and declared that where
Feanor would lead, he would follow--little did he know what those words
would cost him! All were gathered to the feast, save the Teleri who
remained on their shore singing, when Melkor and Ungoliant came from the
south. They came to the two Trees as both were shining and mingling
their lights: Melkor struck each tree with his spear, and Ungoliant not
only drank the now flowing sap, but put her beak to each wound on each
tree and drank their life out of them. Her poinson entered the trees
and so they died, and the light faded and went out.

Still, Ungoliant was not sated. She went next to the Wells of Varda and
drank more, growing to a hideaous size, belching black vapour--so that
even Melkor was a little afraid of her. The darkness that resulted from
the death of the trees, Ungoliant's gas and her webs is said to have
been more than darkness, more than an absence of light, but "a thing
with its own being." And that darkness could enter the soul and mind
and sap a being of strength and will. Only Manwe in his high seat
perceived the dark beyond dark that not even his eye could penetrate,
but he deduced that Melkor had come and gone. And so the chase was on,
Oronwe and Tulkas in hot pursuit after Melkor, but it was vain, they
could not withstand the psychic and physical draining of the darkness
that Ungoliant wove. And so Melkor had his vegeance and Valinor was
made dark, and the Blessed Realm marred.

FURTHER ISSUES:

1) Who or what is Ungoliant? Is Maia? Or some other kind of creature?
If Maia, what relationship between character and shape, why take that
shape if possible to change shape?

2) Why are the Valar not all that smart? If they can track Melkor so
far and then lose track of him, why didn't occur to them to look elsewhere?

3) Along the same lines, knowing that Melkor was at large and angry and
bent on poisoning things (such as in the last chapter where it was
discovered that his lies and half-truths lay at the root of the unrest)
that at festival time they didn't keep watch, much less increased watch
at a tempting time for Melkor? Or is being pure also being simple? Am
I being too hard here?

4) the directions: is Tolkien playing with a topos here? Often in
literature (not always) evil comes from the north, good from the south;
we see this motif in the Bible as well as in classical
literature....hence Melkor settles in the North. And that is where the
Valar look for him, not suspecting danger from the south: is this a
somewhat larger thing Tolkien is doing here playing on a larger theme
than just the elements of the plot? If so, how do you see him doing
this? If not, why not?

5) Foreshadowing: Tolkien hints at futhre things in the story several
times even in this chapter. What do you think of this device?

6) the reconciliation: Tolkien states that they were reconciled in
words, does this necessarily mean that they were not in heart? Or at
least that one was not? This question should come up again in later
chapters....why would Fingolfin yield to Feanor who is obviously unfit
to lead? For the sake of peace only? If Feanor didn't mean it, why
wouldn't Manwe take note of this?

Stan Brown

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Feb 25, 2006, 7:10:24 PM2/25/06
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Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
<thes...@operamail.com>:

> Still, Ungoliant was not sated. She went next to the Wells of Varda and
> drank more, growing to a hideaous size, belching black vapour--so that
> even Melkor was a little afraid of her.

Does that mean Ungoliant was more powerful than Melkor? :-)

No, of course not -- I'm just tying again to throw cold water on this
whole idea of "more powerful" as a linear scale that a couple of
people seem to have imported from Dungeons and Dragons.

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm

Stan Brown

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Feb 25, 2006, 7:26:35 PM2/25/06
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Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
<thes...@operamail.com>:

Before anything else, Larry, THANKS for getting the CotW on track
again. I've missed it.

> 1) Who or what is Ungoliant? Is Maia? Or some other kind of creature?
> If Maia, what relationship between character and shape, why take that
> shape if possible to change shape?

I've often wondered what Ungoliant was. She's certainly not a Vala,
so if she was an Ainu she must have been a Maia. But there's that
_if_.

Either way, this opens up a larger question. Why did Eru let her, and
Sauron, and Melkor, and the Balrogs, enter Arda? Melkor at least was
already openly in rebellion. If he professed desire to clean up the
mess he'd made of the Music, Eru would not have been fooled, since
unlike Manwë Eru could see into Melkor's heart. So why would Eru have
let his children in for thousands of years of anguish?

And if Ungoliant wasn't a Vala or Maia -- i.e., if she didn't have
Eru's leave to enter Arda -- how did she do it? We're told that all
the Valar and Maiar were constrained to stay within Arda till the
end: that was either a command of Eru's or a voluntary promise ("the
necessity of their love"). Either way, why would Eru have let her
slip in through the back door?

Perhaps she was Bombadil's disgruntled ex-wife, who became consumed
with rage and turned herself into a spider when he dumped her for the
River-daughter. :-)

> 2) Why are the Valar not all that smart? If they can track Melkor so
> far and then lose track of him, why didn't occur to them to look elsewhere?

This has always bothered me, particularly since Manwë can see
everything from Taniquetil. ("When Manwë there ascends his throne and
looks forth, if Varda is beside him, he sees further than all other
eyes, through mist, and through darkness, and over the leagues of the
sea.")

It's a general theme of Silm that the Valar seem to be less than
energetic in protecting the Children or even in dealing with evil.
We've discussed it here numerous times, but I still just don't
understand it. It has to be accepted as part of the story, I think.

As for being stupid, Tolkien gives an explanation: Manwë himself was
purely good. He had no evil in him, and he couldn't understand evil.
That doesn't seem too hard for me to accept.

> 5) Foreshadowing: Tolkien hints at futhre things in the story several
> times even in this chapter. What do you think of this device?

I can't think off hand of any foreshadowing in Chapter 8, but I'd be
interested o hear what people think.

In Chapter 9 there are two biggies that strike me every time: (1)
Mandos saying "not the first" when Fëanor says if they take the
Silmarils from him his will be the first murder in Aman; (2) the
statement that the Silmarils "had passed away" yet if only Fëanor had
been willing to give them up his later deeds might have been
different.

> 6) the reconciliation: Tolkien states that they were reconciled in
> words, does this necessarily mean that they were not in heart? Or at
> least that one was not?

Yes, I think it's clear that Fingolfin was sincere and Fëanor was
not.

> This question should come up again in later
> chapters....why would Fingolfin yield to Feanor who is obviously unfit
> to lead? For the sake of peace only? If Feanor didn't mean it, why
> wouldn't Manwe take note of this?

Manwë was not Eru. He knew much of the Music, and therefore had much
foreknowledge, but he couldn't see into the hearts and thoughts of
the Children if they hid them from him. (Osanwe-kenta says no one
could read the thoughts of another who didn't want them read.)

Tamim

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Feb 25, 2006, 7:34:09 PM2/25/06
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In alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com>:
>> Still, Ungoliant was not sated. She went next to the Wells of Varda and
>> drank more, growing to a hideaous size, belching black vapour--so that
>> even Melkor was a little afraid of her.

> Does that mean Ungoliant was more powerful than Melkor? :-)

At that point she was. Tolkien pretty much says so.
He had lost power and she had gained.

> No, of course not -- I'm just tying again to throw cold water on this
> whole idea of "more powerful" as a linear scale that a couple of
> people seem to have imported from Dungeons and Dragons.

Not linear scale. As I have said, it doesn't exist in black and white
form. we can still safely say that Melkor was the most powerful Vala in
the beginning. We can say that Sauron was more powerful than Olorin.
Feänor was more powerul than Legolas and so forth. Tolkien does use the
expressions mightiest, of higher order, blood mixed with lesser people
etc. There are differences in power or might and you can in many
occasions say who is more powerful. That doesn't mean that there are
clear cut level differences as in DD, but the differences do exist.
Maybe this is a bit too MM style but I will still state it: Tolkien says
so ;)


> --
> Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
> http://OakRoadSystems.com
> Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
> Tolkien letters FAQ:
> http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
> FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
> Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
> more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm

--

Tamim

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Feb 25, 2006, 7:40:13 PM2/25/06
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In rec.arts.books.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
snip

> Either way, this opens up a larger question. Why did Eru let her, and
> Sauron, and Melkor, and the Balrogs, enter Arda? Melkor at least was
> already openly in rebellion. If he professed desire to clean up the
> mess he'd made of the Music, Eru would not have been fooled, since
> unlike Manwë Eru could see into Melkor's heart. So why would Eru have
> let his children in for thousands of years of anguish?

snip

That's an age old religious question when dealing with monotheistic
religions with one omnipotent, omniscient God. I don't think anybody
really has an answer. Why does God let evil, suffering and Satan to
exist? Even Jesus asks: "Father, why have You forsaken Me". If he
doesn't know the answer, how can RABT solve the riddle?

RPN

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Feb 25, 2006, 7:52:58 PM2/25/06
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Stan Brown wrote:
> Either way, this opens up a larger question. Why did Eru let her, and
> Sauron, and Melkor, and the Balrogs, enter Arda? Melkor at least was
> already openly in rebellion. If he professed desire to clean up the
> mess he'd made of the Music, Eru would not have been fooled, since
> unlike Manwë Eru could see into Melkor's heart. So why would Eru have
> let his children in for thousands of years of anguish?

The Music of the Ainur _is_ Arda. Melkor and those others who "began to
attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at
first" had their part in determining what Arda would be. Eru had to let
them enter into the universe so that the music could be fully enacted
in its history.


RPN

RPN

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Feb 25, 2006, 8:40:00 PM2/25/06
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You're right, of course, but I think Tolkien's fiction of the Music
was, at least in part, an attempt to answer (or perhaps circumvent)
that question, with a nod to Job's "when the morning stars sang
together." By allowing his creatures the Ainur to exercise their
independent will in the shaping of Arda, Eru can't be said to be
responsible for the "evil" element in it, yet he can ensure that all
will lead to an unexpected and more wonderful good in the end.


RPN (cutting through a lot of theological knots here, but without the
time to go into this in more detail now)

Taemon

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Feb 26, 2006, 6:47:40 AM2/26/06
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Tamim wrote:

> That's an age old religious question when dealing with
> monotheistic religions with one omnipotent, omniscient God. I
> don't think anybody really has an answer. Why does God let evil,
> suffering and Satan to exist? Even Jesus asks: "Father, why have
> You forsaken Me". If he doesn't know the answer, how can RABT
> solve the riddle?

Because The Silmarillion wasn't written by God?

T.


Chris Kern

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Feb 26, 2006, 8:57:57 AM2/26/06
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This chapter is one that is far better in Tolkien's original version
than the Silm one. Tolkien's version was more detailed and longer,
but CT compressed it to better fit in with the relative length of the
other stories.

Also, there were some important changes made in the latest version
that CT did not incorporate -- for one, Melkor was not present at the
destruction of the trees. Instead, he used the Trees (at least
partially) as a diverting tactic to occupy Ungoliant while he went
ahead to get the Silmarils, never intending to meet up with her again.

One other interesting point is that at least briefly, in the draft of
this story in Book of Lost Tales, Feanor died defending the trees from
Ungoliant.

-Chris

Stan Brown

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Feb 26, 2006, 10:14:56 AM2/26/06
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26 Feb 2006 00:34:09 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:

> In alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> > Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
> > <thes...@operamail.com>:
> >> Still, Ungoliant was not sated. She went next to the Wells of Varda and
> >> drank more, growing to a hideaous size, belching black vapour--so that
> >> even Melkor was a little afraid of her.
>
> > Does that mean Ungoliant was more powerful than Melkor? :-)
>
> At that point she was. Tolkien pretty much says so.

Sigh. Tolkien does _not_ "pretty much say so".

I'm trying very hard not to be intemperate, but your whole approach
to this seems so, well naively wrong-headed that it really raises my
blood pressure.

Try a thought experiment -- have you never been afraid of anything?
computing and filing your taxes, for instance; or a new task at work;
or meeting a new person. Yet you went ahead and did all those things.
How could they be more powerful than you?

This is a reductio ad absurdum, useful to illustrate that being "a
little afraid" of something does not indicate it's more powerful than
you. That is so obvious that I am at a complete loss to understand
how it can be obscure to anyone.

Tamim

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Feb 26, 2006, 10:34:53 AM2/26/06
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In alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> 26 Feb 2006 00:34:09 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:
>> In alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>> > Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
>> > <thes...@operamail.com>:
>> >> Still, Ungoliant was not sated. She went next to the Wells of Varda and
>> >> drank more, growing to a hideaous size, belching black vapour--so that
>> >> even Melkor was a little afraid of her.
>>
>> > Does that mean Ungoliant was more powerful than Melkor? :-)
>>
>> At that point she was. Tolkien pretty much says so.

> Sigh. Tolkien does _not_ "pretty much say so".

"For she had grown great, and he less by the power that had gone out of
him" Morgoth's Ring, Later Quenta Silmarillion II

> I'm trying very hard not to be intemperate, but your whole approach
> to this seems so, well naively wrong-headed that it really raises my
> blood pressure.

And your's is somewhat pigheaded. What are you trying to say in the
first place? That one cannot tell about any two dwellers in Arda that
which of them is more powerful?

> Try a thought experiment -- have you never been afraid of anything?
> computing and filing your taxes, for instance; or a new task at work;
> or meeting a new person. Yet you went ahead and did all those things.
> How could they be more powerful than you?


We aren't speaking of me or the people of real world. We are talking
about Tolkien's universeand when tolkien clearly writes time and time
again that A is the most powerful/greatest among group B, or that C is
of higher order than D, who am I to say that he is wrong.


> This is a reductio ad absurdum, useful to illustrate that being "a
> little afraid" of something does not indicate it's more powerful than
> you.

True. But Morgoth wasn't a little afraid. He was in deep trouble,
although in the beginning he was the mightiest of all the creatures in
eä. And Tolkien gives us an explanation. He had lost power and she had
gained. He doesn't say that she was more powerful, that I do admit, but
he does gives us an explanation in terms of power.

snip

Tamim

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Feb 26, 2006, 10:43:45 AM2/26/06
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Neither was the Bible, not even story internally. But that's not the point.
The issue is the same, whatever book or story we are talking about as
long as there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent God and
evil at the same time. The question, story internally, remains the same.

Troels Forchhammer

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Feb 26, 2006, 12:38:03 PM2/26/06
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In message <news:MPG.1e6abfcab...@news.individual.net>
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> enriched us with:
>
> Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com>:
>
> Before anything else, Larry, THANKS for getting the CotW on track
> again. I've missed it.

Me too!


>> 1) Who or what is Ungoliant? Is Maia? Or some other kind of
>> creature?
>> If Maia, what relationship between character and shape, why
>> take that shape if possible to change shape?
>
> I've often wondered what Ungoliant was.

Together with the rest of us, I believe -- at least it's been debated a
few times on RABT/AFT ;-)

> She's certainly not a Vala, so if she was an Ainu she must have
> been a Maia. But there's that _if_.

I've tried looking at her history.

In BoLT[1] we meet Ungwë Lianti, called also Wirilómë or Gloomweaver,
or, by the Noldoli, Ungoliont the spider or Gwerlum the Black. She is,
however, 'the primeval spirit Móru whom even the Valar known not whence
or when she came, [...]. Mayhap she was bred of mists and darkness on
the confines of the Shadowy Seas, [...], but more like she has always
been; and she it is who loveth still to dwell in that black place
taking the guise of an unlovely spider [...].'

In the Quenta[2] we have
There secret and unknown dwelt Ungoliant, Gloomweaver, in
spider's form. It is not told whence she is, from the
outer darkness, maybe, that lies beyond the Walls of the
World.

I don't have the version in the QS[3], but in the Annals of Aman
(AAm)[4] we find:
There, between the sheer walls of the mountains and the
cold dark Sea, the shadows were deepest in the world. And
there secretly Ungoliantë had made her abode. Whence she
came none of the Eldar know, but maybe she came to the
South out of the darkness of Ëa, in that time when Melkor
destroyed the lights of Illuin and Ormal, [...]

All of these contain some similar elements, that can be found also in
the published Silmarillion: Ungoliant dwells in the deep shadows, and
her origin is unknown, though it is hinted that she came from beyond
Arda.

This becomes more definite in the last version of the story (as far as
I am aware), LQ2[5] chapter 6 'Of the Darkening of Valinor':

§55c :
There the shadows were deepest and thickest in the world.
In Avathar, secret and unknown save to Melkor, dwelt
Ungoliantë, and she had taken spider's form, and was a
weaver of dark webs. It is not known whence she came,
though among the Eldar it was said that in ages long
before she had descended from the darkness that lies about
Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the light
in the kingdom of Manwë

§56a 'Come forth!' he said. 'Thrice fool: to leave me first,
to dwell here languishing whithin reach of feasts untold,
[...]

It is now definite that Ungoliant did serve Melkor earlier ('to leave
me first'), and that makes the hearsay far more credible -- on that
basis I don't see any reason to doubt that she did indeed enter Arda
together with Melkor, as one of his servants, when he first entered
Arda -- perhaps way back when they were still making Arda (before the
arrival of Tulkas, even), or perhaps when he entered while Tulkas slept
and the Valar were gathered upon Almaren.

This, however, leaves, IMO, only one possible origin for Ungoliant:
that she was one of the spirits created by Eru before time. This is
suggested already in the BoLT version -- that she was 'the primeval
spirit Móru' who had chosen the form of a monstrous spider, and where
the latter element is still present in the last version: she had taken
spider's form' suggests to me that the form is a matter of choice.

I am satisfied that Ungoliant originated outside Eä, and I know of no
other words to describe that origin than Ainu and Maia (I am leaving
open the possibility that Tolkien could eventually have invented a new
class of primeval spirits to cover e.g. the Ents etc.)



> Either way, this opens up a larger question.

[...]


> So why would Eru have let his children in for thousands of years
> of anguish?

That is the big problem with the omniscient and omnipotent good deity,
isn't it? Why does God allow evil? I won't even pretend to be able to
give a satisfying answer :/

<snip>

>> 2) Why are the Valar not all that smart?

Because if they really were as smart as they ought to be, then there
wouldn't be any story . . .

>> If they can track Melkor so far and then lose track of
>> him, why didn't occur to them to look elsewhere?
>
> This has always bothered me, particularly since Manwë can see
> everything from Taniquetil.

There are, as we learn, exceptions to that.

> ("When Manwë there ascends his throne and looks forth, if Varda
> is beside him, he sees further than all other eyes, through mist,
> and through darkness, and over the leagues of the sea.")

I think we learn that there are darknesses that he may be able to see
/through/ but not /into/ ;-)

One such is of course the Unlight that Ungoliant spun.

> It's a general theme of Silm that the Valar seem to be less than
> energetic in protecting the Children or even in dealing with evil.
> We've discussed it here numerous times, but I still just don't
> understand it. It has to be accepted as part of the story, I
> think.

That, I think, is completely correct. The story simply wouldn't work
without these 'oversights' by the Valar.


> As for being stupid, Tolkien gives an explanation: Manwë himself
> was purely good. He had no evil in him, and he couldn't understand
> evil. That doesn't seem too hard for me to accept.

That also, to some extent, explains the blindness: if one doesn't
understand evil, then one is more likely to overlook it, fail to find
it in others or to not guess where to look for it.

At least such an explanation would work for me.


>> 5) Foreshadowing: Tolkien hints at futhre things in the story
>> several times even in this chapter. What do you think of this
>> device?
>
> I can't think off hand of any foreshadowing in Chapter 8, but I'd
> be interested o hear what people think.

'though that power he was soon to lose for ever.'
Foreshadowing Melkor becoming bound to his form.
'In that form he remained ever after.'
The same as above, specifying the form.
'Yea, with both hands.'
Foreshadowing the Thieves' Quarrel
'the escape of Melkor portended toils and sorrows to come'
-- there has to be a story here ;-)
'But they did not know the meaning that their words would bear.'
Foreshadowing the Flight of the Noldor
'Ungoliant [...] swelled to a shape so vast and hideous that
Melkor was afraid.'
Foreshadowing the Thieves' Quarrel again.


> In Chapter 9 there are two biggies that strike me every time:

Aye, those as well.

Of possible interest is that Fëanor in the earlier versions said he
would be first to die, but with the introduction of the Finwë, Míriel
and Indis story, that was changed to the current reading of first to be
slain in Aman -- supposedly in order to keep exactly the mysterious
'Not the first' comment by Mandos.

This technique is, I think, a part of the narrative mode(s) that
Tolkien employed. The indication that the narrator already knows what
will happen strengthens the feeling that the narrator is retelling old
stories, whether myths or 'recent' history (as is the case in LotR).

>> 6) the reconciliation: Tolkien states that they were reconciled
>> in words, does this necessarily mean that they were not in heart?
>> Or at least that one was not?
>
> Yes, I think it's clear that Fingolfin was sincere and Fëanor was
> not.

I wonder what would have happened had Melkor been unsuccessful?

Would Fëanor and Finwë have returned to Tirion in time, and Fingolfin
have been suffered by Fëanor as long as he accepted these words as a
life-long (eternal within Eä!) of being subservient to Fëanor.

Fëanor does seem to half-heartedly accept Fingolfin's offer: he is, I
think, reconciled with Fingolfin, but only on the terms that Fingolfin
offers: 'Thou shalt lead and I will follow. May no new grief divide
us.'

<snip>

[1] /The Book of Lost Tales 1/, HoMe1, VI 'The Theft of Melko [...]'
c. 1916-1918
[2] /The Shaping of Middle-earth/, HoMe4, Part 3, about 1930
[3] 'Quenta Silmarillion' in /The Lost Road and Other Writings/, HoMe5
later thirties
[4] Part 2 of /Morgoth's Ring/, HoMe10, 'The Annals of Aman',
early fifties (1950 - 51 with later emendations)
[5] Part 3-II of /Morgoth's Ring/, HoMe10, 'The Later Quenta
Silmarillion' -- 'The Second Phase', c. 1958

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

A common mistake people make when trying to design
something completely foolproof is to underestimate the
ingenuity of complete fools.
- Douglas Adams, /Mostly Harmless/

Derek Broughton

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Feb 26, 2006, 1:14:06 PM2/26/06
to
Stan Brown wrote:

> Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com>:
>
> Before anything else, Larry, THANKS for getting the CotW on track
> again. I've missed it.
>
>> 1) Who or what is Ungoliant? Is Maia? Or some other kind of creature?
>> If Maia, what relationship between character and shape, why take that
>> shape if possible to change shape?
>
> I've often wondered what Ungoliant was. She's certainly not a Vala,
> so if she was an Ainu she must have been a Maia. But there's that
> _if_.

imo the only thing that makes sense of Ungoliant (and Bombadil and other
creatures of power that have existed since the world was made) is that they
are Maiar.


>
> Either way, this opens up a larger question. Why did Eru let her, and
> Sauron, and Melkor, and the Balrogs, enter Arda?

Eru is bound, by his own plan, to create the world according to the themes
of the Music of the Ainulindale. Melkor's inventions introduced evil to
the Music, and thus Eru could not bar it from Arda.
--
derek

Stan Brown

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 4:06:22 PM2/26/06
to
26 Feb 2006 15:34:53 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:

> And your's is somewhat pigheaded. What are you trying to say in the
> first place? That one cannot tell about any two dwellers in Arda that
> which of them is more powerful?

No, of course not. It's obvious that Manwë is greater than a slug on
any measurement.

But as soon as you leave absurd pairs and start with realistic ones,
it becomes fuzzy. Is Manwë greater than Gollum? On many measures,
yes. But Gollum is not constrained by the Music, and Manwë is. So by
that measure, who's greater?

This is the point I keep trying to make: "greater" or "more
powerful", or whatever simplistic comparative you want to use, simply
draws too wide a brush. People (not to mention Ainur) are simply too
complex for that sort of oversimplification.

If you would banish such things from your vocabulary and start going
with more specific terms like "wiser", "braver", "physically
stronger", then there could be some basis for discussion. Using vague
undefined terms that mean anything or nothing -- there's no way to
discuss that.

Stan Brown

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 4:12:23 PM2/26/06
to
26 Feb 2006 17:38:03 GMT from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:

> > Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
> > <thes...@operamail.com>:
> >> 2) Why are the Valar not all that smart?
>
> Because if they really were as smart as they ought to be, then there
> wouldn't be any story . . .

This reminds me of Anna Russell's analysis of Verdi's(*) opera
/Hamletto/:

"This is a FANTASTICALLY complicated story! But there would have been
no story at all if Hamlet had avenged his father's death at once
instead of hinkle-pinkling around. Which goes to show that if you
don't behave like you're supposed to, you're liable to be terribly
interesting!"

(*) "As you know, Verdi has made operas out of many of the
SHakespeare plays. He has not, as a matter of fact, made one out of
Hamlet, but I'm not for a moment going to let that stand in my way."

Odysseus

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 4:38:23 PM2/26/06
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

<snip>

> I am satisfied that Ungoliant originated outside Eä, and I know of no
> other words to describe that origin than Ainu and Maia (I am leaving
> open the possibility that Tolkien could eventually have invented a new
> class of primeval spirits to cover e.g. the Ents etc.)

Weren't the Ents quasi-independent creations of Yavanna's, as the
Dwarves were of Aulë's?

--
Odysseus

Tamim

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 4:41:58 PM2/26/06
to
In alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> 26 Feb 2006 15:34:53 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:
>> And your's is somewhat pigheaded. What are you trying to say in the
>> first place? That one cannot tell about any two dwellers in Arda that
>> which of them is more powerful?

> No, of course not. It's obvious that Manwë is greater than a slug on
> any measurement.

> But as soon as you leave absurd pairs and start with realistic ones,
> it becomes fuzzy. Is Manwë greater than Gollum? On many measures,
> yes. But Gollum is not constrained by the Music, and Manwë is. So by
> that measure, who's greater?

Gollum. The problem is as you say that the words greater and more
powerful are not defined and are difficult to define. But the problem is
also (and this is something you are apperently unwilling to recognise)
that Tolkien continuously uses those terms and he doesn't define them either.
AFAICS these terms (powerful, mighty, higher order etc) mean "who would
beat whom" either in direct confrontation or in some sort of magical
battle of the wills (especially when ainur are in question).


> This is the point I keep trying to make: "greater" or "more
> powerful", or whatever simplistic comparative you want to use, simply
> draws too wide a brush.

As I have repeatedly said, I can't help it if Tolkien himself uses those
terms. I wouldn't use them when talking about you and Öjevind but in ME
one can use them because Tolkien does so.


> People (not to mention Ainur) are simply too
> complex for that sort of oversimplification.


At least Ainur apparently are not. There is an order of might and
sometimes it does overlap and some are better is some things and some in
other but there are too many examples of Tolkien "oversimplifying" to
ignore.


> If you would banish such things from your vocabulary and start going
> with more specific terms like "wiser", "braver", "physically
> stronger", then there could be some basis for discussion.

These, at least when conserning the ainur, seem to be different
characteristics from greatness, power or might. Melkor was mightier than Manwe
but not wiser, he was mightier than Tulkas* but not stronger.

*he lost but at that time he had already lost a part of his power

> Using vague
> undefined terms that mean anything or nothing -- there's no way to
> discuss that.

For the last time: Tolkien uses them. We can discuss what they mean, but
we cannot dismiss them as irrelevant.

> --
> Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
> http://OakRoadSystems.com
> Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
> Tolkien letters FAQ:
> http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
> FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
> Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
> more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm

--

Count Menelvagor

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Feb 26, 2006, 4:50:19 PM2/26/06
to

Stan Brown wrote:
> Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com>:
> > Still, Ungoliant was not sated. She went next to the Wells of Varda and
> > drank more, growing to a hideaous size, belching black vapour--so that
> > even Melkor was a little afraid of her.
>
> Does that mean Ungoliant was more powerful than Melkor? :-)
>
> No, of course not -- I'm just tying again to throw cold water on this
> whole idea of "more powerful" as a linear scale that a couple of
> people seem to have imported from Dungeons and Dragons.

D&D is the Truth!

there is no salvation without hitdice, say the wise.

Odysseus

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 5:06:07 PM2/26/06
to
Derek Broughton wrote:
>
> Stan Brown wrote:
>
<snip>

> > I've often wondered what Ungoliant was. She's certainly not a Vala,
> > so if she was an Ainu she must have been a Maia. But there's that
> > _if_.
>
> imo the only thing that makes sense of Ungoliant (and Bombadil and other
> creatures of power that have existed since the world was made) is that they
> are Maiar.

Agreed, presuming the rather loose definition of "Maia" as any Ainu
manifest in Eä who's not a Vala. As Troels mentioned, we have no
label but "Ainu" for Tolkien's primaeval entities, and few, if any,
indications delimiting the term's scope. So I'm not much inclined to
heed Stan's caveat, absent evidence that any beings that weren't Ainu
(Eru aside) existed before the creation.

> > Either way, this opens up a larger question. Why did Eru let her, and
> > Sauron, and Melkor, and the Balrogs, enter Arda?
>
> Eru is bound, by his own plan, to create the world according to the themes
> of the Music of the Ainulindale. Melkor's inventions introduced evil to
> the Music, and thus Eru could not bar it from Arda.

So Ungoliant was ultimately Melkor's responsibility: an Ainu who came
to personify a particular note of his discordant theme, so to speak.
But in the begining he likely had no more idea how she would
incarnate than did the other Valar-to-be of the consequences of their
own contributions to the shaping of Eä.

Story-externally, I think it's clear that JRRT was something of an
arachnophobe. ;)

--
Odysseus

Troels Forchhammer

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Feb 26, 2006, 5:35:46 PM2/26/06
to
In message <news:44022014...@yahoo-dot.ca> Odysseus
<odysseu...@yahoo-dot.ca> enriched us with:

> Dwarves were of Aulė's?

I am thinking of Manwė's description:

[...] then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it
will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the
kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be
held in reverence [...]

These 'spirits from afar' -- what are they? For the Valar, would
'afar' not mean, at least, from outside Arda? And since I am
conservative enough to believe that Arda is the only place within Eä
from whence a spirit can 'originate'. I know that all spirits
ultimately come from Eru . . . what I am trying to say is that if they
came from outside Arda, then they must be Ainur or a wholly new
category of spirits (for instance a group of spirits that Eru created
and gave the Secret Flame after the Ainulindalė, but since there is no
evidence for such a thing, I am more comfortable to just call them
Ainur and be done with it <G>).

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does
knowledge:
- Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882)

Stan Brown

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Feb 26, 2006, 6:38:49 PM2/26/06
to
26 Feb 2006 21:41:58 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:

> The problem is as you say that the words greater and more
> powerful are not defined and are difficult to define. But the problem is
> also (and this is something you are apperently unwilling to recognise)
> that Tolkien continuously uses those terms and he doesn't define them either.

Sigh. I give up.

Tamim

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 8:01:19 PM2/26/06
to
In rec.arts.books.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> 26 Feb 2006 21:41:58 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:
>> The problem is as you say that the words greater and more
>> powerful are not defined and are difficult to define. But the problem is
>> also (and this is something you are apperently unwilling to recognise)
>> that Tolkien continuously uses those terms and he doesn't define them either.

> Sigh. I give up.

Well does he or doesn't he?

Chris Kern

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Feb 26, 2006, 8:20:42 PM2/26/06
to
On Sun, 26 Feb 2006 18:38:49 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> posted the following:

>26 Feb 2006 21:41:58 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:
>> The problem is as you say that the words greater and more
>> powerful are not defined and are difficult to define. But the problem is
>> also (and this is something you are apperently unwilling to recognise)
>> that Tolkien continuously uses those terms and he doesn't define them either.
>
>Sigh. I give up.

Wow Stan, this is shades of you-know-who. I must admit that I'm
having a hard time seeing where you are coming from -- Tolkien
explicitly says in a number of places that so-and-so is "more
powerful" or "mightier" than so-and-so, and he doesn't define these
terms in any specific ways or suggest in what ways they might be more
powerful or mightier.

-Chris

Chris Kern

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 8:30:20 PM2/26/06
to
On Sun, 26 Feb 2006 16:06:22 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> posted the following:

>If you would banish such things from your vocabulary and start going

>with more specific terms like "wiser", "braver", "physically
>stronger", then there could be some basis for discussion. Using vague
>undefined terms that mean anything or nothing -- there's no way to
>discuss that.

You better tell Tolkien that he shouldn't use vague terms:

"[Ungoliant] had grown great, and he less by the power that had gone
out of him." (X 296)

"Sauron was 'greater', effectively, in the Second Age than Morgoth at
the end of the First." (X, 394)

"Then Iluvatar spoke, and he said: 'Mighty are the Ainur, and
mightiest among them is Melkor" (X, 10)

"Melkor must be made _far more powerful_ in original nature...the
greatest power under Eru" (X, 390)

"[Melkor] has now less personal force than Manwe" (X, 391)

The basic fact is that Tolkien frequently makes comparisons using
vague terms like these, and you can't just ignore them because you
don't like Dungeons and Dragons.

-Chris

Chris Kern

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Feb 26, 2006, 8:34:22 PM2/26/06
to
On 26 Feb 2006 15:43:45 GMT, Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com> posted the
following:

However, because Tolkien is the creator of the M-E world, the question
has a clear answer within his writings. The answer is simply that
Iluvatar has some divine purpose for allowing evil which he has not
revealed to his creations. This answer may not satisfy you either in
the real world or in Tolkien's created world, but I don't think you
can deny that this is story-internal answer to the question --
Iluvatar pretty much says it explicitly in the Ainulindale.

While you may not believe in the existence of God in the real world,
it's impossible to not believe in the existence of Iluvatar in
Tolkien's created world, unless you are just being purposely stubborn.

-Chris

Russell Paradox

unread,
Feb 26, 2006, 9:00:41 PM2/26/06
to
On Sat, 25 Feb 2006, Stan Brown wrote:

SB> Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
SB> <thes...@operamail.com>:
SB>
SB> > 1) Who or what is Ungoliant? Is Maia? Or some other kind of creature?
SB> > If Maia, what relationship between character and shape, why take that
SB> > shape if possible to change shape?
SB>
SB> I've often wondered what Ungoliant was. She's certainly not a Vala,
SB> so if she was an Ainu she must have been a Maia. But there's that
SB> _if_.

If she comes from outside the World then all we know suggests that she
must be a Maia - if Eru was truly "the One" (as in the only one) before
he created the Ainur. That is what I would conclude from: "Some have
said that [...] before she descended from the darkness that lies upon
Arda [...] she was one of those that [Melkor] corrupted to his service".
But then again, the expression "some have said" leaves the question of
her origin open. Maybe she came to be within the world after all and
the Eldar who said the above just got it wrong.

As for Ungoliant's shape, it could reflect something she contributed or
perceived in the music of the Ainur (assuming she is a Maia); this is
said to have been the case for the Valar, so why not for the lesser
Ainur who also took a shape when they entered Arda? Somebody must have
sung of darkness-loving scary creepy-crawlies.

SB> Either way, this opens up a larger question. Why did Eru let her, and
SB> Sauron, and Melkor, and the Balrogs, enter Arda? (...) why would Eru have
SB> let his children in for thousands of years of anguish?

The answer is hinted at a couple of times earlier in the Silmarillion,
for example:"And thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secrets of your
mind and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and
tributary to its glory". Eru does not mind the baddies because he
already knows that they not only cannot spoil the ultimate purpose of
his plan, whatever it may be, but they will actually contribute
towards it (a very prominent example of this is the role of Gollum in
the defeat of Sauron in LOTR).
The same would apply to all the unhappiness and grief his children
must endure...it is tough, but everything will be well in the long
run, at the end of ages. Standard religion answer.

A.
--
Windows98: a 32 bit graphical front end to a 16 bit patch on an 8 bit
operating system written for a 4 bit processor by a 2 bit company
without 1 bit of decency.

Russell Paradox

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Feb 26, 2006, 9:21:48 PM2/26/06
to

On Sun, 26 Feb 2006, Troels Forchhammer wrote:

TF> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> enriched us with:
TF> >
TF> > Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
TF> > <thes...@operamail.com>:
TF>
TF> >> 2) Why are the Valar not all that smart?
TF>
TF> Because if they really were as smart as they ought to be, then there
TF> wouldn't be any story . . .

Of course :-)

TF> > As for being stupid, Tolkien gives an explanation: Manwë himself
TF> > was purely good. He had no evil in him, and he couldn't understand
TF> > evil. That doesn't seem too hard for me to accept.
TF>
TF> That also, to some extent, explains the blindness: if one doesn't
TF> understand evil, then one is more likely to overlook it, fail to find
TF> it in others or to not guess where to look for it.

Another explanation for the Valar's oversight (other than stupidity, a
blind spot to evil, or the wish to make history more eventful) is a
certain laziness (like when people suspect their children are up to no
good but they feel too tired to be checking up on them continuously)

A.
--
Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
--H.G. Wells

Tamim

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Feb 27, 2006, 8:27:37 AM2/27/06
to
In alt.fan.tolkien Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:
snip

> However, because Tolkien is the creator of the M-E world, the question
> has a clear answer within his writings. The answer is simply that
> Iluvatar has some divine purpose for allowing evil which he has not
> revealed to his creations.

A quote please. On the other hand I think that is the standard answer
within any monotheistic religion (god works in mysterious ways). and
that answer isn't really an answer. Of course he had some divine
purpose, but what could that be?


> This answer may not satisfy you either in
> the real world or in Tolkien's created world, but I don't think you
> can deny that this is story-internal answer to the question --
> Iluvatar pretty much says it explicitly in the Ainulindale.

Let it be the story internal answer. It might as well be the story
internal answer of Bible or Koran, but it isn't a complete answer story
internally either. The story external answer is " god doesn't exist".
Any story internal answer has to answer to the epicurian paradox and
that has been largely unanswerable for 2500 yrs. I am simply saying that
RABT probably isn't the right place to seek the answer to that paradox.

OTOH maybe there is no paradox in ME. I don't remember Tolkien saying
that Eru is beneveolent.


> While you may not believe in the existence of God in the real world,
> it's impossible to not believe in the existence of Iluvatar in
> Tolkien's created world, unless you are just being purposely stubborn.

You are right and I am not here debating about whether God exists or
not. God exists in ME. But in the op answer was sought to a question
to which an answer has been sought to for a few millenia by especially
those who are adamant that god exists in this reality also.

Chris Kern

unread,
Feb 27, 2006, 9:16:22 AM2/27/06
to
On 27 Feb 2006 13:27:37 GMT, Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com> posted the
following:

>In alt.fan.tolkien Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:


>snip
>
>> However, because Tolkien is the creator of the M-E world, the question
>> has a clear answer within his writings. The answer is simply that
>> Iluvatar has some divine purpose for allowing evil which he has not
>> revealed to his creations.
>
>A quote please. On the other hand I think that is the standard answer
>within any monotheistic religion (god works in mysterious ways). and
>that answer isn't really an answer. Of course he had some divine
>purpose, but what could that be?

We are not told. But if we are to accept these myths as telling true
stories about Arda, and not as distorted versions of truth (which is
what most people do), we have to accept that when Iluvatar tells
Melkor that any evil he can do will ultimately work to Iluvatar's
greater purpose, that Iluvatar is telling the truth.

Like I said, in the real world you may find this answer unsatisfying,
but within Arda I think we have to accept it.

>Any story internal answer has to answer to the epicurian paradox and
>that has been largely unanswerable for 2500 yrs.

Not this debate again. It is answered to some people's satisfaction
but you seem to refuse to accept it. If "benevolence" is defined by
Iluvatar's actions, then nothing Iluvatar does can be evil, even if it
might seem that way to his creations. But Iluvatar, being the
omniscient creator of all, would be the one to decide what is good and
what is evil, right?

Put in another way, the paradox only exists based what you accept as
your premises. For instance, if you accept this as a premise:
1. God is omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipresent.
Then
2. Since God is omnibenevolent, by the definition of the term,
whatever he does must be good.
follows in logical sequence.
3. Therefore, since whatever he does must be good, if he does
something that seems to us to be evil, it must not actually be evil.

I know that you do not accept or believe this answer, but the truth is
that the "epicurian paradox" is generally not a problem for believers
because they are defining good and evil in a different way than
non-religious people are. For instance, if God kills someone, you
might look at that as evil. But looking at it in another way, God has
certain moral rights over his own creations that his creations do not
have with each other. He gave us life, so it is not morally wrong for
him to take that life away, for whatever reason. Now, the inevitable
response to this is "how could anyone believe in such a capricious and
unaccountable God?" But Christianity is not about believing in God
because he suits your purposes, it's about believing in God because he
is your creator, and you owe him that.

In any case, I'm not trying to convince you of God's existence or
anything like that -- it's just that the epicurian paradox has existed
for a long time, and has been answered again and again by theologians
since the 6th century. It creates no internal contradiction in terms
of Christian teaching -- the only internal contradictions come when
you assume premises that are not true from the standpoint of Christian
teaching (namely, that there exists a moral law that even God is
subject to).

What is important to understanding these theological problems in
Tolkien's writings is not what you accept or believe, but what Tolkien
accepted and believed. What I have written here is accepted Catholic
belief on the "problem of evil", so it makes sense to apply that to
Tolkien's world instead.

Tamim

unread,
Feb 27, 2006, 10:19:23 AM2/27/06
to
In alt.fan.tolkien Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:
snip

> Not this debate again.

I don't want to debate it. I don't even find it very interesting. All I
have said is that the OP is in practise asking for the answer to the
paradox, and that is something that I believe is the same in real world
an in Tolkien's subcreation. What I am saying is that we should drop the
matter, but apparently I just did the opposite ;)

It is answered to some people's satisfaction
> but you seem to refuse to accept it. If "benevolence" is defined by
> Iluvatar's actions, then nothing Iluvatar does can be evil, even if it
> might seem that way to his creations. But Iluvatar, being the
> omniscient creator of all, would be the one to decide what is good and
> what is evil, right?


Good answer. Then there is no evil in ME. Evil and good don't exist.
And then the OP question is not really relevant. snip


snip

Derek Broughton

unread,
Feb 27, 2006, 10:37:45 AM2/27/06
to
Odysseus wrote:

> Derek Broughton wrote:
>>
>> Eru is bound, by his own plan, to create the world according to the
>> themes
>> of the Music of the Ainulindale. Melkor's inventions introduced evil to
>> the Music, and thus Eru could not bar it from Arda.
>
> So Ungoliant was ultimately Melkor's responsibility: an Ainu who came
> to personify a particular note of his discordant theme, so to speak.

Only Melkor's responsibility insofar as he began the rebellion. Others took
up and enhanced his theme in the Music, and one would assume that includes
Sauron, Ungoliant and the balrogs. imo, she wouldn't so much have
personified a note in his theme as been the composer of part of the Music
developed from Melkor's theme.

> But in the begining he likely had no more idea how she would
> incarnate than did the other Valar-to-be of the consequences of their
> own contributions to the shaping of Eä.
>
> Story-externally, I think it's clear that JRRT was something of an
> arachnophobe. ;)

Maybe, perhaps he just wanted to play on the fact that a large part of his
reading audience would be arachnophobes.
--
derek

Stan Brown

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Feb 27, 2006, 1:10:22 PM2/27/06
to
Mon, 27 Feb 2006 09:16:22 -0500 from Chris Kern <chriskern99
@gmail.com>:

> But if we are to accept these myths as telling true
> stories about Arda, and not as distorted versions of truth (which is
> what most people do), we have to accept that when Iluvatar tells
> Melkor that any evil he can do will ultimately work to Iluvatar's
> greater purpose, that Iluvatar is telling the truth.

I think we are supposed to accept these myths as _attempts_ at true
retellings, based on imperfect records and imperfect knowledge. IMHO
that's why we see so many "it is said" and similar -- the chronicler
is trying to indicate a part of oral tradition that is not quite as
trustworthy as the records.

We have to remember how the Silmarillion came to us. Most of it was
not known to Men but was told them by Elves. Those Men were the three
houses of the Elf-friends, who all went to Numenor and almost all of
whose descendants were drowned. I don't know how much room there was
in the nine ships of Elendil's party, what with the Palantiri and the
Erech-stone, but presumably they brought _some_ records. I can't
imagine they would have had complete records, however. Gaps and
errors could have been fixed to some extent by reference to their
allies Gil-galad and Elrond, but those two princes were both born in
Middle-earth and therefore had no first-hand knowledge. Galadriel
might or might not have been able to help, depending on whether she
left Valinor before the Darkening or after.

One attractive consequence of this view is that it explains all the
varying texts in HoME -- different copies by different copyists, some
working only from oral tradition.

As for the problem of evil, I brought it up and I shouldn't have. As
you say, it's been debated here already. As you said, regardless what
we may think about the real world, within Tolkien's world we have to
accept that Iluvatar is good and all powerful, but that evil
nonetheless exists.

Larry Swain

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Feb 27, 2006, 1:39:58 PM2/27/06
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> Sat, 25 Feb 2006 17:23:13 -0600 from Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com>:

>
>
>>5) Foreshadowing: Tolkien hints at futhre things in the story several
>>times even in this chapter. What do you think of this device?
>
>
> I can't think off hand of any foreshadowing in Chapter 8, but I'd be
> interested o hear what people think.

I detected two places in this chapter. First, when Melkor is talking to
Ungoliant and he is going to slake her lust with "both hands", and
lightly he made the vow..... The second I had in mind was when
Fingolfin makes his pledge to Feanor, "But they did not know the meaning

Steve Morrison

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Feb 27, 2006, 2:13:14 PM2/27/06
to
Derek Broughton wrote:

> Odysseus wrote:
> >
> > Story-externally, I think it's clear that JRRT was something of an
> > arachnophobe. ;)
>
> Maybe, perhaps he just wanted to play on the fact that a large part of his
> reading audience would be arachnophobes.
> --
> derek

FWIW he denied any arachnophobia near the end of Letter #163:

[...] But I did know more or less all about Gollum and his part,
and Sam, and I knew that the way was guarded by a Spider. And if
that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a
small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the
improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I
remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been
told; and I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge
to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!

Obviously, he underestimated our interest in such things.

ste...@nomail.com

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Feb 27, 2006, 2:10:33 PM2/27/06
to
In rec.arts.books.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> Mon, 27 Feb 2006 09:16:22 -0500 from Chris Kern <chriskern99
> @gmail.com>:
>> But if we are to accept these myths as telling true
>> stories about Arda, and not as distorted versions of truth (which is
>> what most people do), we have to accept that when Iluvatar tells
>> Melkor that any evil he can do will ultimately work to Iluvatar's
>> greater purpose, that Iluvatar is telling the truth.

> I think we are supposed to accept these myths as _attempts_ at true
> retellings, based on imperfect records and imperfect knowledge. IMHO
> that's why we see so many "it is said" and similar -- the chronicler
> is trying to indicate a part of oral tradition that is not quite as
> trustworthy as the records.

> We have to remember how the Silmarillion came to us.

The story internal explanation is that Bilbo wrote it while in
Rivendell, where he had access to people such as Elrond
and Glorfindel.

Stephen

Count Menelvagor

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Feb 27, 2006, 2:53:26 PM2/27/06
to

Derek Broughton wrote:
> Odysseus wrote:

> > Story-externally, I think it's clear that JRRT was something of an
> > arachnophobe. ;)
>
> Maybe, perhaps he just wanted to play on the fact that a large part of his
> reading audience would be arachnophobes.

either way, arachnophobia is deeply offensive and racist. some of us
find spiders a turn-on1

Count Menelvagor

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Feb 27, 2006, 3:00:10 PM2/27/06
to

Steve Morrison wrote:

> FWIW he denied any arachnophobia near the end of Letter #163:
>
> [...] But I did know more or less all about Gollum and his part,
> and Sam, and I knew that the way was guarded by a Spider. And if
> that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a
> small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the
> improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I
> remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been
> told; and I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge
> to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!
>
> Obviously, he underestimated our interest in such things.

clearly, he did not foresee usenet!:-)

Derek Broughton

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Feb 27, 2006, 3:27:00 PM2/27/06
to
Count Menelvagor wrote:

Wasn't Ungoliant committed to creating a world-wide web?
--
derek

Chris Kern

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Feb 27, 2006, 5:41:50 PM2/27/06
to
On Mon, 27 Feb 2006 13:10:22 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> posted the following:

>Mon, 27 Feb 2006 09:16:22 -0500 from Chris Kern <chriskern99


>@gmail.com>:
>> But if we are to accept these myths as telling true
>> stories about Arda, and not as distorted versions of truth (which is
>> what most people do), we have to accept that when Iluvatar tells
>> Melkor that any evil he can do will ultimately work to Iluvatar's
>> greater purpose, that Iluvatar is telling the truth.
>
>I think we are supposed to accept these myths as _attempts_ at true
>retellings, based on imperfect records and imperfect knowledge. IMHO
>that's why we see so many "it is said" and similar -- the chronicler
>is trying to indicate a part of oral tradition that is not quite as
>trustworthy as the records.

Mainly what I was just trying to say is that it's a mistake to use
this as an "out" whenever we encounter something (particularly a
philosophical problem) in Tolkien's writings that we don't like.

> As you said, regardless what
>we may think about the real world, within Tolkien's world we have to
>accept that Iluvatar is good and all powerful, but that evil
>nonetheless exists.

I think that's what's important.

-Chris

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Feb 27, 2006, 7:04:13 PM2/27/06
to
> Windows98: a 32 bit graphical front end to a 16 bit patch on an 8 bit
> operating system written for a 4 bit processor by a 2 bit company
> without 1 bit of decency.

That's the funniest thing I've read in ages!

Christopher Kreuzer

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Feb 27, 2006, 7:18:23 PM2/27/06
to
"Chris Kern" <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:

[Power and might]

> The basic fact is that Tolkien frequently makes comparisons using
> vague terms like these, and you can't just ignore them because you
> don't like Dungeons and Dragons.

LOL! That is a great summary of the argument. FWIW, I also find it
interesting that Tolkien uses these terms, and agree that we shouldn't
ignore them or seize on them as an excuse to play D&D battles, but we
should recognise that it is part of his technique. I vaguely recall
something I wrote about this a few weeks ago. Let's see if I can find
it... Yes, here we go. It was in the discussion of superlatives,
elatives and things like that:

http://groups.google.co.uk/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/09aa2c151514995c

[8 January 2006]

"There is also an element of what I would call mythical grandstanding.
No true myths are complete without recourse to using the language of
grandeur and of an epic, both in time and space.

The one about Morgoth's cry echoing in Lammoth is a good example. Also
as an example of supernatural stories being used to explain natural
phenomena (a place where sound echoes). It is only natural to call it
the "greatest" cry ever heard.

You can probably classify examples of uses of superlatives by the effect
they are intended to produce: mythical, rhetorical, literal, elative,
boasting, and so on; or indeed combinations of several of these (some
may be near-synonyms in any case).

Does this sound a sensible way of understanding Tolkien's (or any
author's) use of superlatives? It might seem obvious, but the exact
meaning of the superlative is being modified by its context, and can't
and shouldn't be considered independently. Greatest, when used in the
context of Melkor, has a different meaning to when it is used in the
context of the hills around Gondolin. I don't mean the literal
dictionary definition of the word, but the meaning in context. Whatever
that means."

BTW, is there a phrase for "meaning in context"?

Christopher

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

Taemon

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Feb 28, 2006, 1:31:54 PM2/28/06
to
Tamim wrote:

> In alt.fan.tolkien Taemon <Tae...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
>> Tamim wrote:
>>> Why does God let evil,
>>> suffering and Satan to exist? Even Jesus asks: "Father, why have
>>> You forsaken Me". If he doesn't know the answer, how can RABT
>>> solve the riddle?
>> Because The Silmarillion wasn't written by God?
> Neither was the Bible, not even story internally. But that's not
> the point. The issue is the same, whatever book or story we are
> talking about as long as there exists an omnipotent, omniscient
> and benevolent God and evil at the same time. The question, story
> internally, remains the same.

Story internally, yes, and that makes all the difference. I can ignore
the Bible and not have any problems explaining suffering. But when
we're talking Tolkien, I HAVE to take Illuvatar into account. It is
Tolkien who causes that question to be asked, not God.

T.


Taemon

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Feb 28, 2006, 1:34:37 PM2/28/06
to
Chris Kern wrote:

> But looking
> at it in another way, God has certain moral rights over his own
> creations that his creations do not have with each other. He
> gave us life, so it is not morally wrong for him to take that
> life away, for whatever reason.

I don't get this. It isn't right to take your child's life away,
methinks.

T.


Taemon

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Feb 28, 2006, 1:38:13 PM2/28/06
to
Tolkien wrote:

> and I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge
> to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!

Well, so do I, but I sure am arachnofobic! I have no urge to kill
them. I just have the urge to run away very, very fast. But I surely
dislike them. Through no fault of their own, of course.

T.


Tamim

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Feb 28, 2006, 1:59:08 PM2/28/06
to

It doesn't change anything, you just rephrase the same question.
In real world you ask whether God can exist, in "ME" you ask how can
evil exist.

> It is
> Tolkien who causes that question to be asked, not God.

--

Chris Kern

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Feb 28, 2006, 4:04:54 PM2/28/06
to
On Tue, 28 Feb 2006 19:34:37 +0100, "Taemon" <Tae...@zonnet.nl> posted
the following:

That's a different and not-quite-analagous situation. But it's
certainly a reasonable way to look at things from a different
philosophical standpoint.

-Chris

Steve Hayes

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Mar 1, 2006, 12:12:43 AM3/1/06
to

In that respect, the Bible and Tolkien are telling the same story. The names
may be different, but the pliot is basically the same -- how evil entered the
world.

In favt the Bible tells the stories in a fragmentary way which the Christian
Church (and Tolkien) have woven into an account of how evil entered the word
-- a pre-mundane fall of angels, followed by idolatry in the world.


--
Steve Hayes
Web: http://www.geocities.com/hayesstw/stevesig.htm
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Methodius

Tamf Moo

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Mar 1, 2006, 9:18:31 AM3/1/06
to
Count Menelvagor wrote:

> either way, arachnophobia is deeply offensive and racist. some of us
> find spiders a turn-on1

ooh, to be covered in sticky silky webs and crawled on by spider feet!

tamf

Stan Brown

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Mar 1, 2006, 10:07:40 AM3/1/06
to
Wed, 01 Mar 2006 07:12:43 +0200 from Steve Hayes
<haye...@hotmail.com>:

> In that respect, the Bible and Tolkien are telling the same story. The names
> may be different, but the pliot is basically the same -- how evil entered the
> world.

Well, I think you have to stretch the point pretty far to make this
equivalence.

In the Tolkien myths, evil was part of the fabric of the world before
it was made. In the Bible myths, the world and all its substance were
repeatedly pronounced "good", and evil entered later into it.

Philosophically I think the difference is pretty large.

Taemon

unread,
Mar 1, 2006, 11:06:06 AM3/1/06
to
Tamim wrote:

> In alt.fan.tolkien Taemon <Tae...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
>> Story internally, yes, and that makes all the difference. I can
>> ignore the Bible and not have any problems explaining suffering.
>> But when we're talking Tolkien, I HAVE to take Illuvatar into
>> account.
> It doesn't change anything, you just rephrase the same question.
> In real world you ask whether God can exist, in "ME" you ask how
> can evil exist.

I do not ask whether God can exist. I don't believe so and hence, have
no problem with the question. In Tolkien's universe that question is
real, because HE put it up.

T.


The Robinsons

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Mar 1, 2006, 11:16:27 AM3/1/06
to
Stan Brown wrote:

> I don't know how much room there was
> in the nine ships of Elendil's party, what with the Palantiri and the
> Erech-stone,

Why did they bring this over anyhow? The Erech stone?

Robinsons

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Mar 1, 2006, 11:25:59 AM3/1/06
to

Speculation that the elves are "bound to the circles of this world"
and do not survive its passing. Is that evil? The "problem of evil"
is based on a misunderstanding about what is and is not evil, I think.

Is it evil to choose not to have a child, thereby depriving the child
of potential life? If you exist outside of time, notions of good and
evil do not pertain to the length of ones lifespan. And also, in
Christian theology, suffering is not evil in and of itself. Indeed,
according to many theologians, it is the desire to maximize ones own
comfort (especially at the expense of others) that is evil (as defined
by God, according to those theologians). So if you are not subject to
time or physical suffering, you'd have a different perspective on what
is and is not meet and right treatment for the inevitably short-lived,
hairless apes in your custody.

Robinsons

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Mar 1, 2006, 11:51:57 AM3/1/06
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> I've tried looking at her history.
>
> In BoLT[1] we meet Ungwë Lianti, called also Wirilómë or Gloomweaver,
> or, by the Noldoli, Ungoliont the spider or Gwerlum the Black. She is,
> however, 'the primeval spirit Móru whom even the Valar known not whence
> or when she came, [...]. Mayhap she was bred of mists and darkness on
> the confines of the Shadowy Seas, [...], but more like she has always
> been; and she it is who loveth still to dwell in that black place
> taking the guise of an unlovely spider [...].'
>
> In the Quenta[2] we have
> There secret and unknown dwelt Ungoliant, Gloomweaver, in
> spider's form. It is not told whence she is, from the
> outer darkness, maybe, that lies beyond the Walls of the
> World.
>
> I don't have the version in the QS[3], but in the Annals of Aman
> (AAm)[4] we find:
> There, between the sheer walls of the mountains and the
> cold dark Sea, the shadows were deepest in the world. And
> there secretly Ungoliantë had made her abode. Whence she
> came none of the Eldar know, but maybe she came to the
> South out of the darkness of Ëa, in that time when Melkor
> destroyed the lights of Illuin and Ormal, [...]
>
> All of these contain some similar elements, that can be found also in
> the published Silmarillion: Ungoliant dwells in the deep shadows, and
> her origin is unknown, though it is hinted that she came from beyond
> Arda.
>
> This becomes more definite in the last version of the story (as far as
> I am aware), LQ2[5] chapter 6 'Of the Darkening of Valinor':
>
> §55c :
> There the shadows were deepest and thickest in the world.
> In Avathar, secret and unknown save to Melkor, dwelt
> Ungoliantë, and she had taken spider's form, and was a
> weaver of dark webs. It is not known whence she came,
> though among the Eldar it was said that in ages long
> before she had descended from the darkness that lies about
> Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the light
> in the kingdom of Manwë

Is it just me, or is Tolkien channeling a bit of H.P. Lovecraft
in the creation of Ungoliant? I suspect he might have been familiar
with Lovecraft (he was familiar with Isaac Asimov, even, later in life.)

> This, however, leaves, IMO, only one possible origin for Ungoliant:
> that she was one of the spirits created by Eru before time. This is
> suggested already in the BoLT version -- that she was 'the primeval
> spirit Móru' who had chosen the form of a monstrous spider, and where
> the latter element is still present in the last version: she had taken
> spider's form' suggests to me that the form is a matter of choice.
>
> I am satisfied that Ungoliant originated outside Eä, and I know of no
> other words to describe that origin than Ainu and Maia (I am leaving
> open the possibility that Tolkien could eventually have invented a new
> class of primeval spirits to cover e.g. the Ents etc.)

In BOLT, IIRC, there IS a third class of spirits, but some are even
greater than the Valar. They are the Ainur who never entered Ea and
are beyond Time.

> That is the big problem with the omniscient and omnipotent good deity,
> isn't it? Why does God allow evil? I won't even pretend to be able to
> give a satisfying answer :/

"Silly Eddie, becauth it wath FUNNY!!"

> >> 2) Why are the Valar not all that smart?
>
> Because if they really were as smart as they ought to be, then there
> wouldn't be any story . . .

See, this is at least as brain-wracking as the problem of evil.

(Why does God allow stupid people to exist?)

> >> If they can track Melkor so far and then lose track of
> >> him, why didn't occur to them to look elsewhere?
> >
> > This has always bothered me, particularly since Manwë can see
> > everything from Taniquetil.
>
> There are, as we learn, exceptions to that.

Greetings, First-Born!! I am Orome the Hunter. Together we will
travel to the Twin Peaks of Taniquetil, and ascend to the highest
palaces, where dwell Manwe and his brother, together with their
two wives, the Ladies of Light... and you might be Elwe, and your
brother Olwe... and who are these two? (covers one eye) Oh, I'm
sorry, you're right, there is nobody else. Carry on then! First,
we will cross the two Raging Rivers of Anduin, and ascend the
Mountain Ranges of Hithaeglir twice, and take the Island-Ships of
Eressea from the Bays of Balar across the Western Seas (crashes
around, injuring many trees)

> > ("When Manwë there ascends his throne and looks forth, if Varda
> > is beside him, he sees further than all other eyes, through mist,
> > and through darkness, and over the leagues of the sea.")
>
> I think we learn that there are darknesses that he may be able to see
> /through/ but not /into/ ;-)

Sort of like Sauron in the movie? "His gaze pierces cloud, shadow,
earth and flesh." But you're safe as long as you get down on the
ground and lay low... LOL! Maybe if you stand really still, the
Ainur see right thru you... sort of like Dinosaurs, or birds of prey...

> One such is of course the Unlight that Ungoliant spun.
>
> > It's a general theme of Silm that the Valar seem to be less than
> > energetic in protecting the Children or even in dealing with evil.
> > We've discussed it here numerous times, but I still just don't
> > understand it. It has to be accepted as part of the story, I
> > think.
>
> That, I think, is completely correct. The story simply wouldn't work
> without these 'oversights' by the Valar.

Why do the Valar allow such things to exist? ;-)

"MANWE SMASH EVIL BECAUSE MANWE NOT UNDERSTAND EVIL! SMASH UNLIGHT!"

> > As for being stupid, Tolkien gives an explanation: Manwë himself
> > was purely good. He had no evil in him, and he couldn't understand
> > evil. That doesn't seem too hard for me to accept.
>
> That also, to some extent, explains the blindness: if one doesn't
> understand evil, then one is more likely to overlook it, fail to find
> it in others or to not guess where to look for it.

--Brian

Robinsons

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Mar 1, 2006, 12:06:02 PM3/1/06
to

NOBODY Expects the world-wide web!!

Our chief weapons are surprise, fear, darkness, surprise, and...

Thereby answering the question of why Manwe was unable to
percieve Ungoliant.... ;-)

ber

Tamim

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Mar 1, 2006, 2:33:58 PM3/1/06
to
In alt.fan.tolkien Taemon <Tae...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
> Tamim wrote:

>> In alt.fan.tolkien Taemon <Tae...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
>>> Story internally, yes, and that makes all the difference. I can
>>> ignore the Bible and not have any problems explaining suffering.
>>> But when we're talking Tolkien, I HAVE to take Illuvatar into
>>> account.
>> It doesn't change anything, you just rephrase the same question.
>> In real world you ask whether God can exist, in "ME" you ask how
>> can evil exist.

> I do not ask whether God can exist. I don't believe so and hence, have
> no problem with the question.

Same situation with me. But it's a theological/philosophical question in
which you assume God exists. You also assume he is both beneveolent and
omnipotent. And you add evil and wonder how can that be.

In real world the easy escape is to agree that it cannot be so and thus
there is no God. In "ME" you know God exist so one way or another the
problem must be solvable. To the Catholics and other monotheists the
situation IRL is the same as in Tolkien's world. And thus they have been
discussing and thinking about the issue for millenia.

What I was saying is not that Eru doesn't exists or that God doesn't
exist IRL. All I am saying is that the issue is such that it isn't
really fruitful for us to even discuss it because it really isn't in any
way spesific to Tolkien's universe and because it has been discussed by
wiser people than us for so long that our discussion about COTW isn't
going to solve it. And now I notice that I am myself the one writing
most about the subject.

So I do not take a stand on the íssue itself. What I say (and others
disagree) is that the issue isn't at all different in Tolkien's universe
than in ours. Because in our like in Tolkien's one must assume God's
existance for there to be an issue. let me quote Wikipedia

1 God is omnipotent (premise)
2 God is benevolent (premise)
3 Benevolent beings are opposed to all evil. (premise)
4 God is opposed to all evil. (conclusion from 2 and 3)
5 God can eliminate evil completely. (conclusion from 1)

1. Whatever end result of suffering, God can bring about by ways
which do not include suffering. (conclusion from 1)
2. God has no reason not to eliminate evil (conclusion from 5.1)

6 God will eliminate evil completely. (conclusion from 4, 5 and 5.2)
7 Evil exists, has existed, and probably will always exist. (premise)
8 Items 6 and 7 are contradictory; therefore the premises are wrong
9 Therefore, premises are false, or God does not exist

This rationale does not disappear in ME. God does however exist so
that's not an escape. So either the premises are false or there is
something rotten in the conclusions.

>In Tolkien's universe that question is
> real, because HE put it up.

Look the issue is after all quite simple.

Derek Broughton

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Mar 1, 2006, 3:11:00 PM3/1/06
to
Robinsons wrote:
>
> Is it just me, or is Tolkien channeling a bit of H.P. Lovecraft
> in the creation of Ungoliant? I suspect he might have been familiar
> with Lovecraft (he was familiar with Isaac Asimov, even, later in life.)

It's not just you. While I have stated here that I think she must be a
Maia, I have always felt she had something in common with a Lovecraftian
Elder God. She might be spider-like, but definitely not a spider - they're
just not scary enough. She'd be more Cthulhu-ish.
--
derek

Stan Brown

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Mar 1, 2006, 3:45:53 PM3/1/06