Chapter of the Week LOTR Bk5 Ch1 Minas Tirith

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Christopher Kreuzer

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Nov 29, 2004, 9:01:25 PM11/29/04
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Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith

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introduce a future chapter, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org

Chapter Summary
===============

This chapter is the first one in 'The Return of the King' (the third
part of 'The Lord of the Rings'). Despite the cliffhanger that ended the
previous chapter ("Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy"), the tale
returns first to the fortunes of the other members of the Fellowship.
The story begun in the final chapter of Book III (The Palantir) is
resumed. We follow Pippin as he rides with Gandalf to Minas Tirith; see
the beacons of Gondor lit calling for aid; and come to the Tower of
Guard, the city of the Men of Gondor, at the rising of the Sun. Pippin
rides with Gandalf up through the streets of the city, coming to the
Court of the Fountain and seeing the White Tree.

Gandalf and Pippin meet the Lord and Steward of Minas Tirith, Denethor
son of Ecthelion, and hear his reaction to the death of his son Boromir.
Pippin pledges his allegiance to Gondor in payment of his debt to
Boromir, and is then questioned at length by Denethor. Gandalf is almost
completely ignored by Denethor, and a growing tension between the two
results in an angry exchange of words that ends with Gandalf striding
from the chamber in wrath, followed by Pippin.

A short while later, Gandalf leaves to attend the lords' council called
by Denethor. For the rest of the day, Pippin is shown the ways of the
city by Beregond, a Guard of the Citadel, and later by Beregond's son
Bergil. Pippin and Beregond talk of the customs of their countries, the
wide lands they see before them in front of Minas Tirith, and of the
growing shadow of war. Pippin sees wains bearing refugees southwards
from the city. With Bergil, Pippin sees the Captains of the Outlands
ride in to add their forces to the army of Gondor. The chapter ends at
night when Pippin is woken by Gandalf's return. Gandalf tells Pippin
that he should sleep, in a bed while he still may, declaring: "The
Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn."

Comments and thoughts
=====================

Although the main action in this chapter only covers a single day, it is
a day during which a lot happens! Rather than cover every event,
description and conversation, I have selected a few below to cover in
greater detail together with some questions.

A) Specific comments on the text

[Dreamlike ride on Shadowfax]

"As he fell slowly into sleep, Pippin had a strange feeling: he and
Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse,
while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of
wind." (Final line of 'The Palantir')

"Pippin [...] wondered if he was awake or still sleeping, still in the
swift-moving dream in which he had been wrapped so long since the great
ride began. The dark world was rushing by and the wind sang loudly in
his ears. He could see nothing but the wheeling stars, and away to his
right vast shadows against the sky where the mountains of the South
marched past." (First lines of 'Minas Tirith')

The opening lines of the chapter 'Minas Tirith' segue seamlessly from
the closing lines of 'The Palantir' chapter. The writing strongly evokes
that drowsy state between being asleep and being awake, with Pippin
struggling to remember how long it has been since he looked in the
palantir, followed by sudden wakefulness: "And with that hideous memory
he woke fully, and shivered, and the noise of the wind became filled
with menacing voices." As he wakes, Pippin is momentarily terrified by
the sight of the rising Moon, before he realises what it is.

Pippin's recollections also include coming to a silent town and a great
empty house on a hill, with a pale gleam of gold in the dawn. Do you
think Tolkien is right to not say clearly that this is Edoras, and
instead maintain a dreamlike atmosphere?

[Beacons and Errand-riders]

As Pippin and Gandalf ride on, Pippin suddenly sees fire on the hills to
their right. Gandalf explains what they are: "On, Shadowfax! We must
hasten. Time is short. See! The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling
for aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Dîn, and flame
on Eilenach; and there they go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas,
Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and the Halifirien on the borders of Rohan."

But Shadowfax slows to a walk and neighs in greeting as three horsemen
ride past: "presently the thudding of hoofs was heard, and three riders
swept up and passed like flying ghosts in the moon and vanished into the
West. Then Shadowfax gathered himself together and sprang away, and the
night flowed over him like a roaring wind."

Are these three riders the errand-riders of Gondor, bearing the Red
Arrow to Theoden? In later chapters we read of Hirgon presenting the Red
Arrow to Theoden, and later still we hear of two dead errand-riders, one
of whom was almost certainly Hirgon. Are these all the same people?

[Gandalf and Tolkien in two moods - Part 1: Gandalf-Ingold]

A day or so later, Pippin wakes in the twilight before dawn to hear
voices. Gandalf is talking to Ingold, leader of a company of men from
Minas Tirith, and is negotiating for Pippin to be allowed to go with
Gandalf to Minas Tirith: "I will vouch for him before the seat of
Denethor."

We are told that the Gondorians do not want strangers in the land at
this time of war. Gandalf then reveals that they bear tidings of the
storming of Isengard, Pippin declares himself to be a hobbit, and
Gandalf's use of the word 'halfling' provokes amazement among the
Gondorians. Pippin's untimely revelation of Boromir's death does not
cause surprise, but seems to prompt Ingold to allow them to pass.
Gandalf's parting words warn that enemy armies and battle is close at
hand, but that the Rohirrim are preparing to ride to the aid of Gondor.

Gandalf and Pippin then ride through the Rammas Echor, the out-wall that
surrounds the Pelennor, the lands in front of Minas Tirith. Eventually,
after riding for some time, they come to the gates of Minas Tirith at
dawn. In stark contrast to the talking at the Rammas Echor, Gandalf's
commanding voice gains them safe passage:

"So Gandalf and Peregrin rode to the Great Gate of the Men of Gondor at
the rising of the sun, and its iron doors rolled back before them.

'Mithrandir! Mithrandir!' men cried. 'Now we know that the storm is
indeed nigh!'

'It is upon you,' said Gandalf. 'I have ridden on its wings. Let me
pass! I must come to your Lord Denethor, while his stewardship lasts.
Whatever betide, you have come to the end of the Gondor that you have
known. Let me pass!'

Then men fell back before the command of his voice and questioned him no
further, though they gazed in wonder at the hobbit that sat before him
and at the horse that bore him."

What is the reason for this sudden change in tone? The first encounter
allows Tolkien to supply the reader with bits of information, while the
second allows Tolkien free rein with a different style. Is this
sufficient to explain the change in tone, or is this mayhaps an
historical voice, the scene being described in a copy of the Red Book by
a scribe of Gondor?

[Minas Tirith and its surrounds]

Before Pippin and Gandalf reach Minas Tirith there is a long descriptive
passage describing the appearance of the Pelennor, farmlands rising up
in terraces from the River Anduin to the city of Minas Tirith, located
on a shoulder of Mount Mindolluin, last of the White Mountains. There is
an even longer description of the city itself and its seven walls rising
to the Citadel at its peak. Pippin reacts with awe and wonder, though as
Pippin rides with Gandalf through the streets we read that in fact: "it
was in truth falling year by year into decay..."

What impressions do you get from the descriptions of Minas Tirith?

[Guards and a dead tree]

As Pippin and Gandalf pass into the Citadel, we read about the Guards at
the gate and the emblems that they bear: "Upon the black surcoats were
embroidered in white a tree blossoming like snow beneath a silver crown
and many-pointed stars. This was the livery of the heirs of Elendil, and
none wore it now in all Gondor, save the Guards of the Citadel before
the Court of the Fountain where the White Tree once had grown." As
Gandalf strides onwards across the Court of the Fountain, Pippin sees
that symbolic sight: "A sweet fountain played there in the morning sun,
and a sward of bright green lay about it; but in the midst, drooping
over the pool, stood a dead tree, and the falling drops dripped sadly
from its barren and broken branches back into the clear water."

Tolkien, through Pippin, reminds the reader of the rhyme of "seven stars
and seven stones and one white tree". Yet more iconic imagery is being
added to the reader's mental image of Minas Tirith. Is the reader, like
Pippin, being overwhelmed by the ancientry and majesty of what is being
depicted?

[Stone and Wood]

After a short conversation (covered elsewhere) Pippin and Gandalf enter
the throne room to meet with Denethor: "Pippin looked into a great hall.
It was lit by deep windows in the wide aisles at either side, beyond the
rows of tall pillars that upheld the roof. Monoliths of black marble,
they rose to great capitals carved in many strange figures of beasts and
leaves; and far above in shadow the wide vaulting gleamed with dull
gold, inset with flowing traceries of many colours. No hangings nor
storied webs, nor any things of woven stuff or of wood, were to be seen
in that long solemn hall; but between the pillars there stood a silent
company of tall images graven in cold stone."

Pippin is reminded of the Argonath ("awe fell on him, as he looked down
that avenue of kings long dead"), but Tolkien's words contrast the stone
of this room with hangings and wood. Is he comparing it to Meduseld in
Edoras, much as Gandalf has contrasted Denethor with Theoden?

[Gandalf and Tolkien in two moods - Part 2: Gandalf-Denethor]

Finally, after a rising crescendo of descriptions, we reach the throne
where Gandalf courteously addresses Denethor: "Hail, Lord and Steward of
Minas Tirith, Denethor son of Ecthelion! I am come with counsel and
tidings in this dark hour."

What then follows is mainly focused on Denethor's ongoing reaction to
the news of Boromir's death, and on Denethor's conversation with Pippin
(covered elsewhere). This is not to Gandalf's liking as he tells
Denethor: "I have not ridden hither from Isengard, one hundred and fifty
leagues, with the speed of wind, only to bring you one small warrior,
however courteous. Is it naught to you that Theoden has fought a great
battle and that Isengard is overthrown, and that I have broken the staff
of Saruman?"

Pippin looks at Gandalf and Denethor and: "he felt the strain between
them, almost as if he saw a line of smouldering fire, drawn from eye to
eye, that might suddenly burst into flame." After a delightful passage
where Pippin perceives "by a sense other than sight" the greater power
of Gandalf and muses on Gandalf's origins, Denethor cryptically says:
"for though the Stones be lost, they say, still the lords of Gondor have
keener sight than lesser men, and many messages come to them."

But still Denethor does not listen to Gandalf, and questions Pippin at
length while Pippin feels Gandalf: "holding in check a rising wrath and
impatience." Denethor then tries to mollify Gandalf: "And you, my Lord
Mithrandir, shall come too, as and when you will", but Gandalf has been
pushed too far: "Do you think that I do not understand your purpose in
questioning for an hour one who knows the least, while I sit by?"

This provokes the following from Denethor as he accuses Gandalf of
manipulating things for his own purposes: "the Lord of Gondor is not to
be made the tool of other men's purposes, however worthy. And to him
there is no purpose higher in the world as it now stands than the good
of Gondor; and the rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine and no other man's,
unless the king should come again."

Gandalf responds with his own declaration of his ideology: "the rule of
no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But
all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are
my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though
Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can
still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I
also am a steward. Did you not know?"

And Gandalf strides from the room with Pippin running at his side.

Whew! What happened there?! Gandalf started off polite and courteous,
but was mostly ignored by Denethor. Denethor appears grief-stricken, but
is later accused by Gandalf of using grief as a cloak and interrogating
Pippin. The scene ends with Gandalf striding from the hall without leave
of the Lord he has come to counsel. What has gone wrong here? Can this
be compared with the scene in Edoras where Gandalf successfully brings
counsel to Theoden?

[A grief-stricken old man? Pippin-Denethor]

Pippin's first sight of Denethor is described thus: "At the far end upon
a dais of many steps was set a high throne [...] But the throne was
empty. At the foot of the dais, upon the lowest step which was broad and
deep, there was a stone chair, black and unadorned, and on it sat an old
man gazing at his lap. In his hand was a white rod with a golden knob."

As Gandalf hails him, Denethor looks up: "Pippin saw his carven face
with its proud bones and skin like ivory, and the long curved nose
between the dark deep eyes; and he was reminded not so much of Boromir
as of Aragorn."

Denethor's response to Gandalf's hail includes: "But though all the
signs forebode that the doom of Gondor is drawing nigh, less now to me
is that darkness than my own darkness." Denethor reveals how he knows of
Boromir's death, saying that he heard the horn of Boromir (as did
Faramir) and he shows them the cloven horn that now lies in his lap.
Looking back to an earlier chapter, Faramir said to Frodo and Sam: "And
now the horn of the elder son lies in two pieces upon the lap of
Denethor, sitting in his high chair, waiting for news." (The Window on
the West)

Is the impression here that Denethor has been overcome with grief and is
just sitting in his throne room waiting for news? How long would he have
been sitting here, neglecting the running of the city? Why then does
Denethor question Pippin so closely?

"What say you to that, Halfling?"; "Tell me more! Why did no help come?
And how did you escape...";"Whence came this [Pippin's sword]? Many,
many years lie on it. Surely this is a blade wrought by our own kindred
in the North in the deep past?"; "...speak and be not silent! Tell me
your full tale, and see that you recall all that you can of Boromir, my
son."; "Pippin never forgot that hour in the great hall under the
piercing eye of the Lord of Gondor, stabbed ever and anon by his shrewd
questions."

Gandalf later explains to Pippin: "Still the Lord of Gondor learned more
from you than you may have guessed, Pippin. You could not hide the fact
that Boromir did not lead the Company from Moria, and that there was one
among you of high honour who was coming to Minas Tirith; and that he had
a famous sword."

This recalls Gandalf's warning to Pippin before they meet Denethor: "Be
careful of your words, Master Peregrin! [...] [Denethor] will speak most
to you, and question you much, [...] he will think it easier to learn
what he wishes from you rather than from me. Do not tell him more than
you need, and leave quiet the matter of Frodo's errand. I will deal with
that in due time. And say nothing about Aragorn either, unless you
must."

When does Gandalf tell Denethor of Frodo's errand? How much does
Denethor know of Aragorn, both before and after questioning Pippin? And,
most interestingly for me: why did Gandalf take Pippin with him to
Denethor? Was this a calculated risk, or a necessary action?
Story-externally, the reason seems clear, but story-internally did
Gandalf realise that Denethor would demand to speak to Pippin?

Also, who is manipulating who? Gandalf or Denethor? Is Pippin a pawn in
all this?

The later pages of the chapter provide a marked contrast to the
atmosphere in the throne room with Denethor, and we and Pippin meet,
instead, Beregond and his son Bergil. What purpose do the Beregond and
Bergil bits have, and how do they contrast with the Denethor scene?

B) General comments

- Synchronisation with Sam/Frodo storyline.

There are two passages that remind the reader that we have gone back in
time from the moment where we left Frodo, captured by the Enemy. As
Pippin is riding with Gandalf: "He wondered where Frodo was, and if he
was already in Mordor, or if he was dead; and he did not know that Frodo
from far away looked on that same moon as it set beyond Gondor ere the
coming of the day."

I think this is a reference to the moment where Frodo looks at the moon
setting over Gondor from the top of the waterfall at Henneth Annun, just
before helping Faramir's men capture Gollum.

The other synchronisation moment is: "At last they came out of shadow to
the seventh gate, and the warm sun that shone down beyond the river, as
Frodo walked in the glades of Ithilien, glowed here on the smooth
walls..."

This seems to be from the first bit of the journey to the Crossroads.

These are nice moments, but are probably also needed to orientate the
reader correctly with the timeline. Does this work? Is it easy to
understand the timeline without looking at Appendix B?

- This chapter comes after 10 chapters, 183 pages, and 16 days of
following the journey of Frodo and Sam some 200 miles from the Emyn Muil
to Cirith Ungol. The dates of this chapter versus the Sam and Frodo
events are:

March 5 Frodo hides near the Black Gate and leaves at dusk.
March 5 Gandalf and Pippin ride from near Isengard at night.

March 7 Pippin sees moon over White Mountains.
March 7 Frodo sees moon setting over Gondor.

March 9 Gandalf and Pippin reach Minas Tirith at dawn.
March 9 Frodo walking in Ithilien sunlight after leaving Henneth Annun.

March 9 (night) Gandalf says there will be no dawn.
March 10 The Dawnless Day. Frodo sees the Morgul host set forth.

I think this is the Morgul host that attacks Osgiliath and then Minas
Tirith. Or is that the host from Mordor? There is another host heading
across the Anduin further north as well I believe. And we also have the
Corsairs in the south.

- Almost the whole chapter is from Pippin's POV (point-of-view). Some
nice moments:

"If you have walked all these days with closed ears and mind asleep,
wake up now!" (Gandalf talking to Pippin before they meet Denethor)

"[Gandalf] came and stood beside Pippin, putting his arm about the
hobbit's shoulders [...] Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now
close beside his own [...], he saw at first only lines of care and
sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all
there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom
laughing, were it to gush forth." (Gandalf reassuring Pippin that he did
his best when being questioned by Denethor)

What do we learn of Pippin from this chapter? How are these new
experiences affecting him? How is he coping being on his own, separated
from Merry and the others?

- Denethor's character.

"A pale smile, like a gleam of cold sun on a winter's evening, passed
over the old man's face."

I wanted to say more about Denethor. But really this is just an excuse
to quote the line above, which is just delightful! He is reacting to
Pippin's offer of his sword in payment of the debt that Pippin feels he
owes Boromir. There is a bit more about Denethor below...

- Archaic speech of Denethor.

Denethor uses words like 'verily' (as does Boromir at the Council of
Elrond) and 'whence' and 'belie' and 'yea'. There is more of this in
later chapters, and probably archaic sentence constructions that I don't
know enough grammar to point out, but it is noticeable that Ingold too
uses words like 'aught' and 'ere' and 'yea'. Beregond and Bergil's
speech seem less archaic, but Beregond does use 'yestereve' and comments
on Pippin's accent.

- The Numenoreans.

With this meeting with Denethor, we now have four leaders of Numenoreans
to compare. Aragorn, Boromir, Faramir and Denethor. Can we say anything
about them? I would say that Faramir, Aragorn and Denethor are more
similar than Boromir, who seems to be the odd one out ("More like to the
swift sons of Eorl than to the grave Men of Gondor..." said Eomer). We
are told directly in this chapter that Pippin is reminded of Aragorn
when he sees Denethor. We also see signs of the 'long sight' that
Numenoreans have, and hear of blood running true from Gandalf:

"[Denethor] is not as other men of this time, Pippin, and whatever be
his descent from father to son, by some chance the blood of Westernesse
runs nearly true in him; as it does in his other son, Faramir, and yet
did not in Boromir whom he loved best. He has long sight. He can
perceive, if he bends his will thither, much of what is passing in the
minds of men, even of those that dwell far off. It is difficult to
deceive him, and dangerous to try."

Where in the book do we see this 'long sight' in Faramir and Aragorn?

What impressions do people get from this chapter of Denethor? A grieving
father? A kindly old man? An Aragorn-type figure? A scheming politician?
A noble lord defending his city?

- The geopolitical situation and the war.

Throughout this chapter we are told of the ongoing war, and the threats
to Gondor, and we see the many preparations being made: beacons are lit;
errand-riders go to Rohan; the out-wall is being repaired; but it is in
the bits with Beregond and Bergil that we learn most of the war:

"There go the last of the wains that bear away to refuge the aged, the
children, and the women that must go with them."; "...we await now a new
onslaught there [Osgiliath]. Maybe the chief onslaught of the war that
comes."; "...if you would know what I think set the beacons ablaze, it
was the news that came yestereve out of Lebennin. There is a great fleet
drawing near to the mouths of Anduin, manned by the corsairs of Umbar in
the South."; "...the doings at Isengard should warn us that we are
caught now in a great net and strategy. This is no longer a bickering at
the fords, raiding from Ithilien and from Anorien, ambushing and
pillaging. This is a great war long-planned, and we are but one piece in
it, whatever pride may say. Things move in the far East beyond the
Inland Sea, it is reported; and north in Mirkwood and beyond; and south
in Harad. And now all realms shall be put to the test, to stand, or
fall - under the Shadow."

The morale of the city seems strangely ambivalent. A winged Nazgul
passes over and Beregond is stricken: "I fear that Minas Tirith shall
fall. Night comes. The very warmth of my blood seems stolen away." But
the sun returns and Pippin rejects despair and Beregond is inspired to
say: "Nay, though all things must come utterly to an end in time, Gondor
shall not perish yet. Not though the walls be taken by a reckless foe
that will build a hill of carrion before them. There are still other
fastnesses, and secret ways of escape into the mountains. Hope and
memory shall live still in some hidden valley where the grass is green."
The morale of the city seems also to be boosted by Pippin's very
presence (even though he had not brought an army with him as rumour
said), and the people of the city hail him as: "Ernil i Pheriannath"
(Prince of the Halflings).

This rumour is quite funny: "...when the Riders came from Rohan each
would bring behind him a halfling warrior, small maybe, but doughty."
And how many halfling warriors did the Rohirrim bring with them in the
end? :-) Actually, that one doughty warrior achieved something very
important...

Later, Pippin befriends Beregond's son Bergil, only 10 years old but
allowed to remain in the city to help where he may. We are told that
"Bergil proved a good comrade, the best company Pippin had had since he
parted from Merry", but we are also reminded that Bergil is still a
child and perhaps does not understand the danger as much as Pippin does:
"Pippin looked up, and it seemed to him that the sky had grown
ashen-grey, as if a vast dust and smoke hung above them, and light came
dully through it. But in the West the dying sun had set all the fume on
fire, and now Mindolluin stood black against a burning smoulder flecked
with embers. 'So ends a fair day in wrath!' he said, forgetful of the
lad at his side."

And this, it seems, presages the coming of the darkness from Mordor.
When Pippin returns to his lodgings the darkness is described as: "like
looking into a pool of ink." And then Gandalf ends the chapter with the
dramatic: "The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn."

C) Other comments

- Meaning of 'wont' (noun and verb).

The word 'wont' is used several times in this chapter. It seems to mean
'custom' or 'accustomed' as in: "But you come with tidings of grief and
danger, as is your wont, they say."; and "at such times you are wont to
come, Mithrandir."

Does anyone know what the etymology of this word is? Anything similar in
other languages?

- Silver trumpets.

Finally, I want to point out something that I only realised recently. In
one of the Peter Jackson films Boromir says something along the lines of
"have you never heard the sound of silver trumpets calling you home?" I
thought that this was just a nice addition to the film, but was
pleasantly surprised to realise that it was almost certainly inspired by
a line from this chapter: "...and high and far he heard a clear ringing
as of silver trumpets." The full quote is given below, from the scene
where Pippin and Gandalf ride to the gates of Minas Tirith at dawn.

Christopher

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

"Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls passed from looming grey to
white, blushing faintly in the dawn; and suddenly the sun climbed over
the eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the
City. Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high
within the topmost wall, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a
spike of pearl and silver, tall and fair and shapely, and its pinnacle
glittered as if it were wrought of crystals; and white banners broke and
fluttered from the battlements in the morning breeze, and high and far
he heard a clear ringing as of silver trumpets." (Dawn as Pippin and
Gandalf approach Minas Tirith - 'Minas Tirith')

Michele Fry

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Nov 30, 2004, 1:27:35 AM11/30/04
to
In article <VvQqd.26183$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> writes

>C) Other comments
>
>- Meaning of 'wont' (noun and verb).
>
>The word 'wont' is used several times in this chapter. It seems to mean
>'custom' or 'accustomed' as in: "But you come with tidings of grief and
>danger, as is your wont, they say."; and "at such times you are wont to
>come, Mithrandir."
>
>Does anyone know what the etymology of this word is? Anything similar in
>other languages?

From the Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/):

wont - early 14c., from pp. of wonen "to dwell," from O.E. wunian "to
dwell, be accustomed," from P.Gmc. *wun-, related to O.E. winnan,
gewinnan "to win" (see win) and to wean. Wonted is first attested early
15c. [P.Gmc. Proto-Germanic, hypothetical prehistoric ancestor of all
Germanic languages, including English.]

Michele
==
"When ideas fail, words come in very handy." - Goethe
==
Now reading: Letters of J R R Tolkien - H Carpenter & C Tolkien
==
Counter-Attack web site: http://www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk

Jens Kilian

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Nov 30, 2004, 1:31:11 PM11/30/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> writes:
> Pippin's recollections also include coming to a silent town and a great
> empty house on a hill, with a pale gleam of gold in the dawn. Do you
> think Tolkien is right to not say clearly that this is Edoras, and
> instead maintain a dreamlike atmosphere?

This is Pippin's first visit to Edoras, so he could not know the names of the
town or the hall.

Bye,
Jens.
--
mailto:j...@acm.org As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish,
http://www.bawue.de/~jjk/ so is contempt to the contemptible. [Blake]

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Nov 30, 2004, 3:07:18 PM11/30/04
to
Jens Kilian <j...@acm.org> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> writes:
>> Pippin's recollections also include coming to a silent town and a
>> great empty house on a hill, with a pale gleam of gold in the dawn.
>> Do you think Tolkien is right to not say clearly that this is
>> Edoras, and instead maintain a dreamlike atmosphere?
>
> This is Pippin's first visit to Edoras, so he could not know the
> names of the town or the hall.

Actually, Gandalf mentions Edoras to Pippin in the Palantir chapter
(though how the reader is expected to remember this, I don't know - and
I couldn't find any reference to Pippin being told the name of
Meduseld).

Thanks for reminding me about this as, despite it being in the
'previous' chapter (as far as the Pippin/Merry storyline goes), it is a
nice summary of what happens in the first few pages of this chapter:

"We shall ride now till daybreak, and that is some hours away. Then even
Shadowfax must rest, in some hollow of the hills: at Edoras, I hope.
Sleep, if you can! You may see the first glimmer of dawn upon the golden
roof of the house of Eorl. And in two days thence you shall see the
purple shadow of Mount Mindolluin and the walls of the tower of Denethor
white in the morning." (Gandalf speaking to Pippin at the end of 'The
Palantir' chapter in 'The Two Towers')

Compare that to the following snippets from this chapter ('Minas
Tirith') at the beginning of 'The Return of the King':

"...the first ride at terrible speed without a halt, and then in the
dawn he had seen a pale gleam of gold, and they had come to the silent
town and the great empty house on the hill."

[This connects with Gandalf's earlier bit about riding 'now till
daybreak' trying to reach Edoras, and the 'glimmer of dawn upon the
golden roof of the house of Eorl']

"Another day of hiding and a night of journey had fleeted by."

[which I think confirms Gandalf's earlier bit about 'two days', and
about having to rest and hide in the 'hollow of the hills' during the da
y, probably to evade the Nazgul and other winged spies]

"And there where the White Mountains of Ered Nimrais came to their end
he saw, as Gandalf had promised, the dark mass of Mount Mindolluin, the
deep purple shadows of its high glens..."

[This bit even refers back to Gandalf's 'promise', which is the words
quoted at the beginning of the chapter, about seeing 'the purple shadow
of Mount Mindolluin']

{And about this purple shadow: does this imply something like heather in
flower in the glens? Or is it just a reference to blackness turning to
purple and then green as the sun rises?}

"Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls [of Minas Tirith] passed from
looming grey to white, blushing faintly in the dawn..."

[And this bit is connected to Gandalf's earlier comment on 'the walls of
the tower of Denethor white in the morning', though actually, as Gandalf
refers to the tower, it more accurately refers to the bit where Pippin
sees the sun shine on the tower: "the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high
within the topmost walls, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a
spike of pearl and silver..."]

So if Pippin had been paying attention, he would have known what he was
going to see! :-)

AC

unread,
Nov 30, 2004, 3:18:37 PM11/30/04
to
On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 02:01:25 GMT,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

<reallllly big snip, excellent summary I might add!>

>
> - Archaic speech of Denethor.
>
> Denethor uses words like 'verily' (as does Boromir at the Council of
> Elrond) and 'whence' and 'belie' and 'yea'. There is more of this in
> later chapters, and probably archaic sentence constructions that I don't
> know enough grammar to point out, but it is noticeable that Ingold too
> uses words like 'aught' and 'ere' and 'yea'. Beregond and Bergil's
> speech seem less archaic, but Beregond does use 'yestereve' and comments
> on Pippin's accent.

This is an example of archaic language representing nobility. Denethor is
of high (though not highest) ancestry, and thus his language retains the
most archaisms. Beregond, while still a Numenorean, is not of any nobility,
and thus his speech is closer in some respects to Pippin's (let's not get
into a discussion how two different groups of people of obvious ethnic
diversity would be speaking the Westron descendant of Adunaic closely enough
that they can converse with each other).

>
> - The Numenoreans.
>
> With this meeting with Denethor, we now have four leaders of Numenoreans
> to compare. Aragorn, Boromir, Faramir and Denethor. Can we say anything
> about them? I would say that Faramir, Aragorn and Denethor are more
> similar than Boromir, who seems to be the odd one out ("More like to the
> swift sons of Eorl than to the grave Men of Gondor..." said Eomer). We
> are told directly in this chapter that Pippin is reminded of Aragorn
> when he sees Denethor. We also see signs of the 'long sight' that
> Numenoreans have, and hear of blood running true from Gandalf:
>
> "[Denethor] is not as other men of this time, Pippin, and whatever be
> his descent from father to son, by some chance the blood of Westernesse
> runs nearly true in him; as it does in his other son, Faramir, and yet
> did not in Boromir whom he loved best. He has long sight. He can
> perceive, if he bends his will thither, much of what is passing in the
> minds of men, even of those that dwell far off. It is difficult to
> deceive him, and dangerous to try."
>
> Where in the book do we see this 'long sight' in Faramir and Aragorn?

I think Aragorn displayed this rather well in Bree, and Faramir recognized
both the wickedness of Gollum and the truth of Frodo's words.

>
> What impressions do people get from this chapter of Denethor? A grieving
> father? A kindly old man? An Aragorn-type figure? A scheming politician?
> A noble lord defending his city?

Well, he was no kindly old man, but he was grieving over the death of a
favorite son. He's one of my favorite characters in all of Tolkien's
mythos. We see, I think, the mightiest of Men save Aragorn still alive at
the end of the Third Age. He has a keen mind, a potent will (which I think
explains the utter madness when it finally shatters), and is very much a
kingly figure in the form of what I imagine most of the great monarchs in
real history were (people like Peter the Great, Frederick the Great,
Charlemagne and Elizabeth I). Aragorn is the mythical king, the wise,
strong, kindly prince in hiding (an Arthurian figure, really) come to claim
his rightful throne. Aragorn is something of an archetype, while Denethor
represents the reailities of a ruler beset by personal tragedy and a war
that he cannot hope to win. In the end his failure is the same as the
Valar's (from another thread), a lack of of faith.

We don't see the tragic side of Denethor yet, just the prideful, powerful
man. He is flawed, to be sure. He loved one son more than the other,
considered only the political and strategic position of Gondor (explaining
why he reacts so strongly later when Faramir returns to tell him that the
Ring went into Mordor). That's why I like him (and Turin for similar
reasons), and his self-destruction later is such a sad thing, even though he
may be one of the least sympathetic characters in the entire book.

<snip>

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

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields

Michele Fry

unread,
Nov 30, 2004, 3:38:30 PM11/30/04
to
In article <Wp4rd.26840$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> writes

>So if Pippin had been paying attention, he would have known what he was
>going to see! :-)

ITIC* But if Pippin had been paying attention, Gandalf wouldn't have
rebuked him - as you yourself quoted in your chapter summary thus:

'"If you have walked all these days with closed ears and mind asleep,
wake up now!" (Gandalf talking to Pippin before they meet Denethor)'

- so we know Pippin doesn't pay attention, having been chiefly concerned
with food and merriment. It isn't until the business with the Orc
capture, the Ents and Isengard that he really begins to wake up properly
- and even then he clearly hasn't thought too much about Aragorn and his
role...

Michele
* Insert Tongue Into Cheek.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Nov 30, 2004, 7:12:08 PM11/30/04
to
In message <news:VvQqd.26183$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith

Wow! 526 lines ;-)

That's quite a bit, and I won't be getting further tonight (got to find
my bed soon <G>)

<snip>

> [Dreamlike ride on Shadowfax]

<snip quotations>

> The opening lines of the chapter 'Minas Tirith' segue seamlessly
> from the closing lines of 'The Palantir' chapter.

Exactly -- I always find that this opening brings me back to book III
immediately (though in recent years I've taken to get Sam and Frodo
into Mordor before starting on book V).

> The writing strongly evokes that drowsy state between being asleep
> and being awake, with Pippin struggling to remember how long it
> has been since he looked in the palantir, followed by sudden
> wakefulness:
> "And with that hideous memory he woke fully, and shivered, and the
> noise of the wind became filled with menacing voices."
> As he wakes, Pippin is momentarily terrified by the sight of the
> rising Moon, before he realises what it is.

Is he, in his half-awake state, first reminded of the palantír, or is
it simply some other fear of fire?

> Pippin's recollections also include coming to a silent town and a
> great empty house on a hill, with a pale gleam of gold in the
> dawn. Do you think Tolkien is right to not say clearly that this
> is Edoras, and instead maintain a dreamlike atmosphere?

Definitely. It is necessary for the reader to recall the atmosphere he
left in book III. And Tolkien does actually come out and state it
explicitly, though later, in "The Muster of Rohan" when Dúnhere tells
Théoden about it ("'At dawn three days ago, lord,' he said, 'Shadowfax
came like a wind out of the West to Edoras, and Gandalf brought
tidings [...]").

> [Beacons and Errand-riders]
>
> As Pippin and Gandalf ride on, Pippin suddenly sees fire on the
> hills to their right. Gandalf explains what they are: "On,
> Shadowfax! We must hasten. Time is short. See! The beacons of
> Gondor are alight, calling for aid. War is kindled. See, there is
> the fire on Amon Dîn, and flame on Eilenach; and there they go
> speeding west: Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and the
> Halifirien on the borders of Rohan."

That reminds me of "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" from VT 42,
not to mention all the information in UT.

Though it was almost certainly a later development, it is nice to think
that they're riding past Elendil's tomb, and that the name, which is
Rohirric, meant "holy mountain".

<snip>

> Are these three riders the errand-riders of Gondor, bearing the
> Red Arrow to Theoden? In later chapters we read of Hirgon
> presenting the Red Arrow to Theoden, and later still we hear of
> two dead errand-riders, one of whom was almost certainly Hirgon.
> Are these all the same people?

Let's see . . .

Gandalf and Pippin arrive at Minas Tirith on March 9, when Théoden also
arrive at Dunharrow as do Hirgon. As I read it Gandalf and Pippin
encounter the riders the evening of the seventh (later we hear how
"another day of hiding and a night of journey had fleeted by"). I'd
say, then, that it is quite possible that it would be Hirgon, as that
would give him two whole days to cover the same distance (plus the
extra bit from Edoras to Dunharrow) which Shadowfax has covered in
little more than one night.

Fonstad has Gandalf and Pippin spend the day of the seventh about 20
miles from the Firien Wood and the Gondor/Rohan border (the Mering
Stream). The meeting is in Anórien, but the question is whether it was
before or after Halifirien. If we put it at about the location of
Halifirien it would correspond (again according to Fonstad) to about
two and half days journey for the Rohirrim who were conserving their
strength (as well as the strength of their horses), so that would still
fit well with Hirgon making the same journey in two days.

I'll go so far as to stick my neck in the noose and say that it is
indeed Hirgon with companions ;-)

> [Gandalf and Tolkien in two moods - Part 1: Gandalf-Ingold]

<snip>

> We are told that the Gondorians do not want strangers in the land
> at this time of war. Gandalf then reveals that they bear tidings
> of the storming of Isengard, Pippin declares himself to be a
> hobbit, and Gandalf's use of the word 'halfling' provokes
> amazement among the Gondorians.

" 'A Halfling,' answered Gandalf. 'Nay, not the one that
was spoken of,' he added seeing the wonder in the men's
faces. 'Not he, yet one of his kindred.'"

Clearly the guards know of the dream -- I wonder how widespread that
knowledge was in Gondor if the guards at the Rammas knew about it.

> Pippin's untimely revelation of Boromir's death does not cause
> surprise,

And we already know from Faramir why that is.

> but seems to prompt Ingold to allow them to pass.

I imagine that it was common knowledge that Denethor was fairly anxious
to get news about Boromir's death ;-)


<snip>

> "So Gandalf and Peregrin rode to the Great Gate of the Men of
> Gondor at the rising of the sun, and its iron doors rolled back
> before them.
>
> 'Mithrandir! Mithrandir!' men cried. 'Now we know that the storm
> is indeed nigh!'

This follows the pattern also seen in Edoras:

"'And even now we learn from Gondor that the Dark Lord is
stirring in the East. Such is the hour in which this
wanderer chooses to return. Why indeed should we welcome
you, Master Stormcrow? Láthspell I name you, Ill-news; and
ill news is an ill guest they say.'"
LotR III,6 'The King of the Golden Hall'

And again when they meet Ingold:

"'May you bring good counsel to Denethor in his need, and to
us all, Mithrandir!' Ingold cried. 'But you come with
tidings of grief and danger, as is your wont, they say.'"

And also later, before Denethor:

"'Dark indeed is the hour,' said the old man, 'and at such

times you are wont to come, Mithrandir."

Clearly Gandalf's reputation in the south isn't all that good -- I do
think that Denethor knows the truth; that Gandalf comes when he is
needed, but there I always feel this unstated accusation, 'why didn't
you come before?'


<snip>

> What is the reason for this sudden change in tone? The first
> encounter allows Tolkien to supply the reader with bits of
> information, while the second allows Tolkien free rein with a
> different style. Is this sufficient to explain the change in tone,
> or is this mayhaps an historical voice, the scene being described
> in a copy of the Red Book by a scribe of Gondor?

You offer two explanations; a story-external and a story-internal.

Looking back at the change in POV in book IV from Frodo to Sam, I think
that this is explained, both story-internally and story-externally, by
Frodo's growing absorption with the Ring and resulting distance to the
world around him.

These changes in narrative style can usually be explained both by
story-internal and a story-external arguments, and I think that this is
deliberate -- Tolkien needed these changes in style, and wrote them in
such a way that it also made sense story-internally.

In the encounter with Ingold, there was a need to give us some
information, and the tone was partially set by Ingold and Pippin with
Gandalf responding in kind (and Ingold had the right and duty to bar
the way for Pippin and question him). Once inside Minas Tirith,
however, Gandalf's mind is fully on the meeting with Denethor and he
doesn't have time to stop for these people: this is indeed the White
Rider, the Enemy of Sauron.


<snip>

> B) General comments
>
> - Synchronisation with Sam/Frodo storyline.
>
> There are two passages that remind the reader that we have gone
> back in time from the moment where we left Frodo, captured by the
> Enemy. As Pippin is riding with Gandalf: "He wondered where Frodo
> was, and if he was already in Mordor, or if he was dead; and he
> did not know that Frodo from far away looked on that same moon as
> it set beyond Gondor ere the coming of the day."
>
> I think this is a reference to the moment where Frodo looks at the
> moon setting over Gondor from the top of the waterfall at Henneth
> Annun, just before helping Faramir's men capture Gollum.

I agree -- and as Frodo spent the night of the seventh -- eighth of
March in Henneth Annûn, this fits well with the timing I gave above.

> The other synchronisation moment is: "At last they came out of
> shadow to the seventh gate, and the warm sun that shone down
> beyond the river, as Frodo walked in the glades of Ithilien,
> glowed here on the smooth walls..."
>
> This seems to be from the first bit of the journey to the
> Crossroads.

Indeed.

> These are nice moments, but are probably also needed to orientate
> the reader correctly with the timeline. Does this work? Is it easy
> to understand the timeline without looking at Appendix B?

I don't think so -- not in details, anyway. We get these occasional
synchronisation bits, but it is far easier to follow the timeline using
appendix B (and having Fonstad's atlas with the 'best guess' routes
marked out helps a lot, too).



> - This chapter comes after 10 chapters, 183 pages, and 16 days of
> following the journey of Frodo and Sam some 200 miles from the
> Emyn Muil to Cirith Ungol. The dates of this chapter versus the
> Sam and Frodo events are:

I've added a few things.



> March 5 Frodo hides near the Black Gate and leaves at dusk.
> March 5 Gandalf and Pippin ride from near Isengard at night.

March 6: Gandalf and Pippen spends the day in Edoras
March 6: Aragorn and Théoden "overtaken by the Dúnedain in the
early hours"



> March 7 Pippin sees moon over White Mountains.
> March 7 Frodo sees moon setting over Gondor.

March 7: "Aragorn comes to Dunharrow at nightfall."
March 7: Gandalf and Pippin meets Hirgon et Al. carrying the
Red Arrow to Théoden.

March 8: "Aragorn takes the 'Paths of the Dead' at daybreak."
March 8: "Frodo leaves Henneth Annûn."

> March 9 Gandalf and Pippin reach Minas Tirith at dawn.
> March 9 Frodo walking in Ithilien sunlight after leaving Henneth
> Annun.

March 9: "Aragorn sets out from Erech."
March 9: Frodo reaches the cross-roads at dusk.
March 9: Théoden, Merry, Éomer and the rest of their party reach
Dunharrow.

> March 9 (night) Gandalf says there will be no dawn.
> March 10 The Dawnless Day. Frodo sees the Morgul host set forth.

<snip>

> - Meaning of 'wont' (noun and verb).
>
> The word 'wont' is used several times in this chapter. It seems to
> mean 'custom' or 'accustomed' as in: "But you come with tidings of
> grief and danger, as is your wont, they say."; and "at such times
> you are wont to come, Mithrandir."
>
> Does anyone know what the etymology of this word is? Anything
> similar in other languages?

Michele has already kindly provided the etymology of "wont", which
seems related to German "wohnen" (to dwell), so I went a bit further in
my studies ;-)

There's a Danish word "vane" meaning 'habit' or 'custom' (with the
corresponding verb "vænne" -- to grow used to or accustomed to), which
appears to have the same origin (German "Gewohnheit" and "gewöhnen").

<http://www.hist.uib.no/kalkar/>
(Choose "BLA I ORDBOKA" and select "Band IV" and page 727)

Now I begin wondering whether this is related to the name of the race
of gods that preceded the Aesir in the Nordic countries (and from which
Frey and Freya came): the "Vaner" . . .


<snip>

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

The trouble with being a god is that you've got no one to pray to.
- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)

Raven

unread,
Nov 30, 2004, 8:22:29 PM11/30/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> skrev i en meddelelse
news:VvQqd.26183$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk...

> Pippin's recollections also include coming to a silent town and a great
> empty house on a hill, with a pale gleam of gold in the dawn. Do you
> think Tolkien is right to not say clearly that this is Edoras, and
> instead maintain a dreamlike atmosphere?

Emphatically yes. Partly it produces more atmosphere than merely
relating along the lines of "...then they came to Edoras, where Gandalf gave
some orders, then the winged shadow flew over them, then he slept in a
corner, then they sped eastwards again, then they...". Partly it chimes
well with the whole of the chapter, namely telling it from Pippin's
viewpoint. Pippin had never been to Edoras, which was but a name to him. He
possibly didn't realize until later that this silent town had *been* Edoras.

> Are these three riders the errand-riders of Gondor, bearing the Red
> Arrow to Theoden? In later chapters we read of Hirgon presenting the Red
> Arrow to Theoden, and later still we hear of two dead errand-riders, one
> of whom was almost certainly Hirgon. Are these all the same people?

Very probably. Though in "The Muster of Rohan" we see only two, and only
two are seen slain when the host of Rohan approaches Mundburg. It may be
that the third had errands further west, or that he returned to Gondor
through the Gap of Rohan. Or he may have remained at Edoras when Hirgon and
the other went to the Hold, and when they were met by the enemy during their
return one of the three escaped while his companions were hewn down.. Why
the escaping man didn't rejoin Théoden's host is then a mystery,
particularly considering the important news that he now bore. Perhaps he
*was* slain, only in a different place where his body was not seen by the
Rohirrim. Or perhaps he had to flee far out of the way back towards Edoras.
One possibility is of course that he was a man of Rohan, accompanying
Denethor's messengers, either because he was sort of an ambassador in Minas
Tirith or because he had by chance had an errand there and it was arranged
that he accompany Hirgon and his companion since they were all three going
to the same place anyway.
Funny if Denethor should send three horsemen to carry a message. One
would suffice to bear the Red Arrow and Denethor's words, with a companion
for backup. Three would be one too many - or a hundred too few, if fighting
were expected.

> What is the reason for this sudden change in tone? The first encounter
> allows Tolkien to supply the reader with bits of information, while the
> second allows Tolkien free rein with a different style. Is this
> sufficient to explain the change in tone, or is this mayhaps an
> historical voice, the scene being described in a copy of the Red Book by
> a scribe of Gondor?

Story-internally, it may be that Gandalf needed a pass from the commander
at the border, which turned out to be Ingold at the Rammas, but once he had
that, he felt permitted to wield his authority until he reached Ingold's
superiour, namely Denethor. Or that his pass and permission from Ingold
included a request to see Denethor as swiftly as he could, and then he used
authority derived through Ingold from Denethor himself to make the swiftest
way.

> And, most interestingly for me: why did Gandalf take Pippin
> with him to Denethor? Was this a calculated risk, or a
> necessary action? Story-externally, the reason seems clear,
> but story-internally did Gandalf realise that Denethor would
> demand to speak to Pippin?

Of course Denethor would demand to see Pippin, who, along with Merry, saw
Boromir fall. He would have considered it very odd for Gandalf to stash
such a one away - before Gandalf even had a place to stash him, at that, as
Gandalf and Pippin were shown to the lodgings prepared for them only after
they had seen the Steward. For Gandalf it would have been comparable to
addressing Denethor with "Hullo, old fogey" - it would have accomplished
nothing good and much bad.

Cuervo.


Christopher Kreuzer

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Nov 30, 2004, 9:58:02 PM11/30/04
to
Raven <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> skrev

<snip>

>> Are these three riders the errand-riders of Gondor, bearing the Red
>> Arrow to Theoden? In later chapters we read of Hirgon presenting the
>> Red Arrow to Theoden, and later still we hear of two dead
>> errand-riders, one of whom was almost certainly Hirgon. Are these
>> all the same people?
>
> Very probably. Though in "The Muster of Rohan" we see only two,
> and only two are seen slain when the host of Rohan approaches

> Mundburg. It may be that the third [...]

It is interesting to note that the historical analogue is with the
errand-riders sent by Cirion to Eorl. Looking in Unfinished Tales, we
see that Cirion sent three groups of two messengers. In the event, only
one of those six errand-riders made it there and back safely. Maybe the
tradition of sending pairs of riders out was maintained and the third
rider is a mystery here, or the 3x2 strategy was replaced by a 1x3
strategy. Hmm.

>> What is the reason for this sudden change in tone? The first
>> encounter allows Tolkien to supply the reader with bits of
>> information, while the second allows Tolkien free rein with a

>> different style. Is this sufficient to explain the change in tone?


>
> Story-internally, it may be that Gandalf needed a pass from the
> commander at the border, which turned out to be Ingold at the Rammas,

I feel that Gandalf could have acted at the Rammas Echor in the same way
that he did at the gates: cried out in a commanding voice that they
should let him pass. In fact, the delay (ignoring story-external
reasons) meant that Gandalf could gather news and give news himself, and
maybe the later scene can be explained simply by the fact that Ingold
has sent a rider on ahead to warn the guards at the gates of Minas
Tirith. Except that we are specifically told that "men fell back before
the command of his voice and did not question him" (or something like
that).

It is worth noting that Denethor does not seem overly surprised when
they enter the throne room. Either he is using his 'long sight', or he
has been using the palantir, or messages have gone ahead before Gandalf
and Pippin. Denethor says "it has been told to me that you bring with
you one who saw my son die".

aelfwina

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Dec 1, 2004, 5:15:48 AM12/1/04
to

"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message
news:VvQqd.26183$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk...

> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith
>
> To read previous Chapter of the Week discussions, or to sign up to
> introduce a future chapter, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org
>
> Chapter Summary
> ===============
>(summary snip)

One of my favorite quotes is that last paragraph of "The Palantir", and it
moves so smoothly into the beginning of this chapter, that one could easily
skip directly here, and not feel that one has missed a beat. I'm wondering
if he wrote them consecutively? Any hints in HoME?


>
> [Beacons and Errand-riders]
>
> As Pippin and Gandalf ride on, Pippin suddenly sees fire on the hills to
> their right. Gandalf explains what they are: "On, Shadowfax! We must
> hasten. Time is short. See! The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling
> for aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Dîn, and flame
> on Eilenach; and there they go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas,
> Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and the Halifirien on the borders of Rohan."
>
> But Shadowfax slows to a walk and neighs in greeting as three horsemen
> ride past: "presently the thudding of hoofs was heard, and three riders
> swept up and passed like flying ghosts in the moon and vanished into the
> West. Then Shadowfax gathered himself together and sprang away, and the
> night flowed over him like a roaring wind."
>
> Are these three riders the errand-riders of Gondor, bearing the Red
> Arrow to Theoden? In later chapters we read of Hirgon presenting the Red
> Arrow to Theoden, and later still we hear of two dead errand-riders, one
> of whom was almost certainly Hirgon. Are these all the same people?

I had always assumed that it was the errand-riders, and had never before
paid any attention to the number discrepancy! The things one notices in
these CotW discussions! Now I'm going to have to figure this out!

It's a feeling to me of ever-increasing urgency, the closer they approach to
the City. In the first, Gandalf argues his passage, and in the second he
simply demands it; it's as though the closer they get, the more he senses
all is not right.


>
> [Minas Tirith and its surrounds]
>
> Before Pippin and Gandalf reach Minas Tirith there is a long descriptive
> passage describing the appearance of the Pelennor, farmlands rising up
> in terraces from the River Anduin to the city of Minas Tirith, located
> on a shoulder of Mount Mindolluin, last of the White Mountains. There is
> an even longer description of the city itself and its seven walls rising
> to the Citadel at its peak. Pippin reacts with awe and wonder, though as
> Pippin rides with Gandalf through the streets we read that in fact: "it
> was in truth falling year by year into decay..."
>
> What impressions do you get from the descriptions of Minas Tirith?

I've always had my reactions tied in with Pippin's POV, that sense of awe
and amazement. I feel, with him, all wide-eyed and anxious.

>
> [Guards and a dead tree]
>
> As Pippin and Gandalf pass into the Citadel, we read about the Guards at
> the gate and the emblems that they bear: "Upon the black surcoats were
> embroidered in white a tree blossoming like snow beneath a silver crown
> and many-pointed stars. This was the livery of the heirs of Elendil, and
> none wore it now in all Gondor, save the Guards of the Citadel before
> the Court of the Fountain where the White Tree once had grown." As
> Gandalf strides onwards across the Court of the Fountain, Pippin sees
> that symbolic sight: "A sweet fountain played there in the morning sun,
> and a sward of bright green lay about it; but in the midst, drooping
> over the pool, stood a dead tree, and the falling drops dripped sadly
> from its barren and broken branches back into the clear water."
>
> Tolkien, through Pippin, reminds the reader of the rhyme of "seven stars
> and seven stones and one white tree". Yet more iconic imagery is being
> added to the reader's mental image of Minas Tirith. Is the reader, like
> Pippin, being overwhelmed by the ancientry and majesty of what is being
> depicted?

Absolutely, in my case. I remember the first time I read this being
completely drawn in by the picture being built in my mind.


>
> [Stone and Wood]
>
> After a short conversation (covered elsewhere) Pippin and Gandalf enter
> the throne room to meet with Denethor: "Pippin looked into a great hall.
> It was lit by deep windows in the wide aisles at either side, beyond the
> rows of tall pillars that upheld the roof. Monoliths of black marble,
> they rose to great capitals carved in many strange figures of beasts and
> leaves; and far above in shadow the wide vaulting gleamed with dull
> gold, inset with flowing traceries of many colours. No hangings nor
> storied webs, nor any things of woven stuff or of wood, were to be seen
> in that long solemn hall; but between the pillars there stood a silent
> company of tall images graven in cold stone."
>
> Pippin is reminded of the Argonath ("awe fell on him, as he looked down
> that avenue of kings long dead"), but Tolkien's words contrast the stone
> of this room with hangings and wood. Is he comparing it to Meduseld in
> Edoras, much as Gandalf has contrasted Denethor with Theoden?

Now *that's* something that had not occurred to me before, but knowing
JRRT's penchant for parallelism, it would not surprise me at all.


>
> [Gandalf and Tolkien in two moods - Part 2: Gandalf-Denethor]
>
> Finally, after a rising crescendo of descriptions, we reach the throne
> where Gandalf courteously addresses Denethor: "Hail, Lord and Steward of
> Minas Tirith, Denethor son of Ecthelion! I am come with counsel and
> tidings in this dark hour."

(snip of quotations from chapter)


>
> And Gandalf strides from the room with Pippin running at his side.
>
> Whew! What happened there?! Gandalf started off polite and courteous,
> but was mostly ignored by Denethor. Denethor appears grief-stricken, but
> is later accused by Gandalf of using grief as a cloak and interrogating
> Pippin. The scene ends with Gandalf striding from the hall without leave
> of the Lord he has come to counsel. What has gone wrong here? Can this
> be compared with the scene in Edoras where Gandalf successfully brings
> counsel to Theoden?

To me, we see Denethor's pride manifesting itself here. It seems as thought
he is trying to do a bit of one-upmanship with Gandalf, flaunting his
knowledge of things afar off, that by rights should come as news to him.
It is quite possible that this is a contrast to his encounter with Theoden.
Theoden *wanted* help, ultimately. It is clear that Denethor does *not*, at
least not any help that Gandalf might give.
I do think that Denethor's attitude shows that he did *not* have any inkling
as to what Gandalf's true nature was.
And also, on Gandalf's part, we see again this sense of urgency coming
through. He's spent several hundred years trying to orchestrate Sauron's
fall, and now that things are coming to a head, they seem to be snowballing
out of his control. So he hasn't much patience with Denethor's pretentions.

>
> [A grief-stricken old man? Pippin-Denethor]
>
> Pippin's first sight of Denethor is described thus: "At the far end upon
> a dais of many steps was set a high throne [...] But the throne was
> empty. At the foot of the dais, upon the lowest step which was broad and
> deep, there was a stone chair, black and unadorned, and on it sat an old
> man gazing at his lap. In his hand was a white rod with a golden knob."
>
> As Gandalf hails him, Denethor looks up: "Pippin saw his carven face
> with its proud bones and skin like ivory, and the long curved nose
> between the dark deep eyes; and he was reminded not so much of Boromir
> as of Aragorn."

I think here we're supposed to see the Numenorean strain coming tthrough.

>
> Denethor's response to Gandalf's hail includes: "But though all the
> signs forebode that the doom of Gondor is drawing nigh, less now to me
> is that darkness than my own darkness." Denethor reveals how he knows of
> Boromir's death, saying that he heard the horn of Boromir (as did
> Faramir) and he shows them the cloven horn that now lies in his lap.
> Looking back to an earlier chapter, Faramir said to Frodo and Sam: "And
> now the horn of the elder son lies in two pieces upon the lap of
> Denethor, sitting in his high chair, waiting for news." (The Window on
> the West)
>
> Is the impression here that Denethor has been overcome with grief and is
> just sitting in his throne room waiting for news?

That is the impression that seems to be given.

How long would he have
> been sitting here, neglecting the running of the city?

Apparently far too long, at least in Gandalf's eyes.

Why then does
> Denethor question Pippin so closely?

I get the feeling that he wants to see what Pippin saw, to picture in his
own mind his son's demise. Very morbid state of mind.

Most telling to me is his contempt for Pippin: "A Halfling still, and little
love do I bear the name..."

>
> "What say you to that, Halfling?"; "Tell me more! Why did no help come?
> And how did you escape...";

This part of the exchange is where I first got my own antipathy for
Denethor. On my first reading of the story, my reaction was anger that he
seemed to blame Pippin for simply being alive, that he seemed to not care
that Boromir thought Pippin (and Merry) worthy of his sacrifice. It seemed
to belittle not only the hobbits, but Boromir as well. My opinion of him
only went downhill from there.

"Whence came this [Pippin's sword]? Many,
> many years lie on it. Surely this is a blade wrought by our own kindred
> in the North in the deep past?";

Again there is this touch of contempt in his tone; he is startled out of his
absorption in his grief by the sight of the sword, but he doesn't seem to
credit that a hobbit--a "halfling" could be carrying such a thing.

"...speak and be not silent! Tell me
> your full tale, and see that you recall all that you can of Boromir, my
> son."; "Pippin never forgot that hour in the great hall under the
> piercing eye of the Lord of Gondor, stabbed ever and anon by his shrewd
> questions."

He is definitely giving Pippin the third-degree. It is really not very
courteous, but he does not seem to mind that.


>
> Gandalf later explains to Pippin: "Still the Lord of Gondor learned more
> from you than you may have guessed, Pippin. You could not hide the fact
> that Boromir did not lead the Company from Moria, and that there was one
> among you of high honour who was coming to Minas Tirith; and that he had
> a famous sword."
>
> This recalls Gandalf's warning to Pippin before they meet Denethor: "Be
> careful of your words, Master Peregrin! [...] [Denethor] will speak most
> to you, and question you much, [...] he will think it easier to learn
> what he wishes from you rather than from me. Do not tell him more than
> you need, and leave quiet the matter of Frodo's errand. I will deal with
> that in due time. And say nothing about Aragorn either, unless you
> must."

Yet clearly Denethor knows more than he is saying; otherwise his questions
would not be so pointed. The hints that Denethor has a palantir are so
clear on a re-reading, and yet so subtle the first time.


>
> When does Gandalf tell Denethor of Frodo's errand? How much does
> Denethor know of Aragorn, both before and after questioning Pippin? And,
> most interestingly for me: why did Gandalf take Pippin with him to
> Denethor? Was this a calculated risk, or a necessary action?
> Story-externally, the reason seems clear, but story-internally did
> Gandalf realise that Denethor would demand to speak to Pippin?

I don't think it would even have occurred to Gandalf *not* to take
Pippin--he really does not have anywhere in the City that he can safely
leave him, and it would have been a bit cruel to do so until he *did*.


>
> Also, who is manipulating who? Gandalf or Denethor? Is Pippin a pawn in
> all this?

I think that Denethor is *attempting* to manipulate Gandalf; Gandalf has no
need of manipulation--he is very straight-forward in his statements,
although he was careful in the information he chose to share. But he is
*always* that. And, indeed, yes, poor Pippin was very much a pawn.
I think the note on which Gandalf left Denethor was meant as an attempt to
get Denethor to see the big picture, and not just think of Gondor.
This is perhaps where we see JRRT's opinions of Denethor coming forth: in
Letters, he says Denethor fails because he is a mere "politician"--concerned
only with the power of his own nation, and not with the ultimate realities
of good and evil.

>
> The later pages of the chapter provide a marked contrast to the
> atmosphere in the throne room with Denethor, and we and Pippin meet,
> instead, Beregond and his son Bergil. What purpose do the Beregond and
> Bergil bits have, and how do they contrast with the Denethor scene?

Beregond and Bergil serve a dual purpose, I think; one of plot
practicalities--Pippin has to be fed, housed and clothed, and Gandalf is not
going to have time to do that.
But also to give us an idea of the "common person" of Minas Tirith: notable
that it is a soldier, for this is a City at War. And we are able to get a
perspective on what is going on from a less lofty POV.
>
(snip some neat timeline stuff)

> - Almost the whole chapter is from Pippin's POV (point-of-view). Some
> nice moments:
>
> "If you have walked all these days with closed ears and mind asleep,
> wake up now!" (Gandalf talking to Pippin before they meet Denethor)

Pippin seems to have been the least informed of the hobbits; Frodo, from his
education by Bilbo, probably would have known a lot of the history behind
Gondor; Sam would have been keeping his eyes and ears open; Merry studied
the maps, and also was very observant. Pippin, on the other hand, has
mostly gone along with what others choose to tell him, and perhaps has been
a bit absorbed with his own feelings. This would be in keeping with the
fact that he is only a "tweenager" (using JRRTs statement that the age
differentiation was about 2/3, it would make him about 17 or 18 in terms of
maturity).

> "[Gandalf] came and stood beside Pippin, putting his arm about the
> hobbit's shoulders [...] Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now
> close beside his own [...], he saw at first only lines of care and
> sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all
> there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom
> laughing, were it to gush forth." (Gandalf reassuring Pippin that he did
> his best when being questioned by Denethor)

I love this bit. It's another lovely hint of Gandalf's true nature.


>
> What do we learn of Pippin from this chapter? How are these new
> experiences affecting him? How is he coping being on his own, separated
> from Merry and the others?

We learn a great deal of him. He really is a most unquenchable hobbit. His
"hobbity-ness" comes through in his quest for a meal, and in his quick and
firm show of friendship to Beregond and Bergil. I also like the way he takes
Gandalf's charge to see to Shadowfax so carefully. The experiences are
oppressive to him--it must have been hard for a creature of the earth like a
hobbit to be cooped up in a City of stone, especially in the grim atmosphere
of waiting for War, and he says as much. He also admits to being horribly
lonesome for Merry--hobbits are social creatures, so the separation must
have been agony--yet on the whole he is coping and adapting remarkably well
so far.


>
> - Denethor's character.
>
> "A pale smile, like a gleam of cold sun on a winter's evening, passed
> over the old man's face."
>
> I wanted to say more about Denethor. But really this is just an excuse
> to quote the line above, which is just delightful! He is reacting to
> Pippin's offer of his sword in payment of the debt that Pippin feels he
> owes Boromir. There is a bit more about Denethor below...
>
> - Archaic speech of Denethor.
>
> Denethor uses words like 'verily' (as does Boromir at the Council of
> Elrond) and 'whence' and 'belie' and 'yea'. There is more of this in
> later chapters, and probably archaic sentence constructions that I don't
> know enough grammar to point out, but it is noticeable that Ingold too
> uses words like 'aught' and 'ere' and 'yea'. Beregond and Bergil's
> speech seem less archaic, but Beregond does use 'yestereve' and comments
> on Pippin's accent.

We also learn that it is that difference in usage the gave rise to the idea
that Pippin was a Prince. (And technically, I suppose, he was the closest
equivalent to one in the Shire--I think JRRT was being a bit humorous with
that)

>
> - The Numenoreans.
>
> With this meeting with Denethor, we now have four leaders of Numenoreans
> to compare. Aragorn, Boromir, Faramir and Denethor. Can we say anything
> about them?

(snip)

> Where in the book do we see this 'long sight' in Faramir and Aragorn?

There are several occasions when Aragorn seems to show such; one that
immediately springs to mind for example, is his reluctance to enter Moria.
With Faramir, there is, of course the dream, and also his seeming ease in
reading the characters of Frodo and Gollum.


>
> What impressions do people get from this chapter of Denethor? A grieving
> father? A kindly old man? An Aragorn-type figure? A scheming politician?
> A noble lord defending his city?

My impression from the beginning was of someone proud and haughty, and not
much concerned with the opinions of others. *Definitely not* a kindly old
man! And he does seem to be a bit of a schemer.
>
(more snip)

> The morale of the city seems strangely ambivalent. A winged Nazgul
> passes over and Beregond is stricken: "I fear that Minas Tirith shall
> fall. Night comes. The very warmth of my blood seems stolen away." But
> the sun returns and Pippin rejects despair and Beregond is inspired to
> say: "Nay, though all things must come utterly to an end in time, Gondor
> shall not perish yet. Not though the walls be taken by a reckless foe
> that will build a hill of carrion before them. There are still other
> fastnesses, and secret ways of escape into the mountains. Hope and
> memory shall live still in some hidden valley where the grass is green."

This does seem to me to be realistic: living in such an oppressive
atmosphere would tend to make one gloomy, but the average person is still
going to cling to any hope he can.

> The morale of the city seems also to be boosted by Pippin's very
> presence (even though he had not brought an army with him as rumour
> said), and the people of the city hail him as: "Ernil i Pheriannath"
> (Prince of the Halflings).
>

(see my remark on that above. I have a feeling that title was used to twit
Pippin for the rest of his life.)

> This rumour is quite funny: "...when the Riders came from Rohan each
> would bring behind him a halfling warrior, small maybe, but doughty."
> And how many halfling warriors did the Rohirrim bring with them in the
> end? :-) Actually, that one doughty warrior achieved something very
> important...

Amazing, isn't it? *grin* Just think what the Rohirrim might have
accomplished if the rumor had been true. They might not have even needed
the Black Ships and reinforcments, LOL!

>
> Later, Pippin befriends Beregond's son Bergil, only 10 years old but
> allowed to remain in the city to help where he may. We are told that
> "Bergil proved a good comrade, the best company Pippin had had since he
> parted from Merry", but we are also reminded that Bergil is still a
> child and perhaps does not understand the danger as much as Pippin does:
> "Pippin looked up, and it seemed to him that the sky had grown
> ashen-grey, as if a vast dust and smoke hung above them, and light came
> dully through it. But in the West the dying sun had set all the fume on
> fire, and now Mindolluin stood black against a burning smoulder flecked
> with embers. 'So ends a fair day in wrath!' he said, forgetful of the
> lad at his side."

Again, we are reminded of the age difference: between a 10 year old--very
much a child still, in spite of the need to mature early in such dire
circumstances, and an older adolescent, one who is being forced to finish
growing up quickly as well, but with not so far to go.


>
> And this, it seems, presages the coming of the darkness from Mordor.
> When Pippin returns to his lodgings the darkness is described as: "like
> looking into a pool of ink." And then Gandalf ends the chapter with the
> dramatic: "The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn."

Gave me a shudder, it did, first time I read that.
>
> C) Other comments
>
(snip)

> - Silver trumpets.
>
> Finally, I want to point out something that I only realised recently. In
> one of the Peter Jackson films Boromir says something along the lines of
> "have you never heard the sound of silver trumpets calling you home?" I
> thought that this was just a nice addition to the film, but was
> pleasantly surprised to realise that it was almost certainly inspired by
> a line from this chapter: "...and high and far he heard a clear ringing
> as of silver trumpets." The full quote is given below, from the scene
> where Pippin and Gandalf ride to the gates of Minas Tirith at dawn.

I thought that was a lovely bit in the film, another place where he used
things from the book, transposed in time.
I will have to say that in the third film, when Gandalf topped the rise with
Pippin, and Minas Tirith appeared in the distance, tears sprang to my eyes.
That image was so perfectly like what I had always imagined over the years
that it took my breath away.
I could forgive PJ a good deal for a moment like that.
Barbara

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 8:46:50 AM12/1/04
to
in <slrncqplct.cp....@aaronclausen.alberni.net>,
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:

>
> On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 02:01:25 GMT,
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> - Archaic speech of Denethor.

<snip>

> This is an example of archaic language representing nobility.

Yes, that is my impression as well.

> Denethor is of high (though not highest) ancestry, and thus his
> language retains the most archaisms.

Aye.

> Beregond, while still a Numenorean, is not of any nobility, and
> thus his speech is closer in some respects to Pippin's

And Pippin's language would probably be just a bit more old-fashioned
than the average Shire Hobbit's -- not to mention the language of the
Gaffer ;-)

I think that there is also a bit of development in Pippin's language
until now: from

"'It is good for him. He's got nothing except what he
ordered us to pack. He's been slack lately, and he'll feel
the weight less when he's walked off some of his own.'"
I,3 'Three is Company'

to

"'Little service can I offer to your lord, but what I can
do, I would do, remembering Boromir the brave.'"
present chapter.

> (let's not get into a discussion how two different groups of people
> of obvious ethnic diversity would be speaking the Westron descendant
> of Adunaic closely enough that they can converse with each other).

English?

I know that the contact between the different English-speaking regions in
the world is far greater than the contact between the Shire and Gondor,
and that on the time-scale of the sundering of the two Dúnedain realms,
the British empire has only just been dissolved, but still.

The lack of difference could possibly be explained by the presence of the
Elves in Middle-earth (though I'm not quite sure how -- it's only a vague
thought that the Elves did try to stem the effect of time).

>> - The Numenoreans.

<snip>

>> "[Denethor]
[...]


>> has long sight. He can perceive, if he bends his will thither, much
>> of what is passing in the minds of men, even of those that dwell far
>> off. It is difficult to deceive him, and dangerous to try."
>>
>> Where in the book do we see this 'long sight' in Faramir and Aragorn?
>
> I think Aragorn displayed this rather well in Bree,

Not to mention App. A,I(v) 'Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn
and Arwen' where it is stated directly.

> and Faramir recognized both the wickedness of Gollum and the truth of
> Frodo's words.

And later, in the Houses of Healing, he instantly recognises Aragorn as
his King.

Other examples include Malbeth the Seer and Aragorn's mother, Gilraen,
and her mother as well.

>> What impressions do people get from this chapter of Denethor?
>> A grieving father? A kindly old man?
>> An Aragorn-type figure? A scheming politician?
>> A noble lord defending his city?
>
> Well, he was no kindly old man,

No, there isn't really any of that (a bit, perhaps, in his reception of
Pippin's offer of service), but there are elements of all the other
types. It was, I'd say, not for nothing that 'Thorongil' left Minas
Tirith before Denethor became Steward: "Indeed he was as like to
Thorongil as to one of nearest kin, and yet was ever placed second to the
stranger in the hearts of men and the esteem of his father."

Possibly the whole history of Thorongil played a role in making Denethor
into the man he became: "Therefore later, when all was made clear, many
believed that Denethor, who was subtle in mind and looked further and
deeper than other men of his day, had discovered who this stranger
Thorongil in truth was, and suspected that he and Mithrandir designed to
supplant him."

This is cited as a reason why Denethor preferred the advice of Saruman
over that of Gandalf, and there could easily have been other reactions:
Gandalf was probably known to be friendly with the Elves, for instance .
. .

> but he was grieving over the death of a favorite son.

I wonder what made Boromir his favourite son. Was it merely because they
were, as Tolkien says, unlike, or were there other reasons as well?

> He's one of my favorite characters in all of Tolkien's mythos.
> We see, I think, the mightiest of Men save Aragorn still alive at the
> end of the Third Age.

I'm not sure where to put him in relation to his second son. Both were
wise and strong-willed, and both were (presumably) good warriors (if
comparing at equal age). The problem, as I see it, would be to compare
moral strength to actual (political) power.

<snip>

I agree with this praise of Denethor. His is a very complex character,
which is amazing given the short time he actually does get 'on stage' in
the book.

-
Troels Forchhammer

Ash nazg durbatuluk,
ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazgthrakatuluk
agh burzum ishi krimpatul.
- Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 9:02:10 AM12/1/04
to
in <o29rd.3248$bJ3...@news.get2net.dk>,
Raven <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> enriched us with:

>
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> skrev i en
> meddelelse news:VvQqd.26183$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk...
>>

<snip>

>> And, most interestingly for me: why did Gandalf take Pippin
>> with him to Denethor? Was this a calculated risk, or a
>> necessary action? Story-externally, the reason seems clear,
>> but story-internally did Gandalf realise that Denethor would
>> demand to speak to Pippin?
>
> Of course Denethor would demand to see Pippin, who, along with
> Merry, saw Boromir fall.

And Gandalf definitely realised this -- he even warned Pippin against it:

"Denethor is of another sort, proud and subtle, a man of far
greater lineage and power, though he is not called a king.
But he will speak most to you, and question you much, since
you can tell him of his son Boromir. He loved him greatly:
too much perhaps; and the more so because they were unlike.
But under cover of this love he will think it easier to


learn what he wishes from you rather than from me. Do not
tell him more than you need, and leave quiet the matter of
Frodo's errand. I will deal with that in due time. And say
nothing about Aragorn either, unless you must."

> He would have considered it very odd for Gandalf to stash such a one


> away - before Gandalf even had a place to stash him, at that,

[...]

And in particular given the laws of the land: Pippin /had/ to appear
before some authority to get leave to stay and move about in Gondor, and
that authority rested with Denethor (Faramir's declaration of freedom for
Frodo "in the realm of Gondor" is "under a higher authority" and is
limited in time. Apparently only the steward could make it permanent).

Hiding Pippin somewhere before appearing before Denethor would not only
have been inconsiderate (though Denethor did use his love and grief for
other purposes, but he did love Boromir and grieve for him in earnest) --
in particular after the exchange at the Rammas, but also unlawful. I
can't see Gandalf as doing either for political expediency.

> For Gandalf it would have been comparable to addressing Denethor
> with "Hullo, old fogey"

;-)

> - it would have accomplished nothing good and much bad.

It would have estranged them even more, and Denethor would have spoken to
Pippin anyway.

--
Troels Forchhammer

Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond
them is more than memory, Farewell!
- Aragorn Son of Arathorn, 'LotR' (J.R.R. Tolkien)

AC

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 11:04:45 AM12/1/04
to
On Wed, 01 Dec 2004 13:46:50 GMT,
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> in <slrncqplct.cp....@aaronclausen.alberni.net>,
> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
>
>> (let's not get into a discussion how two different groups of people
>> of obvious ethnic diversity would be speaking the Westron descendant
>> of Adunaic closely enough that they can converse with each other).
>
> English?
>
> I know that the contact between the different English-speaking regions in
> the world is far greater than the contact between the Shire and Gondor,
> and that on the time-scale of the sundering of the two Dúnedain realms,
> the British empire has only just been dissolved, but still.
>
> The lack of difference could possibly be explained by the presence of the
> Elves in Middle-earth (though I'm not quite sure how -- it's only a vague
> thought that the Elves did try to stem the effect of time).

Let's put it this way. A thousand years between modern English speakers and
the later Anglo-Saxon period gives us two languages that neither group would
be able to understand. In 2000 years, Latin fragmented into numerous
languages, all mutually unintelligible. In something like 5000 to 6000
years, Proto-Indo-European branched off into numerous language groups, where
even many of the closely related ones (the West Germanic group, which, as I
recall began to separate from its ancestor around 2000 years ago) have
virtually no mutual intelligibility.

It's pretty obvious that the Hobbits were insular, and outside influences
must have, for many centuries, had a minimal role. We've already noted in
another thread that the Dunedain of Gondor did not have much contact at all
with their kin to the North. The Elves didn't seem to have anything to do
with anybody, and the only big-time traders that we hear of are the Dwarves.

It's the one thing about Tolkien's chronology that I find a little odd. The
vast distances of time (thousands of years) simply would have made all these
groups speak different languages by the basic mechanisms of drift and
change, even if Adunaic had been adopted by them as late as Elendil's coming
to Middle Earth after the Downfall (I'm assuming, of course, that Adunaic
spread much earlier, when the Numenoreans were colonizing the Northwest of
Middle Earth). It's odd to me because Tolkien was a philologist, and
probably understood how languages change and evolve better than most people,
and he shows he knows that by the various Elvish languages, all related.

I realize that having Pippin in Minas Tirith, or Frodo in Ithilien, unable
to properly communicate with the people of Gondor would have complicated the
story some great amount, but it's just a small thing that I think of
nowadays.

Michele Fry

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 11:38:42 AM12/1/04
to
In article <eXjrd.31463$k4.6...@news1.nokia.com>, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> writes

>
>> (let's not get into a discussion how two different groups of people
>> of obvious ethnic diversity would be speaking the Westron descendant
>> of Adunaic closely enough that they can converse with each other).
>
>English?
>
>I know that the contact between the different English-speaking regions in
>the world is far greater than the contact between the Shire and Gondor,
>and that on the time-scale of the sundering of the two Dúnedain realms,
>the British empire has only just been dissolved, but still.
>
>The lack of difference could possibly be explained by the presence of the
>Elves in Middle-earth (though I'm not quite sure how -- it's only a vague
>thought that the Elves did try to stem the effect of time).

Actually Tolkien discusses this in the Letters - I was reading one that
seems relevant earlier (one of the enormously long letters that Tolkien
so often seems to have written, in fact !). It's #144, to Naomi
Mitchison:

"What I have, in fact done, is to equate the Westron or wide-spread
Common Speech of the Third Age with English; and translate everything,
including names such as _The Shire_, that was in the Westron into
English terms, with some differentiation of style to represent dialectal
differences. [...] Languages, [...] that were related to the Westron
presented a special problem. I turned them into forms of speech related
to English. Since the _Rohirrim_ are represented as recent comers out of
the North, and users of an archaic Mannish language relatively untouched
by the influence of _Eldarin_, I have turned their names into forms like
(but not identical with) Old English. [... Snip discussion of Dale, Long
Lake and Dwarvish langs]

The Westron or C. S. is supposed to be derived from the Mannish
_Adunaic_ language of the Numenoreans, spreading from the Numenorean
Kingdoms in the days of the Kings, and especially from Gondor, where it
remains spoken in nobler and rather more antique style (a style usually
adopted by the Elves when they use this language."

Michele
==
"The purpose of art is to make the unconscious conscious." Wagner

Bruce Tucker

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 12:55:21 PM12/1/04
to
"AC" <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote

> On Wed, 01 Dec 2004 13:46:50 GMT,
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> > in <slrncqplct.cp....@aaronclausen.alberni.net>,
> > AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
> >
> >> (let's not get into a discussion how two different groups of people
> >> of obvious ethnic diversity would be speaking the Westron descendant
> >> of Adunaic closely enough that they can converse with each other).
> >
> > English?
(snip)

> > The lack of difference could possibly be explained by the presence of
the
> > Elves in Middle-earth (though I'm not quite sure how -- it's only a
vague
> > thought that the Elves did try to stem the effect of time).

I think that's actually a large part of it. The language we're discussing
was the language of the Dunedain, and the Dunedain were the Men who were
marked by the closest association with the Elves and specifically with the
Noldor - and all the time-resisting effects that followed from that
association. The Hobbits' original language was long-gone, and the related
languages of the Rohirrim and the other northern folk appear to have
undergone substantial changes during the courase of the Third Age.

> Let's put it this way. A thousand years between modern English speakers
and
> the later Anglo-Saxon period gives us two languages that neither group
would
> be able to understand.

It's not the thousand years, it's the events *of* those years. The most
dramatic of those changes took place in the first two or three centuries of
that time, and almost all of them in the first six - I can read the
400-year-old King James Version today and it seems only slightly more
archaic than Denethor's speech.

> In 2000 years, Latin fragmented into numerous languages, all mutually
unintelligible.

Again, that fragmenting took place over a few crucial centuriess of social,
political, and economic upheaval. In 500 AD Latin was still Latin; by 1000
AD Italian, French, and Spanish were Italian, French and Spanish, and
more-or-less recognizable as the languages we see today. Put a Ring of Power
next door in Belgium, and they'd probably be reading Balzac in AD 5000 or
so. ;-)

> It's pretty obvious that the Hobbits were insular, and outside influences
> must have, for many centuries, had a minimal role.

They and the Gondorians were also very literate, which tends to keep
languages stable and uniform in the absence of disuptions from the outside.
Look at written Chinese.

Or Old Norse - my understanding is that modern Icelanders can read the
medieval sagas with little difficulty, and could probably even converse with
a medieval Icelander reasonably well. Scandinavia proper had different
influences, but none of it was ever conquered except by each other, and how
much do its languages differ from each other after 2,000 years? We have
plenty of Nordic types in this group - how about it? After several millennia
of evolution of Scandinavian languages, isn't it generally possible for a
Norwegian, a Swede, and a Dane to have a conversation without a translator?

> It's odd to me because Tolkien was a philologist, and
> probably understood how languages change and evolve better than most
people,
> and he shows he knows that by the various Elvish languages, all related.

What seems more off to me is the entire time-scale of the Second and Third
Ages, which makes me think it *must* have something to do with the Rings and
the effect of the continuing presence of the Elves and particularly the
Noldor. Tolkien was also enough of a historian to realize that normal
nations, empires, and dynasties, at least in our world, simply don't last
over 1,000 years, let alone 3,000 - even Egypt didn't have anything like the
cultural continuity Gondor or Aragorn's line had; no Pharaoh wore a ring
actually worn by another Pharaoh 1,000 years before, let alone 6,000, nor
did bloodlines last anything even approaching this.

Just for comparison, if I'm not mistaken, the purported line of descent from
Adam to Jesus covers roughly the same amount of time as that from *Elendil*
to Aragorn - and that's just the more recent part of Aragorn's ancestry, his
royal lineage, not counting the prior 3,500 years going back through the
distaff line to Elros and then to Beren and Tuor. And Jesus' line to
*David* - let alone to Adam - which is less than 1,000 years, is more a
matter of myth than hard documentation, as there's not even any independent
verification (that is, any record whatsoever outside the Bible) that such a
person as King David ever existed, much less that Jesus (leaving aside the
problem of independent verification of his existence) was descended from
him. By comparison, Tolkien's Dunedain have undisputed documentary proof,
including independent corroboration from the Elves, of the authenticity of
their royal traditions as well as much of the rest of their cultural
heritage, even after many thousands of years.

If I can suspend my disbelief at this astonishing feat of cultural
preservation, accepting that the language also remained relatively stable
(and among w few ragtag hangers-on as well) requires little more in the
bargain.

--
Bruce Tucker
disintegration ta mindspring.com


Huan the hound

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 2:38:01 PM12/1/04
to
On 2004-12-01, Bruce Tucker <disinte...@mindspring.com> wrote
in <col0hb$sl6$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com>:
[snip]

>
> I think that's actually a large part of it. The language we're discussing
> was the language of the Dunedain, and the Dunedain were the Men who were
> marked by the closest association with the Elves and specifically with the
> Noldor - and all the time-resisting effects that followed from that
> association. The Hobbits' original language was long-gone, and the related
> languages of the Rohirrim and the other northern folk appear to have
> undergone substantial changes during the courase of the Third Age.

Did the kings and stewards speak Sindarin too? I'm not sure where I'm
getting this, just something in my memory.

[snip]


>
> They and the Gondorians were also very literate, which tends to keep
> languages stable and uniform in the absence of disuptions from the outside.

[snip]


> What seems more off to me is the entire time-scale of the Second and Third
> Ages, which makes me think it *must* have something to do with the Rings and
> the effect of the continuing presence of the Elves and particularly the
> Noldor. Tolkien was also enough of a historian to realize that normal
> nations, empires, and dynasties, at least in our world, simply don't last
> over 1,000 years, let alone 3,000 - even Egypt didn't have anything like the
> cultural continuity Gondor or Aragorn's line had; no Pharaoh wore a ring
> actually worn by another Pharaoh 1,000 years before, let alone 6,000, nor
> did bloodlines last anything even approaching this.

Wouldn't the exceptional lifespans of the Dunedain sort of compensate for
the extremely long time period? Could longer generations slow the change
of their culture to match another culture of a similar amount of
generations but less actual time?

[snip]


> If I can suspend my disbelief at this astonishing feat of cultural
> preservation, accepting that the language also remained relatively stable
> (and among w few ragtag hangers-on as well) requires little more in the
> bargain.

--
Huan, the hound of Valinor

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 2:55:39 PM12/1/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

> It was [..] not for nothing that 'Thorongil' left Minas


> Tirith before Denethor became Steward: "Indeed he was as like to
> Thorongil as to one of nearest kin, and yet was ever placed second to
> the stranger in the hearts of men and the esteem of his father."
>
> Possibly the whole history of Thorongil played a role in making

> Denethor into the man he became [...]

<snip>

And of course Denethor and Aragorn never do meet again after 'Thorongil'
has departed from Gondor. I wonder what the first meeting between
Aragorn and Denethor would have been like (say, after the Battle of the
Pelennor Fields)?

From what we see of Denethor here, I would say that the meeting would
have had even more tension than this meeting between Denthor and
Gandalf! Imagine more of these staring matches with palpable tension
about to burst into flame! :-0

I vaguely remember that Aragorn is reluctant to enter the city of Minas
Tirith after the battle, and this may be in large part to avoid such a
meeting with Denethor. In the event though, it was not possible to
schedule such a meeting as Denethor was rather ashen. :-)

AC

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 3:13:18 PM12/1/04
to
On 1 Dec 2004 19:38:01 GMT,
Huan the hound <huanth...@netscape.net> wrote:
> On 2004-12-01, Bruce Tucker <disinte...@mindspring.com> wrote
> in <col0hb$sl6$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com>:
> [snip]
>>
>> I think that's actually a large part of it. The language we're discussing
>> was the language of the Dunedain, and the Dunedain were the Men who were
>> marked by the closest association with the Elves and specifically with the
>> Noldor - and all the time-resisting effects that followed from that
>> association. The Hobbits' original language was long-gone, and the related
>> languages of the Rohirrim and the other northern folk appear to have
>> undergone substantial changes during the courase of the Third Age.
>
> Did the kings and stewards speak Sindarin too? I'm not sure where I'm
> getting this, just something in my memory.

My hunch is that the most learned of the Dunedain would likely have spoken
Sindarin. I have this funny suspicion that the Dunedain of the North, even
after the collapse of Arnor and the petty kingdoms, may have been more
conversive in it mainly because of their close association to Elrond. It's
pretty clear that Gondor's ties to any Elvish populations had long been all
but abandoned.

>
> [snip]
>>
>> They and the Gondorians were also very literate, which tends to keep
>> languages stable and uniform in the absence of disuptions from the outside.
> [snip]
>> What seems more off to me is the entire time-scale of the Second and Third
>> Ages, which makes me think it *must* have something to do with the Rings and
>> the effect of the continuing presence of the Elves and particularly the
>> Noldor. Tolkien was also enough of a historian to realize that normal
>> nations, empires, and dynasties, at least in our world, simply don't last
>> over 1,000 years, let alone 3,000 - even Egypt didn't have anything like the
>> cultural continuity Gondor or Aragorn's line had; no Pharaoh wore a ring
>> actually worn by another Pharaoh 1,000 years before, let alone 6,000, nor
>> did bloodlines last anything even approaching this.
>
> Wouldn't the exceptional lifespans of the Dunedain sort of compensate for
> the extremely long time period? Could longer generations slow the change
> of their culture to match another culture of a similar amount of
> generations but less actual time?

That's as good an explanation as one can get, I suppose, and it does make a
bit of sense. I think it's important to remember that literacy does not
halt the evolution of a language. The written form can often stay very
static (writing is very conservative) while a spoken language evolves. One
only has to look at a word like "knight" to see that a Middle english
spelling survives even though the spoken language long ago moved past the
original pronounciation (I'm presuming it was likely spoken like it is now
by Elizabethan times).

It still leaves the problem of lesser folks like the Hobbits. Being so
inclusive, I would expect that the Hobbitish form of Westron to be much less
comprehensible by the people of Minas Tirith than it was. Unless, of
course, there was sufficient exposure to foreign elements (perhaps through
Bree and the South Farthing) to maintain a certain normative pressure on the
spoken language.

AC

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 3:17:48 PM12/1/04
to
On Wed, 01 Dec 2004 19:55:39 GMT,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>
><snip>
>
>> It was [..] not for nothing that 'Thorongil' left Minas
>> Tirith before Denethor became Steward: "Indeed he was as like to
>> Thorongil as to one of nearest kin, and yet was ever placed second to
>> the stranger in the hearts of men and the esteem of his father."
>>
>> Possibly the whole history of Thorongil played a role in making
>> Denethor into the man he became [...]
>
><snip>
>
> And of course Denethor and Aragorn never do meet again after 'Thorongil'
> has departed from Gondor. I wonder what the first meeting between
> Aragorn and Denethor would have been like (say, after the Battle of the
> Pelennor Fields)?

Not very cordial, I expect.

>
> From what we see of Denethor here, I would say that the meeting would
> have had even more tension than this meeting between Denthor and
> Gandalf! Imagine more of these staring matches with palpable tension
> about to burst into flame! :-0
>
> I vaguely remember that Aragorn is reluctant to enter the city of Minas
> Tirith after the battle, and this may be in large part to avoid such a
> meeting with Denethor. In the event though, it was not possible to
> schedule such a meeting as Denethor was rather ashen. :-)

I suspect that Aragorn knew very well from past experience that Denethor
wasn't going to be a push-over. Clearly Denethor would have been little
impressed by any claims of being the Heir of Elendil and Isildur. It may
very well have lead to a political crisis, and at a time when Gondor was in
the final fight for its survival. Aragorn would not have allowed something
as small in the grand scheme of things as the kingship of Gondor get in the
way of fighting the Enemy. I expect that if he had pressed his claim,
something of a civil war would have occured as nobles lined up behind either
man.

>
> Christopher

Raven

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 6:20:47 PM12/1/04
to
"Bruce Tucker" <disinte...@mindspring.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:col0hb$sl6$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com...

> Or Old Norse - my understanding is that modern Icelanders can read the
> medieval sagas with little difficulty, and could probably even converse
> with a medieval Icelander reasonably well. Scandinavia proper had
> different influences, but none of it was ever conquered except by each
> other, and how much do its languages differ from each other after
> 2,000 years? We have plenty of Nordic types in this group - how
> about it? After several millennia of evolution of Scandinavian
> languages, isn't it generally possible for a Norwegian, a Swede,
> and a Dane to have a conversation without a translator?

Easily. At least if you look at the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian spoken
by the upper crust in the capitals, they are more mutually intelligible than
dialects within each country. You can even find pairs of sociolects within
the large cities that are as different from each other as Queen's Danish,
King's Swedish and King's Norwegian. The written languages are of course
more uniform than the spoken tongue. If you look apart from the quaint
two-language system of Norway, and limit yourself to Bokmål, written Danish
and written Swedish, if you are fluent in one you can read the other two.
The other written language in Norway, Nynorsk, is rather more conservative
than the other three, though still much closer to them than to Old Norse.
There will be some words that have different meanings, of course.
"Glass" is something you eat on a hot day in Sweden, while it means the same
in Danish and Norwegian as it does in English; "frokost" (literally "early
food") means "breakfast" in Norwegian and "lunch" in Danish. Swedish and
Danish, like English, have adopted and adapted the French word for "potato"
("potatis" in Swedish and "potet" in Norwegian), while Danish uses the
German word ("kartoffel").
Icelandic and Faeroese, OTOH, are foreign languages to me. The tone and
to a degree the phonetics of these languages remind me of the more
conservative dialects of rural western Norway, but I will have to learn them
as I learnt English if I wish to understand them.
I would guess that Icelandic and Faeroese changed almost solely from
within, so to speak, while Scand was heavily influenced by German and Dutch,
and by English. But for the Hansa traders, Scand might have been changed
much less than the case has been, who knows?

Hrafn.


Shanahan

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 2:48:37 AM12/2/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:

> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith

<snip>


> Pippin declares himself to be a
> hobbit,

"Man! Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a
man, save perhaps now and again through necessity". Don't you just
*love* hobbits?

> Tolkien, through Pippin, reminds the reader of the rhyme of
> "seven stars and seven stones and one white tree".

Always wondered what the 'seven stars' are. Anyone?

> Pippin is reminded of the Argonath ("awe fell on him, as he
> looked down that avenue of kings long dead"), but Tolkien's words
> contrast the stone of this room with hangings and wood. Is he
> comparing it to Meduseld in Edoras, much as Gandalf has
> contrasted Denethor with Theoden?

Definitely contrasting Meduseld/Theoden with Minas Tirith/Denethor.
Two very different societies, and I think the coldness of Denethor's
court suffers by contrast with the warmth of Meduseld. I find the
references to the two peoples' different kinds of wisdom
interesting: Aragorn says the Rohirrim are "wise but unlearned,
writing no books but writing many songs", which preserve their
culture. Whereas the Gondorians have written down their wisdom, and
it has been largely lost to dust and the ages (as Faramir
testifies).

> Denethor cryptically says: "for though the
> Stones be lost, they say, still the lords of Gondor have keener
> sight than lesser men, and many messages come to them."

Tolkien added the "they say" to the final draft of this passage,
hinting that Denethor had, and had used, a palantir. It seems he
(like Gandalf) only gradually came to realize the importance of the
palantiri.

> Where in the book do we see this 'long sight' in Faramir and
> Aragorn?

Interestingly enough, I can't recall any instances of it in Aragorn.
Perhaps in Bree, when he sizes up the hobbits? Faramir shows it
when he looks into Gollum's mind.

> rumour said), and the people of the city hail him as: "Ernil i


> Pheriannath" (Prince of the Halflings).

Interesting quote from the appendices regarding why Pippin is
perceived as a prince, and why Denethor and Beregond remark on the
strangeness of his language:
"Peregrin Took, for instance, in his first few days in Minas Tirith
used the familiar forms to people of all ranks, including the Lord
Denethor himself. This may have amused the aged Steward, but it must
have astonished his servants. No doubt this free use of the familiar
forms helped to spread the popular rumour that Peregrin was a person
of very high rank in his own country." (apparently the rustic speech
of the Shire had dropped the deferential forms of second and third
person address)

> - Silver trumpets.
> Finally, I want to point out something that I only realised
> recently. In one of the Peter Jackson films Boromir says
> something along the lines of "have you never heard the sound of
> silver trumpets calling you home?" I thought that this was just a
> nice addition to the film, but was pleasantly surprised to
> realise that it was almost certainly inspired by a line from this
> chapter: "...and high and far he heard a clear ringing as of
> silver trumpets." The full quote is given below, from the scene
> where Pippin and Gandalf ride to the gates of Minas Tirith at
> dawn.

In that scene, indeed that line, in m-FotR, Boromir also quotes the
bit about the "Tower of Ecthelion, glimmering like a spike of pearl
and silver".

Ciaran S.
--
If I can't dance, it's not my revolution.
- e.g.


AC

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 12:16:43 AM12/2/04
to
On Wed, 1 Dec 2004 23:48:37 -0800,
Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:
>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>> Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith
>
><snip>
>> Pippin declares himself to be a
>> hobbit,
>
> "Man! Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a
> man, save perhaps now and again through necessity". Don't you just
> *love* hobbits?


Grrr... But Hobbits are still human!

<snip>

conrad.d...@worldnet.att.net

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 7:17:07 AM12/2/04
to
Shanahan wrote:

> Always wondered what the 'seven stars' are. Anyone?

There were nine ships which bore the last refugees from Numenor to
Middle-earth. Seven of these ships had a star on their banners to
represent the palantir they were also carrying. So it works out to be
a bit redundant.

"originally represented the single stars on the banners of each of
seven ships (of 9) that bore a palantir"
LotR index under 'star'


In most other instances, such as the emblem of Durin, when Tolkien
refers to 'seven stars' it is the 'Sickle of the Valar' (aka 'Big
Dipper')... though the Pleiades also get the same description in some
places.

Glenn Holliday

unread,
Dec 1, 2004, 7:19:40 PM12/1/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>
> Gandalf and Pippin then ride through the Rammas Echor, the out-wall that
> surrounds the Pelennor, the lands in front of Minas Tirith. Eventually,
> after riding for some time, they come to the gates of Minas Tirith at
> dawn. In stark contrast to the talking at the Rammas Echor, Gandalf's
> commanding voice gains them safe passage: ...

>
> What is the reason for this sudden change in tone?

Story-internal: the outer guards are responsible for deciding
whether Gandalf and Pippin should be let into the city. The
guards at the city gate know they have been permitted to pass
(they could see Gandalf came through without a fight), so they
give more attention to Gandalf's purpose.

Story-external: Tolkien's shift in tone serves the purpose
of moving smoothly from the dream-mood of the ride, back into
the ordinary waking world with its challenges and decision, and then
even further into the historical and noble atmosphere of Minas
Tirith. Gandalf's behavior at Rammas Echor is ordinary diplomacy;
his behavior at the city gate is heroic.

> ...Is the reader, like


> Pippin, being overwhelmed by the ancientry and majesty of what is being
> depicted?

It had that effect on me. On first reading, I remember giving up
on the details and being swept along by the atmosphere.

> Whew! What happened there?! Gandalf started off polite and courteous,
> but was mostly ignored by Denethor. Denethor appears grief-stricken, but
> is later accused by Gandalf of using grief as a cloak and interrogating
> Pippin. The scene ends with Gandalf striding from the hall without leave
> of the Lord he has come to counsel. What has gone wrong here? Can this
> be compared with the scene in Edoras where Gandalf successfully brings
> counsel to Theoden?

Very much, I think. Theoden is redeemed, while Denethor fails
and falls. Coupled with this is the irony that Denethor is noble
Numenorean, while Theoden is king of a rustic people.


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

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 5:51:29 PM12/2/04
to
Raven wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> skrev

<snip>

>> And, most interestingly for me: why did Gandalf take Pippin


>> with him to Denethor? Was this a calculated risk, or a
>> necessary action? Story-externally, the reason seems clear,
>> but story-internally did Gandalf realise that Denethor would
>> demand to speak to Pippin?
>
> Of course Denethor would demand to see Pippin, who, along with
> Merry, saw Boromir fall. He would have considered it very odd for
> Gandalf to stash such a one away

That presumes that Denethor knew that Pippin saw Boromir die.

I admit that Gandalf had to take Pippin to see Denethor, but what I
think is not so clear is whether Gandalf intended the fact that Pippin
saw Boromir die to be freely known.

Consider that when Pippin wakes up, Gandalf is telling Ingold that
Pippin is a man:

"His name is Peregrin, a very valiant man."

It is only when Pippin interrupts that 3 bits of information are let
slip:

1) "I am a hobbit"

[And Gandalf then adds the 'halfling' bit, but not much more, for Pippin
interrupts again]

2) "...one who journeyed with him [Boromir]..."
3) "...he [Boromir] was slain defending me from many foes."

[This news is presumably transmitted to Denethor: "It has been told to
me that you bring with you one who saw my son die." - though can this
news _really_ have reached him from Ingold before Gandalf and Pippin get
to the throne room?]

While this does persuade Ingold to let them through, it also now means
that Gandalf _has_ to present Pippin as one who can tell of Boromir and
the Fellowship, rather than 'just' a halfling "come from the storming of
Isengard". I'm not saying that Gandalf would necessarily have done so,
but until Pippin opened his mouth, Gandalf might have had the option of
presenting the news of Boromir's death himself, rather then entrusting
it to Pippin. He could have just told Pippin to be quiet, though
admittedly under Denethor's keen gaze that subterfuge by omission would
not have lasted long.

The 'new' strategy (if it was not the strategy all along) was to
recognise that Denethor would now be _very_ interested in Pippin, and to
tell Pippin to be cautious and not mention Aragorn. Gandalf openly
declares that they will tell Denthor of Boromir's death ("The news of
that grief should have been told first to the father."; "when bringing
the news of the death of his heir to a mighty lord"), but not who will
do the telling. Thanks to Pippin's words at the Rammas Echor, he gets
that task, but Gandalf also has to solve a new puzzle, which is how did
Denethor know of Boromir's death:

"'It has been guessed already,' said Ingold; 'for there have been
strange portents here of late.'" AND [Gandalf] "But you speak of his
death. You have had news of that ere we came?" AND [Denethor] "I have
received this"

And it is from that point on that the conversation spirals out of
Gandalf's control, and he is left fuming on the sidelines as Denethor
questions Pippin. I don't think this is what Gandalf intended. Which is
why I got to wondering about how Gandalf might have tried to guide the
conversation.

AC

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 9:16:03 PM12/2/04
to
On Thu, 02 Dec 2004 16:08:15 -0600,
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:

>
>
> AC wrote:
>> On Wed, 1 Dec 2004 23:48:37 -0800,
>> Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>>
>>>Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:
>>>
>>>>Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>>>>Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith
>>>
>>><snip>
>>>
>>>> Pippin declares himself to be a
>>>>hobbit,
>>>
>>>"Man! Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a
>>>man, save perhaps now and again through necessity". Don't you just
>>>*love* hobbits?
>>
>>
>>
>> Grrr... But Hobbits are still human!
>>
>> <snip>
>>
> I don't have the Letters handy, but as I recall Tolkien says something
> along the lines that Hobbits are meant to be off the same tree as
> humans, a different branch of the tree, yes, but not a different tree
> (elves, dwarves, ents, eagles etc).

By human I mean that they are of the Second Born. Odd characteristics like
fuzzy feet are only window dressing. Sometimes I rather suspect that
Hobbits themselves insist upon marking themselves as apart from Men, though
from what I can see, the Druedain and the Numenoreans have characteristics
far more out of the norm than Hobbits.

Larry Swain

unread,
Dec 3, 2004, 1:11:40 AM12/3/04
to

AC wrote:
> On Thu, 02 Dec 2004 16:08:15 -0600,
> Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
>
>>
>>AC wrote:
>>
>>>On Wed, 1 Dec 2004 23:48:37 -0800,
>>>Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>>Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>>Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>>>>>Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith
>>>>
>>>><snip>
>>>>
>>>>>Pippin declares himself to be a
>>>>>hobbit,
>>>>
>>>>"Man! Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a
>>>>man, save perhaps now and again through necessity". Don't you just
>>>>*love* hobbits?
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>Grrr... But Hobbits are still human!
>>>
>>><snip>
>>>
>>I don't have the Letters handy, but as I recall Tolkien says something
>>along the lines that Hobbits are meant to be off the same tree as
>>humans, a different branch of the tree, yes, but not a different tree
>>(elves, dwarves, ents, eagles etc).
>
>
> By human I mean that they are of the Second Born.


Thought I said that.

Larry Swain

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 5:08:15 PM12/2/04
to

AC wrote:
> On Wed, 1 Dec 2004 23:48:37 -0800,
> Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>
>>Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:
>>
>>>Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>>>Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith
>>
>><snip>
>>
>>> Pippin declares himself to be a
>>>hobbit,
>>
>>"Man! Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a
>>man, save perhaps now and again through necessity". Don't you just
>>*love* hobbits?
>
>
>
> Grrr... But Hobbits are still human!
>
> <snip>
>

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 5:00:35 PM12/2/04
to
conrad.d...@worldnet.att.net <conrad.d...@worldnet.att.net>
wrote:

> Shanahan wrote:
>
>> Always wondered what the 'seven stars' are. Anyone?
>
> There were nine ships which bore the last refugees from Numenor to
> Middle-earth. Seven of these ships had a star on their banners to
> represent the palantir they were also carrying. So it works out to be
> a bit redundant.

I vaguely remember a letter or something where Tolkien said that the
rhyme came before the stories that sprang from it. Though I may be
making this up entirely! Can anyone confirm?

<rummages in Letters>

Aha! Letter 163 to W.H. Auden (1955):

"I knew nothing of the /Palantirí/, though the moment the Orthanc-stone
was cast from the window, I recognised it, and knew the meaning of the
'rhyme of lore' that had been running in my mind: /seven stars and seven
stones and one white tree./ These rhymes and names will crop up; but
they do not always explain themselves. I have yet to discover anything
about the cats of Queen Berúthiel"

Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three,
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.

The numbers three and seven, and the objects (stars and stones) may have
emerged from the need for rhyme (hence three for sea and tree) and for
alliteration (hence stone and stars). The story is then created by
filling in what these stones do and what the stars are for.

The story of the stones turns out to be crucial to the plot of LotR. The
stars on the other hand turn out to be just adornment, symbolically
representing the stones (palantirí). Though stars have great historical
symbolism in Middle-earth.

> "originally represented the single stars on the banners of each of
> seven ships (of 9) that bore a palantir"
> LotR index under 'star'

And used further elsewhere in the story:

Seven stars on Aragorn's banner and on the livery of the Guards of the
Citadel (which is what prompts Pippin's memory, along with the dead
white tree). Also seven stars on the design on Anduril, and seven gems
of adament in Aragorn's crown. All symbolising the same thing.

> In most other instances, such as the emblem of Durin, when Tolkien
> refers to 'seven stars' it is the 'Sickle of the Valar' (aka 'Big
> Dipper')... though the Pleiades also get the same description in some
> places.

I don't think it is too much of a stretch to identify the gifting of
seven palantirí to Amandil, Lord of Andúnië and father of Elendil, with
the seven stars in the sky. It is a number that is highly symbolic.

Shanahan

unread,
Dec 2, 2004, 9:55:09 PM12/2/04
to
aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> declared:

> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message

>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)


>> Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith

[re Denethor's interrogation of Pippin]


> And, indeed, yes, poor
> Pippin was very much a pawn.

I love this line:
"Indeed you did your best," said the wizard, "and I hope that it may
be long before you find yourself in such a tight corner again
between two such terrible old men."

Ciaran S.
--
"I don't have any problems with women seeing me
as their ideal bit of 'rough'. Why would I?"
-sean bean


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 4, 2004, 6:32:55 PM12/4/04
to
in <10qrdes...@corp.supernews.com>,
aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> enriched us with:

>
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:VvQqd.26183$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk...
>>
>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>> Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith

<bigsnip>

>> What impressions do you get from the descriptions of Minas Tirith?
>
> I've always had my reactions tied in with Pippin's POV, that sense of
> awe and amazement. I feel, with him, all wide-eyed and anxious.

I can definitely relate to that. Númenor is mentioned already in the
preface and again in I,2 (Elendil, the Last Alliance, Isildur etc.) and
from there the might and majesty of Númenor and the Dúnedain is slowly
revealed: the heir of Isildur, Weathertop, the sword that was broken, the
Argonath, Amon Hen, Orthanc, the palantír, the evil beauty of Minas
Morgul . . .

At this point I already thought wondrously of Númenor and the Dúnedain,
so it didn't take much for me to be fully awe-stricken at the city of the
Dúnedain, despite the signs of its decline.

<snip>

>> Pippin is reminded of the Argonath ("awe fell on him, as he looked
>> down that avenue of kings long dead"), but Tolkien's words contrast
>> the stone of this room with hangings and wood. Is he comparing it to
>> Meduseld in Edoras, much as Gandalf has contrasted Denethor with
>> Theoden?
>
> Now *that's* something that had not occurred to me before, but knowing
> JRRT's penchant for parallelism, it would not surprise me at all.

Gandalf had already made that comparison:

"Théoden is a kindly old man. Denethor is of another sort,


proud and subtle, a man of far greater lineage and power,
though he is not called a king."


I'm quite sure that there's an intentional parallel and comparison.

What it is meant to convey (reduced to positive or negative), however, is
a bit more obscure. I get the impression of greater power, wealth, age
and majesty, but also of a colder reign: here the people aren't quite as
important as in Meduseld -- in the White Tower it is the Realm as an
abstract concept that is being ruled, while in Meduseld it is the people
who are being ruled (not that I necessarily think that this is true, but
that is the impression I get from that particular description).

<snip>

[Gandalf and Denethor]

>> Whew! What happened there?! Gandalf started off polite and courteous,
>> but was mostly ignored by Denethor. Denethor appears grief-stricken,
>> but is later accused by Gandalf of using grief as a cloak and
>> interrogating Pippin. The scene ends with Gandalf striding from the
>> hall without leave of the Lord he has come to counsel. What has gone
>> wrong here?
>

> To me, we see Denethor's pride manifesting itself here. It seems as
> thought he is trying to do a bit of one-upmanship with Gandalf,
> flaunting his knowledge of things afar off, that by rights should
> come as news to him.

That, but I think also that Denethor's old Thorongil-related distrust of
Mithrandir is asserting itself.


>> Can this be compared with the scene in Edoras where Gandalf
>> successfully brings counsel to Theoden?
>

> It is quite possible that this is a contrast to his encounter with
> Theoden. Theoden *wanted* help, ultimately. It is clear that
> Denethor does *not*, at least not any help that Gandalf might give.

I don't quite see it that way. I think that Denethor did want any help
that Gandalf could give:

"'Pride would be folly that disdained help and counsel at
need; but you deal out such gifts according to your own
designs. Yet the Lord of Gondor is not to be made the tool
of other men's purposes, however worthy. And to him there
is no purpose higher in the world as it now stands than the
good of Gondor; and the rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine
and no other man's, unless the king should come again.'"

Denethor was suspicious of Gandalf's motives, and he wanted any help to
be entirely on his own terms, but he did not, IMO, spurn the offer of
help and counsel in itself.

> I do think that Denethor's attitude shows that he did *not* have any
> inkling as to what Gandalf's true nature was.

That knowledge was extremely limited anyway; "[the Istari] belonged
solely to the Third Age and then departed, and none save maybe Elrond,
Círdan and Galadriel discovered of what kind they were or whence they
came."

I might have included Aragorn on that list (though probably not as
'discover' but rather 'suspect') -- if not before then at least after
Gandalf's return in III,5 'The White Rider':

" 'Do I not say truly, Gandalf,' said Aragorn at last,
'that you could go whithersoever you wished quicker than I?
And this I also say: you are our captain and our banner.
The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than
they: the White Rider. He has passed through the fire and
the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go where he
leads.'"

It seems to me here that Aragorn has some suspicions that Gandalf might
be even more than he appears. He may not guess the truth, but I should
think that he guessed that Gandalf was some kind of emmisary from the
West.

<snip>

>> Why then does Denethor question Pippin so closely?
>
> I get the feeling that he wants to see what Pippin saw, to picture in
> his own mind his son's demise. Very morbid state of mind.

The wish -- I think we could even say 'need' -- to know the circumstances
about the death of a loved one is, I think, very natural. I know I
certainly felt that way when my father died (though glancing at the post
mortem report to accidentally see the weight of the brain was a bit too
much), and I don't find this preoccupation with Boromir's death at all
morbid. Denethor has a need to know how and why Boromir died in order to
come to terms with it (not that one comes to terms with it immediately
after getting the answers, but it does help speeding up the process) -- a
pity that it happened at the time it did as he didn't have the time he
needed, and consequently was still affected by it when his country needed
him to be clear and rational.

> Most telling to me is his contempt for Pippin: "A Halfling still, and
> little love do I bear the name..."

Again I see this more as a natural human reaction -- 'halfling' was part
of the riddle that sent Boromir to Rivendell and cost Denethor his
beloved son. He is sufficiently in control of himself to overcome this
distaste: though there's clearly an amount of amusement at this small,
rustic halfling entering his service, I also get the impression that
Denethor does grow to genuinely like Pippin.

>> "What say you to that, Halfling?"; "Tell me more! Why did no help
>> come? And how did you escape...";
>
> This part of the exchange is where I first got my own antipathy for
> Denethor. On my first reading of the story, my reaction was anger
> that he seemed to blame Pippin for simply being alive, that he seemed
> to not care that Boromir thought Pippin (and Merry) worthy of his
> sacrifice. It seemed to belittle not only the hobbits, but Boromir
> as well. My opinion of him only went downhill from there.

He doesn't, at this point, know the circumstances -- he has no idea that
Boromir was actually protecting this halfling, and though he could
probably guess (if given a little time) why the Orcs did not kill the
halflings, he would still at this point be perplexed.

Still, his preoccupation with Boromir, and his fierce pride in the
rulership of Gondor (and his own capabilities) aren't healthy, but they
move me rather to pity than to scorn or condemnation.

<snip>

>> "...speak and be not silent! Tell me your full tale, and see that
>> you recall all that you can of Boromir, my son."; "Pippin never
>> forgot that hour in the great hall under the piercing eye of the
>> Lord of Gondor, stabbed ever and anon by his shrewd questions."
>
> He is definitely giving Pippin the third-degree.

Certainly.

> It is really not very courteous, but he does not seem to mind that.

Hiding, as Gandalf suggested, under the cover of his love and grief for
Boromir.

" 'Are you angry with me, Gandalf?' he said, as their guide
went out and closed the door. 'I did the best I could.'
[...]
'Indeed you did your best,' said the wizard; 'and I hope


that it may be long before you find yourself in such a

tight corner again between two such terrible old men. Still


the Lord of Gondor learned more from you than you may have
guessed, Pippin. You could not hide the fact that Boromir
did not lead the Company from Moria, and that there was one
among you of high honour who was coming to Minas Tirith;

and that he had a famous sword. Men think much about the
stories of old days in Gondor; and Denethor has given long
thought to the rhyme and to the words Isildur's Bane, since
Boromir went away.'"

Gandalf's presence didn't help Pippin, though ;-)

>> Gandalf later explains to Pippin: "Still the Lord of Gondor learned
>> more from you than you may have guessed, Pippin.

[...]

And earlier Gandalf had said:
>> Do not tell him more than you need, and leave quiet the matter of
>> Frodo's errand. I will deal with that in due time. And say nothing
>> about Aragorn either, unless you must."
>
> Yet clearly Denethor knows more than he is saying; otherwise his
> questions would not be so pointed.

It does become rather obvious that Denethor knows about Aragorn -- that
Gandalf hopes to restore kingship to Gondor by an heir of Isildur. Given
the text in the appendix, it would seem likely that he also knows that
this person is the same as Thorongil.

> The hints that Denethor has a palantir are so clear on a re-reading,
> and yet so subtle the first time.

Yes, it's brilliant ;-)

<snip>

>> Also, who is manipulating who? Gandalf or Denethor? Is Pippin a
>> pawn in all this?
>
> I think that Denethor is *attempting* to manipulate Gandalf; Gandalf
> has no need of manipulation--he is very straight-forward in his
> statements, although he was careful in the information he chose to
> share. But he is *always* that. And, indeed, yes, poor Pippin was
> very much a pawn.

I'm not sure that there's any manipulation or even attempt at
manipulation involved. Gandalf does know Denethor's motives and I think
that Denethor is fully aware of that fact. Denethor probably believes
that he knows Gandalf's motives (to replace himself with Aragorn), but of
course we know that this only is a minor aspect to Gandalf -- a great
advantage if it could be achieved, but only incidental to his real
mission.

> I think the note on which Gandalf left Denethor was meant as an
> attempt to get Denethor to see the big picture, and not just think of
> Gondor.

Yes, Gandalf would like to have Denethor take a broader view, though I
don't think he had much hope for that -- certainly not in the short term.

> This is perhaps where we see JRRT's opinions of Denethor coming
> forth: in Letters, he says Denethor fails because he is a mere
> "politician"--concerned only with the power of his own nation,
> and not with the ultimate realities of good and evil.

" Denethor /was/ tainted with mere politics: hence his
failure, and his mistrust of Faramir. It had become for him
a prime motive to preserve the polity of Gondor, as it was,
against another potentate, who had made himself stronger
and was to be feared and opposed for that reason rather
than because he was ruthless and wicked. Denethor despised
lesser men, and one may be sure did not distinguish between
orcs and the allies of Mordor. If he had survived as
victor, even without use of the Ring, he would have taken a
long stride towards becoming himself a tyrant, and the
terms and treatment he accorded to the deluded peoples of
east and south would have been cruel and vengeful. He had
become a 'political' leader: sc. Gondor against the rest."

Letter #183 -- I suppose that that was what you was thinking of.

>> The later pages of the chapter provide a marked contrast to the
>> atmosphere in the throne room with Denethor, and we and Pippin meet,
>> instead, Beregond and his son Bergil. What purpose do the Beregond
>> and Bergil bits have, and how do they contrast with the Denethor
>> scene?
>
> Beregond and Bergil serve a dual purpose, I think; one of plot
> practicalities--Pippin has to be fed, housed and clothed, and
> Gandalf is not going to have time to do that.

I suspect that this alone wouldn't have introduced us to Beregond and
Bergil. Tolkien seems to me to pay scant attention to such matters unless
they can be used for more important (to him) plot points.

> But also to give us an idea of the "common person" of Minas Tirith:
> notable that it is a soldier, for this is a City at War. And we are
> able to get a perspective on what is going on from a less lofty POV.

And I suspect that this is the primary motive -- to give us the less high
view of Gondor, its people and its ways. We need to see this from someone
who does not know Gondor -- Gandalf concentrates on other things;
important things, certainly, but not the kind of things that allow us to
get to know Gondor, but using Pippin allows the reader to get to know
Gondor together with the character.

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men
are almost always bad men.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 4, 2004, 7:58:35 PM12/4/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> enriched us with:
>> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

<snip>

>>> Also, who is manipulating who? Gandalf or Denethor? Is Pippin a
>>> pawn in all this?
>>
>> I think that Denethor is *attempting* to manipulate Gandalf; Gandalf
>> has no need of manipulation--he is very straight-forward in his
>> statements, although he was careful in the information he chose to
>> share. But he is *always* that. And, indeed, yes, poor Pippin was
>> very much a pawn.
>
> I'm not sure that there's any manipulation or even attempt at
> manipulation involved.

Maybe manipulation was the wrong word for me to use for what is actually
happening (though see quote below [1]). The one thing we can say for
sure is that, under the cloak of fair words, Gandalf and Denethor are
having an argument. They may be skating around the issues for much of
the scene, but by the end it is clear that Denethor is accusing Gandalf
of being manipulative, and that Gandalf finds himself immensely
frustrated by Denethor's attitude.

[1] Denethor does feel that Gandalf is manipulating things for some
other purpose (as indeed he is):

"...you deal out such gifts according to your own designs. Yet the Lord


of Gondor is not to be made the tool of other men's purposes, however

worthy." (Denethor speaking to Gandalf)

> Gandalf does know Denethor's motives

Does he? I think Gandalf did _not_ expect what happened in that throne
room, and it is only when he later finds out about the palantir that he
realises what has been going on. He may have suspected a lot of things,
but can be say he really knew these things?

Is it possible that Denethor's 'long sight' allowed him to see others
motives and desires more clearly than Gandalf the White? Maybe even
Aragorn's foresight before entering Moria was clearer than Gandalf's
sight (as Gandalf the Grey)?

> and I think that Denethor is fully aware of that fact. Denethor
> probably believes that he knows Gandalf's motives (to replace
> himself with Aragorn), but of course we know that this only is a
> minor aspect to Gandalf -- a great advantage if it could be achieved,
> but only incidental to his real mission.

And what does Denthor make of Gandalf's claim to be a steward caring for
all living things? Does he begin to suspect Gandalf's true nature?

It would be ironic if both Denthor and Gandalf failed to understand the
clues that each had revealed (warning: complete mangling of scene for
comedic purposes follows - with some semi-serious points):

Denethor: "Yea, though the stones be lost, they say, still the lords of
Gondor have keener sight than lesser men."

[Gandalf thinks: erm, I wonder what "they say" means? Oh look, Denethor
glanced at Pippin as he said that. ("Was it so, or had he only imagined
it, that as he spoke of the Stones a sudden gleam of his eye had glanced
upon Pippin's face?") Hey, didn't Pippin look in that stone or
something.... <gets distracted> Ooh look! *White* cakes, all for meee!!
("Then men came bearing a chair and a low stool, and one brought a
salver with a silver flagon and cups, and white cakes.)"]

Cunning distraction tactics by Denethor. :-)

But then Gandalf lets slips two clues himself, one about Aragorn and one
about himself:

"Unless the king should come again? Well, my lord Steward, it is your
task to keep some kingdom still against that event..."

[cue Gandalf's frantic thoughts: Oops, I told Pippin not to say anything
and now *I'm* about to mention Aragorn. Better add a quick disclaimer
like that "they say" one that Denthor used about the stones. I'm sure
there was something important I had to remember about that stone comment
by Denethor... Oops, Denethor's looking at me in a funny way, I'd better
finish my sentence.]

"...which few now look to see.

[Whew! Think I got away with that. Better add a polemic about being a
steward to distract him. He'll never guess what I *really* am!]

"<blah, blah, blah> all worthy things that are in peril as the world now
stands, those are my care...<blah, blah, blah>"

[Oops. Maybe that is going too far. Better wind up and get out of here.]

"...he turned and strode from the hall with Pippin running at his side."

:-)

>> I think the note on which Gandalf left Denethor was meant as an
>> attempt to get Denethor to see the big picture, and not just think of
>> Gondor.

Nah. He just messed up. See my 'alternative' scene above. :-)

> Yes, Gandalf would like to have Denethor take a broader view, though I
> don't think he had much hope for that -- certainly not in the short
> term.

It is interesting to contrast this scene (and presumably the later
meetings that Gandalf and Denethor and the other lords of Minas Tirith
have) with the way Aragorn and Imrahil (and Elrond through his sons)
defer to Gandalf's wisdom in 'The Last Debate' chapter:

"Let none now reject the counsels of Gandalf, whose long labours against
Sauron come at last to their test. But for him all would long ago have
been lost."

How close I wonder did Denethor's stubborn attitude and later madness
come to upsetting Gandalf's plans (ie. was Gandalf really in control of
the events in this book)? Indeed, how essential was Denethor's attitude
and madness as an unwitting contribution to victory (if at all)?

<snip>

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 6, 2004, 9:54:10 AM12/6/04
to
in <%2tsd.30209$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:

>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>> aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> enriched us with:
>>> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

<snip>

[Denethor and Gandalf]

>> I'm not sure that there's any manipulation or even attempt at
>> manipulation involved.
>
> Maybe manipulation was the wrong word for me to use for what is
> actually happening (though see quote below [1]). The one thing we can
> say for sure is that, under the cloak of fair words, Gandalf and
> Denethor are having an argument.

Quite ;-)

> They may be skating around the issues for much of the scene, but by
> the end it is clear that Denethor is accusing Gandalf of being
> manipulative,

I'll agree with that. The question is whether Gandalf actually is
manipulative.

> and that Gandalf finds himself immensely frustrated by Denethor's
> attitude.

Of course.

> [1] Denethor does feel that Gandalf is manipulating things for some
> other purpose (as indeed he is):

I suppose that Gandalf does, in some way, try to 'manipulate' events, but
I don't think he makes any secret of his motives, and my usual
understanding of 'manipulation' involves an amount of deceit, dishonesty
and the hiding of one's motives. It is on these items I wouldn't agree
that Gandalf was being manipulative.

<snip>

>> Gandalf does know Denethor's motives
>
> Does he? I think Gandalf did _not_ expect what happened in that throne
> room, and it is only when he later finds out about the palantir that
> he realises what has been going on. He may have suspected a lot of
> things, but can be say he really knew these things?

There's a difference, IMO, between the motives and the actions undertaken
to achieve the goal. Gandalf doesn't know all that Denethor has done to
fulfill his motives, but I still think that he does know precisely what
Denethor is working towards, what Denethor's priorities etc. are.

>> and I think that Denethor is fully aware of that fact. Denethor
>> probably believes that he knows Gandalf's motives (to replace
>> himself with Aragorn), but of course we know that this only is a
>> minor aspect to Gandalf -- a great advantage if it could be achieved,
>> but only incidental to his real mission.
>
> And what does Denthor make of Gandalf's claim to be a steward caring
> for all living things?

I've been wondering about that thing myself.

> Does he begin to suspect Gandalf's true nature?

I suppose that depends on what we mean by that.

There's a scale from suspecting that Gandalf is more than he appears --
neither Man nor Elf, but something else, to suspecting him to be an
emmissary form the Lords of the West and ultimately suspecting him to be
a Maia.

I think it's likely that Denethor took the first step, and it's possible,
I suppose, that he did expect "The West" to be somehow involved, but I
don't think it went further than that, though I'd be hard pressed to come
up with any good arguments for it ;-)

<snip parody>

;-))

But yes -- there's a good deal of not understanding the writing between
the lines going on, and yet we hear from Gandalf that Denethor learned
far more from Pippin than what he said.

But then we have the essay in UT telling us that Gandalf started to
suspect that Denethor might have used the seeing stone after Pippin had
looked in the Orthanc stone:

Undoubtedly Gandalf's haste to reach Minas Tirith, in
addition to the urgency of the time and the imminence of
war, was quickened by his sudden fear that Denethor also
had made use of a palantír, the Anor-stone, and his desire
to judge what effect this had had on him: whether in the
crucial test of desperate war it would not prove that he
(like Saruman) was no longer to be trusted and might
surrender to Mordor. Gandalf's dealings with Denethor on
arrival in Minas Tirith, and in the following days, and all
things that they are reported to have said to one another,
must be viewed in the light of this doubt in Gandalf's
mind[8]"
[8] "Denethor was evidently aware of Gandalf's guesses and
suspicions, and at once both angered and sardonically
amused by them. Note his words to Gandalf at their meeting
in Minas Tirith (The Return of the King V 1): 'I know
already sufficient of these deeds for my own counsel
against the menace of the East,' and especially his mocking
words that followed: 'Yea; for though the Stones be lost,


they say, still the lords of Gondor have keener sight than

lesser men, and many messages come to them.' Quite apart
from the palantíri, Denethor was a man of great mental
powers, and a quick reader of thoughts behind faces and
words, but he may well also have actually seen in the
Anor-stone visions of events in Rohan and Isengard.
[Author's note.]"

It is, I think, likely that none of them were actually fooled; that they
did see through these semi-veiled comments -- after all Denethor was
already convinced that Gandalf wanted to supplant him with Aragorn, and
Gandalf already suspected that Denethor was using the stone. In that
situation they might both have realised that the other was too important
to risk losing their support at this point, and therefore satisfied
themselves with this verbal sparring, avoiding a conflict that would
alienate the other.

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer

A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.
- (Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!)

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 6, 2004, 10:53:36 AM12/6/04
to
in <R%Mrd.28765$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,

Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Raven wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> Of course Denethor would demand to see Pippin, who, along with
>> Merry, saw Boromir fall. He would have considered it very odd for
>> Gandalf to stash such a one away
>
> That presumes that Denethor knew that Pippin saw Boromir die.

And avoiding that would have required a change at the Rammas -- some
other way of getting Pippin past the guards there.

<snip>

> While this does persuade Ingold to let them through, it also now
> means that Gandalf _has_ to present Pippin as one who can tell of
> Boromir and the Fellowship, rather than 'just' a halfling "come
> from the storming of Isengard".

Exactly.

> I'm not saying that Gandalf would necessarily have done so, but
> until Pippin opened his mouth, Gandalf might have had the option

> of presenting the news of Boromir's death himself, rather than
> entrusting it to Pippin.

I'll admit that I can't really imagine Gandalf deliberately withhold a
bereaved father the eye witness account from one who saw his son die (and
whom the son had befriended and died defending) merely because it is
politically more convenient . . .

> He could have just told Pippin to be quiet, though admittedly
> under Denethor's keen gaze that subterfuge by omission would not
> have lasted long.

That as well. And no matter how he managed to get Pippin past the guards
at the Rammas, he would still be obliged by the law to have Pippin appear
in front of Denethor, as Pippin would otherwise have been thrown in some
cell.

Gandalf came to offer counsels, tidings and help to Gondor; that would
have failed immediately if he had tried to break the laws of the country.

<snip>

--

Troels Forchhammer

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Dec 6, 2004, 11:09:04 AM12/6/04
to
in <BrSdnUBO2pD...@rcn.net>,
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> enriched us with:

>
> AC wrote:
>> On Wed, 1 Dec 2004 23:48:37 -0800,
>> Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>>
>>> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:
>>>>

<snip>

>>>> Pippin declares himself to be a hobbit,
>>>
>>> "Man! Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a
>>> man, save perhaps now and again through necessity".
>>

>> Grrr... But Hobbits are still human!

My impression is that "Man" (capitalized) in LotR refers to that branch
of humans which the Hobbits call 'the Big People'. This would, I think,
include also the Drúedain, and certainly the Númenoreans.

> I don't have the Letters handy, but as I recall Tolkien says something
> along the lines that Hobbits are meant to be off the same tree as
> humans,

There's the footnote to letter #131 (the long one to Milton Waldman)
which says:

"The Hobbits are, of course, really meant to be a branch
of the specifically human race (not Elves or Dwarves) -
hence the two kinds can dwell together (as at Bree), and
are called just the Big Folk and Little Folk."

And it goes on to explain that they have no 'non-human powers' at all,
and the reasons for making them small.


One interesting (well, to me at least <G>) result of this is illustrated
by the foot-note to LotR App. A,II 'The House of Eorl' where we learn
that Éowyn "was known after in teh Mark as the Lady of the Shield-arm."
The note says:

"For her shield-arm was broken by the mace of the
Witch-king; but he was brought to nothing, and thus the words
of Glorfindel long before to King Eärnur were fulfilled, that
the Witch-king would not fall by the hand of man. For it is
said in the songs of the Mark that in this deed Éowyn had the
aid of Théoden's esquire, and that he also was not a Man but a
Halfling out of a far country, though Éomer gave him honour in
the Mark and the name of Holdwine.
[This Holdwine was none other than Meriadoc the Magnificent
who was Master of Buckland.]"

The point is that Éowyn was a Man, but not a man, while Merry was a man,
but not a Man ;-)

--
Troels Forchhammer

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would
be a merrier world.
- Thorin Oakenshield, 'The Hobbit' (J.R.R. Tolkien)

AC

unread,
Dec 6, 2004, 11:33:37 AM12/6/04
to
On Mon, 06 Dec 2004 16:09:04 GMT,
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>
> The point is that Éowyn was a Man, but not a man, while Merry was a man,
> but not a Man ;-)

Tolkien's mythos creates these sorts of odd paradoxes. For instance, there
are mortals, and then there are Mortals, getting even muddier when you
consider Dwarves, who are mortal, but whose spirits probably don't depart
Arda.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 6, 2004, 1:25:32 PM12/6/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

[Denethor - Gandalf]

> But yes -- there's a good deal of not understanding the writing
> between the lines going on, and yet we hear from Gandalf that
> Denethor learned far more from Pippin than what he said.
>
> But then we have the essay in UT telling us that Gandalf started to
> suspect that Denethor might have used the seeing stone after Pippin
> had looked in the Orthanc stone:

Wow! This essay answers all the questions. I had totally forgotten about
this. Thanks for that.

> Undoubtedly Gandalf's haste to reach Minas Tirith, in
> addition to the urgency of the time and the imminence of
> war, was quickened by his sudden fear that Denethor also
> had made use of a palantír, the Anor-stone, and his desire
> to judge what effect this had had on him

What judgement do you think Gandalf _did_ pass on Denethor? It looks
like Gandalf still thought Denethor was his own man, and had not been
subverted by Sauron. Or maybe not?

> whether in the
> crucial test of desperate war it would not prove that he
> (like Saruman) was no longer to be trusted and might
> surrender to Mordor.

It looks like he never did: just went mad (though it makes little
difference apart from the moral judgement on Denethor). I guess that
discussion should wait until a later chapter.

> Gandalf's dealings with Denethor on
> arrival in Minas Tirith, and in the following days, and all
> things that they are reported to have said to one another,
> must be viewed in the light of this doubt in Gandalf's
> mind[8]"

Wow. So why didn't Tolkien put this in the story as published, if he
thought it was so important. I can only guess that he wanted to keep the
Anor palantir and Denethor's use of it a secret, for the drama of the
later scene where we are shown the Anor palantir.

> [8] "Denethor was evidently aware of Gandalf's guesses and
> suspicions, and at once both angered and sardonically
> amused by them. Note his words to Gandalf at their meeting
> in Minas Tirith (The Return of the King V 1): 'I know
> already sufficient of these deeds for my own counsel
> against the menace of the East,' and especially his mocking
> words that followed: 'Yea; for though the Stones be lost,
> they say, still the lords of Gondor have keener sight than
> lesser men, and many messages come to them.' Quite apart
> from the palantíri, Denethor was a man of great mental
> powers, and a quick reader of thoughts behind faces and
> words, but he may well also have actually seen in the
> Anor-stone visions of events in Rohan and Isengard.
> [Author's note.]"

I was going to suggest that Denethor might have seen events at Rohan and
Isengard, but then thought that this was too far fetched!! It does raise
issues about how clear such visions were, as certain events need to be
kept secret from Sauron and (earlier) Saruman. I wonder just how useful
these palantiri were for spying. I seem to remember something about
needing to be in line-of-sight with what you are seeing.

> It is, I think, likely that none of them were actually fooled; that
> they did see through these semi-veiled comments -- after all Denethor
> was already convinced that Gandalf wanted to supplant him with
> Aragorn, and Gandalf already suspected that Denethor was using the
> stone. In that situation they might both have realised that the other
> was too important to risk losing their support at this point, and
> therefore satisfied themselves with this verbal sparring, avoiding a
> conflict that would alienate the other.

That is the best analysis of the scene I've seen so far. Though the
reader will take a long time to realise this is what was going on: we
see the scene merely through the eyes of Pippin: two 'terrible old men'
arguing!!

Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message

unread,
Dec 6, 2004, 4:24:13 PM12/6/04
to
In rec.arts.books.tolkien Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> I was going to suggest that Denethor might have seen events at Rohan and
> Isengard, but then thought that this was too far fetched!! It does raise
> issues about how clear such visions were, as certain events need to be
> kept secret from Sauron and (earlier) Saruman. I wonder just how useful
> these palantiri were for spying. I seem to remember something about
> needing to be in line-of-sight with what you are seeing.

Lately I have been wondering if Denethor also got news
about Aragorn because of Aragorn's use of the Orthanc-stone;
either because he saw him directly in his stone, or because
Sauron, enraged about Aragorn's control over the Orthanc-stone,
directed Denethor's mind toward looking at Aragorn and knowing
who he was. I can't remember whether JRRT or any of the
characters raises this possibility.

--Jamie. (a Dover edition designed for years of use!)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)

Troels Forchhammer

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Dec 6, 2004, 6:17:01 PM12/6/04
to
in <slrncr92f2.1jd....@aaronclausen.alberni.net>,

AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
>
> On Mon, 06 Dec 2004 16:09:04 GMT,
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>
>> The point is that Éowyn was a Man, but not a man, while Merry was a
>> man, but not a Man ;-)
>
> Tolkien's mythos creates these sorts of odd paradoxes.

That it does.

> For instance, there are mortals, and then there are Mortals, getting
> even muddier when you consider Dwarves, who are mortal, but whose
> spirits probably don't depart Arda.

Good example.

It all helps to keep us on our toes ;-)


--
Troels Forchhammer

Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
- Niels Bohr, to a young physicist

Shanahan

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Dec 7, 2004, 12:57:51 AM12/7/04
to
Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message <m...@privacy.net>
declared:

> In rec.arts.books.tolkien Christopher Kreuzer
> <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

>> I was going to suggest that Denethor might have seen events at
>> Rohan and Isengard, but then thought that this was too far
>> fetched!! It does raise issues about how clear such visions
>> were, as certain events need to be kept secret from Sauron and
>> (earlier) Saruman. I wonder just how useful these palantiri were
>> for spying. I seem to remember something about needing to be in
>> line-of-sight with what you are seeing.

The Stone needed to be oriented toward what you wanted to see, yes:
(all quotes from UT, 'The Palantiri')

"A viewer could by his will cause the vision of the Stone to
/concentrate/ on some point, on or near its direct line. The
uncontrolled visions were small, especially in the minor Stones
[...] But controlled by the will of a skilled and strong surveyor,
remoter things could be enlarged, brought as it were nearer and
clearer, while their background was almost
suppressed....concentration could enlarge and clarify the vision
till [a person] was seen in clear if reduced detail like a picture
apparently a foot or more in height, and recognized if he was known
to the surveyor. Great concentration might even enlarge some
detail....so that it could be seen (for instance) if he had a ring
on his hand.
"But this 'concentration' was very tiring and might become
exhausting.... Denethor sitting before the Anor-stone anxious about
Rohan....might place himself in a direct line looking north-west by
west through Rohan, passing close to Edoras and on towards the Fords
of Isen. At that time there might be visible movements of men in
that line. If so, he could concentrate on (say) a group, see them
as Riders, and finally discern some figure known to him: Gandalf,
for instance, riding with the reinforcements to Helm's Deep...."

> Lately I have been wondering if Denethor also got news
> about Aragorn because of Aragorn's use of the Orthanc-stone;
> either because he saw him directly in his stone, or because
> Sauron, enraged about Aragorn's control over the Orthanc-stone,
> directed Denethor's mind toward looking at Aragorn and knowing
> who he was. I can't remember whether JRRT or any of the
> characters raises this possibility.

Denethor would not have been able to 'eavesdrop' on Aragorn's use of
the Orthanc-stone, unless Aragorn willingly opened up communication
between their two stones. "The palantiri could not themselves
survey men's minds, at unawares or unwilling....thought (received as
speech) was only transmittable by one Stone to another in accord."

Denethor might very well have been able to guess that it was no
longer in the hands of Saruman, however:

"Whether he [Denethor] ever thus made contact with the Orthanc-stone
and Saruman is not told; probably he did, and did so with profit to
himself. Sauron could not break in on these conferences: only the
surveyor using the Master Stone of Osgiliath could 'eavesdrop'.
While two of the other Stones were in response, the third would find
them both blank."

And he might have been able to see Aragorn in Rohan, through the
Anor-stone, even have been able to see Aragorn holding or using the
Orthanc-stone (see quote above).

Ciaran S.
--
Beware all enterprises which require new clothes.


Troels Forchhammer

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Dec 7, 2004, 4:45:02 AM12/7/04
to
in <wu1td.31426$up1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,

Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>
> [Denethor - Gandalf]

>
>> But then we have the essay in UT telling us that Gandalf started to
>> suspect that Denethor might have used the seeing stone after Pippin
>> had looked in the Orthanc stone:
>
> Wow! This essay answers all the questions. I had totally forgotten
> about this. Thanks for that.

It does indeed answer a lot of questions -- I would, however, like to
know if there are any suggestions in the LotR history volumes of HoMe
that shows a little more clearly that this was also Tolkien's intention
when he was writing LotR ('The Palantíri' is from the mid-sixties[1]).

Not that I don't believe the contents, but it would be nice to know
whether these ideas were also present in the published text of LotR.

[1] http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/md_hmch.html


>> Undoubtedly Gandalf's haste to reach Minas Tirith, in
>> addition to the urgency of the time and the imminence of
>> war, was quickened by his sudden fear that Denethor also
>> had made use of a palantír, the Anor-stone, and his desire
>> to judge what effect this had had on him
>
> What judgement do you think Gandalf _did_ pass on Denethor? It looks
> like Gandalf still thought Denethor was his own man, and had not been
> subverted by Sauron. Or maybe not?

Denethor never was really subverted by Sauron -- not to the extent of
abandoning how own objectives at least. He does, in the end, give in to
despair, but at this point I don't think he has given in yet.

I would guess that Gandalf does realise that Denethor has been using the
stone -- it is, after all (as you have said) quite obvious once one
suspects it, and he may also recognise some of the signs of the unhealthy
influence this has on Denethor: the strain of his confrontations with
Sauron, his pride and his focus on the battle between Gondor and Mordor a
s described in App. A,I,(iv) 'Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion':

" In this way Denethor gained his great knowledge of things
that passed in his realm, and far beyond his borders, at
which men marvelled; but he bought the knowledge dearly,
being aged before his time by his contest with the will of
Sauron. Thus pride increased in Denethor together with
despair, until he saw in all the deeds of that time only a
single combat between the Lord of the White Tower and the
Lord of the Barad-dûr, and mistrusted all others who
resisted Sauron, unless they served himself alone."

These things I would say that Gandalf guessed, including their source,
during the first few days in Minas Tirith during the War of the Ring, but
it is doubtful, IMO, that he did -- or even could have -- guess the
consequences for Denethor of the wounds to Faramir.

>> whether in the crucial test of desperate war it would
>> not prove that he (like Saruman) was no longer to be
>> trusted and might surrender to Mordor.
>
> It looks like he never did: just went mad

Exactly. "Denethor was a man of great strength of will, and mantained the
integrity of his personality until the final blow of the (apparently)
mortal wound of his only surviving son." (UT 4,III 'The Palantíri' -- in
case someone doesn't have access to it).

> (though it makes little difference apart from the moral judgement
> on Denethor).

But isn't that an important issue in Tolkien's writings?

> I guess that discussion should wait until a later chapter.

Oh, well . . . ;-)

>> Gandalf's dealings with Denethor on arrival in Minas

>> Tirith, and in the following days, and allthings that


>> they are reported to have said to one another, must be
>> viewed in the light of this doubt in Gandalf's mind[8]"
>
> Wow. So why didn't Tolkien put this in the story as published, if he
> thought it was so important.

A good question, IMO. There are at least a couple of points I'd like to
discuss in this connection. This scene, as indeed the whole chapter, is
told from the PoV of Pippin, and I don't think that he would detect these
undercurrents, which would necessitate some kind of narrative shift in
order to make it work -- he could, for instance, have had Gandalf say
something about this in 'The Last Debate', but there is, I think, enough
back-story there (with Legolas and Gimli's account of their journey from
the Stone of Erech).

There are a few more hints in appendix A, but again it doesn't quite go
all the way -- there's some speculation about when Denethor began to use
the palantír, what the effects on him were etc. but the details about his
confrontation with Gandalf are missing.

This leads me to suspect that this might, at least in part, be after the
fact rationalisation by Tolkien -- something he himself only discovered
after long considering of this, and in the context of 'investigating' the
properties of the palantíri in general.

> I can only guess that he wanted to keep the Anor palantir and
> Denethor's use of it a secret, for the drama of the later scene
> where we are shown the Anor palantir.

Yes, he would wish to keep that information hidden, though perhaps 'only
hinted at' would be a better description. It is one of these situations
where one at the third, fourth or whatever number reading begins to
become suspicious of what is really going on. It is incredible that
Tolkien, who
rarely read a book more than once (letter #189), succeeded so well in
creating a work that requires multiple re-readings in order to grasp, and
yet is from the start so inviting to those re-readings ;-)

<snip>

> It does raise issues about how clear such visions were,

The UT essay together with notes is quite specific.

> as certain events need to be kept secret from Sauron and (earlier)
> Saruman.

As I read the UT essay it is very likely that Denethor had better control
of his stone than did Saruman -- I think that Denethor would have been
better able to 'zoom in' on distant events than Saruman, and thus he
could have seen details that Saruman would not have been able to see
(e.g. whether there were hobbits with the group of Orcs hurrying across
Rohan from Emun Muil).

> I wonder just how useful these palantiri were for spying. I seem to
> remember something about needing to be in line-of-sight with what you
> are seeing.

And there's also the concept of 'shrouding' that is not entirely clear --
it appears that there is another note on the palantíri that differs in
some details from the longer essay in UT (some of it is quoted or
recounted by CJRT in the notes to the essay).

>> It is, I think, likely that none of them were actually fooled; that
>> they did see through these semi-veiled comments -- after all Denethor
>> was already convinced that Gandalf wanted to supplant him with
>> Aragorn, and Gandalf already suspected that Denethor was using the
>> stone. In that situation they might both have realised that the other
>> was too important to risk losing their support at this point, and
>> therefore satisfied themselves with this verbal sparring, avoiding a
>> conflict that would alienate the other.
>
> That is the best analysis of the scene I've seen so far.

Why, thank you, gentle sir ;-)

> Though the reader will take a long time to realise this is what was
> going on:

I don't recall when I started to suspect that something had been going
over the top of my head -- it was certainly neither the second or third
reading ;-)

At some point I started to put together the various hints from around the
book [2], but it took some more for a fuller picture to emerge -- and of
course it wasn't until I read UT that the full 'truth' became visible.

[2] The information is distributed around LotR:
III,11 'The Palantír'
V,1 'Minas Tirith'
V,4 'The Siege of Gondor'
V,7 'The Pyre of Denethor'
V,9 'The Last Debate'
App. A,I(iv) 'Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion'

> we see the scene merely through the eyes of Pippin: two 'terrible
> old men' arguing!!

Precisely! It is so amazingly brilliant to able to reduce the scene to
merely the awe of this rustic hobbit over two 'terrible old men' arguing,
and yet hide between the lines both here and elsewhere a story of much
greater complexity. It's when I read stuff like this that I resolve never
to write any kind of fiction myself ;-)

--
Troels Forchhammer

For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided into things to
(a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.
- (Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites)

AC

unread,
Dec 7, 2004, 12:44:43 PM12/7/04
to
On Mon, 06 Dec 2004 23:17:01 GMT,
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> in <slrncr92f2.1jd....@aaronclausen.alberni.net>,
> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
>>
>> On Mon, 06 Dec 2004