CotW Silm Ch 2 - Of Aule and Yavanna

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Chris Kern

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Nov 13, 2005, 10:40:52 PM11/13/05
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(As per some of my previous posts, I will here use the abbrevation QS
to refer to the unfinished Quenta Silmarillion text(s) that JRRT
wrote, not the version that appears in the published Silmarillion.)

1. Summary

This chapter is divided into two parts. The first one tells of Aule's
creation of the Dwarves. He created the Dwarves desiring the coming
of the Children of Iluvatar. But as he was instructing the Dwarves in
speech, Iluvatar asked him what he was doing. Iluvatar said that the
Dwarves had no life in them and just followed Aule's commands, and
wonders if that is Aule's desire -- to lord over beings of no free
will.

Aule replies that it is not, and that he just created them out of
impatience. He then apologizes to Iluvatar and takes up a hammer to
destroy his creations. But the Dwarves shrink from the hammer, and
Iluvatar tells Aule that he has given the Dwarves life -- but he puts
a sleep on them so that Aule will not be rewarded for his impatience,
and so that they will not appear before the Elves. A discussion then
follows of the afterlife of Dwarves, who are supposed to rebuild Arda
after the Last Battle (it is curious that CT left this reference to
the Dagor Dagorath in the text when he excised the other ones.)
Apparently there is some sort of reincarnation for the fathers of
Dwarves, who "live again in their own kin" (although this passage was
written before Tolkien rejected the Elves' rebirth in their children).

The second part of the chapter concerns Yavanna. Hearing what Aule
has done, she says the the Dwarves shall not love nature because Aule
hid their creation from her. Aule replies that all of the Children
shall treat her plants and animals without respect in the same way.
Yavanna replies that this will not be true unless Melkor darken their
hearts.

Yavanna goes to Manwe, asking if the Children will have dominion over
her creations. Manwe replies that it is so, and Yavanna is sorrowed
that when Melkor has already corrupted so much, that others will have
dominion over what is hers. Manwe, after thinking on the Music again
(and falling into a trance), tells Yavanna that Eru has decreed that
when the Children awake, some spirits will enter the trees to protect
them. These are the Ents, the "shepherds of the trees" (although the
name "ent" does not appear in the chapter). Yavanna hopes that the
Eagles will dwell in her tall trees, but Manwe says that only the
"trees of Aule" will be large enough.

Yavanna goes back to Aule and tells him that his children should
beware the forest. "Nonetheless they will have need of wood," he
replies, and goes back to his smithing.

2. Textual Sources

This chapter is not found in any text of QS written by JRRT; it is an
editorial combination of CT's working from two sources of his father's
(which explains the stylistic discrepancy between the two halves).

The section on Aule and the Dwarves does come from the QS, but from a
later chapter called "Concerning the Dwarves" (the chapter numbers are
nebulous but this chapter came after Of Beleriand and its Realms).
This explains the rather abrupt beginning of the chapter -- originally
this followed an account of the Dwarves' dealing with the Elves in
Middle-Earth.

The section on Yavanna and the Ents comes from probably a
significantly later time (CT guesses 1963, following a response to a
letter from a reader), and is a text unrelated to the QS with the
title "Anaxartamel Onyalie" (I don't know what this means). The text
was printed in the published Silmarillion intact except for one major
change -- the text as JRRT wrote it contains a reference to the Sun
being in existence from the beginning of Arda, and CT removed that
reference.

3. Tradition

By "tradition" I mean the form these legends took in earlier versions
of Tolkien's mythology. For the second half of the chapter, this can
be dispensed with quickly -- there is no precedent in any of the
previous writings that I know of for the creation of the Ents (which
did not exist pre-LotR), nor for the conversations between Manwe,
Yavanna, and Aule.

The Dwarves, on the other hand, have a rather interesting history in
Tolkien's writings. In the Book of Lost Tales they are a greedy and
even evil people -- in certain outlines they were created by Melko and
are lumped in with giants, ogres, and goblins in a category called
"Uvanimor" (I, 236). They sack Doriath with hired Orcs (II, 230). On
the other hand, in the same place it says "...by [Hurin's] deeds have
the Dwarves been severed in feud for ever since those days with the
Elves, and drawn more nigh in friendship to the kin of Melko" (II,
230) which would seem to go against the idea that they were created by
Melko.

In the narrative poems Tolkien wrote in the 30's, the Dwarves are said
to be "of troth unmindful" (III, 50) and the weapons they make
treacherously break and betray the wielder.

In the Quenta their origin is changed, but still far from the late
conception. "[The Elves] did not discover whence that strange race
[i.e. Dwarves] came, nor have any since. They are not friend of Valar
or of Eldar or of Men, nor do they serve Morgoth; though they are in
many things more like his people, and little did they love the
[Noldor]" (IV, 103-104). In the Union of Maedhros in this version of
the story, the Dwarves do not join the battle, saying "we are friends
of neither side -- until it hath the mastery" (IV, 116).

All of this is pre-Hobbit writing. While I don't know of any explicit
evidence that The Hobbit caused Tolkien to rethink his view of
Dwarves, the first texts from the post-Hobbit period are altogether
more positive in their portrayal of the Dwarves, and here we find the
first germ of the idea that they were created by Aule. In the Annals
of Beleriand, which is very possibly the first time Tolkien set the
idea down to paper, it says "Aule made the dwarves long ago, desiring
the coming of the Elves and of Men, for he wished to have learners to
whom he could teach his crafts of hand, and he could not wait upon the
designs of Iluvatar" (V, 129). However, the next sentence says "But
the Dwarves have no spirit indwelling" which shows the myth is not yet
in its final form. This passage was emended to read "And the Noldor
believed that the Dwarves have no spirit indwelling..." (V, 146).

In the first version of the Quenta Silmarillion, the part about "no
spirit indwelling" does not appear, but it does say "Yet they derive
their thought and being after their measure from only one of the
Powers..." (V, 273), and it seems likely that the myth was not yet in
its full form when Lord of the Rings was begun.

After the completion of Lord of the Rings, in 1951, when Tolkien
returned to the Silmarillion writings, we finally come to the fully
developed form of the myth. The Grey Annals say nothing beyond what
was written in pre-LotR writings (XI, 10). It was in the QS, however,
that the ideas reached their final form. The entire chapter "Of Men
and Dwarves" was rewritten, and here a very abbreviated form of the
final legend appears, in which it is said that "Aule...declared to
their Fathers of old that Iluvatar had accepted from him the work of
his desire..." (XI, 204). Another sentence says that "In the darkness
of Arda already the Naugrim wrought their works" -- the "sleep" that
Iluvatar placed on the Dwarves was not yet in existence (also earlier
on the page it says that the Dwarves came to M-E before Melkor's
capture). JRRT still seemed to be clinging to scraps of the old idea;
it says that the Noldor believed the Dwarves would have made weapons
for Morgoth if he paid well enough.

CT says that "long after" (although the exact date is unspecified),
the opening paragraph of this section was struck through and replaced
with what we have as Chapter 2 of the published Silmarillion. The
rest of the chapter was not changed, and I have no idea where (or if)
this text appears in the published Silm (the text beginning on XI 204
with "And since they came in the days..." all the way to the "Of the
Edain" subheading on p. 206).

There are also sketchy writings from this time about the female
Dwarves, but they were not incorporated into JRRT's final text.

4. Topics for Discussion

I'm not really good at coming up with these so I hope some others can
assist.

- It seems that none of the other Valar learned about the Dwarves
until they awoke in M-E. I wonder what they thought about that?

- Why was the enmity between the Dwarves and the Elves so important to
Tolkien? It seems to be introduced here by Iluvatar without any real
explanation, although it goes back to the Book of Lost Tales.

Well, I hope people can pick out more points of discussion in the
material above -- sorry I spent so much time on the history and
textual sources but that's my primary interest in the Silmarillion so
maybe one of the other members can step up and suggest some areas of
discussion.

-Chris

Christopher Kreuzer

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Nov 14, 2005, 6:10:52 PM11/14/05
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[No comments yet - just cross-posting to AFT]

Gregory Hernandez

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Nov 14, 2005, 8:20:42 PM11/14/05
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"Chris Kern" wrote :
[snip]
>...sorry I spent so much time on the history and

> textual sources but that's my primary interest in the Silmarillion

I just wanted to say thanks to you and the other CotW moderators precisely
for the reason you mention apologetically -- It was my hope that when the
discussion of the Silmarillion began that there would be enough folks who
are knowledgeable about the corpus of Tolkien's legendarium to be able to
illuminate some of the variant texts ant textual traditions. Additionally,
this offers an insight re Christopher Tolkien's editorial work on the
Silmarillion as published.
So in other words, no apologies, mate, instead many thanks.
Looking forward to more of the same.
GRH


Snis Pilbor

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Nov 15, 2005, 12:06:49 AM11/15/05
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Chris Kern wrote:
>
> CotW Silm Ch 2 - Of Aule and Yavanna
>

Manwe's trance in this chapter is very interesting. It sheds new
insight into the ainulindale. Was Manwe the only being graced with a
repeat of the Vision within the vision itself? How did this influence
his later decisions?

One thing I wonder about is: Manwe is supposed to have no knowledge of
evil; indeed Melkor uses this to his advantage winning undeserved
trust. Does this mean in Manwe's vision he was only given the "good"
aspects of the Ainulindale? Or does it mean he actively refused to
heed the bad?

I mentioned it already in chapter 1 discussion, but another important
part of Manwe's vision is the revelation that Iluvatar's hand upholds
everything. This is, I feel, very important, a cornerstone of one of
the underlying Silmarillion themes.

Snis Pilbor

Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message

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Nov 15, 2005, 4:03:36 PM11/15/05
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Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The Dwarves, on the other hand, have a rather interesting history in
> Tolkien's writings. In the Book of Lost Tales they are a greedy and
> even evil people -- in certain outlines they were created by Melko and
> are lumped in with giants, ogres, and goblins in a category called
> "Uvanimor" (I, 236). [...]

> All of this is pre-Hobbit writing. While I don't know of any explicit
> evidence that The Hobbit caused Tolkien to rethink his view of
> Dwarves, the first texts from the post-Hobbit period are altogether
> more positive in their portrayal of the Dwarves, and here we find the
> first germ of the idea that they were created by Aule. [...]

> After the completion of Lord of the Rings, in 1951, when Tolkien
> returned to the Silmarillion writings, we finally come to the fully
> developed form of the myth. [...]

> JRRT still seemed to be clinging to scraps of the old idea;
> it says that the Noldor believed the Dwarves would have made weapons
> for Morgoth if he paid well enough.

Reluctant as I am to start up the old Jews/Dwarves thing
again, it was actually the first thing to occur to me when
reading this chronology, as excellently summarized by Chris.
I'm haunted by Tolkien's offhand assertion (in an interview in
the 1960s) that the Dwarves were in some way similar to Jews.
I wonder if the development of the Dwarves in his mythos
parallels the development of his feelings toward Jews.

Many writers in the early part of the 20th century doled
out Jewish stereotypes and insensitive references to Jews by the
ladelful; the two that spring to mind are T. S. Eliot and Joseph
Conrad (in _Nostromo_), but the Goblins in Eddison's _The Worm
Ouroboros_ are pretty clearly intended to be like stereotyped
Jews. I wonder if Tolkien started out like that and then, as
the 1930s progressed and it became clear that Hitler was
aggressively persecuting the Jews, he thought more deeply about
it and realized that he had to take a stand on the issue (as
witness the famous "I am not an Aryan" Letter).

If the parallel to the Dwarves of his mythos holds, it
would mean a largely negative view of the Dwarves in the 1910s
and 1920s, a progressively more positive view through the 1930s
(including in _The Hobbit_) and a largely positive view of the
Dwarves as "blessed" post-WWII.

As I say, I am reluctant to (re-)start a flamewar, but that
was literally the unbidden thought that occurred to me when
looking at JRRT's changing view of the Dwarves over the years.

--Jamie. (Celebrating (?) 20 years on Usenet!)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)

Chris Kern

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Nov 15, 2005, 4:33:05 PM11/15/05
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On 15 Nov 2005 21:03:36 GMT, m...@privacy.net (Jamie Andrews; real
address @ bottom of message) posted the following:

> Reluctant as I am to start up the old Jews/Dwarves thing
>again, it was actually the first thing to occur to me when
>reading this chronology, as excellently summarized by Chris.
>I'm haunted by Tolkien's offhand assertion (in an interview in
>the 1960s) that the Dwarves were in some way similar to Jews.
>I wonder if the development of the Dwarves in his mythos
>parallels the development of his feelings toward Jews.

I think it's much more likely that the original conception of the
Dwarves was strongly tied to the myths he was influenced by (Germanic,
Norse, and other) in which Dwarves are almost always evil.

-Chris

Huan the hound

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Nov 15, 2005, 6:38:33 PM11/15/05
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On 2005-11-15, Gregory Hernandez <greg...@earthlink.net> wrote in
<KJaef.202$wf....@newsread3.news.atl.earthlink.net>:


This is basically just a "me too" post. Even if I get HOME books out of
the library, I doubt I could get into half as much detail about both
Tolkiens' writing and editing processes. So I hope you will continue to
contribute this kind of information, especially when I (and other
non-HOME people) do a COTW.

--
Huan, the hound of Valinor

ste...@nomail.com

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Nov 15, 2005, 7:18:16 PM11/15/05
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I doubt that comment was meant to apply to how Tolkien
originally viewed the Dwarves. The reason that the
Dwarves so radically changed is because of "The Hobbit".
"The Hobbit" was really not part of Middle Earth. It
borrowed names and ideas, but it really was not very
consistent with his mythology, and in many ways it was
created without a whole lot of careful thought. From
Letter #19:
"Mr Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional
and inconsistent Grimm's fairy-tale dwarves, and got
drawn into the edge of it - so that even Sauron the
terrible peeped over the edge."
Once "The Hobbit" became a definite part of the mythology,
as the LOTR turned into a sequel to "The Silmarillion"
as much as it was a sequel to "The Hobbit", it was necessary
to revise the history of the Dwarves.

Stephen


Conrad Dunkerson

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Nov 15, 2005, 8:42:13 PM11/15/05
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Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message wrote:

> As I say, I am reluctant to (re-)start a flamewar, but that
> was literally the unbidden thought that occurred to me when
> looking at JRRT's changing view of the Dwarves over the years.

In addition to the excellent points raised by Stephen and Chris I'd add
that Tolkien's comparison of Jews to his Dwarves seems to have been
primarily linguistic in nature. Note that he makes the comparison very
late in the history of the mythology... there is no reason to think that
he ALWAYS had such a connection in mind. It is only after the
significant ennoblement of the Dwarves that we hear anything from
Tolkien about them being 'like Jews'.

Conrad Dunkerson

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Nov 15, 2005, 8:48:36 PM11/15/05
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Snis Pilbor wrote:

> One thing I wonder about is: Manwe is supposed to have no knowledge of
> evil; indeed Melkor uses this to his advantage winning undeserved
> trust. Does this mean in Manwe's vision he was only given the "good"
> aspects of the Ainulindale? Or does it mean he actively refused to
> heed the bad?

I think it was probably impossible to perceive the whole. As mentioned
recently, in some early texts Nienna was said to have a deeper
understanding of some parts of the Music because she took part less
actively and 'listened'. The other Ainur had less of a clear picture
because they weren't paying as close attention. This suggests that
there were many complexities (hardly surprising) that might be overlooked.

I'd expect that Manwe 'heard' the 'evil bits' in the replay, but just
didn't understand them. He and Ulmo got the whole 'rain' thing right
off because it was in their respective 'fields of interest'... Manwe
figured out the 'Ents and Eagles' thing when he put his mind to it...
but 'evil' would just be 'that noisy bit over there about something or
other'.

Steve Morrison

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Nov 15, 2005, 11:32:08 PM11/15/05
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Conrad Dunkerson wrote:

> In addition to the excellent points raised by Stephen and Chris I'd add
> that Tolkien's comparison of Jews to his Dwarves seems to have been
> primarily linguistic in nature. Note that he makes the comparison very
> late in the history of the mythology... there is no reason to think that
> he ALWAYS had such a connection in mind. It is only after the
> significant ennoblement of the Dwarves that we hear anything from
> Tolkien about them being 'like Jews'.

Indeed, he made the comparison in Letter #176, which was dated
8 December 1955 and addressed to Naomi Mitchison:

"I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native and alien in
their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an
accent due to their own private tongue..."

Robert J. Kolker

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Nov 16, 2005, 5:02:03 AM11/16/05
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Steve Morrison wrote:
>
> "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native and alien in
> their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an
> accent due to their own private tongue..."

Back off! Jewish women do not have beards. A little moustache sometime
maybe, but not beards!

Bob Kolker

Larry Swain

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Nov 16, 2005, 8:07:13 AM11/16/05
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Just to add too, as I recall it was fairly late in the process of
writing LoTR that Tolkien gave thought to the Dwarvish language, modeled
on Semitic languages in phonology and morphological basis.

Stan Brown

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Nov 17, 2005, 5:36:02 PM11/17/05
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15 Nov 2005 21:03:36 GMT from Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of
message <m...@privacy.net>:

> Reluctant as I am to start up the old Jews/Dwarves thing
> again, it was actually the first thing to occur to me when
> reading this chronology, as excellently summarized by Chris.
> I'm haunted by Tolkien's offhand assertion (in an interview in
> the 1960s) that the Dwarves were in some way similar to Jews.
> I wonder if the development of the Dwarves in his mythos
> parallels the development of his feelings toward Jews.
>
> Many writers in the early part of the 20th century doled
> out Jewish stereotypes and insensitive references to Jews by the
> ladelful;

I'm not sure what you think Tolkien's attitude toward the Jews might
have been, but "they're money-grubbers" and other hateful stereotypes
were not part of it, as far as we can tell.

When Tolkien compared the Dwarves to the Jews in Letter 176 (1955),
he meant (1) they are simultaneously part of the country they live in
and part of a multinational people; (2) they speak the language of
the country they live in as an "outer" language, but they also have a
private language for use among themselves. His own words were:

"I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native and alien in
their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an
accent due to their own private tongue."

At least from /Letters/, I don't see any evidence that his attitudes
toward the Jews were any different at different periods in his life.
Are you thinking of some particular textual evidence that his
attitudes did change?

By the way, in Letter 156 he also compared the Númenóreans to the
Jews.

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

Conrad Dunkerson

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Nov 20, 2005, 3:30:21 PM11/20/05
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Chris Kern wrote:

> A discussion then follows of the afterlife of Dwarves, who are supposed
> to rebuild Arda after the Last Battle (it is curious that CT left this
> reference to the Dagor Dagorath in the text when he excised the other
> ones.)

It is also referenced in Akallabeth where it is said that the
Numenoreans who sailed against Aman would take part in the last battle.

> Apparently there is some sort of reincarnation for the fathers of
> Dwarves, who "live again in their own kin" (although this passage was
> written before Tolkien rejected the Elves' rebirth in their children).

CT estimates the LQ1 digression into the creation of the Dwarves to the
later part of 1958 and Athrabeth (where Elven 'rebirth' was replaced
with 'rehousing') to 1959. I wonder if the Dwarves inheriting this
characteristic was part of what prompted Tolkien to change it for the
Elves... though he'd apparently struggled with the propriety of the
concept for some time.

> The section on Aule and the Dwarves does come from the QS, but from a
> later chapter called "Concerning the Dwarves" (the chapter numbers are
> nebulous but this chapter came after Of Beleriand and its Realms).
> This explains the rather abrupt beginning of the chapter -- originally
> this followed an account of the Dwarves' dealing with the Elves in
> Middle-Earth.

The text in Silm's 'Of the Sindar' about Dwarves was split out from the
same source passages.

> The section on Yavanna and the Ents comes from probably a
> significantly later time (CT guesses 1963, following a response to a
> letter from a reader), and is a text unrelated to the QS with the
> title "Anaxartamel Onyalie" (I don't know what this means).

It could have been as early as 1958, but he suspected later because it
contained information similar to the 1963 letter. The text was actually
titled in different drafts; 'Anaxartamel', 'Of the Ents and the Eagles',
and 'Anaxartaron Onyalie'. As to what those terms mean... it is a matter
of debate. The obvious answer would be that 'Anaxartaron Onyalie' means
'Of the Ents and the Eagles', but constructing a derivation for that is
difficult at best.

> However, the next sentence says "But
> the Dwarves have no spirit indwelling" which shows the myth is not yet
> in its final form. This passage was emended to read "And the Noldor
> believed that the Dwarves have no spirit indwelling..." (V, 146).

This is interesting. Once Tolkien decided to make 'The Hobbit'
officially part of LotR I think it would be impossible to maintain the
idea that Dwarves didn't have a 'spirit indwelling'. The Dwarves of 'The
Hobbit' were clearly every bit as much 'people' as any of the other
characters. Thus, I do think that 'The Hobbit' had an impact on the
nature of Dwarves within Middle-earth.

> There are also sketchy writings from this time about the female
> Dwarves, but they were not incorporated into JRRT's final text.

I think you are refering to the notes on page 207, but if so... those
are just referring back to the text on 203-206 where JRRT did indeed
incorporate info on female Dwarves into the narrative text.

> - It seems that none of the other Valar learned about the Dwarves
> until they awoke in M-E. I wonder what they thought about that?

Well, Aule told Yavanna and she told Manwe... so I'd assume that word
would have gotten around. If not then I'd expect there was some rather
confused counting; 'one... two...... three? I thought it was supposed to
be TWO.'

> - Why was the enmity between the Dwarves and the Elves so important to
> Tolkien? It seems to be introduced here by Iluvatar without any real
> explanation, although it goes back to the Book of Lost Tales.

Well, in addition to the long history you note it had also already been
published in 'The Hobbit'. Just as the more heroic deeds of the Dwarves
made their first appearance there and became 'official' I'd think that
the elf-dwarf hostility which appeared in The Hobbit (based on the
earlier texts) must also have been retained for continuity.

Chris Kern

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Nov 20, 2005, 8:20:24 PM11/20/05
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On Sun, 20 Nov 2005 20:30:21 GMT, Conrad Dunkerson
<conrad.d...@worldnet.att.net> posted the following:

>Chris Kern wrote:

>> The section on Aule and the Dwarves does come from the QS, but from a
>> later chapter called "Concerning the Dwarves" (the chapter numbers are
>> nebulous but this chapter came after Of Beleriand and its Realms).
>> This explains the rather abrupt beginning of the chapter -- originally
>> this followed an account of the Dwarves' dealing with the Elves in
>> Middle-Earth.
>
>The text in Silm's 'Of the Sindar' about Dwarves was split out from the
>same source passages.

Ah, so that's where that stuff ended up.

> > However, the next sentence says "But
>> the Dwarves have no spirit indwelling" which shows the myth is not yet
>> in its final form. This passage was emended to read "And the Noldor
>> believed that the Dwarves have no spirit indwelling..." (V, 146).
>
>This is interesting. Once Tolkien decided to make 'The Hobbit'
>officially part of LotR I think it would be impossible to maintain the
>idea that Dwarves didn't have a 'spirit indwelling'. The Dwarves of 'The
>Hobbit' were clearly every bit as much 'people' as any of the other
>characters. Thus, I do think that 'The Hobbit' had an impact on the
>nature of Dwarves within Middle-earth.
>
>> There are also sketchy writings from this time about the female
>> Dwarves, but they were not incorporated into JRRT's final text.
>
>I think you are refering to the notes on page 207, but if so... those
>are just referring back to the text on 203-206 where JRRT did indeed
>incorporate info on female Dwarves into the narrative text.

No, I'm referring to the stuff on p 211 about which CT says "In the
final text, as printed in the _Silmarillion_, my father evidently
abandoned the question of the origin of the female Dwarves, finding it
intractable and the solutions unsatisfactory" (XI, 212).

>> - It seems that none of the other Valar learned about the Dwarves
>> until they awoke in M-E. I wonder what they thought about that?
>
>Well, Aule told Yavanna and she told Manwe

Yavanna did not tell Manwe -- CT writes "When Yavanna went to Manwe
(p. 45) 'she did not betray the counsel fo Aule': the meaning of this
is that Yavanna did not reveal anything to Manwe of the making of the
Dwarves; in the first part of the chapter (p. 43) 'fearing that the
other Valar might blame his work, he wrought in secret', and the
intervention of Iluvatar (who 'knew what was done') was directly to
Aule" (XI, 340).

-Chris

Henriette

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Nov 27, 2005, 1:42:28 PM11/27/05
to
Conrad Dunkerson schreef:

> Chris Kern wrote:
>
> > - Why was the enmity between the Dwarves and the Elves so important to
> > Tolkien? It seems to be introduced here by Iluvatar without any real
> > explanation, although it goes back to the Book of Lost Tales.

Still I would have been surprised if they got along flawless after
Ilúvatar tells Aulë off saying:
"Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power
and thy authority?" foretelling "often strife shall arise between thine
and mine" and calling them "the children of my adoption" vs "the
children of my choice".


>
> Well, in addition to the long history you note it had also already been
> published in 'The Hobbit'. Just as the more heroic deeds of the Dwarves
> made their first appearance there and became 'official' I'd think that
> the elf-dwarf hostility which appeared in The Hobbit (based on the
> earlier texts) must also have been retained for continuity.

Long history, continuity, but IMO also because the enmity between
peoples and countries was and is a topic of ever-lasting interest.
While I type this I'm reminded of the story of how the German and
allied soldiers in North-Africa played a football match at Christmas in
no man's land, and of the IDFA, the International Documentary Festival
at the moment here which centers around the theme of the manipulative
Propaganda - documentary, of which I saw some interesting previews.

Henriette

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Nov 27, 2005, 3:23:49 PM11/27/05
to
Henriette <held...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Conrad Dunkerson schreef:
>
>> Chris Kern wrote:
>>
>>> - Why was the enmity between the Dwarves and the Elves so important
>>> to Tolkien? It seems to be introduced here by Iluvatar without any
>>> real explanation, although it goes back to the Book of Lost Tales.
>
> Still I would have been surprised if they got along flawless after
> Ilúvatar tells Aulë off saying:
> "Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power
> and thy authority?" foretelling "often strife shall arise between
> thine and mine" and calling them "the children of my adoption" vs "the
> children of my choice".

It does seem strange. Do we read too much into the use of words like
"adoption" and "choice"? Tolkien was, after all, raised from the age of
12 by various foster families and in the care of Father Francis Morgan.

>> Well, in addition to the long history you note it had also already
>> been published in 'The Hobbit'. Just as the more heroic deeds of the
>> Dwarves made their first appearance there and became 'official' I'd
>> think that the elf-dwarf hostility which appeared in The Hobbit
>> (based on the earlier texts) must also have been retained for
>> continuity.
>
> Long history, continuity, but IMO also because the enmity between
> peoples and countries was and is a topic of ever-lasting interest.
> While I type this I'm reminded of the story of how the German and
> allied soldiers in North-Africa played a football match at Christmas
> in no man's land, and of the IDFA, the International Documentary
> Festival at the moment here which centers around the theme of the
> manipulative Propaganda - documentary, of which I saw some
> interesting previews.

There was also a recent documentary here in the UK about the story of
the Canadian soldier that was "crucified" in World War I by German
soldiers.

Christopher

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

Henriette

unread,
Nov 29, 2005, 4:12:08 PM11/29/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer schreef:

> Henriette <held...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Still I would have been surprised if they got along flawless after
> > Ilúvatar tells Aulë off saying:
> > "Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power
> > and thy authority?" foretelling "often strife shall arise between
> > thine and mine" and calling them "the children of my adoption" vs "the
> > children of my choice".
>
> It does seem strange. Do we read too much into the use of words like
> "adoption" and "choice"? Tolkien was, after all, raised from the age of
> 12 by various foster families and in the care of Father Francis Morgan.
>

I didn't even think of that. Interesting point!


> >
> > Long history, continuity, but IMO also because the enmity between
> > peoples and countries was and is a topic of ever-lasting interest.
> > While I type this I'm reminded of the story of how the German and
> > allied soldiers in North-Africa played a football match at Christmas
> > in no man's land, and of the IDFA, the International Documentary
> > Festival at the moment here which centers around the theme of the
> > manipulative Propaganda - documentary, of which I saw some
> > interesting previews.
>
> There was also a recent documentary here in the UK about the story of
> the Canadian soldier that was "crucified" in World War I by German
> soldiers.

Recently a headline in one of our papers read that in WWII there had
been an 'Abu Graibh-prison' for German prisoners of war in England. We
can all choose where we want to focus on.

Henriette

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 6, 2005, 3:01:05 AM12/6/05
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

<snip>

[from the Dwarves-Jews discussion]

> By the way, in Letter 156 he also compared the Númenóreans to the
> Jews.

And he also compared the Numenoreans to the Egyptians, comparing (I
think) their obsession with death, their grand buildings, and
(definitely) the crown of Gondor, which he drew in a letter to someone,
and compared to the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. In that
sense, Gondor and Arnor might be compared to Upper and Lower Egypt.

My point is that Tolkien often drew such comparisons, but I think they
were only meant to illustrate aspects of a race or nation, not to
suggest that the dwarves were Jews, or that orcs were Mongoloids, or
that Numenoreans were really like Egyptians (or Jews), or even that
Hobbits were like rural English villagers in Warwickshire at the turn of
the 19th/20th century.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 6, 2005, 3:24:31 AM12/6/05
to
Conrad Dunkerson <conrad.d...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
> Chris Kern wrote:
>
> > A discussion then follows of the afterlife of Dwarves, who are
> supposed > to rebuild Arda after the Last Battle (it is curious that
> CT left this > reference to the Dagor Dagorath in the text when he
> excised the other > ones.)
>
> It is also referenced in Akallabeth where it is said that the
> Numenoreans who sailed against Aman would take part in the last
> battle.

So the dwarves would also appear, with their cool masks? Or would they
just turn up afterwards and help rebuild everything?

<snip>

>> - It seems that none of the other Valar learned about the Dwarves
>> until they awoke in M-E. I wonder what they thought about that?
>
> Well, Aule told Yavanna and she told Manwe... so I'd assume that word
> would have gotten around. If not then I'd expect there was some rather
> confused counting; 'one... two...... three? I thought it was supposed
> to be TWO.'

"...fearing that the other Valar might blame his work, he [Aule] wrought
in secret: and he made first the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves in a hall
under the mountains in Middle-earth...."

"...when Aule laboured in the making of the Dwarves he kept this work
hidden from the other Valar..."

For some reason I had thought that Aule made the Fathers of the Dwarves
in Valinor. Now I see that he was not only doing this in secret, but in
far-off Middle-earth. This reminds me of Melkor's "creation" of orcs and
other fell creatures. How does this compare with Aule's creation of the
dwarves, and with Yavanna sending forth spirits to dwell among and in
the kelvar and olvar (animals and plants)?

The key difference seems to be that Aule offers his design to Illuvatar
for approval. Would Illuvatar have approached Melkor and had a "little
word with him", much as he did with Aule? And what would Melkor have
said?

"...[Yavanna] did not betray the counsel of Aule..."

Well, good for her! :-) But I agree that Manwe and the other Valar would
have been surprised when the dwarves awoke, and would have also realised
that Yavanna had been let into Aule's confidence. It might seem a little
thing, but not only would they have been surprised, but they might have
wondered what else had been done in secret. It is this sort of little
thing, here and there, little white lies, that can erode trust unless
the issues are addressed properly. Much like the lies and dissension
sowed later by Melkor.

I would guess that Aule (and Yavanna) probably at some point made a full
and frank confession to the other Valar, presenting them with a fait
accompli, but also seeking to repair any damage that might have been
done by hiding this from them.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 6, 2005, 4:01:57 AM12/6/05
to
Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:

> 1. Summary
>
> This chapter is divided into two parts. The first one tells of Aule's
> creation of the Dwarves. He created the Dwarves desiring the coming
> of the Children of Iluvatar.

"...greatly did Aule desire the coming of the Children, to have learners
to whom he could teach his lore and his crafts..."

We later hear of Aule instructing the Noldor in Aman. I wonder if Aule
also went off to Middle-earth to instruct the Dwarves when they awoke?

> But as he was instructing the Dwarves in speech

I had forgotten that the Dwarven speech came directly from Aule. Does
Tolkien go into more detail about this anywhere else? Or are we to
assume that when Iluvatar gave the dwarves life that they obtained the
power of speech for themselves?

> Iluvatar asked him what he was doing.

Does this direct intervention of Iluvatar here, giving a little sermon,
remind anyone of the God of the Old Testament? Like the little
conversations he had with Abraham. And Abraham being about to kill his
son (I think) before God intervenes? I can't remember Abraham's
response, but is that in any way similar to the response of Aule?

> Iluvatar said that the
> Dwarves had no life in them and just followed Aule's commands, and
> wonders if that is Aule's desire -- to lord over beings of no free
> will.

This sounds a lot like Melkor...

<snip>

> Iluvatar tells Aule that he has given the Dwarves life -- but he puts
> a sleep on them so that Aule will not be rewarded for his impatience,
> and so that they will not appear before the Elves.

Iluvatar also says he will not amend the work of Aule. He seems to agree
with Aule that amendment is the right word. Which seems a bit harsh on
the dwarves. Would give them an inferiority complex if they knew about
all this. I bet _their_ legends tell a different story - probably about
the creation of the *beautiful* and perfect fathers of the dwarves.

<snip>

> Yavanna hopes that the
> Eagles will dwell in her tall trees, but Manwe says that only the
> "trees of Aule" will be large enough.

I get the impression that Manwe only became aware of the Eagle part of
the song when he went into that trance. Does anyone get the impression
that he nicked Yavanna's idea and claimed the Eagles for himself? :-)

And remember that the idea of the eagles has already been mentioned in
the first chapter 'Of the Beginning of Days': "Spirits in the shape of
hawks and eagles flew ever to and from his halls..."

Are we to assume that chapter one gave us a little preview of the
eagles, and that this chapter is filling in the details of how they came
to be?

I also get the impression of one-up-manship among the Valar when Manwe,
Varda and Aule seem to jostle among each other for position and power:

Yavanna: "High shall climb the trees of Kementari..."

"[Manwe] stood to such a height that his voice came down to Yavanna as
from the paths of the winds."

Manwe: "Nay, only the trees of Aule will be tall enough. In the
mountains the Eagles shall house"

I definitely get a sense of powerplay going on here. But surely the
Valar aren't like that? :-) It must just be our human frailties being
projected on to the angelic powers.

> Yavanna goes back to Aule and tells him that his children should
> beware the forest. "Nonetheless they will have need of wood," he
> replies, and goes back to his smithing.

I do feel a bit sorry for Yavanna here, as she has been corrected by
Manwe, and then Aule goes and rebuffs her! It seems that, despite the
Ents, the olvar do have rather a raw deal of it. And in the end, Man
comes to dominate both the kelvar and olvar.

<snip>

> Well, I hope people can pick out more points of discussion in the
> material above -- sorry I spent so much time on the history and
> textual sources but that's my primary interest in the Silmarillion

I too find this sort of discussion of history and textual sources
interesting. Not that I know enough about it, but thanks for providing
it.

> maybe one of the other members can step up and suggest some areas of
> discussion.

I liked the word 'wert' used here, where Yavanna talks to Manwe:

"For while thou wert in the heavens and with Ulmo built the clouds and
poured out the rains..."

I presume "thou wert" is ye olde English way of saying "you were".

Chris Kern

unread,
Dec 6, 2005, 8:06:54 AM12/6/05
to
On 15 Nov 2005 21:03:36 GMT, m...@privacy.net (Jamie Andrews; real
address @ bottom of message) posted the following:

>I'm haunted by Tolkien's offhand assertion (in an interview in
>the 1960s) that the Dwarves were in some way similar to Jews.

Surely it can't be said that any comparison to Jews is negative and
racist. In the letter, he specifies *why* he's comparing them to the
Jews -- because they have their own language and customs, yet live in
a country largely controlled by another people. Given the several
other positive statements about Jews that can be found in Tolkien's
letters, I don't see any reason to draw racist meaning from the
statement.

-Chris

Yuk Tang

unread,
Dec 6, 2005, 5:08:32 PM12/6/05
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:3Vblf.3449$iz3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:
> Conrad Dunkerson <conrad.d...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
>
> "...[Yavanna] did not betray the counsel of Aule..."
>
> Well, good for her! :-) But I agree that Manwe and the other Valar
> would have been surprised when the dwarves awoke, and would have
> also realised that Yavanna had been let into Aule's confidence. It
> might seem a little thing, but not only would they have been
> surprised, but they might have wondered what else had been done in
> secret. It is this sort of little thing, here and there, little
> white lies, that can erode trust unless the issues are addressed
> properly. Much like the lies and dissension sowed later by Melkor.
>
> I would guess that Aule (and Yavanna) probably at some point made
> a full and frank confession to the other Valar, presenting them
> with a fait accompli, but also seeking to repair any damage that
> might have been done by hiding this from them.

The other Valar were also 'little pleased to learn what he had done'
when Ulmo anchored the great isle off Eldamar without delivering the
Teleri to Valinor. It seems that the Valar were forever off doing
their own things, although their general direction might have been
similar. Rather like a prehistoric version of the EU.

I wonder if Orome ever whinged about the exposure that johnny-come-
lately Tulkas was getting, with Varda and Yavanna arguing over their
share of the light material, and Aule wanting more influence in the
Ring of Doom because he constructed most of the Valar's dwellings.
Was the Ring an early version of the ECJ? No wonder Feanor was irked
at its poking its nose into other people's affairs.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 13, 2005, 3:39:53 PM12/13/05
to
In message <news:9sclf.3472$iz3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>

I'll reinstate bits of Chris' post here and there, where I wish to
comment upon them.

<snip>

>> Iluvatar said that the Dwarves had no life in them and just
>> followed Aule's commands, and wonders if that is Aule's desire
>> -- to lord over beings of no free will.
>
> This sounds a lot like Melkor...

And invokes the many considerations back and forth about the question
of the Orcs -- in particular about whether they had fear or not . . .

<snip>

>> A discussion then follows of the afterlife of Dwarves, who are
>> supposed to rebuild Arda after the Last Battle (it is curious that
>> CT left this reference to the Dagor Dagorath in the text when he
>> excised the other ones.) Apparently there is some sort of
>> reincarnation for the fathers of Dwarves, who "live again in their
>> own kin"

We see this in LotR in the appendix on the Dwarves -- in particular
the many Durins: '[...], and five times an heir was born in his House
so like to his Forefather that he received the name of Durin. He was
indeed held by the Dwarves to be the Deathless that returned; for
they have many strange tales and beliefs concerning themselves and
their fate in the world.'

I've always been very fascinated by the little we are told about the
Dwarves here and elsewhere, in particular because it is written with
some ambiguity -- we never really know whether the Dwarves are
correct in their 'strange tales and beliefs' or whether they are
mistaken about themselves.

>> (although this passage was written before Tolkien rejected the
>> Elves' rebirth in their children).

And in the end this belief is ambiguously canonised in the LotR
appendix ;-)


>> Yavanna goes to Manwe, asking if the Children will have dominion
>> over her creations. Manwe replies that it is so, and Yavanna is
>> sorrowed that when Melkor has already corrupted so much, that
>> others will have dominion over what is hers. Manwe, after
>> thinking on the Music again (and falling into a trance), tells
>> Yavanna that Eru has decreed that when the Children awake, some
>> spirits will enter the trees to protect them.

It is important to note that this is not some new decree by Eru --
not something he invents to placate Yavanna, but rather he confirms
her claim that /she/ invented the Ents in the Music and he fills in a
few details (when: 'When the Children awake, then the thought of
Yavanna will awake also' and how: '[...] it will summon spirits from
afar, and they will go among the /kelvar/ and the /olvar/, and some
will dwell therein, [...].')

I also think that Manwë's reproof, 'But why dost thou ask, for thou
hadst no need of the teaching of Aulë?' is interesting. Why does
Yavanna go to Manwë? She answers it herself, of course, but then we
might ask, 'why now?'

The new term in the equation is of course the Dwarves. She had
resigned herself to the dominion of Elves and Men over her work, but
now her wayward husband has been blessed by Eru and has created a new
sentient species who will need even more wood (she knows her husband,
after all).

In this moment of chagrin it seems that Yavanna suddenly remembers
her thought in the Ainulindalë, and she goes to Manwë to have it
confirmed. I found the rebuke from Eru misplaced -- at least as I
read it, Yavanna didn't question His memory of the Music, but her own
(though perhaps Eru is implicitly telling her to trust her memory).

>> These are the Ents, the "shepherds of the trees" (although the
>> name "ent" does not appear in the chapter).

This causes me to raise again, and more appropriately placed, the
inconsistency between the awakening of the Ents in this chapter and
Gandalf's riddle to Théoden in LotR, which dates the awakening of the
Ents 'ere elf sang or hammer rang, | Ere iron was found or tree was
hown, | When young was mountain under moon; [...].'

This is particularly interesting in the light of your information
about the source for this part of the chapter, because both now
definitely belong to a Round World mythological background.

>> Yavanna hopes that the Eagles will dwell in her tall trees,
>> but Manwe says that only the "trees of Aule" will be large
>> enough.
>
> I get the impression that Manwe only became aware of the Eagle
> part of the song when he went into that trance.

I agree -- it seems that he only realises this with the renewal of
his perception of Music and Vision.

> Does anyone get the impression that he nicked Yavanna's idea
> and claimed the Eagles for himself? :-)

LOL!

Not quite, but almost. 'Did not thy thought and mine meet also, so
that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the
clouds?' he asked Yavanna, and yet, when the Eagles came to be
(apparently, at least according to this, at the awakening of the
Elves), he took them for his own, rather than acknowledging them as
the meeting of his thought with Yavanna's.

> And remember that the idea of the eagles has already been
> mentioned in the first chapter 'Of the Beginning of Days':
> "Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from
> his halls..."

I think we're here seeing one of the results of the patchwork that is
the published Silmarillion. Manwë has long been associated with the
Eagles (I don't know exactly when they entered the mythos), but in
the text that is the source for this part of the chapter, Tolkien
gives an explanation for the existence of the Eagles without
consideration of whether it fits with other texts chronologically.

He may have pleased to find a solution to a question that bothered
him, as can be seen of his ponderings regarding the Orcs in Myths
Transformed where he also mentions the Eagles.

<snip>


> I definitely get a sense of powerplay going on here. But surely
> the Valar aren't like that? :-) It must just be our human
> frailties being projected on to the angelic powers.

Without comparison in other respects, this is one of the aspects that
have always attracted me to the old Norse mythology, as well as the
Greek and Roman: the very human weaknesses and faults of these gods.
They may be more powerful than normal humans, but they are not in the
least better than normal humans morally. That gives to the myths and
legends a certain charm, some of which is retained in Tolkien's
works, though the angelic aspect of the Valar obviously has protected
them against some of the least admirable faults (theirs being mostly
the fault of good intentions gone wrong).

Given the list of mythologies Tolkien lists in letter #131 as
examples of what he felt the English lacked, I cannot help but wonder
if not he was conscious about this aspect; that the people for whom
the mythology has to work must be able to reflect themselves in the
mythology (one doesn't have to believe in the religion or the myths
in order for it to work -- the Norse mythology has been extremely
successful the last two-hundred years due to smart re-invention that
has allowed modern people to reflect themselves in the mythological
characters).


>> Yavanna goes back to Aule and tells him that his children should
>> beware the forest. "Nonetheless they will have need of wood," he
>> replies, and goes back to his smithing.

I am crazy about that comment from Aulë -- there's also an element of
'E pur si muove' about it (regardless of when Galilei said it, it's a
great story <G>). The mrs may have been to the big guy to ensure some
protection for her trees -- but the Dwarves are nevertheless going to
need wood, and they're going to get it ;-)


> I do feel a bit sorry for Yavanna here, as she has been corrected
> by Manwe, and then Aule goes and rebuffs her!

Well, she's the one who ran to daddy ;-)

I can't help finding Yavanna's role in this a little amusing -- there
is something a little whinging about the way she runs to Manwë once
she learns that there's a new player. She must also have known, at
least it seems to have been common knowledge among the Valar, that
Men would eventually have sole dominion of Middle-earth, and what the
Dwarves did in the meantime was not going to affect things all that
much in the long run.

> It seems that, despite the Ents, the olvar do have rather a raw
> deal of it. And in the end, Man comes to dominate both the kelvar
> and olvar.

I keep reading it as kevlar ;-)

<snip>

>> - Why was the enmity between the Dwarves and the Elves so
>> important to Tolkien? It seems to be introduced here by Iluvatar
>> without any real explanation, although it goes back to the Book of
>> Lost Tales.

For one thing the sacking of Doriath, Thingol's death and the
subsequent deaths of Beren and Lúthien seems to be tied to this
enmity, and the whole story-cycle surrounding all this -- including
Túrin -- was so well established that changing the role of the
Dwarves too drastically would cause an upheaval which, in some ways,
would be greater than the Round World version.

It would also seem that his Dwarves are derived rather closely from
Norse mythology (I know the naming of the Dwarves in the Hobbit
wasn't intended to belong to Middle-earth, but it might still be
indicative of the way Tolkien thought about Dwarves at that time),
where the Dwarves are generally free agents who lend their services
to both gods and giants, and who enjoy cheating the gods a bit.


>> Well, I hope people can pick out more points of discussion in the
>> material above -- sorry I spent so much time on the history and
>> textual sources but that's my primary interest in the
>> Silmarillion
>
> I too find this sort of discussion of history and textual sources
> interesting. Not that I know enough about it, but thanks for
> providing it.

I've lost count, but I believe I'll be 'seventhing' this -- or
something ;-)

I am only beginning to discover the wealth and complexity hidden in
the textual history, and I am grateful that we have people here
providing overviews in these discussions, as that makes it much
easier to get into it.

<snip>

> I presume "thou wert" is ye olde English way of saying "you were".

As 'thou dost' -- when the independent (familiar) form of the second
person singular fell into disuse, the special declension (?) went out
with it. For 'to be' the past tense second person singular was
obviously 'wert' . . .

The present tense appear to have been dominated by an -st ending, so
I wonder if the -t ending was common for the past tense?

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

++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot ++
- /Hogfather/ (Terry Pratchett)

Emma Pease

unread,
Dec 13, 2005, 9:31:09 PM12/13/05
to
In article <Xns972BDC62...@130.133.1.4>, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> In message <news:9sclf.3472$iz3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>>

>> I do feel a bit sorry for Yavanna here, as she has been corrected


>> by Manwe, and then Aule goes and rebuffs her!
>
> Well, she's the one who ran to daddy ;-)
>
> I can't help finding Yavanna's role in this a little amusing -- there
> is something a little whinging about the way she runs to Manwë once
> she learns that there's a new player. She must also have known, at
> least it seems to have been common knowledge among the Valar, that
> Men would eventually have sole dominion of Middle-earth, and what the
> Dwarves did in the meantime was not going to affect things all that
> much in the long run.

Going back a couple of chapters in the Valaquenta the Valar and their
powers are listed with also some idea of the their relative strengths
then at the end a list is given of the Aratar (sp?) which to my eyes
seems to be by power though that is not stated. The list was

Manwe
Varda
Ulmo
Yavanna
Aule
Mandos
Nienna
Orome

Note that Yavanna comes before Aule. Did Tolkien elsewhere modify
the relative rankings of the Valar? Was Yavanna more
powerful then Aule?


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

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 10:18:38 AM12/14/05
to
Wed, 14 Dec 2005 02:31:09 +0000 (UTC) from Emma Pease
<em...@kanpai.stanford.edu>:

> Going back a couple of chapters in the Valaquenta the Valar and their
> powers are listed with also some idea of the their relative strengths
> then at the end a list is given of the Aratar (sp?) which to my eyes
> seems to be by power though that is not stated.

It _is_ stated that it's "majesty", which is not the same thing as
power. I believe that Tolkien meant wisdom, and strength of purpose,
and knowledge of the will of Eru, and submission to that will, and so
forth -- not, emphatically not, "power".

The real world (and Tolkien's too) is a lot more complex than
Dungeons and Dragons, where characters rank on some strict numerical
power scale.

> The list was
>
> Manwe
> Varda
> Ulmo
> Yavanna
> Aule
> Mandos
> Nienna
> Orome
>
> Note that Yavanna comes before Aule. Did Tolkien elsewhere modify
> the relative rankings of the Valar? Was Yavanna more
> powerful then Aule?

The only possible answer is "mu". She could make trees that gave off
living light and he couldn't do that; he could make Dwarves and she
couldn't do that.

Note that Tulkas, who isn't even on the list of Aratar, nonetheless
was more able to chain Melkor, the strongest of all the Ainur. That
should end all discussions of "power" as a quantity on an ordered
scale, but alas! I'm sure it won't.

Tamim

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 10:43:20 AM12/14/05
to
In alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

> Note that Tulkas, who isn't even on the list of Aratar, nonetheless
> was more able to chain Melkor, the strongest of all the Ainur. That
> should end all discussions of "power" as a quantity on an ordered
> scale, but alas! I'm sure it won't.

No it won't. Melkor had in the beginning more inheren't _Power_ than any
of the Ainur. As you say, he was the strongest. So in an ordered scale
he would come the first. You said so yourself, so why do at the same
time deny it?

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 10:57:41 AM12/14/05
to
In message <news:MPG.1e0a01da3...@news.individual.net>
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> enriched us with:
>
> Note that Tulkas, who isn't even on the list of Aratar,
> nonetheless was more able to chain Melkor, the strongest
> of all the Ainur.

Precisely.

> That should end all discussions of "power" as a quantity
> on an ordered scale, but alas! I'm sure it won't.

At least you won't be disappointed ('Gandalf vs. Super-Hype Dude from
Dragon-Hyper-Extrme-Power-Niggards: Who Wins?' <sigh>).

'Power' as a single metric is meaningless, fortunately both Arda and in
the real world. The question is one of level of capability to achieve a
specific purpose, and with respect to arm-wrestling, Tulkas was the
stronger, but in terms of 'majesty' we don't really count some giggling
arm-wrestler ;-)

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

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)

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 10:57:54 AM12/14/05
to
14 Dec 2005 15:43:20 GMT from Tamim <hall...@hotmail.com>:

Sure, he was the greatest of the Valar. Nonetheless, Tulkas was able
to wrestle him to a pin fall.

My point is that in Tolkien's world, as in real life, "Is A more
powerful than B" is a meaningless question unless it's trivial. Sure,
Sauron was more powerful than Pippin, but there is simply no one
single right answer to the question whether Sauron was more powerful
than someone like Saruman. (If you think there is, ask yourself which
of them outlived the destruction of the Ring.)

Tamim

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 11:20:57 AM12/14/05
to
In alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:


> Sure, he was the greatest of the Valar. Nonetheless, Tulkas was able
> to wrestle him to a pin fall.

Yep. He had already lost a part of his power, and then there might
have been other reasons for him losing the match. But Tolkien himself
says that he originally was the most powerful. Not the greatest in sense
of wisdom or understanding, but most powerful.


> My point is that in Tolkien's world, as in real life, "Is A more
> powerful than B" is a meaningless question unless it's trivial.

No. Tolkien himself grades the entities in 'powervalue' all the time.
Not all can be graded in this simple way and of those who can, not all
are, but nonetheless that's what Tolkien does.


>Sure,
> Sauron was more powerful than Pippin, but there is simply no one
> single right answer to the question whether Sauron was more powerful
> than someone like Saruman.

I think there is. Sauron was more powerful. That is made quite clear.


>(If you think there is, ask yourself which
> of them outlived the destruction of the Ring.)

Saruman did. Pippin outlived Saruman. Still witouth a doubt Sauron had
more personal power than Pippin. We are talking about personal power
(D&D levels if you prefer), not about who outlived whom. In this world
you can't grade people like that, but in Tolkien's world you can. Or at
least you can grade some of the more mythical creatures if not humans.
Lucifer was the most powerful of angels in "this world" also.


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

--

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 3:46:55 PM12/14/05
to
Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote:

<snip>

> Going back a couple of chapters in the Valaquenta the Valar and their
> powers are listed with also some idea of the their relative strengths
> then at the end a list is given of the Aratar (sp?) which to my eyes
> seems to be by power though that is not stated.

It would be surprising if that was stated. What _is_ stated is that the
Aratar are in fact equals (peers):

"Though Manwe is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in
majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others, whether of
the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Iluvatar has sent
into Ea."

To answer Stan and Troels, who don't seem to like ranking "powers" in
Tolkien's world... :-) ...this makes quite clear that the Aratar are
something special. Tulkas is most definitely not on the A-list. (And
yes, I do realise that there is a difference between power and majesty,
but you can still be a power that has great majesty). What is puzzling
is that, nice as this Aratar concept sounds, it doesn't seem to be
mentioned again in any meaningful sense. Kind of a dead-end concept
really.

Emma Pease

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 9:40:02 PM12/14/05
to
In article <3x%nf.8753$iz3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>, Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote:
>
><snip>
>
>> Going back a couple of chapters in the Valaquenta the Valar and their
>> powers are listed with also some idea of the their relative strengths
>> then at the end a list is given of the Aratar (sp?) which to my eyes
>> seems to be by power though that is not stated.
>
> It would be surprising if that was stated. What _is_ stated is that the
> Aratar are in fact equals (peers):

True though I do wonder why Yavanna comes before Aule in the list (in
the description I think she comes after).

One can have fun juggling the connections of the Valar

Manwe and Varda - The air and the heavens (and eagles)
Ulmo - water
Yavanna and Aule - The earth
Mandos and Nienna - spirit
Orome - ?

> "Though Manwe is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in
> majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others, whether of
> the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Iluvatar has sent
> into Ea."
>
> To answer Stan and Troels, who don't seem to like ranking "powers" in
> Tolkien's world... :-) ...this makes quite clear that the Aratar are
> something special. Tulkas is most definitely not on the A-list. (And
> yes, I do realise that there is a difference between power and majesty,
> but you can still be a power that has great majesty). What is puzzling
> is that, nice as this Aratar concept sounds, it doesn't seem to be
> mentioned again in any meaningful sense. Kind of a dead-end concept
> really.

Perhaps the Aratar sat at the council table while Tulkas and the rest
sat in the audience?

Yuk Tang

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 12:01:12 AM12/15/05
to
Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote in
news:slrndq1ls...@munin.Stanford.EDU:
>
> One can have fun juggling the connections of the Valar
>
> Manwe and Varda - The air and the heavens (and eagles)
> Ulmo - water
> Yavanna and Aule - The earth
> Mandos and Nienna - spirit
> Orome - ?

Pigs and horsies.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 3:14:32 AM12/15/05
to
In message <news:3x%nf.8753$iz3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>

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

<snip>

> To answer Stan and Troels, who don't seem to like ranking "powers"
> in Tolkien's world... :-)

I'd rather say I don't like ranking 'power' as a unidimensional thing
in Tolkien's world -- 'who is most powerful' is often a meaningless
question without the qualifiers 'when' and 'at what'.

We learn in UT that Curumo was 'higher in Valinórean stature than the
others' but this isn't explained, though obviously he is less powerful
at resisting the temptation of power even if he, as Saruman, was
physically stronger than Gandalf (not necessarily muscular power alone,
but the power to affect the physical world -- he could make the loudest
thunderclap, so to speak).

Tolkien often does rank one of his Ainur as 'stronger' or 'wiser' than
another (or two of any combination of races), but then it is clear when
and at what, and it would be a mistake to try to extend that ranking
beyond that time and purpose without further data.

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

And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left
the path of wisdom.
- Gandalf, /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 3:18:01 PM12/15/05
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

> Tolkien often does rank one of his Ainur as 'stronger' or 'wiser' than
> another (or two of any combination of races), but then it is clear
> when and at what, and it would be a mistake to try to extend that
> ranking beyond that time and purpose without further data.

To repeat the quote:

"Though Manwe is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in

majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare _all_ others, whether
of the Valar and the Maiar, or of _any_ _other_ order that Iluvatar has
sent into Ea." (Valaquenta, my emphasis)

Here, Tolkien does clearly extend this "ranking" in time, and over a
wide range of possibilities. He also uses the phrase "surpassing beyond
compare", which elevates their majesty beyond ordinary surpassing,
emphasising how completely they surpass others. The Aratar means "The
High Ones of Arda". But I agree that here, majesty probably has little
to do with power as we apply it to Tulkas and Melkor wrestling. But
power takes many forms.

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 5:18:40 PM12/15/05
to
Wed, 14 Dec 2005 20:46:55 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:

> To answer Stan and Troels, who don't seem to like ranking "powers" in
> Tolkien's world... :-)

Sigh.

I explained the point as best I could, and I really don't think it's
all that hard: There is no single power ranking, none. You can say
that A has certain capabilities that B doesn't, but then B usually
has some capability that A doesn't. In Tolkien's world as in ours,
"power" is not a single quantity, and therefore "greater" and "less"
have no meaning -- again, excepting trivial cases like a hobbit and a
maia.

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 5:22:11 PM12/15/05
to
Wed, 14 Dec 2005 20:46:55 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:
> It would be surprising if that was stated. What _is_ stated is that the
> Aratar are in fact equals (peers):
>
> "Though Manwe is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in
> majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others, whether of
> the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Iluvatar has sent
> into Ea."

Peers are _not_ equals, any more than every one of the peers who
brought King John to heel had equal lands or equal fighting forces.
The Duke of Cornwall and the latest life lord X are peers, but they
are most emphatically not equal in power or wealth.

"Peers" is a legal or moral concept, not one of actual equality of
strength. The famous Anglo-American "jury of your peers" does not
mean people who have equal strength or power to you; it means people
who are equal before the law.

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 5:23:41 PM12/15/05
to
Thu, 15 Dec 2005 20:18:01 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:

> "Though Manwe is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in
> majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare _all_ others, whether
> of the Valar and the Maiar, or of _any_ _other_ order that Iluvatar has
> sent into Ea." (Valaquenta, my emphasis)
>
> Here, Tolkien does clearly extend this "ranking" in time, and over a
> wide range of possibilities.

Christopher, read your own quote. They are peers IN MAJESTY and on
that measure they outrank all others in Ea. That does not mean they
have equal strength or power; indeed, it's obvious from the story
that they do not.

Raven

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 5:31:20 PM12/15/05
to
"Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> skrev i en meddelelse
news:MPG.1e0bb5cc2...@news.individual.net...

> I explained the point as best I could, and I really don't think it's
> all that hard: There is no single power ranking, none. You can say
> that A has certain capabilities that B doesn't, but then B usually
> has some capability that A doesn't. In Tolkien's world as in ours,
> "power" is not a single quantity, and therefore "greater" and "less"
> have no meaning -- again, excepting trivial cases like a hobbit and a
> maia.

Power isn't a scalar constant, but a tensor function of sorts. As are
other things such as intelligence and courage, themselves of course being
elements in the power tensor.

Rabe.


Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 6:13:57 PM12/15/05
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> Wed, 14 Dec 2005 20:46:55 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
> <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:
>> It would be surprising if that was stated. What _is_ stated is that
>> the Aratar are in fact equals (peers):
>>
>> "Though Manwe is their King and holds their allegiance under Eru, in
>> majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others,
>> whether of the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that
>> Iluvatar has sent into Ea."
>
> Peers are _not_ equals, any more than every one of the peers who
> brought King John to heel had equal lands or equal fighting forces.
> The Duke of Cornwall and the latest life lord X are peers, but they
> are most emphatically not equal in power or wealth.

I didn't know anything about the etymology of 'peer', so I thought I
would go and look it up. It seems that 'peers = nobles' came _after_ the
'peers = equals' sense of the word.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=peer

"peer (n.): 1303, "an equal in civil standing or rank" (1215 in
Anglo-L.), from Anglo-Fr. 'peir', O.Fr. 'per' (10c.), from L. 'par'
"equal."..."

I think it is perfectly legitimate to interpret Tolkien's use of the
word 'peers' here to mean that the Aratar are a set of equals surpassing
all others. How would you interpret it, and what do others think?

> "Peers" is a legal or moral concept, not one of actual equality of
> strength. The famous Anglo-American "jury of your peers" does not
> mean people who have equal strength or power to you; it means people
> who are equal before the law.

The 'peer = noble' sense apparently dates from 1382 (see link above),
with 'peerage' from 1454. Remember the knights of the round table? They
were put around a round table to signify their equality. They could
legitimately be called peers in that sense of the word (though it seems
they weren't until Charlemagne's time).

The social sense of 'peers' is from 1944 (maybe they mean things like
'peer pressure'), with 'peer review' appearing from 1971. I couldn't
find when the legal sense ('jury of your peers') first came into use,
though the link with twelve people on a jury and Charlemagne's /Twelve
Peers/ seems rather obvious.

Interesting though that Tolkien uses the word 'peer', as it enters the
English language from Latin and French via Anglo-French, something
Tolkien might have avoided if he could. I wonder what the OE equivalent
for denoting equals would have been?

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 7:41:38 PM12/15/05
to
Thu, 15 Dec 2005 23:13:57 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:

> "peer (n.): 1303, "an equal in civil standing or rank" (1215 in
> Anglo-L.), from Anglo-Fr. 'peir', O.Fr. 'per' (10c.), from L. 'par'
> "equal."..."
>
> I think it is perfectly legitimate to interpret Tolkien's use of the
> word 'peers' here to mean that the Aratar are a set of equals surpassing
> all others. How would you interpret it, and what do others think?

Your quote (like your earlier quote) contains the whole key, if you
read it for what it says and don't read anything extra into it: equal
IN RANK, not equal in power or in other things.

The Aratar were peers (equal) in majesty. I can't see anything in
that passage from Valaquenta that justifies any comparison of
anything other than "majesty". Granted, there might be some ambiguity
in what the translator means by "majesty", but surely the plain
meaning of that word does not include "power".

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 7:44:19 PM12/15/05
to
Thu, 15 Dec 2005 23:31:20 +0100 from Raven
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam>:

> Power isn't a scalar constant, but a tensor function of sorts. As are
> other things such as intelligence and courage, themselves of course being
> elements in the power tensor.

Yes, exactly.

When a quantity is one-dimensional (scalar), like temperature, then
it is meaningful to compare two values and say which is greater. When
a quantity has more dimensions, it is impossible to make such a
comparison.

I just can't understand why people who ought to know better persist
in trying to reduce Tolkien's beautifully complex world to something
uni-dimensional like D&D power points or hit points or whatever
they're called.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 16, 2005, 3:39:46 AM12/16/05
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

<snip>

> The Aratar were peers (equal) in majesty. I can't see anything in


> that passage from Valaquenta that justifies any comparison of
> anything other than "majesty". Granted, there might be some ambiguity
> in what the translator means by "majesty", but surely the plain
> meaning of that word does not include "power".

I think that might be the closest we come to agreement! :-)

I think that "majesty" includes some measure of their power. Not all of
it obviously, but still enough to suggest that the Aratar were, in some
senses of the word, powerful.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Dec 16, 2005, 3:47:40 AM12/16/05
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> Thu, 15 Dec 2005 23:31:20 +0100 from Raven
> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam>:
>> Power isn't a scalar constant, but a tensor function of sorts.
>> As are other things such as intelligence and courage, themselves of
>> course being elements in the power tensor.
>
> Yes, exactly.
>
> When a quantity is one-dimensional (scalar), like temperature, then
> it is meaningful to compare two values and say which is greater. When
> a quantity has more dimensions, it is impossible to make such a
> comparison.

And there I was, thinking we were talking about literary descriptions,
with all the vaguesness and ambiguity that implies. Different things at
different times to different people. I think a discussion of the
language would work better here than a scientific or mathematical
analogy. Even power as a tensor function of sorts would be more
precisely defined than is needed. We simply have an author using
language to describe things, and the same word in two different contexts
can describe different things.

> I just can't understand why people who ought to know better persist
> in trying to reduce Tolkien's beautifully complex world to something
> uni-dimensional like D&D power points or hit points or whatever
> they're called.

Who's been trying to do that? There's been some discussion of it, but I
don't think anyone is actually suggesting this.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 16, 2005, 4:55:21 AM12/16/05
to
In message <news:m3vof.9708$iz3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>

"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>
>> The Aratar were peers (equal) in majesty. I can't see anything in
>> that passage from Valaquenta that justifies any comparison of
>> anything other than "majesty". Granted, there might be some
>> ambiguity in what the translator means by "majesty", but surely
>> the plain meaning of that word does not include "power".
>
> I think that might be the closest we come to agreement! :-)
>
> I think that "majesty" includes some measure of their power. Not
> all of it obviously, but still enough to suggest that the Aratar
> were, in some senses of the word, powerful.

Well, part of the problem is that 'power' is such a flexible word, so
it'd be difficult to disagree ;-)

I might have said that 'majesty' surely includes much that is not, in
the usual sense, 'power' -- his 'understanding of Eru's mind' is
surely part of Manwë's 'majesty', and I wouldn't normally call that
'power'.

Being naturally scientifically minded, my problem is that there is no
generic way to measure 'power' as it is used in this context (which
is, obviously, not the same as the physical sense). I can imagine
measuring 'majesty' by the average amount of awe inspired in a
standard set of test persons ;-) (realising that this would be a
very complex function of many aspects of their being, including
everything meant by 'power') but 'power' doesn't lend itself to
something that simple.

Varda's creation of new stars were 'greatest of all the works of the
Valar since their coming into Arda', 'To Melkor among the Ainur had
been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge,'[*] but he
'fled before [Tulkas'] wrath and [Tulkas'] laughter, and forsook
Arda.' All of these things measure in some way 'power', but they give
wildly different answers to who was the most powerful, because
'power', in the literary sense, cannot be represented as a simple
one-dimensional metric (physically 'power' is the rate of energy
conversion, but that doesn't help here).


[*] This statement is quickly expanded by explaining that 'he had a
share in all the gifts of his brethren.' Thus Melkor was, in the
beginning more powerful at everything, though he may nevertheless
have been less efficient at them due to his lack of subtlety and
patience.

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

They both savoured the strange warm glow of being much
more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant
of ordinary things.
- Discworld scientists at work, /Equal Rites/ (Terry Pratchett)

Stan Brown

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Dec 16, 2005, 10:04:08 AM12/16/05
to
Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:39:46 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:

> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> > The Aratar were peers (equal) in majesty. I can't see anything in
> > that passage from Valaquenta that justifies any comparison of
> > anything other than "majesty". Granted, there might be some ambiguity
> > in what the translator means by "majesty", but surely the plain
> > meaning of that word does not include "power".
>
> I think that might be the closest we come to agreement! :-)
>
> I think that "majesty" includes some measure of their power. Not all of
> it obviously, but still enough to suggest that the Aratar were, in some
> senses of the word, powerful.

Okay, so define your terms: when you say that A is more powerful than
B, what do you mean by "power"? What single-dimensional linear scale
are you using?

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 16, 2005, 10:07:08 AM12/16/05
to
Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:47:40 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:

> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> > I just can't understand why people who ought to know better persist
> > in trying to reduce Tolkien's beautifully complex world to something
> > uni-dimensional like D&D power points or hit points or whatever
> > they're called.
>
> Who's been trying to do that? There's been some discussion of it, but I
> don't think anyone is actually suggesting this.

Every time someone disputes or judges whether A or B is "more
powerful", that is exactly what they are doing. It's what "more"
means (in English, not just in math) -- some definable quality of
which one possesses as much as the other plus some in addition.

Larry Swain

unread,
Dec 16, 2005, 3:38:51 PM12/16/05
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:39:46 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
> <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:
>
>>Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>
>>>The Aratar were peers (equal) in majesty. I can't see anything in
>>>that passage from Valaquenta that justifies any comparison of
>>>anything other than "majesty". Granted, there might be some ambiguity
>>>in what the translator means by "majesty", but surely the plain
>>>meaning of that word does not include "power".
>>
>>I think that might be the closest we come to agreement! :-)
>>
>>I think that "majesty" includes some measure of their power. Not all of
>>it obviously, but still enough to suggest that the Aratar were, in some
>>senses of the word, powerful.
>
>
> Okay, so define your terms: when you say that A is more powerful than
> B, what do you mean by "power"? What single-dimensional linear scale
> are you using?
>
Surely "power" is included in majesty--one's majesty is one's greatness,
one's glory etc.

Stan Brown

unread,
Dec 16, 2005, 7:20:43 PM12/16/05
to
Fri, 16 Dec 2005 14:38:51 -0600 from Larry Swain
<thes...@operamail.com>:

> Surely "power" is included in majesty--one's majesty is one's greatness,
> one's glory etc.

I think not. Real Life is full of examples of awe-inspiring majesty
with no power: the Emperors of Japan under the Shogunate, for
instance. Closer to home, the British monarchy is full of majesty but
has zero power. (True, the sovereign has wide powers in theory, but
they are exercised by the government in her name. She herself acts
"on advice", which means she does what the PM tells her.)

The Valar did have actual power, but just my examples show that you
can't infer anything about their power -- _still_ an undefined term,
please note -- from their majesty.

As Professor Kirke said, "What _do_ they teach in the schools these
days?"

Christopher Kreuzer

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Dec 18, 2005, 4:19:13 PM12/18/05
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:39:46 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
> <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:
>> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>> The Aratar were peers (equal) in majesty. I can't see anything in
>>> that passage from Valaquenta that justifies any comparison of
>>> anything other than "majesty". Granted, there might be some
>>> ambiguity in what the translator means by "majesty", but surely the
>>> plain meaning of that word does not include "power".
>>
>> I think that might be the closest we come to agreement! :-)
>>
>> I think that "majesty" includes some measure of their power. Not all
>> of it obviously, but still enough to suggest that the Aratar were,
>> in some senses of the word, powerful.
>
> Okay, so define your terms: when you say that A is more powerful than
> B, what do you mean by "power"? What single-dimensional linear scale
> are you using?

I'm not. I'm using language, rather than an exact scale.

Are you suggesting that whenever Tolkien said 'A' was more powerful than
'B', that _he_ was using a single-dimensional linear scale? Why should I
have to define my terms when you wouldn't ask Tolkien to define every
word he wrote?

Chris Kern

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Dec 19, 2005, 11:03:23 AM12/19/05
to
On 13 Dec 2005 20:39:53 GMT, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> posted the following:

>I've lost count, but I believe I'll be 'seventhing' this -- or
>something ;-)
>
>I am only beginning to discover the wealth and complexity hidden in
>the textual history, and I am grateful that we have people here
>providing overviews in these discussions, as that makes it much
>easier to get into it.

I'm still planning on writing that kind of post for chapters 3-6; I'm
working on 3, since I'm on christmas break now I should be able to get
time to get it done.

-Chris

John W. Kennedy

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Dec 19, 2005, 12:49:37 PM12/19/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> Interesting though that Tolkien uses the word 'peer', as it enters the
> English language from Latin and French via Anglo-French, something
> Tolkien might have avoided if he could. I wonder what the OE equivalent
> for denoting equals would have been?

My knowledge of OE is next to nil, but the only A-S morpheme I can
recall encountering in ME is "even-". He might have gone with
"even-lords" or something of the sort, but it strikes me as too
preciously un-Norman to live.

--
John W. Kennedy
"But now is a new thing which is very old--
that the rich make themselves richer and not poorer,
which is the true Gospel, for the poor's sake."
-- Charles Williams. "Judgement at Chelmsford"

Stan Brown

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Dec 19, 2005, 4:02:43 PM12/19/05
to
Sun, 18 Dec 2005 21:19:13 GMT from Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:

> Are you suggesting that whenever Tolkien said 'A' was more powerful than
> 'B', that _he_ was using a single-dimensional linear scale? Why should I
> have to define my terms when you wouldn't ask Tolkien to define every
> word he wrote?

I do not recall any bald Tolkien statement about A being "more
powerful" than B. I can recall quite a number of much more specific
statements, but none so generic. Which one are you thinking of?

Larry Swain

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Dec 20, 2005, 1:09:51 PM12/20/05
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> Fri, 16 Dec 2005 14:38:51 -0600 from Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com>:
>
>>Surely "power" is included in majesty--one's majesty is one's greatness,
>>one's glory etc.
>
>
> I think not. Real Life is full of examples of awe-inspiring majesty
> with no power: the Emperors of Japan under the Shogunate, for
> instance. Closer to home, the British monarchy is full of majesty but
> has zero power. (True, the sovereign has wide powers in theory, but
> they are exercised by the government in her name. She herself acts
> "on advice", which means she does what the PM tells her.)
>
> The Valar did have actual power, but just my examples show that you
> can't infer anything about their power -- _still_ an undefined term,
> please note -- from their majesty.
>
> As Professor Kirke said, "What _do_ they teach in the schools these
> days?"
>

Yes, I do wonder, Stan. ;) Real life isn't that full of examples and
let's take a look at those you have given. In the case of the first one
I think you have confused pomp with majesty. While there can be some
overlapin the semantic ranges of the words, and that's where your
objection comes from, at the most basic level they are two different
things. Majesty is one's power, greatness, dignity etc whereas pomp is
more the display, and may even be the display of one's greatness and
power if one has it. The Emperor example is just that: all pomp but no
majesty or greatness to back it up. The British Monarchy had
substantially more power under Victoria and Edward, Tolkien's youth and
young adulthood, and under George that it did after the second world
war. And again I think you have conflated pomp and majesty: the
monarchy once had majesty that the pomp displayed, and now all that is
left is the pomp that recalls past glory, power, and greatness of the
institution and those who fill it.

Given that Tolkien chose words carefully, I'd take a close look at
majestas in Latin: in both pagan and Christian traditions the word is
used to describe the gods and God and kings and emperors...all beings
with nearly absolute power over the universe and over the lives of men.
It is here I think we should strive to understand what Tolkien meant
by majesty, and power would certainly be a part of that. Moreover,
while an "individual" power may not be as great as another individual
power (this gets us over into words like craft, virtue, ars, etc),
in comparison to one's overall "power"--the ability to affect things at
its most basic.

Just some thoughts...

Troels Forchhammer

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Dec 21, 2005, 11:20:19 AM12/21/05
to
In message <news:05SdnV71ZpJs1TXe...@rcn.net> Larry
Swain <thes...@operamail.com> enriched us with:
>

<snip>

> It is here I think we should strive to understand what Tolkien
> meant by majesty, and power would certainly be a part of that.

Would it be fair to say that 'Majesty' is a perceived quality, and
that therefore it is the 'perceivable power' that enters into it?

Pippin has a moment in Minas Tirith:

Denethor looked indeed much more like a great wizard
than Gandalf did, more kingly, beautiful, and powerful;
and older. Yet by a sense other than sight Pippin
perceived that Gandalf had the greater power and the
deeper wisdom, and a majesty that was veiled. And he was
older, far older. 'How much older?' he wondered, and then
he thought how odd it was that he had never thought about
it before.
[LotR V,1 'Minas Tirith']

It isn't clear, but I get the impression that the power, wisdom and
majesty are somehow related, but not quite the sam