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Hey, I was rereading...and I came upon this.

"There is none like to Shadowfax. In him one of the mighty steeds of old has returned. None such shall return again." (Two Towers, The King of the Golden Hall, a couple pages before the end of the chapter.)

Was Shadowfax just a reincarnation of some other great horse, or what??? And if a reincarnation, what "mighty steed" returned???
I think that line simply means that Shadowfax was the greatest of the mearas in his time, descending from Felaróf, the steed of Eorl the Young.
But if that is the case, then the second half doesn't fit:
"None such shall return again."

I don't know it sounds strange to me.
It probably means that never again such a mighty steed would roam the fields of Rohan.
I think it IS just a metaphor, as Virumor says, though it's impossible to say definitively, and when a definitive statement is impossible, I don't like to make them (hint, hint to the Peanut Gallery. ) I wanna say the Maeras were originally fosterlings of Orome (or Araw, to the Rohirrim,) but don't quote me on that; I have Orome on the brain at the moment. Much of the Trilogy, it seems to me, is ancient and noble peoples whose glory is all but forgotten resurrecting that glory in its fullness one final time for the final push against the foe of millenia. I don't think Shadowfax is a Glorfindel case (though he's another fine example of this) but more like Aragorn, who wasn't The Beren Reborn, or Elendil, but much like the former in prowess and bravery and even more like the latter in wisdom, foresight and honor. I could, of course, be wrong about Shadowfax though; sometimes the words mean just what they say, and the Professor didn't choose words at random.
You are right that the mearas were animals which were brought to Middle-earth by Oromë (whom the Rohirrim call Béma).

'Araw' and 'Tauron' are both Sindarin names for Oromë, although 'Tauron' is more a title than a name.
As noted, the Mearas were the descendants of Felaróf and Men said of them that Béma must have brought their sire from West over Sea. OK, but I noticed...

... hmmm, a thread on Shadowfax with no discussion on what color he was Elf Winking Smilie
I heard a Rohirrim minstrel singing he was colourless! Of course most people have said he was black except Gandalf who stated that he was silvery. It was this proposal which I believe first bought him into conflict with Grima and we all know how it ended and how Gandalf got his revenge!
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... hmmm, a thread on Shadowfax with no discussion on what color he was

Considering he was named "Shadow"fax, he must have been grey or black.
During 'The Council of Elrond' FotR, while Gandalf was imparting the adventure that made him miss Frodo's birthday party, he gave the following description of Shadowfax:
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'And there is one among them that might have been foaled in the morning of the world. The horses of the Nine cannot vie with him; tireless, swift as the flowing wind. Shadowfax they called him. By day his coat glistens like silver; and by night it is like a shade, and he passes unseen. Light is his footfall! Never before had any man mounted him, but I took him and tamed him...
I highlighted with bold the pertinent sentence.

So Thorin had the gist of it in his above post.
Hmmm, interestingly Hammond and Scull imply 'white'... so maybe others agree?

Or not Smile Smilie
Greyish white, maybe?

What's more interesting, is that Shadowfax journeyed to the Undying Lands together with the Lady Galadriel, Elrond & Gandalf the White.

So that painting of John Howe (or was it Nasmith?) is correct.
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What's more interesting, is that Shadowfax journeyed to the Undying Lands together with the Lady Galadriel, Elrond & Gandalf the White.

So, this again brings to mind that Shadowfax my have been more than a mere reincarnation of one of the Mearas, but may have been one of the lesser Maiar sent to Middle-earth to help with Gandalf's mission. This would explain Gandalf's affinity with Shadowfax and the his ability to be within whistling distance of Gandalf anytime he was needed, and his stamina to travel from Rohan to Minas Tirith without any pit stops along the way, hardly even breaking into a sweat at journey's end.

A real horse, even a Mearas, would have been ridden into the ground long before that journey was half over. Or did I miss Gandalf and Pippin's rest stops when I last read those chapters at the end of book three and the beginning of book five. What's that you say, they did make stops along the way. Well, sure they did, just as Gandalf's human body required rest, refreshment, and recuperation, so would have Shadowfax's, were he a lesser maia in horses body or one of the Mearas, or merely a throwback in the likeness of one of the horses of ancient Rohan.
They're animals originating from Valinor, which makes them superior in any aspect to any animal from Middle-earth.

I don't think Béma would allow any Maia to be ridden by mere Men. But, who knows?
I think that they stopped once at Edoras. That was when Gandalf gave orders for the host of the Rohirrim to be assembled in Dunharrow. After that I think there were no more stops though Shadowfax did sweat Grondy, when Pippin first saw the beacons of Gondor alight, shadowfax had stopped and it is mentioned that he glistened with sweat.
Shadowfax is born, so he can't be a Maia. The Maia can choose to take shape, but they can't take someone elses. Even if it is just a foal. It's is certainly not anything a good Maia would do. Huan could speak, but he was still just a dog.

That's what I think, anyway. Wink Smilie
Tolkien commented in letter 268: 'I should argue so: Shadowfax came of a special race (...) being as it were an Elvish equivalent of ordinary horses: his 'blood' came from 'West Over Sea', and the full letter seems to point to the love between Gandalf and Shadowfax ('He would take or could take what he loved.'), and that it would not be unfitting for Shadowfax to go West.

As for Huan, Tolkien did muse on the idea of him being a Maia, at least in a note (see note 4 to Text VIII in Morgoth's Ring) where JRRT wrote that many of the Maiar robed themselves like other lesser living things, and Huan appears parenthetically.

According to The Lay of Leithian (written much earlier than the MR note), Huan was said to have once been a young whelp in the woodlands and pastures of Orome, and that he had grown swift and been given as a gift to Celegorm. In the verse it's implied he was of 'race immortal'.
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According to The Lay of Leithian (written much earlier than the MR note), Huan was said to have once been a young whelp in the woodlands and pastures of Orome, and that he had grown swift and been given as a gift to Celegorm. In the verse it's implied he was of 'race immortal'.

I think any living being in the lands blessed by the Valar would be immortal; the same would be true for the mearas brought to Middle-earth by Oromë - but I take it they would start breeding with 'lesser' animals and their lifespans would greatly decrease.

Kind of like with "High" Men from Númenor interbreeding with Men of Dusk & Men of Darkness.

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Shadowfax is born, so he can't be a Maia.

Gwaihir & Landroval are born. They're the sons of Thorondor.

Furthermore, originally the Valar had children too.

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('He would take or could take what he loved.')

Gandalf the White, the Hugh Hefner of Middle-earth?
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Gwaihir & Landroval are born. They're the sons of Thorondor.


No, they are hatched. Wink Smilie I see what you mean. Luthien was part Maia too. But Thorondor and (I assume) mrs Thorondor were Maian. (What is the plural of Maia again? I keep forgetting.) It doesn't seem logical (to me) for Shadowfax to be a Maia, unless all or a special line of the Maeras were lesser Maian, or unless some form of body snatching had occured.
Tolkien at least seems to be trying to figure some things out. From text VIII Morgoth's Ring:

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'Only the Valar and Maiar are intelligences that can assume forms of Arda at will. Huan and Sorontar could be Maiar -- emissaries of Manwe. But unfortunately in The Lord of the Rings Gwaehir and Landroval are said to be descendants of Sorontar.' JRRT (italics as printed in the text)


Then JRRT goes on to imply that Orc-formed Maiar may procreate (and he references Melian); and later in the same essay he writes (concerning language): 'The same sort of thing may be said of Huan and the Eagles: they were taught language by the Valar, and raised to a higher level -- but they still had no fear.' (fear plural of fea)

But it was a note attached to Text V that seemingly included Huan as a Maia! for example.

Plural Maiar anyway Smile Smilie