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Thread: Galadriel and the Istari

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JonnieA began this thread with the following post.

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Something occurred to me today: wouldn't Galadriel have known the Istari (as Maia) in Aman before she left for Middle-earth? Is this alluded to anywhere in Tolkien's writing? How might it have coloured her dealings with the Istari - it seems unlikely that someone as perceptive and skilled in seeing the unseen as Galadriel would not realise that the Istari were Maia, and presumably might be able to have a good guess at who was who.
For example, I seem to remember that Olorin (i.e.Gandalf) was one of Irmo's people, and that it is also mentioned that Galadriel wandered often in his gardens. Perhaps they were friends in Aman, which would explain her having such faith in him in the Third Age.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?


Virumor replied

I don't know whether Olorin was a Maia of Irmo, i thought he was a Maia of Nienna. Anyway, it is written in the Silmarillion that Olorin loved the Elves very much and that he spent much time in Tirion in disguise, and often he put thoughts into the hearts of the Elves.

Anyway, it could be that Olorin and Galadriel met as Olorin seemed to visit Tirion now and then. Whether Galadriel was aware whether Olorin was a Maia : it could be that Olorin entrusted her with the fact he was a Maia, i don't know.

It's true that Galadriel and Gandalf seem to be very close friends in LOTR, but it is also possible that Gandalf won her trust slowly after he arrived in Middle-Earth in the third age and that they slowly began to trust each other.

Now that i think of it, i think that when Gandalf was sent to Middle-Earth to help the free peoples to destroy Sauron, that he also was told by the Valar to tell Galadriel that a test would be given to her which should decide over the issue of her return to Valinor. (how else does she know years later that she has passed some test?) Maybe Gandalf came in Lothlorien for the first time with this message and maybe that's the way their friendship started.

Anyway, i'm more likely to think that Galadriel didn't notice that Olorin was a Maia even if they met.

Another thought : i'm wondering, if Olorin visited Tirion now and then, was he aware then what Melkor was doing ? It doesn't seem like it, otherwise Olorin would have told the Valar of his findings, but i think this shows how very delicate Melkor worked.

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It's true that Galadriel and Gandalf seem to be very close friends in LOTR, but it is also possible that Gandalf won her trust slowly after he arrived in Middle-Earth in the third age and that they slowly began to trust each other.
On pages 249-250 of UT, it tells how Gandalf went to Galadriel after he had come to Middle Earth, and they had a long discussion. During this talk he gave to her the Elessar stone as a token from Yavanna to lessen her burden in Middle Earth. This is the same stone which was later given to Aragorn. By then of course, Galadriel had her Ring to lessen her burdens.
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I don't know whether Olorin was a Maia of Irmo, i thought he was a Maia of Nienna.
Again from UT page 397
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.... it is said that Olorin was "counsellor of Irmo", and that in the hearts of those who hearkened to him awoke thoughts of fair things that had not yet been but might yet be made for the enrichment of Arda.
From the Silmarillion page 34
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Wisest of the Maiar was Olorin. He too dwelt long in Lorien (home of Irmo), but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience.
. At Manwe's council, Olorin was selected to go to Middle Earth by Manwe and Varda. I'm of the belief, Olorin was the Maiar of no Valar in particular, but that he served and learned from several of them.
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Anyway, i'm more likely to think that Galadriel didn't notice that Olorin was a Maia even if they met.
I'm not so sure about that, don't forget that Galadriel was close friends with the maia Melian, wife of Thingol. Knowing one Maia in "disguize", might very well be usefull to recognize another maia.

Círdan the Shipwright, Elrond and Galadriel where the keepers of the three great elven Rings. Círdan recongnized Olórin as the greatest of the Istari and gave him the elven ring Nenya. Círdan told Elrond (who also had a Ring) about Olórin, and I'm sure Elrond would have told Galadriel about such an important matter as one of the rings of power shifting hands. Even if she didn't regonzice Gandalf as an Maia, and if she hadn't heard it from Elrond, then she would at least sense that he had Nenya.
I too don't know wether Olorin was a Maia of Irmo or a Maia of Nienna, but I sure know he didn't bear Nenya, but Narya.

namarie
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he didn't bear Nenya, but Narya
Hehe silly me, you are right of course, it was just me not paying attention to what I'm doing.
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I'm not so sure about that, don't forget that Galadriel was close friends with the maia Melian, wife of Thingol. Knowing one Maia in "disguize", might very well be usefull to recognize another maia.

Melian wasn't in disguise, she was a Maia in a human form. But it wasn't really a secret : every one knew Elu Thingol married a Maia. And she and Galadriel met after Galadriel left Valinor, so after she possibly met Olorin.

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Círdan recongnized Olórin as the greatest of the Istari and gave him the elven ring Nenya. Círdan told Elrond (who also had a Ring) about Olórin, and I'm sure Elrond would have told Galadriel about such an important matter as one of the rings of power shifting hands. Even if she didn't regonzice Gandalf as an Maia, and if she hadn't heard it from Elrond, then she would at least sense that he had Nenya.

Cirdan didn't really recognize him as a Maia, he only saw (before no one saw deeper and further than him) that Gandalf was the wisest of the Istari who arrived at Mithlond and that he would have a lot of trouble and work coming his way --- that's why he gave him Narya (not Nenya).

Anyway, i was asking myself if Galadriel would have recognized Olorin as a Maia if they met in Tirion, not in Lothlorien.
I am pretty sure Gandalf visited Lothlorien soon after he arrived in Middle-Earth and told Galadriel he was sent by Manwë and Varda.


[Edited on 7/12/2003 by virumor]
Thanks everyone for your interesting and informative replies.
I agree with Virumor that I am sure Galadriel must have know Gandalf was Maia - what else can he be if he has come out fo the West with a postBody and a token for her? The same goes for Cirdan - if a ship arrives out of the West but the passengers are not Elves, they must be Maia. So basically the whole of the White Council would have known abaout it, but probably never spoke about it except one to one in private, and even then probably in guarded terms.
I have (finally) got my copies of LOTR, The Sil and UT down from my den and next to the computer so I can look things up properly instead of relying on memory!

Val, you are quite right about the section on P249-250 of UT regarding the chat between Gandalf and Galadriel at some unsepcified time after his arrival in Middle-earth. I have also re-read the section on the Istari in UT and can suggest the following answer to my own question:

Galadriel probably got to know most of the Maia in Aman before Feanor's revolt, as she was always thirsty for knowledge and they could teach her much. It is possible that Olorin (Gandalf) was a particular friend, as he is noted as 'a lover of the Eldar that remained' after the revolt. It seems to me that you do not have to stretch this idea too far for him to have also been a friend to the Noldor before their flight.

When the Istari are selected by Manwe, Olorin is reluctant to go because of his fear of Sauron, which is exactly why Manwe picks him. Olorin is in various places connected with both Irmo and Nienna, suggesting understanding and compassion, which is fully backed by his manner in LOTR. This shows in particular in his attitude to Gollum, Boromir and Saruman - basically those who should be heroes but aren't (quite).

UT strongly suggests that the Istari did not all arrive in Middle-earth together, as Saruman is in several places referred to as the 'first' of them, and on P389 Cirdan is said to have seen their 'landings' - note the plural. (I must admit I have previously always thought of them arriving on the same ship, but it appears I was wrong.)

It is also said on P388-389 that '..they came from over the Sea out of the Uttermost West; though this was for long known only to Cirdan..'. Two important points here: the Istari were initially secretive about their origins, but eventually people other than Cirdan discovered or guessed the truth.

It is certain the Gandalf revealled his true self to Galadriel, though the timing is unclear - perhaps she had already guessed the truth, prehaps not. On P249 of UT they have their little chat: '...on a time Olorin came to Galadriel....and they had long speech together. For the years of her exile began to lie heavy on the Lady of the Noldor, and she longed for news of her kin and for the blessed land of her birth...And when Olorin had told her many postThreadIDings...'
In other words she catches up on the goings on of her friends and family who are mutual acqaintences of them both.

So in summary Galadriel and Gandalf probably were friends in Aman, and resumed their friendship in Middle-earth.
JonnieA, this is no biggie, just a suggestion: When giving page numbers you also might give the publisher and edition of the book, or also give the page number that the chapter starts on. For in one of my copies of UT (First Ballantine Edition, September 1988), 'The Istari' doesn't start until page 405; though, your page numbers do agree with my Houghton Mifflin 1980 Edition. Happy Elf Smilie

I often only cite the approximate number of pages into a chapter or before the end of a chapter rather than giving page numbers, because there are so many editions of Tolkiens books available to our members.

I don't have much to add but I thought I should say I've appreciated very much how JonnieA and the rest of you have made your posts so informative on this subject and that I've learned alot from reading your posts. Keep up the great work! Smile Smilie
Thanks Lady Feawen!

Yes, Grondmaster, I know you are right but the post was getting a bit long anyway.
Good post JonnieA! I like to think of Galadriel in terms of her ability to see into the hearts and desires of any of the Children of Illuvatar. It was obvious she didn't quite like the walk and talk of Saruman. That might also be a reason why she gave her support to Gandalf so readily.
Yes, I agree with your description of Galadriel being able to see into the hearts of others; that certainly reminds me of how she refused to give a hair of hers to Fëanor, but gave three to Gimli.
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Her mother-name was Nerwen ("man-maiden"), and she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth. Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and of her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the starlike silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses. Many thought that this saying first gave to Fëanor the thought of imprisoning and blending the light of the Trees that later took shape in his hands as the Silmarils. For Fëanor beheld the hair of Galadriel with wonder and delight. He begged three times for a tress, but Galadriel would not give him even one hair. Those two kinsfolk, the greatest of the Eldar of Valinor, were unfriends for ever.

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'There is nothing, Lady Galadriel,' said Gimli, bowing low and stammering. 'Nothing, unless it might be – unless it is permitted to ask, nay, to name a single strand of your hair, which surpasses the gold of the earth as the stars surpass the gems of the mine. I do not ask for such a gift. But you commanded me to name my desire.'
The Elves stirred and murmured with astonishment, and Celeborn gazed at the Dwarf in wonder, but the Lady smiled. 'It is said that the skill of the Dwarves is in their hands rather than in their tongues,' she said; 'yet that is not true of Gimli. For none have ever made to me a request so bold yet so courteous. And how shall I refuse, since I commanded him to speak? But tell me, what would you do with such a gift?'
'Treasure it, Lady,' he answered, 'in memory of your words to me at our first meeting. And if I ever return to the smithies of my home, it shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house, and a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.'
Then the Lady unbraided one of her long tresses, and cut off three golden hairs, and laid them in Gimli's hand. 'These words shall go with the gift,' she said. 'I do not foretell, for all foretelling is now vain: on the one hand lies darkness, and on the other only hope. But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli son of Glóin, that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.'


One comment: I believe that Galadriel's words about never having been asked so boldly and courteously refer to the fact that she was asked before uncourteously, not that she had never been asked before.
Another wise old sage here!
Yeah, Arco... that was pretty impressive stuff, there in the Unfinished Tales; I especially enjoyed those bits on Galadriel and Feanor: they give more insight on their (mostly his) characters!
after reading this and then getting on the subject I've got a question not a reply. Who gave Gandalf the Ring of Fire?
Círdan the Shipwright (an Elf) gave Gandalf the Red Ring when he and the other four wizards arrived at the Grey Havens (from Valinor) in about the year 1000 of the Third Age.

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Throughout the Third Age the guardianship of the Three Rings was known only to those who possessed them. But at the end it became known that they had been held at first by the three greatest of the Eldar: Gil-galad, Galadriel and Círdan. Gil-galad before he died gave his ring to Elrond; Círdan later surrendered his to Mithrandir. For Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth, and he welcomed Mithrandir at the Grey Havens, knowing whence he came and whither he would return. 'Take this Ring, Master,' he said, 'for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill. But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores until the last ship sails. I will await you.' - Appendix A, LotR


Similar accounts are in the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales as well.
Really what I have to add to your debate is an aside

- I would have thought that Gandalf as Olorin was beyond the comprehension of Galadriel, in the West that was, but not in his "human" form, in the third age... (there were five Istari, and only Galadriel thought that Gandalf, not Sauraman was the first of them....) Radaghast the brown is hardly mentioned, except that he had the word and ear of animals, expecially birds, and the eagles are very important (they save the day, twice.... in the Hobbit and in TLOTR) - and Eagles bring Gandalf to Galadriel after his battle with the Balrog, just as the same Gwahir brings Frodo and Sam back from the brink of Doom.....

Olorin is mentioned in connection with Nienna, but if memory does not fail and poor Elvish does not let me down, it is Nienna who is connected both with the houses of healing and of the dead (in the sense in which elves "die") - the root of her name is tears.... she is a disciple of Aule, of growth, earth, sleep, .... a very "Earthy" goddess, saint, healing and or death? and very much in keeping with Gandalf who shares the sorrows and life and life spans of the small things of middle earth, as opposed to the great.... his contact with Galadriel is more inducive of a softening in Galadriel,(jnercessary, perhaps given family history) rather than a raising of Gandalf.

Death as the gift which Illuvatar gave to men, which elves and others do not understand?

Finally, Gandalf does in some way die when in battle with the Balrog, but is sent back, not by boat, (even a magic one) or by conventional means, but spiritually..... and as something different, more, both more "human" and more "magic".... as a sign of the beginning of the end.... Frodo comments on his visit to Lothlorien as if it was not only something out of time, but something also now lost from time.... as if he was among the last of the visitors, and I do also think that we should look at the last song of Galadriel, even if it was high elvish.....

The victory of the LOTR implies a victory for mankind, but a world also lost.... Saruman diminished to a petty tyrant, elves to the level of wild mirkwood wood elves, etc., I think that the passing of the third age is big deal...... and that we should see Galadriel as part of the first and second age, diminished in the third, where Gandalf, who also belongs to the the first and second, triumphs because of his understanding of the Third Age and his vision for the Fourth.... (which we only find out about in Appendixes...)

I don't know, this became a long post but would love to hear your opinions.....

Ellie
Oi, sorry want to do a really rotten thing.. but.

So many of you assume that Cirdan, Galadriel, Elrond etc., knew what they were doing in exile..... and would have recognised a messenger of Aule, the Vala, a Maia, etc, That the White Council was up to scratch....

If so, why didn't they know the Necromancer for what he was, why didn't they recognise and proctect all of the Istari, how did the Numernoreans diminish to the line of Aragon, the Dunedain with only vague protection from a weak Rivendell.....

Gandlafs account of being sent back from death, Bombadils' decision to remain in ignorance of that outside his borders, Galadriels retreat to Lothlorien with a Grey Elf as consort..... the dwarfs loss of Moira, Elves of Hollin, and Gondor's serious retreats..... surely it points not only to disminishment, but also loss of history, loss of heritage, loss..... that those who lived in middle earth had only partial or grey memories of time gone by (to a lesser or greater extent depending on their power, but always, a diminishing of the West?)


Perhaps they didn't recognise the Necromancer as Sauron bgecause they didn't actually MEET him, but they met Gandalf, Saruman and the others?

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Radaghast the brown is hardly mentioned,


Well, if he's hardly mentioned, then Pallando and Aratar are virtually non-existent. It's a complete mystery as to hwere THEY went. Of course, Middle-earth is a much larger place as to what is paid attentiont o in TLOTR. But as far as I know, even Tolkien hadn't decided what happened to them. I think in the unfinished Tales he said that it was a mystery. I can't check, because I don't own a copy. The book shop don't have unfinished tales and the library's copy has gone and got lost by someone. Sad Smilie
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surely it points not only to disminishment, but also loss of history, loss of heritage, loss.....


Some nice points there, Elanor, but since I have only a few minutes, I'll concentrate on this one for now. You seem to imply that unlike our own world which grows in knowledge and power with time, Middle Earth was in a terminal decline. This is true, everything was becoming weaker, and there is a reason for it. It is all down to Melkor, or more precisely what is known as Melkor's Ring. Whereas Sauron concentrated his own power into a small ring of gold, Melkor in a bid to control Men disseminated his power into the whole of Middle Earth. It is said in HOME that every single piece of matter in Middle Earth bears his corruption. It is because of this that things weaken with time, and why the Elves grow weary after so long in Middle Earth. Melkor never corrupted Valinor, and hence it still has its regenerative properties.
Wow, you guys all sound so professional. Well, I suppose you all are. But where do you find out these things? And where can you get HOME?
"You seem to imply that unlike our own world which grows in knowledge and power with time, Middle Earth was in a terminal decline."

I respectfully disagree. Our own world is in decline, as witnessed by events over the last hundred years, but especially by more recent events. Knowledge decreases, which every educator should acknowledge. Information availability has increased through the internet, etc., but this is not knowledge. The ability of people to assimilate their culture at an earlier age has gone steadily downhill. I have noticed this in the difference in what children were expected to know 100 years ago as compared/contrasted with what children now study. This slippage is appalling!

This is the kind of mirroring of reality that Tolkien did all the time. He was teaching us many lessons in his trilogy. One lesson was, I think, that we cannot get too attached to this life, that there is a better life beyond. We must fight the good fight and hope against hope, and carry on our own part, even if we think it too small and insignificant a part. Remember, Gandalf tells Frodo we have to do what we should with the time we are given. But in the end, even as Frodo could not be healed except by leaving Middle Earth, so we will not find complete fulfillment here either. All things here decrease, though heroes remain heroes, and great deeds remain great.
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I respectfully disagree. Our own world is in decline, as witnessed by events over the last hundred years, but especially by more recent events. Knowledge decreases, which every educator should acknowledge. Information availability has increased through the internet, etc., but this is not knowledge. The ability of people to assimilate their culture at an earlier age has gone steadily downhill. I have noticed this in the difference in what children were expected to know 100 years ago as compared/contrasted with what children now study. This slippage is appalling!


Although I agree that exams etc seem to have been dumbed down over the past decade or so, I still feel that as a whole the knowledge of the human race is still in ascent rather than descent. Almost everywhere you look there is advancement. 100 years ago we did not have powered flight, now we have supersonic airliners capable of carrying 400+ passengers, space shuttles capable of going into space and generally returning in one piece, and a space station. We have gone from horse drawn carts to cars, and now the technology is improving safety and fuel effiency etc. When my parents were at school they wrote on chalk boards... we now use PC's, not just to write on, but to send messages in seconds to the other side of the world. When I look at the ZX81 I had twenty years ago and compare it with my PC now, I see advancement not decline. I'm not sure kids are falling too far behind either. I studied Zoology to degree level 21 years ago, but my son is being taught some of the biology at the age of 11 that I did not cover until my A-levels. Not because they are brighter, but because the entire science has developed in that time. What was advanced science in my day is now basic principles. Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be taught at any one time. If a couple of hours a week are being used to teach IT, which was unheard of in my day, something else has to give.

Last week it was anounced Europe is building a prototype fussion reactor. If they pull that off there will be almost unlimited clean energy using water as a fuel with helium as the only by-product. Everywhere I look I see technology advancing in leaps and bounds - not always for the better, but certainly advancing. Middle Earth, however, was in decline from virtually the First age onwards. Knowledge and skills were being lost, almost like Britain entering the Dark Ages after the Romans left. Only where there were pockets of Elves was the knowledge retained, and even then it was frozen rather than advancing.

The big difference is, in Middle Earth the Elves were taught their knowledge by the Valar themselves - almost a magical gift. Once the Valar returned to Aman, however, parts of that knowledge was lost with each passing generation. In contrast, our ancestors in our own world did not have any god-like beings to teach them how to smelt iron, use the wheel or build tall towers. They had to learn it themselves, and pass on that knowledge to future generations. With each successive generation learning more and making improvements we have advanced. 2000 years ago a man could perhaps be capable of learning "everything" in his lifetime. Now days, however, the sum of human knowledge is far too much for any one person to learn the whole of. We have to specialise.
Exams have been "dumbed-down" for much longer than 10 years. I took the SAT in 1973, and I know from what my students tell me that the questions are getting, if not dumber, at least too simple or plain illogical. But aside from standardized testing, just the general knowledge required of students is less than it used to be 100 years ago. I have perused the old books of the Jesuits who used to run the schools that we now run here. One hundred years ago, boys of 10 or 12 were speaking Latin in class on a regular basis, translating with fluidity and in perfect idiom, and rendering English sentences and paragraphs into Latin faultlessly. Today if a boy or girl did such things he would be thought a genius!

All of the advances you cite are in technology, and in the application of science--usally by technology--not in any real advance in knowledge. The math that is used in making computers and in making fusion reactors was invented in ancient Greece! All we are doing now is applying that same math to new things, because now we have some technical skills they did not have. Now we have microscopes that they didn't have, so we can see more of the cell, etc. But I think it takes more intelligence to discover something from scratch as they did than to stand on their shoulders as we are. We claim we are so much greater, that we have basically reinvented the wheel, cured disease, etc. But the wheel still revolves as it always did, and there is a host of new diseases to replace the old ones. (I am not advocating we abandon doing our part in the time and place we find ourselves, i.e., we should go on curing the diseases, because that is more than using technology--it is also doing the right thing.)

Middle Earth differs from earth in this respect--we do not overtly see the Powers working around and with us. Modern man is so "advanced" that he no longer believes in God, angels, devils, etc., and pretends to explain all faith away. Or better yet, he simply lets all faith pass in silence since he has effectively filled up his life with material things. But man is meant for more than that, and this is what Tolkien is showing in LOTR.
I believe in the supreme being and I also believe in science and have no problem reconciling the two: the former is about "the why" and the latter is about "the how". The big Bang needed something to get it started and in my book God fits in there nicely, as he works in mysterious ways, and if he decided to set up the laws of nature I can accept that. I also think it's neat that his revelations in science, as well as religion, was stretched out over time depending on mankind's maturity and was allowed to become more refined with the passage of time. Sure we took steps backwards now and then, but he regrouped us and started us forward again. When mankind failed at Plan A, the Lord lead us to Plan B, and we failed at that, he had Plan C waiting in the wings.
I've always thought God was a very above-all sort of being. I imagine he makes a lot of worlds (thus the Wood between the Worlds from CS Lewis) and keep them apart. And he'd see us grow, and smile. And when one world comes to its end and the people die, he'll probably transport us to some other place to start a new life. It's what I've always imagined the fate of Men to be. God is this being that makes things to be what they're being. He both controls us and also doesn't really do anything to us. Like Eru, he did start the world, but after that he didn't really do anything, did he, only watched everything happen from somewhere we can't see him. I think the supreme being believes in leaving lesser beings be. I mean, each world would have its own fate, and God probably knew what the fate would be when he made it. Therefore he studies us and lets ourselves work out the whole Fate thing.
My dear Grondy, my objection was NOT to science, but to the blind pursuit of materialism, to the detriment of the goal. As I mentioned, the math on which all the new technology is based was not new at all. Advances in science, if they are real advances, help in their own way to advance culture, which we want to advance. But I am certainly NOT going to get into the evolutionary argument now. That's a thread unto itself. It suffices to say Tolkien did not believe in it.
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All we are doing now is applying that same math to new things, because now we have some technical skills they did not have. Now we have microscopes that they didn't have, so we can see more of the cell, etc. But I think it takes more intelligence to discover something from scratch as they did than to stand on their shoulders as we are. We claim we are so much greater, that we have basically reinvented the wheel, cured disease, etc.

That's ridiculous. The only math the Greeks invented, was Euclidean math. They didn't invent algebra or any calculus. The Greeks didn't even have microscopes, Van Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope. But apart from that : why do you think the Greeks didn't have those microscopes ??? Because they didn't have the skills or wits to invent them. The ppl who had, came centuries after them.

Why do you think the Greeks didn't have our technical skills ? Because the ppl who made these technical skills possible - ppl like Galilei, Newton, Huyghens, Volta, Faraday, Rutherford, Bohr, etc etc - came after them, and those ppl indeed "discovered something from scratch", so that these skills would become possible. Even the Greeks didn't invent things from scratch, but took inspiration from the Egyptians, who themselves took inspiration from early Mesopotamian culture, etc etc.

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All of the advances you cite are in technology, and in the application of science--usally by technology--not in any real advance in knowledge. The math that is used in making computers and in making fusion reactors was invented in ancient Greece!

No, the Greeks didn't invent the necessary mathematical tools to solve partial differential equations, not to mention Boolean algebra. They only gave us Euclidean math, that's all. Besides, math isn't really the point here. Math is only a scientifical tool. It's not math that's used to make computers and reactors work : it are the laws of physics that do it. The Greeks didn't invent nuclear physics, really.

And for me, an advance in technology can only be made by an advance in knowledge. I think ppl nowadays know and understand nature more than the ancient Greeks, really. No offense, but i don't think you have a good understanding of the history of science.

P.S. : i'm sure you mean fission reacors ? Fusion reactors don't exist, unless you mean tokamaks. Maybe the Greeks will invent it some day, who knows?

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But aside from standardized testing, just the general knowledge required of students is less than it used to be 100 years ago. I have perused the old books of the Jesuits who used to run the schools that we now run here. One hundred years ago, boys of 10 or 12 were speaking Latin in class on a regular basis, translating with fluidity and in perfect idiom, and rendering English sentences and paragraphs into Latin faultlessly. Today if a boy or girl did such things he would be thought a genius!

That's one of the most ridiculous things i ever read on this site. Compare the amount and level of physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, etc. that students have to wade through with that of 100 years ago : there was certainly no higher level 100 years ago. Not to mention, where i live, 100 years ago kids didn't even learn about any science; as education was in hands of the Church, the only thing kids learnt was reading, writing, some artithmetics and the contents of the bible.

Of course, i don't know a thing about the American school system, and being a pessimist, together with seeing what President(s) get elected in the US, i'll believe you.

But why would learning to fluently speak a dead language be useful ? Not everybody is a Champollion. Maybe they should've taught ppl to speak a foreign language, instead.

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When mankind failed at Plan A, the Lord lead us to Plan B, and we failed at that, he had Plan C waiting in the wings.

That's not the way i see it. No matter what mankind will do, good old God/Allah/Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma/Quetzalqoatl/Horus/Zeus/Odin/Whatever will send the majority of mankind to hell for all eternity after the Apocalypse.

Lucky for us the Apocalypse comes after the sun leaves the Main Sequence in 4,5 billion years from now, so that instead of burning in hell, we will burn by sunlight. Of course, it is very likely that by then, mankind will already have left earth to find new planets to mess up (if the Vorgons or the Klingons won't stop us, that is).

And maybe we will meet God then. Everybody knows he lives in the centre of the galaxy, like depicted in that Star Trek movie, i forgot the title, but it's with Spock's brother.

And now back to topic pls, before someone causes this thread to be closed. Discussions about religion are not allowed, no ? Or do threads get deleted only depending on who participates in it ? Rolling Eyes Smilie
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P.S. : i'm sure you mean fission reacors ? Fusion reactors don't exist, unless you mean tokamaks. Maybe the Greeks will invent it some day, who knows?


No I really mean fusion reactor. It was announced last week that Europe, Russia and China have come together to fund a Ł50 billion prototype fusion reactor to be built in France. They have had some success at starting cold fusion on a very small scale, and are now investing in this full scale prototype. Obviously it is not an operational model, but they hope it will be generating electricity in the next ten years.

They say one bathfull of water and the amount of lithium from the average cellular phone will supply enough power for one person for their lifetime.
You are both wrong - and both right.

It IS a fusion reactor, yes, and yes, of the tokamak type.
It has absolutely nothing to do with cold fusion. Only two physicists in the world believe in cold fusion, or at least they still claim to.

Article in New Scientist

It is nice to see the US finally cooling down. For several years now they have blocked this project because of their refusal to build it in France. They insisted on Spain if it was to be built in Europe. No prizes for guessing why..
Thanks for that link, Grev. I was getting the reactor in France confused with something else I saw about cold fusion a few weeks ago. It did not go into much detail on the news when I saw it the other day, other than to mention Europe, Russia and China were involved. It's good to see that this seems to be a global effort of the kind seen in the film Contact. I just hope it is something they can crack before global warming becomes too much of a problem.

Anyway, back to thread.... What is this thread? How did we get to fusion reactors from Galadriel and the Istari?
It is appropriate to this thread on Galadriel and the Istari that we insist on what Tolkien believed and allowed to pass into his books. He did not believe in the magnificent promises of progress, in the advances of technology and mechanization, etc. This is very evident from what he has written in LOTR and elsewhere. It has been mentioned here by others than Galadriel and the wizards, particularly Gandalf, had been given their rings to help hold off the long retreat. I believe this is firmly based in LOTR and the other writings of Tolkien. It has also been mentioned that the knowledge passed down among elves and men was gradually corrupted, and despite all they could do things continued to decline. I agree that this is what Tolkien is showing. Do you suppose that he would just pull this them out of the atmosphere? He didn't do so with his other themes, so why should he with this? That is why I brought up the decline in education and knowledge.

Now, as has been said, there have been significant strides in various sciences that have become more fully developed over the centuries. I have never denied this. Iin fact, I stated more than once what Tolkien had said about doing what we are supposed to do with the time we have. But this sort of progress in various sciences does not mean that the general knowledge of mankind has increased. If this were true, even by modern standards, why do American students constantly rank behind most of the West in science and math? Europe has always been ahead of America in the standards of education, and so my comments have been aimed primarily with America in mind.

However, even with that understood, ALL education today is not what it was. The fact that many cannot understand the reasons for studying a so-called "dead language" speaks volumes. Latin is not studied because people speak it. It is studied so that the mind is disciplined, as it cannot be disciplined by almost any other method. Those who have never studied Latin in depth and who have never studied the philosophy behind teaching it will have no idea of what I am speaking. However, some educators have apparently rediscovered at least part of this truth, since there has been in recent years a resurgence of interest in Latin in many places. As far as math is concerned, it is true that the Greeks did not know some things that we now know. But we would know nothing if they had no done what they have done. "Only Euclidean" indeed! Euclid's theorems are the basis for all plane geometry, and if I am not mistaken, also for solid geometry. All algebra is a short cut to geometry, so the Greeks had that too. I am not a math major, so pardon me if I can't recall every detail. But in studying the origins of the liberal arts, I was taught that even calculus came from the Greeks. Since it is the next logical step after algebra/trig, I don't think that's much of a stretch. But apart from the obvious mathematical links in the chain, there is something that is too often overlooked. Euclidean geometry insists on a logical discipline of the mind--that certain steps must be taken to arrive at a certain conclusion. This is training the mind--especially the young mind--to think logically. As most students today never study formal logic, such a mental formation is greatly needed and almost universally neglected. Geometry is studied now only because it is a useful mathematical tool, as a bridge to the next course, etc.

Again, all the technological progress (microscopes, reactors, etc.) can be used for good. This I have already said. But it can and has been used for immense bad also. This is what Tolkien has said. He insists, and I do as well, that we not lose sight of our goal, which is something completely above and beyond what can be measured by science. It isn't contrary to science--don't get me wrong--but it is above it.

I imagine, based on my knowledge of Tolkien, that when Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, etc. met for long talks after the passing of the Third Age, they were wondering what would become of Mankind who would now be in charge of Middle Earth. I am quite sure they were worried, even though they had given Men, especially Aragorn, all the helps they could. Like Tolkien, who was far more knowlegeable than I, I worry too.
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I imagine, based on my knowledge of Tolkien, that when Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, etc. met for long talks after the passing of the Third Age, they were wondering what would become of Mankind who would now be in charge of Middle Earth. I am quite sure they were worried, even though they had given Men, especially Aragorn, all the helps they could. Like Tolkien, who was far more knowlegeable than I, I worry too.

They were rightly worried, as men would destroy their only home, just as we are doing right now and will continue to do. We are all destroying Mother Earth, every second of every day of our lives, and we hardly ever think about it. Aprčs nous le déluge, really.

Most of mankind has lost its way, as the only thing that matters is consuming and satisfy one's own needs, regardless of what it costs, and really, there's no turning back from that. We are all caught in a ridiculous system of being obliged to get hold of money so to be able to get what we need to still our urges.

Really, it's time for the Martians to come and wake us all up from our stay in purgatory.

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However, even with that understood, ALL education today is not what it was. The fact that many cannot understand the reasons for studying a so-called "dead language" speaks volumes. Latin is not studied because people speak it. It is studied so that the mind is disciplined, as it cannot be disciplined by almost any other method. Those who have never studied Latin in depth and who have never studied the philosophy behind teaching it will have no idea of what I am speaking. However, some educators have apparently rediscovered at least part of this truth, since there has been in recent years a resurgence of interest in Latin in many places. As far as math is concerned, it is true that the Greeks did not know some things that we now know.

I myself studied Latin for 4 years, and i believe it is a very good tool in order to study Roman languages, like French, Italian and Spanish. It is useful, but to fluently speak it i find a bit too much, if one doesn't want to specialize in ancient literature or anything.

As for the Greeks, it is without a doubt certain that there were a lot of bright spirits amongst them (understatement?) - Eratosthenes was even able to correct the perimeter of the Earth with very high accurateness. But the works of the Greeks weren't started from scratch, they continued the works from the Egyptians, who themselves took worked further from other ancient knowledge, and as such we can take it back to the very first homo sapiens who made spears of mammoth tusks.

Each time in history has its great thinkers and doers who have contributed to give us what we have now.

About education, i am still of the opinion that nowadays it's better than it used to be. 100 years ago, where i live, only the rich got proper education, whilst the rest only went to school until age 14-16, where they only learnt the very basics. At least now, every child gets a general forming until they have to choose for themselves what they want to do.

Of course, a discussion about the interest towards education is a different one.

I agree with Virumur in saying that Cirdan didn't really recognizse Gandalf . Also Gandalf was not said to be the greatest , he was the frailest of the Istari although the wisest.

 Allso , Gandalf was in Galadriel's reckoning the best leader for the white council , probably due to him being less rash than Saruman .