Well technically his argument is irrelevant (no offense) because Saruman was a maiar as well. However the question is kind of unfair since Saruman was originally sent as the leader of the Istari, so theoretically he would be more "powerful." Saruman the White would defeat Gandalf the Grey, as he did in Orthanc. However Gandalf the White would probably defeat Saruman the White because he was sent back to replace Saruman who had become corrupt, so I'm sure the Valar who created the Istari would want to make sure he was capable of doing so.
Saruman was White, but after that time of corruption, he was 'Of Many Colours', probably because of greed and want of power, including his lust for knowledge, hence his title of 'Many', to prove him powerful from all. His corruption was from Sauron, but what Gandalf did have was Narya, which was given him by Círdan for help in contesting the will of Sauron.
When Gandalf returned, it seemed like the proper order of the Istar and The White Council, as I seem to remember that a Vala, suggested that he become the Leader of the Istar for his wisdom and knowledge, but Saruman was given the title and power when they entered Middle Earth in the Third Age era. Galadriel wanted Gandalf to become the Leader of the White Council but Saruman was given again the title of Leader. I would think that two White Wizards could co-exist if a joint Leadership was established, as there were two Blue Wizards. Gandalf as the traveller and Saruman as the lore master gaining experience as Leaders separately.
With Gandalf in full knowledge and power, including him being White as he should have been, I would choose Gandalf being the victor over Saruman, if Saruman was White also, even without corruption. I find that the Vala would have of course made the ones lower than the Leader less powerful to prevent mutiny within the Council for Leadership, which would make Gandalf as the Grey seem less powerful, but as for what Gandalf should have been, Gandalf would be very much more the victor.
@ Eru's second post,
I'm not sure if that was directed towards me or not. I know it would be impossible, but that's why I said the question was unfair. I do agree with Loss though that, assuming no corruption had happened and both were equally powerful, Gandalf the White would win, simply from a broader knowledge of the outside world. Saruman used the palantir to learn what was going on, while Gandalf actually travelled to-and-fro. He made connections and read the actual manuscripts of past events, whereas Saruman generally just picked up knowledge from others. (Still assuming theres no corruption) That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just to me, it seems like that experience and first-hand knowledge of the world would give Gandalf an advantage.
Again though, it's a very tough question since Tolkien himself explicitly said he avoids the use of conventional "magic" and whenever the word "power" is mentioned in his books, it generally represents evil. So the two White wizards facing eachother are technically just as "powerful" as one another, the advantage would go to whichever better understands the laws of Middle-earth.
@Balrog R us- Well i kind of agree with you that Gandalf the white would've won over Saruman the white. But the point i make is that had Istari not been corrupted then Saruman would've been the white wizard and Gandalf would've remained grey thus Saruman would have been stronger than him(Not that they'll have a fight to prove my point).
@Loss- I don't think that two white wizards would co-exist cause the last thing the Valar would want is a fight between the leader of Istari. As far as the blue wizards are concerned they were most likely corrupted or on some secret mission by Orome. Also Alatar chose pallando as his companion so i think the blue wizards could co-exist whereas Saruman was already proud and wanted to go alone to middle earth. It was only when Yavanna pleaded that he decided to take Radagast with him. So i think there would've been no chance that Saruman would've willingly shared power with Gandalf.
Well then your question was already answered in The Fellowship of the Ring when Saruman defeats and imprisons Gandalf in Orthanc. The "Istari" were not corrupted, only Saruman. However, what I was referring to with the whole "connections thing" is that even though he was imprisoned, Gandalf was able to use his frienship with the eagles to escape. So it's a classic "hero imprisoned by evil villain" scenario where the villain was strong enough to capture the hero, yet the hero still manages to escape...who is greater is really at your own discretion.
Again, not trying to come off as a dick or anything, but you're kind of contradicting yourself here my friend. The question now is if Gandalf HADN'T died in Moria, would he still become more powerful? Or did he still die in Moria and come back as Gandalf the Grey again? So the whole thing is really kind of misleading. There is no definitive answer since there isn't much about the Istari at all. Basic facts are Saruman was the leader because he was the most "wise," then became corrupt, then Gandalf died, and was brought back to replace him as the new white wizard, making him more "powerful" than he was before. And again, power is a really vague word in the world of Tolkien, as it has many possible connotations.
So I guess you should specify which "color" of wizard/timeframe you are comparing.
When the Istari were being chosen Curumo was picked first by Aule, and came to Middle Earth first as Saruman. Alatar was chosen as second by Orome. Manwe then asked Olorin (Gandalf) to join them. Olorin, however, stated he was too weak for the task and that he feared Sauron. Manwe told him that was even more reason why he should go, and commanded him to do so as the third. At that point Varda looked up and stated, "not as the third", which Curumo always remembered.
To me, this text indicates that Curumo and Alatar were both maybe more powerful than Olorin, but that Manwe recognised something within Olorin's spirit that would help him prevail through the long tasks ahead. None of the Istari could hope to defeat Sauron in a one to one fight. Indeed, that was not their purpose. They were being sent to assist and guide the free peoples of Middle Earth, not to fight themselves directly. That is why they were given the guises of old men, so they could better understand the limitations of mortals and in turn be trusted by them.
In terms of "power", Saruman the White demonstrated that he could defeat Gandalf the Grey, as he did at Orthanc. However, what did that strength enable Saruman to achieve? It gave him an arrogance that he could defeat Sauron alone, and through the battle of wills with Sauron through the Palantir he was defeated and became corrupted. Gandalf, however, fearing Sauron from the beginning and doubting his own strengths knew he could not defeat Sauron alone and never attempted to try (although mysteriously when he is talking to Aragorn as Gandalf the White, he does say something like he was not sure whether he could yet match the power of Sauron. That single statement always made me feel that Gandalf the White was almost on par with Sauron).
It does not surprise me that Saruman failed. No disrespect to Aule, his master, but both of his servants (Sauron and Saruman) became corrupted by material items. Sauron put most of his strength into the Ring of Power, while Saruman spent a great deal of time researching the same lore, either to find the One Ring or to make his own. This short sightedness was also apparent in Aule, who impatiently created the Dwarves rather than waiting for Eru's children to be born. Olorin, however, was chosen by Manwe for different qualities, and these were also recognised by Varda who saw his wisdom.
Gandalf the White demonstrated that he could defeat Saruman the many coloured. By then Saruman was corrupted and probably mentally weakened by Sauron's lies. In my opinion, however, even had Saruman not been corrupted, Gandalf the White would still have been able to defeat him (not that he would have needed to under those circumstances). The reason I say this, is that in my opinion Gandalf the White was not sent back to Middle Earth as an Istari (with their weakenesses of the flesh). I believe he was sent back as Olorin the Maiar, in order to complete the task he had tirelessly strived to achieve for all those years. As such Gandalf the White would have been far more powerful than any of the Istari had ever been, because he did not have the same limitations placed upon his powers that the Istari had been encumbered with.
^^I pretty much agree 300% with everything you said except that he wasn't sent as an Istari. I see your logic, and though I find it intriguing, I always felt like the Istari represented another classic storyline of the group of heroes, in which the leader becomes corrupted. Also I wouldn't necessarily say Saruman and Alatar were "chosen" first, as they were simply the first two to volunteer, and then Olorin WAS sought by Manwe. From what I gather, you imply more that at least some of the Valar were expecting Saruman to be corrupted eventually and thus singled out Gandalf as a "when the time comes," whereas I feel like the Valar made yet ANOTHER mistake in judgement (as I'm sure you know it's far from the first) and genuinely wanted to help the free peoples by sending aid...unfortunately the aid became very powerful/greedy/short sighted/corrupted by the palantir and switched sides. To compensate, they "promoted" Olorin to the top and this gave him the strength needed to fight. Is it so far fetched that the Valar intended Gandalf to fight/kill/die from the balrog in order to bring him back? I don't see why not...
I'm not ENTIRELY discounting your theory, as it does fit and sounds more than reasonable, I just feel like the Valar are definitely not perfect but have the best intentions and thought this was the right thing to do. It's also interesting what you said about Aule being short-sighted, which I definitely agree with, which sort of reinforces my point in that he simply didn't expect it to happen, which played a role in the collective consensus of sending of the Istari; granted, they were fully aware of the possibility it could happen to any of the Istari, but they didn't think it would. It is possible that the Valar didn't fully know what would happen when sending over the Istari also, as they were warned it would diminish every talent they had by entering the mortal world. And it turned out something went wrong and it was dealt with accordingly.
Otherwise everything you said sounds about right and I would absolutely love to see this duel take place. So epic.
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