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Thread: Gandalf and Minas Tirith

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I just came up with an interesting question. At least, I find it interesting.
In other threads on PT it was mentioned that Gandalf only wielded his powers in extreme emergencies.
Now I was reading in LOTR the conversation Faramir has with Frodo when they walk to their hiding place. They talk about Gandalf, how he used to visit Minas Tirith and ask them about Isildur etc. Faramir mentions the treasure they have. This treasure is books and notes. To me this treasure seems a big deal.
Then there was this one line that struck me (I read it in dutch, but I will try to do my best to translate it in English for you): "He received permission from Denethor, how I do not know, to see the secrets of our treasuries..."

My question is: did he get this permission with the use of his powers, his wisdom, or something else. To me, like I said, these secrets look like some big deal that they wouldn't give away to the first visitor. How did Gandalf achieve this permission to look into these secrets?

Good question Deathmc. This is just my theory, but I think Gandalf earned the respect of Denethor which was repaid by allowing him priviledges within the white city. Denethor was a man of quality, he knew much of the history of Gondor as he was the city's Steward. I know the movies portray him as rather insane, but that was at the end of his days and after his despair grew from what he viewed in the palintir (the perceived, eventual fall of Gondor). Denethor came from a strong and proud bloodline and I'm sure he was an excellent Steward at the height of his day. He probably learned much from Gandalf about the history of his country, although he seemed to resent Gandalf's favor toward Faramir. It's my opinion that Denethor respected Gandalf enough to let him search through the ancient scrolls hidden in Gondor's treasury. I believe he knew Gandalf was much older and wiser than any mortal man. Whether he knew Gandalf was a maiar, I'm not sure. It wouldn't surprise me to know that Denethor probably enjoyed Gandalf's visits on most occasions. It would be a chance for Denethor to learn about the happenings of the elves and other peoples that Gandalf had visited, and I think Denethor probably valued this insight above his own ego. Just some thoughts, Deathmc.
In the Council of Elrond, Gandalf refers to his visit to Minis Tirith and the records held there. Saurman had often been a guest of the Lords of the City but Gandalf says about his own visit

Less welcome did the Lord Denethor show me then than of old, and grudgingly he permitted me to search among his hoarded scrolls and books.

From what Denethor then said to Gandalf I think that Denethor did not realise that Gandalf was as wise as Saruman especially in reading ancient lore and text and also Denethor himself was unable to understand the ancient scrolls etc, if indeed he even knew they existed.

But unless you have more skill even than Saruman, who has studied here long, you will find naught that is not well known to me, who am master of the lore of this City.

Gandalf then says

And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men. And Boromir, there lies in Minas Titith still, unread, I guess, by any save Saruman and myself since the kings failed, a scroll that Isildur made himself.

I agree that Denethor may well have granted Gandalf access to the 'treasure' thinking to learn from him anything else that came to light but also it is possible that Denethor was somewhat arrogant in thinking he knew all there was worth knowing about the ancient scripts and that Gandalf would find nothing more there. Obviously Saruman did not share all his knowledge with Denethor so Denethor did know of the existence of Isildur's scroll.

I can find no other reference to why Denethor allowed Gandalf access to the scrolls either in LOTR, UT or Letters. I call upon Vir to double check if he will.

Something else that I hadn't quite realised before until I reread The Council of Elrond (and it may be off topic for this thread) but Faramir was the first of the brothers to have the dream about the Sword that was broken and then Boromir also had the dream but it was Faramir who wanted to set out to find Imladris. Boromir took the journey upon himself because of the dangers and Denethor was not eager or happy to give him leave to go. It may be that Denethor did not fully grasp the nature of their dream or what it meant or if he did know he did not share that knowledge with his sons. But he did eventually grant leave to Boromir to set out on the journey
Whether he knew Gandalf was a maiar, I'm not sure.

Just wanted to clarify for the record that Denethor definitely did not know that Gandalf was a Maia. Cirdan (first), Galadriel, and Elrond were the only ones who had any kind of clue as to where Gandalf came from, what he was really, and why he had been sent to ME.

but also it is possible that Denethor was somewhat arrogant in thinking he knew all there was worth knowing about the ancient scripts and that Gandalf would find nothing more there.

That’s somewhat more in line with how I personally see it Vee. Elf Smilie
i know that gandalf was one of the maiar.... but whose? it is said that sauron was one of aule's (UT) and there is mention of who each of the other maia worked with vala.... but who was olorin with??? i've searched and can't find the answer.
In UT there is a section about the Istari. In this there is a note written by Christopher refering to a rough table JRR made in which Olorin was linked to Manwe and Varda. However, it also says that Olorin dwelt in Lorien and that he was "counsellor" to Irmo. In the Silmarillion it says Olorin dwelt in Lorien but that he often visited the house of Nienna from whom he learned pity and patience.

Personally I feel Olorin perhaps did not have a specific "master", but that he travelled among the Valar learning from each of them. If you look at Gandalf's behaviour in Middle Earth, he is much the same there. Whereas Saruman and Radagast eventually settled, spending most of their time in Middle Earth in there respective abodes, Gandalf had nowhere he could call his home.