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R.R.J Tolkien 08-09-2018 04:33 PM

Numbering the Maiar of Middle-Earth by the Ages
 
So I have been thinking and wondering. How many Maiar lived in middle- earth for each age. The third age at the time of the WOTR appears to have the five Istari, the balrog, and Sauron for a total of 7. Am I missing any? So how does that compare to the earlier ages. I am not looking for valar or maiar that reside outside of middle earth such as in valinor. But those like melian who lived for a time in ME.

Huinesoron 08-10-2018 03:14 AM

Veeeeery difficult to say. The greatest concentration was... well, obviously it was during the Spring of Arda, when the entire host of the Valar lived in Almaren in Middle-earth! After that, however many Maiar Melkor had under his dominion remained there until the Siege of Utumno, and some (Sauron, the Balrogs, presumably others) lingered much longer.

During the First Age, we have at least three named Maiar hanging out in Beleriand: Sauron, Melian, and Gothmog Lord of Balrogs. Durin's Bane was also present, and the Balrog killed by Glorfindel.

But what about Lungorthin, often poetically translated as the Balrog of White Flame? He's mentioned exactly once, in an early draft of the Silmarillion. Do you consider him to still exist, since he wasn't explicitly removed?

And how many balrogs were there, anyway? Tolkien seems to have settled on '3 or at the most 7', but which is it? If three, then we have the bizarre situation where two of the three were killed in Gondolin, leaving Durin's Bane all by itself.

Moving on from the balrogs... do Osse and Uinen count? They definitely hung out in the waters around Middle-earth, though not on land (not really their thing). How about the dragons? I'm pretty sure at one point Tolkien considered the possibility that they were mechanisms 'powered' by Maiar. How about the werewolves? The vampires - Thuringwethil was a shapeshifter, does that make her a Maia? What about the Great Eagles? Or Huan the Talking Dog? Heck, at one point I think Tolkien thought about designating certain orcs as Maiar!

Even worse - Ungoliant? Tolkien certainly had her as a Maia at one point. And if she is, then... Bombadil? The River-Woman, mother of Goldberry? Do the water-spirits under Ulmo who live in the rivers of Middle-earth still exist (as Maiar, since all the earlier 'spirits' ended up as Maiar in Tolkien's later versions)? Are they identical with the mermaids from Tolkien's early writings, and if so, does that mean the sylphs and sprites also still exist?

You see the problem. While we could certainly make lists of confirmed Maiar present in each Age after the rising of the Sun (1st: Sauron, Melian, and 3-7 balrogs; 2nd: Sauron, Durin's Bane, potentially the Blue Wizards if their arrival with Glorfindel in the Second Age is accepted; 3rd: Sauron, Durin's Bane, 5 Istari; 4th: Radagast, maybe the Blue Wizards), making a list of all the Maiar present requires a massive number of personal decisions about what you accept as canon.

hS

Mithadan 08-11-2018 10:05 AM

Adding to the list of "unconfirmed" Maiar, we have Bombadil, Goldberry, and possibly her mother (posted at the risk of causing an argument).

Morthoron 08-11-2018 12:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mithadan (Post 712300)
Adding to the list of "unconfirmed" Maiar, we have Bombadil, Goldberry, and possibly her mother (posted at the risk of causing an argument).

But not dear ol' daddy?

Huinesoron 08-11-2018 03:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Morthoron (Post 712301)
But not dear ol' daddy?

The only Maia we know of with a child, Melian, had her by an elf. So we'd be layering our assumptions thickly to make Goldberry a daughter of two Maiar.

So... can a half-Maia like Luthien, or hypothetically Goldberry, have children by a full Maia like hypothetical Bombadil? :D

hS

(PS: Did anyone mention Old Man Willow yet? If he's not a Huorn, he must be something...)

Morthoron 08-11-2018 05:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Huinesoron (Post 712302)
The only Maia we know of with a child, Melian, had her by an elf. So we'd be layering our assumptions thickly to make Goldberry a daughter of two Maiar.

So... can a half-Maia like Luthien, or hypothetically Goldberry, have children by a full Maia like hypothetical Bombadil? :D

hS

(PS: Did anyone mention Old Man Willow yet? If he's not a Huorn, he must be something...)

And can Huorns get huorny? :D

Andsigil 08-12-2018 06:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien (Post 712290)
So I have been thinking and wondering. How many Maiar lived in middle- earth for each age. The third age at the time of the WOTR appears to have the five Istari, the balrog, and Sauron for a total of 7. Am I missing any? So how does that compare to the earlier ages. I am not looking for valar or maiar that reside outside of middle earth such as in valinor. But those like melian who lived for a time in ME.

And by the end of the Third Age, that number was down to four, yes? Saruman. Sauron, and the Balrog all put to bed with the shovel; Gandalf left a few years into the Fourth Age.

Morthoron 08-12-2018 09:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andsigil (Post 712304)
And by the end of the Third Age, that number was down to four, yes? Saruman. Sauron, and the Balrog all put to bed with the shovel; Gandalf left a few years into the Fourth Age.

You forgot poor, unappreciated Radagast.

Andsigil 08-13-2018 03:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Morthoron (Post 712305)
You forgot poor, unappreciated Radagast.

There's no record of his fate. Same for the Blue Two.

Huinesoron 08-14-2018 07:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andsigil (Post 712310)
There's no record of his fate. Same for the Blue Two.

Which makes me wonder if there's more going on there. Tolkien does a pretty good job of cleaning up the loose ends after LotR is over, clearing the stage of immortals and powers to set up the dominion of Men... but then he goes and leaves a wizard we've actually met hanging around on the borders of Mirkwood.

I'm about three-quarters convinced that Radagast is meant to be a 'prehistoric version' of some mythological character from the Black Forest (much as Frodo's song about cats with fiddles is); the name of the wood fits, it's an area Tolkien would have come across (being Germanic), and he just stands out so prominently as a character who was made for A Purpose, but never actually does much in the books. This is even more obvious in The Hobbit, where Gandalf just casually mentions him to Beorn. "Yup, got this cousin, lives in these parts, no biggie."

The various wikis want me to look at a Slavic god of hospitality, which I suppose makes sense, but it seems a bit... random. If Tom Bombadil gets a genuine Tolkienian description as "the spirit of the vanishing Oxfordshire countryside" (which at least tells us his role in the story, if not his nature), then why does Radagast get left as a huge hanging thread?

hS

denethorthefirst 02-18-2019 04:40 AM

Tolkien never gave us a number regarding the Maiar, but I always imagined that there must be a lot of them, obviously a lot more than the Valar. Including Melkor there are 15 Valar. So how many "helpers" would a single Vala have? At least a few dozen I imagine, probably more, because the responsibilities and labours (during the Shaping of Arda) were just so enormous. So there must be at least over 1000, maybe even 3000 Maiar. That is just my head-canon. Of course I have no quotes to back that up, its just a number I pulled out of thin air.

In the early days, during the Shaping of Arda, most of them lived in Arda (Almaren), but after the Destruction of the Lamps almost all of them fled to Valinor and only the Umaiar remained in Middle-Earth. In biblical cosmology (during the War in Heaven) a third of all angels sided with Satan. Tolkien obviously drew a lot of inspiration from the bible, so I think its likely that the numbers would be comparable and at least a third of all the Maiar sided with Melkor during his rebellion. So the Umaiar numbered at least in the hundreds. Sauron and the Balrogs (all together 8 Umaia) were obviously very powerful and at the very top of Melkors power structure, but they probably made up maybe only 1% of all the Umaiar, like the the upper crust of the aristocracy in human societies. The majority of the Umaiar probably consisted of minor spirits and Boldog-like creatures that were maybe already completely incarnate by the time of the Awakening of the Elves. A lot of them probably "died" during the War of Powers and the later War of Wrath and were not able to re-incarnate.

By the time of the Second Age most of the (incarnate) Umaiar were probably "dead" (for all intents and purposes). If even a being as powerful as a Balrog was so afraid that he hid himself away for thousands of years, how afraid must the other surviving Umaiar have been? Again, just my head-canon, but I guess that maybe at best only a few dozen of them survived and I do not think that a lot of them served under Sauron in the Second Age. At least not a single Balrog did. Maybe Sauron pressed some of the surviving Boldogs (and other weaker incarnated Umaia) into his service or used them for breeding.

In the Third Age you obviously have the five Istari, Durins Bane and Sauron. Those are the only mentioned Maiar. Again, just my head-canon, but because I believe their number was so large in the beginning, I guess that there must have been more survivors who simply hid themselves away and/or simply showed no interest in the War and/or were not living in the West (after all, Arda is a very big place), maybe even some good natured Maiar. Radagast or Bombadil-like figures, who rejected the bliss of Valinor and favored Middle-Earth. After all, if two of the Maiar (Melian and Radagast) fell in love with Middle-Earth and its creatures, then there must be more. Melians and Radagasts actions donīt strike me as that excentric or unbelievable. If two Maia harbored feelings like that towards Middle-Earth then there must have been more who felt the same and stayed.

William Cloud Hicklin 03-03-2019 05:49 PM

Keep in mind that aside from the Istari, and fallen Maiar who fell victim to Villain Shape-Lock, Maiar were in fact incorporeal spirits, and their physical bodies simply optional wardrobe. In other words, any of these hypothetical Maiar could simply have flitted back to Valinor whenever they liked.


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