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Old 12-24-2003, 03:14 PM   #5
Candle of the Marshes
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Flyover Country
Posts: 780
Kalimac has just left Hobbiton.

Native intelligence doesn't necessarily preclude nastiness and infighting - just look at the graves of Academe if you want to see that demonstrated [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]. The Orcs are odd cases, anyway; they've certainly got brains, and cunning, and can speak a language (albeit the Black Speech, but still, it's a language). So I'd say their intelligence level is pretty decent, though I'm not sure I'd compare it to the Elves - we never see an example of an Orc who has anything remotely resembling Galadriel's abilities, for example.

I think the answer isn't that the Orcs are unintelligent, but that they're almost completely unable to control their own most basic instincts. I don't mean this in an off-colour way, but rather that their desires to kill, to dominate everyone else and each other, to live entirely in the short-term, are so strong in them that they have to work actively to keep them down. The leaders are the ones who manage to beat down this impulse, at least for a time, and so strategize their way upwards. Ugluk, for example, doesn't give into the temptation that 98% of his subordinates have, which is to lay into Merry and Pippin right now and despoil them - *despite* the fact that they know perfectly well what bad consequences there would be from Saruman for doing this. Grishnakh, of course, does give in. But the impression I get from the Orcs is that the vast majority of them are unable to think twenty minutes ahead. They fight because they enjoy it, they dominate because they enjoy it, and they use all their intelligence in developing these two skills.

Whether it's realistic for an entire race to share these characteristics and survive more than a few generations is another question, and that's not the issue here. It seems that when Melkor tortured the Elves, he seems to have concentrated on turning them into creatures who delighted in killing and domination. Good for his purposes, of course, but it also brought some unexpected drawbacks, like all that infighting. Just my $0.02.
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