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Old 05-29-2006, 05:57 PM   #1
Texadan
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Why did Gandalf have a ring?

This may have been asked before. I did not go through all 78 pages of topics but I did browse back 11 pages and didn't see it.

I only fairly recently discovered that Gandalf was Maia. When I thought him a wizard but a man I wondered why he was given Narya and I think the question still stands. The Three were made by and for elves. That is repeated so often that it is beyond dispute. But Gandalf wasn't an elf. Why was he offered it? And why, as a Maia, did he accept it?
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Old 05-29-2006, 08:01 PM   #2
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Cirdan was the original bearer of Narya. But when Gandalf came over from the West, Cirdan had better forsight than any one else on Middle-earth. He foresaw that Gandalf would (of the other wizards sent) stay true to his task and he would be in need of Narya:
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...For Cirdan 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 the hearts in a world that grows chil. But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell here by the grey shores until the last ship sails. I will await you."~Appendix B
Cirdan saw that Gandalf could use Narya, and since he was going to stay the rest of the time in his dwelling, The Grey Havens, he would not need the Ring. Being the nice elf, he gave it to someone who could use it.

And a very belated welcome to the downs.
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Old 05-29-2006, 09:44 PM   #3
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So the ring was given first to an elf. That's better. And what a marvelous, built-in way to hide it. Gandalf simply tells the story truthfully and leaves out the addendum that one of the elves gave his ring away. Anyone hunting the rings who thinks like me wouldn't consider looking to Gandalf for a ring.

Cirdan seems an odd choice for the ring of fire.

Thanks for the answer and the welcome.
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Old 05-29-2006, 11:43 PM   #4
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Texadan do not underestimate Cirdan, he was a mighty Lord and wise, one of the eldest elves in Middle-earth. He was on the westward march from Cuivienen, and had fought many more battles than most alive in The Third Age, he is always thought of as just a boat-builder, quite wrongly.
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:31 AM   #5
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I agree with narfforc. Círdan is often seen as a simple boat-builder and Guard of the Havens. But one time I analysed Círdan's behaviour in the First Age and came to the conclusion, that all his actions he took were in a very helping or diplomatic way.

He is a very helpingful character and never took some actions for himself or for his reputation. Also he don't care of the intern quarrels of the Elves of Beleriand. He seems to be the 'good soul'.
Under these points, we don't have to wonder, that Círdan gave the Ring away. He saw, that the Ring is elsewhere better to use. In his function of the Guardian of the Haven, there was little use for the Ring. So not thinking only of himself, he gave it to Gandalf, because he saw, that the Ring would be used in a good way by Gandalf.

In my opinion, Gandalf was the right choice under the Istari (not considering the fact, that I know, that all others have failed) to get the Ring. His nature was 'prepared for the Ring', because the Ring enhanced his good abilities to bring delight and courage to the hearts of the free peoples.
And I am sure, that Círdan knows of the special abilities of the Ring and that these abilities goes well with the abilities of Gandalf.
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Old 05-30-2006, 03:35 AM   #6
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Gandalf received the Ring because he was deemed an appropriate keeper, and possible more advantagous for the cause of the Istari in using it.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:22 PM   #7
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narfforc, A_Brandybuck - Interesting information about Cirdan. Thanks. But when I spoke of Narya being an odd choice for him I was thinking more that he'd be more partial to water than fire and Nenya might be a more logical choice for him. But then, I can't really see Galadriel with Narya, either. But, judging by the quote above, "with it you may rekindle the hearts in a world that grows chill" I may be taking the references to the elements too literally, a tendency I have. It may be the fire of Narya was a spiritual fire and Gandalf's ability with flame was of his own powers apart from, and only complemented by, Narya. ("Only" being a relative term.)

Rod the Red - Yes, I see that. But what I was failing to realize was that he was the second possessor of the ring, not the first. He didn't make sense as the first possessor.
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Old 06-03-2006, 10:40 PM   #8
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Cirdan and Narya

In Unfinished Tales, there is a slightly different version of Cirdán giving Narya to Gandalf. Cirdán says "It was entrusted to me only to keep secret, and here upon the West-shores it is idle..." So I don't really think that Cirdán was ever intended to be the user of the Red ring, but Celebrimbor, knowing that Sauron would attack him to try to obtain the Three Rings, sent the Ring to Cirdán to keep it out of Sauron's hands.

Here's what I think Celebrimbor originally intended to happen when he made the three Rings.

-Vilya goes to Gil-Galad. He is the high king of the Noldor, and Vilya is the most powerful ring. Also, "blue" and "air" are associated with Manwë and the Vanyar. Gil-Galad is in the direct line of succession from Fingolfin, who's mother is Vanya.

-Nenya goes to Galadriel. She is of the House of Finarfin; her mother is Teleri. "Water" is associated with the Teleri and Ulmo.

-Narya was intended to be kept by Celebrimbor himself. "Fire" was associated with Aulë and the Noldor. Celbrimbor was the grandson of Fëanor "spirit of fire" and the Fëanoreans were the only purely Noldorin descendents of Finwë.

After Eregion was attacked and Celebrimbor slain by Sauron, there was no one left of the House of Fëanor (as far as we know) to use it. So Círdan just kept it without ever using it, until Gandalf showed up.

Among the Istari, Saruman was chosen by Aulë, and Gandalf, by Manwë. So, Saruman probably reasoned to himself, if Narya was in need of someone to put it to good use, it should be him!
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Old 06-04-2006, 12:00 AM   #9
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Very logical to assume that Celebrimbor was originally supposed to be the bearer of Narya. I agree that Cirdan likely had little use for it in his isolated dwelling on the Havens.

Here's a question that I, who have read all the books many times, still have. Gandalf, in his immortal confrontation with the Balrog, calls himself "a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor." I believe that all of the wizards were called as servants of the Secret Fire, or the Flame Imperishable, correct? Is this synomymous with the Flame of Anor? If not, why not, and could Narya be the Flame of Anor? It seems a rather presumptive term to give to a Ring, even a great Ring of Power.

I humbly bow to the wisdom of the masters on this issue.

And, I must also draw attention to myself by noting that this is my 200th post. I have been a member of the Downs for quite a while now, but have only posted on occasion. Still, it is wonderful to be a member, and to be able to participate in such intellectually stimulating Tolkien-based discussions as this one.
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Old 06-04-2006, 06:38 AM   #10
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The Flame Imperishable/Secret fire was placed in Arda at the creation of world. It is believed by some that the Ainur could use this Secret Fire in actions in accord with the design created in the Music.

The reference to Anor/The Sun I believe is in keeping with the fight of Light vs Darkness, setting The Light of The Two Trees against The Darkness of Udun/Hell that was found in Utumno. The Light that originated in The West in opposition to the Dark that dwelt in The Un-west
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:08 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by narfforc
The Flame Imperishable/Secret fire was placed in Arda at the creation of world. It is believed by some that the Ainur could use this Secret Fire in actions in accord with the design created in the Music.
While there's certainly no doubt that the Secret Fire was a reference to the Flame Imperishable, could Gandalf in his infinite wit, have also been cleverly referring to his secret possession of the ring of fire?
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Old 06-04-2006, 11:02 AM   #12
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So Círdan just kept it without ever using it, until Gandalf showed up.~Angry Hill Troll
I wouldn't say Cirdan never used it. Cirdan did his fair share of leading armies in the wars against Morgoth, and then later on helping the Dunedain against Angmar. Now, Cirdan did reach a point where he decided to remain in the Grey Havens and stay there. But, he was very active in the previous wars, so I doubt he never used his ring.
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Old 06-04-2006, 01:25 PM   #13
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Boromir, do you imply that Cirdan used the ring in the war against the armies of Melkor? The ring was forged in the second age.
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Old 06-04-2006, 02:07 PM   #14
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I do not think that the Ring of Fire was used in the way you may be suggesting Sardy, If you look at what Cirdan says when giving Gandalf the Ring shows a different aspect of it's qualities: .......it should be in nobler hands than mine, that may wield it for the kindling of all hearts to courage (UT) or .....rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill (Sil). There is no mention of Narya being able to shoot out fire as many think, and Gandalf's reference to wielding the Flame of Anor has nothing to do with Narya, Anor refers to the Sun, and the Rings were not created to destroy, and I doubt at the insance Gandalf utters those words, it would scare the Balrog if Gandalf meant flames, it was already a spirit of Fire. Some have tried linking the Rings to the elements, therefore the Narya/Sun combination, but that would mean Four Rings, where is the Brown Ring of Dirt, why only Water, Air and Fire?. If we follow the Ring of Fire/Fireball Wielder theory then what do Nenya and Vilya shoot out, nothing is the answer. The Rings work on a more spiritual level.

P.S I am not saying that you are one of the Fireball Wielder theorists Sardy, I just wanted to make a statement that some believe Narya made Gandalf into some kind of Human Torch.......................Flame On!

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Old 06-04-2006, 02:36 PM   #15
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Boromir, do you imply that Cirdan used the ring in the war against the armies of Melkor? The ring was forged in the second age.
I'm well aware of when the Rings were made. I was pointing out that Cirdan had not simply stayed in the Havens doing nothing. He was someone, in the past who had led armies and fought in wars, therefor probably would have used Narya. But when Gandalf came he had no desire to leave the Grey Havens, so he gave it to someone that could use it. If you think I was implying anything different than that, sorry but I wasn't. Thanks for being nit-picky though, because I see someone could get that impression.
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Old 06-04-2006, 04:20 PM   #16
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The Three Rings were never supposed to be wappens of war. And if they had been, Gandalf would not have been a good choice to give such a wappen to, since the Istari were not supposed to be leader in war action.

About Celebrimbor: He did not make the Rings to be used for anybody else but himself. Thus as long as Sauron had not finished his Ring he wore them all three and may be even more Rings of power as he surely had been the maker of some of the Seven and the Nine. To give the Rings away was a plan he made together in a meeting with Galadriel just before the attack of Sauron on Eriador.

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Old 06-04-2006, 04:29 PM   #17
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A few thoughts...

Aristotle's elements vs. Tolkien's elements

Tolkien tends to follow the Aristotelian concept of "elements" but with one difference: "fire" and "earth" are combined into one.

Examples are that Aulë is both the Vala responsible for creating the physical structure of the Earth, and also a smith (who uses fire). The Silmaril that Maédhros took ended up "in the fires of the earth". And the "secret Fire burns at the heart of the world".

Did Círdan use Narya?

He could only have used it during the Third Age, before Gandalf showed up. Once Sauron made the One Ring, about 10 years after Celebrimbor made the Three, the elves no longer used the Three for the remainder of the Second Age, because doing so would have revealed their locations to Sauron. Círdan seems to have given Narya to Gandalf as soon as he arrived, around TA 1000 or so. The first millenium of the Third Age was pretty peaceful, so there might not have been that pressing a need to use Narya. The wars with Angmar occured after TA 1200, so at that time, Círdan no longer had the ring.

In the UT version, Círdan explicitly says that Narya is idle, so if in a different version of the story Círdan did use the ring, Tolkien would have to have changed his mind (well, that did happen at other times).

I would say that it's very unlikely that Círdan used Narya, although the wording of the story of Círdan giving it to Galdalf in LOTR doesn't explicitly say so.
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Old 06-04-2006, 11:48 PM   #18
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I think the reason Cirdan still had the Ring was because he was at The Grey Havens, if for any reason the Elves had to escape, this would be the last line of resistance, Narya would then come into force as a kindler of courage. When Gandalf turned up Cirdan foresaw that it would be needed elswhere. In HoME 12 we are told this:

After receiving a vision of a white boat, shining in the air above him, sailing west

As we now perceive, this was a foretelling of the ship which after apprenticeship to Cirdan, and ever with his advice and help, Earendil built, and in which at last he reached the shores of Valinor. From that night onwards Cirdan received foresight touching all matters of importance, beyond the measure of all other Elves upon Middle-earth.
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Old 06-05-2006, 09:17 AM   #19
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Tolkien

My take on the subject of the Ring in connection to Imperishable flame is in agreement to narfforc's.

1. The Flame Imperishable is with Iluvatar- it is the divine spark through which and by which he creates:

"'He {Melkor} had often gone into the void places seeking the Imperisahble Flame: for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it semed to him taht Iluvatar took no thought of the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Iluvatar." The Silmarillion

2. The Flame Imperishable is also known as the Secret Fire.

3. Gandalf is a servant of the Secret Fire- a servant of Iluvatar serving light.

4. Anor means 'sun' in Sindarin and sun equals light. Gandalf is making a reinforcing statement ' wielder of the flame of Anor' - and saying that he is a servant of Iluvatar and wields the flame of light.

5. The light - which is creative because it comes from Iluvatar combats the dark which is destructive and comes from Morgoth and his succesors. Gandalf represents light and creation in this battle- the flame of Anor- the fire of creation- which contrast with the Balrog- the flame of Udun (Udun was the first stronghold of Morgoth) the fire of destruction.
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Old 06-05-2006, 12:40 PM   #20
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An excellent argument Angry Hill Troll. To an extent I think you are right, obviously I did not consider those factors. For we are told this:
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But Sauron could not discover them, for they were given into the hands of the Wise, who concealed them and never again used them openly while Sauron kept the Ruling Ring.~The Silmarillion; Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
So while Sauron had the Ring, they never used the Rings openly. Now what does "openly" mean. Because we know Galadriel has hidden her ring, for in Lothlorien Sam can not see it on her finger. But does that mean that they still did not use them? I think it's likely that Cirdan had used Narya because of this:
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Of the Three Rings the Elves had preserved unsullied no open word was ever spoken among the Wise, and few even of the Eldar knew where they were bestowed. Yet after the fall of Sauron their power was ever at work, and where they abode there mirth also dwelt and all things were unstained by the griefs of time.~ibid
So the Rings were being used after Sauron's downfall.

Now I may have been wrong to think that Cirdan could have used the Ring to "rekindle people's hearts," because as you say there is a limitted amount of time to do this. Assuming Cirdan gave the Ring as soon as Gandalf arrived (which that's what it seems to me) he would not have had it in the wars against Angmar. But the question is what does "openly" mean while Sauron still had the One Ring in the second age? Does that mean that they kept it on the "down-low" and hid them, yet still were able to use them? Or does that mean they couldn't use them at all? For Cirdan was present in the Last Alliance, could he have used it again? I don't know, it's up to debate now. But, I think it's highly likely that Cirdan did use the One Ring AFTER Sauron lost the One Ring, whether he used it before, looks to be up to debate.

A side note that I find rather interesting, and how ironic this is. Tolkien's death was 1973, 9 Rings of men, 7 dwarven rings, 3 elven rings, the 1 ring...hmmm, how funny some stuff seems to work out. I'm sure a lot of you noticed this before, but I just thought about it recently.
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Old 06-10-2006, 10:01 PM   #21
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Boromir, I still think it's more likely than not that Círdan didn't use Narya, but you've convinced me it's possible that he might have.

I guess it's one of those things we'll never really be 100% sure of.

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