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Old 07-23-2006, 12:04 AM   #1
Kuruharan
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Boots Arcane Topic Warning: Part the Third

What was the nature of Dwarves that fell into evil? In what way were they evil?

It is indisputable that Tolkien said some of them did. These references range from the simple to the relatively complex and informative (or not so informative, depending on your perspective).

On the simple end we have…

Quote:
…in some parts wicked dwarves had even made alliances with [goblins].
-Over Hill and Under Hill
and

Quote:
Of the Dwarves few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron.
-Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
...clearly implying that some did fight for Sauron.

There is also note 28 in Of Dwarves and Men, referring to the suspicion that early tribes of Men held of the Longbeards…

Quote:
For they had met some far to the East who were of evil mind. [This was a later penciled note. On the previous page of the typescript my father wrote at the same time, without indication of its reference to the text but perhaps arising from the mention (p. 301) of the awakening of the eastern kindreds of the Dwarves: “Alas, it seems probable that (as Men did later) the Dwarves of the far eastern mansions (and some of the nearer ones?) came under the Shadow of Morgoth and turned to evil.”]
This passage indicates that this corruption of the Blacklocks and Stonefoots (and potentially of the Ironfists and Stiffbeards) must have happened fairly soon after those Houses left Khazad-dum and returned to the places where their Fathers awakened.

Clearly something happened to at least some of the Dwarves. However, the nature of…whatever this was…is rather ambiguous.

We have a simple statement from Tolkien that…

Quote:
[Dwarves] are not naturally evil, not necessarily hostile
-Letter 156
…so there is nothing inherently evil about Dwarves. Something must have corrupted them. Obviously, this would be the influence of Melkor. The timeline for this is a bit…difficult and it is not my intention to explore that here (at least in this post). However, the ambiguous aspect of this Dwarven descent into evil is that these evil Dwarves apparently still had normal, peaceful, and even cooperative contact with their non-evil kin in the West.

Quote:
Though these four points [ancestral halls of the Seven Houses] were far sundered the Dwarves of different kindreds were in communication, and in the early ages often held assemblies of delegates at Mount Gundabad. In times of great need even the most distant would send help to any of their people; as was the case in the great War against the Orks (Third Age 2793 to 2799).
-Of Dwarves and Men
and

Quote:
Durin’s Folk gathered all their host, and they were joined by great forces sent from the Houses of other Fathers; for this dishonour to the heir of the Eldest of their race filled them with wrath.
-Durin’s Folk, Appendix A
and

Quote:
He is an enemy quite beyond the powers of all the dwarves put together, if they could all be collected again from the four corners of the world.
-An Unexpected Party (emphasis mine)
So these good and evil dwarves could and did work together…ironically enough at least once to fight against evil creatures that were the primary servants of someone who at least had some influence over some of them. That the evil dwarves would fight orcs is not itself surprising as Tolkien never depicted cooperation as being one of the evil side’s strong points. However, the motivation of the evil Dwarves to fight is interesting. They fought out of a sense of shame and dishonor and to help their kin. These are not impulses one tends to associate with evil creatures.

Also, note that the great conclaves of the Dwarves that took place at Mount Gundabad happened in the early ages at approximately the same time that early Men were having problems with evil Dwarves in the East. Did the good Dwarves not know what had happened, did the evil Dwarves lie to them, or did the good Dwarves not really care that much?

Ah-ha! you say. There is this quote…

Quote:
A warlike race of old were all the Naugrim, and they would fight fiercely against whomsoever aggrieved them: servants of Melkor, or Eldar, or Avari, or wild beasts, or not seldom their own kin, Dwarves of other mansions and lordships.
-Of the Sindar (emphasis mine)
…perhaps the good Dwarves and the evil Dwarves didn’t get along too well after all. However, warfare amongst the Dwarven Houses after the very early period when they were all together would have been, in many ways, a rather impractical affair. The early stage warfare that may or may not have taken place when all Seven Houses were together in the Misty Mountains would have been before the Eastern Houses fell into evil. After Dwarven civilization split up and went its separate ways it would have been difficult (to put it mildly) for the “good” Western Houses to go fight the “evil” Eastern Houses. First of all, just getting there would have been almost impossibly difficult. Then after they got there, what were they supposed to do except just burn and kill everything in sight (which would not have been very easy anyway) and then turn around and leave? It just does not seem very practical or useful. I don’t think that we can say that one Dwarf House fought another because they thought their opponent was “good” or “evil” with one exception…the War of the Last Alliance. Tolkien said that Dwarves fought there for Sauron and that the Longbeards fought for the Last Alliance. The extent of participation for both groups is cloudy at best. The reason why the Longbeards fought was basically because they were “good,” although by this point they had plenty of reason to want Sauron gone for purely practical reasons as well. Why the “evil” Dwarves fought is actually not as clear. “It is because they were evil,” is the obvious answer, but I think that is only a partial explanation. Tolkien repeatedly described Dwarves as being resistant to any form of outside domination. Indeed, their resistance to domination is the reason Sauron hated them in general and the Longbeards in particular. I don’t think the evil Dwarves fought against the Last Alliance because they had to.

What I think other inter-Dwarven warfare could be referring to I’ll save for my fourth arcane topic.

Back to the subject at hand, I think that the above reference to Dwarven resistance to domination may hold an oblique clue as to the nature of a bad Dwarf’s “evil”.

Quote:
The only power over them that the Rings wielded was to inflame their hearts with a greed of gold and precious things, so that if they lacked them all other good things seemed profitless, and they were filled with wrath and desire for vengeance on all those who deprived them.
-Durin's Folk, Appendix A
This was the effect the Dwarven Rings had on those who possessed them. I think this may have been the effect that the power of Melkor had over the Eastern Houses and this was the nature of Dwarven evil (or at least the heart of it). Morgoth’s power took the gold-lust and possessiveness that was in the heart of even a good dwarf and inflamed it beyond all reason. This seems in keeping with Morgoth’s M.O. in taking a thing and warping it so that a comparatively benign trait becomes depraved. (Okay, so gold-lust, etc. might not be exactly “benign”, but you get my point.) An interesting note in this context is that Tolkien said the element Morgoth had the greatest influence upon was gold.

For the form Dwarven evil took and why Men might have had bad experiences with Dwarves in the East, I think a comparison with the Western Dwarves might be useful. The system the Western Dwarves developed and used in the First and Second Ages was one of exchange and more than a little of what might be called “patronage.” The Dwarves provided goods and built for Men. In exchange, Men revered the Dwarves (particularly in the early days), grew food for them, did other things the Dwarves didn’t want to do, and fought wars for them. The Longbeards employed this system, particularly in the Second Age, with great success. It is reasonable to suppose that they used it in some form in the First Age and the Firebeards and Broadbeams employed it as well, especially on the eastern side of the Blue Mountains away from the influence of those pesky Elves. However, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see how this system might be employed by somebody of a greedy, possessive, and, well, “evil” bent. Rather than cooperation, the Eastern Dwarves might have had something more akin to domination in mind. They probably viewed early Man with a similar eye to the Western Dwarves, but instead of cooperating with Men, they could well have tried coercion to get what they wanted. Attempts by the Eastern Dwarves to enslave Men are probably not out of the question. Indeed, this theory could be easily used to explain why wicked Dwarves would have made alliances with orcs. They both wanted slaves and humans provided a ready source of mutually agreeable material. (Although, if the Eastern Dwarves were willing to enslave humans, there is little reason to suppose they’d refrain from enslaving orcs too if they could. Dwarves and Orcs are generally described as being hostile toward one another across the board. And for those of you who remember the “Elves eating Petty-Dwarves” business, here’s your revenge…the Eastern Dwarves probably would have enslaved any Avari they came across as well. In fact, they would have been ideal material for it, slaves that didn’t die…easily.)

This could explain why all the Dwarves could have still worked together. Early on, the behavioral differences of the different Dwarf Houses could have been seen as more a matter of degree than intent. However, as time passed, the Houses did grow more distant from each other and perceptions of good and evil on the other’s part may have had something to do with it. But even late in the Third Age (after the Last Alliance) they were all still able to work together so the Dwarves may not have viewed these matters in the same way as one might think they should.

There is also another source to inform a view of how the evil Dwarves could have behaved…

Quote:
…the Nauglath in those days did great traffic with the free Noldoi, and, ‘tis said, with the Orcs and soldiers of Melko also.

and

Moreover [Naugladur] gathered about him a great host of the Orcs, and wandering goblins, promising them a good wage, and the pleasure of their Master moreover, and a rich booty at the end; and all these he armed with his own weapons.
-The Nauglafring
…Tolkien’s earliest conception of amoral Dwarves who were willing to deal with anybody who could profit them and use whatever means to get what they wanted.

I think the reason why some of the evil Dwarves fought for Sauron at Dagorlad was probably because he hired them as mercenaries.

Admittedly, these theories are based on supposition, but I think it is supposition based on the texts and does answer some of the questions posed by the issue.
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Old 07-23-2006, 01:05 AM   #2
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Perhaps the dwarves are most akin to men in mind and spirit and that free-will is something that both races share. We have seen examples of dwarves performing what we consider as "good" deeds and now you have refreshed my mind and provided new knowledge on how "bad" they can be.

Good and bad are arbitary terms and percieved differently by different people with different agenda. So I would say that the dwarves will always look after their own interests and interact with other organisations in such a way that the morality of their actions would be percieved as bad from the opposite side or by the reader who is subjected to Tolkien's regime of what is right or wrong.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:10 AM   #3
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White Tree ~

Kuru, great topic idea.

Well I would agree that there would be no disputing the fact that Dwarves could be drawn to 'evil,' and even to the two Dark Lords. I think it's much more easier for Dwarves to be drawn towards evil deeds, then allying themselves with Sauron or Melkor, simply because they were more resiliant then say Men were:
Quote:
Other originally independent creatures, and Men among them (but neither Elves nor Dwarves) could be reduced to a like condition. But ’puppets’, with no independent life or will, would simply cease to move or do anything at all when the will of their maker was brought to nothing.~Morgoth's Ring: Text X
Tolkien refers to Sauron's orcs as being like 'puppets' under his control. For Dwarves and Elves this 'puppet-like' state is impossible to be reduced to. They will always have an independent will, and could not be reduced to an orc-like state of slavedom.

Also...
Quote:
'The Dwarves indeed proved tough and hard to tame; they ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows.'~Of the Rings of Power
They were hard to be brought over to serve Sauron or Morgoth, because they didn't like to be 'tamed' and 'controlled.' And they couldn't be turned to 'shadows' into Wraith-like state as the 9 men were.

Though it was possible to sway dwarves over to their (Sauron and Morgoth) side, it was just a difficult:
Quote:
'From Imladris they [Army of the Last Alliance] crossed the Misty Mountains by many passes and marched down the River Anduin, and so came at last upon the host of Sauron on Dagorlad, the Battle Plain, which lies before the gate of the Black Land. All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only.'~ibid
We see in the Council of Elrond that the dwarves of Erebor were offered a deal:
Quote:
'As a small token only of your Friendship Sauron asks this,' he said: 'that you should find this thief,' such was his word, 'and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trile that Sauron fancies, and in earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf-sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever. Find only news of the thief, whether he still lives and where, and you shall have great reward and lasting friendship from the Lord. Refuse, and things will not seem so well. Do you refuse?'
Dain refuses the offer, and somewhere that I can't find right now, it talks about the loyalty of Durin's folke and solely helping the Last Alliance in the Second Age.

But this was just one instance where the dwarves were put in the grinder so to say. They had a sweet deal offered to them, and being Durin's folk rejected the deal. Which, I think for one shows just how loyal and resiliant the dwarves can be. They don't like being ordered around and controlled one thing for sure.

Quote:
They are a toug, thrawn race for the most part, secretive, laborious, retentive of the memory of injuries (and of benefits), lovers of stone, of gems, of things that take shape under the hands of the craftsman rather than things that live by their own life. But they are not evil by nature, and few ever served the Enemy of free will, whatever the tales of Men may have alleged. For Men of old lusted after their wealth and the work of their handsm and there has been enmity between the races.~Appendix F: Languages of the People of the Third Age
What's important is they were 'retentive of the memory of injuries (and of benefits), so they remembered grudges or friendships. Which, I think could factor into whether dwarves fight with 'evil' or not.

We definitely see a case of dwarves and their feud with the Sindar Elves, which go back to the slaying of Thingol, and carries on into LOTR. But, I think dwarves were loyal to their allies. They knew who there friends were, who helped them, and they would not do harm against them.

A good example of this is Bilbo, who helped the dwarves out immensely in regaining Erebor, and those dwarves who travelled with Bilbo would never forget that. And the friendship carries on into LOTR, when we see the friendship starting between Gloin and Frodo in Many Meetings. I don't think Gloin had ever even met Frodo, but being Bilbo's heir, and knowing what Bilbo had done for them, by dwarven nature he would be kind to Frodo. And going back to Sauron offering the dwarves a deal:
Quote:
'Heavy have the hearts of our chieftains been since that night. We needed not the fell voice of the messenger to warn us that his words held both menace and deceit; for we knew already that the power that has re-entered Mordor has not changed, and ever it betrayed us of old.'~The Council of Elrond
So, by dwarven nature, I think it's much more likely they would commit an evil act on their own (out of greed mostly) than to be swayed to Sauron or Morgoth's side (though that was possible). The dwarves knew who there friends were, knew who has helped them and who has betrayed them in the past, and they don't forget that.

They seem to be a rather withdrawn race during the War of the Ring. Though we had the Dwarves of Erebor fighting, we don't hear much of dwarves besides Gimli, just that small bit in the Council and some more in the Appendices. They seem to just kind of want to go along and do their own thing, if someone steps out and helps them they don't forget that and will remain in strong friendship. If someone betrays them, they won't forget that either, and will be careful next time to trust them (if they ever do).

So, it all comes down to, the dwarves were hard to push around, they had a strong will and weren't easily swayed either way. It was much more likely they would do something evil out of greed as we see in The Silmarillion:
Quote:
Then Thingol, being alone among them, made to take it up and clasp it about his neck; but the Dwarves in that moment withheld it from him, and demainded that they yied it up to them, saying: 'By what right does the Elvenking lay claim to the Nauglamir, that was made by our fathers for Finrod Felagun who is dead? It has come to him but by the hand of Hurin the man of Dor-lomin, who took it as a thief out of the darkness of Nargothrond.' But Thingol perceived their heards, and saw well that desiring the Silmaril they sought but a pretext and fair cloak for their true intent...~Of the Ruin of Doriath
Whoever was right or wrong in this case doesn't matter, the dwarves (as well as Thingol) got greedy and in their wrath slew Thingol.

And concluding, I think this goes along with what you were saying Kuru, in that the dwarve's deceptiveness, and they may very well could have deceived people in order to get what they want. For in this instance they were able to mask their intent on desiring the Silmaril, and lay a fair sounding claim that the Nauglamir was there's...but Thingol saw past this...just a little example of Dwarves trying to cloak their intent.
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Old 07-23-2006, 12:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
However, the ambiguous aspect of this Dwarven descent into evil is that these evil Dwarves apparently still had normal, peaceful, and even cooperative contact with their non-evil kin in the West.
Quick thoughts while I'm halfway thru the first post-- So did Saruman and Denethor even while they used the Palantiri. They had succumbed, but they were able to maintain the appearance of normalcy.

Recall that Gimli and Gloin said, at the Council of Elrond, that emisaries had come from Mordor promising Rings. (Right, both you and Boromir88 bring this up.)

Could some of the same things (appearance of normalcy) be said regarding the original Nazgul (who were once men?) I haven't researched that in any way, just popping a question.

Also-- isn't the phrase "Free Peoples", not "Good Peoples"?
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Old 07-23-2006, 12:56 PM   #5
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Galadriel's prophecy regarding Gimli seems to sum it up pretty well: hoarding. Gimli was free of it; gold runs through his hands but has no hold on him. Gold and mithril enslaved many Dwarven hearts; hence, evil. Thorin was in danger of it, but was saved in the end.
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Old 07-23-2006, 02:30 PM   #6
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White Tree

Quote:
So did Saruman and Denethor even while they used the Palantiri. They had succumbed, but they were able to maintain the appearance of normalcy.~mark
The only physical signs Denethor had shown was aging, he looked older than he actually was:
Quote:
'In this way Denethor gained his great knowledge of things that passed into his realm, and far beyond his borders, at which men marvelled; but he bought the knowledge dearly, being aged before his time by his contest with the will of Sauron.~Appendix A: The Stewards
And Saruman was already in an old man's body, so I doubt he was physically different.

As far as any sort of other signs of abnormalcy, I can't think of anything anyone would have noticed. Saruman was able to lull and trick Radagast into fetching Gandalf, so he could put on a fair cloak and act 'normal' for Saruman.

And Denethor, no one seemed to know about his use of the palantir. While he went drastically down hill, that seemed to me to be more out of grief and despair. The palantir heightened and compounded his despair becuase of what Sauron had shown him, but Faramir's apparent death was what sent Denethor over the edge:
Quote:
Denethor remained steadfast in his rejection Sauron, but was made to believe that his victory was inevitable, and so fell into despair. The reasons for this difference were doubt that in the first place Denethor was a man of great strength of will, and maintained the integrity of his personality until the final blow of the (apparently) mortal wound of his only surviving son.~Unfinished Tales
It is noted also in UT that the palantir was a mental strain on Denethor, and contributed to his grimness, which hastened Finduilas' death:
Quote:
'The use of the palantiri was a mental strain, especially on men of later yeras not trained to the task, and no doubt in addition to his anxieties this strain contributed to Denethor's 'grimness'. It was probably felt earlier tby his wife than by others and increased her unhappiness, to the hastening of her death.'
So, as far as 'mental' signs Denethor became more grim (but that means he was already a 'grim' man before he looked into the palantir). He still was able to appear and look normal up until he believed Faramir had died, then he just lost his mind.
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Old 07-23-2006, 03:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
What's important is they were 'retentive of the memory of injuries (and of benefits), so they remembered grudges or friendships. Which, I think could factor into whether dwarves fight with 'evil' or not.
-Boromir88
But I wonder about this. Why were there no grudges remembered from the time of the Last Alliance during the War of the Dwarves and Orcs? This was the question that basically launched my questioning in this area.

Quote:
They had succumbed, but they were able to maintain the appearance of normalcy.
-mark12_30
I think the principle involved between the Dwarf Houses was probably similar, at least as far as activities appearing "normal" to peoples far sundered from each other. Most of them were a long way apart. It would have been hard for them to know what the others were doing, even if they were all that interested in keeping tabs on each other.

However, I think there would have been a problem maintaining this appearance of normality over a long period of time, after all we are talking about a period of time stretching across several millennia. We know that the Dwarves visited each other from time to time. Sooner or later some Western Dwarves (probably Longbeards) were bound to go far enough East to see what the Stonefoots and Blacklocks were up to. I’m kind of curious as to how the Western Dwarves reacted when they saw what had happened.

Quote:
Also-- isn't the phrase "Free Peoples", not "Good Peoples"?
-mark12_30
True. I realize now that, given the nature of this topic, I should have provided a more specific definition of evil to give the topic a baseline.

Maybe something like “Acceptance of Melkorian influence and values and adopting them as a basic part of the culture.” I think this definition may hold some validity as it would exclude people like the Noldor who, while obviously influenced by Melkor, did not accept him as the source and inspiration for their culture. On the other hand, evil tribes of Men and the King’s Men in Númenor would qualify under this definition. I’m personally inclined to think, given their location and Tolkien’s implication, that some of the Eastern Dwarves probably did the same to some extent.

Of course, that also brings up the issue of how much of their original culture they retained. I think it is also safe to say that they probably did retain some of their original instruction from Aüle although it would have provided for an interesting mix of cultural influences, but no more odd than many we see in the real world.

Quote:
Gold and mithril enslaved many Dwarven hearts; hence, evil. Thorin was in danger of it, but was saved in the end.
-littlemanpoet
Also true that each individual had the potential for evil, I’m just curious about how this developed on a societal level.
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Old 07-23-2006, 05:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Also true that each individual had the potential for evil, I’m just curious about how this developed on a societal level.
This is beginning to remind me of the Elven government/culture thread. As is typical in Tolkien's Legendarium, Patriarchal hereditary leadership is the modus operandum for societal dynamics. This is probably more so in Dwarven culture. As goes Thorin, so go the others, even Balin. Not one of the Dwarves in Erebor gain-said their leader. In the part of The Hobbit I am speaking of, Tolkien was writing pretty seriously; no more of the pratfalls and silliness with Trolls and Spiders ... so this I think can be construed as typical societal dynamic for Dwarves.
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Old 07-23-2006, 06:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
so this I think can be construed as typical societal dynamic for Dwarves.~lmp
And I think it fits along with why the Dwarves united against the Orcs in the war. Despite what battles, arguments, disagreements the dwarves had with eachother...Thror was gruesomely killed and this enraged all the dwarves into sending aid and helping eachother.
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Old 07-23-2006, 10:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
This is beginning to remind me of the Elven government/culture thread. As is typical in Tolkien's Legendarium, Patriarchal hereditary leadership is the modus operandum for societal dynamics. This is probably more so in Dwarven culture. As goes Thorin, so go the others, even Balin. Not one of the Dwarves in Erebor gain-said their leader. In the part of The Hobbit I am speaking of, Tolkien was writing pretty seriously; no more of the pratfalls and silliness with Trolls and Spiders ... so this I think can be construed as typical societal dynamic for Dwarves.
As a citizen from a quasi-patriachal state, I can tell you that concerns or rather, fears of the patriarch going rogue is of the uptmost concerns of both the citizens and government. As such there are measures adopted to prevent absolute power from falling totally into the hands of one man. Hence Singapore has two deputy Prime Ministers and three Ministers for Defence.

That stated I wonder if the dwarven houses had such fail safe mechanisms in place. What would happen if a leader of a great house turned rogue and perhaps "evil" as we have more or less defined in this thread? Could the other dwarves of the same house have stopped this leader from committing undersirable acts? Or would a possible culture of respect to elders, strict social hierarchy, apolitical lifestyles and strong centralized rule dissuade such a self-righting course?

Magna Carta anyone?
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Old 07-23-2006, 11:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Saurreg
That stated I wonder if the dwarven houses had such fail safe mechanisms in place. What would happen if a leader of a great house turned rogue and perhaps "evil" as we have more or less defined in this thread? Could the other dwarves of the same house have stopped this leader from committing undersirable acts? Or would a possible culture of respect to elders, strict social hierarchy, apolitical lifestyles and strong centralized rule dissuade such a self-righting course?

Magna Carta anyone?
Seems unlikely... Dwarves were more of a patriachal people than either Men or Elves. The vengeance of the Dwarves for Thrór is unmatched in Arda- even the vengeance of the Noldor for Finwë doesn't quite compare, in that it is only the Noldor, and not all the Eldar, who follow Fëanor into exile and revenge. With the Dwarves, Thráin has Dwarves of many (all?) houses at his back. The Elven equivalent would have required the Vanyar and the Teleri to have marched with the Noldor.

Furthermore, one can see from The Hobbit that Thorin exercised absolute authority over the Longbeards. We not only see this in the actions of Balin and the rest of the Unlucky Thirteen, but in the actions of Dáin and the Dwarves of the Iron Hills. Dáin was a pretty independent lord, as things go. He'd been lording it over the Iron Hills Dwarves since the Battle of Azanulbizar, and without his troops Thorin was in a pickle and no mistake- but despite being a clearly more levelheaded Dwarf (as we see from his post-Thorin's death actions), and a senior, powerful lord in his own right, he does not waver a bit from obeying Thorin.

So checks and balances? Seems unlikely.
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Old 07-24-2006, 03:33 AM   #12
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Following up on an aside...

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Originally Posted by Boromir88
And Denethor, no one seemed to know about his use of the palantir. While he went drastically down hill, that seemed to me to be more out of grief and despair. The palantir heightened and compounded his despair becuase of what Sauron had shown him, but Faramir's apparent death was what sent Denethor over the edge:

It is noted also in UT that the palantir was a mental strain on Denethor, and contributed to his grimness, which hastened Finduilas' death:

So, as far as 'mental' signs Denethor became more grim (but that means he was already a 'grim' man before he looked into the palantir). He still was able to appear and look normal up until he believed Faramir had died, then he just lost his mind.
An additional 'mental' sign may perhaps be that he came to see the entire conflict as Sauron versus himself; Gandalf was a troublemaker rather than a wise counsellor, and Aragorn was seen as an upstart rival for the throne rather than the rightful heir for whom Denethor was saving the throne. These are additional signs of how the palantir, under Sauron's control, had corrupted his mind. However, humans being what we are, Gandalf wouldn't necessarily see these things as signs of palantir use; it could be just a recalcitrant, bitter, and arrogant old man.

Okay, enough on this aside; back to the main theme....
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Old 07-24-2006, 09:20 PM   #13
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The vengeance of the Dwarves for Thrór is unmatched in Arda- even the vengeance of the Noldor for Finwë doesn't quite compare, in that it is only the Noldor, and not all the Eldar, who follow Fëanor into exile and revenge. With the Dwarves, Thráin has Dwarves of many (all?) houses at his back.
Very true.

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So checks and balances? Seems unlikely.
I also agree here. However, I'd have to say that I don't think checking the power of the ruler was really on any people's agenda.
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
I also agree here. However, I'd have to say that I don't think checking the power of the ruler was really on any people's agenda.
Not if he was bent on a self-destructive streak?
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Old 07-25-2006, 06:07 AM   #15
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Not if he was bent on a self-destructive streak?
That's a difficult question.

It would probably depend on what sort of self-destructive streak.
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Old 07-25-2006, 07:33 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Saurreg
Not if he was bent on a self-destructive streak?
In most societies subject to autocratic or strict heirarchical rule, there will be few prepared to speak out or act against the dicatates of the ruler. Generally, the majority will "fall into line" either out of fear or because they have lack understanding that their ruler is acting "wrongly".

Whether the submission through fear aspect would apply to Dwarves is a moot point, given their famed resistance to enslavement. Then again, Kuru paints a picture of a culture which adheres strongly to the demands of its heirarchical structure.

Tolkien does, however, show us that, within Middle-earth, people do not necessarily need to be evil in nature in order to serve evil. We see this, in particular, I think, with Sam's reflection on the dead Haradrim soldier and in Saruman's use of the Dunlendings' ancient grievance against Rohan in order to press them into service.

It is possible, for example, that those Dwarves who fought on Sauron's side in the Last Alliance did so believing that their cause was the "right" one, or because they were in thrall to their corrupted leaders, but that their loyalty to their own kind surmounted even this when it came to incidents such as Thror's death at the hands of Azog.
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Old 07-25-2006, 11:09 PM   #17
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Hence my assertion that dwarves like any other race act in their own interests and security.
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Old 07-26-2006, 09:47 AM   #18
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Great thread by the way Kuru -
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What was the nature of Dwarves that fell into evil? In what way were they evil?
A trait that has the capacity for darkness, and indeed evil, that seems very common among Dwarves - from the Petty miners to the Lords and Kings - is their pride. As we know, JRRT often reveals in the Legendarium that pride is usually linked in some way or other to a fall, and often that fall is (or leads to) evil deeds.

Being created in secret and in direct contravention of Erus rules by Aulë may also offer some insight into their moral center. If we examine why Aulë created Dwarves the way he did, the Silm. states that:
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"...Aulë made the Dwarves even as they still are, because the forms of the Children who were to come were unclear to his mind, and because the power of Melkor was yet over the Earth: and he wished therefore that they should be strong and unyielding"
Is this renowned unyielding aspect of the Dwarven soul linked to their pride, and therefore to their capacity for evil? Maybe its an unfortunate consequence of being created by Aulë whilst he was concentrating on making them resistant to an entity as great and powerful as Melkor?

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“I’m just curious about how this developed on a societal level.”
Being as isolated and insular as many of their communities seemed to be could have lead to an overdeveloped societal pride in their own Kingdom, House or Mansion, not too dissimilar to the destructive pride that Turgon and his Gondolindrim had for Gondolin perhaps?


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"I think the reason why some of the evil Dwarves fought for Sauron at Dagorlad was probably because he hired them as mercenaries. "
Sounds very likely Kuru though I would maybe just throw the following statement about Sauron from the Silm. into the mix:
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"In his beginning he was of the Maiar of Aulë, and he remained mighty in the lore of that people."
On the strength of that I think Sauron actually had quite a unique insight into the hearts of Dwarves. For although - as it is stated by JRRT - the Dwarves were not completely dominated by their Rings of Power, it would seem that they were all lead to misfortune and evil ends by them; what with four being consumed by Dragons and the remainder being physically retaken, most probably under torture, by Sauron himself.
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Old 07-26-2006, 11:21 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Numenorean
Sounds very likely Kuru though I would maybe just throw the following statement about Sauron from the Silm. into the mix:
On the strength of that I think Sauron actually had quite a unique insight into the hearts of Dwarves. For although - as it is stated by JRRT - the Dwarves were not completely dominated by their Rings of Power, it would seem that they were all lead to misfortune and evil ends by them; what with four being consumed by Dragons and the remainder being physically retaken, most probably under torture, by Sauron himself.
The interesting thing to note then, is that of the Rings, the ones given to the Dwarves were ultimately least effective. Is this because, as an almost-kinsman, Sauron was blind to the faults that would turn a Dwarf to evil? Or is the simple fact that Sauron's rings were effective at all proof of his insight? Could a former Maia of Oromë have been able to make Rings that would affect the Dwarves in any way?

(Of course, the actual forging of the Seven Rings was done by the Eldar, for the most part, but 'twas certainly Sauron's creation, in regard to the potential to corrupt.)

Was there perhaps, one wonders a connection between Sauron's connection to Aulë and the siding of some of the Dwarves with him during the Last Alliance? We know that the Dwarves adhered strongly to "family". Is it plausible that Sauron played up his connection with Aulë (a sort of High Priest, perhaps?) to draw some of the Dwarves into his service?
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Old 07-27-2006, 02:26 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formy
Was there perhaps, one wonders a connection between Sauron's connection to Aulë and the siding of some of the Dwarves with him during the Last Alliance? We know that the Dwarves adhered strongly to "family". Is it plausible that Sauron played up his connection with Aulë (a sort of High Priest, perhaps?) to draw some of the Dwarves into his service?
I think that Sauron managed to lure the dwarves because as an ex-maia of Aulë's he probably knew the dwarves' hearts better. He knew what to offer them. Did he offer knowledge on craftsmanship (or were the dwarves too proud to accept knowledge that was not theirs?) or treasure (maybe the dwarves on his side were of less famous and wealthy households and families and envied the riches of the others?) or family, like Form mentioned?

To put it bluntly, Numenorean says that the main fault in dwarves is pride. I agree that dwarves are proud and that sometimes brings them trouble, but I'd say that greed is their worst sin/trait/fault. That can be read numerous times from TH and LotR. Galadriel tells Gimli that though he will achieve great wealth, that won't spoil him. That somehow makes me think that it was not unusual for a rich dwarf to get spoiled and greedy. Thoughts?
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Old 07-27-2006, 07:56 AM   #21
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Being created in secret and in direct contravention of Erus rules by Aulë may also offer some insight into their moral center.
It had never occurred to me until now that this may be the reason for a dwarf’s secretive nature.

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On the strength of that I think Sauron actually had quite a unique insight into the hearts of Dwarves.
It is an interesting idea. However, there is a question about it regarding how much he explained to his maia regarding the dwarves. It might not have been much more than he told the elves of Valinor, which is the source material for what we have.

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the Dwarves were not completely dominated by their Rings of Power, it would seem that they were all lead to misfortune and evil ends by them
This is undeniably true. However, the Rings were designed to lead everybody to an evil end. In the case of Men, the Rings performed admirably and as Sauron intended. In the case of the Dwarves, they did not work as Sauron intended. In the case of the Elves they didn’t really work at all. I think from this evidence, one might conclude that Sauron had more of an insight into Men than anybody else.

Quote:
Was there perhaps, one wonders a connection between Sauron's connection to Aulë and the siding of some of the Dwarves with him during the Last Alliance? We know that the Dwarves adhered strongly to "family". Is it plausible that Sauron played up his connection with Aulë (a sort of High Priest, perhaps?) to draw some of the Dwarves into his service?
It is possible, but I don’t think that any dwarf could have been genuinely ignorant about the reality of the situation. The Dwarves would have been harder to fool than Men in many respects, if for no other reason that they did maintain contact with their kin in the West. The Western Dwarves probably knew from the Elves that a former servant of their Maker was the chief lieutenant of Morgoth. While we don’t know, it seems reasonable to surmise that this information would have been relayed eastwards, especially given the amount of time that passed. When Sauron made his return to evil in the Second Age he made some effort to conceal his identity (at least with the Elves). Had he told the Eastern Dwarves that he had some connection to Aüle, that probably would have set off alarm bells (or something) with them. On the other hand, it may not have bothered them very much. But if it didn’t bother them, there is no reason to suppose that Sauron would have gone to any trouble to conceal who he was, especially if the Eastern Dwarves had adopted Morgothian aspects into their culture.

There might have been some sort of polite diplomatic fiction along those lines, but I think that by the time of the Last Alliance, nobody that had the sort of historical lore to draw upon that the Dwarves possessed could have been in much doubt about how things stood.

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That somehow makes me think that it was not unusual for a rich dwarf to get spoiled and greedy.
That is probably quite likely.

One other thing about the Rings…it seems likely that the Eastern Dwarves would have received their Rings from Sauron himself as the Eastern Houses probably had little contact with Elves (particularly not the Elves of Eregion).
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Old 07-28-2006, 06:53 AM   #22
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Formy -
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The interesting thing to note then, is that of the Rings, the ones given to the Dwarves were ultimately least effective. Is this because, as an almost-kinsman, Sauron was blind to the faults that would turn a Dwarf to evil? Or is the simple fact that Sauron's rings were effective at all proof of his insight?
Hmm, I reckon that either through his Aulëan heritage or via his own dark observations, Sauron had a fairly firm understanding of what could lead or turn a dwarf onto an evil path, it was the complete domination of their wills that he could not fathom. However, just accepting one of the Seven was enough to assure a dwarfs doom, in this respect Sauron was akin to his old lord Melkor in that whatever they could not utterly dominate, they ruined.

Thinlómien -
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I'd say that greed is their worst sin/trait/fault. That can be read numerous times from TH and LotR
Good point, avarice is indeed a potent and negative force in the Dwarven psyche, linked to but not entirely dependant on their pride, and when we read (in LoTR Appendix A III) that:
Quote:
"The only power over them that the Rings wielded was to inflame their hearts with a greed of gold and precious things, so that if they lacked them all other good things seemed profitless, and they were filled with wrath and desire for vengeance on all who deprived them."
It could even be argued that Sauron was at least semi-successful in his Dwarven Ring lore, as some power and influence over the bearers of the Seven is surely better than none at all. The last two bearers of the last of the Seven to be retaken by Sauron, Thrór and Thráin, did not, it would seem, remain entirely uninfluenced by the Ring. Intriguingly it is said in the LoTR Appendix A III regarding Thrórs motivation to single handedly attempt to regain Moria that:
Quote:
“He was a little crazed perhaps with age and misfortune and long brooding on the splendour of Moria in his forefathers’ days; or the Ring, it may be, was turning to evil now that its master was awake, driving him to folly and destruction.”
And of the last bearer, Thráin, shortly before he went forth into the Wild and met his doom in Saurons dungeons at Dol Guldur, the following is said:
Quote:
“It was therefore perhaps partly by the malice of the Ring that Thráin after some years became restless and discontented. The lust for gold was ever in his mind.”
Kuru -
Quote:
One other thing about the Rings…it seems likely that the Eastern Dwarves would have received their Rings from Sauron himself as the Eastern Houses probably had little contact with Elves (particularly not the Elves of Eregion).
Interestingly enough, (and only on a slight tangent) the Dwarves of Durin’s Folk believed this Ring of Thráins was the first of the Seven to be made, and that it was handed over personally by the Elven-smiths, specifically Celebrimbor, to King Durin III of Khazad-dûm himself.

Kuru -
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In the case of Men, the Rings performed admirably and as Sauron intended. In the case of the Dwarves, they did not work as Sauron intended. In the case of the Elves they didn’t really work at all. I think from this evidence, one might conclude that Sauron had more of an insight into Men than anybody else.
Don't forget that there are strong examples of Men who resisted Saurons influence (Amandil, Elendil etc) so his insight into the hearts of the Atani was by no means complete. I would agree though that the race of Men – generally - are more corruptible and susceptible to Saurons evil guiles, though maybe thats more to do with Mans inherent weaknesses rather than Saurons strength of insight. He may have known decidedly more about Dwarven lust and motivations, but their inherent secrecy, stubbornness and indomitable will neutralised the potency of his attempts at manipulation thus, as you say, his Dwarven Ring lore did not work as Sauron intended.
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Old 07-28-2006, 07:57 AM   #23
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but I'd say that greed is their worst sin/trait/fault.~Thinlomien
For 99.9% of the dwarves, I agree, but then we have Gimli...

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'No you do not understand,' said Gimli. 'No dwarf could be unmoved by such loveliness. None of Durin's race would mine those caves for stones or or, not if diamonds and gold could be got there. Do you cut down groves of blossoming trees in the springtime for firewood? We would tend these glades of flowering stone, not quarry them.'~The Road to Isengard
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'But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli son of Gloin, that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.'~Farewell to Lorien
So, I've always wondered, what makes Gimli different from the rest of his greedy dwarf brethren? Or are there more dwarves like Gimli where gold and riches hold no influence over them?
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:43 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Boromir88
So, I've always wondered, what makes Gimli different from the rest of his greedy dwarf brethren? Or are there more dwarves like Gimli where gold and riches hold no influence over them?
I'd say that it was pretty much the same as with our (human's) own capacity to behave "wrongly". Some Dawrves would be more susceptible to, and more prone to display, their negative traits than others.

By no means were all Dwarves greedy to the point of evil, but few were probably as free of the Dwarven lust for gold and riches as Gimli. Bilbo's companions were, by and large, a fairly likeable bunch, but they were certainly not perfect (indeed, neither was Gimli). We might assume that they were fairly representatvie of the majority of Dwarvenkind, or at least those of the Western lines.
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:49 AM   #25
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However, just accepting one of the Seven was enough to assure a dwarfs doom, in this respect Sauron was akin to his old lord Melkor in that whatever they could not utterly dominate, they ruined.
I’m afraid I have to disagree with this. Many King’s of Durin’s Folk possessed their ring and we don’t know of anything happening to them personally. I’d have to assume that kings of other Houses had similar experiences.

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By no means were all Dwarves greedy to the point of evil, but few were probably as free of the Dwarven lust for gold and riches as Gimli. Bilbo's companions were, by and large, a fairly likeable bunch, but they were certainly not perfect (indeed, neither was Gimli). We might assume that they were fairly representatvie of the majority of Dwarvenkind, or at least those of the Western lines.
It is a bit of a pity that we don’t have more information about the Great Dwarves in the First Age. The most memorable experience the Elves had with the Firebeards of Nogrod was not…errr…positive. However, the Broadbeams were portrayed in a generally more positive (or at least agreeable light). I’m sure that somebody will correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Azaghâl was the only named great dwarf about whom we possess any personal information. We are told of Telchar and Gamil Zirak, but don’t know what they were like.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:38 AM   #26
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So, I've always wondered, what makes Gimli different from the rest of his greedy dwarf brethren? Or are there more dwarves like Gimli where gold and riches hold no influence over them?
Could it be that Gloin, along with the rest the thirteen dwarves, saw first hand of what the corruption of gold had done to thier leader Thorin? This may have had some affect on Gloin, and so he might have tought Gimli not to love gold as other dwarves had.
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:12 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Groin Redbeard View Post
Could it be that Gloin, along with the rest the thirteen dwarves, saw first hand of what the corruption of gold had done to thier leader Thorin? This may have had some affect on Gloin, and so he might have tought Gimli not to love gold as other dwarves had.
Even if that matches Glóin's personality, which I'm not sure is borne out, that still wouldn't fly. Although young, Gimli was a fully grown Dwarf by the time of the Quest for Erebor--too young to be one of Thorin's companions, but much too old to be considered a child anymore, and thus not very malleable in all probability.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:12 PM   #28
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That's a good point Formendacil.

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'But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli son of Gloin, that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.'~Farewell to Lorien
It sounds like Galadriel was blessing Gimli, rather than stating a fact.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:03 PM   #29
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I hate to spread the argument even farther, but as yet not metion has been made in this trheread of dwarf morality of the Petty Dwarves. we know that they became as they were due to being cast out of Dwardom for some horrible crime (indiacating that there are obviosly some things a dwarf can do that even other dwarves will condemn as terrible) Whatever this evil act is also appears to effect them physically, sothing that even the corruption of Sauron's rings seems unable to do (and when one cosiders that the elves(who were presuably familar with regualr dwarves by this point) orginally though that the petty dwarves were some kind of wild beast this cahge must have been severe, as severe as the one that turned Smeagol into Gollum. This lead to two big questions 1. What could the Petty dwarves have done so horrible that it could blight them like that and 2. Had there still been any petty dwarves at the time could their decendents have ever redeemed themselves in the eyes of dwarf society.(i.e in the re-unifation of dwarves spoken of would the petty have been allowed?)
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Old 02-27-2008, 06:32 PM   #30
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I just had a quick thought specifically when I read Saucepan Man's post, #16.

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...the majority will "fall into line" either out of fear or because they have lack understanding that their ruler is acting "wrongly". Whether the submission through fear aspect would apply to Dwarves is a moot point, given their famed resistance to enslavement. Then again, Kuru paints a picture of a culture which adheres strongly to the demands of its heirarchical structure.
Because of the adherence to hierarchical structure, the importance of family, and the importance of the patriarch (made me think of a sort of less spiritual Confucian-filial piety sort of deal), I see it as quite possible that Dwarves would follow their leader without fear or without even being somehow convinced at all times that what their leader is doing is 'right', but purely out of respect for the patriarch, the hierarchical structure, and out of a loyalty to their House. Betraying the patriarch is betraying the House.

So I basically agree with what Saucepan Man says at the end of his post:

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It is possible, for example, that those Dwarves who fought on Sauron's side in the Last Alliance did so believing that their cause was the "right" one, or because they were in thrall to their corrupted leaders, but that their loyalty to their own kind surmounted even this when it came to incidents such as Thror's death at the hands of Azog.
To begin with Dwarves never seem overly concerned with other people's problems. They always have their own reasons (as most people do...) for allying themselves with Men and Elves: prosperity, their own protection, the gaining of wealth, or just to kill a shared enemy. But in The Hobbit, Thorin and co. are fully prepared to fight both Men and Elves for their own reasons. Still not all of them seem to feel it's such a good idea, holding out in the mountain and refusing all compromise. But none will dare disagree with Thorin. So really I agree it's possible that Dwarves would even join with Sauron if they thought it was in their best interest, and I think that if the leader of a House or group thought it was in his and/or his House's best interest to join with Sauron, most of the House would follow with him, regardless of what they felt.

Whether or not that is evil is questionable I think. And I definitely don't think they would have to be "under the sway" of anyone -- I think loyalty and respect regardless would be enough.
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Old 02-27-2013, 03:16 PM   #31
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One thing we need to remember about history-writing in Middle-earth is that it's mostly from the Elves' point of view and may therefore be biased in some cases. Their definition of evil may not always correspond with that of the Dwarves'. I think it's fair to use the Petty Dwarves as an example here - they did something awful enough to be cast out, but they were never that many. I interpret this as meaning that the Dwarves were okay with forgiving most crimes.

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But I wonder about this. Why were there no grudges remembered from the time of the Last Alliance during the War of the Dwarves and Orcs? This was the question that basically launched my questioning in this area.
I believe some Dwarves who fought for Sauron could also have seen themselves as primarily siding against the Elves. They might have put their little quarrels with the Orcs aside for that because the Thingol incident was much more personal.

I've always thought the passage about the Dwarves fighting each other is more about occasional skirmishes than anything serious and long-running. After all, they generally stick together. There are two quotes which I believe haven't been brought up yet:
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Originally Posted by Durin's Folk, Appendix A
Durin's Folk gathered all their host, and they were joined by great forces sent from the other Houses of other Fathers; for this dishonour to the heir of the Eldest of their race filled them with wrath.
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Originally Posted by The Making of Appendix A, The Peoples of Middle-Earth
For an injury to a father a Dwarf may spend a life-time in achieving revenge. Since the 'kings' or heads of lines are regarded as 'parents' of the whole group, it will be understood how it was that the whole of Durin's Race gathered and marshalled itself to avenge Thrór.
As for the latter, Durin's Race can be read as either the House of Durin or all Dwarves, right? Anyway, Thrór's murder was big enough an offense against the entire race to set aside grudges between Houses, but when it was done, the Dwarves of the other Houses were quick to leave for their homes after the Battle of Azanulbizar.

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However, the Rings were designed to lead everybody to an evil end. In the case of Men, the Rings performed admirably and as Sauron intended. In the case of the Dwarves, they did not work as Sauron intended. In the case of the Elves they didn’t really work at all. I think from this evidence, one might conclude that Sauron had more of an insight into Men than anybody else.
They didn't work with the Elves because Sauron didn't forge them, so we can probably leave them out here.
I don't think Aulë explained Sauron anything about the Dwarves in Valinor, and besides it's questionable whether Sauron was still hanging out there by the time Aulë created the Dwarves or if he had already moved his things to Utumno. But he must have been familiar with them instinctively - being one of Aulë's Maiar, he had tuned his music to his and must have been aware of his way of thinking and creating; while none of the Ainur fully understood the theme with the Children of Ilúvatar.
I am therefore quite sure it was Dwarves' natural resistance to manipulation that thwarted Sauron rather than any particular knowledge, or lack of it, on his part, and Men succumbed so completely just because they are weak.

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While we don’t know, it seems reasonable to surmise that this information would have been relayed eastwards, especially given the amount of time that passed.
How about them messenger ravens, or was that a privilege reserved exclusively to the House of Durin?

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So, I've always wondered, what makes Gimli different from the rest of his greedy dwarf brethren? Or are there more dwarves like Gimli where gold and riches hold no influence over them?
I doubt he would've joined the Fellowship if he had been the greedier sort of a Dwarf. He would've gone home after the Council and, like, digged for gold.

Anyway, think of Fíli and Kíli who started playing harps while most of the other Dwarves caressed and fingered the treasure after getting into the Mountain. Then think of Finrod Felagund who wasn't a haughty and arrogant fellow like most other Noldor. It's never that simple.
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Old 02-27-2013, 03:34 PM   #32
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I believe some Dwarves who fought for Sauron could also have seen themselves as primarily siding against the Elves. They might have put their little quarrels with the Orcs aside for that because the Thingol incident was much more personal.
While to some extent that is plausible, I don't know that I am in complete agreement with it because the eastern dwarves probably had very few to almost no dealings with elves. They certainly had no dealings with the more advanced elves. I am not sure they would have had enough dealings with elves to make having a grudge against them a primary motivating force.

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They didn't work with the Elves because Sauron didn't forge them, so we can probably leave them out here.
That is a good point.

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How about them messenger ravens, or was that a privilege reserved exclusively to the House of Durin?
Yes, those too. I still believe there would have been some kind of continuing continental commerce between the Houses.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:19 AM   #33
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I still believe there would have been some kind of continuing continental commerce between the Houses.
Sure. More so, I don't see it unlikely that there would be commerce between Dwarves and some clans of Orcs too. Apart from other hints of this already mentioned I believe, the episode that led to the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs is quite telling. When Thrór was killed the name AZOG was written on his face in Dwarf-runes. That some Orcs would have knowledge of Dwarf-runes to me suggests that the contacts between the two Peoples weren't exclusively hostile. And even more telling is the bag of spare change that the Orcs threw at Thrór's companion: his beggar's fee, "a few coins of little worth". That insult would be quite lost if not both parties were familiar with the currency.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:40 AM   #34
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Sure. More so, I don't see it unlikely that there would be commerce between Dwarves and some clans of Orcs too. Apart from other hints of this already mentioned I believe, the episode that led to the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs is quite telling. When Thrór was killed the name AZOG was written on his face in Dwarf-runes. That some Orcs would have knowledge of Dwarf-runes to me suggests that the contacts between the two Peoples weren't exclusively hostile. And even more telling is the bag of spare change that the Orcs threw at Thrór's companion: his beggar's fee, "a few coins of little worth". That insult would be quite lost if not both parties were familiar with the currency.
Those are excellent points!

I had never thought of this incident in that context before. That is most eye opening.
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:08 AM   #35
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While to some extent that is plausible, I don't know that I am in complete agreement with it because the eastern dwarves probably had very few to almost no dealings with elves. They certainly had no dealings with the more advanced elves. I am not sure they would have had enough dealings with elves to make having a grudge against them a primary motivating force.
We know (as quoted in this thread) that they did have contact with the Avari though.

I also wanted to mention "countless companies of Men of a new sort that we have not met before. Not tall, but broad and grim, bearded like dwarves, wielding great axes. Out of some savage land in the wide East they come, we deem." (LR p.803)

I've always like the idea of an Easterling-Dwarf cultural connection. There's even "the theory (a probable one) that in the unrecorded past some of the languages of Men - including the language of the dominant element in the Atani from which Adûnaic was derived - had been influenced by Khuzdul" (The Peoples of Middle-earth p.317), which is an interesting notion.

It seems that there is an Easterling-Dwarf connection. And we know that there is a substantial Easterling-Orc connection. Is might be possible, then, for there to have been in Rhûn a variety of races in contact with one another, perhaps including the Avari as well. Not to say that this was likely a pleasant or altogether peaceful situation but at least one which may have been somewhat functional.

Given their great resistance to Evil, and the willingness on the part of all seven houses to contribute to the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, I'm not totally convinced by the notion that the Eastern Dwarves turned to Evil entirely, but may certainly have been under the Shadow to a greater extent than their Western kin (explaining how at least some of them apparently allied and traded with Orcs, came to serve Sauron etc). As I discussed elsewhere, to my mind the Dwarves were not of the same spiritual calibre as the Eruhíni which might explain how they neither attained the same levels of heroism nor, perhaps, the same Fallen depths.

I could discuss Dwarf-lore all day...
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:38 AM   #36
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the bag of spare change that the Orcs threw at Thrór's companion: his beggar's fee, "a few coins of little worth". That insult would be quite lost if not both parties were familiar with the currency.

I don't think that's necessarily the case. If we assume, as I think we must, that the coinage of Middle-earth was like that of the Primary World up to the 20th century, coinage had intrinsic value, based on its composition: chiefly gold and silver, plus 'token' currency in copper, bronze, brass and sometimes iron. Note that Butterbur pays for Bill the Pony with "silver pennies," the standard circulating coin of the English middle ages (and 20 of them was considered a fair expense even for a prosperous innkeeper).

And much like Europe in the middle ages, coins we can assume spread far and wide beyond the land where they were minted, and quickly became a promiscuous mixture of origins. This didn't matter, since gold and silver were valued by weight anyway. So one didn't have to be "familiar with the currency" at all to tell that a 25-gram gold coin was of very substantial worth, or that a bag of small copper and brass pieces was of "little worth." Even today, it's apparent to most at a glance that a handful of faux-copper coins roughly the size of a US or European cent, Canadian penny or old German pfennig amounts to little, wherever they came from.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:26 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
the bag of spare change that the Orcs threw at Thrór's companion: his beggar's fee, "a few coins of little worth". That insult would be quite lost if not both parties were familiar with the currency.

I don't think that's necessarily the case. If we assume, as I think we must, that the coinage of Middle-earth was like that of the Primary World up to the 20th century, coinage had intrinsic value, based on its composition: chiefly gold and silver, plus 'token' currency in copper, bronze, brass and sometimes iron. Note that Butterbur pays for Bill the Pony with "silver pennies," the standard circulating coin of the English middle ages (and 20 of them was considered a fair expense even for a prosperous innkeeper).

And much like Europe in the middle ages, coins we can assume spread far and wide beyond the land where they were minted, and quickly became a promiscuous mixture of origins. This didn't matter, since gold and silver were valued by weight anyway. So one didn't have to be "familiar with the currency" at all to tell that a 25-gram gold coin was of very substantial worth, or that a bag of small copper and brass pieces was of "little worth." Even today, it's apparent to most at a glance that a handful of faux-copper coins roughly the size of a US or European cent, Canadian penny or old German pfennig amounts to little, wherever they came from.

I see your point. I remember (back in the days when I collected "modern" coins my suprise when I first saw a British quarter farthing (note that is a quarter of a farthing i.e. 1/16th of a penny) and realized that, low as a farthing was value in turn of the century Britain, there were places where it was still too much money for day to day commerce and even smaller coins were needed (from what I understand, sub farthings (1/4, 1/3 and 1/2) were mostly for use in some of the colonies (malta in particualr, though the were legal tender in Britain itself).
Without any real evidence, I've always sort of assumed that Gondorian money was the currency of choice for inernational (inter tribal?) exchange. As the biggest "power" in ME (exculding Mordor itself, see later) it would probably be the weight and fineness(purity of metal) standards of Gondor/Arnor that would be the "standard" for trade (much as most international trade in Bibilcal times was based on the Tyrian shekel ) Also since (in a lot of ways) Gondor was supposed to be like Rome, I've always sort of imagined they issued roman style coins, as opposed to medival style (in general the medival style of minting, from a plate of metal as opped to a "dump" (slug) resulted in coins that were bigger than the roman kinds, but a lot thinner. The roman style was preferred in a lot of places as the thickness made it harder to clip coins (shave a bit of metal off the sides so as to make a profit) Minas Tirith probably had the master mint, with smaller satellite mints in places like Dol Amroth (there was probably also one in Minas Ithil/Morgul, under the WK's authority that supplied coin to those in Mordor who needed paying (or if they never changed the dies, to flood the free people with debased coinage to weaken thier confidence.)
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:59 AM   #38
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We know (as quoted in this thread) that they did have contact with the Avari though.
This is true, but I'm not sure that contact would have been that substantial. I still hold to my statement that a grudge against the elves wouldn't have been a primary motivating factor in the eastern dwarves siding with Sauron.

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It seems that there is an Easterling-Dwarf connection. And we know that there is a substantial Easterling-Orc connection. Is might be possible, then, for there to have been in Rhûn a variety of races in contact with one another, perhaps including the Avari as well. Not to say that this was likely a pleasant or altogether peaceful situation but at least one which may have been somewhat functional.
I think this is spot on, which is one reason why its a bit of a shame we know so little about Rhun. Perhaps (following my theory, of course ) the reason why some groups of Easterlings had such strong cultural dwarven overtones is because they were partners (or possibly more valued underlings) with one or the other of the eastern houses as opposed to Androg's people who seemed to have been on the exploited or oppressed side of the spectrum.

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I don't think that's necessarily the case. If we assume, as I think we must, that the coinage of Middle-earth was like that of the Primary World up to the 20th century, coinage had intrinsic value, based on its composition: chiefly gold and silver, plus 'token' currency in copper, bronze, brass and sometimes iron.
A very good point, however I think skip spence's point regarding the use of dwarf runes still bears some weight. Yes, the orcs were living in Moria where they were surrounded by dwarf runes, but that doesn't imply they were able to read them by themselves any more than it would imply that if I was living in a ruined ancient Egyptian temple that I would be able to read hieroglyphics. There had to be some kind of familiarity there in order for Azog to be literate in dwarf letters.

Quote:
Without any real evidence, I've always sort of assumed that Gondorian money was the currency of choice for inernational (inter tribal?) exchange. As the biggest "power" in ME (exculding Mordor itself, see later) it would probably be the weight and fineness(purity of metal) standards of Gondor/Arnor that would be the "standard" for trade (much as most international trade in Bibilcal times was based on the Tyrian shekel )
For the area around Gondor (including Rohan) that was probably true. However, I'm not sure that would hold true in northern Middle earth especially after Gondor started to decline. For all its pride and splendor, Gondor was always kind of insular and never really struck me as much of a nation of merchants.

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there was probably also one in Minas Ithil/Morgul, under the WK's authority that supplied coin to those in Mordor who needed paying (or if they never changed the dies, to flood the free people with debased coinage to weaken thier confidence.)
*ponders the implications of economic warfare in Middle earth*
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:59 AM   #39
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It would be plausible to think that the Dwarves also minted coins, at least in places where they had gold like Moria and Erebor. After all, in Of Dwarves and Men we find that the Dwarves relied entirely on local Men for their foodstuffs, as well as the military advantage of allied horsemen, and that implies having a medium of exchange.

It wouldn't even be beyond belief that the Shire-hobbits minted coins, probably in imitation of those of the vanished Kings of Arnor, since we know that they had and worked silver. After all, there seems to have been only limited trade between North and South by Frodo's time, the North Road having fallen into disuse; Saruman's purchases of pipe-weed seem to have been novel and exceptional. In the absence of trade, how would Gondorian coin have made it in any quantity up to the backwater beyond the Baranduin? (Note also that Bilbo was able to spend freely his loot from Smaug's hoard, and I doubt he went down to the butcher expecting to pay with a slice off an engraved goblet-so I suspect that much of it was in coin form).
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:59 AM   #40
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It would be plausible to think that the Dwarves also minted coins, at least in places where they had gold like Moria and Erebor. After all, in Of Dwarves and Men we find that the Dwarves relied entirely on local Men for their foodstuffs, as well as the military advantage of allied horsemen, and that implies having a medium of exchange.

It wouldn't even be beyond belief that the Shire-hobbits minted coins, probably in imitation of those of the vanished Kings of Arnor, since we know that they had and worked silver. After all, there seems to have been only limited trade between North and South by Frodo's time, the North Road having fallen into disuse; Saruman's purchases of pipe-weed seem to have been novel and exceptional. In the absence of trade, how would Gondorian coin have made it in any quantity up to the backwater beyond the Baranduin? (Note also that Bilbo was able to spend freely his loot from Smaug's hoard, and I doubt he went down to the butcher expecting to pay with a slice off an engraved goblet-so I suspect that much of it was in coin form).
Actually there is a sort of third option for the dwarves and the Rohirrim (and any other groups with vaugely germanic/viking habits. In a lot of the Viking world, coins were of short supply and laws about minting your own, often harsh. So what was often used were "money bracelets" these were long spiralled armlets of gold sliver or copper (usually in the shape of a coiled snake) of standard thickness with notches in them of set distance apart. To make a payment, you would count off x notches worth and cut them off. whent he bits got too small, they would be gathered, melted down and made into a new bracelet. It's sort of similar to the "money chains" you see in Colonial Spanish production (those hyper heavly chains of gold links that you see so much of whenever they dredge up the contents of a treasure ship. they were waht you made when you didn't have the autorization to mint coins. I do think there were probably Dwaven coins (if nothing else, there would have to be gold in a form flexible enough for Smaug and other dragons to make a cfortable bed in. But there would be other options.
And the Movie cerinly assumed the Hobbits minted coins, you can buy "shire pennies" (officlaly sactioned) on the collectable market (both mint and "hobbit circulated")
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