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Old 03-06-2007, 05:55 PM   #41
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For the sake of keeping all the relevant text in the same thread, I'm resurrecting this in order to post a bit more relating to the note mentioned in gorthaur_cruel's post.

First, another couple of letters from the same time period tell us that Sauron was a Maia originally attached to Melkor, rather than Aule. This is an aspect of Sauron's origin that we all know was revised after the cited letter of 1956.

Secondly, a portion of letter 246 of 1963 is doubly pertinent to this discussion:
Quote:
Of the others only Gandalf might be expected to master [Sauron]--being an emissary of the Powers and a creature of the same order, an immortal spirit taking a visible physical form.
Not only are Gandalf and Sauron "of the same order" here, but Gandalf "might be expected to master Sauron."
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Old 03-06-2007, 07:03 PM   #42
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I interpret "far higher order" meaning that Sauron was a far greater Maia than Gandalf or Saruman.
I believe that a "far higher order" would reffer to the difference between an embodied istar and Sauron; an istar would assume many weaknesses specific to a Man's body (cf. The Istari, UT), and the "needs to learn much anew by slow experience".
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Not only are Gandalf and Sauron "of the same order" here, but Gandalf "might be expected to master Sauron."
I believe it is relevant to mention the two reasons given in the letter for this:
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It would be a delicate balance. On one side the true allegiance of the Ring to Sauron; on the other superior strength because Sauron was not actually in possession, and perhaps also because he was weakened by long corruption and expenditure of will in dominating inferiors.
It would be interesting to explore what "superior strength" implies. Galadriel says that a ring would give power according to the measure of its (or at least after a while, if the wielder is not powerful enough); we would also need to speculate, if possible at all, how much Sauron's corruptions diminished his power.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:52 AM   #43
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I posted the following post first in the "sex among Maiar" thread in the newcomers-section, but its also relevant to this topic and i would like to know what you think.

We know that Ainur appear in three different states: "unclothed" (their natural, invisible state), "clothed" (they could take whatever form they liked) and incarnated (incarnated Ainu are bound to their form/body and can no longer change it at will; if it is killed/destroyed they cant form a new one and are doomed to spend the rest of their existence as relatively powerless spirits) (See also this thread: http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=5879 )

I think that there are two different forms of incarnation.

A "conventionally biological" (for lack of a better word) incarnation, where the Ainu actually forms a fairly conventional body (modeled after the incarnates) that has a complete organ system. This is the form of Incarnation that the Istari, Melian and also the Umaia in orcform (Boldogs) went through. These Ainur actually became human, elvish (or orcish) in form (and dependent on nourishment and sleep), but can now also reproduce with other true incarnates (i dont think that two incarnated ainu could reproduce).
I guess that this form of Incarnation is much more limiting for the innate Power of the Ainu and that Ainur that incarnated in such a way could be much more easily killed than an Ainu that incarnated himself in the other way. It also seems that they did not to do it entirely out of free will: the Istari had to because it was a requirement for their mission, Melian did it out of Love for Thingol and to conceive, and the Boldogs probably because they lacked the Power for mightier Forms or where maybe forced by Melkor in order to procreate with Orcs.

A "unique" (for lack of a better word) incarnation where the ainu creates a wholly new and original form for himself that acts more like a "biological machine" than an actual body. It could either lack an organ system, or have an organ system that is much more complex than that of the incarnates or animals. I think the bodies of the Balrogs and the incarnated Sauron where of this kind. If the bodies of the Balrogs were completely "biological" (like for example a human body) they would have burnt to death a long time ago. Ainur like that are probably also much harder to kill, because you cant just stab them in the heart (there might be no heart, or there are three hearts! everything is possible), the opponents actually had to destroy or somehow "break" the "form" of the Ainu. They are also less (if at all) dependent on nourishment and sleep. I guess that Ainur that incarnated in such a way were also physically a lot stronger and could better project their innate Power because they (rather voluntary) chose and created a form that completely suited them, but they probably couldn't conceive or impregnate other incarnates because they would not have been "compatible".

I dont think that Olorin (before his Incarnation) was as powerful as Sauron, but even if that were the case, he was (because of their different forms of incarnation) not as powerful as Sauron in Middle-earth: his human body limited and restricted his innate power (and he also needed food, rest, sleep, he had a human organ system that could be damaged etc.) whereas Sauron had created for himself a unique form that was much harder to destroy and allowed him to better project his innate power.

Tolkien wrote about the Incarnation of the Istari in Letter 156:
Quote:
I wd. venture to say that he (Gandalf) was an incarnate 'angel'– strictly an γγελος: that is, with the other Istari, wizards, 'those who know', an emissary from the Lords of the West, sent to Middle-earth, as the great crisis of Sauron loomed on the horizon. By 'incarnate' I mean they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed', though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour. Why they should take such a form is bound up with the 'mythology' of the 'angelic' Powers of the world of this fable. At this point in the fabulous history the purpose was precisely to limit and hinder their exhibition of 'power' on the physical plane, and so that they should do what they were primarily sent for: train, advise, instruct, arouse the hearts and minds of those threatened by Sauron to a resistance with their own strengths; and not just to do the job for them. They thus appeared as 'old' sage figures. But in this 'mythology' all the 'angelic' powers concerned with this world were capable of many degrees of error and failing between the absolute Satanic rebellion and evil of Morgoth and his satellite Sauron, and the fainéance of some of the other higher powers or 'gods'. The 'wizards' were not exempt, indeed being incarnate were more likely to stray, or err.
--> "At this point in the fabulous history the purpose (of the incarnation of the Istari) was precisely to limit and hinder their exhibition of "power"."
Tolkien is quite clear that the human bodies restricted ("limited") the innate Power of the Istari. Of course they still had some magical potential, but they weren't as powerful as they were when clothed, or if they had built for themselves forms that completely suited them.

Here are the already mentioned quotes from Tolkiens Letters:
Quote:
In his (Saurons) actual presence none but very few of equal stature could have hoped to withhold it (the One Ring) from him. Of 'mortals' no one, not even Aragorn. In the contest with the Palantír Aragorn was the rightful owner. Also the contest took place at a distance, and in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when actually physically present. Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic. ... Of the others only Gandalf might be expected to master him – being an emissary of the Powers and a creature of the same order, an immortal spirit taking a visible physical form.
Quote:
...But he (Sauron) went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit.*

*Of the same kind as Gandalf and Saruman, but of a far higher order
Sauron and Gandalf are of "the same order" because they are (or were in Saurons case) both Maiar (and Ainur). That doesnt mean that they are equally powerful.
The second quote that Sauron was of a "far higher order" proves that not all Maiar (or Ainur for that matter) were equally powerful and that Sauron especially was one of the more powerful Maiar. Tolkien uses the same word in both quotes/letters, but it has different meanings: In the first quote he could mean either "Order of the Maiar" or "Order of the Ainur" (in the second quote Tolkien uses the phrase "of the same kind" to express this), whereas in the second quote "Order" means "Level of Power".
For example: Aiwendil and Manwe are beings of the same Order (both are Ainur) but Manwe is a being of a far higher order (he is much more powerful).
"Vala" and "Maia" are merely Job-descriptions for the Ainur. For all we know there could be some Maiar that were more powerful than some Valar, but because of their character and interests they ended up as "helpers" under a Vala that was more powerful. It is quite possible for example that Sauron was more powerful than some of the lesser Valar like Nessa or Vana, but because of his character and his love for construction he became a "helper" (Maia) of Aule, who was also more powerful than him.
Tolkien wrote that Gandalf might be expected to master him, if he actually could is debatable. Tolkien did not write that Gandalf could, or even might, master him, but that he might be "expected" to master him; Tolkien leaves the question open, but I think that, because of the vague nature of the statement, he was merely stating a hypothetical possibility (resting on the fact that both are Ainur) and that Gandalf could not actually do it.

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Old 07-22-2014, 03:18 PM   #44
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For all we know there could be some Maiar that were more powerful than some Valar, but because of their character and interests they ended up as "helpers" under a Vala that was more powerful. It is quite possible for example that Sauron was more powerful than some of the lesser Valar like Nessa or Vana, but because of his character and his love for construction he became a "helper" (Maia) of Aule, who was also more powerful than him.
I doubt this. The closest I've seen to any Maia even being equal to a Vala is that they are less than equal to them. The Silmarillion states "the Valar drew unto them many companions, some less, some well nigh as great as themselves" [Ainulindalë, p. 12] Of the 13 Valar "Nine were of chief power and reverence... surpassing beyond compare all others, whether of the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Ilúvatar has sent into Eä." [Valaquenta, p.23] These were Melkor, Manwë, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, Mandos, Nienna, and Oromë. The Maiar are known as the companions of the Valar, but of "a less degree". Some Maiar may come close to matching the Valar, but in this case only those six Valar who were not included among the chiefs which would include Tulkas, Lórien, Estë, Vairë, Vána and Nessa.

I'd say that since none come close to the chief who are "surpassing beyond compare all others" then the reference to some of the Maiar being "well nigh as great as themselves" has to be in reference to the lesser Valar. Therefore there would be Maiar who come close in comparison to the Valar, but only the lesser Valar [Tulkas, Lórien, Estë, Vairë, Vána and Nessa], but so far as I can tell none are mightier than any Vala.
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:25 PM   #45
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Of course, you are right: the eight most powerful Valar (the Aratar) are above all others. Thats why i mentioned the lesser (less powerful) of the Valar: Nessa and Vana. But it seems that i have overlooked the Silmarillion-quote you mentioned. Thanks for the correction!

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Old 05-10-2018, 02:34 AM   #46
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Another thing that i find curious: Tolkien wrote that the Istari aged, albeit very slowly. When Saruman appeared in Lindon he had black hair but by the time of the War of the Ring it had gone completely white. If you take this development to its logical conclusion, doesn't that mean that the Istari would, eventually, "die" if they stayed long enough in Middle-Earth? What if, for example, Sauron had been a lot (a lot, lot, lot) more patient? If he had spent a few more thousand years in the East, if he decided to let time work for him, and the War of the Ring had started in the Year 6000 of the Third Age instead of 3018 T.A. Would the Istari have died of old Age by then? If Sarumans hair went from black to white (so his appearance went from being more or less middle-aged to rather old) in a timespan of circa 2000 years (not a lot of time actually for an immortal being thats been around since the start of time), then what would 3000 more years do? I mean: the Istari are, for all intents and purposes, human, i.e. fully incarnated and completely tied to their bodies!

Because of that, i never fully understood why those five Maiar undertook the mission at all. Why would an immortal, naturally discarnate being do such a thing? Become imprisoned in a relatively frail body with an expiration date and, essentially, go on a suicide mission that, if it fails, would spell certain "death"? For all eternity? The incarnation process at least seems irreversible? Or did the Valar promise the Istari that, after their victory over Sauron and their return to Valinor, they would reverse the incarnation and return them to their naturally discarnate state, able to change their "clothing" at will? I guess the Valar may have been able to achieve that and its the only explanation that makes the whole thing at least somewhat believable. At least the Istari now have some motivation and at least are not punished for their sacrifice.

But, given all that, what exactly is Sarumans End-Game in Middle-Earth? What is he thinking, hoping? He knows that he is imprisoned in a human body and unable to change it or leave it. This body also restricts his natural Power and carries with it a lot of limitations, for example the need for food and sleep ... must be rather frustrating for an immortal being like "Curumo". Why then would he do what he did? Trying to build an empire, alienating the Valar, essentially putting all his eggs in Middle-Earth? He should know that, given his incarnation, that that course has no future and that it would be only a matter of time before his body gives out? What will he do then, without the help of the Valar? Maybe he thought that, with the One Ring, he would be in a position to strengthen his body and have the power to prolong its life or maybe reincarnate himself in a completely new body? Thats the only explanation i have, otherwise Sarumans actions make absolutely NO SENSE in my opinion, just from a purely self-preservation perspective, disregarding the whole moral dilemma.

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Old 05-10-2018, 07:25 AM   #47
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Another thing that i find curious: Tolkien wrote that the Istari aged, albeit very slowly. When Saruman appeared in Lindon he had black hair but by the time of the War of the Ring it had gone completely white. If you take this development to its logical conclusion, doesn't that mean that the Istari would, eventually, "die" if they stayed long enough in Middle-Earth?
I don't have the books with me, but there was an observation that the Istari, though clothed in physical bodies, did not die because those bodies were "supported by the angelic spirit" of the bodies' inhabitants. The physical aging process was slowed, but not arrested.
So, I guess that does mean that the body would eventually completely wear out, but the Valar guessed that before that could occur, either Sauron wold be victorious and the Istari destroyed, the Istari would die by other means, or Sauron would be defeated.
I don't think Sauron himself necessarily knew the exact nature of the Istari, and it possibly took quite a long time for him to reach the assumption that they came from the West, maybe not until Gandalf's infiltration of Dol Guldur. Also, he might have also wondered about your next question about why a Maia in an earthly paradise would have come to Middle-earth, causing him more confusion as to their origin.

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Because of that, i never fully understood why those five Maiar undertook the mission at all. Why would an immortal, naturally discarnate being do such a thing? Become imprisoned in a relatively frail body with an expiration date and, essentially, go on a suicide mission that, if it fails, would spell certain "death"? For all eternity? The incarnation process at least seems irreversible? Or did the Valar promise the Istari that, after their victory over Sauron and their return to Valinor, they would reverse the incarnation and return them to their naturally discarnate state, able to change their "clothing" at will?
I am sure that after returning to Valinor, Gandalf was restored to his natural, unfettered state of incarnation. That was a given, for all the Istari upon their return.

As to why they went, the chapter The Istari in Unfinished Tales sketches a meeting of the Valar, in which they were deciding who would be sent. From that, I get the impression they were "voluntold" for the assignment, especially Gandalf.

But if they did go of free will, it was either a sense of duty, or a genuine concern for Middle-earth, or both.

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But, given all that, what exactly is Sarumans End-Game in Middle-Earth? ....Maybe he thought that, with the One Ring, he would be in a position to strengthen his body and have the power to prolong its life or maybe reincarnate himself in a completely new body? Thats the only explanation i have, otherwise Sarumans actions make absolutely NO SENSE in my opinion, just from a purely self-preservation perspective, disregarding the whole moral dilemma.
Saruman had become so blinded by an infatuation with power and overlordship that he wasn't thinking clearly. It seems that very early he began studying Sauron and his works, and, instead of using knowledge gained to formulate strategies aimed solely at his defeat, developed a sense of envy for Sauron's power and control. Finding the Ring became an obsession, and the only thing he really cared about.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:08 AM   #48
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Because of that, i never fully understood why those five Maiar undertook the mission at all. Why would an immortal, naturally discarnate being do such a thing? Become imprisoned in a relatively frail body with an expiration date and, essentially, go on a suicide mission that, if it fails, would spell certain "death"?
Why did Frodo volunteer to take the One Ring to Mordor, when that meant almost certain death? Why did Finrod Felagund give up rule of the greatest known city of the Noldor to help out a mortal who, let's be honest, probably didn't have more than a few decades left in him under any circumstances? Why did Aragorn take an army to the Black Gates, expecting to die there, rather than yielding to Sauron's terms and becoming a client state of Mordor? Why, in fact, did some Ainur leave the Timeless Halls and descend into a world marred by the discord of Melkor, rather than staying with the One and the rest of their kindred?

In all cases, the answer is the same: because some things are more important than your own life, however long or short that might be.

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Old 05-10-2018, 08:40 AM   #49
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Yes, i am aware of that. I also read the Unfinished Tales. Of course the incarnation is meant to be a sacrifice. Still, the whole suicide mission aspect only makes sense if the Valar promised to rehouse/remake those Maiar after their victory over Sauron. But, considering that the mission seems to be somewhat "voluntary", it appears to me that those five Maiar really have gotten the short end of the stick. The Valar really appear rather harsh here if you think about it and considering that the mission is voluntary, they could be a bit more lenient. It is completely understandable that someone like Saruman, working actively against the Children, would be denied a return to Valinor. But what about Radagast? If his hröa had been killed by some Orc during the War in Mirkwood or "died" because of old age a few thousand years later, then thats it? His Spirit doomed to remain houseless in Middle-Earth for all eternity? Harsh ... Same with Gandalf, if Eru hadn't intervened after his battle against the Balrog that would probably have been it? Maybe their Spirits would have been able to go naked/houseless to Valinor on their own/by themselves, but thats not the impression i got after reading.

Edit: Thinking a bit more about that, the stance of the Valar really seems hypocritical, because after all they, collectively, made the SAME mistake that Radagast made in the early history of Arda. They left Middle-Earth after Melkor destroyed the Lamps and they made Aman their home, maybe at first as a retreat and a fortress from which to renew the battle against Melkor at a later time (and because they did not have enough power to overthrow Melkor at that time). But still, essentially it appears that they procrastinated in their little paradise for over 13 000 (!) years, fell in love with the land of Valinor, the flora and fauna, and more or less forgot about their mission (to care for the Children) while Melkor ruled and ruined Middle-Earth as he wished. Even after the Awakening of the Elves it took the Valar several decades (over 40 years!) to eventually take action! And after the Awakening of Men they did even less ... probably couldn't be bothered because they were still sulking because of the Flight of the Noldor. This dereliction of duty is actually quite unbelievable and its a wonder humans turned out as well as they did in Tolkiens world, considering that Melkor had a free hand for several centuries to proceed with them as he pleased, completely unhindered by the Valar. Would it not be more than hypocritical of the Valar to punish Radagast and deny him re-entry after they essentially made exactly the same mistake, only repeatedly and on a much, much grander scale?

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Old 05-24-2018, 07:23 AM   #50
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Would it not be more than hypocritical of the Valar to punish Radagast and deny him re-entry after they essentially made exactly the same mistake, only repeatedly and on a much, much grander scale?
Yes, it would.

So?

One of the wonderful things about Tolkien being Christian is that he never saw the Valar as gods in the setting, but as fallible beings. The Valar make a whole string of terrible mistakes; the first is probably letting their guard down for Tulkas' wedding and letting Melkor back in, though 'sticking giant globes of fire up on poles for light' is a pretty dangerous move too. Running away from the world was a terrible misdeed, and it was only chance/the will of the One that made them aware of the coming of the Children at all.

The decision to move the Eldar to Aman was also a mistake, and I believe Tolkien notes as much (he definitely sides with Ulmo on most things, and Ulmo was against it). My guess is that the war against Melkor broke a lot of Middle-earth (I seem to remember that the Misty Mountains were raised by Melkor at that time), and it just seemed nicer to bring the Eldar to their pretty home rather than trying to a) put some form of light in the wider world and b) fix the mess. But it was a mistake, and it led to everything that went wrong after.

Later on, Manwe is oblivious to any form of evil, and basically assumes his brother will be good now Just Because. He punishes Feanor, and Feanor alone, for the changes happening in Noldorin society. The Valar collectively snub Feanor to the point where he won't even consider handing over the Silmarils after the Trees die. And they completely fumble his little insurrection. How did the Noldor manage to slaughter Alqualonde, right under the eye of the Valar?

The answer, clear as starlight, is that Manwe's response to any crisis is to pull his head in. Melkor's ruined our plans for Arda? Let's make an island right in the middle, as far from him as possible, and live there. Melkor destroyed the lamps? Let's go to a completely different landmass. The Children are living in a war zone? Let's bring them here, to our safe space. Melkor might still be bad? Nope, nope, it's all that elf's fault. The Trees are dead and the Noldor are revolting? Raise the mountains higher, close the gates, and let them do whatever they want!

The Valar (Ulmo significantly aside) ignore the pleas of everyone in Beleriand, including the Edain and the Sindar (who have no culpability for the Noldor's crimes). They do absolutely nothing to stop Sauron throughout the entire Second Age. They refuse to protect their people when the Numenoreans invade, passing the buck up to Iluvatar. They don't let any returning Eldar back into Aman proper, stuffing them onto Eressea to keep them from contaminating Paradise. And their sole response to Sauron's resurgence in the Third Age is to send five Maiar to poke around.

---

So now that we're back on-topic, what was the purpose of the Istari? Was it to protect the Children of Iluvatar? Or was it, entirely in line with the previous actions of the Valar, solely to keep Sauron from causing another Numenor Incident? (Numenor, I'll remind you, was a gift from the Valar to Men - the only one they ever gave them - and look how that turned out...! Suddenly it makes a lot more sense why their emissaries in the Third Age came in disguise.) If the latter, then Radagast's drifting-away wasn't just 'you got distracted from your humanitarian mission' - it was 'soldier, you have abandoned the defence of the Motherland'.

Speculative, I know - wildly so - but it has ties to the fate of the returning (ie, dying) Noldor in the First Age. We're specifically told that they weren't allowed to leave the Halls of Mandos for a long time, which is not the normal way of things. Whether that's a punishment, a treatment regime, or a quarantine is unsaid.

Unfortunately the metaphysics of Middle-earth isn't clear enough to answer the question of whether a Maia could be constrained in Mandos against their will. If not, then the only way to keep Radagast (or the Blues) from wandering straight back into Aman... would be to insist he stay in Middle-earth, or send him to the Timeless Halls (which may not even be possible).

It's messed up. It's seriously messed up. But Manwe always has been.

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Old 06-10-2018, 04:03 PM   #51
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Well regarding the numenorians-I think that was more the valar weren't allowed to harm or outright kill the Eruhini or punish them. The Valar could have destroyed them without appealing to Eru but that wasn't how the valar operated.

Ar-Pharazon and his people had for all intents and purposes tried to storm the pearly gates or to use a pagan analogy Mt. Olympus.

Something had to be done about it-the valar could likely have crushed the numenorians without any real effort but that would have gone against the restrictions placed on them, the elves could have fought them off-the elves were promised peace in Aman, really the only option at that point was to hand it over to Eru.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:31 AM   #52
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There are dozens of ways the Valar could have dealt with the Numenoreans without harming anyone. The Bay of Eldamar was previously protected by a raging storm and, in some versions of the legendarium, a string of isles which put anyone trying to pass them into an endless sleep. We're also talking about the people who raised a massive mountain range in order to keep Melkor from sending anything nasty their way (and then raised it higher at a later date!).

The answer to this is that putting any of that in place would have made it impossible for the Eldar to leave Middle-earth, but... what, removing Valinor entirely from the spheres of the world wouldn't? Sure, maybe it would require a bit more attention to detail than Manwe was used to (I assume he would be the one controlling the storm), but they're the Valar, they could absolutely do that.

But that would have left the Numenoreans as a continuing annoyance. The Valar clearly didn't want that - but they also didn't want to take any measures themselves. And it's not like the Numenoreans were harmless: they reached Eressea, Alqualonde, and Tirion under arms, and could easily have sacked any of those. The only city the Valar actually protected by their actions was Valmar - you know, the one they themselves lived in.

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Old 06-11-2018, 07:34 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
But that would have left the Numenoreans as a continuing annoyance. The Valar clearly didn't want that - but they also didn't want to take any measures themselves. And it's not like the Numenoreans were harmless: they reached Eressea, Alqualonde, and Tirion under arms, and could easily have sacked any of those. The only city the Valar actually protected by their actions was Valmar - you know, the one they themselves lived in.
It wasn't that the Valar were reluctant to deal with Numenor themselves; they lacked the authority to take such drastic action as the situation merited.
As the Governors of Arda, they deferred to the One to correct his Children directly.
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