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Old 07-16-2012, 04:30 PM   #1
littlemanpoet
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Did Denethor see in the Palantir that Frodo was captured?

It was pointed out in a book I'm reading that Denethor says something very suggestive that he "knew" that the Ring had fallen into enemy hands, and this was the reason for his despair.

Obviously, by this time he did know about the Ring, and surely he was peeking into the Palantir on a regular basis. But would he have seen Frodo captured? Would he have known to look? How much control did Sauron have over what Denethor saw? And if Denethor saw this, how is it that the Dark Lord did not?
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:23 PM   #2
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Fascinating topic lmp You wouldn't happen to have the quote available would you? Certainly after discovering Faramir had let the hobbits (and the Ring) go, I can see a motivation for Denethor to seek information on them, and thus the possibility he had seen Frodo captured.

Several possibilities though to why Sauron did not find out about the Ring, if indeed Denethor had found Frodo via the palantir. One, I think is, because when Frodo was captured, he did not have the Ring, but Sam did. Therefor, even if Denethor saw this, I'm not sure how Sauron could have been tipped off the captured hobbit has a Ring. It may also explain why the Mouth believes the captive to be spies for Gondor. If Sauron discovered Denethor's snooping, it might have led him to believe "Oh, Denethor is checking in on the spies he sent in, well I have them captured now."

Also, as the UT notes, the palantiri were only a minor part of Sauron's plan, to weaken the leadership within Minas Tirith:

Quote:
It must also be considered that the Stones were only a small item in Sauron's vast designs and operations: a means of dominating and deluding two of his opponents,...~Unfinished Tales: The Palantiri
I think the stones were far more important to Denethor's use, and reasons for his vast knowledge of basically everything happening within his realm, and outside it. So, there would probably be several times Denethor used his palantir, that Sauron may not have been aware of.

And as a final point, Denethor did inherit the right to use the stone, and his will was still very strong. Stronger then any of Sauron's servants, so it was Sauron himself who the UT notes was always trying to "wrench" the stone out of Denethor's control. And Denethor was pretty resilient:

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Denethor could, after he had acquired the skill, learn much of the distant events by the use of the Anor-stone alone, and even after Sauron became aware of his operations he could still do so, as long as he retained the strength to control his Stone to his own purposes;...~ibid
I am still very interested if you can track down the reference that Denethor might have known, and seen Frodo was captured. I have not even considered this before, and it's really fascinating after all these years, you can still learn new insight and perspective.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:40 PM   #3
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I second Boro. It's a neat point, and I'd love to know the actual reference. I think that Denethor did not have to check the palantir to believe that the hobbit was captured - Faramir told him that a) Frodo is a Halfling, not a warrior, who b) is about to just walk into Mordor, c) taking the path of the infamous Cirith Ungol. The chances of him getting through look like they are below zero (which makes us appreciate Sam's and Frodo's - but especially Sam's - deeds even more, though that is beside the point).
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:11 PM   #4
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Fascinating topic lmp You wouldn't happen to have the quote available would you? Certainly after discovering Faramir had let the hobbits (and the Ring) go, I can see a motivation for Denethor to seek information on them, and thus the possibility he had seen Frodo captured.
Let me add to the praise of the topic. It's an amazing thing about these books: no matter how many times you've read them, there always seems to be new questions to consider.

I would think the suggestive quotes are these after Faramir's wounding by the Nazgûl:

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Then [Denethor] bade them make a bed in the chamber and lay Faramir upon it and depart. But he himself went up alone into the secret room under the summit of the Tower, and many who looked up thither at that time saw a pale light that gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows for a while, and then flashed and went out.
Soon afterward, Pippin noticed a marked change in Denethor, and the latter said this:

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'Comfort me not with wizards!' said Denethor. 'The fool's hope has failed. The Enemy has found it, and now his power waxes; he sees our very thoughts, and all we do is ruinous'.
Now, The Tale of Years puts Frodo's capture in Cirith Ungol and Faramir's wounding on the same day, March 13th. However, Shagrat did not reach Barad-dûr carrying Frodo's items until the 17th. So I think Sauron certainly did not know anything about Frodo that could have had a connection with Denethor's madness.

My opinion is that Denethor cast his gaze upon Cirith Ungol (knowing from Faramir that Frodo had gone that way) and saw Frodo lying in the Tower. With the knowledge that Frodo had had the Ring, added to Faramir's condition, no wonder the guy went insane.
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:11 AM   #5
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You have it right, Inziladun. Nice work. I never seem to have my books with me when I get online. So thanks.

So it appears (if I may use language so suggestive) that Tolkien covered his tracks on this one. Sauron apparently had so much else he was paying attention to, and did not consider how invaluable were the Palantiri, and to make matters worse (for Sauron that is), Denethor was strong enough of will that Sauron had to wrench the stone FROM him. I had not thought of it that way.

So it is indeed apparent that Sauron did NOT know that the captive in Cirith Ungol was indeed the Ringbearer. And here I thought that just maybe I'd found something by which Tolkien had not niggled enough. Silly me.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:17 PM   #6
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What got me going in the first place is apparently an error by Tom Shippey in J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, toward the end of his chapter on the mythic dimension, where he says,
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The likelihood is that [Frodo captured and taken to Minas Morgul {sic}] is what Denethor has seen, in a vision controlled by Sauron.
So Shippey's wrong about Minas Morgul already, and apparently he's incorrect about Sauron's control. Hmm... is he also wrong about author of the century?
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:43 PM   #7
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Now, The Tale of Years puts Frodo's capture in Cirith Ungol and Faramir's wounding on the same day, March 13th. However, Shagrat did not reach Barad-dûr carrying Frodo's items until the 17th. So I think Sauron certainly did not know anything about Frodo that could have had a connection with Denethor's madness.

My opinion is that Denethor cast his gaze upon Cirith Ungol (knowing from Faramir that Frodo had gone that way) and saw Frodo lying in the Tower. With the knowledge that Frodo had had the Ring, added to Faramir's condition, no wonder the guy went insane.
What about the conversation between Gorbag and Shagrat right at the end of The choices of Master Samwise?

"And we'vestruck a bit of luck at last :got something that Lugburz wants.....no I don't know' said Gorbag's voice.'The messages go through quicker than anythong could fly as a rule. But I don't enquire how it's done. Safest not to..... about an hour ago .. A message came 'Nazgul uneasy. Spies feared on stairs. Douuble Vigilance' ..but my patrol wasn't ordered out for another day due to the Great Signal going up ,,, and then they couldn't get Lugburz to pay attention for a good while I'm told"

Shagrat didn't have to reach Barad Dur. Details were to be sent in advance by this undisclosed message system.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:22 PM   #8
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What about the conversation between Gorbag and Shagrat right at the end of The choices of Master Samwise?

"And we'vestruck a bit of luck at last :got something that Lugburz wants.....no I don't know' said Gorbag's voice.'The messages go through quicker than anythong could fly as a rule. But I don't enquire how it's done. Safest not to..... about an hour ago .. A message came 'Nazgul uneasy. Spies feared on stairs. Douuble Vigilance' ..but my patrol wasn't ordered out for another day due to the Great Signal going up ,,, and then they couldn't get Lugburz to pay attention for a good while I'm told"

Shagrat didn't have to reach Barad Dur. Details were to be sent in advance by this undisclosed message system.
An interesting consideration.

To make sure I understand, are you suggesting that Sauron did send Denethor a message, perhaps with a vision of the captured "spy"? But for what purpose: merely to dishearten him, thinking indeed that Frodo was just on an important scouting mission for Gondor? Why would Sauron think that Denethor even needed such a spy anyway, since he knew Denethor to be in possession of a palantír himself?
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:43 PM   #9
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No I am merely saying that the date of Shagrat's reaching Barad Dur with the artefacts doesn't seem to be crucial. If Sauron knew the details of Frodo's clothing and the staff of Lebethron that Faramir gave him and which was left by him then that would have been enough to convince Denethor maybe.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:44 PM   #10
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Denethor was probably checking on Cirith Ungol without any prompting from Sauron, as he would have been interested in the status of the Ring himself.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:32 PM   #11
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How much control did Sauron have over what Denethor saw? And if Denethor saw this, how is it that the Dark Lord did not?
I do not think the Stone would lie to him as Gandalf says the Stones of Seeing, "do not lie, and not even the Lord of Barad-dur can make them do so. He can, maybe, by his will choose what things shall be seen by weaker minds, or cause them to mistake the meaning of what they see." [RotK, p. 170] When Gandalf spoke of the Stone of the White Tower he said that the Stewards thought they only knew of it. But Gandalf knew they held it. Denethor used it, "as the peril of his realm grew... and was deceived: more than once, I guess, since Boromir departed... he saw nonetheless only those things which that Power permitted him to see... the vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him fed the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind." [RotK, p. 145] I do not think anything he saw was false but he apparently did not get a complete picture of it and only saw what did not help his hope. Gandalf said that when Denethor was more wise he, "did not presume to use it, nor to challenge Sauron, knowing the limits of his own strength." [RotK, p. 145]

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Old 07-24-2012, 08:15 AM   #12
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Well done Belegorn. This quote - from LotR - raises my issue back up again. As much as Tolkien may have tried to cover his tracks, have we a hole in the plot here? Or is there a reasonable/plausible explanation why Denethor could see Frodo as captive, knowing about the Ring, and Sauron not knowing about the Ring even while controlling what Denethor sees?
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:49 AM   #13
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Or is there a reasonable/plausible explanation why Denethor could see Frodo as captive, knowing about the Ring, and Sauron not knowing about the Ring even while controlling what Denethor sees?
To me that still seems the most likely. Logically, Cirith Ungol would appear to be an obvious choice for Denethor to view.
I go back to the question of why Sauron would have thought that the knowledge of Frodo's capture would have been of any special heartbreak to Denethor. From Sauron's own demonstrable actions, it seems clear that he really did not view Frodo as anyone but a spy. There were so many other things Sauron could have "allowed" Denethor to see in order to create despair: the marching of the Haradrim to Mordor; maybe legions of Orcs overshadowed by wingéd Nazgûl; the Black sails of the Corsairs. Why would Sauron bother with making Denethor look at one little hobbit?

Also, Pippin's use of the Orthanc-stone was only a little over a week before Denethor's "final straw" viewing, March 5th. Gandalf surmised that that event would cause Sauron to be preoccupied with Saruman in Isengard. Sauron would have known that the hobbit in Cirith Ungol could not possibly be Pippin, so I think Sauron might have been more likely to associate Frodo with whatever had happened to Saruman, rather than Denethor.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:20 AM   #14
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And maybe Sauron's control of Denethor's viewing amounts to "Only let him view my strongholds, my places of power, my actions that make it look bad for Gondor." Certainly don't show any weaknesses. Which brings a question: I wonder if Sauron believed himself to have any weaknesses, other than the absence of the Ring?
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:05 AM   #15
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I think any weakness Sauron saw was tied into the Ring. He did not believe anyone could destroy the Ring and it was not destroyed voluntarily. Gollum fell into the pit and Frodo's will could not bring him to do so. So he was looking at it from the angle that his enemies would try to use the power of the Ring to overthrow him.
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:17 PM   #16
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Tale of Years (Appendix B) says that Shagrat arrived at Barad-dûr with Frodo’s cloak, mail-shirt, and sword on March 17. Even if we assume the Nazgûl that descended upon Cirith Ungol informed Sauron about the spy captured outside Shelob’s Lair and his escape in the company of someone else, there is no indication that Sauron understood its significance until Frodo put on the Ring in Sammath Naur. March 17 was four days after Faramir fell outside the walls of Minas Tirith, and Frodo fell wounded by Shelob. (Reader's Companion adds that Sauron had Shagrat executed.) Sauron’s actions indicate he believed Aragorn (or Gandalf) had the Ring: it readily explained Saruman’s defeat; thus Sauron’s haste to blockade Minas Tirith before Aragorn could arrive.

Frodo was wounded on the morning of March 13 (Hammond and Scull provide a synopsis of Tolkien’s notes on dates and times in Reader's Companion pp 486-487) and taken by Orcs “in the late afternoon or evening.” Faramir was wounded at about the same time, in the last hour of the day (“It drew now to evening by the hour…”, “Siege of Gondor”, p 819). After that, many residents of Minas Tirith saw in the Tower of Ecthelion “a pale light that gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows for a while, and then flashed and went out.” I agree with Inziladun that Cirith Ungol is one obvious place for Denethor to scry with the palantír. To Denethor’s credit, he give nothing away to Sauron. Had he exposed his knowledge of the Hobbits in Mordor, this tale would have a different end.
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Old 08-21-2014, 06:34 AM   #17
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I have a theory that Sauron never contemplated that the Ring was in the hands of the Hobbits until he 'saw' Pippin in Minas Tirith through the Palantir Denethor was using. He may have come to know that a Hobbit was living in Minas Tirith by forcing Denethor to give up information against his will, probing his mind or thoughts. I think Sauron thought the attack would come from Minas Tirith rather than through the backdoor, he allowed Denethor to use the Palantir, not because a mortal had the resilience to resist but to gain information and spread disinformation like propaganda. No mortal could resist a direct atack from Sauron, only Aragorn had the mental strength and that not for long on his own.

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Old 08-21-2014, 01:36 PM   #18
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I'm not sure that Sauron could have forced Denethor to give up information against his will. The Stones were his to use by right and he had long practice in their use and obviously was strong-willed.
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Old 08-21-2014, 02:16 PM   #19
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sorry I cant agree. Denethor lost his wits trying to fence with Sauron, he was mortal, even Aragorn wouldnt risk it.
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:38 PM   #20
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I believe that Denethor could and did resist Sauron for a good while. However, his mental defense couldn't have lasted too long. I don't think he gave away too much information over the years of using the Palantir. He was weakened by the end - but that's because of all his previous hard-won victories. Aragorn isn't the only strong-willed guy around.

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I have a theory that Sauron never contemplated that the Ring was in the hands of the Hobbits until he 'saw' Pippin in Minas Tirith through the Palantir Denethor was using.
What happened to "Shire... Baggins..."? Sauron knew a hobbit had the Ring for a long time. Furthermore, how is this relevant? Sauron saw Pippin when the said hobbit looked into Saruman's Palantir, much before he came to Minas Tirith. And either way, how does the Ring itself tie in?
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:59 PM   #21
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I believe that Denethor could and did resist Sauron for a good while. However, his mental defense couldn't have lasted too long. I don't think he gave away too much information over the years of using the Palantir. He was weakened by the end - but that's because of all his previous hard-won victories. Aragorn isn't the only strong-willed guy around.



What happened to "Shire... Baggins..."? Sauron knew a hobbit had the Ring for a long time. Furthermore, how is this relevant? Sauron saw Pippin when the said hobbit looked into Saruman's Palantir, much before he came to Minas Tirith. And either way, how does the Ring itself tie in?
I think Sauron let Denethor use the palantir because it suited him, he didnt need to overpower Denethor, just keep him dangling for more information. Sauron would have known Denethor was using the palantir but kept him there like a mouse in front of a large cat, playing with him.

As for Pippin I got confused with the palantir of Saruman, but I just assumed when Sauron saw Pippin he didnt know it wasnt a Baggins he was looking at, just a Hobbit.
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:32 PM   #22
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I don't believe Sauron "let" Denethor use the palantir so much as caught him at it. The Palantir was more Denethor's right than Sauron's. Sauron may have had some control over what Denethor saw, but Denethor's right and will gave him more personal control. There is no indication that Denethor contended directly with Sauron through the Palantir, unlike Saruman. The Palantir of Orthanc carried Pippin's perception directly to the mind of Sauron, as if it was long accustomed to going there.
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Old 08-21-2014, 05:20 PM   #23
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sorry I cant agree. Denethor lost his wits trying to fence with Sauron, he was mortal, even Aragorn wouldnt risk it.
I can't agree with this. Denethor lost his wits when he thought Faramir was dealt a mortal blow.

According to Aragorn himself, he did use the Stone and revealed himself to Sauron before they took the Paths of the Dead.

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Originally Posted by RotK; The Passing of the Grey Company
I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it, or so I judged. The right cannot be doubted. The strength was enough - barely. It was a bitter struggle, and the weariness is slow to pass. I spoke no word to him, and in the end I wrenched the Stone to my own will. That alone he will find hard to endure. And he beheld me. <...> when I mastered the Stone, I learned many things. A grave peril I saw coming unlooked for upon Gondor from the South that will draw off great strength from the defense of Minas Tirith.
The Stones were used for communication in the realm of the Dúnedain, but Sauron "used a Stone for the transference of his superior will, dominating the weaker surveyor and forcing him to reveal hidden thought and to submit to commands." [The Palantíri, Note #5]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unfinished Tales; The Palantíri
the Stones were originally "innocent," serving no evil purpose. It was Sauron who made them sinister, and instruments of domination and deceit.
Denethor also had a right to the Stone as warden of the Kings. However, Gandalf had his doubts about Denethor, that perhaps he too, like Saruman, had surrendered to Sauron. Take note of what is said concerning those who had a right to use the Stones.

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Originally Posted by The Palantíri
In the case of Denethor, the Steward was strengthened, even against Sauron himself, by the fact the Stones were far more amenable to legitimate users: most of all to true "Heirs of Elendil" (as Aragorn), but also to one with inherited authority (as Denethor), as compared to Saruman, or Sauron.

<...>

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. <...> the Arnor stone was his by right, and nothing but expediency was against his use of it in his grave anxieties. He must have guessed that the Ithil-stone was in evil hands, and risked contact with it, trusting his strength. His trust was not entirely unjustified. Sauron failed to dominate him and could only influence him by deceits.
He never dominated Denethor and therefore could not force him to reveal his thought to him. It is said that Sauron may have tried to mess with Denethor but he was ever able to wrench the Stone from Sauron. So I would say that the only information Sauron got was not from Denethor, but from scrying the Stone and looking upon the land of Gondor, as the Dúnedain used to do when they watched their borders with the Stones and kept and eye on their enemies.
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:07 AM   #24
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Fair enough, but Denethor was pretty much teetering on the edge by the time Faramir was injured. So why the sudden collapse of his sanity into madness? Only a person who has been worn down by great peril snaps like that. Before Fara mirs injury Denethor had been in full control of his mind and was defending the city with some ability, he wasnt giving up to despair like film Denethor, so my question is would the apparent 'death' of Faramir, even though it must have been possible to ascertain whether he had a pulse or not, been enough to make Denethor go mad? My view is the long struggles with the palantir corrupted his mind, letting Saurons messages of despair fill him with dread. Denethor was a mortal man and not Young, he was still strong but not as strong as Aragorn mentally. After all Aragorn had experience of toughing it out in the wilds, good battle training, Denethor was used to an easy life in an Ivory tower.
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Old 08-22-2014, 02:57 PM   #25
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When Gandalf and Pippin arrive at Minas Tirith Pippen takes note of Denethor during his battle of wills with Gandalf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RotK; Minas Tirith
Pippen saw a likeness between the two, and he felt the strain between them, <...> Denethor looked indeed much more like a great wizard than Gandalf did, more kingly, beautiful, and powerful; and older.
He sees a vibrant man of power. However, when Faramir is wounded this changes. Also Faramir does have a Morgul-wound, so feeling for a pulse would not matter. He'd been sick for a while, poisoned. They all knew what would happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RotK; The Siege of Gondor
Faramir lay upon his bed in the chamber of the White Tower, wandering in a desperate fever;

<...>

as he [Pippin] watched, it seemed to him that Denethor grew old before his eyes, as if something had snapped in his proud will, and his stern mind was overthrown. Grief maybe had wrought it, and remorse. He saw tears on that once tearless face, more unbearable than wrath.

<...>

"I sent my son forth, unthanked, unblessed, out into needless peril, and here he lies with poison in his veins. Nay, nay, whatever may now betide in war, my line too is ending, even the House of the Stewards has failed. Mean folk shall rule the last remnants of the Kings of Men, lurking in the hills until all are hounded out."
He's in despair about the fate of his son, "He might speak before the end. But that is near." and also about about the fate of the Dúnedain. But it seems clear to me that what has broken him is Faramir's injury and oncoming death, as he sat by his side and could care less about what was happening outside his halls.

However, Gandalf makes the claim that "the vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him fed the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind." [RotK; The Pyre of Denethor]

I would not say Denethor had it easy. Gondor was ever at war and I would assume that Denethor was a captain in the armies of Gondor under his father, just as his sons were under him. The Stewards, it seems, as with the kings, were always part of the army.

You have compared Denethor to Aragorn before and it is said that they were as like as to the nearest of kin. So physically and mentally it would appear they were very much alike and not quite so different [Appendix A; The Stewards]. They were even about the same age.
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Old 08-22-2014, 03:27 PM   #26
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I think Faramir was like Aragorn, but Boromir was more like Denethor, I seem to remember thinking that Denethor resented Faramir this likeness to the kings of Gondor. Denethor was a powerful and kingly man, but it was mostly pride imo.
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Old 08-22-2014, 03:38 PM   #27
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He resented Faramir because he was like Aragorn. Bormoir was not like Denethor. Denethor was actually more like Faramir, he just liked Boromir. Faramir and Denethor acted more like Númenóreans. They were warriors and loremasters. Funny enough he berated Faramir for this apparently not realizing that he was seeing himself in Faramir, but he saw Aragorn, his opponent in Faramir. Again, keep in mind, "he was as like to Thorongil [Aragorn] as to one of nearest kin" [Appendix A; The Stewards] All three of these High Men were similar, but Faramir reminded him of Aragorn because of his High Númenórean bearing and friendship with Gandalf, like Aragorn. Finally:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RotK; Minas Tirit
He is not as other men of this time, Pippin, and whatever be his descent from father to son, by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true in him; as it does in his other son, Faramir, and yet did not in Boromir whom he loved best.
Boromir was more like the Rohirrim, who loved battle.
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Old 08-22-2014, 03:47 PM   #28
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Denethor was a powerful and kingly man, but it was mostly pride imo.
Denethor was a High Man, a Dúnadan. He was a greater man than any other king unless it be a King of the Dúnedain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RotK, Minas Tirith
Denethor is of another sort, proud and subtle, a man of far greater lineage and power [than Théoden], though he is not called a king.
If you were to consider Denethor as compared to other men just recall the comparisons made of the Dúnedain to other men. The warriors of Rohan were like children next to them, and Éowyn saw that none of their warriors could compete with them. This would hold true of Denethor as well, being a Dúnadan.
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Old 08-22-2014, 04:20 PM   #29
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Denethor may be all that is noble, but he did resent Faramir and Aragorn, and thats pride, pride that he shared with Boromir, so in that way Denethor was in character more like Boromir than Faramir.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:16 PM   #30
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I think it is implied he did. What he says to Pipin certainly gives me the impression he has seen as much.

'Comfort me not with wizards!' said Denethor. 'The fool's hope has failed. The enemy has found it, and now his power waxes; he sees our very thoughts and all we do is ruinous.'
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:17 PM   #31
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I do not doubt Denethor had similarities with both of his sons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FotR; Appendix A; The Stewards
Boromir, five years the elder, beloved by his father, was like him in face and pride, but in little else. Rather he was a man after the sort of King Eärnur of old. taking no wife and delighting chiefly in arms; fearless and strong, but caring little for lore, save the tales of old battles. Faramir the younger was like him in looks but otherwise in mind. He read the hearts of men as shrewdly as his father, but what he read moved him sooner to pity than to scorn. He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and music, and therefore by many in those days his courage was judge less than his brother's. But it was not so, except that he did not seek glory in danger without a purpose. He welcomed Gandalf at such times as he came to the City, and he learned what he could from his wisdom; and in this as in many other matters he displeased his father.
Here there is a picture drawn of Denethor and his sons. They are both like and not like him, as one would expect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RotK; Minas Tirith
He loved him [Boromir] greatly: too much perhaps; and the more so because they were unlike.
The last quote shows that Gandalf thought they were not alike, Denethor and Boromir. He figured that he loved Boromir so much because he was not like himself. His resentment of Aragorn is another matter, due perhaps to his guess that Aragorn, or Thorongil as he also knew him, was of the royal line of the North.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Appendix A; The Stewards
Denethor <...> had discovered who this stranger Thorongil in truth was, and suspected that he and Mithrandir designed to supplant him.
However, even with Aragorn their thoughts were basically similar and he reminded Pippin of Aragorn, rather than of Boromir.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stewards"
in one matter only were their counsels to the Steward at variance: Thorongil often warned Ecthelion not to put trust in Saruman the White in Isengard, but to welcome rather Gandalf the Grey. But there was little love between Denethor and Gandalf.; and after the days of Ecthelion there was less welcome for the Grey Pilgrim in Minas Tirith.
Also note that Boromir had accepted Aragorn, Denethor did not. Faramir too had accepted Aragorn.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:17 PM   #32
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All of this bring up an interesting field for speculation. When Denethor views the Black Ships sailing up the Anduin in the Palantir, how much exactly did he see, or more to the point, if Sauron is controlling what the Palantir shows him by this point what exactly is he showing Denethor? Objectively, it is reasonable to assume Denethor saw exactly what he claimed to have seen, black ships sailing up the Anduin, and interpreted it (perfectly logically, given the circumstances) as meaning the Corsairs were sailing up from Umbar to Join the battle on Sauron's side. In and of itself this would be perfectly good reason to break down (especially since it would mean Lebennen would be enemy controlled by now, and Minas Tirith now more or less wholly surrounded with no way to flee left. But , given the kind of man Denethor is, I wonder if at this point Sauron, despairing with breaking him for good by displays of Mordor's might might, and havin some idea of how Denthor thinks. have tried a new tactic, one that actually worked, namely playing into Denthor's nature by letting (or making) him see what is ACTUALLY happening i.e letting him seen Aragorn routing the Corsairs and setting sail. By doing this he would basically be showing Denthor that, even if he could repulse Mordor's army, he would STILL "lose everything"; the king was coming back. I Denethor saw the Dead Men obeying Aragorn/Thorongil's orders, he would no longer have any doubts that Aragorn was the King, and any hopes he might of had of disputing the claim post battle would have evaporated. Objectively, Sauron probably knows that in the long run, while Denthor's death would weaken Minas Tirith, it alone could not make the city simply fall; that there would be others to take over command, that the Men of Rohan would be arriving at Pellenor soon, and (eventually) Aragorn himself was showing up and what that would likely mean. On the other hand, if he could play into Denthors fears so much as to focus on eliminating Aragorn as soon as he arrived or even go so far as to subtly insinuate himself deep enough in Dethethor's mind to, in a virtual sense, suggest the following "You know, if you turn traitor and ally Minas Tirith WITH me, we can get rid of this last threat to your rule and you and your sons can rule the city forever unthreatened. My servant made your son sick, do you not believe I could make him well again. Continue to oppose me and you are doomed, one way or another. Join me and your line is secure. I'm not all that confident Sauron would be that subtle at this point, but it Occurs to me that, from Denthor's POV, Aragorn's coming is as much "destruction" as the Corsairs.
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:50 PM   #33
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But, Alfirin, if this hypothetical plan had "actually worked", Denethor would in fact have turned traitor, right?
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:55 PM   #34
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But, Alfirin, if this hypothetical plan had "actually worked", Denethor would in fact have turned traitor, right?
Yes, had it worked, he would have. The situation as it actually turned out in the scenario I suggested requires Sauron actually either overestimating Denethor's resilience (assuming that Denethor's pride and determination to see his rule continue NO MATTER WHAT would galvanize him to levels of hidden inner strength it turned out he just didn't have anymore) or underestimating just how deeply Denthor was committed to NEVER giving in to the enemy no matter the cost.
I merely put the above as a possible scenario; a reason why it might have been in Sauron's interest to have shown Denethor events as they
actually were in Umbar, as opposed to how Denethor might have logically expected them to be (i.e. Umbar just fine, and the corsairs themselves in the boats heading up the Anduin)
Heck, for all I know, Sauron could have show Denthor Aragorn and STILL intended Denthor to off himself. He might have just hoped Denthor's pride would drive him to play dog in the manger and set the whole CITY on fire as his pyre, rather than see it fall into hands other than his own, regardless of whom.
I also admit that the scenario also has one other flaw as events stand, it requires Denthor to be so deep in his pride he is willing to actually lie to Gandalf and possibly put the city in more jeopardy (in the scenario Denethor would know it was Aragorn on the ships; and that they will get there eventually (whether in vain or not) so telling Gandalf they are enemies accoplishes nothing except spite him.)
I just merely wished to suggest that as Sauron 1. Might though is own Palantir viewing know of what Aragorn did. 2. Is not above using guile as well as brute force might concoct a way to spin this possibly significant setback in his plans (With a large part of the people of Umbar of Black Numenorean decent, I imagine Sauron might consider them "elites" among those who serve him, and their loss as a blow of note) into an advantage.
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:25 PM   #35
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On the other hand, if he could play into Denthors fears so much as to focus on eliminating Aragorn as soon as he arrived or even go so far as to subtly insinuate himself deep enough in Dethethor's mind to, in a virtual sense, suggest the following "You know, if you turn traitor and ally Minas Tirith WITH me, we can get rid of this last threat to your rule and you and your sons can rule the city forever unthreatened. My servant made your son sick, do you not believe I could make him well again. Continue to oppose me and you are doomed, one way or another. Join me and your line is secure.
The idea that Sauron showed Denethor his doom in Aragorn's rightful kingship is an intriguing one, and I quite like your thinking. This specific bit above about Denethor actually turning traitor, however, I consider to be most unlikely. I'm sure we're familiar with Letter 183 regarding Denethor:
Quote:
It had become for him a prime motive to preserve the polity of Gondor, as it was, against another potentate, who had made himself stronger and was to be feared and opposed for that reason rather than because he was ruthless and wicked.
Hence why I think Denethor was in a no-win situation: submit to Aragorn and lose his position, or submit to Sauron and lose it. I think he hated Sauron too much as his chief "political" rival to ever consider alliance with him or even feign it the way Saruman did. Sauron and Aragorn would probably be no different in his mind: two powerful people who could oust him from his position as (in his prideful view, at least) the eminent leader in Middle-earth.
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Old 08-23-2014, 05:13 AM   #36
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I actually agree that Denethor actually turning traitor is highly unlikely; I was merely suggesting that Sauron had adopted this plan hoping he could turn Denethor traitor, or at least, to set him on some path of action where he would squander what little defensive advantage Minas Tirith in some plan to get rid of his "rival" Aragorn or raze it to the ground just to deny it to another. That latter might be acceptable to Sauron. While he certainly wanted Minas Tirith conquered, I'm not sure if having it still more or less intact would have been as important to him. He probably would have liked to have, as Frodo put it "Two Minas Morgul's grinning out at each other across a barren waste." (or something like that) but I doubt he would consider it essential; one Minas Morgul and a pile of ruins would probably be OK too in his book.
Come to think of it Denethor might have been delusional enough by this point to think Aragorn might not stop the city being destroyed as well, in a literal not metaphorical sense. Old and venerable as Minas Tirith is, given that Aragorn has spent most of his life in the North, Denethor might assume that he plans to let Minas Tirth go to rot and create a new royal seat for himself in Arnor; closer to "home". Gandalf seems OK with letting the city be destroyed, and Aragorn is clearly in league with Gandalf, so maybe he's OK with the end of the city too.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:06 AM   #37
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Interesting speculations.

I for one think that Sauron used Denethors pride against him. If for example Faramir had had the palantir his lack of pride would have saved him from the folly and madness that overcame Denethor. the pride of Denethor meant that the palantir became like looking through a glass darkly, it obscured and it warped whatever Denethor saw. Faramirs purity would have meant a clear vision. Rather like the pure soul of Frodo meant his heart was not tainted by the Ring until the very end. The seeds of pride ruined many a noble man, it ruined Boromir, it ruined Saruman, it ruined Denethor.
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Old 09-03-2014, 07:58 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Alfirin View Post
All of this bring up an interesting field for speculation. When Denethor views the Black Ships sailing up the Anduin in the Palantir, how much exactly did he see, or more to the point, if Sauron is controlling what the Palantir shows him by this point what exactly is he showing Denethor? Objectively, it is reasonable to assume Denethor saw exactly what he claimed to have seen, black ships sailing up the Anduin, and interpreted it (perfectly logically, given the circumstances) as meaning the Corsairs were sailing up from Umbar to Join the battle on Sauron's side. In and of itself this would be perfectly good reason to break down (especially since it would mean Lebennen would be enemy controlled by now, and Minas Tirith now more or less wholly surrounded with no way to flee left. But , given the kind of man Denethor is, I wonder if at this point Sauron, despairing with breaking him for good by displays of Mordor's might might, and havin some idea of how Denthor thinks. have tried a new tactic, one that actually worked, namely playing into Denthor's nature by letting (or making) him see what is ACTUALLY happening i.e letting him seen Aragorn routing the Corsairs and setting sail. By doing this he would basically be showing Denthor that, even if he could repulse Mordor's army, he would STILL "lose everything"; the king was coming back. I Denethor saw the Dead Men obeying Aragorn/Thorongil's orders, he would no longer have any doubts that Aragorn was the King, and any hopes he might of had of disputing the claim post battle would have evaporated. Objectively, Sauron probably knows that in the long run, while Denthor's death would weaken Minas Tirith, it alone could not make the city simply fall; that there would be others to take over command, that the Men of Rohan would be arriving at Pellenor soon, and (eventually) Aragorn himself was showing up and what that would likely mean. On the other hand, if he could play into Denthors fears so much as to focus on eliminating Aragorn as soon as he arrived or even go so far as to subtly insinuate himself deep enough in Dethethor's mind to, in a virtual sense, suggest the following "You know, if you turn traitor and ally Minas Tirith WITH me, we can get rid of this last threat to your rule and you and your sons can rule the city forever unthreatened. My servant made your son sick, do you not believe I could make him well again. Continue to oppose me and you are doomed, one way or another. Join me and your line is secure. I'm not all that confident Sauron would be that subtle at this point, but it Occurs to me that, from Denthor's POV, Aragorn's coming is as much "destruction" as the Corsairs.
Interesting.

This raises another point in my mind.

Did Sauron actually know that Aragorn had captured the Corsair ships?

It would seem at least at the battle of Pellenor Field, that his troops were wholly unprepared. If Sauron had known, he could have anticipated Aragaorn's arrival by deploying his troops differently. Surely he could have sent a Nazgul to get the message there in time?
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Old 09-03-2014, 08:26 AM   #39
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Did Sauron actually know that Aragorn had captured the Corsair ships?
I think Sauron did not know. His attention seems to have been so focused on Minas Tirith that he was blind to all else. He knew of Aragorn, of course, but he would have been forgiven for naturally assuming Aragorn would immediately head for Minas Tirith to rally forces against him.
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Old 09-03-2014, 06:26 PM   #40
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I suppose it all really hinges on just how Sauron viewed the Corsairs. As I mentioned earlier, he might have considered them particularly elite servants given the strong streak of Black Numenorian blood in them i.e. one of his most beloved. At bare minimum he presumably would have had a messenger sent in order to tell them that the march on Minas Tirith was finally a go and to muster the ships and sail hence. Unless Sauron did not feel such a message would be necessary; that the Corsairs would sail to Minas Tirith of their own accord, either in their hatred of Gondor, their loyalty to him, or their desire to take advantage of the battle to do a little sacking and plundering of their avowed enemy.
Assuming he DID send a message to them, it would seem a bit odd to me that he would not take a quick peek to see how close his Black Armada was to actually making it to the battlefield. Even if HE didn't whoever was in charge at the time (be it the witch king, Gothmog, or some other lesser general responsible for coordinating the forces) would presumably have been appraised that reinforcements for their side were on the way. Especially after the Rohirrim arrive, since such a message might re-hearten Sauron's troops (however much Sauron may have relied on his troops fighting to the death out of fear of him, or because he could sort of puppet them (I'm thinking of the Trolls here.) there are presumably SOME officers among them (probably mostly men) whose battle tactics are a little more complex than "we have the numbers, meele randomly until we out swarm them. If your army is going to use trebuchets, battering rams and cavalry (not to mention barrusry) you sort of have to).
So while I agree that it would be logical of Sauron to assume Aragorn would make straight for Minas Tirith, I also think that for him to NOT know what Aragorn did, requires him to be either SO focused on the battlefield neither he nor anyone below him is checking on the locations of the various armies under his banner, or of Sauron seeing the ships and making the exact same error we are supposed to believe Denethor made; that they really ARE the Corsairs.
I think he probably DID know, but was so confident in his superior power to assume that a little company of Rangers (even one headed by someone he was as concerned about as Aragorn) would not be enough to turn the tide, that either he would have taken the city by then, and Aragorn would sail up to a Minas Tirith already fallen, or if he didn't that Aragorn's troops would add little to the City's defense and would be ultimately overwhelmed as well, if not in this siege than in the next or the one after etc. (Remember, Gandalf makes it clear that the victory at Pellenor is a temporary one at best, Sauron can easily send more troops.)
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