The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-29-2019, 09:18 PM   #1
R.R.J Tolkien
Wight
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 102
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
How Powerful was Gandalf the Grey?

When I think of Gandalf I think of both Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White. But really Gandalf the Grey died, and was given extra power and wisdom by Eru and remade into a new far more powerful Gandalf, Gandalf the White. So thinking of just Gandalf the Grey here [Manwe conspiracy theories aside] how powerful was he?

He was a maiar so of course powerful, but as an embodied physical being capable of pain, weariness, fear and death [letters 156] he was vulnerable to standard injury and death. Sarumon was killed by a knife, Gandalf injured in the battle of the 5 armies and killed by the balrog. In fact it seems he might have only beaten the balrog due to his ring Narya the ring of fire. When he faced the balrog in the long fight where both would die he said

"I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.
—The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring,Book II, Chapter 5: "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"

And yet even with the power of the ring, he was killed. Even Gandalf the white with added power and wisdom from Eru [God] was unsure of his ability vs the witch king while Glorfindel faced him. Gandalf the grey did not see Sauroman for who he had becomes, he failed 1v1 vs Sauroman. Gandalf debates with Aragorn on what path to take the fellowship and he gives way to Aragorn saying “if you bring a ranger with you, it is well to pay attention to him, especially if the ranger is Aragorn.” despite the fact we are told in the Valaquenta “Wisest of the maiar was Olorin.” In the hobbit the party went to Rivnedall and it was Elrond [not Gandalf] whos wisdom discerned the map, found new letters, and knew the history of the swords Glamdring and Orcrist carried by Gandalf. Neither and Gandalfs plans always correct. He advised them to take the elf road near mirkwood but it was now impassable.

“Even the good plans of the wise like Gandalfs and of good friends like Elrond go astray sometimes.”
-The Hobbit chapter 4

But most of all his mission to save the free peoples from the power of Sauron failed. The Istari and Gandalf failed. He was killed. .

The 'wizards', as such, had failed
-Letters 156

So Eru steeped in to save Middle earth through Gandalf the White

“So Gandalf sacrificed himself, was accepted, and enhanced, and returned. 'Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.' Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy, but both his wisdom and power are much greater. When he speaks he commands attention; the old Gandalf could not have dealt so with Théoden, nor with Saruman.”
-Letters 156
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2019, 10:32 PM   #2
Galadriel55
Blossom of Dwimordene
 
Galadriel55's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
Posts: 7,793
Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
I don't think Gandalf was ever enhanced in the sense that his own power was changed. A person is a person, with the strength that is given him. To artificially add or take away a person's power like a baking ingredient is to change his essence. No, I cannot agree with that. What I see as the more likely cause of the change from Grey to White is that Gandalf was allowed to display more of his power and to display it more blatantly. The limitations were lifted slightly, the curtain half raised. But did we ever see Gandalf display the full might of his power? I believe he did, fighting the balrog, and he might have if he was forced into a head to head with the WK. But we don't actually see either of these scenarios, the latter never happening so neither Denethor nor we will ever know, and the former happening away from observers' eyes so we can only vaguely imagine the power explosion of that battle.

With regards to Gandalf's doubts and too much trust and yielding of leadership, I would caution against a Boromir-like interpretation of the lack of skill - power, wisdom, knowledge, etc - but to consider that these are actually manifestations of good attributes: humility, consideration of multiple possibilities and outcomes, respect for those who deserve it, faith in the free people. So I am not sure where you are getting at with all these examples. They don't seem to be reflective of Gandalf's power.
__________________
What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?
Galadriel55 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2019, 04:29 PM   #3
R.R.J Tolkien
Wight
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 102
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
I don't think Gandalf was ever enhanced in the sense that his own power was changed. A person is a person, with the strength that is given him. To artificially add or take away a person's power like a baking ingredient is to change his essence. No, I cannot agree with that. What I see as the more likely cause of the change from Grey to White is that Gandalf was allowed to display more of his power and to display it more blatantly. The limitations were lifted slightly, the curtain half raised. But did we ever see Gandalf display the full might of his power? I believe he did, fighting the balrog, and he might have if he was forced into a head to head with the WK. But we don't actually see either of these scenarios, the latter never happening so neither Denethor nor we will ever know, and the former happening away from observers' eyes so we can only vaguely imagine the power explosion of that battle.


Thanks for the thoughts but I have to disagree. Gandalf the grey actually died [letters 156] he is no more.


Gandalf really 'died', and was changed: for that seems to me the only real cheating, to represent anything that can be called 'death' as making no difference.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 156: To Robert Murray, SJ (draft). November 1954

The ‘wizards’, as such, had failed; or if you like: the crisis had become too grave and needed an enhancement of power. So Gandalf sacrificed himself, was accepted, and enhanced, and returned. 'Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.’ Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy, but both his wisdom and power are much greater.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 156: To Robert Murray, SJ (draft). November 1954




Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
With regards to Gandalf's doubts and too much trust and yielding of leadership, I would caution against a Boromir-like interpretation of the lack of skill - power, wisdom, knowledge, etc - but to consider that these are actually manifestations of good attributes: humility, consideration of multiple possibilities and outcomes, respect for those who deserve it, faith in the free people. So I am not sure where you are getting at with all these examples. They don't seem to be reflective of Gandalf's power.
I think you are correct on this.
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2019, 06:34 PM   #4
Galadriel55
Blossom of Dwimordene
 
Galadriel55's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
Posts: 7,793
Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
Gandalf really 'died', and was changed: for that seems to me the only real cheating, to represent anything that can be called 'death' as making no difference.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 156: To Robert Murray, SJ (draft). November 1954

The ‘wizards’, as such, had failed; or if you like: the crisis had become too grave and needed an enhancement of power. So Gandalf sacrificed himself, was accepted, and enhanced, and returned. 'Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.’ Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy, but both his wisdom and power are much greater.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 156: To Robert Murray, SJ (draft). November 1954
I have not seen these quotes before, and I find them hard to reconcile with the rest of the philosophy of Middle-earth. I can understand Gandalf saying that Gandalf died, that Gandalf "was", implying that he is someone else - because he was indeed born anew, a reincarnation. But to imply that the fea was changed in the process - that I find hard to imagine. Things don't get re-created in Middle-earth because they failed to meet expectations or proved to be a disappointment, not in their essence. This idea goes against what feels right, Tolkien's own words or no. I just can't wrap my head around this. How do you picture this yourself? How do you reconcile this idea with everything else? I am willing to be persuaded but it needs persuasion.
__________________
What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?
Galadriel55 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2019, 07:19 PM   #5
R.R.J Tolkien
Wight
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 102
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
I have not seen these quotes before, and I find them hard to reconcile with the rest of the philosophy of Middle-earth. I can understand Gandalf saying that Gandalf died, that Gandalf "was", implying that he is someone else - because he was indeed born anew, a reincarnation. But to imply that the fea was changed in the process - that I find hard to imagine. Things don't get re-created in Middle-earth because they failed to meet expectations or proved to be a disappointment, not in their essence. This idea goes against what feels right, Tolkien's own words or no. I just can't wrap my head around this. How do you picture this yourself? How do you reconcile this idea with everything else? I am willing to be persuaded but it needs persuasion.

I dont pretend to know all of Tolkien's thoughts and understandings, only what he has written. I would recommend reading his letters

https://www.amazon.com/Letters-J-R-R.../dp/0618056998


many of them are just the kind of answers you seek. People ask questions or point out supposed contradictions and he gives them the answer and understanding.


But i also i dont think Gandalf totally changed as in a new creation wholly. Tolkien said

"Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy"

He did not go into much more detail so it is guess work from here. Gandalf the grey truly died we know that, and Gandalf the white was an upgrade version perhaps would be best way of understanding it.
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2019, 08:15 PM   #6
Galadriel55
Blossom of Dwimordene
 
Galadriel55's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
Posts: 7,793
Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
I dont pretend to know all of Tolkien's thoughts and understandings, only what he has written. I would recommend reading his letters

https://www.amazon.com/Letters-J-R-R.../dp/0618056998


many of them are just the kind of answers you seek. People ask questions or point out supposed contradictions and he gives them the answer and understanding.
But I'm not asking Tolkien, I'm asking what you think of it. I did not see a contradiction until you quoted the letters. How would you yourself describe the situation if you had to elaborate on it?


Quote:
But i also i dont think Gandalf totally changed as in a new creation wholly. Tolkien said

"Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy"
Ah, and I guess there is where the great debate comes on. Is a person's being (soul, essence, mind, whatever) independent of external factors or behaviours, or is a person only what he does and how he acts? Is idiosyncrasy the most superficial or most deep layer of a person's being?

I have been approaching this question from the angle that one's being is a given constant: a sum of what one is, which may or may not be applied to the outside as personality and behaviour. As such, "enhancing" one's innate power is changing that sum. But if I begin on the opposite side, that you shape yourself and your essence is what you make of your life, then I can see some possibilities. Gandalf, Grey and White, had the same convictions and the same commitments, and as such would remain the same person even if something in his internal workings was altered to give more strength to these convictions and commitments. He'd be the same, but even more Gandalf than previously.

Alternatively, there is a possibility that can apply to either scenario: Gandalf was not altered internally, but rather was lent the power from the outside to carry out his task with a greater authority. Whether the power in question be Manwe or Eru, when needed Gandalf would speak with their voice and their authority, and as such would indeed be enhanced from an unsupported Gandalf. This can be related to The Voice of Saruman, where Gandalf has authority over one who was above his rank - in part because of Saruman's own fall, but perhaps in part because Gandalf carries with him a higher authority than either of them. Perhaps this is the main reason such an authority would be lent - to cast down the previous leader and give the new leader a leader's power - because such authority and confidence is not evident when Gandalf deals with the Nazgul and Sauron generally. I actually rather like this idea but unfortunately it seems a bit of a stretch on the quotes you provided.

Quote:
He did not go into much more detail so it is guess work from here. Gandalf the grey truly died we know that, and Gandalf the white was an upgrade version perhaps would be best way of understanding it.
Except this is exactly what I have trouble accepting. You don't "upgrade" what is already made. That implies tinkering that which makes them them. It's an unmaking of what was to make something new.

I can't agree more that death can't not make a difference. But to me that difference is passive, a result of the process of death and rebirth. The quotes and your words both imply that the difference was caused not by the mere happening of death, but rather that Gandalf was actively "accepted" and "enhanced". This actually contradicts the first idea, as it implies the change was not due to death and rebirth but rather due to someone's meddling.
__________________
What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?
Galadriel55 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2019, 08:39 PM   #7
R.R.J Tolkien
Wight
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 102
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
But I'm not asking Tolkien, I'm asking what you think of it. I did not see a contradiction until you quoted the letters. How would you yourself describe the situation if you had to elaborate on it?




Ah, and I guess there is where the great debate comes on. Is a person's being (soul, essence, mind, whatever) independent of external factors or behaviours, or is a person only what he does and how he acts? Is idiosyncrasy the most superficial or most deep layer of a person's being?

I have been approaching this question from the angle that one's being is a given constant: a sum of what one is, which may or may not be applied to the outside as personality and behaviour. As such, "enhancing" one's innate power is changing that sum. But if I begin on the opposite side, that you shape yourself and your essence is what you make of your life, then I can see some possibilities. Gandalf, Grey and White, had the same convictions and the same commitments, and as such would remain the same person even if something in his internal workings was altered to give more strength to these convictions and commitments. He'd be the same, but even more Gandalf than previously.

Alternatively, there is a possibility that can apply to either scenario: Gandalf was not altered internally, but rather was lent the power from the outside to carry out his task with a greater authority. Whether the power in question be Manwe or Eru, when needed Gandalf would speak with their voice and their authority, and as such would indeed be enhanced from an unsupported Gandalf. This can be related to The Voice of Saruman, where Gandalf has authority over one who was above his rank - in part because of Saruman's own fall, but perhaps in part because Gandalf carries with him a higher authority than either of them. Perhaps this is the main reason such an authority would be lent - to cast down the previous leader and give the new leader a leader's power - because such authority and confidence is not evident when Gandalf deals with the Nazgul and Sauron generally. I actually rather like this idea but unfortunately it seems a bit of a stretch on the quotes you provided.



Except this is exactly what I have trouble accepting. You don't "upgrade" what is already made. That implies tinkering that which makes them them. It's an unmaking of what was to make something new.

I can't agree more that death can't not make a difference. But to me that difference is passive, a result of the process of death and rebirth. The quotes and your words both imply that the difference was caused not by the mere happening of death, but rather that Gandalf was actively "accepted" and "enhanced". This actually contradicts the first idea, as it implies the change was not due to death and rebirth but rather due to someone's meddling.

Very interesting thoughts. thanks. I view his enhanced power as a gift from eru, not something that derived from his personality, experiences or being in any way. Think of larry Bird, a great b-ball player but not very athletic, than God [i am christian] gifts him great athletic ability. he did not earn this, he did not work out, it was given to him, now he is an even better b-ball player.


I dont have time to think in dept know but what if Gandalf the white was much the same person/being/soul as before- but his memory kind of wiped and given increased power though he would not really know it. As it is almost a new birth. So previous experiences dont really effect the new being. Kind of like if we were born at our age today [me 35] new, or like a day old, but with our mental capacity was there [even enhanced] and given a fresh start. We would still be us, but not wholly as we have a new start and abilities.
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2019, 08:58 PM   #8
Zigûr
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Zigûr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 747
Zigûr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Zigûr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
Alternatively, there is a possibility that can apply to either scenario: Gandalf was not altered internally, but rather was lent the power from the outside to carry out his task with a greater authority. Whether the power in question be Manwe or Eru
I would say Eru, because it was Eru who made the decision and had the power to send him back.

As R.R.J. has pointed out, in Letter 156, Professor Tolkien does indeed write that Gandalf was "enhanced in power", although the professor qualifies that this means "in sanctity": he was more holy as a result of his experience, perhaps more "pure". I think that might be the difference; as Gandalf the Grey, he was the representative of the Valar. As Gandalf the White, he was the representative of Eru Himself. This is an enhancement because it is an elevation of role and responsibility. It's also a message to Sauron, who since the end of the Second Age had convinced himself that Eru had given up on Arda and no longer cared what happened there.

I don't think Gandalf the White had more "power" in that he could cast "level 7 spells" instead of just "level 6 spells" or something. On the other hand, his greater "sanctity" would have made him more of an anathema to spiritually unnatural beings like the Ringwraiths.
__________________
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.
Zigûr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2019, 10:25 PM   #9
Galadriel55
Blossom of Dwimordene
 
Galadriel55's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
Posts: 7,793
Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
I view his enhanced power as a gift from eru, not something that derived from his personality, experiences or being in any way.
Yeah, that I can get behind wholeheartedly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
I would say Eru, because it was Eru who made the decision and had the power to send him back.

As R.R.J. has pointed out, in Letter 156, Professor Tolkien does indeed write that Gandalf was "enhanced in power", although the professor qualifies that this means "in sanctity": he was more holy as a result of his experience, perhaps more "pure". I think that might be the difference; as Gandalf the Grey, he was the representative of the Valar. As Gandalf the White, he was the representative of Eru Himself. This is an enhancement because it is an elevation of role and responsibility. It's also a message to Sauron, who since the end of the Second Age had convinced himself that Eru had given up on Arda and no longer cared what happened there.
No argument there. You make an interesting point about Eru's involvement being a message to Sauron. I wonder if he ever received or understood the message. How much did he know about what happened to Gandalf? How much did he sense the difference?

To push my earlier thought further, I wonder if the message was meant as much for Saruman as for Sauron. A reminder that your parents still own the room in the house where the teenager lives, so to speak, so you cannot wreck the place as you want. Since Saruman followed Sauron in much of his philosophy, it's not unreasonable to assume he also swallowed his ideas of Eru's and the Valar's level of involvement; being himself an emissary of the Valar he would have had to in order to act the way he did.

The main idea I have in support for this claim is that aside from Gandalf's confrontation with Saruman he does not seem that much different from the old Gandalf - except generally more radiant and more motivating and invigorated compared to his tired self at the end of Moria. He does what he always did, and while you can argue that the power shines out of him all the time the only extraordinary thing he does is cast Saruman from the order of the Istari.

That also makes me wonder about Gandalf in the year after the victory. He laughs more, he is less gloomy - understandably so given his role. He does not lose any of his wisdom. But he retires from the world, and he explains that his part is done, the rest is the new generation's mission. Is he still endowed with the power or authority? Or was that only lent to him for the duration of his task? What happens to him after he is done - whether when Sauron falls, or when he is completely done and returns to the West? I vote on him "returning" what was granted to him and Eru "rescinding" it, as it goes with Olorin's wise and humble nature.

Yet another thought - that this gift of power was like a Ring without the element of corruption, a Ring that could be used for truly unselfish reasons. Gandalf tells us how he believes the Ring would find its way to his heart - and now he can do all of it, without the evil whisper in his ear.

That was quite a lot more than I intended to write initially. I better get to bed now before any more midnight thoughts come creeping into my head. But it's a great discussion, and good thread!
__________________
What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?
Galadriel55 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-31-2019, 04:31 PM   #10
R.R.J Tolkien
Wight
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 102
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
Yeah, that I can get behind wholeheartedly.

Is he still endowed with the power or authority? Or was that only lent to him for the duration of his task? What happens to him after he is done - whether when Sauron falls, or when he is completely done and returns to the West?
I would guess his authority is no longer needed in the return west. Maybe because I am christian but i assumed he had more reward/fame in valinor for his deeds. So instead of authority, equal fame and rewards.
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2019, 09:18 AM   #11
denethorthefirst
Haunting Spirit
 
denethorthefirst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 81
denethorthefirst has just left Hobbiton.
How powerful was Gandalf? To answer that question we have to differentiate between Olorin the Maia and Gandalf (the Grey) in his incarnated human form. I personally dont think that Olorin (before his Incarnation) was as powerful as Sauron for example, but even if that were the case, he was (because of their different forms of incarnation) not as powerful as Sauron in Middle-earth. Gandalfs 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, he could even, for all intents and purposes, be killed and "die" etc.), whereas it seems that Sauron had created for himself a unique form that was much harder to destroy and that 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 here that the human bodies restricted ("limited") the innate power of the Istari. Of course they still had some magical potential, and they retained a lot of their knowledge, but they were not as powerful as they were when in their natural state, or if they had built for themselves unique forms that completely suited them.

Here are two other quotes from the 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, as Tolkien puts it in the first quote, of "the same order" because they are (or were in Saurons case) both Maiar (and Ainur). But that does not 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 ("order") in both quotes 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).

Tolkien also wrote that Gandalf "might be expected" to master the One Ring, but if he actually could achieve it is debatable. Tolkien did not write that Gandalf could, or even might, master the Ring, but that he might be "expected" to master it - a remarkably vague and open-ended statement. Tolkien leaves the question open, but I think that, because of the vague nature of that statement, that Tolkien was merely stating a hypothetical possibility (resting on the fact that Sauron and Gandalf are both Ainur) and that Gandalf could not actually do it.

So how powerful was Gandalf? It appears that he was initially, in his natural state as Olorin (before the creation of Ea and in Valinor), less powerful than Sauron and that he was, because of the limiting nature of his human incarnation, also less powerful during his stay in Middle-Earth in the Third Age, even though Sauron himself had lost quite a bit of his innate Power during his quest for world domination. Gandalfs failure in his confrontation with Saruman seems to suggest that he was also weaker than Saruman, but the text is rather vague about that confrontation, so I am not entirely sure. Maybe Saruman surprised Gandalf? Maybe Gandalf was somewhat outwitted and/or outnumbered?

Be that as it may, all that is more or less clear and supported by the text. The more interesting question is how powerful Gandalf the White was? And in what way was he "enhanced"?
Was Gandalf the White still an incarnated Ainu and more or less, for all intents and purposes, human? Or did Eru return Gandalf to his natural state? That would mean that the form that Gandalf appeared in after his return was merely a "raiment" (as Tolkien puts it) that "Olorin" put on so he would be recognized, so other incarnates could relate to him. I favor this idea, that Gandalf the White was merely a "clothed" Maia, because it would explain the "enhancement" of Gandalf. He was "enhanced" only in relation to his former human incarnation and not because he received more Power from Eru.

Last edited by denethorthefirst; 02-16-2019 at 02:02 PM.
denethorthefirst is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:42 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.