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Old 08-09-2018, 04:33 PM   #1
R.R.J Tolkien
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Numbering the Maiar of Middle-Earth by the Ages

So I have been thinking and wondering. How many Maiar lived in middle- earth for each age. The third age at the time of the WOTR appears to have the five Istari, the balrog, and Sauron for a total of 7. Am I missing any? So how does that compare to the earlier ages. I am not looking for valar or maiar that reside outside of middle earth such as in valinor. But those like melian who lived for a time in ME.
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Old 08-10-2018, 03:14 AM   #2
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Veeeeery difficult to say. The greatest concentration was... well, obviously it was during the Spring of Arda, when the entire host of the Valar lived in Almaren in Middle-earth! After that, however many Maiar Melkor had under his dominion remained there until the Siege of Utumno, and some (Sauron, the Balrogs, presumably others) lingered much longer.

During the First Age, we have at least three named Maiar hanging out in Beleriand: Sauron, Melian, and Gothmog Lord of Balrogs. Durin's Bane was also present, and the Balrog killed by Glorfindel.

But what about Lungorthin, often poetically translated as the Balrog of White Flame? He's mentioned exactly once, in an early draft of the Silmarillion. Do you consider him to still exist, since he wasn't explicitly removed?

And how many balrogs were there, anyway? Tolkien seems to have settled on '3 or at the most 7', but which is it? If three, then we have the bizarre situation where two of the three were killed in Gondolin, leaving Durin's Bane all by itself.

Moving on from the balrogs... do Osse and Uinen count? They definitely hung out in the waters around Middle-earth, though not on land (not really their thing). How about the dragons? I'm pretty sure at one point Tolkien considered the possibility that they were mechanisms 'powered' by Maiar. How about the werewolves? The vampires - Thuringwethil was a shapeshifter, does that make her a Maia? What about the Great Eagles? Or Huan the Talking Dog? Heck, at one point I think Tolkien thought about designating certain orcs as Maiar!

Even worse - Ungoliant? Tolkien certainly had her as a Maia at one point. And if she is, then... Bombadil? The River-Woman, mother of Goldberry? Do the water-spirits under Ulmo who live in the rivers of Middle-earth still exist (as Maiar, since all the earlier 'spirits' ended up as Maiar in Tolkien's later versions)? Are they identical with the mermaids from Tolkien's early writings, and if so, does that mean the sylphs and sprites also still exist?

You see the problem. While we could certainly make lists of confirmed Maiar present in each Age after the rising of the Sun (1st: Sauron, Melian, and 3-7 balrogs; 2nd: Sauron, Durin's Bane, potentially the Blue Wizards if their arrival with Glorfindel in the Second Age is accepted; 3rd: Sauron, Durin's Bane, 5 Istari; 4th: Radagast, maybe the Blue Wizards), making a list of all the Maiar present requires a massive number of personal decisions about what you accept as canon.

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Old 08-11-2018, 10:05 AM   #3
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Adding to the list of "unconfirmed" Maiar, we have Bombadil, Goldberry, and possibly her mother (posted at the risk of causing an argument).
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:45 PM   #4
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Adding to the list of "unconfirmed" Maiar, we have Bombadil, Goldberry, and possibly her mother (posted at the risk of causing an argument).
But not dear ol' daddy?
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:30 PM   #5
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But not dear ol' daddy?
The only Maia we know of with a child, Melian, had her by an elf. So we'd be layering our assumptions thickly to make Goldberry a daughter of two Maiar.

So... can a half-Maia like Luthien, or hypothetically Goldberry, have children by a full Maia like hypothetical Bombadil?

hS

(PS: Did anyone mention Old Man Willow yet? If he's not a Huorn, he must be something...)
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:04 PM   #6
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The only Maia we know of with a child, Melian, had her by an elf. So we'd be layering our assumptions thickly to make Goldberry a daughter of two Maiar.

So... can a half-Maia like Luthien, or hypothetically Goldberry, have children by a full Maia like hypothetical Bombadil?

hS

(PS: Did anyone mention Old Man Willow yet? If he's not a Huorn, he must be something...)
And can Huorns get huorny?
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Old 08-12-2018, 06:58 AM   #7
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So I have been thinking and wondering. How many Maiar lived in middle- earth for each age. The third age at the time of the WOTR appears to have the five Istari, the balrog, and Sauron for a total of 7. Am I missing any? So how does that compare to the earlier ages. I am not looking for valar or maiar that reside outside of middle earth such as in valinor. But those like melian who lived for a time in ME.
And by the end of the Third Age, that number was down to four, yes? Saruman. Sauron, and the Balrog all put to bed with the shovel; Gandalf left a few years into the Fourth Age.
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:35 AM   #8
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And by the end of the Third Age, that number was down to four, yes? Saruman. Sauron, and the Balrog all put to bed with the shovel; Gandalf left a few years into the Fourth Age.
You forgot poor, unappreciated Radagast.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:43 AM   #9
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You forgot poor, unappreciated Radagast.
There's no record of his fate. Same for the Blue Two.
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:24 AM   #10
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There's no record of his fate. Same for the Blue Two.
Which makes me wonder if there's more going on there. Tolkien does a pretty good job of cleaning up the loose ends after LotR is over, clearing the stage of immortals and powers to set up the dominion of Men... but then he goes and leaves a wizard we've actually met hanging around on the borders of Mirkwood.

I'm about three-quarters convinced that Radagast is meant to be a 'prehistoric version' of some mythological character from the Black Forest (much as Frodo's song about cats with fiddles is); the name of the wood fits, it's an area Tolkien would have come across (being Germanic), and he just stands out so prominently as a character who was made for A Purpose, but never actually does much in the books. This is even more obvious in The Hobbit, where Gandalf just casually mentions him to Beorn. "Yup, got this cousin, lives in these parts, no biggie."

The various wikis want me to look at a Slavic god of hospitality, which I suppose makes sense, but it seems a bit... random. If Tom Bombadil gets a genuine Tolkienian description as "the spirit of the vanishing Oxfordshire countryside" (which at least tells us his role in the story, if not his nature), then why does Radagast get left as a huge hanging thread?

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