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Old 07-15-2016, 02:44 AM   #1
Leaf
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Aragorn's assertiveness

Allow me to start this Book discussion threat with an observation concerning PJ's portrail of Aragorn's character. The main difference between the character from the books and the movies lies in Aragorn's attitude towards his own cause: The claim on the gondorian throne and the restoration of the former kingdom. Movie-Aragorn is ridden with self-doubts about his own capabilities and his (prospective) people. He doesn't want to become king in his own right and therefore chose a life in exil, as a ranger. Book-Aragorn, on the other hand, is confident and strident when it comes to the verbalisation of his heritage and claim.

I suppose PJ wanted to accomplish two things with this alteration:

1. To make Aragorn more sympethetic and relateable to the audiance.

2. To give Aragorn an emotional ark, where he finally learns to accept his own destiny.

I think PJ succeeded with regards to the first goal. At least from my personal experience I get that many people liked this hesitant and humble Aragorn more. Yet it seems to me that the gain of sympathy comes with a big loss. Let me try to explain what I mean by that.

Political sovereignty over a territory does not simply fall from the sky. In actuality it's quite the opposite. It requieres determination and the will to defend a claim to power, verbally and in action. Book-Aragorn embodies this bold and overbearing concept in person. The authoritarian nature of this endeavour is concealed when you make Aragorn into a passive character, who practically has to be bullied (by Elrond and circumstance) into becoming the all-powerful King of Gondor.

It's astonishing to me that PJ somehow managed to romanticise kingship to a greater degree than Tolkien ever did!

At least in the novel it's clear that this man has a mission and the determination to archieve what he desires. Movie-Aragorn simply turns out to be the oh-so-humane and charismatic autocrat who is instituted, not by a clear political agenda, but mostly by fate and public demand. That's, to me at least, a disturbing idea of authority. The discomfort the reader might feel when Book-Aragorn self-righteously declairs his hereditary claims on this and that is a good thing. Peronally I find this character trait to be quiet amusing but appropriate regarding the context.

I don't necessarily think that Tolkien intended to irritate his readers in this way. The main concept of the novels requiered an outdated and exaggerated type of authority figure that is strange to modern thinking. While Book-Aragorn's claims and the according demeanour is portrait as unquestionable good and just, the mark of authority is still there and visible!

What do you think about this? Am I over-analysing this themes or do you think that it's fair to distinguish books and movies in this manner?

These contradicitons between movie and novel brought me to think about this subject a little more. I want to look into this aspect of Aragorn's character deeper and collect, together with your help, passages from a books that substantiate this motif. We could, for example, collect every instance where Aragorn insists on his status, or where he introduces himself to other people as the rightful heir of Isildur. But I think that the oppsite might be more practical. To whom doesn't Aragorn declare his heritage and claims and why?! We could start with analysing Fellowship and work our way up till the Return of the King.

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Old 07-15-2016, 03:48 AM   #2
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Something I think the filmmakers overlooked is the fact that Aragorn actually does have a small character arc in the book, appropriate for a secondary character (which he is).

For instance, after the passing of Boromir, Aragorn expresses self-doubt about his ability as leader: "Since we passed through the Argonath my choices have gone amiss." He does undergo a process, motivated by the loss of Gandalf in Moria, of understanding more seriously what leadership involves and the responsibilities he faces by reclaiming the throne. As he becomes more confident, the narrative becomes more and more distant from his perspective; he becomes a "lofty" character, which is why, for instance, in the Paths of the Dead we see things from Gimli's perspective, as he is the least knowledgeable/confident character in the scene. In "The Departure of Boromir" we see things from Aragorn's perspective because he does not know what is going on (he was looking for Frodo, unlike the film, in which he is massacring Orcs) and is feeling insecure in his leadership of the Company.

Michael Drout gives an interesting lecture touching upon this narrative device, as Professor Tolkien uses it. The lecture can be found on YouTube if I recall correctly.

It comes back, I think, to the fact that the filmmakers turned Aragorn into one of the protagonists, when he's only a supporting character in the book. In the book, ultimately, the protagonists are the four hobbits, but as diminutive folk not wholly inclined to action and derring-do they can't be the only heroes in a Hollywood film, so Aragorn's role is altered. It's one of those things, in my opinion, that shows why the book was unsuitable for the "Hollywood treatment".
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Old 07-15-2016, 06:45 AM   #3
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White Tree Aragorn II's portrayal in Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings' films

You started a nice thread here, Leaf!

The problem with the portrayal of Aragorn in those films is partly because he is a difficult character for even avid fans who have read LotR thoroughly to get to grips with.

This is a man who is already 88 years old by the time the War of the Ring ends, he becomes King of Gondor and marries Arwen. He then reigns for 122 years, dying at the age of 210. He is 20 when he first meets Arwen, 2690 years his senior, and falls in love with her; but it is when he is 49, after many adventures and experiences, including serving in Rohan and Gondor, that he meets Arwen again, she returns his love, and they become engaged, an engagement that lasts for 39 years.

The reason behind this is that he is the heir of Elendil the Tall, of the line of Elros, of mixed human, elvish, and divine (through Melian the Maia) ancestry, being very long lived. Also, he has been fostered by an Elf, Elrond, as Túrin was by Thingol. The love between him and Arwen can certainly be justified by the love song title 'No Ordinary Love'; because she, as an Elf, would (and does) in order to be his wife need to become mortal, a sacrifice that can be barely imagined.

What I'm saying here is that it is difficult even for fans like ourselves to get to grips with who Aragorn is, who Arwen is, and the nature of their love. Aragorn, while he does express doubt about his ability as leader in the book, has already had many years to deal with a lot of earlier self-doubt.

Even while I accept that because who Aragorn and Arwen are, and their love for each other, is a difficult concept even for avid fans to grasp, and was too much for those involved in the films, it still doesn't explain the nonsense of two scenes. The first is in The Two Towers film, when this happens:

ELROND: (coming into her room) Arwen. (she sits up) It is time. The ships are leaving for Valinor. Go now... before it is too late.

ARWEN: I have made my choice.

ELROND: (standing in front of her) He is not coming back. Why do you linger here when there is no hope?

ARWEN: There is still hope.

ELROND: (walks across the room) If Aragorn survives this war, you will still be parted. If Sauron is defeated and Aragorn made king......and all that you hope for comes true......you will still have to taste the bitterness of mortality.

A vision of Arwen dressed in mourning robes appears. She is standing beside Aragorn, who lies grey and dead wearing his crown and grasping his sword on top of his tomb. Mourners walk behind her.

ELROND VOICEOVER: Whether by the sword or the slow decay of time......Aragorn will die. And there will be no comfort for you......no comfort to ease the pain of his passing. He will come to death......an image of the splendor of the kings of Men......in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.

The vision changes so that Aragorn is now a stone statue on top of the tomb. Arwen is standing at the end of it, alone and grieving. As morning light comes, she wanders alone through the woods.

ELROND VOICEOVER: But you, my daughter......you will linger on in darkness and in doubt......as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Here you will dwell......bound to your grief under the fading trees...... until all the world is changed......and the long years of your life are utterly spent.

ELROND: (turning to Arwen) Arwen. (she gasps, she is crying) There is nothing for you here......only death.


In the book, while Elrond was deeply grieved by his daughter's choice of mortality, he accepted the sincerity of her and Aragon's love, not standing in their way. Later, in The Return of the King film, Elrond tells Aragorn that Arwen is dying:

ARAGORN: (bows) My lord Elrond.

ELROND: I come on behalf of one whom I love. Arwen is dying. She will not long survive the evil that now spreads from Mordor. The light of the evenstar is failing. As Sauron’s power grows her strength wanes. Arwen’s life is now tied to the fate of the Ring. The Shadow is upon us Aragorn. The end has come.


No explanation is given for why she is dying, and if it's Sauron's fault why others aren't also dying.

I agree completely with you, Zigûr, that a reason for turning Aragorn into one of the protagonists in the films was that it was either too complicated, too lazy, or both, for the people responsible to give the four hobbits their due.

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Old 07-15-2016, 07:35 AM   #4
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No explanation is given for why she is dying, and if it's Sauron's fault why others aren't also dying.
Yes. Not only is it an incredibly lazy piece of storytelling, because it ups the stakes without giving any reason for why it is happening, it's also pointless; the average viewer wouldn't care - they already know that the heroes have to destroy the Ring and stop Sauron from taking over Middle-earth for reasons that have already been clearly established. The addition of this plot point adds nothing whatsoever to the narrative, even to the altered version of Aragorn's character arc invented for the film.

It reminds me of how in the film Pippin has to have a vision of Minas Tirith in the palantír for Gandalf to realise that Sauron is going to strike there next, and he reacts as if he'd never even thought of it as a possibility.

All Gandalf needs to do is say something like "We may have defeated Saruman, but Sauron is sure to strike next against Minas Tirith, the capital city of Gondor, his old enemy." Anyone watching knows that "Gondor" is a country where good Men live; it gets mentioned a lot in the films. There's no need for Pippin to have a silly vision. It would even keep viewers in suspense if they, like Pippin, were largely in the dark until the arrival at the city; if you want a visual cue you can point out how close Mordor is (as the film often does) to emphasise why we're now at Minas Tirith.

I feel like the filmmakers often weren't confident in their ability to express the plot cinematically, which is why they invent these "mystical" shorthands.
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:12 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
Something I think the filmmakers overlooked is the fact that Aragorn actually does have a small character arc in the book, appropriate for a secondary character (which he is).

For instance, after the passing of Boromir, Aragorn expresses self-doubt about his ability as leader: "Since we passed through the Argonath my choices have gone amiss." He does undergo a process, motivated by the loss of Gandalf in Moria, of understanding more seriously what leadership involves and the responsibilities he faces by reclaiming the throne. As he becomes more confident, the narrative becomes more and more distant from his perspective; he becomes a "lofty" character, which is why, for instance, in the Paths of the Dead we see things from Gimli's perspective, as he is the least knowledgeable/confident character in the scene. In "The Departure of Boromir" we see things from Aragorn's perspective because he does not know what is going on (he was looking for Frodo, unlike the film, in which he is massacring Orcs) and is feeling insecure in his leadership of the Company.

Michael Drout gives an interesting lecture touching upon this narrative device, as Professor Tolkien uses it. The lecture can be found on YouTube if I recall correctly.

It comes back, I think, to the fact that the filmmakers turned Aragorn into one of the protagonists, when he's only a supporting character in the book. In the book, ultimately, the protagonists are the four hobbits, but as diminutive folk not wholly inclined to action and derring-do they can't be the only heroes in a Hollywood film, so Aragorn's role is altered. It's one of those things, in my opinion, that shows why the book was unsuitable for the "Hollywood treatment".
Yes, that's a good observation. The shifting in perspective most certainly requiered an altered character. A character more suitable for the typical Hollywood-esque protagonist. I find this to be boring and also a little sad. In a way I always liked Book-Aragorn for his determination and occasional boldness. At times he seems to be more of a mythical figure, a visage of kingship in and of itself.
As I said before his fierce assertiveness even has some comedic value to me. I always chuckle when I read those Aragorn passages where he declares his right to rule, own or do something simply because of his ancestors. Like "Oh, that thing over there?! Yep, that's totally mine." "What, I can't act this way? Has anybody told you who I am?"

I suppose it's true, it's good to be the King.
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:25 AM   #6
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You started a nice thread here, Leaf!

The problem with the portrayal of Aragorn in those films is partly because he is a difficult character for even avid fans who have read LotR thoroughly to get to grips with.

This is a man who is already 88 years old by the time the War of the Ring ends, he becomes King of Gondor and marries Arwen. He then reigns for 122 years, dying at the age of 210. He is 20 when he first meets Arwen, 2690 years his senior, and falls in love with her; but it is when he is 49, after many adventures and experiences, including serving in Rohan and Gondor, that he meets Arwen again, she returns his love, and they become engaged, an engagement that lasts for 39 years.

The reason behind this is that he is the heir of Elendil the Tall, of the line of Elros, of mixed human, elvish, and divine (through Melian the Maia) ancestry, being very long lived. Also, he has been fostered by an Elf, Elrond, as Túrin was by Thingol. The love between him and Arwen can certainly be justified by the love song title 'No Ordinary Love'; because she, as an Elf, would (and does) in order to be his wife need to become mortal, a sacrifice that can be barely imagined.

What I'm saying here is that it is difficult even for fans like ourselves to get to grips with who Aragorn is, who Arwen is, and the nature of their love. Aragorn, while he does express doubt about his ability as leader in the book, has already had many years to deal with a lot of earlier self-doubt.
It's true, Aragorn is a difficult character to get accustomed to. You outlined his vague backstory well enough. I think what it comes down to is this: There's two contradictory concepts within his character. His everyday (sometimes moody) personality and his royal and mythical role.
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:41 AM   #7
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I started to reflect on Aragorn's different interactions in Fellowship. If I'm not mistaken there's only one character that, by the end of the book, is not aware of his royal ambitions. That is, Aragorn didn't feel the need to explain his heritage and claim to him. I'm talking about good ol' Barliman Butterbur. He genuinly has no clue about who Aragorn really is.

Besides him everybody is aware of this. Either because Aragorn directly tells them, or they presumedly are already informed on that matter.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:31 AM   #8
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Boots Lots of quotes in this one

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Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
I want to look into this aspect of Aragorn's character deeper and collect, together with your help, passages from a books that substantiate this motif. We could, for example, collect every instance where Aragorn insists on his status, or where he introduces himself to other people as the rightful heir of Isildur. But I think that the oppsite might be more practical. To whom doesn't Aragorn declare his heritage and claims and why?! We could start with analysing Fellowship and work our way up till the Return of the King.
That sounds like an interesting project. I may take you up on that.


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Book-Aragorn, on the other hand, is confident and strident when it comes to the verbalisation of his heritage and claim.
and

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
Political sovereignty over a territory does not simply fall from the sky. In actuality it's quite the opposite. It requieres determination and the will to defend a claim to power, verbally and in action. Book-Aragorn embodies this bold and overbearing concept in person.
And
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Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
In a way I always liked Book-Aragorn for his determination and occasional boldness. At times he seems to be more of a mythical figure, a visage of kingship in and of itself.
As I said before his fierce assertiveness even has some comedic value to me. I always chuckle when I read those Aragorn passages where he declares his right to rule, own or do something simply because of his ancestors. Like "Oh, that thing over there?! Yep, that's totally mine." "What, I can't act this way? Has anybody told you who I am?"
I don’t agree that Aragorn is strident or overbearing in asserting his claims. In point of fact, he is usually rather humble about it. I agree that Tolkien intended him to be a semi-mythic figure. However, I think Faramir Jones is correct in pointing out that from a practical standpoint Aragorn already had a wealth of experience in life and in leadership by the time he encountered the hobbits at The Prancing Pony. He was accustomed to heavy responsibility and hard choices.

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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
It reminds me of how in the film Pippin has to have a vision of Minas Tirith in the palantír for Gandalf to realise that Sauron is going to strike there next, and he reacts as if he'd never even thought of it as a possibility.
All Gandalf needs to do is say something like "We may have defeated Saruman, but Sauron is sure to strike next against Minas Tirith, the capital city of Gondor, his old enemy." Anyone watching knows that "Gondor" is a country where good Men live; it gets mentioned a lot in the films. There's no need for Pippin to have a silly vision. It would even keep viewers in suspense if they, like Pippin, were largely in the dark until the arrival at the city; if you want a visual cue you can point out how close Mordor is (as the film often does) to emphasise why we're now at Minas Tirith.
Perhaps they have underlying discomfort with the concept of competent leadership…

EDIT: Gah, I put one of my quotes in the wrong place which rather distorted the flow of the post. Corrected now.

Last edited by Kuruharan; 07-15-2016 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Oh the shame...
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:59 AM   #9
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I don’t agree that Aragorn is strident or overbearing in asserting his claims. In point of fact, he is usually rather humble about it. I agree that Tolkien intended him to be a semi-mythic figure. However, I think Faramir Jones is correct in pointing out that from a practical standpoint Aragorn already had a wealth of experience in life and in leadership by the time he encountered the hobbits at The Prancing Pony. He was accustomed to heavy responsibility and hard choices.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think that book-Aragorn is some kind of zealot, or an aspirating tyrant. He's just as overbearing as the concept of absolute monarchy is in itself! I may have overemphasised Aragorn's assertiveness due to the stark contrasts between the book and the movie.

You are right, there are times when Aragorn restricts himself and his political agenda. He's willing to bow his own claim to the rules of the golden Hall and in turn agrees (reluctantly) to leave his sword (the very symbol of his kingship) in front of the door. His approach to the political situation in Minas Tirtih is restrained as well. Aragorn is willing to wait for the right time, so he doesn't claim the throne as soon as possible.

I think Aragorn views his claims as a mixture of privilege and duty. And he's mature enough to act accordingly.
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Old 07-15-2016, 11:22 AM   #10
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Don't get me wrong. I don't think that book-Aragorn is some kind of zealot, or an aspirating tyrant. He's just as overbearing as the concept of absolute monarchy is in itself!
As a side point, but an important one I think, the Gondorian monarchy (and by association the Arnorian as well) was not an absolute one. Tolkien speaks to this in one of the HOME essays. I will find it and post the relevant contents this evening.

Quote:
He's willing to bow his own claim to the rules of the golden Hall and in turn agrees (reluctantly) to leave his sword (the very symbol of his kingship) in front of the door.
That was a complex situation. I don't know if Tolkien himself had developed all the ultimate complexities at the time of writing. Rohan existed because of the gift of the Steward who ruled until the King returned. Theoretically, that gift could be revoked by the returned King. Aragorn was put in an awkward situation because he was asked (unknowingly on the part of the askers, it is true) to diminish his status and acknowledge the supremacy of the King of Rohan within the bounds of Rohan. Those bounds, however, could still be considered provisional as they had not been confirmed by the King. Acknowledging the claim of the King of Rohan could diminish the legal standing of the King of Gondor should he decide to revoke the gift of Calenardhon.

While Aragorn acted temperamentally, it may have been for show.

Quote:
I think Aragorn views his claims as a mixture of privilege and duty. And he's mature enough to act accordingly.
I agree with this.
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Old 07-15-2016, 06:23 PM   #11
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Aragorn could be considered a pretty Classist Character, though.

Much of what he does in the Book is to illustrate Natural Rights, and people's "Sticking to their Station" (knowing their place).

That would likely not fly well with modern audiences.

Which is a pity, as it is a missed opportunity to examine that issue in a more direct fashion.

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Old 07-15-2016, 07:50 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by me
I will find it and post the relevant contents this evening.
I thought the reference was in The Peoples of Middle-earth and spent quite a lot of time trying to find it, sudden inspiration struck that it might be in the Letters and my questing was rewarded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter 244
A Numenorean King was monarch, with the power of unquestioned decision in debate; but he governed the realm with the frame of ancient law, of which he was administrator (and interpreter) but not the maker. In all debatable matters of importance domestic, or external, however, even Denethor had a Council, and at least listened to what the Lords of the Fiefs and the Captains of the Forces had to say.
So the Kings of Gondor ruled by virtue of and through ancient custom that enabled and also bound the King within certain limits, much like the kings of the Dark Age in the Western World on Earth, which is not surprising given that was Tolkien's inspiration.

I am currently thumbing through the first couple chapters where Aragorn appears of Fellowship just to see if there are any noteworthy moments of "claiming" that happen in these chapters. I don't think that there will be much useful for this topic in these chapters.
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Old 07-16-2016, 05:23 AM   #13
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I am currently thumbing through the first couple chapters where Aragorn appears of Fellowship just to see if there are any noteworthy moments of "claiming" that happen in these chapters. I don't think that there will be much useful for this topic in these chapters.


I did the same and here are some related passages I could dig up.

There's the poem in Gandalf's letter to Frodo in the chapter Strider:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strider
[...]Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Aragorn's explanation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strider
'But I am Aragorn, and those verses go with that name.' He drew out his sword, and they saw that the blade was indeed broken a foot below the hilt. 'Not much use is it, Sam?' said Strider. 'But the time is near when it shall be forged anew.'
We get an idea of Aragorn's royal descendancy and his intentions from the very beginning. Then there's a litte bit in the Flight to the Ford:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flight to the Ford
'Where did you learn such tales, if all the land is empty and forgetful?' asked Peregrin. 'The birds and beasts do not tell tales of that sort.' 'The heirs of Elendil do not forget all things past,' said Strider; 'and many more things than I can tell are remembered in Rivendell.'
Finally Aragorn's role and background gets explained in detail in The Council of Elrond:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Council of Elrond
'And here in the house of Elrond more shall be made clear to you,' said Aragorn, standing up. He cast his sword upon the table that stood before Elrond, and the blade was in two pieces. 'Here is the Sword that was Broken!' he said. 'And who are you, and what have you to do with Minas Tirith?' asked Boromir, looking in wonder at the lean face of the Ranger and his weather-stained cloak. 'He is Aragorn son of Arathorn,' said Elrond; 'and he is descended through many fathers from Isildur Elendil’s son of Minas Ithil. He is the Chief of the Dúnedain in the North, and few are now left of that folk.'
Aragorn's response to Boromir

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Council of Elrond
'[...]For the Sword that was Broken is the Sword of Elendil that broke beneath him when he fell. It has been treasured by his heirs when all other heirlooms were lost; for it was spoken of old among us that it should be made again when the Ring, Isildur’s Bane, was found. Now you have seen the sword that you have sought, what would you ask? Do you wish for the House of Elendil to return to the Land of Gondor?'
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Council of Elrond
Aragorn smiled at him; then he turned to Boromir again 'For my part I forgive your doubt,' he said. 'Little do I resemble the figures of Elendil and Isildur as they stand carven in their majesty in the halls of Denethor. I am but the heir of Isildur, not Isildur himself.[...]'
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Council of Elrond
[...]'But now the world is changing once again. A new hour comes. Isildur’s Bane is found. Battle is at hand. The Sword shall be reforged. I will come to Minas Tirith.'
In conclusion it seems to me that Tolkien was firstly trying to establish the legitimacy of Aragorn's claims. After that Aragorn gets to be more assertive about them.

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Old 07-16-2016, 10:12 PM   #14
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The only other noteworthy moment in those chapters that I will mention is when Aragorn has finished his description of the story of Beren and Luthien and discusses their descendants the text is rich with foreshadowing.

Quote:
As Strider was speaking they watched his strange eager face, dimly lit in the red glow of the wood-fire. His eyes shone, and his voice was rich and deep.
-A Knife in the Dark
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Old 07-18-2016, 05:00 PM   #15
Faramir Jones
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White Tree A couple of points

It's nice to see how this thread has progressed since my last post...

I'd like to make a couple of points. First, thanks for posting those quotes, Leaf; but I feel you left an important one out. It is the exchange between Boromir and Aragorn at the end of the Council of Elrond, which I think is very revealing. Boromir said that Aragon's sword may stem the tide, 'if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men'. Aragorn's response is quite low key: 'Who can tell? But we will put it to the test one day'.

It is clear from this that Boromir accepted Aragorn's descent, but is waiting to see if he has any of the qualities of the old kings. For all Boromir knew, this man and his immediate ancestors had done nothing other than reproduce and hold on to some heirlooms. The main question he is asking is, obviously, 'Can he fight?' Aragorn is aware that Boromir is one of the most important people he will need to win over, hence his low key answer.

The second point is one made by critic Paul Kocher in his Master of Middle-earth: The Achievement of J. R. R. Tolkien (1972). He devotes a chapter of his book to Aragorn, and makes an interesting point about what happens to that character after his crowning as King Elessar: 'Aragorn the man recedes from us into Aragorn the King. But there are still times when the regal robes are off'. The example Kocher gives is when Aragorn and Gandalf climb Mount Mindolluin. The former points out his loneliness at the long prospect of his new royal responsibility and is aware that Gandalf would soon leave.

Another example, which Kocher was not then aware of, can be seen in the abandoned last chapter of LotR, the versions of which are given in Volume 12 of The History of Middle-earth, when Aragorn as Elessar is going to pay his second visit to the North, and sends a letter to Sam and Rose, saying that he would be at the Brandywine Bridge on a particular date, 'And he desires to greet there all his friends'. He added that 'In especial he desires' to meet Sam, Rose, and their children, each child mentioned by name, a nice touch.

I was sad that this chapter didn't make it; as it showed through the letter that Elessar remembered when he was Aragorn and Strider, and presumably had no problems with his friends addressing him as such.
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Old 07-19-2016, 05:15 AM   #16
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It's nice to see how this thread has progressed since my last post...

I'd like to make a couple of points. First, thanks for posting those quotes, Leaf; but I feel you left an important one out. It is the exchange between Boromir and Aragorn at the end of the Council of Elrond, which I think is very revealing. Boromir said that Aragon's sword may stem the tide, 'if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men'. Aragorn's response is quite low key: 'Who can tell? But we will put it to the test one day'.

It is clear from this that Boromir accepted Aragorn's descent, but is waiting to see if he has any of the qualities of the old kings. For all Boromir knew, this man and his immediate ancestors had done nothing other than reproduce and hold on to some heirlooms. The main question he is asking is, obviously, 'Can he fight?' Aragorn is aware that Boromir is one of the most important people he will need to win over, hence his low key answer.

The second point is one made by critic Paul Kocher in his Master of Middle-earth: The Achievement of J. R. R. Tolkien (1972). He devotes a chapter of his book to Aragorn, and makes an interesting point about what happens to that character after his crowning as King Elessar: 'Aragorn the man recedes from us into Aragorn the King. But there are still times when the regal robes are off'. The example Kocher gives is when Aragorn and Gandalf climb Mount Mindolluin. The former points out his loneliness at the long prospect of his new royal responsibility and is aware that Gandalf would soon leave.

Another example, which Kocher was not then aware of, can be seen in the abandoned last chapter of LotR, the versions of which are given in Volume 12 of The History of Middle-earth, when Aragorn as Elessar is going to pay his second visit to the North, and sends a letter to Sam and Rose, saying that he would be at the Brandywine Bridge on a particular date, 'And he desires to greet there all his friends'. He added that 'In especial he desires' to meet Sam, Rose, and their children, each child mentioned by name, a nice touch.

I was sad that this chapter didn't make it; as it showed through the letter that Elessar remembered when he was Aragorn and Strider, and presumably had no problems with his friends addressing him as such.
Thanks for the additional quote from the Council of Elrond. It is indeed an important one as it contains the chief conflict between the ruling stewards and a potential claimant. Boromir and his father have (as every political official) an inherent interest in maintaining their power. This is flankend by the duty (to rule until the king returns) that gave them this power in the first place.


Are there any other essential quotes in Fellowship that we left out? I think the only other relevant passage I could name off the top of my head is the one from The Great River where Aragorns sees the Argonath:

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Originally Posted by The Great River
'Fear not!' said a strange voice behind him. Frodo turned and saw Strider, and yet not Strider; for the weatherworn Ranger was no longer there. In the stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn, proud and erect, guiding the boat with skilful strokes; his hood was cast back, and his dark hair was blowing in the wind, a light was in his eyes: a king returning from exile to his own land. 'Fear not!' he said. 'Long have I desired to look upon the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, my sires of old. Under their shadow Elessar, the Elfstone son of Arathorn of the House of Valandil Isildur’s son, heir of Elendil, has naught to dread!' Then the light of his eyes faded, and he spoke to himself: 'Would that Gandalf were here! How my heart yearns for Minas Anor and the walls of my own city! But whither now shall I go?'
I think that this is the most important quote from Fellowship. It summarizes Aragorn's claims, background and his inner conflict perfectly. I just rewatched the movie equivalent of this scene and Aragorn's lines are reduced to: 'The Argonath. Long have I desired to look upon the Kings of old. My kin.' So we get Aragorn's lineage but not the associated consequences. Viggo Mortensen's performance sadly lacks any resemblance to Book-Aragorn. He just mumbles words in a hushed voice.


I have a feeling that there might be other bits and pieces in the Lothlóren chapters.

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Old 07-19-2016, 09:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Faramir Jones View Post
It's nice to see how this thread has progressed since my last post...

I'd like to make a couple of points. First, thanks for posting those quotes, Leaf; but I feel you left an important one out. It is the exchange between Boromir and Aragorn at the end of the Council of Elrond, which I think is very revealing. Boromir said that Aragon's sword may stem the tide, 'if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men'. Aragorn's response is quite low key: 'Who can tell? But we will put it to the test one day'.

It is clear from this that Boromir accepted Aragorn's descent, but is waiting to see if he has any of the qualities of the old kings. For all Boromir knew, this man and his immediate ancestors had done nothing other than reproduce and hold on to some heirlooms. The main question he is asking is, obviously, 'Can he fight?' Aragorn is aware that Boromir is one of the most important people he will need to win over, hence his low key answer.

The second point is one made by critic Paul Kocher in his Master of Middle-earth: The Achievement of J. R. R. Tolkien (1972). He devotes a chapter of his book to Aragorn, and makes an interesting point about what happens to that character after his crowning as King Elessar: 'Aragorn the man recedes from us into Aragorn the King. But there are still times when the regal robes are off'. The example Kocher gives is when Aragorn and Gandalf climb Mount Mindolluin. The former points out his loneliness at the long prospect of his new royal responsibility and is aware that Gandalf would soon leave.

Another example, which Kocher was not then aware of, can be seen in the abandoned last chapter of LotR, the versions of which are given in Volume 12 of The History of Middle-earth, when Aragorn as Elessar is going to pay his second visit to the North, and sends a letter to Sam and Rose, saying that he would be at the Brandywine Bridge on a particular date, 'And he desires to greet there all his friends'. He added that 'In especial he desires' to meet Sam, Rose, and their children, each child mentioned by name, a nice touch.

I was sad that this chapter didn't make it; as it showed through the letter that Elessar remembered when he was Aragorn and Strider, and presumably had no problems with his friends addressing him as such.
In these respects Aragorn shows again the strain of Tragedy that touched all of Tolkien's threads:

That Aragorn has a duty that is not his own doing, but one that has been thrust upon him.

And that because of this duty, he is denied many of the things he had when Sauron still lived (friends, the freedom to come-and-go, few responsibilities to others, etc.).

And the letter to Sam at his coming to the North was a touching reminder of the fact that he remained a man, who had the same needs of any other man (or woman, for that matter - although biology will dictate a few different needs between the genders).

I have not yet read the Paul Kocher book (But I have it in some stack or box, someplace).

I will have to take a look at it sooner than not, from the sounds of it.

Funny.... There is another Paul Kocher I have met in California, who is a Cryptographer. When I first hear of Master of Middle-earth, I confused the two for a while.

MB
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Old 07-20-2016, 04:10 AM   #18
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In these respects Aragorn shows again the strain of Tragedy that touched all of Tolkien's threads:

That Aragorn has a duty that is not his own doing, but one that has been thrust upon him.

And that because of this duty, he is denied many of the things he had when Sauron still lived (friends, the freedom to come-and-go, few responsibilities to others, etc.).
I disagree. What you are describing is more fitting to the character of movie-Aragorn. Book-Aragorn's duty is entirely his own doing. He wanted to become King Elessar from the start and did everything in his power to accomplish this. He's proud, self-confident and resilient in his claims. Just take the last quote that I posted:

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'Fear not!' he said. 'Long have I desired to look upon the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, my sires of old. Under their shadow Elessar, the Elfstone son of Arathorn of the House of Valandil Isildur’s son, heir of Elendil, has naught to dread!' Then the light of his eyes faded, and he spoke to himself: 'Would that Gandalf were here! How my heart yearns for Minas Anor and the walls of my own city! But whither now shall I go?'
Note the enumeration of his titles and family relations and the claim on Minas Arnor. It sure doesn't seem to me that this could be attributed to a character that is torn between his duty and his own true desires. They really are one and the same.

If anything Aragorn is torn because of his duty towards the ring's fate and his own political agenda. Annoyingly, he has to take Gandalf's place and this is getting in the way of his original plans.
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Old 07-20-2016, 08:48 AM   #19
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I disagree. What you are describing is more fitting to the character of movie-Aragorn. Book-Aragorn's duty is entirely his own doing. He wanted to become King Elessar from the start and did everything in his power to accomplish this.
While I don't necessarily disagree with your point, why do you think he had such a drive to become King of Gondor? He had many ancestors that had the same claim as he did but none of them made any attempt to make it good. Was it love of Arwen? Could be, but honestly the reason why the opportunity arose was because of the War of the Ring. Given the circumstances surrounding the situation and the opportunity the war provided, it could be argued that it was his destiny.


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Note the enumeration of his titles and family relations and the claim on Minas Arnor. It sure doesn't seem to me that this could be attributed to a character that is torn between his duty and his own true desires. They really are one and the same.

If anything Aragorn is torn because of his duty towards the ring's fate and his own political agenda. Annoyingly, he has to take Gandalf's place and this is getting in the way of his original plans.
However, I do disagree with your interpretation of Aragorn's motives in this. I do not think he was annoyed or put out by his duty to the Ring quest any more than Frodo or Sam, who also frequently wanted to return to the Shire. Of course they all wanted to be off doing something else that they wanted to do. The quest was a miserable experience. But the fate of the world was literally hanging in the balance. I have no doubt that had circumstances been different, Aragorn would have gone up Mount Doom with Frodo on his back if need be.
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Old 07-20-2016, 09:34 AM   #20
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While I don't necessarily disagree with your point, why do you think he had such a drive to become King of Gondor? He had many ancestors that had the same claim as he did but none of them made any attempt to make it good. Was it love of Arwen? Could be, but honestly the reason why the opportunity arose was because of the War of the Ring. Given the circumstances surrounding the situation and the opportunity the war provided, it could be argued that it was his destiny.
I could never find a satisfactory answer to your question. As you say, theoretically every forefather could have tried to claim their right to the throne of Gondor. Your proposal makes sense since we know that appareantly there's a prophecy about the Return of the King:

'...for it was spoken of old among us that it [Narsil] should be made again when the Ring, Isildur’s Bane, was found.'

I think it's fair to extrapolate from the re-forging of Narsil to the re-taking of the arnorian/gondorian throne. But I really don't like the implications of this. This would imply that the believe in this prophecy was so strong that every prospective pretender to the throne would act accordingly and sit tight, giving up their chance to power because the time hasn't come yet. Given all the generations of potential claimants this seems too idealistic to me. It also seems strange to me that there was an expectation that Sauron's Ring will (with absolute certainty) be found again. This makes Gandalf's blunder regarding Bilbos magic ring even more surprising.

I think that the conjunction of the ring-story and the king-story is one of Tolkiens weaker designs.

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However, I do disagree with your interpretation of Aragorn's motives in this. I do not think he was annoyed or put out by his duty to the Ring quest any more than Frodo or Sam, who also frequently wanted to return to the Shire. Of course they all wanted to be off doing something else that they wanted to do. The quest was a miserable experience. But the fate of the world was literally hanging in the balance. I have no doubt that had circumstances been different, Aragorn would have gone up Mount Doom with Frodo on his back if need be.
I do agree with you and I apologize for the lax wording. I just wanted to point out that Gandalf's death was a drawback to Aragorn's initial planning.

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Old 07-20-2016, 10:28 AM   #21
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I could never find a satisfactory answer to your question. As you say, theoretically every forefather could have tried to claim their right to the throne of Gondor. Your proposal makes sense since we know that appareantly there's a prophecy about the Return of the King:

'...for it was spoken of old among us that it [Narsil] should be made again when the Ring, Isildur’s Bane, was found.'

I think it's fair to extrapolate from the re-forging of Narsil to the re-taking of the arnorian/gondorian throne. But I really don't like the implications of this. This would imply that the believe in this prophecy was so strong that every prospective pretender to the throne would act accordingly and sit tight, giving up their chance to power because the time hasn't come yet. Given all the generations of potential claimants this seems too idealistic to me.
Personally I do find it plausible that successive generations of Chieftains of the Dunedain did feel constrained by the prophecy. I think that would be in keeping with the setting that Tolkien intended to create.

From a practical standpoint, there were a number of considerations against it. Politically, Gondor was too stable until the time of the War of the Ring for the prospect of an unknown rustic from the North to come in and claim the throne to have any appeal for the Gondorians themselves. The issue of a Northern claimant to the throne of Gondor had been decisively defeated for that epoch with the rejection of Arvedui. It is noteworthy that Aragorn emphasized being Elendil's heir rather than just Isildur's, probably to avoid the problem Arvedui experienced.

Also, for the most part the Chieftains of the Dunedain were concerned with the survival of their small people and had little time to spare for larger ambitions.

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It also seems strange to me that there was an expectation that Sauron's Ring will (with absolute certainty) be found again. This makes Gandalf's blunder regarding Bilbos magic ring even more surprising.
Can't argue too much with that. Sometimes we just have to recall that Tolkien hadn't figured out everything by the time he wrote the books.

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I think that the conjunction of the ring-story and the king-story is one of Tolkiens weaker designs.
Perhaps, but it is very much in keeping with the heroic mode that was Tolkien's inspiration. Great peril arises -> hero arises to vanquish the peril -> hero sets world to rights
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Old 07-20-2016, 02:48 PM   #22
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Personally I do find it plausible that successive generations of Chieftains of the Dunedain did feel constrained by the prophecy. I think that would be in keeping with the setting that Tolkien intended to create.

From a practical standpoint, there were a number of considerations against it. Politically, Gondor was too stable until the time of the War of the Ring for the prospect of an unknown rustic from the North to come in and claim the throne to have any appeal for the Gondorians themselves. The issue of a Northern claimant to the throne of Gondor had been decisively defeated for that epoch with the rejection of Arvedui. It is noteworthy that Aragorn emphasized being Elendil's heir rather than just Isildur's, probably to avoid the problem Arvedui experienced.

Also, for the most part the Chieftains of the Dunedain were concerned with the survival of their small people and had little time to spare for larger ambitions.
Those practical objections all seem reasonable to me. They are (within the context of Middle-Earth) understandable answers to the posed question. My problem is that Tolkien didn't include them in the text of Fellowship. Instead, he simply threw in a few vague lines about a prophecy that supposedly prevented a premature Return of the King.

I don't find this solution to be very elegant. On the contrary, it's kind of hamfisted.


It would be illuminating if someone took their time to trace this problem back to the HoME.

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Old 07-20-2016, 03:10 PM   #23
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My problem is that Tolkien didn't include them in the text of Fellowship. Instead, he simply threw in a few vague lines about a prophecy that supposedly prevented a premature Return of the King.

I don't find this solution to be very elegant. On the contrary, it's kind of hamfisted.
This probably boils down to stylistic preferences in the end. I don't find these resolutions to be hamfisted, but rather add texture to the setting.

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It would be illuminating if someone took their time to trace this problem back to the HoME.
Part of the problem may arise in that Strider did not start off as Strider at all.

Anyway, I will actually be home this evening so I will take some time to thumb through the last part of Fellowship and see if anything additional catches my eye beyond what has been mentioned already.
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Old 07-20-2016, 03:37 PM   #24
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This probably boils down to stylistic preferences in the end. I don't find these resolutions to be hamfisted, but rather add texture to the setting.


An afterthought:

I suspect that this problem (if you are inclined to view it as such) stems from Tolkien's method or style of writing. He really excels when it comes to the reinterpretation of mythical motives and their expression in his own world. But there are certain aspects of story-telling that seem to be, let's say, of less importance to him, to be a little more diplomatic about it. The numerous cases of deus ex machina (Oh, those eagles) may be fitting examples for this feature.

And I really don't want to be too harsh. The general embedding of the King-story into the Ring-story was accomplished with great success. I really like how it drives the narrative foward and how it connects the past with the present. I'm just being a little bit nit-picky about it because I want to get to the bottom of this.


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Part of the problem may arise in that Strider did not start off as Strider at all.

Anyway, I will actually be home this evening so I will take some time to thumb through the last part of Fellowship and see if anything additional catches my eye beyond what has been mentioned already.
Thanks, that would be great.
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Old 07-20-2016, 07:20 PM   #25
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I disagree. What you are describing is more fitting to the character of movie-Aragorn. Book-Aragorn's duty is entirely his own doing. He wanted to become King Elessar from the start and did everything in his power to accomplish this. He's proud, self-confident and resilient in his claims. Just take the last quote that I posted:
I think You'll find that I do not admit the movies exist.

I hate, loath, and detest the movies.

I am sorry that I have left you with the impression that I was referencing the movies, as I did not mean to imply that Aragorn was anything but anxious to take up what was rightfully his.

But wanting to do something does not mean also not accepting the loss that could accompany it as well.

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Old 07-20-2016, 10:05 PM   #26
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An afterthought:

I suspect that this problem (if you are inclined to view it as such) stems from Tolkien's method or style of writing. He really excels when it comes to the reinterpretation of mythical motives and their expression in his own world. But there are certain aspects of story-telling that seem to be, let's say, of less importance to him, to be a little more diplomatic about it. The numerous cases of deus ex machina (Oh, those eagles) may be fitting examples for this feature.

And I really don't want to be too harsh. The general embedding of the King-story into the Ring-story was accomplished with great success. I really like how it drives the narrative foward and how it connects the past with the present. I'm just being a little bit nit-picky about it because I want to get to the bottom of this.




Thanks, that would be great.

The intersection of the Ring/King-Stories is pure Mythological Archetypal Narrative, as well.

We see similar features in Myths ranging from the Cradle of Civilization, all the way to Native Americans in the 1800s (although the Native American Myths are much older in origin than the 19th Century).

The Kalevala is the most obvious, being a nearly direct inspiration for much of Middle-earth.

And the Nibelungenlied has similar archetypes. Obviously not identical, but carrying many of the same narrative structures.

Tolkien does a much better job in his myths than do the actual myths because Tolkien set out to Consciously construct these stories, rather than arising out of Social Constructs from the Legends and Mythic Persons within a Culture - which can lead to a great many contradictions and conflicts that remain very difficult to satisfy or resolve.

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Old 07-21-2016, 09:55 AM   #27
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I did not find anything of particular note in the rest of Fellowship that hasn't been mentioned already.

Two Towers will have a lot more of note.
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Old 07-22-2016, 05:10 AM   #28
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Silmaril Aragorn the lover

It might be interesting in this thread to contrast the assertiveness of Aragorn regarding his royal rights, particularly from the time he declares his identity to Eomer and his men, with the mostly quiet and understated nature of his love for Arwen, as far as we can read in the main text of LotR.

There is, in my opinion, only one serious indication of what is going on in the text, which is after the Fellowship reach Lothlórien, when they are on the hill of Cerin Amroth:

At the hill's foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still and silent as a tree, but in his hand was a small golden bloom of elanor, and a light was in his eyes. He was wrapped in some fair memory: and as Frodo looked at him he knew that he beheld things as they once had been in this same place. For the grim years were removed from the face of Aragorn, and he seemed clothed in white, a young lord tall and fair; and he spoke with words in the Elvish tongue to one whom Frodo could not see. Arwen vanimelda, namarië! he said, and then he drew a breath, and returning out of his thought he looked at Frodo and smiled.

'Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth', he said, 'and here my heart dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must tread, you and I. Come with me!' And taking Frodo's hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man.


It's clear that the reader has seen Aragorn as a man in love, and that the beloved is Arwen; so when the reader reads of their marriage after the War is won, and Aragorn crowned, it is not a surprise.

It was only when I read that passage recently that I thought the comparison of Aragorn 'standing still and silent as a tree' was quite appropriate for the context of someone in Lothlórien.

However, the true meaning of Cerin Amroth for Aragorn and Arwen is only seen by the reader in Appendix A, I(v) of LotR, dealing with The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.

In that Tale, Aragorn, after being told of his true identity when 20, fell in love with Arwen. Nearly 3 decades later, when 49, after many adventures and experiences, he came to Lothlórien, when Arwen was also living there, unknown to him at the time, with her maternal grandparents:

But Aragorn was grown to full stature of body and mind, and Galadriel [Arwen's grandmother] bade him cast away his wayworn rainment, and she clothed him in silver and white, with a cloak of elven-grey and bright gem on his brow. Then more than any kind of Men he seemed, and seemed rather an Elf-lord from the Isles of the West. And thus it was that Arwen first beheld him again after their long parting; and as he came walking toward her under the trees of Caras Galadhon laden with flowers of gold, her choice was made and her doom appointed.

In plain English, she fell in love with Aragorn.

For 'a season' the two of them 'wandered together' in the glades of Lothlórien, till it was time for Aragorn to depart. On Cerin Amroth, they 'plighted their troth and were glad'. That hill was where they became engaged. It was only fair for this to take a season to happen. Choosing mortality to be with the man you love is no easy choice to make...

After Aragorn died, the Tale tells that Arwen returned to Lothlórien, where she died on Cerin Amroth, and where she is buried.

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Old 08-13-2016, 11:34 AM   #29
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From the Two Towers- nothing bashful about Aragorn:

Quote:
Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade of Andúril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. 'Elendil!' he cried. 'I am Aragorn son of Arathorn and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!'

Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. He seemed to have grown in stature while Éomer had shrunk; and in his living face they caught a brief vision of the power and majesty of the kings of stone. For a moment it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown.

Éomer stepped back and a look of awe was in his face. He cast down his proud eyes. 'These are indeed strange days,' he muttered. 'Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass.

'Tell me, lord,' he said, 'what brings you here?
and

Quote:
Aragorn stood a while hesitating. 'It is not my will,' he said, 'to put aside my sword or to deliver Andúril to the hand of any other man.'

'It is the will of Théoden,' said Háma.

'It is not clear to me that the will of Théoden son of Thengel even though he be lord of the Mark, should prevail over the will of Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil's heir of Gondor.'

'This is the house of Théoden, not of Aragorn, even were he King of Gondor in the seat of Denethor,' said Háma, stepping swiftly before the doors and barring the way. His sword was now in his hand and the point towards the strangers.

'This is idle talk,' said Gandalf. 'Needless is Théoden's demand, but it is useless to refuse. A king will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom.'

'Truly,' said Aragorn. 'And I would do as the master of the house bade me, were this only a woodman's cot, if I bore now any sword but Andúril.'

'Whatever its name may be,' said Háma, 'here you shall lay it, if you would not fight alone against all the men in Edoras.'

'Not alone!' said Gimli, fingering the blade of his axe, and looking darkly up at the guard, as if he were a young tree that Gimli had a mind to fell. 'Not alone!'

'Come, come!' said Gandalf. 'We are all friends here. Or should be; for the laughter of Mordor will be our only reward, if we quarrel. My errand is pressing. Here at least is my sword, goodman Háma. Keep it well. Glamdring it is called, for the Elves made it long ago. Now let me pass. Come, Aragorn!'

Slowly Aragorn unbuckled his belt and himself set his sword upright against the wall. 'Here I set it,' he said; 'but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it. In this elvish sheath dwells the Blade that was Broken and has been made again. Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir.'

The guard stepped back and looked with amazement on Aragorn. 'It seems that you are come on the wings of song out of the forgotten days he said. It shall be, lord, as you command.'
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Old 08-13-2016, 09:28 PM   #30
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Aragorn to me built up to his reclamation of the throne.

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Originally Posted by Of Aragorn and Arwen
She shall not be the bride of any Man less than the King of Gondor and Arnor.
One of the reasons his last ancestor (Arvedui) to make a claim to the throne was denied it was because he had not proved himself worthy. His cousin Eärnil II was a great captain and won great victories, in fact snatching victory from the maws of defeat because Gondor was just about to he conquered. Aragorn in his life proved himself over and over again. He even became renowned in Gondor as Thorongil. Later during the War of the Ring he proved himself again. These acts of valour and success by Aragorn were the means for his reclamation to me. Had an earlier ancestor proved himself in like manner it would have been done earlier. Denethor, over a thousand years after Arvedui, still saw the line of Isildur as a "a ragged house long bereft of dignity".

There is a gradual coming into his own that appears in the books. Remember from the tavern he did not glitter, to the healing hands being the hands of a King from the Dúnadan woman Ioreth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mirror of Galadriel
Aragorn took the stone and pinned the brooch upon his breast, and those who saw him wondered; for they had not marked before how tall and kingly he stood.
There is one instance in Rohan where Aragorn asserts his authority in a kingly manner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The King of the Golden Hall
It is not clear to me that the will of Théoden son of Thengel, even though he be lord of the Mark, should prevail over the will of Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil’s heir of Gondor… I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it. In this elvish sheath dwells the Blade that was Broken and has been made again. Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil’s sword save Elendil’s heir.
Also there is Éowyn's perception of Aragorn;

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Originally Posted by The King of the Golden Hall
she now was suddenly aware of him: tall heir of kings, wise with many winters, greycloaked, hiding a power that yet she felt.
There is also this bit of lore from Gondor from Ioreth about the kings and their healing prowess:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Houses of Healing
would that there were kings in Gondor, as there were once upon a time, they say! For it is said in old lore: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known.
Early in the series when they encountered the Nazgul Aragorn demonstrates this when he sort of breathes some life back into Frodo after he recieved a Morgul-wound in Flight to the Ford. Although none could really cure Frodo of the wound which remained with him even as he left M-E. Aragorn, Glorfindel, and Elrond had taken a look at it and did what they could. He healed Gimli [The Road to Isengard]. Then in Gondor he took care of Faramir, Merry, and Eowen, doing which, word spread like wildfire about the king and how "after war he brought healing" [The Houses of Healing]. Aragorn says, "I have, maybe, the power to heal her body, and to recall her from the dark valley." [The Houses of Healing]

The one other thing I think should bear mentioning is his taking up of the seeing-stone and revealing himself to Sauron. The palantír were in the power of the kings and as king he battled against Sauron, "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". This is I think another act of Aragorn being kingly by using the Stone which is his by law and right. Below is the scene in which he made use of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Passing of the Grey Company
"'Where is Aragorn?'
'In a high chamber of the Burg,' said Legolas. 'He has neither rested nor slept, I think. He went thither some hours ago, saying he must take thought, and only his kinsman, Halbarad, went with him;'
<...>
Merry had eyes only for Aragorn, so startling was the change that he saw in him, as if in one night many years had fallen on his head. Grim was his face, grey-hued and weary.
'I am troubled in mind, lord,' he said, standing by the king's horse.
'I have heard strange words, and I see new perils far off. I have laboured long in thought, and now I fear that I must change my purpose.'
<...>
'A struggle grimmer for my part than the battle of the Hornburg,' answered Aragorn. 'I have looked in the Stone of Orthanc, my friends.'"
There is also the instance of Aragorn unfurling the banner of his house (Elendil) just before he and his men engaged in the battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battle of the Pelennor Fields
There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count.
Aragorn is seen revealing himself to his enemies, while he does also hide from him. Remember he told the Hobbits how the Enemy is setting traps for him. Yet at Helm's Deep he showed himself and the Enemy did a double take and were kind of taken aback.
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Old 09-15-2016, 05:03 PM   #31
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First of all, thanks for your posts. They are a great contribution to this thread.

Faramir Jones

I only have one addition to your insightful post.

You already covered the aspect of biographical revelance. This story is crucial for the understanding of Aragorn's personal development and it's remarkable that Aragorn proved to be so patient. Yet if we look at the text mindful of its origin, we might find another function. If I'm not mistaken, the text the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen is supposed to be derived from source material which was originally written by Gondorian scribes and later added to the Red Book. I find it to be interesting that this text is in origin part of the official or national historiography (or myth), so to speak. The parallels to the tale of Beren and Lúthien could function as a source of legitimation for the rule of King Elessar, the Elfstone. The various marriages between elves and men were the very foundation of the western kingdoms ever since Númenor. Therefore, it's only logical to grant this tale such attention in the written history of Gondor.



William Cloud Hicklin

Thanks for the material! Those are decisive and defining moments.

Quote:
'Elendil!' he cried. 'I am Aragorn son of Arathorn and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!

Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. He seemed to have grown in stature while Éomer had shrunk; and in his living face they caught a brief vision of the power and majesty of the kings of stone. For a moment it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown.

Éomer stepped back and a look of awe was in his face. He cast down his proud eyes. 'These are indeed strange days,' he muttered. 'Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass.

'Tell me, lord,' he said, 'what brings you here?
Argorn's claim rests on three pillars: His heritage, the Sword and his personal charisma. I think it's fair to say that his call also implies (!) the demand for obedience and maybe even a threat of punishment, and sure enough, it works.

Btw., I love the phrase 'Elendil!' he cried. It's almost like it's his catchphrase.

Those motifs are repeated and reinforced at the quarrel on the Doorstep of Meduseld.

Quote:
Slowly Aragorn unbuckled his belt and himself set his sword upright against the wall. 'Here I set it,' he said; 'but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it. In this elvish sheath dwells the Blade that was Broken and has been made again. Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir.'
Here's the epitome of royal sovereignty, the power to issue a death sentence. Polemics aside, could you imagine this quote in the movies? I think that this might have the potential to alienate the audience to a certain degree.

Belegorn

Your post illustrates that Aragorn had extraordinary personal qualities and skills. His knowledge and mental steadfastness accompany his warrior prowess. Aragorn is described as a man worthy of the title King.

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Old 09-21-2016, 11:23 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
I think it's fair to say that his call also implies (!) the demand for obedience and maybe even a threat of punishment, and sure enough, it works.

-and-

Here's the epitome of royal sovereignty, the power to issue a death sentence. Polemics aside, could you imagine this quote in the movies? I think that this might have the potential to alienate the audience to a certain degree.
People in general don't spend enough time reflecting on the fact that all forms of government are founded upon the threat of physical force against recalcitrant members.
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Old 09-22-2016, 04:28 AM   #33
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People in general don't spend enough time reflecting on the fact that all forms of government are founded upon the threat of physical force against recalcitrant members.
I agree with you. I could have dropped the "royal". Political power and authority is always tied to the threat of physical force against recalcitrant members, or else it wouldn't be "power".

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Old 10-01-2016, 03:24 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Personally I do find it plausible that successive generations of Chieftains of the Dunedain did feel constrained by the prophecy. I think that would be in keeping with the setting that Tolkien intended to create.

From a practical standpoint, there were a number of considerations against it. Politically, Gondor was too stable until the time of the War of the Ring for the prospect of an unknown rustic from the North to come in and claim the throne to have any appeal for the Gondorians themselves. The issue of a Northern claimant to the throne of Gondor had been decisively defeated for that epoch with the rejection of Arvedui. It is noteworthy that Aragorn emphasized being Elendil's heir rather than just Isildur's, probably to avoid the problem Arvedui experienced.

Also, for the most part the Chieftains of the Dunedain were concerned with the survival of their small people and had little time to spare for larger ambitions.
Those practical objections all seem reasonable to me. They are (within the context of Middle-Earth) understandable answers to the posed question. My problem is that Tolkien didn't include them in the text of Fellowship. Instead, he simply threw in a few vague lines about a prophecy that supposedly prevented a premature Return of the King.

I don't find this solution to be very elegant. On the contrary, it's kind of hamfisted.
I agree about the prophecy- it's almost the literary version of a "kludge". However, purely by coincidence, I happened to be puzzling over this question of, "well, but couldn't the king really have "returned" any time? Why the wait?", and it was those "practical objections" that came to mind, not the prophecy, (about which I had actually forgotten). What I'm saying is that I think these things can be inferred from the text of the whole novel, even if not from "Fellowship" alone.
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:43 AM   #35
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Just some quick points not directly tied to Aragorn's assertiveness...

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That was a complex situation. I don't know if Tolkien himself had developed all the ultimate complexities at the time of writing. Rohan existed because of the gift of the Steward who ruled until the King returned. Theoretically, that gift could be revoked by the returned King. Aragorn was put in an awkward situation because he was asked (unknowingly on the part of the askers, it is true) to diminish his status and acknowledge the supremacy of the King of Rohan within the bounds of Rohan. Those bounds, however, could still be considered provisional as they had not been confirmed by the King. Acknowledging the claim of the King of Rohan could diminish the legal standing of the King of Gondor should he decide to revoke the gift of Calenardhon.~Kuru
I disagree that Aragorn could have undone the Oath of Cirion and Eorl. Now when Cirion first cedes Calenhardon to Eorl and his people, granting them sovereignty and freedom from Gondor's laws and customs (but bound in an eternal friendship and alliance), he says it shall be so "until the Great King returns." It may sound like Aragorn returning as the "Great King" would be able to override a previous Steward's decision, but it's not quite that simple. As you say it's a complex situation.

Because Eorl and Cirion go to Elendil's tomb and bind it with an oath, that the UT says:

Quote:
Such an oath had not been heard in Middle-earth since Elendil himself had sworn alliance with Gil-galad King of the Eldar~Cirion and Eorl
Aragorn breaking that oath, would have some terrible consequences. And don't forget, at this time as Hama rightfully points out Aragorn does not sit yet on the throne of Gondor, and even if he did Rohan's sovereignty is sworn by more than just "legally" (a Steward exercising a decision in place until the "Great King" returns) but bound by the oaths of Cirion and Eorl, at a "holy site" in the "keeping of the Valar."

Similarly, as Aragorn, being Isildur's heir is the judge over the King of the Mountain fulfilling his peoples' oath to Isildur. Aragorn as the "Great King" would have the oath of Cirion and Eorl pass on to him. And I don't think it's a matter of just overriding a Steward's ruling. Rohan's sovereignty and freedom from Gondor is sealed by a sworn word, as long as Eorl and his heirs keep their oath that they are allies eternally, "Gondor's enemies are Rohan's enemies" then Aragorn would be expected to keep Cirion's oath.

Which is why you have Gandalf there to mediate, and tell Aragorn as silly as Théoden's demand is, he will have his own way, in his own hall and land.
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Old 10-05-2016, 11:03 AM   #36
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Apparently, I must spread some reputation around before giving it to Boromir88 again.

Practically, of course, it would have been ridiculous for Aragorn to try to undo Rohan's sovereignty.

However, I still hold my original opinion that Aragorn, as legal matter, could have revoked the Oath because of the clause of the Great King returning.

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Similarly, as Aragorn, being Isildur's heir is the judge over the King of the Mountain fulfilling his peoples' oath to Isildur.
I don't see this as being the best parallel because Isildur was sovereign himself (or was he? When exactly was the curse cast?) Cirion was only a servant, exercising power explicitly because of the absence of his master.

Quote:
Which is why you have Gandalf there to mediate, and tell Aragorn as silly as Théoden's demand is, he will have his own way, in his own hall and land.
As being, literally, a representative of the Valar, perhaps it could be interpreted as Gandalf giving their opinion on the matter.
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Old 10-08-2016, 08:56 AM   #37
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White Tree Aragorn II and the Ruling Stewards

You made some interesting remarks here, Kuruharan:

Practically, of course, it would have been ridiculous for Aragorn to try to undo Rohan's sovereignty.

However, I still hold my original opinion that Aragorn, as legal matter, could have revoked the Oath because of the clause of the Great King returning.

Cirion was only a servant, exercising power explicitly because of the absence of his master.


Tolkien was quite explicit that the Ruling Stewards, from Mardil the Faithful to Faramir, were as regents able to exercise all royal powers. Cirion's grant of Calenhardon to Eorl and his people was a lawful use of these powers, even if it was an extraordinary one. Certainly, it appears that no one said, then and later, that he was acting outside his powers.

I'm presuming that Aragorn II, after his crowning as King Elessar, made his first legal act as king a retrospective confirmation of everything done by the previous Ruling Stewards.

If he had done this, the public renewal of the of Oath of Eorl wouldn't have been strictly necessary; but I'm presuming that it was done because of the great symbolic significance of the grant of Calenhardon, the most significant and sweeping act of the Ruling Stewards, and a ceremonial confirmation of the 'old alliance' between Rohan and Gondor, which had just saved the latter.
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:44 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Faramir Jones View Post
I'm presuming that Aragorn II, after his crowning as King Elessar, made his first legal act as king a retrospective confirmation of everything done by the previous Ruling Stewards.
Quite possibly.

Quote:
If he had done this, the public renewal of the of Oath of Eorl wouldn't have been strictly necessary; but I'm presuming that it was done because of the great symbolic significance of the grant of Calenhardon, the most significant and sweeping act of the Ruling Stewards, and a ceremonial confirmation of the 'old alliance' between Rohan and Gondor, which had just saved the latter.
I believe the fact that there was a public renewal of the Oath strengthens my case that it could (technically) have been revoked.
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Old 10-11-2016, 01:48 PM   #39
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You started a nice thread here, Leaf!

The problem with the portrayal of Aragorn in those films is partly because he is a difficult character for even avid fans who have read LotR thoroughly to get to grips with.

This is a man who is already 88 years old by the time the War of the Ring ends, he becomes King of Gondor and marries Arwen. He then reigns for 122 years, dying at the age of 210. He is 20 when he first meets Arwen, 2690 years his senior, and falls in love with her; but it is when he is 49, after many adventures and experiences, including serving in Rohan and Gondor, that he meets Arwen again, she returns his love, and they become engaged, an engagement that lasts for 39 years.

The reason behind this is that he is the heir of Elendil the Tall, of the line of Elros, of mixed human, elvish, and divine (through Melian the Maia) ancestry, being very long lived. Also, he has been fostered by an Elf, Elrond, as Túrin was by Thingol. The love between him and Arwen can certainly be justified by the love song title 'No Ordinary Love'; because she, as an Elf, would (and does) in order to be his wife need to become mortal, a sacrifice that can be barely imagined.

What I'm saying here is that it is difficult even for fans like ourselves to get to grips with who Aragorn is, who Arwen is, and the nature of their love. Aragorn, while he does express doubt about his ability as leader in the book, has already had many years to deal with a lot of earlier self-doubt.

Even while I accept that because who Aragorn and Arwen are, and their love for each other, is a difficult concept even for avid fans to grasp, and was too much for those involved in the films, it still doesn't explain the nonsense of two scenes. The first is in The Two Towers film, when this happens:
I have always found their relationship to be bit of an odd one, and I think even more so after reading your post. Not that it brought new information forth, but sometimes you simply need to see something written in order to appreciate its absurdity/complexity. I also often wondered how Elrond felt about seeing his brother's descendants fair so poorly, and weather it was weird when in the end one of them married his own daughter. Sure they are extremely/unfathomably far removed, but it still seems a bit messed up.

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People in general don't spend enough time reflecting on the fact that all forms of government are founded upon the threat of physical force against recalcitrant members.
Apparently I too, need to spread some rep around.

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Just some quick points not directly tied to Aragorn's assertiveness...



I disagree that Aragorn could have undone the Oath of Cirion and Eorl. Now when Cirion first cedes Calenhardon to Eorl and his people, granting them sovereignty and freedom from Gondor's laws and customs (but bound in an eternal friendship and alliance), he says it shall be so "until the Great King returns." It may sound like Aragorn returning as the "Great King" would be able to override a previous Steward's decision, but it's not quite that simple. As you say it's a complex situation.

Because Eorl and Cirion go to Elendil's tomb and bind it with an oath, that the UT says:



Aragorn breaking that oath, would have some terrible consequences. And don't forget, at this time as Hama rightfully points out Aragorn does not sit yet on the throne of Gondor, and even if he did Rohan's sovereignty is sworn by more than just "legally" (a Steward exercising a decision in place until the "Great King" returns) but bound by the oaths of Cirion and Eorl, at a "holy site" in the "keeping of the Valar."

Similarly, as Aragorn, being Isildur's heir is the judge over the King of the Mountain fulfilling his peoples' oath to Isildur. Aragorn as the "Great King" would have the oath of Cirion and Eorl pass on to him. And I don't think it's a matter of just overriding a Steward's ruling. Rohan's sovereignty and freedom from Gondor is sealed by a sworn word, as long as Eorl and his heirs keep their oath that they are allies eternally, "Gondor's enemies are Rohan's enemies" then Aragorn would be expected to keep Cirion's oath.

Which is why you have Gandalf there to mediate, and tell Aragorn as silly as Théoden's demand is, he will have his own way, in his own hall and land.
I really like this discussion, though it would help if we had some knowledge of legal proceedings in Gondor and its law-codes. At the very least it would be nice to know what kind of power non-royal Dúnedain (and non stewards) held within the realm of Gondor. Also what kind of sovereignty does a place like Lossarnach have? Are the people there first and foremost Gondorian?

These are questions that needs answering in order to properly discuss the political options of Aragon.

However I get the impression that he could undo the alliance if he so chose, and that without another power vetoing him. Rohan might not accept restriction of their sovereignty though... Would Aragon have support amongst his vassals, for a conflict with a trusted (and somewhat powerful) allied?
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Old 10-13-2016, 11:29 PM   #40
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As a side point, but an important one I think, the Gondorian monarchy (and by association the Arnorian as well) was not an absolute one.
What Tolkien mentions of King Eldacar's trials of ruling is a good example, and even he didn't have the uphill battle of having to explain to others exactly how he was directly descended. Book-Aragorn, as others have pointed out, has had years of this experience, so it does make sense his 'non-mythical' self has his ancestry memorized like a speed dial.

Everyone else in the ruling elite of Gondor that we see in the books is rather obsessed (from our modern perspective) with the how and by who they are descended from Numenor, and in the mythos of the books this has meaning determining the 'potency' of a ruler and it does fluctuate throughout the generations (ex: Denethor and his sons as Gandalf explains to Pippin, or Prince Imrahil as observed by Legolas, etc.)
Maybe they're just born with it, maybe it's those Dunedain genes...


Quote:
That was a complex situation. I don't know if Tolkien himself had developed all the ultimate complexities at the time of writing. Rohan existed because of the gift of the Steward who ruled until the King returned. Theoretically, that gift could be revoked by the returned King. Aragorn was put in an awkward situation because he was asked (unknowingly on the part of the askers, it is true) to diminish his status and acknowledge the supremacy of the King of Rohan within the bounds of Rohan. Those bounds, however, could still be considered provisional as they had not been confirmed by the King. Acknowledging the claim of the King of Rohan could diminish the legal standing of the King of Gondor should he decide to revoke the gift of Calenardhon.
This is a very good observation. Not to tarnish Aragorn as a politician (as Tolkien wasn't very much a fan of this way of thinking and using your fellow man), but tactically this is a good choice in his immediate situation as he hasn't quite reached Gondor and there is the combined threat of forces from both Saruman and Sauron. If anything, the Rohirrim offer a buffer to the threat of Saruman joining his forces to Sauron, so advantageously it would make sense to not challenge or strip such a title from them. Aragorn arguably wasn't in a position to be that picky with his allies, especially other men who proved quite formidable.
As for the what-maybes after the fall of Sauron, Eomer and Imrahil were connected by marriage, but it would be safe to say no one was particularly interested in the idea of fighting amongst themselves for territory. It is mentioned that Aragorn as king later brought all groups of men into his own, but if this involved political squabbles it isn't said (as Tolkien didn't prefer his exemplary rulers to act this way).

Last edited by THE Ka; 10-13-2016 at 11:36 PM. Reason: Accidentally spelled several English words in French. My bad.
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