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Old 08-16-2008, 12:22 PM   #1
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Silmaril Part of the mind of Il˙vatar

So, I was rereading the AinulindalŰ today, for the first time in a couple years (which is a bit of a shame, but not as bad as you'd think; I read it (and its HoME variants) so many times in my teen years that it's not exactly a forgotten text), and I barely got through three pages before I had a topic for the Downs.

While this is not a bad thing, I was supposed to be spending today outdoors...

Anyway, the following lines struck me:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien, in the AinulindalŰ,
But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly.
More especially, this was recalled moments later (over my second bite of breakfast) with this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien, in the AinulindalŰ,
To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren.
This made me think... Melkor is alone, as far as I know, in being said to have a share in the gifts of all his brethern--a share, I would say, in part, with all the parts of the mind of Il˙vatar, This accords very well with what is generally said of him being the greatest of the Ainur, for example, in the following quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien, in the AinulindalŰ,
'Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor..
I trust that no one will say Eru is a liar.

Anyway, this got me thinking about ManwŰ, because there's always been a bit of tension in comparing him and Melkor. If Melkor is the mightiest in the thought of Eru, how can ManwŰ be called coŰval with him?

More importantly... how can ManwŰ be considered "brethren in the thought of Il˙vatar" with Melkor? What is it about them that would cause Eru to say "you're brothers" in a way that they aren't with the rest of the Ainur? With Nßmo and Irmo (Mandos and Lˇrien) it makes sense, given their related fields of knowledge (related parts of Il˙vatar's mind from whence they spring): doom and visions. After all, if Melkor and ManwŰ are not like in power--and especially in Tolkien's later works, which the final version of the AinulindalŰ is contemporary with, it is clear that Melkor is vastly the mightier, as Il˙vatar's statement affirms--how are they alike? It's not that they both spring from the same portion of Il˙vatar's thought, since ManwŰ is very clearly associated with the sky and winds, whereas Melkor is very clearly drawn from across the "elemental" spectrum, so to speak.

Any thoughts then, on how to reconcile this? I have one, also prompted by pages 1-3 of the AinulindalŰ, but I'm curious what reconciliation others have attempted to make--if they have at all.
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Old 08-16-2008, 03:01 PM   #2
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If Melkor is the mightiest in the thought of Eru, how can ManwŰ be called coŰval with him?
Because coŰval means that he is a contemporary of Melkor's, that he had his origins at or near the same time as Melkor. Melkor was "born" first, ManwŰ probably came second. I think that many people interpret coŰval as meaning "equal," but that is not so, and I haven't found a definition in any of my available dictionaries that suggests equality of power, rank, or such in the term, merely a similarity of age or origin.

As for their being brothers, I have always viewed them as being opposite sides of the same coin -- light, dark; good, bad; heavens, earth; etc. They are different in temperament, and in that difference lies the link between them, in my mind. The two sides of a single coin can be utterly unalike, and yet be part of the same coin. Despite their differences, there is a bond between them, and in Eru's mind, this makes them brothers. I'm from a largish family, and most of my siblings and I are quite unalike, but that does not change the fact that we are siblings.

That's how I've seen it, anyway.
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Old 08-20-2008, 05:34 PM   #3
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Melkor was originally greater than all the other Valar combined and stood in defiance of all of them. He is therefore not Manwe's personal opposite but the opposite of all the Valar--the antithesis of positive (creative) energy itself. He was the nihilistic Enemy of all and everything, and he could have destroyed the world had he not tried so hard to make it all his own. How are Melkor and Manwe brothers? Manwe was most like Iluvatar in mind; Melkor most like him in body. They are symbolically brothers (all were equally fraternal literally) by virtue of their greater inheritance.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:31 AM   #4
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I have always been curious about Manwe's ability. Other than understanding the thought of Eru the best and being the voice of Eru's will, what do we see Manwe actually do? I can not really remember ever there being a contest between the two, or better yet, I can't really remember even an example of Manwe's ability or limitations. If they are equal opposites as in humble versus pride, perhaps there is a scale of will/power versus understanding or something similar.
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:12 AM   #5
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It's odd reading an old post by me--especially one starting a thread I didn't remember that I'd started. While the thrust of my post seems to have been to clarify how ManwŰ and Melkor could be coŰval, I don't think I was looking for a definition as I could have looked it up (mind you, I don't think I DID look it up...). For what it's worth, looking back from four years later, I don't think that Ibrţn's helpful clarification about the definition of coŰval really clears it up; rather, I think it basically restates the problem, which I might define thus:

Melkor and ManwŰ are brethren in the mind of Il˙vatar--which fits with their being contemporaries. HOW does being brothers work?

Attached to this--indeed, I think, essential to it--is the question of how ManwŰ can be a fittingly matched opponent to Melkor, when Melkor alone is singled out as THE greatest of the Ainur. To me, this echoes how Lucifer can have been the greatest of the angels before his fall while Michael is the greatest of the angels... after the fall?*

The answer that occurs to me in the course of writing this--though maybe I should say it's the result of four years of deep meditation--is that ManwŰ is the equal of Melkor because he has the authority as vice-gerent of Eru. It's NOT that ManwŰ is the equal of Melkor in power, but that brute power is most properly opposed by authority--which power does not possess.




*Blame it on my current academic endeavour of reading John Milton, but now I'm wanting to play the game of "which archangel is which Vala?" OromŰ and Ulmo seem good candidates for Raphael and Gabriel, though I'm open to alternative suggestions.
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:54 AM   #6
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I have always imagined the "bretheren" really in the sense that they shared similar gifts. And yes, even power. Maybe Melkor was the mightiest of Ainur, but ManwŰ was right behind him; more importantly, I think when it comes to powers of, say, "govern", counsel, maybe the power of their imagination, mind, all that kind of stuff?

Yes, truth be told, ManwŰ did not really show us very much, but then again, we are never told about the "daily business of governing Valinor", or the early days of Arda and what's been created from whose initiative etc... I can imagine ManwŰ being the "nudger" to help others put their plans into shape, or help them and guide them to make their ideas work.

Thinking about e.g. the discussion between ManwŰ and Yavanna concerning the Ents (and Eagles). From what we know, ManwŰ certainly enjoys the respect of others and others come to him for counsel - they obviously must act that way based on their experience with him that he is the one who gives them good counsel.

That's nothing against what Form just said about the power and authority (which, if I understood correctly what he has in mind, is a very important notion). But I think the simple dimension of truly having the power and capability - "creative potential" - equal or similar to Melkor's (in its broadness) might be there. We have to put aside the simple clasification of ManwŰ only as the "lord of winds", which is, I believe, a common mistake and simplification (he simply turned to prefer a certain "portfolio" on top of everything, but nowhere it is told that his capabilities would be limited only to this area - that is in fact most strongly disputed exactly by putting him on the same level with Melkor).
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:06 AM   #7
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Manwe is the High King of Arda, whatever Morgoth claims. Ain't that some power/authority/whateveryouwanttocallit?

Even if his main field is the air/wind, he's the one in charge of all of Arda. Not solely, but he's like the chief superviser. That gives him, if not power, then authority over it.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:54 PM   #8
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I think Ibrin has it on the question of Melkor and ManwŰ being "coŰval".

The Merriam-Webster definition of "coŰval is

Quote:
of the same or equal age, antiquity, or duration
The Valar are all brethren to one another, as evidenced by the quotes Form cited.

I therefore take Melkor's special connection with ManwŰ to mean that they came into being at the same time; the first creations of Il˙vatar. That would in no way conflict with the statements regarding Melkor being the most powerful of the Valar.
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Old 03-21-2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I therefore take Melkor's special connection with ManwŰ to mean that they came into being at the same time; the first creations of Il˙vatar. That would in no way conflict with the statements regarding Melkor being the most powerful of the Valar.
I don't believe that. First, of course, I am rather convinced the term "first creations of Il˙vatar" cannot be understood in the temporal sense: as in, they were created as the first two. If for nothing else, then because the time itself did not exist back then yet (Timeless halls and all that prove that point, I'd say). I always thought the Ainur came into being more or less "at the same time", if you can use that expression.

And even if you can't - well, we are speaking about transcendental things here which cannot be spoken about in our terms, only metaphorically (because how can you speak about something that was before existence, right? Not to speak of, "before" time..). So even if ManwŰ and Melkor were the first creations of Il˙vatar and "came to being before all the others" (speaking metaphorically) - now what does it mean? It all comes down to that they share some priority, which is not temporal, but in their, well, power. Potential. Abilities. Call it whatever you will. And we are then back again at what I have been talking about... they simply do have equal potential.
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
I don't believe that. First, of course, I am rather convinced the term "first creations of Il˙vatar" cannot be understood in the temporal sense: as in, they were created as the first two. If for nothing else, then because the time itself did not exist back then yet (Timeless halls and all that prove that point, I'd say). I always thought the Ainur came into being more or less "at the same time", if you can use that expression.
How else does one explain the "coeval"="contemporary" situation then? All the Valar are brethren, but why would all necessarily have to have been thought into being at the same instance? I'm not saying that wasn't the case, but I don't think it's clear one way or the other.

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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
And even if you can't - well, we are speaking about transcendental things here which cannot be spoken about in our terms, only metaphorically (because how can you speak about something that was before existence, right? Not to speak of, "before" time..). So even if ManwŰ and Melkor were the first creations of Il˙vatar and "came to being before all the others" (speaking metaphorically) - now what does it mean? It all comes down to that they share some priority, which is not temporal, but in their, well, power. Potential. Abilities. Call it whatever you will. And we are then back again at what I have been talking about... they simply do have equal potential.
If we're talking "power" on one hand versus "authority" on the other though, both are derived from the same source: the Creator. That being the case, I would think power would be trumped by authority, which should make Manwe the stronger of the two, in my opinion.Yet, we are indeed told that Melkor was the greatest of the Valar.

That's the reason I favor the ôYin-Yang" approach. The two of them could be connected in the mind of Eru by being opposites; Manwe being the "anti-Melkor"', there to oversee and ensure the Creator's purposes are pursued, as opposed to Melkor seeking to tear down and rebuild to his own designs.
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:20 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
How else does one explain the "coeval"="contemporary" situation then? All the Valar are brethren, but why would all necessarily have to have been thought into being at the same instance? I'm not saying that wasn't the case, but I don't think it's clear one way or the other.
Read what I just said in what you quoted. The point is, you cannot use the word "contemporary", because there is no *time* when the Valar are created (or "when" the Valar are created). Therefore, if we use the word that ManwŰ and Melkor are "first", we must use it in metaphorical sense. And that metaphore can mean, for instance, that they had the first place in Eru's mind (sort of, the most important, or whichever other way you could - again more metaphorically than not - express it). And lo - we are back again at the original thought: if both of them had the first place in Eru's mind, then they are "coeval" in this respect. Plain and simple.

In any case, it all comes down to that Eru thought them equally important - that would go along with what you are saying further about authority eventually deriving from the Creator simply because he is the Creator. To borrow words from elsewhere, "power resides where people believe it to reside", or in this case, not the people, but the Creator - even if all other Valar were equally "powerful" (in the sense of how much they can do, make, spawn, whatever), or if let's say one of our two was not in fact as powerful as the other, then because Eru sees them that way, he makes them that way. (In contrary to the quote I used above, this is sort of "real" way of giving them the power, not just "imaginary" like in the case of the people-power example; because Eru is the Creator and his mere thought in fact becomes reality - logically.) That is one way to approach it. Another one (and the simpler one) is to say that simply ManwŰ and Melkor were created with the most capabilities, the biggest potential. Trivially speaking, Ulmo could create only things related to water, while Melkor "shared the gifts of all his bretheren" - and so did ManwŰ, in a certain way (and slightly less than Melkor). That is how I have seen it, always.

I wonder if there is another way to put it so that I make myself clear. Okay, for example - this is going to be a really baaad example, but I think it might be sufficient enough. Do you know the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game? (Or anything sufficiently similar. Whoever has no idea what it is, better maybe skip the rest of this paragraph so that it does not confuse you.) That's a crude example at best, but let's say: each Vala is a character with one class and several levels in it. Tulkas is level 10 fighter, OromŰ is level 10 ranger, Yavanna is level 10 druid. And now we suddenly have Melkor, who is a multiclass of level 20 fighter/ranger/druid... and we have ManwŰ, who is a multiclass of level 19 fighter/ranger/druid... See what I have in mind? Sharing all the gifts of their bretheren, being more "proficient" at them, being almost equal in this respect (in this way, they have much more in common with each other than with the rest), and yet at the same time, Melkor is the stronger.

Quote:
That's the reason I favor the ôYin-Yang" approach. The two of them could be connected in the mind of Eru by being opposites; Manwe being the "anti-Melkor"', there to oversee and ensure the Creator's purposes are pursued, as opposed to Melkor seeking to tear down and rebuild to his own designs.
That's what I agree with completely as well. "Yin-Yang" is a good way to put it (or Form's equally good comparison to Lucifer-Michael, for that matter, which looks at it from different perspective, and both of those comparisons can make the view more "plastic"). But that is also why I say they had the same amount of (or same kind of) power, or potential. Or, in the terms of my Dungeons and Dragons example, we have two almost the same characters, only one is good and one evil.
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:49 PM   #12
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The point is, you cannot use the word "contemporary", because there is no *time* when the Valar are created (or "when" the Valar are created).
I don't exactly agree with you here. Of course, I'm venturing into the theoretical world here, and therefore you can disagree back, but here's what I believe. Despite the name (Timeless Void), even that place has time. Maybe not in the same sense as we do, but time still passes. And here's why I think so:

Time does not exist only when nothing happened at any point before. And this "before" is wrong in this sentence, because there is no before ("before what," you may ask - and there's nothing), and therefore no time. In other words, nothing has happened at all - ever. But as soon as something happens - anything, anywhere, doesn't matter (could be something appeared out of thin air, could be a thought that occured, really anything) - right away there is a concept of time: it is divided into before and after the creation/appearance/birth/action of that thing/deed. And when a second thing happens, you can talk of actual values of time, because you have the passage of time in between the two occurances, you can measure time relative to something. You can now use concepts such as how much time before/after/between, difference in time, and etc.

Therefore, when the Valar were created, time was certainly in effect; it was probably in effect even before the Ainur, when only Eru was around.

There is a great but beautiful paradox in the name Timeless Void, since there is a sense of time and a sense of space.

(As an aside, it's something I've mantioned in one of my threads)




More on topic, I think that the "flip sides of the coin" and "Yin-Yang" theories might be on the mark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zil
That being the case, I would think power would be trumped by authority, which should make Manwe the stronger of the two, in my opinion.
Depends. Without power, there is no authority. Authority is, in a sense, power. A powerless authority is an empty title.

I found some things about Manwe in The Sil that may be of interest:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ainulindale
...the noblest of the Ainur
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ainulindale
...[Manwe] was the chief instrument of the second theme that Iluvatar had raised against the discord of Melkor
(This ties in with the Yin-Yang theory.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valaquenta
Manwe and Melkor were brethren in the thought of Iluvatar. The mightiest of those Ainur who came into the world was in his beginning Melkor; but Manwe is dearest to Iluvatar and understands most clearly his purposes. He was appointed to be, in the fullness of time, the first of all Kings: lord of the realm of Arda and ruler of all that dwells therein.
(So firstly, Manwe is "closer" to Eru, and secondly, he is given authority as well as power.)



And since I already ventured into the philosophical and theoretical, I want to thow this idea out there. But it's hard to put into words so I'll use the cliche-ed metaphor. Let's say Eru takes all of Manwe's life and puts it on one side of the scale, and puts all of Melkor's life on the other side of the scale, and the scale would be equal. That doesn't mean that they were always on equal positions in life, but that the "total" is. If Eru determined that in the beginning, well, that's what would happen, unless he changes his mind. And Manwe, being the King of Arda, represents in one being all of Arda, while Morgoth represents all of evil; so you have a continuous battle of good vs evil that goes on for ever until the Dagor Dagorath. And even at that point, there's no guarantee that a new "Melkor" (under a different name and face, of course) wouldn't arise.......

But I guess that's just a variation of the Yin-Yang theory.
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:18 PM   #13
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I don't exactly agree with you here. Of course, I'm venturing into the theoretical world here, and therefore you can disagree back, but here's what I believe. Despite the name (Timeless Void), even that place has time. Maybe not in the same sense as we do, but time still passes. And here's why I think so:
Since it's really off topic, just a short clarification here When something is timeless, it is out of the time. We cannot imagine it with our human minds, but that changes nothing about the fact that it can "exist". (In these terms, even the words like "exist" become relative.) Ask the astrophysicists. It is perfectly plausible to imagine Valar coming into be before time, however the concept of "becoming" is closely connected to time in our thinking at least. Indeed, myself, I would say that once the creation comes into place, we have to be inside time. So Eru could be "outside the time", but at the moment of creation of the first Valar, the time would already have to exist (logically). That's what I would vote for, since that makes sense.

However, the mythos clearly states otherwise. So however I don't find it applying to my logic, if I want to keep true to the logic of the tale, I have to forget my logic. The creation of Valar happened before the time, that much is clear - time came into being when Eń was created. If we cannot imagine it, it is our problem So we just have to accept that somehow there was this creation before time, therefore every temporal expression used is a metaphore of the Elvish (and our) language in which the myth is written...
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