The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-24-2007, 10:47 AM   #1
Legate of Amon Lanc
A Voice That Gainsayeth
 
Legate of Amon Lanc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: In that far land beyond the Sea
Posts: 7,546
Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Shield Virtues in Middle-Earth

When you stumble upon the word "virtue" in LotR or Silmarillion, it will be probably used in the meaning of "power" or "strength". However, what I would like to explore in this thread is the look on virtues in Middle-Earth in global, in a slightly different meaning. Virtues in the meaning of qualities, of certain good qualities of personality, of certain qualities which are prized or maybe even desirable for people (Men, Elves, Dwarves...) living in Middle-Earth. Which virtues are these? Are these "universal" virtues, applicable for every person, whether he/she is an Elf or Dwarf or Man? Or are there just some of them prized/desirable only in certain cultural context? And, are they simply prized, or is there something pointing to the fact that such a virtue might be desirable for every individual in the society? Is there some virtue like that which should be desirable in all Middle-Earth, at every person (whether he in the end reaches it or not)? Are there other meanings to reach the virtues than just by self-discipline, for example, the people being "shaped" by some external force? This is just the basic sphere of questions which could be debated in this topic. I hope this is not going to be a "buried" theme and that it would interest at least someone enough to join this discussion

EDIT: Wow! 900th post! That would be nice if it really started a discussion!
__________________
"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
Legate of Amon Lanc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2007, 11:09 AM   #2
Beleg Cuthalion
Wight
 
Beleg Cuthalion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Hominum que contente mundique huius et cupido
Posts: 213
Beleg Cuthalion has just left Hobbiton.
Eye

Hmmm... An interseting question, but I think I'd say they are the "universal" or Christian virtues in this case, especially given Tolkien’s Catholic faith, they would most likey have to be. (Darn this is gona get complicated). I would highly doubt that they anything to do with say for example Buddhist virtues:

(Noble Eightfold Path)

Right Viewpoint - Realizing the Four Noble Truths (samyag-dṛṣṭi, sammā-diṭṭhi)
Right Values - Commitment to mental and ethical growth in moderation (samyak-saṃkalpa, sammā-saṅkappa)
Right Speech - One speaks in a non hurtful, not exaggerated, truthful way (samyag-vāc, sammā-vācā )
Right Actions - Wholesome action, avoiding action that would do harm (samyak-karmānta, sammā-kammanta)
Right Livelihood - One's job does not harm in any way oneself or others; directly or indirectly (weapon maker, abortionist, drug dealer, etc.) (samyag-ājīva, sammā-ājīva}
Right Effort - One makes an effort to improve (samyag-vyāyāma, sammā-vāyāma)
Right Mindfulness - Mental ability to see things for what they are with clear consciousness (samyak-smṛti, sammā-sati)
Right Meditation - State where one reaches enlightenment and the ego has disappeared (samyak-samādhi, sammā-samādhi


Doesn't look very likely. But that could just be me.

~Beleg


σωφροσύνη (sōphrosynē )
φρόνησις (phronēsis)
ἀνδρεία (andreia)
δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē )

-EDIT 200th post! And it only took me two years
__________________
War is not the answer, War is the question and the answer is yes

Quis ut Deus

Last edited by Beleg Cuthalion; 05-24-2007 at 11:23 AM.
Beleg Cuthalion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2007, 11:44 AM   #3
Legate of Amon Lanc
A Voice That Gainsayeth
 
Legate of Amon Lanc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: In that far land beyond the Sea
Posts: 7,546
Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beleg Cuthalion
Good question, but I think I'd say they are the "universal" or Christian virtues, in this case given Tolkien’s Catholic faith they would most likey have to be. (Darn this is gona get complicated). I would highly doubt that they anything to do with say for example Buddhist virtues
I think you are right in this. It is most likely that many, if not all, the prized virtues stream from Tolkien's own European/Aristotelian/Catholic viewpoint. But I wanted to look at this from the point, let's say, if you take Middle-earth as one separate culture (imagine it, for example, existing on our Earth on some continent apart from Europe, Asia, America... so as one external to them, to get the proper impression), independant on the other cultures, yet sharing some of the others' viewpoints. As there are several different cultures on Earth, some of them have still some things in common. E.g. if I pick from what you quoted, for example right third there is "Right Speech", which corresponds more or less with Judeo-Christian "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." (and others) So, if for example these two cultures have this in common, what does Middle-Earth have in common with some other culture?

Okay, so why not start with the "classic" as you brought it here (I hope I got right how they are called in English.):

σωφροσύνη (moderation)
φρόνησις ([practical] wisdom, prudence - in the original meaning of the word)
ανδρεία (bravery, fortitude)
δικαιοσύνη (justice - in the personal meaning)


Can you name any passage, show where these are mentioned in Tolkien's books (or probably not named explicitely, but shown on some example. And are they just valued, or desirable? Any evidence on that? And does it differ in places/cultures - for example, does it affect Dwarves as well as Elves? I'm not speaking of Orcs now, though even here it might be interesting - maybe even more...)
Could you subscribe each of these to some person? Could you name someone who would be a "good representative" for one of them? Could you find someone who is a "good representative" to all of them?

(We might widen the range of virtues later.)
__________________
"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
Legate of Amon Lanc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2007, 12:12 PM   #4
Beleg Cuthalion
Wight
 
Beleg Cuthalion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Hominum que contente mundique huius et cupido
Posts: 213
Beleg Cuthalion has just left Hobbiton.
Eye I think I'm in over my head...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc
I think you are right in this. It is most likely that many, if not all, the prized virtues stream from Tolkien's own European/Aristotelian/Catholic viewpoint. But I wanted to look at this from the point, let's say, if you take Middle-earth as one separate culture (imagine it, for example, existing on our Earth on some continent apart from Europe, Asia, America... so as one external to them, to get the proper impression), independant on the other cultures, yet sharing some of the others' viewpoints. As there are several different cultures on Earth, some of them have still some things in common. E.g. if I pick from what you quoted, for example right third there is "Right Speech", which corresponds more or less with Judeo-Christian "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." (and others) So, if for example these two cultures have this in common, what does Middle-Earth have in common with some other culture?

Okay, so why not start with the "classic" as you brought it here (I hope I got right how they are called in English.):

σωφροσύνη (moderation)
φρόνησις ([practical] wisdom, prudence - in the original meaning of the word)
ανδρεία (bravery, fortitude)
δικαιοσύνη (justice - in the personal meaning)


Can you name any passage, show where these are mentioned in Tolkien's books (or probably not named explicitely, but shown on some example. And are they just valued, or desirable? Any evidence on that? And does it differ in places/cultures - for example, does it affect Dwarves as well as Elves? I'm not speaking of Orcs now, though even here it might be interesting - maybe even more...)
Could you subscribe each of these to some person? Could you name someone who would be a "good representative" for one of them? Could you find someone who is a "good representative" to all of them?

(We might widen the range of virtues later.)
Yes you’ve basically got them right. Well here goes. I don't think I can name one, but I think they are some somewhere. I’ll try to look for something. The thing IMO that makes this very difficult to work around is the explicit or intimate knowledge of the Gods or arc angels for the Dwarves and the Elves, and to a lesser extent Men, thus making the different races much closer then here in our world. All the major races share basically the same core belief, The Dwarves believe that after death Aule gathers them to a special place prepared for them, or in the Prophecy of The Last Battle the Elves awake and all their dead arise, and the purpose of Iluvatar be fulfilled and so on, but agian they all seem to have the same fundamental beliefs. I also think that the lack of organized religion plays a part in the difficulty of being able to find such references in the books, everything just is. I hope I’m not confusing you, I'm not ever sure I answered the question.



*Thinking he shouldn’t have gotten himself into this...*
~Beleg
__________________
War is not the answer, War is the question and the answer is yes

Quis ut Deus

Last edited by Beleg Cuthalion; 05-24-2007 at 12:29 PM.
Beleg Cuthalion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2007, 02:15 PM   #5
Legate of Amon Lanc
A Voice That Gainsayeth
 
Legate of Amon Lanc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: In that far land beyond the Sea
Posts: 7,546
Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Sting Bravery.

I think there is a good deal of truth in you saying that there is an unquestionable influence in connection with the fact the inhabitants of ME are closer to the knowledge of their gods. Though one might argue that at several moments this knowledge is not as evident, it is still somewhat "far yet close, close yet far, away, but still present". But that's not the topic, anyway. Still I think there are slight cultural differences in something, for example the Dwarves are in some ways very different from Elves. Hobbits are in many ways different from normal Men. And so on.

As for the examples - I think we can find quite easily some. I will start with andreia, bravery, since I think it is the most evident and most often directly mentioned virtue in ME. I also think it is generally valued very high (as it will be shown later, when you read this) among different kins.

So, let's start. For example, Boromir is prized by the Gondorian Men as being brave - and not just by them, also by Aragorn, and by Frodo when he speaks to Faramir, by Pippin when he speaks to Denethor. I think bravery is one of the most valued virtues among the men of Númenor and their descendants (this is represented mostly in connection with the word "valiant"). I'm not so sure about the Elves - where among Númenoreans, it seems to certainly take very high post; among the Elves, though still prized, I think there are more important virtues to them. But when we are speaking of it, let's focus on bravery now - for example in the Beleriand Wars, and especially among the battling hosts, it was prized by the Elves among themselves, and they also appreciated it very much at Men:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silmarillion, chapter 18
Now Fingolfin, King of the North, and High King of the Noldor, seeing that his people were become numerous and strong, and that the Men allied to them were many and valiant, pondered once more an assault upon Angband...
Bravery - or valiance - was probably one "universal" virtue in ME. Of course, by "bravery", we cannot understand simply the bravery in combat. In the traditional ethical context it also reflects personal bravery, for Aristotle it was "the correct middle position between fear and daring". For Plato (and St. Thomas Aquineus), it represented the ability to control the vice of thymoeides (irritability [?]).
Interestingly (and funnily enough), Merry, when he is brought back by Nob at night from being knocked unconscious by a Rider's Black Breath, speaks something very similar to Aristotle's classification. Notice also how Strider reacts:
Quote:
Originally Posted by FotR Chapter 10: Strider
(...)"It seemed to make off up the Road, eastward," continued Merry. "I tried to follow. Of course, it vanished almost at once; but I went round the corner and on as far as the last house on the Road."
Strider looked at Merry with wonder. "You have a stout heart," he said; "but it was foolish."
"I don't know," said Merry. "Neither brave nor silly, I think.(...)"
Strider certainly values bravery on Merry. I think it's without debate: Men, Elves, Dwarves... all valued bravery. However, when we take a look at Hobbits, the view is a little bit controversial.

First, we know that the Hobbits didn't like to merge much with the "outer world" and were happy enough to be left alone. We also know that if anything happened, the thing they liked the most to do was escape. But that's not all! There is one point in the Hobbit which speaks quite to the opposite and implies that bravery was actually something that was despised in the Hobbit society:
Quote:
Originally Posted by An Unexpected Party
"We are not together in the house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbit - may the hair on his toes never fall out! All praise to his wine and ale! - " He paused for breath and for a polite remark from the hobbit, but the compliments were quite lost on poor Bilbo Baggins, who was wagging his mouth in protest at being called audacious and worst of all fellow conspirator, though no noise came out, he was so flummoxed.
We might say audacity might be something slightly different than bravery, but the context (and other remarks in TH) imply that audacity or bravery or courage was really nothing much to be showing off with. At least among the Bagginses. The Tooks were quite a different sort. However, despite the explicity of this statement, we are again at the mix of "outer bravery" and "personal bravery". LotR expanses this idea further and shows that actually, the Hobbits value - or would like to value - the "personal" bravery, only it is not "awake" in them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalf, to Elrond about Merry and Pippin joining the Fellowship; FotR, "Council of Elrond"
It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy.
This shows the hobbits actually would like to be brave. We might ask, however, how much this is about bravery itself - they would like to be brave, sure, but isn't bravery in this case just an "utility" to reach something else? I think, what is in play here in fact, is friendship, or love, to follow the traditional ethical schemas. If we wanted to fit this to the European model of virtues, love didn't fit the original Platonic/Aristotelian schema, but was introduced by St. Thomas Aquineus (based on the words of apostle Paul from the 1st epistle to Corintheans, chapter 13): three virtues - faith, hope, love (charity). I think it is obvious the motives to become "brave" for hobbits would need some other goal, like love, for which the bravery will be "awakened". In other words, I think, quite surprisingly, the hobbits were a nation that didn't value bravery for bravery itself, but valued it if it was needed to fulfil some goal to which the person was driven by another virtue (love, in this case) it already possessed. It was not a mere reason (meant: mind), like in the Aristotelian schema, but something that didn't fit it.
However, one can ask, whether these were just hobbits to be driven to their bravery only because of love. I think this is worth a debate. Surely the Men on the Elves could value bravery just for bravery itself, but among many of it, wasn't there actually love, the "push" of freeing one's beloved from the tyranny of the Darkness? The question would be then, if the hobbits were not actually passive in the meaning they indeed didn't care for the outside world. Were they just tending their own gardens while the Men of Gondor tried so much to be brave so that they can stop the shadow. And the hobbits didn't want to be brave until the danger knocked at their own door. Was it really like that?
Gandalf (and others, for example Elrond on the Council) imply that it wasn't like that, and on Boromir's words of the bravery of Gondor replied that they are not the only ones to keep the shadow at bay. Nevertheless, I think the "forgetfulness about bravery" among hobbits is evident, but I don't think it's the hobbits who should be blamed. Or should they? How it was, indeed? Should we see some sort of cultural degradation from the "common" (in Middle-Earth) nature of being brave, or valuing of being brave, among the little folk who were shunned and chose to hide before the dangers of the world?
Gandalf's mission, in fact, was to bring the virtue of bravery among the Hobbits, as he himself says in the Unfinished Tales:
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Quest to Erebor
And then there was the Shire-folk. I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter, which none of you can remember. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as by their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. I wanted them still to survive. But I saw that the Westlands were in for another very bad time again, sooner or later, though of quite a different sort: pitiless war. To come through that I thought they would need something more than they now had. It is not easy to say what. Well, they would want to know a bit more, understand a bit clearer what it was all about, and where they stood.
They had begun to forget: forget their own beginnings and legends, forget what little they had known about the greatness of the world. It was not yet gone, but it was getting buried: the memory of the high and the perilous.
We can see the "awakening of bravery" on several places quite well, I think. We surely all remember the moments when Bilbo runs out of his door without his hat; Frodo wants later do the same choosing he will go and cast the Ring to the Fire; the Conspiracy chooses to join him even though they don't know what awaits them, Bilbo saves his companions several times, Frodo attacks the Cave-troll in Moria, etc., etc., not to mention Merry and Pippin and of course Samwise the Stoutheaded. And then, finally, the great final scene of the Scouring of the Shire...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pippin
But Shire-folk have been so comfortable so long they don't know what to do. They just want a match, though, and they'll go up in fire.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmer Cotton
So it's begun at last! I've been itching for trouble all this year, but folks wouldn't help.
That's just for illustration.

So, to sum up bravery: it was something quite "natural" to all the inhabitants of ME, certainly valued, though, as I somewhat (unintendedly) discovered "on course", it is debatable whether it would be valued for bravery itself. We know it was valued among all the species, including the villains (!). I can even say of one species, for which its father spoke (if he didn't just lie, that is) that they surely valued this virtue:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glaurung, to Túrin
Nay! At least thou art valiant; beyond all whom I have met. And they lie who say that we of our part do not honour the valour of foes.
Even the dragons value it. This surely speaks much about the value of bravery in Middle-Earth.
__________________
"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
Legate of Amon Lanc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2007, 09:18 AM   #6
Beleg Cuthalion
Wight
 
Beleg Cuthalion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Hominum que contente mundique huius et cupido
Posts: 213
Beleg Cuthalion has just left Hobbiton.
Eye

Wooooooow, you just blew me away... I have to apologize, I misunderstood what you meant about finding references. I was thinking of something different, but I see what you meant now. Very interesting.
__________________
War is not the answer, War is the question and the answer is yes

Quis ut Deus
Beleg Cuthalion is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

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

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

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:59 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.