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Old 03-26-2004, 08:32 AM   #1
bilbo_baggins
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Nazgul-Were they still Men?

I noticed something in the Books:

If the Nazgul were once Men, and Saruman could control Men, could Saruman sweet-talk the Nazgul into submission? Or could the Nazgul be subject to other things Men are subject to?

I hope this hasn't been covered already...
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Old 03-26-2004, 09:38 AM   #2
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Arguably, the sway Sauron had had on the Nazgűl since their 'enslavery' was too heavy to overcome for Saruman. However, that didn't prevent him from trying, and succeeding at least in improving his own standing:
"I will report this myself to the Lord of Barad-dűr," he said loftily, "to whom I speak from afar on great matters that concern us. But all that you need to know on the mission that he has given you is where 'the Shire' lies. That, says Mithrandir, is northwest from here some six hundred miles, on the borders of the seaward Elvish country." To his pleasure Saruman saw that even the Witch-king did not relish that. You must cross Isen by the Fords, and then rounding the Mountains' end make for Tharbad upon Greyflood. Go with speed, and I will report to your Master that you have done so."
This skilful speech convinced even the Witch-king for the moment that Saruman was a faithful ally, high in Sauron's confidence. At once the Riders left the Gate and rode in haste to the Fords of Isen." (UT, 3,IV,ii)
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Old 03-26-2004, 11:20 AM   #3
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Yeah that. And as to
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Or could the Nazgul be subject to other things Men are subject to?
Pretty much the only thing that all men are subject to is dying and then leaving the world, which I can't see not applying to the Nazgul (unless they didn't want to, like Beren, only evil).
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Old 03-26-2004, 08:15 PM   #4
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I think that the Nazgul are not men anymore (They were once) For one thing, they don't die. Any mortal would probably have drowned when the the River Bruinen hit him. I think that Aragorn says "They were ONCE men."(Don't quote me on that ) He does in the movie anyway. The once means that they were men before Sauron made them his slaves.
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Old 03-26-2004, 08:27 PM   #5
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They were once men, great kings of men. Then Sauron the Deceiver gave to them Nine Rings of Power. Blinded by their greed, they took them without question, one by one falling into darkness. They are the Nazgul, the Ringwraiths.
-Aragorn, in the Fellowship of the Ring Movie
Better stop before I quote the whole movie ... But it was a movie quote. Is there anything similar in the books?
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Old 03-26-2004, 11:34 PM   #6
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The Nazgul are wraiths, no longer human and "neither living nor dying" and therefore are not subject to anything mortal
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Old 03-27-2004, 09:32 AM   #7
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...they fell under the thraldom of the ring that they bore and under the domination of the One, whiche was Sauron's.
THey were wraiths as long as the ring lasted. When the ring was destroyed, their bondage to the ring was over. At that time, they died or passed away.
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Old 03-27-2004, 03:52 PM   #8
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The wraiths are magic men. You can do a lot of things to change the appearance of men, but you can't change the fundamental essence of their souls. A Man is a Man until God says otherwise. You can nip and tuck all you like, and everybody may treat the subject like something else by the end (which might be a good thing), but it is still fundamentally a Man.
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Old 03-28-2004, 09:04 PM   #9
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Pipe They are Men...

...albeit their spirits were bound to the Nine, and the One, hence, despite the slow vanishing of their bodies (the house of their spirits), they can't leave Arda.

The "wraith" was probably just a shorthand name for a houseless spirit wandering in Arda.
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Old 03-29-2004, 12:38 AM   #10
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No. Spirits can't interact with the world unless they have a body. Least not one so impotent as a man's.
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Old 03-29-2004, 09:32 PM   #11
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Pipe

Yes, they can't. That's why I said "houseless." They needed the cloaks to give them shape, and probably gauntlets to grasp their swords.
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Old 03-29-2004, 11:15 PM   #12
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Gauntlets and cloaks are a part of the world btw. They still have sinews, they are housed.
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:41 AM   #13
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Pipe A mistake...

They are not disembodied spirits, as I first thought...

Quote:
And they became for ever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered into the realm of shadows.

(The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age - emphasis mine)
They are Men, no longer living but not quite dead, trapped in a limbo-state called the realm of shadows - or wraith world. Unless there is a geographical realm of shadows.
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:54 PM   #14
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I reckon that's what I said, yes.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:13 PM   #15
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White-Hand

A tantalizingly vague question that can be taken many ways, bilbo_baggins.

Quote:
If the Nazgul were once Men, and Saruman could control Men, could Saruman sweet-talk the Nazgul into submission? Or could the Nazgul be subject to other things Men are subject to?
Sharkey has chosen to provide a textual reference for one instance in which Saruman was said to influence the Nazgul. Yet is such 'source'evidence all there is that can be said about the question? Is it merely a matter of explaining away possible contradictions in the mythology? Or is further discussion?

And burrahobbit has claimed of men that:

Quote:
Pretty much the only thing that all men are subject to is dying and then leaving the world,
Now, this is interesting. I suppose burra has 'covered' himself here in limiting his statement to "all men," but it seems to me that men are subject to far more than death. There are many temptations, sins, desires, susceptibilties, vanities, and wishes that men are heir to.

Is it not possible to consider bilbo's question as one concerning the extent to which the Nazgul were as fallable as men? This is not a question as to the natue of their transformation into wraiths--spirit vs body or how much they were enslaved--but what would be the various means by which they could be tempted.

Would they be susceptible to flattery? to desire and lust? to revenge? Could Saruman appeal to these susceptibilties as the devil or satan has to men's vanities in stories over the ages?
This is, I would suggest, a more philsophical and less textual way to consider just what is involved in Tolkien's creation of enslaved men.

I also hear a small RPG bell ringing. Imagine a kind of Dorien Gray story here.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:29 PM   #16
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When the ring was destroyed, their bondage to the ring was over. At that time, they died or passed away.
I have another question. When the Ring was destroyed and the Nazgul passed away, did they become good again because Sauron's dominance over them was destroyed? Or, because of all the years they had been enslaved by him, did they remain evil as spirits?
Quote:
Or could the Nazgul be subject to other things Men are subject to?
And I think that all men, be they Wraiths or no, are still susceptible to greed, flattery, lust, etc. The Nazgul were still men (although wraith-men) but as the Saruman quote from earlier on shows, they can still trust in people whom they perceive as allies. So if they can trust, can they not be greedy?
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:38 PM   #17
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The Eye Enslavement to Sauron

Quote:
And I think that all men, be they Wraiths or no, are still susceptible to greed, flattery, lust, etc. The Nazgul were still men (although wraith-men) but as the Saruman quote from earlier on shows, they can still trust in people whom they perceive as allies. So if they can trust, can they not be greedy?
I think that their enslavement to Sauron would prevent that. The only reason why they "trusted" Saruman was because they thought that Sauron trusted him (or at least did not want to kill him at that moment).

Being enslaved to Sauron's will to the point that they could refuse the Gift of Men I think would eliminate such trivial matters as personal opinion, vanity, desire, etc. Their opinions would be the opinions of Sauron. They were not capable of deliberately doing anything against his interest.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:52 PM   #18
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Good point, Kuruharan. So the Wraiths would trust whoever Sauron trusted, want whatever Sauron wanted, etc.

As for when the Nazgul passed away, they would no doubt (corny as it sounds) be 'set free' from Sauron's enslavement and become the free-minded people they had been before Sauron swayed their minds. Except now they would be spirits, and not people. Does anyone think otherwise?
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Old 04-27-2004, 09:34 PM   #19
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Question Nobody knows....

After the destruction of the Ring they were certainly set free of Sauron.

I would take it as virtually certain that they would then finally make their obligatory journey to the Halls of Mandos. Beyond that there is not much to go on. There was no clear idea of what the afterlife would be like. You just sort of go beyond the circles of the world and that is it for you.
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Old 04-28-2004, 06:30 AM   #20
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Quote:
Would they be susceptible to flattery? to desire and lust? to revenge? Could Saruman appeal to these susceptibilties as the devil or satan has to men's vanities in stories over the ages
I am with Kuruharan on this one. As Men, they were clearly subject to such human frailties. After all, it was their pride and lust for power which led them to take the Ring's which Sauron offered to them in the first place. But, once they became Wraiths, they became subject to Sauron's will, and, as such, had no will of their own. Saruman was only able to influence them by playing on their "devotion" to their Master, ie by persuading them that he was a faithful ally. He could not have appealed to any personal ambition of theirs, since they had no personal ambition. As Kuruharan said:


Quote:
Their opinions would be the opinions of Sauron. They were not capable of deliberately doing anything against his interest.
The fallibilities that you list would of course apply to Sauron's human allies, to the extent that they were not superseded by Sauron's fear and/or propaganda. And they would no doubt apply to Orcs too (or at least some), as the conversation between Shagrat and Gorbag shows us.
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Old 04-28-2004, 09:22 AM   #21
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Wow! A lot more replies to this than I expected! Thanks to everyone for posting here, I really found some insight in what you guys said, thanks again.
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