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Old 03-11-2003, 09:45 AM   #1
Noxomanus
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Sting Did Sauron know about the Istari?

Would Sauron have known about the presence of the Istari when they were having their effects on ME or possibly earlier,or were they of an order secret to him? (until Saruman became his servant,of course)
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Old 03-11-2003, 10:11 AM   #2
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I'm sure he was aware of their presence, whether by his own senses, his palantir, or his many scouts.

[ March 11, 2003: Message edited by: Legolas ]
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Old 03-11-2003, 10:51 AM   #3
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I think the Istari wasn’t a secret order, the things they did and why they did it were a secret. But many people new Gandalf and especially Saruman because he lived in a big fortress.
But I don’t think he knew that the Istari were Maia until they attacked him at Dol Guldur
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Old 03-11-2003, 12:22 PM   #4
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... until Saruman became his servant,of course
I'm not sure that Saruman was ever Sauron's servant. Sauron may have thought of him as such, but I'm sure Saruman had other ideas ...

I would agree with Legolas and Estanesse that the existence of the Istari, as an order of Wizards, would have been known to Sauron. So the question is when, if ever, did he become aware that they were Maia.

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... I don’t think he knew that the Istari were Maia until they attacked him at Dol Guldur
Is that right? Did he become aware of this during the attack on Dol Guldur? Was he ever aware that, in Gandalf and Saruman, he was dealing with Maia?

The point is of particular interest with regard to Saruman. If he considered Saruman to be a mere wizard, rather than a Maiar, then he would no doubt have been fairly confident of his ability to dominate him. But, if he had been aware that he was a Maiar, he would surely have done everything in his power to prevent Saruman's orcs getting Merry and Pippin (who both he and Saruman assumed had the Ring) back to Isengard. After all, a human wizard with the Ring would be fairly easy to deal with. But a Maiar with the Ring would be another matter ...
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Old 03-11-2003, 02:20 PM   #5
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Would a human wizard have lived as long in Middle Earth as Gandalf and Saruman? Would the fact that they lived so long not have alerted Sauron to their status? I just wonder?
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Old 03-11-2003, 02:37 PM   #6
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Was he ever aware that, in Gandalf and Saruman, he was dealing with Maia?
Hmmmm... I suspect that Sauron wasn't really familiar with the true nature of the wizards. Or at least he didn't share his information with his servants, ie. the Lord of NazgŻl. That the Sorcerer didn't know what he was against with at the Gate of Gondor is quite clear from his words addressed to Gandalf. "Old fool!....Die now and curse in vain!" (sorry, I'm not sure of the exact quote) isn't something you'd choose to say when facing a maia, don't ya think?
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Old 03-11-2003, 03:20 PM   #7
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It seems to me that if Gandalf is telling people openly that he was called Olorin in the West, those who would have knowledge of such Valinorean names (such as Sauron) would know of him and his background.
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Old 03-11-2003, 05:21 PM   #8
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I think that since Sauron was disembodied, much of his potency and ways of knowing and seeing things was very limited. Since he was hard pressed to roam middle earth freely, and his servants have never really proven him to be too bright, I doubt that he would have known for sure the true nature of the Istari.

Then again, it is also very plausible that, when Saruman lokked into the palantir, his soul and mind were bared to Sauron at least in some part (and yes, I do know that it is a battle of wills and being a maiar Saruman would have had a strong one). But I'm certain that through the palantir Sauron would have had at the least a little bit of an inkling about the Istari's true nature.
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Old 03-11-2003, 08:51 PM   #9
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I think that since Sauron was disembodied, much of his potency and ways of knowing and seeing things was very limited. Since he was hard pressed to roam middle earth freely, and his servants have never really proven him to be too bright, I doubt that he would have known for sure the true nature of the Istari.
No. At the time of the War of the Ring, Sauron had a physical body - the stature of a man; much taller but not gigantic.
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Old 03-12-2003, 07:16 AM   #10
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There is not a shred of evidence that Saruman was ever Sauron's servant. Saruman wanted to compete with Sauron.

He fortified Isengard to compete with Barad-dur. He had his own personal army of orcs to compete with Sauron's orcs. If you will remember in reading TTT the mountain orcs that are with the Uruk-hai that capture Merry and Pippin suggested a few times taking the Hobbits to 'Lugburz' which if I remember correctly is their word for Barad-dur. Saruman, you will remember, even made his own Ring while he was looking for the One, He wanted the One for himself. The ring he made was just a holdover until the One was found.

Speaking of Olorin, the fact that Cirdan knew who Gandalf REALLY was while Sauron and the other guys (i.e. Ringwraiths and the Balrog who was a Maiar as well) had a little trouble with figuring out our Grey Pilgrim shows Cirdan has more insight than he's given credit for.

By the way, Scott. That's an interesting point. Because the two of them both had a Palantir they probably were engaged in a contest of wills. That may be what brought about the strangthening of Isengard. Denethor probably had a small struggle of wills with Sauron as well, but mortals are weaker.
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Old 03-12-2003, 07:56 AM   #11
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There is not a shred of evidence that Saruman was ever Sauron's servant. Saruman wanted to compete with Sauron.
I agree. But Sauron was content to let Saruman have his way while it suited him (Sauron, that is). Saruman's manouverings around Isengard kept the Rohirrim occupied and helped make the gap of Rohan a treacherous passage for the "forces of good" (and would have done so for longer, but for Gandalf the White and the Ents). And that suited Sauron's purposes.

And that suggests to me that Sauron was not aware that Saruman was a Maia. Otherwise, he might have been a lot less happy about Saruman building up such a force and also (as noted previously) his attempts to get hold of the Ring.

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Would a human wizard have lived as long in Middle Earth as Gandalf and Saruman? Would the fact that they lived so long not have alerted Sauron to their status?
I see no reason why a wizard, even a human one, might not have a considerably extended lifespan. So I don't think that this in itself would necessarily have alerted Sauron to their origins.
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Old 03-12-2003, 09:28 AM   #12
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I don't see why Sauron would even be too concerned with Saruman being a Maia. After all, bound in the body he was, he certainly could not oppose Sauron in a test of whatever strengths the Maiar had. My theory is that he knew what Saruman was, what he represented, and what he was capable of, and deemed him not only not a threat to his power, but in fact a useful tool in his plans.

I'm really not sure Sauron would have much respect at all for the Istari and their task, if indeed he did know about it. Bound as they were, they could not directly oppose Sauron, and were in fact susceptible to corruption. I think that Sauron would have been amused by the feeble plans of the Valar, and would have not have feared the Istari, but rather adjusted his own schemes to make the best use of them... which is perhaps what he did.

Which brings me to another point. Did "human wizards" actually exist in Tolkien's universe? I don't recall any humans that had Maia-like powers in Tolkien's works, and it doesn't seem to me that any man would be able to perform the feats of an Istari. And of course, if there are in fact no "human wizards", this would be another big hint to Sauron that Saruman et al. aren't really human.
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Old 03-12-2003, 12:43 PM   #13
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After all, bound in the body he was, he certainly could not oppose Sauron in a test of whatever strengths the Maiar had.
The Istari were forbidden to use their Maiar powers while engaged in their mission on ME. But how binding was that prohibition? Could they ignore it? And what would be the consequences of doing so? If they were able to do so, and remain in ME, then there's no reason why Saruman, having already turned away from his mission, would not do so. Then he would be a match for Sauron, surely? And even without their Maiar powers, the Istari were still pretty powerful. I am not so sure that, even then, Sauron would consider Saruman to be no threat, particularly if there was any chance of him getting the Ring.

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Did "human wizards" actually exist in Tolkien's universe?
Well, there were no human "wizards", since that term was used to denote the Istari. But there were certainly human sorcerors. The Witch King was one such, before becoming a wraith.
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Old 03-12-2003, 04:40 PM   #14
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I'm sorry if I appeared to be implying that there were human wizards, I was not. I was merely querying as to whether or not the very long life span of Saruman and Gandalf, by itself, would not have alerted Sauron to their maian status?
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Old 03-12-2003, 08:12 PM   #15
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I think Sauron must have known of the Istari, both becuase of their long lifesapn and because of his alliance with Saruman through the palantir.

A note on human wizards from Tolien's Letters #173:

"Beorn is dead... He appeared in The Hobbit. It was then the year Third Age 2940... We are now in the years 3018-3019... Though a skin changer and no doubt a bit of a magician, Beorn was a man."

This seems to imply that even men with magical powers would die in a normal lifespan. I think it is also important that he used the word "magician" instead of "wizard". (Just as he used witch instead of wizard for the Nazgul)
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Old 03-13-2003, 03:38 AM   #16
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From a letter To Naomi Mitchison (25 April 1954)
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Their[wizards'] origin was not known to any but a few (such as Elrond and Galadriel) in the Third Age.
In the UT it says also something that men associated wizards with elves (explaining their long life span).
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Old 03-13-2003, 03:07 PM   #17
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The Istari were forbidden to use their Maiar powers while engaged in their mission on ME. But how binding was that prohibition? Could they ignore it?
Going off on a bit of a tangent here, but I don't believe that Saruman had the option to use powers of the Maiar beyond the prohibitions of his original task. If he did have such an option, why would he have remained confined to his form as an old man in LotR, and not used his additional freedom to a) help stave off Gandalf at Orthanc or b) assist him in the uprising of the hobbits in the "Scouring" chapters? It just seems to me that if Saruman could present himself as a Maia in full power (and a very powerful Maia he was), he would not have been so easily vanquished.
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Old 03-15-2003, 12:55 PM   #18
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I do think Sauron knew at least some of the Istari other then Saruman because the Mouth of Sauron seems to know very well who Gandalf is. Also Saruman says Sauron "may think about lesser things like finding a good way of dealing with the stubborn Gandalf the Grey".(or something like that)
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Old 03-15-2003, 01:21 PM   #19
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Perhaps Sauron knew of the other wizards in the east. Dunno, but if he did, then it would be understandible why he underestimated Gandalf, and how he used Saruman, among other things.
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Old 03-15-2003, 02:47 PM   #20
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I'm quite confident that Sauron was aware of the Istari, and acquired reports about when and whence they had appeared, which happened in response to his reappearance (c. 1000 TA).

The Istari themselves in Middle-Earth were not Maia, but Maian spirits with the limitations of a human-like bodies, and in fact, it seems that they were not too clear on their own origins, and could not and were not allowed to engage Sauron as spiritual powers, but rather to assist others in opposing Sauron, and they spent centuries simply learning or relearning what they could.

So, Sauron probably believed correctly that the Valar would not directly meddle in Middle-Earth and seek to come and get him.

And, he probably never fully understood the nature, purpose and origin of the Istari, but he probably suspected much that was correct, although Gandalf would have always been unfathomable for him.

Sauron also no doubt feared the Istari, even as he might dismiss them at times, too, knowing that the World could distract them like Radagast or corrupt them (as he himself was), and this is what befell Saruman out of despair and covetous, and potentially the Blue Wizards earlier.

Gandalf's return would have fiolled him with dread, once he learned about it, not knowing how The Ring had perhaps played a part, or some more ambitious scheme by the Valar.
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Old 04-09-2003, 01:38 AM   #21
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If Sauron did know the origin of the Istari, it wouldn't have bothered him much, especially leading up to and during the war of the ring. He expected 100% to get the ring back, and in that scenario, all the Istari and white council together would be a small matter for Sauron to destroy. Even Gandalf says that if Sauron finds the ring, nobody can foresee the day when Saurons dominion would end, so powerful would he become. Which to me suggests that only the Valar themselves would be powerful enough to take on Sauron with the ring.
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Old 04-09-2003, 12:21 PM   #22
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Maybe this wasn't exactly the good formulation of my question,as it better had been like "Did Sauron know about all of the Istari?" While Saruman & Gandalf were most suspicious,Saruman being well-known for his wisdom and living in conspicious Isengard in that remarkable tower of Orthanc,and Gandalf who travelled widely,was close to the Elves,interfering all over and driving Sauron out of Dol Guldur TWICE.But I wonder if he really knew about Radagast or the Blue Wizards,while the latter,if they really made easterlings rebel on Sauron,might have been known to him,I wonder wether he really knew the somewhat ignorant and little known Radagast who seems to have forsaken his mission. Perhaps this meant Radagast escaped the attention of the Dark Lord. I don't know if this would be the case if Radagast took an active role in the attack of the White Council on Dol Guldur however.
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Old 04-09-2003, 12:24 PM   #23
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Speaking of Olorin, the fact that Cirdan knew who Gandalf REALLY was while Sauron and the other guys (i.e. Ringwraiths and the Balrog who was a Maiar as well) had a little trouble with figuring out our Grey Pilgrim shows Cirdan has more insight than he's given credit for.
Where does it say the balrog had trouble identifying him as a Maia?

Where is it said that Cirdan figured out who Gandalf was on his own? Most assuredly he was simply told.
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Old 04-10-2003, 12:21 AM   #24
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Cirdan was probably quite in touch with things related to the Straight Way. Recall, Gandalf disembarked right in his harbor. I don't think it was too hard for him to figure it out.

The Nazgul and the Mouth of Sauron seemed to know Gandalf, and I don't think his contending with all Nine could have been explained any other way.

I would think over the 2,000 years since their arrival that Sauron had idenified the five Istari and largely guessed at their origin. It no doubt troubled him, but he knew that they would not directly interfere any more than the Valar themselves would, and that they could be corrupted or distracted by worldly things and pursuits, as proved true for at least Saruman and Radagast.

What the Balrog knew? Who knows? He likely had no more than felt an unusual presence, until the encounter on the bridge. Gandalf's exclamation was essentially a calling card.
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