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Help on Saruman and Radagast question [Assumption they are Maiar]
Thain
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To inaugurate the Research Questions forum, here is what I am looking for help on:

Can anyone provide leads on prior articles, books, websites, newsgroup discussions, etc. that discuss what Saruman and Radagast are (since Tolkien never makes it clear to my knowledge if they are Maiar or not)?

Direct discussion of the question and possible answers is of course welcome here too - no need to to have sources for your opinions!

Posted on: 2007/12/15 22:10

Edited by Khaml on 2013/4/24 13:43:31
Edited by Khaml on 2013/4/24 13:44:08
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- Jeremy


Re: Help on Saruman and Radagast question
Thain
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To clarify for those who were wondering...

Tolkien says "We must assume that they [the Istari] were all Maiar" (Unfinished Tales, p. 394 of US 1st HC ed.) This comment is dated around 1972 by Christopher in a description of the source of the quote.

So even JRRT must "assume" they are Maiar. What else could they be? Has anyone written on this, or just taken the assumption as fact and never discussed?

Posted on: 2007/12/17 0:16
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Re: Help on Saruman and Radagast question
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Hey Rowns,

Lingwë recently discused Radaghast on his website here

discussing two sources, The History of the Hobbit and an article in Mythlore.

Cheers
Dior

I like the new Research Questions forum...Great idea!!

Posted on: 2007/12/17 1:17


Re: Help on Saruman and Radagast question
Thain
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Well, the list of possibilities narrows... in The Peoples of Middle-earth Christopher points out on p. 384 (US 1st HC, follow the 'Radagast' index entry for other editions) that immediately preceding the sentence printed in Unfinished Tales ("We must assume...") Tolkien says (and I am quoting Christopher's phrasing here, not JRRT) "there is no possibility that some of them were Eldar 'of the highest order of power', rather than Maiar."

I hadn't seen the full text online for that Mythlore article that Jason refers to - thanks for the reminder/tip Dior! A great read - though it explicitly calls Radagast a Maia without discussion.

It still is a significant phrase ("assume") - must keep digging to figure out if he was just playing with the idea of one or more being a Vala, or if some of them were "other" (what other?)

There is another single word that Tolkien uses in a particular quote that I am pursuing on a completely different subject - may try to get it published in Beyond Bree's humor issue, as it is not serious research.

Posted on: 2007/12/17 2:29
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Re: Help on Saruman and Radagast question
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I've looked at this thread a number of times and never posted anything thinking I probably don't have anything to say that you all have not thought of. But after looking into the question I kind of have questions of my own and want to formulate an opinion!
So, in the Silmarillion Olorin is clearly stated to be a Maia. But earlier in the text on the Valar it states that (those listed) were the Lords, seems to me to leave it open that there were other Vala...
In Unfinished Tales, in what I take to be an earlier text from JRR (than the one with the ominous word "assume" ) he states "they (the Valar) sent members of their own high order", which CT states "the order of the Valar". This is interesting because CT seems to take it as a direct reference that his father originally thought of the Istari as Vala.
I remember reading somewhere that JRR looked at Middle Earth as one looks at ancient history and did not give himself liberty to dictate the reality of what "was". Regardless it seems that, at first at least, JRR was assuming that the Istari were of the higher order of the Valar (though not Lords), but then later on changed his mind and linked them with the order of the Maia.
The fact that in The Silmarillion it states "the Lords of the Valar" seem to indicate that there were others of the same kind (i.e. not Maia) and the casual conversation in which Manwe "asks" where Olorin is and "asks" him to go to Middle Earth ("asks" versus "commands") indicate to me that the Istari were thought of (at that time in JRR's writings) as beings of comparable 'stature' to the Valar, unlike the Maia who were completely at the bidding of the Valar.
Well, that was my best shot! And I'll be the first to admit what I have just said could be uninformed and or contradictory to writings that I'm not aware of!
Also very interesting articles on Radagast! I would like to know more about Sauron along the same lines of Maia vs. Vala, since Olorin was stated to be afraid of him (conversation between Manwe and Olorin)and in LOTR he is clearly more mighty than Sauruman who was the mightiest of the Istari...

Posted on: 2012/7/28 22:41



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