Nazgul’s Flying Creature

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shadowoflegolas 21/Mar/2006 at 09:56 AM
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What is the creature that the nazgul ride upon? Is it a dragon? Or just some creature that was created in mordor?  Does it have a name?

 

 

Phil_d_one 21/Mar/2006 at 11:30 AM
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shadowoflegolas: It is referred to as a fell beast, and nothing more. But neither is this an actual name for its race, regardless of common usage. In any case, we did some research pertaining to the Nazgul’s winged steeds a while back. This is everything that can be said about them, along with supporting quotes.

Fell Beasts

Fell Beasts is the term used to refer to the winged steeds that the Nazgul make use throughout the latter part of the War of the Ring, following the destruction of their horses at the Fords of Bruinen. The Fell Beasts are the remnants of an ancient race which has since died out. They were found by the Dark Lord and nurtured until they grew into the forms we see them in during the War of the Ring.

 

And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.
(The Return of the King, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)

 

Appearance

 

The Fell Beasts would closely resemble very large, featherless birds, with long necks. They were winged and had webbed hands/feet with horned fingers, as well as beaks and claws. Though not one and the same, one could expect a vague resemblance to the prehistoric pterodactyl, and the possibility is left open that the Fell Beasts are descended from those flying dinosaurs.


”The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! it was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. […] Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck.
(The Return of the King, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)

Yes and no. I did not intend the steed of the Witch-King to be what is now called a ’pterodactyl’, and often is drawn [...]. But obviously it is pterodactylic and owes much to the new mythology [of the Prehistoric], and its description even provides a sort of way in which it could be a last survivor of older geological eras.
( The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Letter #211 )

Intelligence


There is nothing to suggest that the Fell Beasts were more intelligent than the average beast, and when faced with a threat, they react exactly as one would expect from, say, horses.

 

The host of Morgoth intent on their prey, taken it unawares in wild career, broke, scattering like sparks in a gale.
( The Return of the King, The Siege of Gondor )

 

Traits/Habits 

 

The Fell Beasts move in a manner that is distinctly bird like and they appear to act just as carrion birds would when finding prey: acting in an aggressive manner. Despite their size, they appear to be very agile.

 

”The great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Éowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.”
(The Return of the King, The Battle of the Pelennor fields)

 

Abilities/Skills

 

The Fell Beasts were particularly fast, which made them ideal as steeds for the Nazgul. They were capable of vocalisation: a croaking sound.

 

A vast winged shape passed over the moon like a black cloud. It wheeled and went north, flying at a speed greater than any wind of Middle-Earth. The stairs fainted before it. It was gone.
( The
Two Towers, The Palantír )

 

Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck.
(The Return of the King, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)

geordie 21/Mar/2006 at 01:16 PM
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In my opinion, there was only one ’pterodacty-like’ creature, as Tolkien refers to it [in one of the letters to Rhona Beare]. In my other opinion on this subject, the other eight ringwraiths were mounted on big birds. Mos’ prob’ly vultures.
halfir 21/Mar/2006 at 02:40 PM
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geordie: I think that on the face of the record I tend to agree with you. Tolkien’s response to Rhona Beare that the Witch -king’s steed was’pterodactylic’though not a pterodactyl, in my view distinguishes it from the other flying mounts of the other eight nazgul. Although the evidence is not definitive I think that if all steeds had been pterodactylic then Tolkien would have said so in the letter. Moreover, an examination of the wording regarding the Witch-king’ s steed (ROTK The Battle of the Pelennor Fields) in my opinion argues for a singularity rather than a plurality.

However, what the other flying steeds were in reality remains veiled.

Phil_d_one 21/Mar/2006 at 02:58 PM
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I cannot see the appararent singularity in the answer to Rhona Beare’s Letter (as set out in Letter 211) as proof that the winged steed used by the Lord of the Nazgul was the only one of his kind. The question to which Tolkien was answering was direct: Did the Witch-King ride a pteradactyl at the siege of Gondor? Note that she is not even asking about the other Nazgul, just about the Witch-King. So Tolkien answers with reference solely to the Witch-King -- since nobody is actaully asking about what the other Nazgul rode upon. I am not (here) arguing that the steed of the Witch-King wasn’t the only one of its kind, merely pointing out that the quote from Letter 211 is not proof either way.

However, I would like to point out the group identification they are given here, for example

The host of Morgoth intent on their prey, taken it unawares in wild career, broke, scattering like sparks in a gale.
(TRotK (I) The Siege of Gondor)
geordie 21/Mar/2006 at 03:23 PM
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No, I don’t get that quote. What host of Morgoth? Could you give me the page no, and the publisher of your copy? I should be ablre to find it ok, and then see it in context.

As for it’s singularity - further to what halfir says, I’d add the quote you give above:
And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.

Sounds like a one-off to me!
halfir 21/Mar/2006 at 04:23 PM
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Phil_d_one: Clearly there is no defintive answer. However, I don’t buy  the argument that because Rhona Beare did not ask about all the Nazgul steeds Tolkien’s answer therefore implies that the other Nazgul rode pterodactylic steeds. Irrespective of the question, in my opinion if Tolkien had meant all steeds of the Nazgul to be the same he would have made that point to Ms. Beare.

But , far more importantly ,  as I have said and geordie has quoted- is the Pelennor Fields text which is quite clealry a singular representation - not a plural one.

As for the quote you give in your last post I too have no idea what  point you seek it to illustrate. Perhaps you would kindly expound.

The line you quote is on Page 94 ROTK Allen and Unwin 1966  and on P.820  Houghton and Miflin 50th Anniversary edt. 2004. and does not refer to the Nazgul at at all, but to the army sent against Gondor:

’The Nazgul screeched and swept away, for their Captain was not yet come to challenge the white fire of his foe. The hosts of Morgul intent on their prey, taken at unawares in wild career, broke, scattering like sparks in a gale’.

Master of Doom 21/Mar/2006 at 06:53 PM
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It seems to me that it is more likely that they were all the same.  Tolkien tells us : "A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold benearth the Moon, ourstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil." (RotK, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)

Now I might be wrong, but doesn’t a brood consist of more than one chick or child or whatever?  If so, then this seems to indicate that the Witch-king’s mount was not a one of a kind, and the steeds of the other Nazgul were like it.  Also, the singular statements you are referring to come right after this reference to brood.  A brood is a singular noun, made up of many beings, so using singular tenses still makes sense when talking about the whole.  The only one that would not make sense is when ’it’ was given to his servant to be his steed.  Obviously the whole brood was not the Witch-king’s steed.  So I’m not entirely sure, but is there any other evidence makes you guys think the winged beasts were not all alike?

 

halfir 21/Mar/2006 at 10:09 PM
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MOD: You are using a very limited construction of ’brood’- I suggest that a visit to the OED will demonstrate quite clearly why the Pelennor Fileds description of the Witch king’s mount can be - and is- singular, for if it is not the whole sense of the passage becomes nonsensical.

But I accept that a definitve answer cannot be given. Indeed in HOME 8 The War of the Ring -The Battle of the Pelennor Fields  Tolkien makes life simple by referring to ’the huge vulture form’ and ’the great bird’,but he then radically changed his mind.

Phil_d_one 22/Mar/2006 at 01:13 AM
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However, I don’t buy  the argument that because Rhona Beare did not ask about all the Nazgul steeds Tolkien’s answer therefore implies that the other Nazgul rode pterodactylic steeds. Who is propounding that argument? I ask because I certainly am not. I stated clearly that ’I am not (here) arguing that the steed of the Witch-King wasn’t the only one of its kind, merely pointing out that the quote from Letter 211 is not proof either way.’ I am not saying that Tolkien’s answer implies that the other steeds were the same as that of the Lord of the Nazgul; but that Tolkien’s answer does not imply that the Witch-King’s steed was unique. The only argument I was here making, in other words, is that that quote says nothing whatsoever in relation to the debate in question, because of the nature of the actual question to which he was responding. And I stand by what I said there.

Regarding the quote I provided, my apologies. I was in a bit of a hurry, and made the fatal mistake of not double-checking the context completely (nor, it seems, the words themselves )

But I think MoD’s quote really says alot. My idea of brood always constituted plurality, and the only definitions I can find in my Oxford dictionary, and online dictionaries, are (nouns of course): young birds etc. from one hatching; human family, children; wasp or bee larvae; group of related things. Am I perhaps missing the definition that you were referring to? For those I found all refer to more than one individual...

But surely one can see that the idea that all were the same does emerge. Compare the two quotes below, for example (The Siege of Gondor and The Battle of the Pelennor Fields respectively)

And with a piercing cry out of the dim sky fell the winged shadows, the Nazgûl stooping to the kill.
The great shadow descended like a falling cloud

stevem1 22/Mar/2006 at 01:56 AM
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I am not convinced by the ’pterodactyl’ argument although it was obviously an ancient beast. Does Tolkien actually use the word ’pterodactyl’? I get the impression of a leathery creature (have to rid my mind of the movie image here) with leathery wings, yes, but I don’t see the head having that big crest that most pterosaurs have. I am sure Tolkien would have mentioned in his descriptions of it in LOTR. Perhaps it once had feather remnants but Sauron bred this out.
Phil_d_one 22/Mar/2006 at 04:55 AM
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stevem: Tolkien makes it clear that the two would not be one and the same, but does use the term ’pterodactylic’ to refer to the winged steed. He even leaves open the possibility that the winged steed was actually descended from the pterodactyl and/or similar creatures. Here is the relevant quote:

Yes and no. I did not intend the steed of the Witch-King to be what is now called a ’pterodactyl’, and often is drawn [...]. But obviously it is pterodactylic and owes much to the new mythology [of the Prehistoric], and its description even provides a sort of way in which it could be a last survivor of older geological eras.
(Letter 211)
halfir 22/Mar/2006 at 06:37 AM
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As I said before- we cannot be definitive in identifying whether the Witch-king’s  flying steed was or wasn’t the same as that of the other Nazgul. I happen to believe the evidence of the texts I have studied lends to the view that it was not.Others, using the same evidence, take a contrary position.

However, if one deconstructs the passage relating to it in ROTK-The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, and also compares that with the earlier draft, I think it clear that Tolkien is referring to a unique mount for the Witch -king, as opposed to those who see the winged steed of the Witch-king as the same of those of the other Nazgul.

My reasons for this are as follows- and I fully accept they cannot be definite- very little in Tolkien exegesis is.

1. The Rhona Beare letter. My take on this is that if Tolkien had intended the Witch-king’s steed to be the same as that of the other Nazgul he would have said so. An obvious answer would have been -even to the specificity of Ms. Beare’s question-:

"The Witch-king’s steed, like those of all the Nazgul, was pterodactylic’.

2. If we examine the Pelennor Fields text in detail we see that everything is singular. ’A creature’ , ’The Dark Lord took it’, it grew’, ’he gave it to his servant to be his steed’, {I will deal with the ’brood’ point later on).

3. ’it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly.’ By definition, if it ’it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly’ then it was larger than the steeds ridden by the other Nazgul, and thus different from them. One could argue that it was of the same breed but larger, but given the context in which these words are set , that is stretching credulity- as is Phil_d_One’s bizarre claim that quotes he gives:

And with a piercing cry out of the dim sky fell the winged shadows, the Nazgûl stooping to the kill.
The great shadow descended like a falling cloud

 establish an alignment between the steeds of the Nazgul and that of the Witch-king.

4. If one looks carefully at the text of the Pelennor Fields one notes that this creature -or creatures if you take the plural approach which I don’t- was ’untimely’, and apt to evil.’ Given that everything else within the context is singular I suggest that it is this creature that is untimely born and apt to evil - not a whole clutch of similar avian monstrosities.

5. If one looks at the OED one can see that the term ’brood’ can be used as meaning ’hatching’ -singular. We can thus see one gloss could be the one I suggest- the last hatching of the creatures mentioned was this monstrosity- untimely -prematurely- born- with all the negative Shakeseparean connotations that word carries- - and apt to evil.

6. If we then look at the earlier drafts for this section all we find is ’the huge vulture form’ and ’the great bird’, which Tolkien later rejected.Nowhere do we get the sense of evil and menace that is given in the published text. I suggest that Tolkien very deliberately intensified the evil aspect of the creaure to align it with that of the evil being whose steed it was-the Witch-king- whose powers had been enhanced  by the time of the Siege of Gondor- by Sauron, and whose mount is designed to be a mirror-image of the being that rode it. And in this alignment Tolkien very decidely made the Witch-king’s steed singular- sui generis- a fitting evil montsrosity for the Witch-king to ride.

I fully accept that this is speculative, but in my view it fits the text far more credibly than any alternatives offered here or elsewhere.

Readers must make up their own minds, but before they do so, I strongly urge them to read in great detail the relevant passage in ROTK-The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

 

Phil_d_one 22/Mar/2006 at 10:47 AM
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I will comment on your points one by one, wherever possible.

1. I have already stated my opinion with regards to Letter 211. It was the winged steed of the Lord of the Nazgul that was being inquired after, and so Tolkien gave a direct answer. If Tolkien conceived the Nazgul’s winged steeds as all being of the same nature, then it could well be that he saw no real reason to open up his answer to refer to them all: one would be enough. I am not saying that this is the case, but I still cannot understand how you can claim with such absolute surety that your interpretation is the case.

2. I’ll adress this with the ’brood’ point

3. If I am correctly understanding your arguments, anything that does not fit in with your line of reasoning is, ipso facto, ’stretching credulity’. I personally fail to see why the steed of the Witch-King could not have been larger (and, to use a more appropriate term, greater) than the other steeds -- I think, given the fact that this particular steed belongs to the Lord of the Nazgul, it would be rather appropriate.

4. A random comment based on one’s interpretation of the relevant passage (which I’ll get to in a moment). Equally I could say that all these creatures were ’untimely’ and ’apt to evil’. This shows us absolutely nothing with relevance to the matter at hand.

5. Now this confuses me. How, halfir, is ’hatching’ singular? It is a collective, granted, and so is treated gramatically as a singular, but it is no more singular in quantity than is ’brood’. A hatching refers to a number of animals (or creatures, in this case) born at the same time, used particularly in reference to birds hatching from eggs at approximately the same time. Look for example at the definition of brood that I provided from my dictionary: young birds etc. from one hatching. If a hatching refers to an individual creature, how can young birds can be from one hatching?

So you have yet to provide me with an interpretation in which ’brood’ can be interpreted in any way other than referring to a plurality of creatures -- so your argument for singularity stands at present as, to quote your previous post, a ’bizarre claim’.

Now, while admittedly (from the standpoint of more than one creature) I cannot completely explain the relevant passage, neither can you, for the two emphasised section in the quoted passage below are in direct contradiction to one another.

A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.
(TRotK (I) The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Emphasis is Mine)

Give me an interpretation of that passage from your standpoint that explains both the emphasised sections and we can move on...

Master of Doom 22/Mar/2006 at 11:10 AM
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Upon reflection, it seems to me that the singular statements in that quote are only references to the steed of the Witch-king, and not the brood.  It makes more sense that way I think, and clears up any confusion as to the giving ’it’ as a steed.

However, I cannot see how brood can mean just one creature.  Yes, hatching is singular.  So is army, but it is made up of many people.  A one man army is pretty uncommon. (Rambo, the Terminator, and John McClain all being exceptions of course.   )  Given that part of the quote, I can’t see how the Witch-king’s steed could have been unique.  It does not specifically say that the other fell beasts were a part of this brood, though that does seem to make the most sense.  To be realistic, it makes perfect sense to describe the Witch-king’s steed in a solitary fashion, in both the Letter and RotK quotes, as it is the only one present in the passages.  The other Nazgul (and their steeds) were off in another part of the battle.

Another explanation for the singling out of that particular fell beast may be because it was the only one to get that treatment.  Perhaps Sauron had the whole brood, but he only chose to nurse one of the them with fell meats, causing it to be greater, making it a perfect gift for the Lord of the Nazgul, and the rest just received normal ones.  However, that would not make it any different than the rest of the brood any more than a large dog is different from a small dog.

geordie 22/Mar/2006 at 11:35 AM
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How many young are there in one hatching? I believe that for example, some birds lay just one egg, and therefore that hatching, or brood, will consist of one individual. So, the quote - ’this last untimely brood’ and ’he gave it to his chief servant to be his steed’ are not contradictory. On the contrary, this is one of the reasons I believe the Witch-king’s steed to be, as halfir says, one of a kind.

But there are other reasons - the main one being that in all the references to the steeds of the nazgul, the implication seems to be that they are large birds. Or at least, they don’t contradict my idea that the nazgul are al large birds. I can’t find these references at the moment, but I’ll see if I can pull out one or two at some time.

As halfir says - we can’t tell one way or the other, but my inclination is still towards one unique creature for the Witch-king, and large birds for the rest.
Master of Doom 22/Mar/2006 at 01:19 PM
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Nearly all birds lay more than one egg.  The only ones (that I know of or can find any reference to after a little bit of research) are a few sea birds, such as the albatross, penguin, or crane, the California Condor, some pigeons, cuckoos,  and the extinct Auk.  Just for reference, pterodactyls laid more than one (according to fossil research).  I will also note for reference that while I came across the word brood used in terms of the multiple egg laying animals, I never saw it used in reference to these single egg layers.  It seems to be a leap of logic to assume that the fell beasts laid only one, when an overwhelming majority of egg laying animals lay more than one.  Especially considering that assumption is based on the premise that ’hatching’ could mean only one egg, while hatching is only one of the possible definitions of ’brood’.  Most of the time, a brood is made up of more than one creature.  Most of the time, a hatching is as well.  It is not definitive proof at all, but logic seems to dictate that using the word brood implies more than one young.
halfir 22/Mar/2006 at 04:07 PM
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Those who contest my interpretation are flawed in their agument on two points. Firstly, hatching can be used in the singular, there is no doubt about that as the OED in its list of definitions of hatch gives that option.

Hatch -OED To bring forth from the egg; to come forth from the egg; to bring forth.

Secondly, the term untimely- meaning prematurely - is critical to the context. This creature is an abomination of nature, even its birth was premature- unnatural.

The changing emphasis between the texts is deliberate, and the singularity of the creature also.

As for interpreattion, to me it is quite clear:

A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.
(TRotK (I) The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Emphasis is Mine)

A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie nursed this last prematurely born creature, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and used it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly, and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. {My bold emphasis}

And Phil_d_one there is nothing to move on to. If you wish to assert your interpretation, so be it. It is one that in my view totally strains the text in order to sustain its argument. I have set out my case and Readers can decide for themselves which they feel is most aligned with what Tolkien wrote. I have nothing further to add on the subject.

 

Maedhor 22/Mar/2006 at 07:12 PM
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Untimely might not mean premature...it doesn’t necessarily mean that at all. An event can be untimely because it happened too late, or simply at an inconvenient time, or it was simply untimely because it happened at all, which is the case with this brood, imo. I won’t argue either way, because I myself could never quite envision the fell beast to begin with anyway; kind of just large wings to me, never with a truly definitive form, if you will.

Hoping profusely that I am able to code even this simple bit of text right, here’s my problem with the quote above:

A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie nurshed this last prematurely born creature. And the Dark Lord took it, and used it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly, and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.

Mayhap it was the last prematurely born creature, but that does not mean it was the only creature born of the brood, only the last one born to the brood. Perhaps it was both the first and last, the only one, but reading it without any emphasis at all, one could easily get the impression that it was only the lastborn of an evil lot of creatures. As for prematurely, I think I can agree with you on an earlier point: "This creature is an abomination of nature, even its birth was premature- unnatural." as you put it; sounds logical enough to me.
Master of Doom 22/Mar/2006 at 07:32 PM
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halfir: No one is trying to invalidate your interpretation of the text.  We are merely arguing that ’brood’ does not have to mean a singular hatching.  Yes, it certainly can, but more commonly it means more than one.  Your interpretation hinges on this one (less common) meaning, while mine hinges on it meaning the other.  There is no proof either way.  I fail to see how my reasoning is any more flawed than yours is, as there is no way to tell which meaning this word has in the context.

The same holds true for your distinction of the word ’untimely.’  As Maedhor pointed out, that word does not have to mean premature.  It can also mean inopportune.  There is no proof that your interpretation of this definition is correct either, as there is absolutely no context around it to make assumptions either way.  You say that my argument is flawed, but your argument holds those exact same flaws.

Phil_d_one 23/Mar/2006 at 07:14 AM
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halfir:

Those who contest my interpretation are flawed in their agument on two points Personally I think what you are suggesting is that anybody who contests your interpretation at all is, by that very fact, flawed. Let me address your points.

Hatch -OED To bring forth from the egg; to come forth from the egg; to bring forth. (To) Hatch is a verb. Hatching is a noun. (To) Hatch is in the infinitive, and therefore is neither singular nor plural. Hatching is collective, and is therefore no more singular than is ’army’ or ’fleet’. You state that it is clear that Hatching is singular, and yet provide nothing to prove that this is the case. And all this is based on the very selective choice of definition from the OED. I ask you again, can you prove your ’bizarre’ claim?

Secondly, the term untimely- meaning prematurely - is critical to the context. This creature is an abomination of nature, even its birth was premature- unnatural. Yes, and by my reasoning, this brood was an abomination of nature. What’s your point?

The changing emphasis between the texts is deliberate, and the singularity of the creature also. The difference here is that you are merely posting that you are right, with utter and complete disregard for the points I am raising.

You change the words of the quote, supposedly to prove your point, but I can merely change the wording to ’group of creatures’, supposedly to prove my point. Neither proves anything.

And with your constant reference to the creature(s) being prematurely born, I think Maedhor raises an excellent point. Look again at the quote. The creatures from which the steed of the Witch-King (and any others of his kind) were bred ’outstayed their day’. Thus, their offspring were untimely and that they existed beyond the time when they were supposed to. Not prematurely at all. More the opposite.

There is nothing to move onto? I beg to differ. There are all my points to address, unless of course you have nothing to address them with...

~Elegost~ 20/Apr/2006 at 05:12 PM
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 Hmm it is a fell beast alright but it looks more like a wyvern which is different from a dragon. But I’m getting of topic but yes all that it mentions is that it is afellbeast. Hope this helped you in someway! Oh and welcome to the plaza shadowoflegolas

Meathork 27/Apr/2006 at 08:08 AM
Seedling of Fangorn Points: 46 Posts: 23 Joined: 15/Apr/2006

I allwase thort that the nasgul was the caratur thet the wich kinds rode on! but ive been proved rong. I thort this becaus the wicth kind sais "never stand befor the nasgul and its prey" when the fell beast (as i shall now call it) is about to eat king theadon.  dus the high wicth kings fell beast have a speshal name? i know ime not relating to the topic but i realy want to know the arnsers to these questons

(i apolagis for any spelling mestakes their probably every where)

 

halfir 05/May/2006 at 04:04 PM
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Phil_d-One: I beg to differ. There are all my points to address, unless of course you have nothing to address them with

Your points have been addtressed-other than in your own mind which continues to asserrt your original misinterpretation -which is of course your prerogative. And Maedhor’s offering of a gloss, emphasizing ’their’ does not in my opinion adequately cover the ’it’ usage.

However, we will simply have to agree to disagree.

Ankala Teaweed 05/May/2006 at 04:41 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 6116 Posts: 4487 Joined: 15/Apr/2002
Quote: Originally posted by Phil_d_one on Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Now, while admittedly (from the standpoint of more than one creature) I cannot completely explain the relevant passage, neither can you, for the two emphasised section in the quoted passage below are in direct contradiction to one another.

A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.
(TRotK (I) The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Emphasis is Mine)

Phil, the Professor was a Master of languages, perhaps the most renowned philologist ever. The only contradiction is in your stubborn refusal to admit that a brood can consist of only one egg. In fact, your bolded selection proves halfir’s point.

Have you ever owned a bird? A female bird lays one egg at a time. Sometimes she might lay one and then the next day another, but only one at a time. (It’s not like birthing puppies.)

Thorondel 05/May/2006 at 05:07 PM
Archer of Imladris Points: 567 Posts: 274 Joined: 24/Sep/2003

Wow, this is pretty heated! I’m almost afraid to intrude, but here goes.

I can see both sides of the discussion, but so far the theory (because that’s all both of these are, theories) about all nine flying the same type of creature seems to have a more valid point.

Here is the definition of Brood according to Webster’s NewWorld Dictionary: Second College Edition.

Brood n 1. The offspring, or a family of offspring, of animals; esp., a group of birds or fowl hatched at one time and cared for together 2. all the children in a family 3. a group of a particular breed or kind.

As you can see, there is one reference to a singular form, but it is only one part of one of three possible definitions. This means that there is a .5/3 probability that the meaning is a single creature. This comes out to .1666667%. Now, there is also the point that the dictionary says especially a group. Just thought that a clear, complete definition of ’brood’ might come in handy.

One last thing. Halfir, it isn’t fair to say with absolute certainty that Phil’s opinion is a misinterpretation, and all his points have not been adressed to my satisfaction, nor to his. He has asked why untimely is critical, and he asked politely. Now, I will ask again: why is untimely ’critical’ to the interpretation? I am not being snide, I simply do not see how this is so.

Ankala Teaweed 05/May/2006 at 05:32 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 6116 Posts: 4487 Joined: 15/Apr/2002

Thorondel, I don’t see just how any of us could ever presume to tell Professor Tolkien, of all people, that he may not use brood to indicate a singular offspring! He wrote the OED. Forget Webster’s.

halfir 05/May/2006 at 06:19 PM
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Thorondel: I am totally unimpressed by your mathematical example- it is a complete red herring as it is given no textual context.. Tolkien did not use Websters- he actually wrote parts of the OED (then the New English Dictionary) and that has to be the template for any defintion of the words he uses.

’Untimely’ is critical because it re-emphasiszes the wholly evil nature of the creature so described- which is one of the main points of the paragraph - and a use of the term in a way I have described it is commonplace in the 16th century - which is , in my opinion, the way Tolkien uses it. cf. my earlier coment:

If one looks at the OED one can see that the term ’brood’ can be used as meaning ’hatching’ -singular. We can thus see one gloss could be the one I suggest- the last hatching of the creatures mentioned was this monstrosity- untimely -prematurely- born- with all the negative Shakeseparean connotations that word carries- - and apt to evil

If you cannot accept my argument so be it- but don’t come up with specious remarks that I haven’t addressed issues raised in this thread because I have- you and Phil_d_one simply don’t agree with them- that is your prerogative.

Geirve 06/May/2006 at 01:38 AM
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Phil_d-One, I don’t get it. Do you claim Tolkien made a grammar mistake?

If in the fragment in question:

"A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed."
(RoTK, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)

’brood’ is a collective noun (as you claim it is), there is a disagreement of form (singular or plural) between the sentences (or withing the second sentence). I don’t think Tolkien wrote that badly.

Plus, ’brood’ is usually used as a collective noun, but Tolkien used it also as a singular noun. Compare:

"Far and wide her lesser broods, bastards of the miserable mates, her own offspring, that she slew, spread from glen to glen, from the Ephel Dúath to the eastern hills, to Dol Guldur and the fastnesses of Mirkwood." (TTT, Shelob’s Lair)

One brood (one creature), many broods (many creatures). So we have ’brood’ as singular gramatically and logically. (Tolkien might have written ’brood’ instead of ’broods’ here, and the sentence would still be correct, but he chose not to.)

Without entering into the meritum of the discussion (I have no opinion formed whether the steed of the Witching was one of the kind or not), I think halfir is right in considering the disputed fragment as referring only to this one particular creature.
Lucentorn 06/May/2006 at 02:55 AM
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Hmm, I never knew more about them then that they were just Fell Beasts. Good job on the research indeed. But then, you are from Mordor, so you all should know these sort of things. What I do wonder then, are these the only nine there are of their kind? And if there are more where do they live? One answer raises a lot of new questions, as usual!
geordie 06/May/2006 at 03:42 AM
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The term ’fell beast’ is not a name, but a description. It may as well be called ’a filthy animal’. The term comes up precisely once in The Lord of the Rings -


’...So they laid them [the king’s knights] apart from their foes and the fell beast and set spears about them. And afterwards when all was over men returned and made a fire there and burned the carcase of the beast; but for Snowmane they dug a grave and set up a stone upon which was carved in the tongues of Gondor and the Mark:

Faithful servant yet master’s bane,
Lghtfoot’s foal, swift Snowmane.

Green and long grew the grass of Snowmane’s Howe, but ever black and bare was the ground where the beast was burned.


Here, Tolkien is contrasting the nature of the steeds of the opposing protagonists; the one a beautiful white horse, faithful to it’s master, one of the Mearas, born of a horse called Lightfoot. We know his name, the name of his dame, and his nature. A lovely animal. Contrasted with that, we have a dirty, filthy creature, taken by Sauron, fed on fell meats, apt to evil. And it has no name. Even the bloomin’ battering ram had a name!

I have read that Tolkien loved words; their sound and the way they change their meanings over the centuries. For Tolkien, words had an aesthetic quality, similar to musical sounds for a music composer. He was also a poet; and I believe that as an artist, he _made_ this story in the same way as a composer _made_ a work of music - with various themes, repeated throughout the work. So for example, this passage recalls that back in TT, after the defence of the Hornburg [as he said as a more correct version of what folk call the battle of Helm’s Deep] - where men dug graves for the Men killed in the battle, but left the orcs to lie, as Gandalf told them. The next morning, folk were amazed to see that the orc bodies had gone, and that there was a new, large mound. The grass grew long on the graves of the Men, but nothing grew again on the orc-mound; the Death-Down.

But I digress. Tolkien used the term ’fell beast’ only once in the book. The term was not in common use before the movies, where in the commentaries and documentaries, PJ and his crew use the term [and its plural, fell beasts] extensively. They also called the Rohirrim ’the Rohans’, and the great elephant-like creatures ’a mummerkill’ - plural   ’the mummerkills’. This is not an example we should be following!   

Tolkien never used the term ’fell beasts’. The creature is most often named ’the Witch-King’s steed’ or ’winged creature’ or ’great beast’. Both these latter terms merely use an adjective and a noun. So does the term ’fell beast’. It is not the name of a distinct species.

And as I’ve said before, my reading of the situation, in context, is that there is only one such creature in the books. As I say, the rest could just as easily [I think most probably are] - birds.

Phil_d_one 06/May/2006 at 06:34 AM
Shipwright of Umbar Points: 13181 Posts: 12667 Joined: 14/Jan/2004

Oh bother, I didn’t know this thread had come back!

halfir: You’ve addressed all my points? Why then, is it that you reassert that the creature(s) was/were born prematuraly, when I just showed in my post above yours that their ancestors had ’outstayed their day’, ergo the creatures were not born prematurely at all -- much the opposite! It is also clear that you did not well read Maedhor’s post. The their that he emphasises is not intended to show plurality at all. It refers to the ancient creatures from which the steed(s) of the Nazgul/Lord of the Nazgul are descended, and it too makes no difference to the singularity/plurality argument. And yet you claim that you have addressed all points?

And even so, the argument regarding ’untimely’ sheds no light on the plurality/singularity argument. The connotations you mention are also present if there are many creatures, just as much as if there was only one creature. So while you do raise an intriguing point (except for the ’prematurely’), it is of no relevance to this debate.

Geir: In the example you bring up, there is nothing to suggest that brood in ’her lesser broods’ refers to a single creature. If I say ’My smaller fleets’, fleet need not be a single ship -- one fleet (many ships), many fleets (even more ships). Similarly, it is possible that one brood (many spiders), many brood (even more spiders), and the meaning of the quote is that some of these broods (groups of spiders), went to thje Eastern Hills, some groups to Mirkwood etc..etc..

In the meantime I will add this to the discussion. Personally I fail to see how these two quotes can not establish any form of relationship between the steed of the Lord of the Nazgul and those of the othre Nazgul!

Steed of one of the Eight (minus the Lord of the Nazgul):

Suddenly the great bow of Lórien sang. Shrill went the arrow from the elven-string. Frodo looked up. Almost above him the winged shape swerved. There was a harsh croaking scream, as it fell out of the air, vanishing down into the gloom of the eastern shore. The sky was clean again. There was a tumult of many voices far away, cursing and wailing in the darkness, and then silence. Neither shaft nor cry came again from the east that night.
(TFotR (II) The Great River, Emphasis is Mine)

Steed of the Lord of the Nazgul:

Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck.
     Upon it sat a shape, black-mantled, huge and threatening. A crown of steel he bore, but between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a deadly gleam of eyes: the Lord of the Nazgûl
(TRotK (I) The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Emphasis is Mine)

Cry and scream are synonymous, qualified by the same adjective (croaking), itself a word which hardly appears in TLotR (I counted five occurrences, including these two and alternative forms of the word e.g. ’croak’), and emitted by creatures which are possibly identical. And I am to believe that this is merely coincedence?

geordie 06/May/2006 at 06:59 AM
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Cry and scream are synonymous, qualified by the same adjective (croaking), itself a word which hardly appears in TLotR (I counted five occurrences, including these two and alternative forms of the word e.g. ’croak’), and emitted by creatures which are possibly identical. And I am to believe that this is merely coincedence?

Yup! - though we know the nature of the creature described at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, we are’nt given a definite description of the one in TT. It could be a big bird.

As to the croak - there’s a thread in Languages, where the consensus seems to be that the names Roac and Carc [ravens in TH] are omomatopoeic.Ravens croak too, by the way.

So, if we apply the same theory to the one and only creature which the Witch-King rode [for one time only, notice - he was on a horse at the beginning of the battle] - I would suggest the name ’Screech’.

But then, as in the case of its master, it’s probably best that the creature, and it’s species, remain nameless.
Alcarináro 06/May/2006 at 02:54 PM
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Geir:

But when she had healed her hurts as best she could, and had spawned there a foul brood, she passed away.
   -HoME X: Morgoth’s Ring, Of The Thieves’ Quarrel

Did Ungoliant only have a single child in that time she mated with the foul things of spider shape? Certainly not! Later on indeed we even see ’broods’ used, referring to these same spawn of Ungoliant!

Now the Naugrim withstood fire more hardily than either Elves or Men, and it was the custom moreover of the Enfeng to wear great masks [struck out: or vizors] in battle hideous to look upon, which stood them in good stead against the drakes. And but for them Glaurung and his brood would have withered all that was left of the Noldor.
   -HoME XI: The War of the Jewels, The Annals of Beleriand, §232

Glaurung and only one other dragon? Seeing as earlier on we are specifically told that there were multiple other dragons, I think the meaning is rather clear.

If I cared to spend the time looking through the rest of HoME or any of Tolkien’s other works, doubtless I would find more examples of ’brood’ being used in this fashion. I would also like to point out in the texts that I searched (the last four volumes of HoME), there was only one use of the word ’brood’ that could imply singular offspring, and that was in the Oath of Feanor in Morgoth’s Ring. And in context that can also easily be thought to mean ’part of’ brood. So, quite frankly, I don’t see why anyone is acting as if ’brood’ needs mean in this quote a singular entity. Tolkien doesn’t use ’brood’ as a singular noun. He simply uses both ’brood’ and ’broods’ as plural. Are not ’people’ and ’peoples’ both referring to more than a single being?

Also, why is ’untimely’ to be taken to mean ’prematurely’? I’d think rather the opposite, given that this was a ’creature of the older world’, ’lingering in forgotten mountains’, ’outstaying their day’? Untimely because it not ought to exist. It belongs to a time that has passed, and the fact that it was born at all is what makes it untimely. I’d think Tolkien was rather playing off his own words than making allusions to Shakespeare.
halfir 06/May/2006 at 04:38 PM
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Phil-d-one: Re-iteration of the earlier proposition that you put in opposition to mine does not invalidate mine- yours is an opinion- no more no less- and one I reject. You are equally at liberty to reject mine.You have proved nothing- only offered an interpretation- which I see as  wrong.

Elenhir’s arguments using other Tolkien text to combat Geir’s point only demonstrates the fact that Tolkien, the master wordsmith, had a much greater use of and facility with English than most of those who write about him.It is a diverse language and individual words in particular contexts do have very different meanings.

And Elenhir is also apparently unable to distinguish between a usage that is well demonstrated in Shakespeare, and Tolkien’s using it in a similar sense.I nowhere said Tolkien was making an allusion to Shakespeare. I used Shakespeare as an example to confirm the way the word was frequently used from 1535 onwards in a particular way.

And praying in aid Maedhor’s post simply compounds the error already committed as it is wrong, for the reasons I have set out extensively before.

My arguments are there for any to accept or reject, as are those of Phil_d-one and others who offer what I view as an erroneous interpretation. Let the Reader judge for him or herself.

 

Alcarináro 06/May/2006 at 06:39 PM
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Extensively, halfir? Ever since Maedhor’s post, all you have said about ’untimely’ is that Maedhor fails to consider the singularity of ’it’ and that it means what you say it means. Hardly extensive. So you must be referring to something before that, so I’ll assume you are referring to your numbered list.

1: The question asked, as can be clearly seem in the commentary at the start of Letter 211, was ’Did the Witch-king ride a pterodactyl at the siege of Gondor?’. Tolkien answers this. The question does not ask of other Nazgul and their steeds. It asks of the Lord of the Nazgul solely. If it is to be understood that the steeds are all the same, there would be no point in saying so. That Tolkien mentions only the Lord of the Nazgul does not mean that the steeds of the other Ringwraiths were different.

2: The first sentence, after the first comma, speaks of the race that this creature was. It is the second paragraph that returns to the singular one that was being addressed before, the one that the Lord of the Nazgul rides. Unless you are going to tell me that the singular steed of the Witch-King was the one who lingered in forgotten mountains and outstayed ’their’ (this plurality would, of course, make any such claim inherently false) day, then I fail to see why brood must be singular. The passage can easily be thought to be referring to this particular steed being a certain member of that brood.

3: Was it larger than Ancalagon the Black? He who was so great that his fall destroyed Thangorodrim? The steed of the Witch-King cannot be literally larger than all other things that fly, else it would have to be larger than any dragon. Yes, it is large, quite large. The quote is meant to make it clear that the Lord of the Nazgul, the greatest of the Nazgul, has the greatest of the Nazgul’s steeds. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the same type of creature. If Sauron himself reared it, why should it not be larger and more fell than the ones he did not raise?

4 & 5: And so we come to ’untimely’. So you have, in this section, said that ’one gloss could be’. Interesting choice of words, seeing in later posts, you have essentially acted as it is the only gloss. You defend it by telling people to look up at what you have said, but then we see in that post a lack of proof, simply a suggestion, which yes, if we assume what you assume, works out. It supports the text; it fits in if you place it there. But the text does not support it. It cannot be realized from the text as some known, some provable piece of information. So next you tell us that this is ’critical’. So why does your entire theory not fall apart? The ’critical’ part is no more than a possibility that you subscribe to, and therefore your theory is forever a theory. You cannot say that because another it at odds with it that the other is wrong. Not until you can prove your own, until you can prove what untimely truly means.

6: ’beak and claw’, ’long naked neck’, and still actually a mention of bird in ’if bird, then greater than...’. If I remember correctly, Tolkien phased out all mentions of ’vulture’, not only with the steed of the Lord of the Nazgul, but with all of the steeds. I fail to see why you insist that this change took place only with this one creature, rather than with all of them. You cannot prove that it did not happen with all, and seeing that in the drafts the others were called vultures, I would think it did happen with all. So then how does this show that the steed of the Chief Ringwraith is any different?

Now, halfir, if you want to play by your final line, go ahead. Indeed, what I am suggesting is that your interpretation could indeed be correct, but that so could Phil’s, and that you don’t have any valid reason to be riddling your posts with these insults and insinuations that any interpretation but your own is wrong. If you truly believed that the Reader ought to judge for himself rather than suscribe to your belief and none other, you wouldn’t be making comments about ’specious arguments’, ’misinterpretations’, and others ’straining the text’. You can’t offset such displays of arrogance simply by telling the readers to make up their own mind repeatedly. The taint upon a would-be intellectual discussion has already been made.
Thorondel 06/May/2006 at 08:49 PM
Archer of Imladris Points: 567 Posts: 274 Joined: 24/Sep/2003

Amen Elenhir!

Ann Kalagon- I didn’t mean to suggest that Tolkien couldn’t have used the word brood as such; I merely showed that it was less likely.

Halfir: get down off your high horse and admit it; your side of the arguement is just as proofless as ours. If we use ’specious argements’ and ’misinterpretations’ just because it doesn’t fit in with what you hold to be true, you are declaring that you have, either through seance or some other means, conversed with Mr Tolkien on this matter and he has said, "yes, you are correct; the Witch-King’s steed is different". If this is not so, you have no reason to be so 100% certain of yourself. Before you accuse me of hypocracy, I am not 100% certain of my side of the discussion, more like 85-90%.

halfir 07/May/2006 at 01:05 AM
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Elenhir: In an earlier post commenting on the singularity point to  MOD I said:

But I accept that a definitive answer cannot be given

But that does not mean I do not believe that those who disagree with the position that I and others have taken- and do not try and pretend that it is only I who adopt the singular defintion of the piece in question- are correct. I believe them to be wrong.

Your rehearsal of the arguments that you support brings nothing new to the party any more than anyone else with a contrary opinion does and I am not going to reiterate all the arguments I have made again in different form just because you and others don’t happen to find them convincing.

My position is clear and my arguments for holding it equally so, if you, and others don’t accept it and find my arguments do not effectively counter the propositions you put then so be it. That is your prerogative. The Readers can judge for themselves on the face of the record here and on the quality of my Tolkienian interpretation on the Plaza over the last four years.

Geirve 07/May/2006 at 01:48 AM
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Elenhir, and the fact that Tolkien used ’brood’ also as a collective plural (and sure I can provide you with much more examples of this usage) is supposed to prove what? Logically, your argument equals: "A has got a cat, therefore A hasn’t got a dog."

And I would like you (and Phil) to refer to the first part of my post (and Ann Kalagon’s post). Let me re-iterate.

"A creature [singular] of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood [singular or collective plural], apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it [I dare say it would be ’them’ if brood was used as a collective plural], and nursed it [as above] with fell meats, until it [as above] grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it [now, we are definitely talking singular] to his servant to be his steed."
(my insertions, RoTK, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)

Sorry, guys, but such shifts of number would have been a rather glaring grammar mistake. Plus, ’this last untimely brood’ clearly refers to ’a creature’, singular, from the previous sentence. You basically accuse Tolkien of making a grammar mistake.

If ’brood’ was used as a collective plural, I dare say the fragment in question qould look like this:

"Creatures of an older world maybe they were, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took them, and nursed them with fell meats, until they grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave them to his servants to be their steeds."
halfir 07/May/2006 at 03:06 AM
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X(QED

{Although in defence of Elenhir’s proposition Tolkien did write -ungrammatically- ’green great dragon’ - although he was only seven at the time!X(}

geordie 07/May/2006 at 05:16 AM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
Just to add a note to my earlier post, if I may - on the death of Theoden. Not much to do with this subject, but I think it might show a facet of Tolkien’s thinking, to support halfir’s assertion that Tolkien thought and wrote very differently from the way that many of his readers think and write [me included].

Theoden died of injuries caused by the fall from his horse, and the horse rolling onto him. An inglorious end, it may seem, for one who was the father of his people, and who had just risen from the shadows to a new morning, and felled the black serpent. But - in this, I believe that Tolkien is following a mediaeval tradition, regarding the reports of a king’s death in battle.

In real life a king, as all know, is appointed by God to rule over the rest of us! ’Dieu et mon Droit’ is the motto of the ruling house of The United Kingdom. Therefore, one who kills a king - a regicide - is commiting a great and terible sin. If you were to kill an enemy king in battle, you cannot expect to be treated as any kind of hero. See what Alexander did to his men who found and killed Darius [or was it Xerxes?]

So, traditionally, kings were said to have fallen in battle by the hand of God; or the Gods; or Fate. And two of the favourite methods for their despatch were:

1/ an arrow out of the blue [as in the case of Harold Godwinson at Hastings - more properly known as Senlac Hill] and the case of William Rufus, son of William the Bastard, shot in a ’hunting accident’ in the New Forest -

2/ falling of, or geting rolled on, by their own horse.

[Incidentally, there is also an equestrian tradition in the way a king is depicted in a memorial statue. Yes. A king who died in battle is shown on a rearing horse; two hooves on the ground. One who died of wounds later [like Richard I, Couer de Lion] is shown on a horse with three hooves on the ground. One who died in bed; all four hooves on the ground.]

The point of this rambling discourse is to show that Tolkien read widely - far wider, I would guess, than any of us - in far more areas of study than we know. And bits stuck; and he put bits into his story; wove in the threads so that his readers - esp. those of a certain age and location - [England] - would pick up on these things. The Beacons are another example of this. They all seem familiar. I notice more of these the older I get; and the more I read.

That readers of other age groups and nationalities etc can get so much out of his story is a tribute to Tolkien’s art; and skill.
Phil_d_one 07/May/2006 at 06:01 AM
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Geir: Elenhir provided a possible explanation for that in his above post

halfir: You keep on stating that you have countered all our arguments extensively in your previous posts, and yet no matter how many times I read the thread through, I cannot find what you are referring to. Please humour us, and for the sake of discussion, give us the honour of a few minutes of your time and restate your arguments, particularly with reference to the points that we have raised in the thread thus far, and which Elenhir has summed up nicely in his numbered list at all.

And please, respect my intelligence, and that of everyone else, and do not attempt to say that you wish the Readers to make their own minds up when you are, at the same time, saying that my position is ’erroneous’, ’straining the text’, ’specious’ or a misinterpretation  
halfir 07/May/2006 at 08:11 AM
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And please, respect my intelligence, and that of everyone else, and do not attempt to say that you wish the Readers to make their own minds up when you are, at the same time, saying that my position is ’erroneous’, ’straining the text’, ’specious’ or a misinterpretation

Phil-d-one: Surely I can castigate viewpoints while still expecting people to independently make up their own minds? I am not -yet- in charge of the thought police!X(

But I will give a detailed rebuttal- or what passes in my mind for that- of those points that are alleged to counter the position I and others have taken- but I am afraid it won’t be immediate as RL is calling importunately again!X(

Alcarináro 07/May/2006 at 11:19 AM
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Geir, I was in fact referring to this part of your post: ’but Tolkien used it also as a singular noun.’ I was showing that, in the four texts that I searched for every use of the word ’brood’, ’broods’, ’brooding’, etc, never once was the word ’brood’ used as a noun referring to a single being or a single hatching (or some other method of creation). I was therefore claiming your reasoning was false, because there seemed to be nothing to back up your claim that Tolkien used it in the way you say except for what you say it means here. You can’t use your own opinion as evidence that your opinion is right. I think x, x, so x. x is never proven.

Here is how I see, and this does not have faulty grammar.
A creature [this clearly is referring to the steed of the Lord of the Nazgul] of an older world maybe it was, whose kind [referring to the race, the kind], lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon [again referring to race, the kind], outstayed their day [plural, race, kind], and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood [collective plural], apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it[the ’creature’, the one that we had been talking about in the sentences before the last sentence, the one that is a part of the brood], and nursed it with fell meats [he didn’t give this special treatment to all, so of course it is singular], until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly [same as above]; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. [and thus only this one of the brood is given]’
There is more than just two sentences, Geir. I have in mind to take into account the context of the whole.

Reiterate your arguments, halfir. I wouldn’t want that. After all, I’ve already read them. But I fail to see where you have so far explained why ’vultures’ is removed everywhere, why the steed of the Nazgul Lord is so different if we have so many examples of the description using the exact same words and phrases. I also fail to see where you have given real support for your claim that ’untimely’ means ’premature’, dealt with fact that the size that the quote claims must be exaggeration, or put an unecessary clause in Letter 211.
Did you, perhaps, forget to read my post?
halfir 07/May/2006 at 03:19 PM
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Elenhir: You can’t use your own opinion as evidence that your opinion is right.

That is precisely what you do with your own arguments- and then have the audacity to complain that Geir- and by implication those who support her view- do likewise!

Nothing you have said is anything but an intepretive view which I and others reject., which is exactly what you allege of my arguments and those who take a similar view. And your gloss of the paragraph she has given an interpretation on is no more valid because it comes from you than hers because it comes from her -like the elves you can’t both have your cake and eat it.

The reality is that your mindset in terms of this paticular discussion and that of those who oppose it take such different interpretive views that continued debate on the subject is likely to be a zero-sum game. All you have done is to say that you don’t agree with X and therfore X’s argument must be wrong- for interpretive reasons you give. Exactly the same point can be levelelled against you and your arguments- and the confidence you have in your textual examples is not one that others necessarilly have- whcih does not prove you right or them wrong, or vice versa.

As you ahev already made up your mind nothing that others say will shift it- which makes discussion somewhat pointless as we go around in ever decreasing circles making the same point until we suffer the fate of a ceratin unfortunate avian!

You ’fail’ to see where I have ’proved’ anything to your satisfaction on a number of topics. Fine, I would assert that I find your arguments and substantiation of them equally unconvincing- so where does that get us? I also think that your ’sense’ of the way Tolkien uses language- which I referred to and geordie expanded on, is deficient. You clearly do not agree- so be it- but it does not make you right and me wrong or vice cersa- Readers must form their own view based on the face of the record as given by the alternate interpretations and the credibility they think those interpretations have.

Thorondel 07/May/2006 at 03:47 PM
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Well, I for one am not to the point where I no longer am able to be swayed; my uncertainty is fairly high and my opinion has been swayed to the side favoring uniqueness and back to the side of the opposite view. So the idea that re-voicing and refining your arguement, as well as adressing the vulture question, will not result in anything isn’t correct. I am listining attentively. I will point out that by avoiding the requests put upon you by Phil and Elenhir, and the statement you made about ’restating your opinion’ you merely lend credence to the opposing side.
Lord of the Rings 07/May/2006 at 04:23 PM
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In every instance in which the Nazgul and their steeds are referred to collectively, they are all grouped together without distinction. In fact, the first explanation of just what they are comes from Gandalf:

"For he was a Nazgul, one of the Nine, who ride now upon winged steeds."
-The Two Towers, The White Rider


That’s not conclusive proof of anything (before I get jumped on about that), but it IS evidence of how Tolkien thought of the Nine, and how he intended us to conceive of them. They are all alike, with the Witch-king (and his steed) greater only in degree, not nature. Especially with the steeds, there is no distinction ever made between them. The lack of evidence that they were all the same means nothing. The assumption given to us through general groupings is that they are all the same, and we need to find evidence that singles out the Witch-king’s steed in any fundamental way.

Now, the quote that is getting torn into such small pieces really is of no help to those trying (most uncivilly, I might add) to prove that the Witch-king’s steed was a different species. Elenhir provided an excellent breakdown of the quote. Any other interpretation of that particular quote reallies on the faulty idea that ’brood’ can refer to a single offspring. It does not. Look in any dictionary anywhere (every single definition provided so far in this thread says so, even the ones that people tried to use to prove the opposite).

All in all, the idea that the steeds were all the same type of creature is one easily drawn from descriptions made throughout the text. While it is fine if someone wants to hold a differing opinion (there is no conclusive proof that I have yet found), there is no call to be trying to argue that the more standard interpretation has any flaws, because it does not. No one in this thread has shown one shred of evidence that Tolkien conceived of the steeds as different species. The closest they have come is proving that he did not definitively state that they were all the same. The assumption that we are given by Tolkien (the steeds all being referred to collectively) seem to indicate that the uniqueness is a fringe argument, whereas the idea that they are all the same is the standard. So stop going on about "set opinions" (which is quite hypocritical in this context; your own is quite obviously set as well), and RESPECT each person interpretation.
Alcarináro 07/May/2006 at 04:41 PM
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As you ahev already made up your mind nothing that others say will shift it
Actually, halfir, were you to actually respond to the flaws of your argument that I have brought up (you’ll note that I have responded to the flaws you and Geir mentioned), and were you to give some good reason, I would change my mind. But if you are complaining that I’m not changing my mind when you are simply saying over and over that you have already explained things that you could clearly not have explained (seeing as they are the retorts of the last things that you have explained and deal some deal with bits of info that have been raised for the first time in this thread), then you are just being irrational. Yes, I tend not to change my mind simply because you want me to, halfir. Sorry I’m not one of those people.

That is precisely what you do with your own arguments
I wasn’t under the impression that I had said that Tolkien did do something that I said he did because I said he did it in a certain place so that the same certain place must be where he did it which proves that he did it.
Geir has said that Tolkien used ’brood’ as a singular noun, and has used this as evidence for it being used in the singular in the quote in question. Seeing as there is no proof that this is indeed the case (see my grammatically-correct interpretation as evidence that it need not be singular), a simple statement that Tolkien does do this (as found in Geir’s post) is a worthless statement. ’I said it is so, so it is so’ is the type of logic found in that. I don’t care whether or not Geir thinks it to be in the singular. Of course that is a valid interpretation. What I am having issue with is the way it is supported. Since it is not clearly, since it is not obviously, a use of the word in the way Geir claim, it itself cannot be used to claim that Tolkien does use the word in that fashion, for that statement only holds true if Geir’s interpretation holds true. I’m asking Geir, if she wants to state that Tolkien did do this, to find a true, known, example of where Tolkien uses the word in a sense that is clearly singular. It shouldn’t be that hard; he probably does somewhere. But until such a place is found, one cannot say that Tolkien did use the word in this sense. Or are we to begin taking no qualm with any simple statement? ’but Tolkien used it also as a singular noun.’ Where, I ask. You can think he did, but without a real example you cannot just say he did, unless you are prepared for me to do what I have done: call into question your reasoning.

Fine then. Let the readers see themselves, if you refuse, once again, to respond to those five points repeated in my last post when ignored from the post before. You are becoming a politician, halfir, side-stepping questions while smearing your opponents.
halfir 07/May/2006 at 04:55 PM
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Lord of the rRngs:  Any other interpretation of that particular quote reallies on the faulty idea that ’brood’ can refer to a single offspring. It does not. Look in any dictionary anywhere (every single definition provided so far in this thread says so, even the ones that people tried to use to prove the opposite).

Looking in ay dictionary is irrelevant- there is only one dictionary-the OED that provides a correct template for Tolkien’s use of English words, and even here not all his particular uses of words are encompassed. And modern dicitonaries, not based on historical principles, are a useless guide to Tolkien’s use of words.

Any other interpretation of that particular quote reallies on the faulty idea that ’brood’ can refer to a single offspring. It does not

I am afraid that the only fault is your inability to admit to the singlar use of brood- a point already established by Geir and Anna Kalagon.

Moerover Gandalf is simply referring to the fact that the Nazgul are now mounted on flying steeds- he does - nor would it be relevant in the context in question for him to particularize the steed of the Witch-king.

No one in this thread has shown one shred of evidence that Tolkien conceived of the steeds as different species.

You fail to add the crtical qualification ’to me’. Some very distinguished Plaza contributors- geordie, Geir, Anna Kalagon- have made it clear that they support the singular interpretation that some of us subscribe to- the fact that you and others do not in now way diminishes the credibility of the argument they support.

And your whole thesis is based on a single line from Gandalf, which is of marginal relevance in the context of the paragraph we are discussing in detail, and which on your own admission is not conclusive. As for it being indicative of how Tolkien thought of the Nine it is nothing of the sort- it is indicative of Gandalf’s comment on the fact that the Nazgul were now mounted on winged steeds.

 

Ragnelle 07/May/2006 at 04:55 PM
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While I do not claim that this is any conclusive argument, I though I should mention that in the Norwegain translation - which is a very good one BTW - the translation of "brood" uses the sungular form on the Norwegain word (yngel).
halfir 07/May/2006 at 05:03 PM
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Ragnelle: Nice to see you in print again.X( I miss your worthy contributions to AL - remember the wonderful time we had with Largo and ’Hope’ and with the Rods of the Istari?

Of course the Norwegian translation is not conclusive proof- there is none either way. It is, however, conclusive proof that the singular interpretation is supported by a much wider group than its detractors would like us to believe.

<Nessa Edit:  Indeed.  Welcome Back Ragnelle!>

Alcarináro 07/May/2006 at 05:17 PM
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conclusive proof that the singular interpretation is supported by a much wider group than its detractors would like us to believe’|
Which is quite irrelevant, given that truth has never been a democracy. If the population of the world was all to start thinking that humans could fly, we’d only end up with a streak of related deaths. Or we could have religions that are inherently right because they have more followers than others. Tyranny of the masses does not change things. I fail to see why a single choice of a translator does anything but force those who read that translation to think in a certain way.

And in case you miss it because of the page set-up, halfir, I have response between Lord of the Ring’s post and yours.
Lord of the Rings 07/May/2006 at 05:24 PM
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Ragnelle- is yngel a collective noun as it is in English? What that means is that it is grammatically singular (conjugates like "it" or "she"), but still refers to a group. It shouldn’t really matter one way or the other, seeing as that is a translation made by someone other than Tolkien, but it is still interesting.

Halfir- You haven’t said much that is truthful. Your whole bit about the OED is a bit off. You say that it incorporates a singular definition. Well, it incorporates the definition of "hatching". A hatching refers either to the event of a hatching (which obviously makes no sense in the passage) or to the products of a hatching (if there are any other possible definitions, please bring them up). The products of a hatching are again a collective singular, and we are back where we started. Note- would someone with an OED on hand please post the full definitions of "brood" and "hatching"? Make sure that you are posting the noun part of "hatching", not the verb as was attempted earlier. One last point on "brood" is that in every single circumstance Tolkien uses it, it is either too ambiguous to be useful to the discussion, or it is a clear collective. I have seen no evidence yet that "brood" can, under any circumstances, refer to a single creature.

Oh, and Geir’s post was based on the idea that a collective brood would be grammatically incorrect, which Elenhir just proved was not the case. And Ann Kalagon’s point was of absolutely no relevence. First she says that Tolkien was a master of linguistics. Yes he was. Then she says that birds lay eggs one at a time. But then she goes on to mention that they will lay another egg the next day, totally blowing away any relevence this may have had. As long as birds are laying more than one egg in a clutch (as is the case with almost every single species of bird on Earth), why does the frequency of the laying matter?

"No one in this thread has shown one shred of evidence that Tolkien conceived of the steeds as different species."

This remains as true as ever, not just to me, but in absolute terms. There is no argument made with any grounding in the text which hasn’t been refuted many times over. And citing the support of others to a theory does not make an argument.

As for my whole argument being based on a single line of Gandalf’s, I did say that this was not conclusive proof of anything. I was merely pointing out that here was a line which would indicate a general similarity between all the steeds. This is here, in the text, however vague and unauthoritative. The only text argument you have made is that the word "brood" might mean something other than its usual definition in one line. Doesn’t look like much on either side.

Arguments for 9 similar steeds
They all have wings
They make similar noises
They are all ridden by Nazgul
A "brood" of such creatures is mentioned
Gandalf lumps all the flyers together

Arguments for a unique steed
"brood" might be just referring to one of the creatures
The Witch-king was powerful

If there are any arguments in either category that I have missed, I am very sorry.
halfir 07/May/2006 at 05:32 PM
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Lord of the Rings: You make your points well and powerfully- as do those others who assert the plurality argument. I just don’t buy them for the reasons I have given before- and all we are continuing to do is to rake over the same old coals with different verbal formula.

Elenhir - I have seen the post you referred to.

Lord of the Rings 07/May/2006 at 05:39 PM
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Thank you, Halfir. I am not asking you to buy my arguments, just recognize them. This is a matter which is not ever determined conclusively, and I am perfectly willing to live and let live, so long as we all recognize each others points and respect their opinions.
halfir 07/May/2006 at 05:51 PM
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LOTR:X( I have already promised Phil_d_one that I will rspond to earlier points made- and I will do so seriatim-using Elenhir’s five cardinal points. However, as I have already explained  to him I am inundated with RL work at the moment and other important Tolkien projects are also being put on hold- so it will be some time before I can fully reply to all the contrary points.

Elenhir: I fail to see why a single choice of a translator does anything but force those who read that translation to think in a certain way.

Ragnelle- whose opinion I trust and value has vouched for the fact that it is a good translation- not of the Ohlmark’s kind! Given that, I think it not unfair to assume that the translator in question shares a view- on singularity- that is not as limited as you and others would have us believe. It has nothing to do with a ’majority view’ it has to do with a discerning, intelligent individual one.

Lord of the Rings 07/May/2006 at 05:55 PM
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Actually, Halfir, I am quite content myself with the current status of things. I will happily review and respond to your arguments, but I was not trying to needle you about them or anything. I apologize if that was how I sounded.
halfir 07/May/2006 at 06:13 PM
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LOTR: Not at all- but you are kind to offer an apology- though none is necessaryX(. I can become overly-defensive of the points I make from time to time- with the effect that it actually detracts from them- a point perhaps some of us- myself included- need to bear in mind more frequently! And, as I pointed out in earlier post,  it is not as if I am in a solo situation in addressing the singularity argument- other distinguished Plaza commentators take the same approach- ableit not necessarilly subscribing to  all the points I have made.
Ragnelle 07/May/2006 at 06:16 PM
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halfir:Thanks. I do remeber. At the moment I seem to use most of my time reading tread rather than responding to them, but I will appear from time to time.

Lord of the Rings: ’Yngel’ can be used of both one individ and of a group. But the Norwegan has "dette yngel" (’dette’ for the English ’this’) and in this combination is is about an individ, not a group. Collective nouns is usually in the masculine gender ("denne yngel"), while here it is used in the nutral. I am actually not sure if it is used as a propper collective noun, or if just the plural and sungular is the same, only differented by the pronoun. It is sometimes hard to know. Anyway it is the pronoun that makes me sure that it is in singular. And as I already have said, it is no conclusive proof. But the translator is a good one, and I tend to trust his interpitations. In a case like this, where we can’t know for sure, that comes into play. It is as simple as that.

Elnhir: Truth is not a democracy perhaps, but my post was made in reply to the notion Lord of the Rings voiced that the plural interpetation was the videly accepted one. It was not even meant as a proof that the was only one of the creatures, but that ’brood’ in the quote that has been discussed can well be read a refering to an induvidual creature - and that this reading is a bit more far-spread than Lord of the Rings supposed.

As to what forms our notion - I have ususally thought of all the Nazgûl’s winded creatures (whether they are birds or other) as the same type - because that is how i have seen them pictured. But my imagination has been influenced by the pictures I have seen much more than Tolkien’s descriptions. Is that better than a translator?

halfir 07/May/2006 at 06:42 PM
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Ragnelle: The fact that you adopt the ’plural’ view makes the information you have given even more credit-worthy in my opinion.

Elenhir: You very unkindly wrote:

Let the readers see themselves, if you refuse, once again, to respond to those five points repeated in my last post when ignored from the post before. You are becoming a politician, halfir, side-stepping questions while smearing your opponents. Posted by elenhir May 7 16:41{my bold emphasis and underline}

 

When I had already responded to a request from Phil-d-one:

 

But I will give a detailed rebuttal- or what passes in my mind for that- of those points that are alleged to counter the position I and others have taken- but I am afraid it won’t be immediate as RL is calling importunately again. Posted by halfir May 7 08:11  {my bold emphasis and underline.}

 

So, let me in my role as a politician who side-steps questions and smears my opponents point out that in their excellent LOTR Companion - Chptr. The Siege of Gondor P.543. entry 809 (111:82) Hammond & Scull lend their very weighty authority to the plural interpretation of the Witch-king’s mount when they write:

 

’More detail of the winged steeds of the Nazgul is given in Book V, Chapter 6 when that ridden by the Witch-king is seen at close quarters.’

 

Like many, I have the greatest respect for Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull but in this, as in other areas, I do not subscribe to their interpretation. However, I point it out so that further accusations will not be levelled of my political side-steppping smearing nature! X(

 

 

Phil_d_one 08/May/2006 at 12:14 AM
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Personally I think all this talk of ’weighty’ interpretations is going to get us nowhere. Call me naive, but I do not believe that Hammond and Scull’s opinion is of any more worth than anyone else’s, unless they back it up with substantial evidence to prove their opinion. Similarly, it makes not a jot of difference to me whether one person is subscribing to the singularity position or whether it is a gathering of the Plaza’s ultimate loremasters -- regardless of how long they have been discussing Tolkien. Hammond and Scull say this, the Norwegian translator says that, I say this, halfir says that -- no difference. An opinion is an opinion is an opinion. An opinion only becomes more valid than anyone else’s when it is proven with reference to Tolkien’s texts, Tolkien being the only person whose opinion is of more worth than anyone else’s in these matters. If I may, I would humbly suggest that we keep this discussion to Tolkien, a means by which we might actually get somewhere.

And halfir, can I ask a question? the fact that you and others do not in now way diminishes the credibility of the argument they support. So does the fact that you and others do not support my arguments (and those of others who think as I do) diminish their credibility in any way? You seem to think that this is not the case. Why then have you been making implications againts their credibility all throughout the thread? (from ’bizarre claim’ to ’specious arguments’ etc. etc.)

In the meantime, I eagerly await your rebuttal...in your own time, of course

halfir 08/May/2006 at 05:36 AM
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Phil_d_one:

An opinion only becomes more valid than anyone else’s when it is proven with reference to Tolkien’s texts, Tolkien being the only person whose opinion is of more worth than anyone else’s in these matters. If I may, I would humbly suggest that we keep this discussion to Tolkien, a means by which we might actually get somewhere. X(

I think you are probably correct to redirect us back to the actual textual base over which this discussion is taking place, and perhaps focus even  more on the LOTR texts which are the real subject matter of debate, even moreso than other Tolkien works. However, even using Tolkien text allows for a wide diversity of interpretation, which is what makes his work so powerful and gives life to the Plaza, and of course why we are having this discussion!

"And halfir, can I ask a question? the fact that you and others do not in now way diminishes the credibility of the argument they support" etc.

But how mean of you to ask me that question - knowing full well that my only honorable answer could be that you are correct. And if correct, why then had I lambasted you and others in such a fashion? I knew those words would come back to haunt me once I had posted them, but did not feel it proper to edit them out. And indeed they have come back to haunt me. And who better to do the haunting than one who has been on the receiving end of my diatribes- the ’huff and puff’ of my argument , rather than its substantive reasoning.

Some of my written argument is a carry-over from days of verbal debating when such exaggerated cut and thrust was fashionable and encouraged. It is something I have sought to curtail, but on looking back over this thread in particular, see that it has occurred more frequently than it should.

By way of explanation- rather than excuse- I can only say that some of the RL pressure that I am experiencing at the moment has spilled -over into my very time-limited Plaza posting, and that expostulation has replaced cogitation as a result!

To you and any others I have overly- abused verbally with comment rather than argument I offer my apologies - and I will seek to curtail this not very laudable  nor logical aspect of my writing style.

So, though I currently do not resile from the position I have taken I fully accept that in the context of the comment you quoted all views- properly supported by text and where text has to give way to opinion- honestly held opinion-  have equal validity in the eyes of those propounding them and should be thus received by all , even if we personally do not go along with them.

How long the Pax Romana regarding the expostulatory aspect of my arguments will last I cannot foretell - but I will do my best to try and make it a lengthy one!X(

Phil_d_one 08/May/2006 at 11:42 AM
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halfir: What a very honourable response
Ankala Teaweed 08/May/2006 at 04:58 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Thorondel on Saturday, May 06, 2006
Ann Kalagon- I didn’t mean to suggest that Tolkien couldn’t have used the word brood as such; I merely showed that it was less likely.

Halfir: get down off your high horse and admit it; your side of the arguement is just as proofless as ours. If we use ’specious argements’ and ’misinterpretations’ just because it doesn’t fit in with what you hold to be true, you are declaring that you have, either through seance or some other means, conversed with Mr Tolkien on this matter and he has said, "yes, you are correct; the Witch-King’s steed is different". If this is not so, you have no reason to be so 100% certain of yourself. Before you accuse me of hypocracy, I am not 100% certain of my side of the discussion, more like 85-90%.


Thorondel, I am a typographer by trade (of over 30 years experience) and one of my many related skills is legal and financial proofreading. When terminology in text is complicated, context is everything. A passage must make sense and it must agree grammatically. I submit that J.R.R. Tolkien could teach each and every one of us more about vocabulary and grammar than any other teacher you will ever encounter in your life!

All of you who are arguing about Tolkien’s use of the word "brood" should read that quote again and again. Professor Tolkien used it quite clearly to indicate a singular offspring. He did NOT make a mistake. He is the author who carefully weighed every single word in his works.

 

Phil_d_one 09/May/2006 at 09:52 AM
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Your proof for your conviction, Ann Kalagon? You say it was singular, I say it was plural -- but repeating the same thing over and over again does not make it any more valid. Elenhir has already provided (twice now) an explanation of the quote which allows for a plural interpretation of the word brood. There is no need to assume a grammatical error because of a plural ’brood’.

So yes, the passage makes sense, it agrees grammatically, I have read the quote again...anything else?
geordie 09/May/2006 at 10:22 AM
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I agree with Ann Kalagon - but you already know that. And I don’t have any ’proof’, other than what I and others have said before.

But to go on to what AK was saying about Tolkien’s mastery of English - I agree that Tolkien used words and techniques which are more subtle and complex than appears at first sight. Years of experience have taught me this. And now there is a book which points out some of the mysteries of Tolkien’s ’art’ in words.

The book is called ’The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary’. Published by the Oxford University Press, it’s written by three of the current staff of the OED. It recounts Tolkien’s time at the OED, discusses ’Tolkien as Wordwright’ [including several uses of words coined by Tolkien for the first time, such as way-bread and day-meal] and gives much detail on many words used by Tolkien in his works.

I cannot recommend this book too highly. It really does give a fresh view of how Tolkien wrote LotR, and why he chose the words and styles that he did.
Bearamir 10/May/2006 at 12:41 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen:  This thread has been nominated for move to Ad Lore.  Given that this thread has some excellent potential,  with your kind permission I am going to do so.  

For everyone else who wishes to post, a small reminder is in order:  once this thread moves to Ad Lore, there will be some expectations as to the quality of the posts.  So, moving forward, please remember that Ad Lore is for the in depth discussion of topics pertaining to the Lord of the Rings, and try to avoid extraneous chat.   From this point on, I *will* be deleting posts that do no serve to advance the topic, or add materially to the discussion.

Best of Luck (and congratulations once again).

Thorondel 10/May/2006 at 07:55 PM
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Ann Kalagon- As I said to you before, I do not discount the possiblity that Tolkien could have meant brood in a singular sense; I was merely showing that it is more commonly used as a collective than as a singular word.

And, I know that Tolkien was a better linguist than I will ever be, and could have taught me more, but the fact remains that either way you interpret the word ’brood’ it can still make logical, grammatical sense. I do agree, however, that Tolkien did not make a mistake; it was written just the way he wanted it.

Arduvei 11/May/2006 at 10:44 AM
Mercenary of Minas Tirith Points: 558 Posts: 107 Joined: 02/Apr/2006
IS the witch kings steed ever stated to be different than that of the Eight? If not, why should it be argued so?
Lord of the Rings 12/May/2006 at 05:45 PM
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Yes, the argument is as follows. There is a certain passage from the Return of the King:

The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! it was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck.
-The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Book V of The Lord of the Rings


Some people (like me) see no great evidence that the other Nazgul did not also ride such creatures, and since no distinction was made (and the creatures are all large, flying things), they are all the same. But others feel that the passage indicates that this creature was one of a kind, and that the other Nazgul rode some other sort of flying monster (I believe a giant vulture was suggested, but I do not know where that idea came from). This should sum up the general debate for those of you trying to wade through a page and a half of posts.
halfir 12/May/2006 at 06:27 PM
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(I believe a giant vulture was suggested, but I do not know where that idea came from).

Try HOME 8 The Battle of the Pelennor Fields:

’Slowly the huge vulture form came down....

While this is an ealier descrioption of the Witch-king’s steed it is sugested by those -like myself- who subscribe to the singularity interpretation,  that Tolkien changed his view to that of the ’pterodactylic form’ in order to give singular distinction to the Witch king’s steed- as he had indeed given singular distinction to the Witch-king as the Lord of the Nazgul in both title and other ways. (I will set out  my arguments when I have time).

And it is only the Witch King’s steed that has anything like a detailed description given.

And nowhere does Tolkien specifically state that all the Nazgul rode the same type of winged steed- hence the debate and disagreement.

Lord of the Rings 12/May/2006 at 06:54 PM
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Halfir- I did not say that Tolkien ever said that they all flew the same type of creature. However, they did all ride flying creatures of one sort or another. The reason why the Witch-king’s steed, and no other, was described in such detail is that it was the only one which entered into close enough contact with another character to warrant such a description. However, I should not be trying to counter your points until you have had a chance to set them forth.
Lady d`Ecthelion 12/May/2006 at 09:22 PM
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One ol’ maxima says that (paraphrasing) "truth is born in dispute".

halfir 13/May/2006 at 12:09 AM
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Lord of the Rings: And nowhere does Tolkien specifically state that all the Nazgul rode the same type of winged steed- hence the debate and disagreement.

I should have made it clear that this sentence and my response was addressed specifically to Arvedui’s post.X(

The reason why the Witch-king’s steed, and no other, was described in such detail is that it was the only one which entered into close enough contact with another character to warrant such a description

I must caveat this as I do not share the plural viewpoint of you and others:

The reason given by those favoring a plural interpretation of the Nazgul’s flying steeds as to why the Witch-king’s steed, and no other, was described in such detail is that it was the only one which entered into close enough contact with another character to warrant such a description. This explanation, however, is not one that those favoring a singular intrepretation subscribe to.

Obsidian 13/May/2006 at 06:49 AM
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Its most commonly used name is Fell Beast though I would like to call it a wyvern. Why? Wyverns fit the description perfectly, bascially dragons with long necks and only two legs.

It is just a creature which hid in Mordor, and the Dark Lord fed it with fell meats and nursed its... someone must have quoted this before so I won’t bother to. The Fell-Beasts are basically the Mordor equivalent of Eagles. Werewolves to Beornings, Orcs to Elves, Trolls to Ents and Fell-Beasts to Eagles. Get it? I think Tolkien just wants every part of Mordor’s enemies to have their opponents.

Nazgul other than the Withc-King also have such creatures. Several of them swooped down on Faramir when they were escaping to Minas-Tirith, and Legolas already killed one while the Fellowship were at the great river. After the Withc-King and his steed was dead, a few of them were said to return to Barad-Dur when the Ring was Destroyed.

Kylar Skyhawk 13/May/2006 at 12:50 PM
Scribe of Minas Tirith Points: 2412 Posts: 3612 Joined: 05/Aug/2005
Apocalyon - Why would you want to call it a wyvern? It is most definitely not a dragon because dragons are defined by the ability to breath fire, not the ability to fly. Otherwise all regular birds would be called dragons. I mean, I don’t expect to go outside and find the pidgeons breathing fire now.
Thorondel 15/May/2006 at 08:22 PM
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They’re not dragon-like creatures at all! That was just what PJ the maimer of Arda did with them; Tolkien said ’pterodactylic’. I suppose, Halfir, that it could be said that your strongest defence comes from the fact that PJ made them all the same!
halfir 15/May/2006 at 09:21 PM
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X( Excellent point!
Durin of Moria 17/May/2006 at 04:01 AM
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 Yes,though I agree with Phil_d_one,I think I agree with my earlier answer more----------it is a dragon.Since Sauron was once the lientinent of Morgoth,I believe it is made by Morgoth in the First age as it is stated in The Silmarillion that "Morgoth together with all the fell beasts,balrogs and dragons that he had made"and it is quite clear that they are dragons.............and what defination does a dragon has????Two large wings with two large claws,flying in the sky and of course............larger than a bird!!!!!!!!
halfir 17/May/2006 at 04:38 AM
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and what defination does a dragon has????Two large wings with two large claws,flying in the sky and of course............larger than a bird!!!!!!!!

The Lord of the Ring: I doubt many would accept that such a definition could be applied only to dragons. And if it was a dragon why did Tolkien say it was pterodactylic- he had been quite happy to name dragons before- why the sudden coyness if dragon it were- which it wasn’t!X(

Blackrose Bugg 17/May/2006 at 05:03 AM
New Soul Points: 21505 Posts: 30286 Joined: 19/Jan/2003
Just a grammar note here in passing - the quote above from the Silmarilion would require a bit of unusual redundancy on Tolkiens part if he is not referring to three seperate species- fell beasts, balrogs AND dragons.
Lord of the Rings 17/May/2006 at 06:55 AM
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I suppose, Halfir, that it could be said that your strongest defence comes from the fact that PJ made them all the same!

That is a strong piece of evidence you’ve got there .

The Lord of the Ring- dragon’s weren’t even made with wings to start with, plus they had four legs, not two like a birds (at least I’ve always assumed so- I can’t think of any textual proof at the moment). None of the Nazgul steeds were dragons.

halfir 17/May/2006 at 03:58 PM
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Lord of the Rings:

I suppose, Halfir, that it could be said that your strongest defence comes from the fact that PJ made them all the same!

That is a strong piece of evidence you’ve got there

So powerful indeed that I think we should write QED!X(

Thorondel 19/May/2006 at 07:38 PM
Archer of Imladris Points: 567 Posts: 274 Joined: 24/Sep/2003
Wow! how confusing! I thought that Lord of the Ring was Lord of the Rings at first! that’s a lot of exclamation points, but anyway, Lord of the Ring- as has been said above; it doesn’t make any sense to list the fell beasts as different than dragons if they were dragons. Foiled by your own quote . Second, the word Tolkien uses to describe them (or, if you like, it) is ’pterodactylic’ not draconic or just saying ’they are Dragons’. So, sorry but they are not Dragons, Wyrms, Wvryns (sp?) or anything of the like.
Bearamir 09/Jun/2006 at 03:37 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen:  I’m afraid a small reminder appears to be in order.  This is the Ad Lore forum, and as such the topics here are supposed to be in-depth, creative (and focused) discussions on a given topic.  While "chat" does occassionally occur, it shouldn’t occur as often as I’ve seen it in this thread.  So, *please* try to keep your discussion germane to the topic...I’ve already deleted several posts in this thread (I do not want to have to delete more)

lotp 20/Jun/2006 at 07:34 AM
Gardener of Lothlorien Points: 210 Posts: 13 Joined: 18/Jun/2006

Some sort of dianosaur, perhaps? We know the fell beasts aren’t quite like thier riders, at any rate, because Eowyn kills one by decapitating it.

Kaos the Gold 21/Jun/2006 at 10:57 AM
Blacksmith of Erebor Points: 1279 Posts: 833 Joined: 21/Jun/2006

   The Nazgul’s winged creature is a creature of an older age, a Fell Beast, a great big, ugly winged lizard.

     Probably bred by Melkor in the pits of Angband and Utumno, these beasts were fed on ’nameless’ meats and were much older than the orcs or dragons, probably as old as the Balrogs, therefore (this is speculation, mind you) probably some of the fallen Maia.  Or just creatures Melkor had bred because he had nothing to do with himself.

halfir 21/Jun/2006 at 06:24 PM
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Neidr Wen: Welcome to the Plaza.X( It is highly unlikely that The Witch-king’s winged sted was something bred by Melkor as the text (ROTK-Battle of the Pelennor Fields} states:

"A creature of an older world maybe it was’

and while the statement is qualified by ’maybe’ I suggest that the provenace implied is neither Melkorian nor Sauronian. Moreover, it is Sauron who took it and fed it- which again de-emphasises any Melkorian input.

 

*Balrog* 25/Jun/2006 at 06:37 AM
Vagrant of Minas Tirith Points: 56 Posts: 10 Joined: 24/Jun/2006
Quote: Originally posted by shadowoflegolas on Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What is the creature that the nazgul ride upon? Is it a dragon? Or just some creature that was created in mordor?  Does it have a name?



Yes, they were dragon type with sharp teeth and 2 wings. They were called Fell Beasts. They were used as Nazgul steeds. They were supposivly bred by Sauron in the Ash Mountains, Mordors Northern Area. They were a dead grey type color. There scaly bodies had venemous spines.

The Fell Beast of the Witch King had a fitted helmet and was more skilly-trained.

<Nessa Edit:  I’m afraid this is your last warning on the issue.  *Please* keep in mind that Lore Forums are for discussion of lore items FROM THE BOOKS. Movie information is not considered "Lore" and should not be included in dicussions in this forum.  Thank you>

halfir 25/Jun/2006 at 06:20 PM
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Balrog: I know you are new to the Plaza- and I have already welcomed you - in Basic Lore. But there, you have twice been warned by the Admins not to confuse the movies with the books in the Lore forums. If you want to use movie information- which is a totally discredited source for Tolkien interpretation- use it in the movie forums. This is Advanced Lore- your comments here have to be supported by quotes or references to actual Tolkien text- not references to the silly imagination of Peter jackson and his friends.

And none of the ’information’ you have given on the Nazgul’s flying steeds  was ever written by Tolkien.It is derived from Chris Smith’s book of the movies- The Lord of the Rings -Weapons and Warfare  (p.170)- and even though Mr. Smith has written twaddle you should at least have referenced the fact that the information was derived from him.

Light of Arnor 27/Jun/2006 at 06:36 AM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005

Alot of attention in this thread has been placed on the most miniscule use of singular and pleural forms, referencing back to the good Professor’s immaculate use of linguistics. Additionally, we (again) see references (almost always in the course of supporting one’s own position in the argument) of how important Tolkien was in detailing out the elements of the story he showed us....all the while eagerly ready to quote instantly how he told us that certain parts were intentionally left obscure to develop imaginative involvement of the readers.

Then we are presented with this discussion of Fell Beast(s?). Convincing arguments exist on both sides of the table on the singularity of WKoA’s steed. However, the undeniable, glaring question remains when you consider the possibility (remote or obvious, according to which side of the barbed-wire fence you point your gun) of this flighted animal:

If the Witch-king’s beast was unique, then what the heck were the other 8 riding?

Consider the simple laws of physics. Whatever creature the other 8 were delegated to riding as second-rate hand-me-downs (the Yugo of Fell Steeds, if you will), one must consider that they had to be thoroughly evil, thoroughly large, and similar in shape to WK’s steed. Are we going to now accept that the steed that Legolas shot was the WK’s? Well, by definition we can’t, since he felled it with a single arrow, and by doing so, would have prevented it’s appearance in Snowmane’s entrails at the end of Pellenor’s little Renaissance Faire. Or, perhaps the argument can be made that the Nazgul that had his steed shot out from under him over the Anduin was some form of Necromantic healer, able to nurse his poor baby back to health. Afterall, we are given no information as to the discovery of the beast’s body after Legolas dropped it with Bard Shot no.2. Somehow I doubt it survived. Tolkien intimates this, and certainly something dropping from such a height would not have survived.

So, we can adopt one of two common-sense resolutions. Either another giant winged worm-like creature (8 of which were recruited) existed for the sole use of Sauron’s Nazgul, and Tolkien chose to buck his entire story-telling method of detailing to us the elements he presented by ignoring completely this alternate steed....

....or they were all the same steed. Yes, you can nit-pick the singular wording. However, stepping away from the text and reading it as a whole, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to realize that Tolkien is describing the Fell Beast. That is what the "it" is. If I begin to describe a Lambourghini, in the present tense, with only one in front of me, I don’t use the pleural....even though I (and the rest of the world) know there is more than one. Tolkien, in his passage, is describing THAT creature. This does not preclude, nor reject the notion that others existed. Once again, because he chose to detail the method of it’s growth and developement in present, singular tense, the conclusion develops that only that creature was so developed. This is a flaw in logic.

More than one Fell-beast existed. Common sense has screamed to us, the conceptual artists over the years, and almost everyone that has studied the story, that the steeds were all winged, all fell, and all very large. To segregate WK’s based on Tolkien desire to temporarily shift descriptive methods and adopt a present-tense active style in it’s depiction is not grounds for dismissing the fact that other similar steeds existed, and furthermore by arguing such a premise, ignoring the raking fact that if there were an entire separate set of steeds for the other eight, that Tolkien simply stopped his penchant for immaculate detail and decided to leave us with absolutely no information on this "separate breed".

C’mon guys. You’d do much better debating why Treebeard could weave magic...visible magic...than this. There will never be beyond a shadow of doubt, an argument to change opinions on this matter now that the lines have been drawn. Ockham’s Razor certainly applies here, despite it’s grotesquely abused referencing in Tolkien forums.

 

LoA

halfir 27/Jun/2006 at 08:39 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

Light of Anor: Impressive, but  I remain unconvinced. I will explain why, in detail, when I return to this thread- which because of other Plaza thread commitments will not be for some time. However, to comment briefly, I find your comments too long on  appeals to ’logic’ and ’common sense’ and virtually bereft of any textual support- which you dismiss as to’ nit-pick the singular wording - other than a general exhortation to ’step{ping} away from the text and reading it as a whole’. The devil is always in the detail.

You write:

This does not preclude, nor reject the notion that others existed

By the same token neither does it preclude  the notion that they didn’t, in the same form.

I seem to recall Tolkien making a very strong statement that:

’...every part has been written many times. Hardly a word in its 600,000 or more has been unconsidered.And the placing, size, style, and contribution to the whole of all the features, incidents, and chapters has been laboriously pondered.’ {Letter # 131- my  emphasis}

But I do not have the time  now to set out in extenso the case that I and others have argued earlier.

You’d do much better debating why Treebeard could weave magic...visible magic...than this

No doubt those who are swayed by your eloquence will shortly be doing this, leaving us benighted ones to continue our own discussions on the matter of this thread!X(

Light of Arnor 27/Jun/2006 at 09:16 AM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005

Light of Anor: Impressive, but  I remain unconvinced. I will explain why, in detail, when I return to this thread- which because of other Plaza thread commitments will not be for some time. However, to comment briefly, I find your comments too long on  appeals to ’logic’ and ’common sense’ and virtually bereft of any textual support- which you dismiss as to’ nit-pick the singular wording - other than a general exhortation to ’step{ping} away from the text and reading it as a whole’. The devil is always in the detail.

I stand admittedly bereft of quotational specifics thus far, having outlined my intent of the "detailed devil" when I specifically referenced Legolas’ Anduin antics and connecting them to what steed could possibly be under consideration other than a Fell Beast. Tolkien’s 600,000 word perusal, repetitious, seems to have eluded his attention toward naming what strange mimic was carrying his other 8 Nazgul. I find that strange. Perhaps the other 8 were enigmas as well?

I read the case everyone outlined earlier, thus drawing the conclusions of my recent post....that the lines are drawn and the arguments ultimately leave one to consider the logic inherent in the text. If the argument stands that the Fell Beast was a singular entity, and Tolkien gave us an entirely separate winged fell-beast "like" creature for the other 8, then you create a scenario whereby you adhere to the intimate details of Tolkien’s word on the one hand, then reject his intimate detail on the other by simply resigning to the fact that he happened to "forget" or "avoid" mentioning the other 8 steeds as separate species.

I have no problem accepting your entire argument for a separate steed for WK, once you explain why there is absolutely no account, hint, indication, or reference from the Professor’s repeated review of his 600,000 words that a separate steed existed for the other 8. Tolkien should not be considered the stickler for details only when the use of such a trait fits the argument. He either was, or wasn’t. He either meant "it" to tell us there was no other Fell Beast, or he wasn’t that specific because he didn’t reveal other, separate steeds for the lesser Nazgul.

I’m not asking you to rehash old arguments. I asked what the other 8 were, if they weren’t Fell Beasts. Of course, the response should include Tolkien’s detailed review of his 600,000 words. There must be an answer there somewhere. He would never have left such an important difference between his Nazgul’s steeds omitted.

 

LoA 

geordie 27/Jun/2006 at 09:52 AM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
I stand admittedly bereft of quotational specifics thus far, etc.

Eh? There seem to me to be one or two posts on the Plaza lately where we have convoluted sentences. I’m English, and sometimes I find it hard to follow what’s being said, never mind our fellow posters with English as a second language. [sorry mate; I’m not picking on you. You’re not the only one].

Oh well.   

In answer to your question, I think [as I have always thought] that the other eight were mounted on big birds. Vultures, most prob’ly. Tolkien does say once or twice that the flying forms looked bird-like, and he described them as ’vulture forms’ or ’vulture like’ too.

[the silent watchers had the forms of vulture like creatures too, but i think that was probably coincidence]


Light of Arnor 27/Jun/2006 at 10:17 AM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005
Quote: Originally posted by geordie on Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I stand admittedly bereft of quotational specifics thus far, etc.

Eh? There seem to me to be one or two posts on the Plaza lately where we have convoluted sentences. I’m English, and sometimes I find it hard to follow what’s being said, never mind our fellow posters with English as a second language. [sorry mate; I’m not picking on you. You’re not the only one].

Oh well.   

In answer to your question, I think [as I have always thought] that the other eight were mounted on big birds. Vultures, most prob’ly. Tolkien does say once or twice that the flying forms looked bird-like, and he described them as ’vulture forms’ or ’vulture like’ too.

[the silent watchers had the forms of vulture like creatures too, but i think that was probably coincidence]



So, you’re of the mind that Tolkien hid from us an entirely different flock of 8 vulture-like birds, the size of which would carry a human-sized being...that these unspecified birds were vulturesque and not the pteradactyl-like forms otherwise described (which somehow has become a separate describing distinction now), and that with this mysterious, yet very important aspect of his evil contingent, would have chosen to keep their specific details (as separate entities, mind you), completely unexplained? And this is opposed to the alternative of there simply being 9 Fell-beasts.

Wow.  All because he didn’t specifically come out and say "Oh, by the way, the other 8 were the same Fell-beasts."

And that’s what this boils down to. He didn’t say all 9 were the same, so they must be different. Again, that’s flawed logic. Now, I’m not saying that because he didn’t say all 9 were Fell-beasts that they MUST be all the same, but cripes...what’s more likely the truth here? If there were 8 other types....what’s to prevent us from arguing that they weren’t 8 flying ostriches? Or 8 giant parrots? Heck, Tolkien took a deep-sea creature and dropped him a 1000 miles from an oceanic source, so why not 25 ft. wing-span Parakeets?

Sacrificing common sense for the sake of postulating a theory is what’s being done here. I’m impressed that it’s being done, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that you’re inventing a new breed of Nazgul steed in opposition to the simple probability that all 9 were the same.

 

LoA

geordie 27/Jun/2006 at 12:10 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
Sacrificing common sense for the sake of postulating a theory is what’s being done here.

no, it’s not; and don’t be so rude amd sarky. I have said that Tolkien has written that the nazgul-birds at times appeared to be of vulture shape, and that they appeared to onlookers as if they were of vulture shape. He wrote that; more than once. If you have’nt read LotR attentively, that’s your problem.
Light of Arnor 27/Jun/2006 at 01:24 PM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005

I’m not arguing that Tolkien said this. What I’m arguing is that you are now fabricating that vulture-like shape as something distinctly different than his "pteradactyl-shaped" steed. This is the same thing. If I say a an Oliphaunt is elephant-like in shape, and pachyderm-like in shape, it doesn’t mean the elephant and the pachyderm are two different species than the Oliphaunt. It simply means I am using similar comparisons to give the recipient a visual cue. Pteradactyl-like and vulture-like are the same thing. If anything, this lends even more credence to the argument that there were 9 fell-beasts, not 1 fell-beast and some fabricated gargantuan vulture species never-before discussed in the books, and certainly never defined as separate or distinct from the steed Tolkien described in a completely separate set of text as pteradactyl-like.

I apologize if my rudeness has drifted in. I feel as if I’m having to defend the obvious, and more importantly championing against the cause of splitting minutiae soley for the sake of having another topic drop into AL. I’m sorry, but it’s frustrating to see how the steeds of the Nazgul have somehow gone from a common denominator over the last 50 years to this concocted splitting of the species with a singular described element, and a mystical un-named flock of 8 nebulous vulture-like beasts that were offered no separate description in the text. I read the LotR no less than the 20 times you’ve read it, and looked at the same passages. He’s not describing the 8 lesser nazgul steeds, he’s simply describing the steed in different ways at different times. But it’s still the same steed.

As I mentioned before, however, there’s no conclusions in an "I’m right, you’re wrong" discussion about something that’s obviously not clear-cut. I’ll leave with the acceptance that you can’t declare there were 9 identical fell-beasts, but with the understanding that nobody, nobody will ever document textual evidence that there were 8 beasts that mimicked a Fell-beast, and only one Fell-beast.

 

LoA

geordie 27/Jun/2006 at 02:02 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
There’s nothing concocted about this. I invite you to read the thread [or re-read it, if you’ve already done so]. There is enough evidence [for me] to say that the Lord of the Nazgul’s steed was a one-off. Which means that the steeds of the others were of different sort.

A vulture does’nt have to be of gigantic proprtions to fit this role. We don’t quibble about Eagles taking this size and people-carrying capacity in LotR.

As to the amount of times you or I have read the books - the amount of times one’s read the books doesn’t matter. [I don’t know how many times I’ve read ’em.] What matters, as Tolkien says, is to read them attentively. In doing so, I’ve come to some conclusions on these matters, and others have come to different conclusions. I have no problem with that.
But I have no time for sarcasm.

When folk start appealing to ’common sense’ and ’logic’ - meaning that they have it and I don’t - well, I do have to remember that we’re discussing some fanciful story where the common sense of our world ain’t the same as that world being discussed. Elves and dragons indeed. Fairies and little people.

On reflection, it does seem daft to get riled up about this sort of thing. Sorry.

halfir 27/Jun/2006 at 04:57 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

He’s not describing the 8 lesser nazgul steeds, he’s simply describing the steed in different ways at different times. But it’s still the same steed.

Light of Anor: All you do is reiterate your claim that because you say this is so it is so, and claim ’logic’ and ’common sense’ is on your side- -oh- and fifty years of supportive interpretation. As to the latter point if we simply work on ’analysis following previous crtical analysis ’ we might as well disbelieve a heliocentric universe!

Tolkien should not be considered the stickler for details only when the use of such a trait fits the argument. He either was, or wasn’t.

That is not only a libel on my methods of analysis - impling deliberate selectivity-  it’s also just not true in terms of the way in which he did or didn’t detail . Tolkien as a creative artist painted both in fine detail and on a broad canvas - depending on what he was seeking to achieve. Using your argument  I could claim we must disallow Vilya as mightiest of the Three because he nowhere tells us why it was, and only makes a one line comment to that effect at the end of the last chapter of ROTK.

and more importantly championing against the cause of splitting minutiae soley for the sake of having another topic drop into AL.

If you find this thread so distasteful -leave it alone. You are not the arbiter of what we can and can’t discuss and there are those of us who wish to pursue this issue. If you don’t ,so be it. But to keep laboring the same point is somewhat redundant. Repetition will not change my mind for one- hard , factual texual evidence may well- but currently I don’t accept that such a case has been made.

Lord of the Rings 27/Jun/2006 at 08:25 PM
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Light of Arnor, while I agree with your point, I would ask you to present your argument a little more civilly. I have analyzed Halfir’s and Geordie’s arguments, and I think I understand them pretty well. They are perfectly valid interpretations of the text; albeit ones I don’t hold with.

I don’t think the passage precludes a plurality (in fact, I think it garantees this plurality), and without that preclusion, I don’t see enough descriptive seperation (rather, I see descriptive resemblance) to reach the conclusion that the WK had a different kind of creature (his steed was assuradly a special version of that species, but that’s a different thing).

But a different interpretation of the Pelennor Fields passage leads to the conclusion that the WK’s steed was totally unique, and therefore the other Nazgul must have ridden some other type of steed. It really all comes down to how you interpret this passage. I have no problem with people holding the [misguided ] singularity interpretation, so long as I am free to interpret in my own (and I think quite logical and valid) way. Something most of the people in this thread so far have allowed. Please show them the courtesy of their own interpretation (so long as there is no clear-cut answer; which, judging by the amount of debate so far, there isn’t).
halfir 27/Jun/2006 at 09:02 PM
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X( (misguided) exceptedX(
Endril 29/Jun/2006 at 04:24 AM
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I don’t know if this is quite a fit questin in here but the flying creature of the Nazgul has anything to do with the Eagles. I know that the eagles were created by the Valar. The flying beasts were created by Sauron. So is there any link between these creatures?

In my oppinion the flying beasts are quite the opposite creature for the eagles.
RaistlinMajere 29/Jun/2006 at 11:28 AM
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I agree the fklying beasts of the nazgul are the dark side while the eagles are the light side. They are very opposite and obviously have different motives for what they do. I don’t think there is any connecteion between the beasts and the eagles.
halfir 29/Jun/2006 at 04:38 PM
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Legolas the Elf: Evil cannot create anything- it can only copy and corrupt.There is no textual evidence to say that Sauron made the flying steeds of the Nazgul, and that which relates to the particular steed of  Witch-king, which in the opinion of myself and several others is distinct from the other Nazgul flying steeds, indicates that it did not emanate from anything Sauron did.
Ecthelion Anor 02/Aug/2006 at 07:22 PM
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The fell beast is a unique creature and was kind of created by Sauron for the Nazgul or Ringwraiths to ride on. I see the image of the fell beast as a cross between a dragon and an eagle and a banshee. I think this because its wings and tails are as big as a dragon. An eagle because it is loyal to its master as Gwaihir, the lord of the Eagles. It is like a banshee because it can make terrible screeching sound.
halfir 02/Aug/2006 at 07:38 PM
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Ithilien Huorn: While I welcome you to the Plaza X(I suggest that in AL above all threads  it behoves you to read what others have posted. The post above yours makes it quite clear that there is no textual evidence whatsoever for Sauron having created the winged steed of the Nazgul-lord.
Dagorn Brewhard 05/Aug/2006 at 07:13 PM
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ok well they were not supernatural beings. they were just normal animals on the earth but sauron used his power to make them grow to an unnatural size in order to carry his nazgul. they are discribled as naked and featherless and their wings were like the hide of a bat. frodo discribles them in ithilien as giant carrion birds. so they could have simply been giant bats. lol

Dwarf5 06/Aug/2006 at 11:15 AM
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well i think that since the only nazgul in middle-earth were the ones used by sauron that he prolly created them. i mean there arnt ne others so he must have.or mabey they were some type of dragon corupted by sauron.
shadowoflegolas 14/Aug/2006 at 11:30 PM
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Dwarf5, please don’t confuse "Nazgul" with the creatures they rode upon. The Nazgul were the ring-wraiths and the creatures they rode on were called "Fell-beasts".  And I can almost say with the utmost certainty that they were not dragons. How can you corrupt a dragon anyway? They are already evil, uncontrollable creatures who could breathe fire.  If Sauron had an oppurtunity to get a dragon who could breathe fire and to do more harm to the forces of good than the fell-beasts, he definitely would have. If Smaug the dragon was still alive during that time, Sauron would have tried to get him into his service for sure.  But the fell-beasts were specifically designed to carry riders, and apparently they could be controlled and commanded. I doubt a dragon could be so easily tamed.

sacredfeminine 15/Aug/2006 at 05:14 AM
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The creatures have no name as they were created long ago by Sauron and perhaps even Saurons ancient master. Although they have bird and winged beast features they are beasts created by Sauron and are not known to have derived from anything. Simply, that is the fact.
kellinor 16/Aug/2006 at 06:57 PM
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the flying creatures the nazgul flew on were not dragons although they do look a little like wyverens witch WERE dragons that had no front legs larg wings and some had long necks some had short kinda like the fell beast i dont now if thats what jp was going for when he saw the fellbeast but i do now for sure that the fell beast was not a wyveren because wyverens blew fire i never saw the fellbeast blow fire in the books or movies so they arent dragons mabey there just a wild idea spawned from the depths of the brain who nows
Thorondel 25/Aug/2006 at 12:15 PM
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Kellinor- please, please, please, do not base your posts in the lore forums on the movies. They are not accurate. The Fell Beasts (or at least the Witch-King’s steed) were described by Tolkien as ’pterodactylic’, not as Draconic, or Wyvren-like. Thank you, and good day.
Aranel the Grey 01/Sep/2006 at 11:36 AM
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In my belief, they are morgoths first attempts at Dragons.  I believe he made dragons in mockery of the eagles.  These fell beasts were his forgotten failed attempts, left in their eyries in Sauron nurtured them.
Lord of the Rings 01/Sep/2006 at 10:57 PM
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Do you have any evidence for that intriguing idea, Aranel? If not, you should probably not post it in Ad Lore. But if so I would be very interested to see it, as that is an interesting possibility (although not really that relevent to the larger discussion).
Elladan Thoron 02/Sep/2006 at 08:39 PM
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I am listening to LOTR (the unabridged set) and I may have found a clue that has not been brought up yet.  After Pippin looks into the Palantir Gandalf asks him to describe what he saw.  Paraphrased: He explains that he saw what looked like bats, there were nine of them.  If someone could get the whole quote it may shed some light on these arguments.  Hope it helps.
Lord of the Rings 03/Sep/2006 at 06:45 PM
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’I saw a dark sky, and tall battlements,’ he [Pippin] said. ’And tiny stars. It seemed very far awayand long ago, yet hard and clear. Then the stars went in and out - they were cut off by things with wings. Very big, I think, really; but in the glass they looked like bats wheeling around the tower. I thought there were nine of them.
-The Lord of the Rings III, The Palantír


I would take this as further evidence that they were all the same sort of creature, although it is not particularly conclusive. The bit about looking like bats seems more to illustrate their size in the palantir than anything, although I do notice that the word ’bird’ could have been used instead. But all around it isn’t definitive on the matter of whether the creatures were all of a sort and Pippin saw accurately, or whether Pippin just couldn’t make out the differences due to the size and darkness.
cister 06/Sep/2006 at 07:57 AM
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in the silmarillion (im not sure that it’s in that book) tolkien told: the ugly creatures where the ringwraits (nazguls) are flying on, are the children of a wounded bird that sauron adopted long ago, sauron gaved them meat, slaves... and a little bit of magic, that beast  did grow and became larger, bigger, stronger, and more evil then it was before, sauron gaved his children to the nazguls for flying on them
Lord of the Rings 06/Sep/2006 at 10:15 PM
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cister, the quote you give sounds most like a back-translation of the quote from The Battle of the Pelennor Fields which has been cited quite often in this thread, except that there are a few misleading inaccuracies in the quote (unless it truly is from some other source- I am quite certain it’s not from the Silmarillion). If you could give a more precise citation, that would be great