Gandalf the __?__

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Ghostlore 02/Apr/2006 at 04:05 PM
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A longtime fantasy enthusiast, I have a tendency to want to categorize fictional fantasy characters based on their class, or their combination of mutli-classing in some cases, into pre-existing archetypal models. I know, I know, this is "pigeon holing" but I cannot help myself.

Having said that, I am perplexed at what class Gandalf actually is. I know he is widely considered to be a Wizard, but it seems as if that monacher doesn’t quite fit. I find myself  thinking of him as more a Druid then anything else.

My question is primarily this: are there any instances in the books that you can think of in which Gandalf is shown using any sort of offensive based "direct damage" spell?

I am trying to find the connection to how Gandalf is classified as a Wizard in the classic sense.

Gwathfaroth 02/Apr/2006 at 04:15 PM
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Wizard, in the Tolkien sense, is a title only given (as far as I know) to any of the five Istari, who came to Middle Earth to counter the threat of Sauron, each in their own way. A Wizard in any other literature, could be something completely different.

I don’t really think that fantasy roleplaying theory fits in with the Tolkien Basic Lore category, but welcome to the Plaza, anyway

Ghostlore 02/Apr/2006 at 04:27 PM
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I guess to reverse your statement it could be said that all fantasy roleplaying theory fits in with "Tolkien Basic Lore" given that the majority of it was spawned of Tolkiens mind. One would be hard pressed to pin point much of any "fantasy roleplaying lore" that wasn’t at least partially Tolkien.

To clarify my question, I am wondering what it is then that Tolkien considers a Wizard, and how he defines that, and if it is a label he gives to anyone practicing the art of spellcasting, regardless of what form those spells take.

The reference to "direct damage" was more rhetorical in that, I personally can not think of any instances in which Gandalf has cast a spell of that nature. I was seeking to illustrate why I do not understand his "Wizard" classification, and seeking information from more learned Tolkien fans.

Thank you for the welcome.

Alcarináro 02/Apr/2006 at 04:37 PM
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Based on Tolkien, drawing inspiration from Tolkien, yes. But roleplaying, and especially the element of magic that is present in so many of roleplaying’s forms, certainly does not fit with Tolkien’s world, or the lore of that world.

’Wizard’ is a word Tolkien reserves for the Istari. Elsewhere he uses the words ’magician’ (he says that Beorn was ’a bit of a magician) and ’sorcerer’ (often used in regards to Sauron and to the Lord of the Nazgul). From context, it seems the only distinction is that the former tends to be used in regards to ’good’ people, and the latter to evil.

<Nessa Edit: Post corrected to allow for thread move to Ad Lore>

GandalfTheGrey7 02/Apr/2006 at 04:43 PM
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According to Tolkien, he used the word ‘Wizard’ to describe beings of wisdom and knowledge being almost angelic in quality, and not to be confused with sorcerers or magicians. They were sent to combat evil through encouragement and valor of the enemies of evil. Always did they appear as old men who aged but slowly and while in Middle-Earth, could and did suffer and fall prey to emotions and evil.

Master of Doom 02/Apr/2006 at 06:20 PM
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As far as ’direct damage spells’ I think that the fireballs that he hurls at the wargs would certainly count.  We also know that when he fights the Nazgul on Weathertop and the Balrog on Zirak-zigil, the fight looks like a lightning storm, so it would seem he was using offensive magic in these instances.  Also, don’t forget that he used magic to cause the Great Goblin to die, so I think it is safe to say that he certainly could do damage with his magic if the need (or desire) should arise. 

As far as which stereotypical fantasy archtype he falls under, I think he could cover nearly everything.  Mage, Druid, Cleric, Sorceror, Wizard - they all seem to fit.  He even shows some qualities of other, less obvious archtypes.  He snuck into the dungeons of Dol Guldor and also into the cave of the Great Goblin (Roguish).  He obviously wields Glamdring pretty well, so it might even be possible to call him a Warrior of sorts.  I don’t think you will find any one specific archtype that fits him the best.

As far as how Tolkien defines Wizards, Elenhir has given a good explanation.  Here’s a quote that may also help:

"Wizard is a translation of Quenya istar (Sindarin ithron): one of the members of an "order" (as they call it), claiming to possess, and exhibiting, eminent knowledge of the history and nature the World. The translation (through suitable in its relation to "wise" and other ancient words of knowing, similar to that of istar in Quenya) is not perhaps happy, since Heren Istarion or "Order of Wizards" was quite distinct from "wizards" and "magicians" of later legend; they belonged solely to the Third Age and then departed, and none save maybe Elrond, Cнrdan and Galadriel discovered of what kind they were or whence they came." (UT, The Istari)

Alcarináro 02/Apr/2006 at 06:36 PM
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MoD, Gandalf killed the Great Goblin with a Glamdring, not with any magic. I don’t know which example with the wargs you are referring to, but they both were not ’direct’; they both had mediums. In the Hobbit, Gandalf set pinecones alight and threw those. In The Fellowship of the Ring, he set a tree on fire and the flame moved from tree to tree. Upon Weathertop, Gandalf seems to have set the whole place aflame, rather than used aimed offensive tactics, given the description of that place when Strider and the Hobbits arrive. And the description from afar (as seen by the Hobbits and Strider at the time it was happening) bears similarities to what Gandalf said that people looking at Celebdil would have seen, so again I see no evidence for ’direct’ offensive magic.
Master of Doom 02/Apr/2006 at 08:56 PM
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All good points Elenhir, and I had completely forgotten about the pinecones and the use of Glamdring against the Great Goblin.  Upon a bit of reading, I see that I accidentally merged the attack on the Great Goblin and the first attack in the cave.  However, in that first attack we see this:

"...when the goblins came to grab him [Gandalf], there was a terrific flash like lightning in the cave, a smell like gunpowder, and several of them fell dead." (The Hobbit, Over Hill and Under Hill)

For some reason I thought this happened in the cave with the Great Goblin.  In any case, this quote seems to me like an offensive spell.  Also, if Gandalf was able to light pinecones on fire, I see no reason why he would be unable to directly set an enemy alight (through touching them, of course) which would be much like the ’immolate’ spell often seen attributed to wizards or mages in the fantasy genre, though of course I have no absolute proof for this speculation.

Alcarináro 03/Apr/2006 at 12:19 AM
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Ah, but is that using magic directly on one’s opponent, or it is using oneself as the medium? I would say the latter, for we have other examples that make me believe it to be so.
Gil-galad was slain by the ’heat of Sauron’s hand’ (FotR, The Council of Elrond), the flames of the Balrog burned Gandalf as they fell (TT, The White Rider); those are two comparable uses of magic.

If one needs to touch another in order to influence them with the magic, it cannot be a direct. Whether by using one’s hand as a medium, as in the case of Sauron, or by creating the effect from the whole of one’s surface (as in the case of Gandalf or the Balrog), the direct application is not to one’s ultimate target, which again makes it an indirect route, unlike the stereotypical ’fireball-esque’ magic.
Niek Jans 03/Apr/2006 at 12:30 AM
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Acctually that indeed IS using magic directly. Maybe not towars one individual, but they were with to many, so you could see it as an direct attack towards the group or regiment of orcs. But the qeustion was direct damage spell? I think it is direct damage. The spell does direct damage, only it is not aimed directly..
Daithi Mac 03/Apr/2006 at 12:39 AM
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"...when the goblins came to grab him [Gandalf], there was a terrific flash like lightning in the cave, a smell like gunpowder, and several of them fell dead." (The Hobbit, Over Hill and Under Hill)

I have always considered him to have killed the goblins here by means of his staff.This is the most obvious case where Gandalf uses magic.

 

Adammar 03/Apr/2006 at 05:16 AM
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Gandalf used direct magic against the Balrog did he not?
I also would like to know whether the posters of this thread prefered Gandalf as the Grey or the White?

"An alliance once existed between elves and men.  We fought and died together.  We come to honor that allegiance once more."

Ghostlore 03/Apr/2006 at 09:26 AM
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My preference is Gandalf the Grey. There is somethng alluring about the color grey, as opposed to black & white.

Gandalf the Grey seemed much more intimately linked with the physical world, so much more... mortal. At this point he was still exhibiting a sense of humor. So much more mysterious, and slightly conflicted.

Gandalf the White seems more aloof, and exhibits a sort of distance or disconnect with himself, his surroundings, and his companions. That is not to say he no longer cared for his friends whom he continued to regard affectionately after his return, but that he seemed to have a great deal more on his mind. After his transition to white it was as if all the mystery had poofed leaving behind a fellow who wore his "alignment " on his shirt sleeve.

Phil_d_one 03/Apr/2006 at 09:37 AM
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Ghostlore: Tolkien specifically tells us that Gandalf the White would be exactly the same as Gandalf the Grey in personality and idiosyncracity (’Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncracity, but both his wisdom and power are much greater’ -- Letter 156). I wouldn’t say that what you reference is an inherent character change, but merely a result of circumstance, which does not remain in effect once the circumstance is lifted. Thus, I see no reason to imagine a great difference in character between Gandalf the White after the War of the Ring and Gandalf the Grey before it.

And Welcome to the Plaza!
Master of Doom 03/Apr/2006 at 10:31 AM
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Elenhir, how would you interpret the flash and the smell of gunpowder that were caused when Gandalf made several of the goblins fall dead when he made his escape?  This example at least seems to me like a direct damage type of thing, rather than a attacking through the use of a medium, as you suggest.  I do admit though, your explanation makes sense for any other instance I can think of in which Gandalf uses magic.

Also, I’m not sure where this fits in, but what about the Word of Command?  It caused the door in Moria to shatter, so if he would have used it on a person, would it have harmed them?  I realize that in that case the Balrog was acting in opposition to the spells of Gandalf, but apparently such spells did have the propensity for direct damage type of situation, as I don’t believe Gandalf had to touch the door for the damage to be caused.  Or was the Word of Command something completely different than Gandalf’s normal magic?

Adammar 03/Apr/2006 at 01:02 PM
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Yeah Ghostlore... you really can’t base what you think of any of the characters of LOTR on the movies.  But in a way you are right, there is some kind of change in the character after he becomes "the White".  it almost seems as though Tolkien gave Gandalf’s character a different attitude.  Read some of his lines from the Fellowship and then compare them to some of his better quotes from the Return of the King.  He has a different "air" about him.
Bearamir 06/Apr/2006 at 12:52 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen:  This thread has been nominated for move to Ad Lore.  Given that this thread does show some strong potential for further development, with your kind permission I am going to do so.  

Be advised, however, that 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).

 

Arduvei 06/Apr/2006 at 06:46 PM
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Gandalf is called a wizard for lack of a better word. In english, wizard is the closest thing that we have to gandalf. That is why the movies’ classification as a "demon" is incorrect. The balrog is no more of a demon then gandalf is an angel. He is a Maia, and some powers (of one kind or another) come with that order. Also, he studied magic (the hobbit, somewhere).
Dunadar 07/Apr/2006 at 05:25 AM
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I agree with Elenhir that Tolkien doesn’t use stereotypical "fireball casting magic", but I disagree that there is no direct magic. Gandalf unleashes a beam of light from his staff to drive the Nazgul away, you might say that he is using a medium, but so what? What point were you trying to establish with your arguement? First you said that gandalf used his body as a medium so it can’t be direct magic, then you said that anything but touching your opponent is direct magic, which one is it? If you trying to imply that Gandalf used himself as a lightning rod in the Misty Mountain scenario, then I’d have to ask you how did you arrive at that conclusion? I’m just trying to understand what arguement is being made here.  

Jedi Ranger 07/Apr/2006 at 10:45 AM
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         Gandalf is named in order of his rank in the istari council.  When they hand out teh ranks, the highest is white, (saruoman the white) and went down the colro chain as it got darker the lower the rank was.  See then there is Radaghadst the brown and then other people the blue, the rd, the green and maybe even pink,  come to think of it is there wizard, somebody the pink. 
jrmhaldir 07/Apr/2006 at 01:00 PM
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i don’t think that Gandalf is a type of wizard that we would normally see. Most wizards are that male versions of a witch. Yet we know that Tolkien didn’t go be what was/is normal. He made up several things in his tales. i.e. several (elvish, dwarven, the language which was spoken in mordor) languages and i believe that he made up some english words as well. I think that there was no "right" word for Gandalf that suited best. so Tolkien used "wizard". these are just my thoughts on that subject.
Phil_d_one 07/Apr/2006 at 01:11 PM
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Dunadar: Gandalf unleashes a beam of light from his staff to drive the Nazgul away The beam of light comes from his hand, not his staff.

 But now the dark swooping shadows were aware of the newcomer. One wheeled towards him; but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and from it a shaft of white light stabbed upwards. The Nazgûl gave a long wailing cry and swerved away; and with that the four others wavered, and then rising in swift spirals they passed away eastward vanishing into the lowering cloud above; and down on the Pelennor it seemed for a while less dark.
(TRotK (I) The Siege of Gondor, Emphasis is Mine)

Imperial Powers: Gandalf is named in order of his rank in the istari council.  When they hand out teh ranks, the highest is white, (saruoman the white) and went down the colro chain as it got darker the lower the rank was. Not so. Gandalf wore grey before he even took on the role of an Istar, and thus long before the ranking was given out, if any existed. Thus, White became associated with highest because Saruman wore White; Saruman did not wore White because it was associated with highest.

See then there is Radaghadst the brown and then other people the blue, the rd, the green and maybe even pink,  come to think of it is there wizard, somebody the pink. 
Gandalf (Grey/White), Saruman (White/Many Colours/No Colour), Radagast (Brown), Alatar and Pallando (Blue). No red, green or pink

Obsidian 08/Apr/2006 at 10:07 AM
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ALL Actually there are MANY wizards but their highest order are the Istar, who are maiar. The Balrogs are also maiar, that’s why Gandalf said he had match his match with Durin’s Bane. Gandalf used to be the maiar Olorin, who was the ’Wisest of the Maia’, and learned much of pity and patience from Nienna, and loved the Elves. Concerning their powers, each wizards specialises in a different area, and give different forms of help to the free peoples. While Saruman was crafty and skillful in crafting, lore and the weather, Gandalf has the responsibility of uniting and enheartening the free-peoples, and thus said Cirdan to Gandalf: ’"Take this ring, master," he said "for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill."’ Thus it’s possible that Gandalf got his powers over fire from this Ring, (while Elrond having the Ring of Water had control over the River), and Saruman knew of it and was jealous. I know of some people who said that the beam of white light he shot at the Nazgul is none other than the /White Flame of Arnor’
Dunadar 08/Apr/2006 at 11:08 PM
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Apologies Phil I must have got some influence from the movie, but thanks for your correction.

Dunadar 11/Apr/2006 at 01:20 AM
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I don’t think that Saruman knew that Gandalf had Narya Apocalyon, if Saruman knew it, he would have taken it from Gandalf at Orthanc. Only a ring bearer can see any of the three elvish rings, and even though Saruman named himself Ringmaker, to the best of my knowledge he didn’t have a ring of great power.
Obsidian 15/Apr/2006 at 03:11 AM
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Saruman knew- it was said so in Unfinished Tales, or somewhere? Sorry i dont have the books with me now so i cant quote.
Alkin 15/Apr/2006 at 12:41 PM
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I think you are right in saying that Gandalf wasn’t a wizard in the classic sense. He wasn’t a wabd weilding, curse spitting mage. really the only time i geuss i remember him useing any kind of magic, even defensive magic, was when he was facing the Balrog in Moria. He problay used it other times but right off the top of my head i can’t think right now. I think wizard might have been ment for all of the "wizards" in a way that suggested wisdom. As all wizards tend to be quite wise.
Daladad_of_Gondor 15/Apr/2006 at 09:26 PM
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I just joined this site but i beleive I can put in my two cents worth. First i just want to say that Gandalf is not your cliche Merlin type Wizard that you hear in European mythology. In fact Tolkien as a Christian did not even want to use the word Wizard but because of the limits of English was forced to. Gandalf is of an angelic order called the Maiar (basically lesser Valar) and the power that he has is not that of a human like wizard but more of the natural power that is a basic aspect of his race.
Ghostlore 16/Apr/2006 at 07:40 PM
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CelticWarrior, would you be willing to supply us with any Tolkien quotes supporting your theory? I would greatly appreciate that if you are able.

I am intrigued by that idea, and at the same time pushed away from it due to a lack of text based evidence of Gandalf ever having called upon a diety remarkably or verbally in any way prior to any of his actions.

If you can actually support that statement, I would be hard pressed to not re-assess my "iconic" classification of him to actually lean towards some form of Paladin or Cleric. He did employ a sword at times, this we know, but I am not certain if using the "beam of light" is indicative of holy power or a generic manifestation of a power fueled by the fact that he obviously of "good" alignment.

The reason I ask for quotes and am pressing this issue, is because if it were proven, or even inferred that Gandalf channeled his offensive energy by calling upon a higher power, it would add a new layer to this "onion."

 

Lady of gondor 17/Apr/2006 at 01:34 PM
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I know there were many druids in england and the celtic world I have also read about an Irish God called the grey-man he is a god a weather, I thought this to be intresting as Gandalf is Ganadalf the Grey and I think he is A Maia.
Dùnadan 18/Apr/2006 at 03:50 AM
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I can remember one time, in the hobbit. if you remember in the cave, when the others are been captured. gandalf kild some of them, with a kind of magic that seemed to the others as flash og light. I don`t know if recall right, it`s been a some time.
Rochir Mumakdacil 18/Apr/2006 at 11:12 AM
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Just a warning, if I may, to aid further analysis and discussion: Gandalf in the Hobbit has little in common with Gandalf in LotR. Tolkien’s conception of him evolved greatly in between the books, and indeed during the long writing of LotR. I think it is unwise/unsound to cite actions/motives/powers of Gandalf as portrayed in the Hobbit as attributes of Gandalf the Maia as revealed in LotR (especially after his return from death), the Silmarillion, and subsequent writings.
Bearamir 18/Apr/2006 at 02:39 PM
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A small reminder:  once this thread was moved to Ad Lore, some expectations as to the quality of the posts was created. 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.
Adammar 19/Apr/2006 at 06:39 PM
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I agree with Ghostlore on his latest post: Celtic Warrior i think we would all be interested to see a quote supporting your theory which is very logical. (Nice quoet by the way)
You should also post your argument in the thread that is actually talking about Tolkien’s being a Christian and how it might have affected his writing of the LotR.
Daladad_of_Gondor 20/Apr/2006 at 07:54 AM
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I’m reconfiriming my sources for my earlier post. here are a couple of quotes

from the Encyclopedia of Arda

"In the Third Age, there were still Maiar in physical form to be found in Middle-earth. The most important of these were Saruman, Sauron (originally also of Aulë’s people), and Olórin, known as Gandalf, who belonged to the people of Manwë and Varda."

"Tolkien at no point defines what the limits of Gandalf’s magic were. As a Maia, he had many natural abilities that would seem magical to mortal races"

"The word ’Wizard’ has a very specific meaning in Tolkien; it is intended as a translation of istar, and applies only to those Maiar who came to Middle-earth in the Third Age. The word’s more general use, for any person who works magical acts, does not apply in this context."

http://www.thetolkienwiki.org/

"Meaning of Ainur(Valar and Maiar):Angelic Beings

Adammar 20/Apr/2006 at 09:25 AM
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This is very interesting CelticWarrior because i do not think i have heard of the angelic side of Gandalf before, but i guess it makes sense.  Since your source seem to be very good, i have a question for you in particular: what are some of Gandalf’s natural abilities other than the obvious one?
The way you say that Tolkien viewed "wizards" has brought up a good point, because thinking back on it, in LotR the parts involving Gandalf and the other wizards, that word was used and placed very carefully.
Daladad_of_Gondor 21/Apr/2006 at 07:59 AM
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Thank you for your interest Adammar. To start off with when we look at the LOTR itself we get a hint of divine natur in Gandalf. He casts off the evilness of the corrupted Saruman from Theoden. Secondley the most obvious ability’s of the Maiar in Middle-Earth are their voices for good or ill. Being messangers from the Valar and ultimatley from Eru himself they have great wisdom and council to give. In Saruman’s case great power of persuasion to his cause. Thirdly in the Sillmarillion, Unfinished Tales and Books of Lost Tales We see that the Ainur are able to take differant hues as invisible spirits, Elves and in the case of the Istari as Old Wise Men. Morgoth and Sauron often took differant  forms being Ainur themselves. Often throughout history when people have been reported to have been visited by angels, each report is not always the same. The angels have come in many shapes and sizes and forms to bring messages. I think because of Tolkien’s christian faith (which is mine as well) this is how he saw the Ainur and demonstrated it through the Istari. So too me and i’m sure many others, when I look at Gandalf i do not see a representaion of the earthly magical arts wizard
KitsuneInuYasha 21/Apr/2006 at 10:19 AM
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Well, who said a "wizard" has to do anything offensively oriented? Wizard, in my interpretation, merely implies one who controls some form of Magic, be it healing, offensive, defensive, or other types (like opening doors or levitation)

Yes, there are sub-classes of that catagory, but it in itself is a broad basis by which to classify many things.

Tolkiens view on this has already been mentioned here, so I don’t think I need repeat it
Kathuphazgan 21/Apr/2006 at 01:06 PM
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i dont think that gandalf ever used a direct damage spell in any of the books.  though, i think that in the hobbit it says that he was preparing himself for some last use of magic to destroy the goblins at 5 army battle.  I think that in order to be a wizard all one needs is the knowledge of how to use magic.  I dont know of any instances where magic was used to deal direct damage to anybody.  The magic of Tolkien is more passive than it is active.  Gandalf was a maiar, a demigod you could call him, so surely had powers to bend and break things but i dont think he ever used them.
Kirinki54 22/Apr/2006 at 01:34 AM
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Arvedui, the Balrogs were indeed Maiar, but in their (to become permanent) manifestations also really were demons.

 

Dreadful among these spirits were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror. (The Silmarillion)

 

Kathuphazgan, there is at least one example of ‘direct damage magic’ depicted in the LotR: when Gandalf stripped Saruman of his powers.

 

He raised his hand, and spoke slowly in a clear cold voice. ’Saruman, your staff is broken.’ There was a crack, and the staff split asunder in Saruman’s hand, and the head of it fell down at Gandalf’s feet. (TTT)

 

In the scene of the door in Moria however, MoD, I think the damage was not due any intentional damage, but resulting from the conflict to the persisting counter spell of the Balrog.

 

In the above discussion there has been made several valid points. But I would like to suggest that any analysis of Gandalf as described in the LotR will miss important dimensions. We might discuss only Gandalf the Grey, but that picture will not be complete unless we also take into consideration Gandalf the White. The scale will not balance correctly on either side.

 

Thus, the Grey emissary as sent by the Valar is both the same (as Phil remarked) and different from the White sent by the Authority (or Eru Ilúvatar).

 

Ad fontes!

 

But G. is not, of course, a human being (Man or Hobbit). There are naturally no precise modern terms to say what he was. I wd. venture to say that he was an incarnate ’angel’– strictly an yγελος: that is, with the other Istari, wizards, ’those who know’, an emissary from the Lords of the West, sent to Middle-earth, as the great crisis of Sauron loomed on the horizon. By ’incarnate’ I mean they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being ’killed’, though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour.

Why they should take such a form is bound up with the ’mythology’ of the ’angelic’ Powers of the world of this fable. At this point in the fabulous history the purpose was precisely to limit and hinder their exhibition of ’power’ on the physical plane, and so that they should do what they were primarily sent for: train, advise, instruct, arouse the hearts and minds of those threatened by Sauron to a resistance with their own strengths; and not just to do the job for them. They thus appeared as ’old’ sage figures. (Letter 156 To Robert Murray, SJ. (draft)) (My bold)

 

I find it very interesting as an illustration of the overall course of Arda, that the Valar chose the frail human form for their emissaries in this extremely important task. The Valar were ‘winding down’ their activities; they were becoming more of councillors than active agents in the affairs of Arda. (As Tolkien remarked, in close parallel with the role of the Elves.)

 

This is really understandable only from a viewpoint of the overall mythology – as are other points that otherwise seem rather obscure, and I think this is one reason why Tolkien saw fit to insert so many references to the older mythology (not only his eagerness to display bits of the Sil mythos, as is often claimed).

 

There are no precise opposites to the Wizards – a translation (perhaps not suitable, but throughout distinguished from other ’magician’ terms) of Q. Elvish Istari. Their origin was not known to any but a few (such as Elrond and Galadriel) in the Third Age. They are said to have first appeared about the year 1000 of the Third Age, when the shadow of Sauron began first to grow again to new shape. They always appeared old, but grew older with their labours, slowly, and disappeared with the end of the Rings. They were thought to be Emissaries (in the terms of this tale from the Far West beyond the Sea), and their proper function, maintained by Gandalf, and perverted by Saruman, was to encourage and bring out the native powers of the Enemies of Sauron. Gandalf’s opposite was, strictly, Sauron, in one part of Sauron’s operations; as Aragorn was in another. (Letter 144 To Naomi Mitchison)

 

But I think it can be assumed that there were indeed ‘opponents’ wielding ‘black magic’ (apart from the obvious Sauron and the Nazgûl), like sorcerers among the Black Númenoreans and others?

As have been said by others above, the term wizard was something of an emergency solution; not ideal, but Tolkien needed a distinguishing term. The possible confusion from this ambiguous solution is understandable.

 

The ’wizards’, as such, had failed; or if you like: the crisis had become too grave and needed an enhancement of power. So Gandalf sacrificed himself, was accepted, and enhanced, and returned. ’Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.’ Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy, but both his wisdom and power are much greater. When he speaks he commands attention; the old Gandalf could not have dealt so with Théoden, nor with Saruman. He is still under the obligation of concealing his power and of teaching rather than forcing or dominating wills, but where the physical powers of the Enemy are too great for the good will of the opposers to be effective he can act in emergency as an ’angel’ – no more violently than the release of St Peter from prison. He seldom does so, operating rather through others, but in one or two cases in the War (in Vol. III) he does reveal a sudden power: he twice rescues Faramir. He alone is left to forbid the entrance of the Lord of Nazgûl to Minas Tirith, when the City has been overthrown and its Gates destroyed — and yet so powerful is the whole train of human resistance, that he himself has kindled and organized, that in fact no battle between the two occurs: it passes to other mortal hands. /…/

He was sent by a mere prudent plan of the angelic Valar or governors; but Authority had taken up this plan and enlarged it, at the moment of its failure. (Letter 156 To Robert Murray, SJ. (draft)) (My bold)

 

As I mentioned above (and others have done the same), the two phases of Grey and White are crucial for understanding Gandalf. (One can also say ‘the two lives of Gandalf’, because he really died on Zirak-zigil.)

 

These phases are closely knit to the kind of power Gandalf was possessing and what kind of power he was allowed to use. Not only was he given a greater ‘fire power’ (within his still human form) bu Eru´s resurrection, but he was also granted a far greater leave to act on his own discretion when circumstances were pressing.

 

Note also that rescuing Gandalf, restoring him and equipping him with enhanced powers were beyond the Valar. It is stated elsewhere that this was a direct intervention by Eru, in no parts delegated to the Valar.

 

Now, just a passage on the powers. Tolkien made a distinction of magic, as can be seen below.

 

But I suppose that, for the purposes of the tale, some would say that there is a latent distinction such as once was called the distinction between magia and goeteia. /…/

Their magia the Elves and Gandalf use (sparingly): a magia, producing real results (like fire in a wet faggot) for specific beneficent purposes. Their goetic effects are entirely artistic and not intended to deceive: they never deceive Elves (but may deceive or bewilder unaware Men) since the difference is to them as clear as the difference to us between fiction, painting, and sculpture, and ’life’.

Both sides live mainly by ’ordinary’ means. The Enemy, or those who have become like him, go in for ’machinery’ – with destructive and evil effects — because ’magicians’, who have become chiefly concerned to use magia for their own power, would do so (do do so). The basic motive for magia – quite apart from any philosophic consideration of how it would work – is immediacy: speed, reduction of labour, and reduction also to a minimum (or vanishing point) of the gap between the idea or desire and the result or effect. (Letter 155 To Naomi Mitchison)

 

The ‘direct damage magic’ would of course fall under the definition of magia. It is plain from the above that this was not a faculty reserved only for the Istari (as Maiar), but that is was accessible in principle also to other being which had a natural ability, like the Elves. While Elves may not have been seen hurling fire balls (perhaps because of lesser power, perhaps from ethical considerations), they were indeed not immune to the subtle lures of the Machine.
danh gem 23/Apr/2006 at 12:11 AM
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ghostlore - Gandalf is the father figure of course!The -provider -of - knowledge, The- long -bearded -wise -man The jovial -fireworkmaker etc.All through Fotr he is like this benevolent all knowing guy who helps all his children  (read frodo) through difficult times as well as a friend and a guide(for frodo)

Some father figures of modern fantasy

Dumbledore - hp

Brom- eragon

oromis- eldest

aslan- narnia (not all only the pevensie ones)

In fact all fantasy books need a father figure and then they need to dispose(dumbledore dies in hbp ,Brom in eragon, oromis is crippled and thus cant come out of ellesmera to fight, narnia is an exception still aslan doesnt help peter in his wolf fight nor does he appear till the last moment to help caspian and company) of him so the hero finally does something on his own

 

Ghostlore 23/Apr/2006 at 12:30 PM
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"Meaning of Ainur(Valar and Maiar):Angelic Beings"

I decided to delve into this concept a little bit further, because there are so many folks that, based on their personal belief system, which is built upon the foundations of western religion, like to refer to definitions like this as proof that Valar and Maiar are some form of holy being. While that may be true, it should be noted that the terms "Angel" and Angelic" have many different meanings to non Judeao-Christian peoples.

For example Islam and Zoroastrianism religions also refer to angels and angelic beings. Though to really diverge from the common line of thinking we can leave the confines of organized religious thought and say that "angel" can be rightly defined as "A guardian spirit, or guiding influence" much like the way that they are seen in many Native cultures.

In regards to middle eastern culture, the lower order of angel is referred to as a "jinn", also known to some as "djinn" or genies. They are said to inhabit stones, trees, fires and air. Which brings us to the Native American theory that guardian spirits inhabit everything.

Two of its many and varied dictionary definitions are: a.) A kind and lovable person, and b.) One who manifests goodness, purity, and selflessness.

I would have to conclude, based on its plethora of definitions, based on Tolkien’s statement that he does not write allegorically, and Tolkien’s statement that there are no elements of Christianity in his books, that Gandalf is not to be considered a holy angel, using holy powers. He was sent back by Eru, but he does not pray to Eru that we see, and he does not speak Eru’s name before, while, or after using his magical powers. He also is in a corporeal form, and angels are often defined as "bodiless, immortal spirits."

I fully agree that there is an intense connection between Eru and Gandalf, and that Gandalf could, in many regards, be called Eru’s right-hand man, but I would not go so far as to define that as Eru’s angel, rather, he is Eru’s mercenary.

I am compelled by the concept that he was witholding his true power, and after his return, he had been given license to weild it to a greater degree, and would really enjoy to understand that better!

Arx_RavenHelm 23/Apr/2006 at 04:29 PM
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In refrence to Gandalf’s magical abilities I think much of his true power both as the Grey and the White must be understood as "authority" rather than "ability". Undoubtedly he had ability to do great things, but more important and more often seen is his authority. It is his authority that frees and heals Theoden, it is his authority that puts Saruman in his place and breaks his staff (which is a sign of authority). 

      Authority here should be understood as the right to command. Gandalf had the right to order Saruman around because Saruman’s authority was stripped, and Gandalf’s increased. This is why Saruman obeys despite the fact that he doesn’t want to. He has no choice but to obey the authority that Gandalf posesses.

      This is one of the great differences, in my opinion, between the magic used by Wizards, and the magic used by others. Wizards use what they had the authority to use, others tend to seek out ability beyond their authority.   The elves and dwarves both have a kind of magic which is like artistic ability in a sense. This type of magic appears supernatural because the elves and dwarves themselves are slightly supernatural.. but to the elves and the dwarves, what they are doing is simply natural. The dwarve’s magic of course seems generally limited to issues of craftsmanship and is of differing nature from evlish magic.. just as dwarves differ in nature from elves.

      To my knowledge the only good human ascociations with magic are those human races touched by the elves who learned some elements of elven magic. Other than that there does not appear to ever be any good human magic.. all the rest is sorcery which is derived from seeking power beyond your authority.

       As to the use of the word Wizard and what it means. I have always thought that Tolkien used the word because of its etymological meanings, basicly deriving from terms meaning "old man" and "wise man". In that sense I think he may have used it because it is how men would have described Istari. They appeared as old men, wise in council and mysterious.

 

    On the topic of angels. Actually the conception of angels in both Islamic and Zoarastrian religions is very similar to that of Judeo-christian. The orders of Djinn actually correspond to orders of angels described in Jewish lore specificly those which were involved in the producing of the nephilim. In Zoarastrian religion angels originally were viewed like personified virtues. They had names like "good word" "best thought" and things like that. This is similar to Judeo-Christian in which the archangel names translated into english are "Strength of God" "Judgement of God" "healing of God" and so on.

   In all of the above angels are defined by two primary functions Ministering spirits, and messangers

Adammar 24/Apr/2006 at 09:30 AM
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Arx_RavenHelm... i am not sure that the whole "angel" topic was not meaning Gandalf being a literal angel but more of a figurative one, almost like an earthly angel (if that makes any sense).  But do you have any proof on the "authority vs ability" topic?
Arx_RavenHelm 24/Apr/2006 at 04:24 PM
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Adammar,

  no, I can’t prove it, that is just what it looks like to me when I read it. I didn’t mean to present that view as "how it is" but rather, as this is how I think of it. It is fairly demonstrable however, that Tolkien viewed magic very differently than what magic became in the fantasy genre even though that was largely born out of his works.

   On angels, in the story Gandalf is a Maiar, which is a lesser order of Ainur. Most people tend to equate Ainur with angels, which is what I think Ghostlore was refrencing when he began talking about angels. My own comments on angels were in refrence to Ghostlore’s.

Adammar 25/Apr/2006 at 12:58 PM
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Arx_RavenHelm... thankyou, but please dont misundersatand me by thinking i ws trying to be rude with you.  This is just a topic that there is not alot of ground on which to argue due to the fact that many of our questions can only be answered with a question.  But i undestand that the Maiar are given a sort of angelic reputation due to their immence power.  But i can’t seem to remember how Gandalf became one of the Maiar or if he has just always been?
Arx_RavenHelm 25/Apr/2006 at 01:05 PM
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Adammar,

  I didn’t think you were trying to be rude :-) I just didn’t express myself clearly enough in my first post.

  The Maiar were created by Eru in the very beginning even before the world began. Gandalf’s name then was Olorin. The Maiar were spirits of the same type as the Valar, but of a lesser order and they generally worked as servants of the Valar.

Wolfbeard 26/Apr/2006 at 07:59 PM
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Gandalf is oen of the "strange ones" you might say. Doinng what he wants when he wants. He does go by as the name of a Wizard, but evidently i thought wizards were good people. So what about Sauromun?He was good but eventually turned bad (i am going off topic a bit aren’t i?). Gandalf is still a wizard and he is still good but that doesn’t mean he can’t still hurt people with spells. Remember in the LotR movie when Gandalf was fightinng Sauromun? He was using some sort of spell to harm Sauromun. So he has used spells to hurt someone. But there still probabaly was more to it htan you think. Remember, Tolkien died before he finished one of his books, so that can mean there still is more to the whole Middle-Earth than you think.
Dunadar 27/Apr/2006 at 03:54 AM
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Wolfbeard: Gandalf might be considered a strange wizard in the sense that of the 5 chief istari sent to Middle Earth, he was the only one that completed his objective. All the Istari, or wizards, started out as good but they (as with everything else in ME) could choose to do Good or Evil. Also this a comon confusion, so let me just clear it up...the movies and the books are two different things. Gandalf and Saruman don’t fight it out in Orthanc (to the best of my knowledge) and even if they did Tolkien would most certainly wouldn’t have had them fighting the way PJ portrayed it. Also no one in LOTR is inherently Good. They have the ability to chose to do good but weren’t incapable of doing wrong. Also it is true that Tolkien did die before he completed some of his works, but the LOTR wasn’t one of those. I agree with you that someone can do good and still hurt people otherwise all the characters in LOTR would be evil.
Adammar 04/May/2006 at 05:38 AM
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Jeanne... that is what we are discussing now.  All the posters of this thread know that Gandalf was obviously a wizard, but we are also discussing some of the sub-topics such as: Tolkien’s use of the word "wizard", did gandalf actually use direct physical powers against his enemies, and some of Gandalf’s qualities as one of the Maiar.
Arduvei 05/May/2006 at 09:59 AM
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He is a Maia. Nothing we have in english will fit that exactly. A long ways back, this discussed offensive magic. What about in the hobbit, where it says that sparks were burning holes through the goblins? That would offend me. Hehe. But seriosly, when he fought the wargs in LoTR, him setting the trees on fire doesn’t mean he is incapable of offeensive magic. He could have done the same to a warg, but that would take a while, as he would have to do it singly for each warg. And Elenhir, you saying that Gandalf used his hand for the beam of light further reinforces my (our) ppoint in that he could use offensive magic.
Lucentorn 06/May/2006 at 03:10 AM
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Yes I would give him the "category" Wizard as well, simply because he’s one of the five Istari... Although I cannot think of any real offensive spell he uses, except for his flashlight as Helms Deep and at the Pellenor Fields, but I would not really discribe this as offensive, more something like distracting... (other "category").
Adammar 11/May/2006 at 09:37 AM
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I thought about it, and found a physical attack of Gandalf’s that made me laugh and somehow i had forgotten about it.  In the Hobbit, gadalf lights pine cones on fire and throws them at the wolfs.  if that is not physical then i dont know what is.
Dunadar 15/May/2006 at 06:40 AM
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Adammar that point was broughten up earlier in this thread. It actually was one of the fist ones posted. I won’t quote it know, but do encourage you to go back and read what the response to that was. The long and the short of it, was the fact that he didn’t "cast" it on the wargs directly. He used a medium (in this case pinecones) to attack them. Same with the tree in FOTR. Also the Hobbit was published before LOTR was sent in stone and many things changed about ME from the publishing of the Hobbit and LOTR. Goblins for instance disapeared from ME so that not a trace was left of them, not even in the Silmarillion were Goblins mentioned. They appeared in the Books of the lost Tales, but then ceased to be after that. So I’d be cautious about using specifics from the Hobbit and applying them to the rest of the history of Arda.

Ghostlore 15/May/2006 at 12:47 PM
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Was in a discussion about Balrogs the other day that caused me to re-read The Bridge of Khazad-Dum, and this jumped out at me: "At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked." This would seem to support the notion that Gandalf channeled his energy (or attacks) through external objects. Would he have been able to perform the same spell, if he was not equipped with a staff?

Vugar 15/May/2006 at 02:22 PM
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Ghostlore, In the initial drafts, Gandalf’s staff functioned as a store of his power.

"’It was all I could do. I expect I have buried Balin. But alas for my staff: we shall have to go by guess in the dark. Gimli and I will lead.’ They followed in amazement, and as they stumbled behind he gasped out some information. ’I have lost my staff, part of my beard, and an inch of eyebrows,’ he said.’ But I have blasted the door and felled the roof against it, and if the Chamber of Mazarbul is not a heap of ruins behind it, then I am no wizard. All the power of my staff was expended [?in a flash]: it was shattered to bits.’" (The Mines of Moria (ii), The Treason of Isengard HoMe VII)

The later drafts do not contradict the idea of a reservoir of power, and as you have pointed out, the staff of an Istar seemed to be an efficient focus of his power also. Without the staff, I think an Istar would be less efficient and sooner tired in the use of his power.
Black Numenorian 16/May/2006 at 06:06 AM
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So do you mean that the Istari had a limited power?  How exactly did their magic work if it were not channeled from out of their staffs?  Or were the staffs perhaps just a sign of power or importance, having Gandlaf take Saruman’s staff seemed to take him out of the White Council without having to be said (obviously b/c he was evil) but still.
~~MYST~~ 17/May/2006 at 04:49 AM
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Well, as far as offensive magic goes, my first thought goes to the hobbit. When they are trapped in the trees, Gandalf attacks the trees with coloured fire. It hits them directly, and sticks to the skin. He is also planning to jump down like a flash of lightning, which would "have killed many" of the goblins. I’ d say that’ s pretty offensive behaviour.

The shattering of the bridge of Khazad-Dum also seems agressive, in the sense that it’s a trap.

So he CAN use offensive magic, but most of the time he doesn’ t feel like it, I think.

Bearamir 17/May/2006 at 12:03 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen: From what I can see, a small reminder is in order.  As an Ad Lore thread, there are  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.

 

Kirinki54 24/May/2006 at 02:15 PM
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But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know? (Minas Tirith)

 

In his debate with Denethor, Gandalf became unusually outspoken about his mission. I find this quote rather interesting. One might assume that his use of the title ‘steward’ was merely sprung from the gist of the discussion. But is that the whole truth?

 

In what sense could Gandalf claim to be a steward? Looking at the general setup, one would think that only the Valar (or more specifically Manwë) would hold such a title. Perhaps it could be a pointer to the tremendous change of the role of Gandalf and his powers when being sent back as the White. Perhaps in some ways Authority (or Eru Ilúvatar) had gifted Gandalf with a temporary authority and license to act with a superiority hitherto only granted the Valar.

 

A speculation to be discussed, I hope.

Light of Arnor 26/May/2006 at 02:17 AM
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Quote: Originally posted by Kirinki54 on Wednesday, May 24, 2006

But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know? (Minas Tirith)

 

In his debate with Denethor, Gandalf became unusually outspoken about his mission. I find this quote rather interesting. One might assume that his use of the title ‘steward’ was merely sprung from the gist of the discussion. But is that the whole truth?

 

In what sense could Gandalf claim to be a steward? Looking at the general setup, one would think that only the Valar (or more specifically Manwë) would hold such a title. Perhaps it could be a pointer to the tremendous change of the role of Gandalf and his powers when being sent back as the White. Perhaps in some ways Authority (or Eru Ilúvatar) had gifted Gandalf with a temporary authority and license to act with a superiority hitherto only granted the Valar.

 

A speculation to be discussed, I hope.


 

I believe the stewardship Gandalf references is his purpose on Middle-earth....to be a steward for the West...in reality more specifically for Men, most likely. His stewardship also involved keeping Aragorn’s exile protected, and this reference he made likely has multiple meaning within the context of what he said. The conversation with Denethor was specifically involving the entire discussion of  who was the protector of Gondor. While Denethor protected the city, Gandalf had, for years, protected the king in exile. Gandalf knew very well that Sauron’s fear of an heir of Isildur was critical to the success of Mordor’s downfall. As a charge sent from Eru to facilitate this downfall, Aragorn would undoubtedly be foremost on the list of things to protect. By protecting Aragorn, so too was Gondor protected.

Quote=Dunadar "Goblins for instance disapeared from ME so that not a trace was left of them, not even in the Silmarillion were Goblins mentioned. They appeared in the Books of the lost Tales, but then ceased to be after that. So I’d be cautious about using specifics from the Hobbit and applying them to the rest of the history of Arda."

There are actually some very minor references that use "goblin" in the LotR, one that I recall offhand being during the Battle of Helm’s Deep. However, the text consistently reminds us that goblin and orc were interchangeable entities in LotR, per Tolkien’s specific statements. I agree that utilizing The Hobbit as a source of magic canon, as relating to the rest of the body of works, is contradictory.

Quote=Apocalyon "Actually there are MANY wizards but their highest order are the Istar, who are maiar."

Hmm....I can’t accept that as anything but a misconception. There were only 5 Wizards. There was no lesser order, no "training" facility with students and teachers. No adepts, no prestiditators, no apprentices.

And finally, regarding "direct damage". A number of prime examples have been offered here that place Gandalf in the framework of creating damage. Some examples can be explained away as the use of "conduits", be it staff, pinecones, ect. However, the core of the discussion considers the use, or lack thereof, of destructive magics. Clearly, whether a conduit is used or not, we have evidence of destructive magic being implemented by Gandalf. The effort is very costly, needless to say, with the loss of his staff after sundering the bridge at Khazad-dum, and his significant fatigue following the initial confrontation with the orcs in the Chamber of Marzabul. The Istari, as mentioned earlier in this thread, were confined in their purpose...placed on Middle-earth to motivate those of the West in their defense against Sauron. Direct intervention was to be avoided (although clearly it was not avoided in the story) when possible. We understand the nature of violating this mandate when we watch Gandalf’s use of fire on the journey through the Caradhras pass. After realizing the near freezing state of the hobbits, he summons fire. However, he also informs the Fellowship that now everyone will know his location (everyone being Sauruman and Sauron, and probably Elrond and Galadriel as well). Such open display of power was essentially a loud "HERE I AM, COME SEND YOUR MINIONS AGAINST ME" announcement to his enemies. In the case of the Fellowship, this could prove disastrous, for they were on a mission of secrecy.

Regarding the argument that Tolkien "clearly stated he was not applying Christianity" to the story, most scholars ignore this statement, since it is absolutely clear (despite what he said) that he was using many elements of Christian theology in the story. Yes, he also drew from Norse mythology as well as others to less or more degrees, but his devout Catholic mindset undoubtedly played a large part in the more obvious parts of the story, as well as the more subtle messages given.

 

LoA

 

Emperor Cheese 03/Jun/2006 at 03:32 PM
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I think that Gandalf is a sort of Druid,

He is a lore master of sorts who goes about using his great wisom to destory evil,

in the Lord of The Rings books Gandalf is the Hope in the whole Fellowship, when he falls in Moria, they begin to lose hope, but still they countinued on.

Gandalfs thoughts and tactics are never an all out battle agaist sauron, because he knew that sauron was to powerful to defeat with weapons, he had to find anouther way. I think that gandalf is fully capable of offensive spells that could kill many, but he refrens from using them, he doesn’t want to become a man of evil, perhaps spells of destrucion are addicting and can take over a mans mind, Gandalf didn’t want to be controlled by anyone or thing, he wanted to control himself, and work towards the greater good

 

Melkor’s Fist 09/Jun/2006 at 11:12 AM
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Tthe five Astari were never meant to actually take on the enemy directly, they were meant to round up the forces of middle earth to take on sauron, more of an advisery role than an offensive one. You never see real offensive magic by any of the five astari, they persuade of manipulate others for their own ends.This is because the maia didnt want to be relied on for every problem they come across, so they choose to reduce their interaction with the enemy
Melkor’s Fist 10/Jun/2006 at 06:04 AM
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sorry i meant the valar
Reaper625 12/Jun/2006 at 08:10 PM
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A fair amount of Tolkiens writings are somewhat subtle.For example he displays Gandalf as having immense power yet never portrays him as a fireball-throwing,dragon-killing super wizard.Although he is a powerful wizard Gandalf,in my opininon,is better known as a sage or counselor
Dunadar 27/Jun/2006 at 12:17 AM
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LoA In the chapter "Istari" of UT Tolkien says that the only Istari who were really known were the chiefs of the other Istari sent to ME (there were more sent to the parts north and south of ME). Those five being Saruman, Radgast, the 2 blue wizards (there names always escape me I know one’s name begins with a P and the other begins with an A), and last but not least Gandalf. We don’t know how many were sent just that Gandalf was the only one who accomplished his mission. 
Endril 27/Jun/2006 at 04:39 AM
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I think Tolkien didn’t needed to create the tipe of wizard that is allways seen in some movies and games etc. AS wizard didn’t had to kill his enemyes with magic. He is more of a wise man that hesitates in creating conflictual situations. Allso the imense power of Gandals it is shown by the fact that he doesn’t uses his magic all the time. He usually uses it for a good purpose not for destruction.
ranger2king 28/Jun/2006 at 10:18 AM
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i personally think everyone is overthinking the subject. tolkien refers to the 5 istari as being wizards, so be it. the fact that they are achetypal wizards or not does not denote the fact that they are in fact wizards. just because they dont seem to be the harry potter type wizard does not declassify them as being a wizard...whatever tolkien says goes, its his story
Endril 29/Jun/2006 at 03:48 AM
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Indeed ranger2king the image of a wizard in a fantasy is usually that of an old and wise person that frequently uses his wisdom and gaves advice to the other characters. Sometime wizards are involved in some fights using there magic. But some authors thought that a wizard is a person who trowa fireballs all day killing enemyes with magic. As they are wise wizards do not throw themselves in a fight.
RaistlinMajere 29/Jun/2006 at 11:39 AM
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Tolkien just has a different view of the meaning on what a wizard is. I envision wizards as wize, usually wizened and old people, who have the ability to cast magic, but know when it is the right time to do so. I think Gandalf’s classification as a wizard is correct. Because he is a wizard, people fear him and tend to distrust him. But his council is excellent and his actions in dire situations are incredible.
Ecthelion Anor 02/Aug/2006 at 11:57 PM
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The only thing I know about Gandalf’s descent is that he is a Maia and was created probably by Eru. As for his magic the only thing I remember is him using his staff for light when they were in the mines of Moria. He also uses it to drive of the Nazgul in ROTK. In the movie, he uses it to drive back Saruman.
Ard Ri 05/Aug/2006 at 05:06 PM
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I think the hole power about Gandalf is a good debate and one of the clever things about Tolkien. It would have been easy for Tolkien to of had Gandalf going around casting some heavy spells and wiping out everything that got in his way. But we must not forget the the Lord of The Rings is about the struggle between good and evil, and the good guys are under pressure! The Elves are bailing out, the Dwarfs have there own problems. The fight to finish the evil one has been left to men and men only! But both Elves an Dwarfs are represented by Legolas and Gimli and in so do play a part in the main quest. But it Is Gandalf that casts the mightiest of all spells and in so finishes his life task, and what you say is this mighty spell????? ’INSPIRATION’ the mightiest spell of all. It was through him and him only that the men of Gondor found there strength and will to fight until the arrival of  Aragorn, and let us not forget it was Aragorn whom also played his part in keeping Gandalf from loosing hope. OOOOOH what a spell.........   
Lord of the Rings 05/Aug/2006 at 06:57 PM
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The fight to finish the evil one has been left to men and men only

You might want to do a little more reading and a little less watching, Ard Ri. There were multiple battles fought in Lothlorien, and a very big battle in Dale where Dain Ironfoot was killed. The idea of Men fighting off Sauron on their own is false.

As for the topic, there doesn’t seem to be much worthwhile debate going on at the moment. It is, of course, very difficult to qualify exactly what Gandalf’s power was like, and how great it was, and just how much it changed when he got all White. One interesting thing I noted while reading is that Gandalf’s power is chiefly associated with fire. Here’s a Letters quote to support that:

[Fireworks] appear in the books (and would have done even if I disliked them) because they are part of the representation of Gandalf, bearer of the Ring of Fire, the Kindler: the most childlike aspect shown to the Hobbits being fireworks.
-Letter #301 to Donald Swann (emphasis original)


Here Narya is given at least some credit for Gandalf’s association with fire, although it is not clear if his Ring is the sole reason for it. Somewhere else (I cannot remember the exact location), Narya is described as being mainly an instrument for kindling hope an inspiring people, and in the Council of Elrond the Three are all disassociated with any sort of warlike power:

[The Three] are not idle. But they were not made as weapons of war or conquest: that is not their power. Those who made them did not desire strength or domination or hoarded wealth, but understanding, making, and healing, to preserve all things unstained.
-The Lord of the Rings II, The Council of Elrond


It would seem then that much of Gandalf’s ’magical’ power is his own, and not the Ring’s- although it is still possible, I suppose, that Ring could influence his power in some way towards fire. As has been mentioned, his flame does need something to work on- but this does not mean all his magic is so. I do not know if he was capable of anything along the lines (certainly not to the degree) of breaking Saruman’s staff as the Grey, but that, to me, seems a rather distinct type of action from setting something on fire (in other words, not his normal method of using his power). My point, such as it is, would seem to be that much of Gandalf’s power is fiery, and that this is rather limited in some ways (needing fuel, for one). It is not clear that his other magic works in precisely the same way.

And as for needing to touch things to set them on fire, this is certainly not the case:

In the wavering firelight Gandalf seemed suddenly to grow: he rose up, a great menacing shape like the monument of some ancient king of stone set upon a hill. Stopping like a cloud, he lifted a burning branch and strode to meet the wolves. They gave back before him. High in the air he tossed the blazing brand. It flared with a sudden white radiance like lightning; and his voice rolled like thunder.

’Naur an edraith ammen! Naur dan i ngaurhoth!’
he cried.

There was a roar and a crackle, and the tree above him burst into a leaf and bloom of blinding flame. The fire leapt from tree-top to tree-top. The whole hill was crowned with dazzling light. The swords and knives of the defenders shone and flickered. The last arrow of Legolas kindled in the air as it flew, and plunged burning into the heart of a great wolf-chieften. All the others fled.
-The Lord of the Rings II, A Journey In The Dark


I have quoted the longer passage because it is one of the most showy displays of magic by Gandalf, and is therefore of great relevence to this discussion.
Ard Ri 05/Aug/2006 at 10:06 PM
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My young Easterling friend it is ever so easy to quote writings from a book it looks very well and very long!!! But you must come of age and learn to read between the lines. Tolkien was trying to let you know that people of not only his world but of the world we live in are only to willing to put there life in jeopardy for people whom they love and respect. Please don’t forget that there is a big connection between the Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s experience in WW1, Were the same battle was fought for real and which inspired him..........Ohh young wayward Easterling  you know that the power of the White Tree shall overcome!!!!
Lord of the Rings 06/Aug/2006 at 10:15 AM
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Ard Ri, what is your point? I am assuming you are referring to my comment about Men not being the only party involved in the War of the Ring, and not my comments on Gandalf’s magic. Where did I say anything about anyone’s motivations? I merely said the truth: Elves and Dwarves were both involved in the fight against Sauron in the War of the Ring.

[March] 11 ...First assault on Lórien.

15 ...Battle under the trees in Mirkwood; Thranduil repels the forces of Dol Guldur. Second assault on Lórien.

22 ...Third assault on Lórien.

...Three times Lórien had been assailed from Dol Guldur, but besides the valour of the elven people of that land, the power that dwelt there was too great for any to overcome, unless Sauron had come there himself. Though grievous harm was done to the fair woods on the borders, the assaults were driven back; and when the Shadow passed, Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lórien over Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cleansed.

In the North also there had been war and evil. The realm of Thranduil was invaded, and there was a long battle under the trees and great ruin of fire; but in the end Thranduil had the victory...

At the same time as the great armies besieged Minas Tirith a host of the allies of Sauron that had long threatened the borders of King Brand crossed the River Carnen, and Brand was driven back to Dale. There he had the aid of the Dwarves of Erebor; and there was a great battle at the Mountain’s feet. It lasted three days, but in the end both King Brand and King Dáin Ironfoot were slain, and the Easterlings had the victory. But they could not take the Gate, and many, both Dwarves and Men, took refuge in Erebor, and there withstood a siege.
-The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B The Tale of Years


Maybe that makes the truth of the War of the Ring a little clearer, Ard Ri.
Ard Ri 07/Aug/2006 at 03:57 PM
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LOTR>> My point that I  was trying to put across to you when I said you need to learn to read between the lines, Is that in order to understand the meaning behind the LOTR, You must first learn to understand the man whom wrote it!!! Tolkien when he wrote the books as i said in my last quote based part of his book on his experience in WW1. It strikes me that you have a lot to learn about the man. Maybe there will come a time when you will understand what I am trying to say, But it is not now! There is more to Tolkien then big long quotes and this I think you need to learn> I wish you luck...Slan Anoish Mo Cara.......   
Lord of the Rings 07/Aug/2006 at 06:35 PM
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Ard Ri, I know that my understanding of Tolkien’s life and character is not as deep as it could be- yet (I am always trying to deepen it, however). However, I raise my eyebrow at you claiming to possess deep secrets about Tolkien’s life that offer these profound insights into his work- and yet you will not explain what these are or how they are relevent. There are some on the Plaza who, I believe, do possess such insight- but they are willing to explain what they mean to those who will listen and don’t simply rebuff with cryptic nonsense.

Whatever degree to which the War of the Ring was based off WWI, it does not change what he wrote. If Tolkien tells us that there was a battle in Mirkwood, then there was a battle in Mirkwood. End of story. If your point is something about Gandalf’s magic not actually being of the magical sort, but rather of the inspirational, I would have to both agree and disagree (and take issue that I need to understand Tolkien’s life better to grasp this concept).

I agree in that it would seem Gandalf’s chief contribution to ME was in organizing and inspiring the various free peoples into resistance against Sauron, and orchestrating the key events that led to his downfall. I disagree in that he clearly possessed a more mystical power of the sort. Inspiration does not, in my experience at least, start things on fire. It does not break staffs. It does not seal doors. It is this mystical magic that has so far been mostly discussed in this thread- the other kind is also worth discussing, but not here.

If you have some other point, say so, and say what it is. Vague comments about reading between lines are not helpful- clear explanation is.
shadowoflegolas 21/Aug/2006 at 04:48 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Daladad_of_Gondor on Thursday, April 20, 2006

I’m reconfiriming my sources for my earlier post. here are a couple of quotes

from the Encyclopedia of Arda

"In the Third Age, there were still Maiar in physical form to be found in Middle-earth. The most important of these were Saruman, Sauron (originally also of Aulë’s people), and Olórin, known as Gandalf, who belonged to the people of Manwë and Varda."

"Tolkien at no point defines what the limits of Gandalf’s magic were. As a Maia, he had many natural abilities that would seem magical to mortal races"

"The word ’Wizard’ has a very specific meaning in Tolkien; it is intended as a translation of istar, and applies only to those Maiar who came to Middle-earth in the Third Age. The word’s more general use, for any person who works magical acts, does not apply in this context."

http://www.thetolkienwiki.org/

"Meaning of Ainur(Valar and Maiar):Angelic Beings


If Tolkien wanted to avoid association with what people usually associate with Wizards, (long beards, pointy hats, staffs, etc) I wonder why he made Gandalf and the other Istari to resemble traditional magic using wizards; Merlin coming to mind. Even though he said that Wizard was the closest thing word he could think of in English to describe them?  I think that if he REALLY wanted to avoid the association he would have just called them Istari even in the book.

Lord_Vidύm 21/Aug/2006 at 11:40 PM
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The answer to your thread’s name is Gandalf the WHITE.

Now as for him, I don’t think he ever used a direct offensive spell. Maybe that would have happened when he fought against DurinsBane. Another "offensive"-although he used it in defence- was that Lighting ray spell with which he shooed the Nazguls.

Gandalf was called a wizard, because that was what he was (for the people of Middle Earth). He was making wonderful things (Such as the gunpowder), that nobody believed existed. That made them believe he was a magician-a wizard. The druid you talk for, if I am not wrong, were priests from the Celtic ancient religions. It has nothing to do with magic- although they claimed to use it. Alchemists did that too-but they couldn’t extent life as they wanted to.

celembrimor 27/Aug/2006 at 07:58 AM
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gandalf doesdo some"direct damage spells" in the hobbit when the company are in beorns house gandalf says"i killed two with a lighting bolt" or somthing like that  so there you are i very much helps you in your studies of tolkiens exstravagant world.
Tirion Rothir 06/Sep/2006 at 08:04 PM
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In understanding the key to who Gandalf is, it might be insightful to look his time before middle earth and the role he played while there. First of all, Gandalf was a Maia called Olorin, as already mentioned, but his specific standing was as a student of Nienna, the Valar of dreams. It is then possible that Gandalf’s powers lay greatest in the strength of his mind and vision for middle earth, rather than in "offensive spells", which I believe is a poor term.

In coming to middle earth, Gandalf was ordained to fight against Sauron, more with cunning than in force (another reason why his strength was in his mind, as Saruman was also known as cunning and also chosen for the task). In this, his possible role as a steward grows more likely, as was mentioned earlier in the thread.

Finally, as to what exactly Gandalf was in title, we might want to look at his name. It comes from a list of the first dwarf fathers in the Norse creation myth. Dwarfs (distinguished by spelling as the Norse ones) were also known as elves in that culture and literature (though I believe Light elves were a bit different). They were also known as great craftsmen, forming things even the gods called wondrous. Gandalf’s name means "wand elf", or elf with a staff. Seeing that elves\dwarves were great craftsmen, perhaps Gandalf was a craftsman of peace, distinguished by his staff as having the mystery and unhuman power associated with a wizard, but using the powers of mind to carry out his task.

Just a guess.

Tar-Adahnamir 06/Sep/2006 at 08:16 PM
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The first thing I thought when I read the title is that it was trying to discuss whether it’s Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White. I would imagine that calling him gandalf the white is actually quite funny, since I believe Gandalf is just Mithrandir rendered into common tongue or Hobbit or whatever language, and Mith- means grey  Prehaps the whole discussion about colour could be avoided by calling him Olorin. that would be just as well, we don’t want to have to call him Nimrandir or something  Sorry if this is a tangent, but I think it’s interesting.

Lord of the Rings 06/Sep/2006 at 10:12 PM
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I believe Gandalf is just Mithrandir rendered into common tongue

Not quite- Gandalf comes, as I understand, from Old English, and means ’wand-elf’. No grey in there at all
Lord_Vidύm 07/Sep/2006 at 05:11 AM
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Calling him Gandalf the White is not funny. It is his nameExcept for if we get the names as funny things.
"Yes I am white now, said Gandalf. In fact I am Saruman, someone could say, Saruman as he should’ve been."

So he himself accepts that he turnt white.

As for the name Mithrandir:
"Many are my names in many countries. Mithrandir to the elves, Tharkun to the dwarves, Olorin I was during my youth at West that is now forgotten (Vallinor), Incanus in South (probably Harad for Incanus could mean North Spy-Inca+Nus OR because he didnt stay to Harad so long to get a name, it could mean Gondor, especilly the places under Gondor’s reign during its great rise), Gandalf in the North (probably the whole era of Middle Earth that takes part in Lotr); At East I go not"- UT- Istari

As for Gandalf
"The name Gandalf in the english recite is like the names of Hobbits and dwarves. There exists as a name in the ancient Scandinavian (A dwarf had it at Voluspa-one serie of Poems of Edda), that I used it for it seems to contain the word gandr,wand, especially the one that is used for magic and can be explained as "Elvish creature with (magic) wand". Gandalf was no elf, but the men he had realtions with might consider him as one, for his alliagence and friendship with the elves was renowned. Since this name is given to the North generally, we have to assume that the word Gandalf belongs to Westron, but it has been formed by types that doesn’t come from the elvish"-UT

Lord_Vidύm 07/Sep/2006 at 05:12 AM
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So if we wish to accept a name for Gandalf, the MOST correct name would be Olorin, for that was his name at the West, from where he came.And not Mithrandir.
NightRider17 07/Nov/2006 at 03:43 PM
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Isn’t interesting that he was called Olorin in the west and called Mithrandir by the elves. But he is referred to as Mithrandir by the men of the west not Olorin, i think that’s very interesting.
The Mormegil 16/Nov/2006 at 02:01 PM
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Surely Gandalf is a wizard! He simply IS the inspiration for the character-type in a lot of those RPGs, after all! A druid? I rather see Radagast in that role, don’t you? Friend to birds and all that ... Gandalf burns up goblins in the Misty Mountains (as was noted by Arduvei, et al). He burns up wargs in both The Hobbit and outside Moria in LOTR. No doubt, he could’ve run around toasting orcs and trolls and evil dudes of all sorts -- but that kind of thing didn’t fit Gandalf’s personality. Tossing fireballs around would not have been in keeping with his mission in Middle Earth (the mission he held to most honorably among all the Istari). Gandalf’s being overtly a "wizard" wasn’t his style -- but he’s a still a wizard nonetheless. And I mean in the RPG sense, not the Tolkien one. He is by definition a wizard according to Tolkien’s standards, since he’s a member of the Istari. He’s every bit the wizard in that sense, as was Saruman, Radagast, and the others. They only lost their wizard status when they left the order of the Istari, through their own actions when those were not in keeping with the goals of that order set at its creation.
Aran Lepenque Sedai 20/Nov/2006 at 09:24 PM
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Gandalf probably wouldn’t want to show that personality of tossing fireballs at people.  He was also prevented from toasting Orcs and trolls other evil stuff by the Valar, not just his personality.
Falvlun 22/Nov/2006 at 09:00 AM
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Dunadar, this in response to a post of yours near the top of this page. You had claimed that due to the nature of the Hobbit it can’t be used as reliable source. I agree that there are *some* things within the Hobbit that changed with LotR, particularly the tone and intended audience. Thus we have more humorous scenes, etc. But in the case of Gandalf, I really do not see any discrepancy between the Hobbit Gandalf and the LotR Gandalf. Certainly, Gandalf’s character is elaborated and refined, but it does not change. We are merely being shown bits and peices of Gandalf at different points-- pieces which may be knit together to create a whole. Gandalf is a bit more lighthearted in the Hobbit, but that can easily be explained regarding the circumstances: the Ring was not yet found, and Gandalf was still treating the hobbits sensitively. He had no reason to frighten them with things that they had no control over, as of yet.

Furthermore, goblins did not just *disappear*. They are orcs. Orcs and goblins are interchangeable in Tolkien. "Also the Orcs (goblins) and other monsters bred by the First Enemy are not wholly destroyed." (Letter 130) There is plenty more proof of their interchangability, if you require it.

Elenhir, you claim that using a medium disallows a piece of magic to be a "direct attack". You then go as far to claim that the hand is only another medium. I completely disagree. Traditionally, wizards have used a multiple variety of mediums-- most notably wands. Yet no one will believe that a spell cast by a wand is indirect. Furthermore, a hand is merely an extension of body-- an extension of the person itself. Thus it is not a separate medium at all, but merely the focal and exit point of magic.

To all:
I was wondering if there is any proof for thinking Gandalf may have been one of the ’fire’ maiar. Like Sauron was, in other words. We know that many of the fire maiar went to the dark side, but those that did not would have a deeper understanding of their brethren who did turn-coat. And it would help explain his affinity for fire-based magic.

Lord of the Rings 26/Nov/2006 at 05:50 PM
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may have been one of the ’fire’ maiar. Like Sauron was, in other words

What’s your evidence for saying Sauron had anything in particular to do with fire? In the Valaquenta, it is merely said that Sauron was a Maia of Aule, and nothing more. Indeed, this is said so shortly after the Balrogs are identified as being spirits of fire that one would expect some mention if Sauron was as well.
Falvlun 26/Nov/2006 at 07:55 PM
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Lord of the Rings, You know what, I just realized I really don’t know! I just opened a thread in People and Races about it. Link here: Of Sauron and Fire-Maiars