O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!

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Lady d`Ecthelion 19/Apr/2006 at 10:41 PM
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"With Manwë dwelt Varda the most beautiful, she who in the Sindarin tongue is named Elbereth, Queen of the Valar, maker of the stars; "

"Of all the Great Ones who dwell in this world the Elves hold Varda most in reverence and love. Elbereth they name her, and they call upon her name out of the shadows of Middle-earth, and uplift it in song at the rising of the stars."


(from the published Silmarillion)

That the Star Queen - Varda/Elbereth was special to the Elves - it is quite understandable.

What however made me wonder is the effect of her name upon the Nazgul.

At first sight, it seems as if the very name ’Elbereth Giltoniel’ scares the Nazgul away

- a Black Rider retreats when Elves appear in the woods singing a song to the Star Queen and clearly singing out her name;
- at Weathertop - Frodo attacks the WK crying out her name, and it is explained that : "all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth.

Yet, in other cases, this name shows not much effect upon the Nazgul.

- at the Ford : Frodo : "By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair,’ said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, ’you shall have neither the Ring nor me!’"
But did the Nazgul show any fear at hearing that name? I don’t think so! Instead:
"the leader, who was now half across the Ford, stood up menacing in his stirrups, and raised up his hand. Frodo was stricken dumb. He felt his tongue cleave to his mouth, and his heart labouring. His sword broke and fell out of his shaking hand. The elf-horse reared and snorted. The foremost of the black horses had almost set foot upon the shore."

And on another occasion, when the Company is sailing along the Anduin at night and is attacked by a flying Nazgul:

"`Elbereth Gilthoniel!’ sighed Legolas as he looked up. Even as he did so, a dark shape, like a cloud and yet not a cloud, for it moved far more swiftly, came out of the blackness in the South, and sped towards the Company, blotting out all light as it approached. Soon it appeared as a great winged creature, blacker than the pits in the night. Fierce voices rose up to greet it from across the water. Frodo felt a sudden chill running through him and clutching at his heart; there was a deadly cold, like the memory of an old wound, in his shoulder. He crouched down, as if to hide."
And if it were not for the bow of Legolas, the attack might’ve ended otherwise.

The latter two randomly chosen episodes show that the Nazgul practically show no particular fear at hearing the name of the Star Queen of the Valar!

Now...

This in itself seems contradicting the statement quoted above, namely: "More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth.’"

But also, I am thinking.... After all, the Nazgul were all of the mortal race - and from as much as is known about them, in most part their squad was formed from men from the East, even though, as it’s known, some (and perhaps the mightiest of them) were of Numenorean lineage - but the latter definitely not from the ’Faithful’!

In other words, the Nazgul, whoever they were, could not, IMO, have much knowledge of Varda. And even if they had some, how could they know of her powers - hence fear her and her name?

Then why this statement: "More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth."
Why is it hinted in other occasions, that the Nazgul actually feared the name of the Valar Queen?

Opinions?

Snik 19/Apr/2006 at 11:02 PM
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I imagine that in the first example of the Elves singing the Nazgul retreated due to the weight of numbers, rather than the song which was being sung. And in the second I always took the meaning of that to be that the Nazgul are harmed by blades as much as they are by verbal abuse (or invoking one of the Vala), if you take my meaning. Of course I may well be wrong, it has been over a year since I’ve read LotR, but that has always been my impression of it.
Gerontian 19/Apr/2006 at 11:23 PM
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I have always taken Gandalf’s statement about the effect of Elbereth’s name on the Witch King as being more metaphorical than literal. Why?  I believe that Gandalf is saying that all blades are ineffective against the Witch King.  If blades are not deadly to the Witch King at all, than it seems to me to be a kind of poetic license to say that something else is more deadly, a form of hyperbole, perhaps.  He is not saying that the mere utterance of Elbereth’s name is lethal, only that it is more deadly than something that is not deadly at all. 

Also, Frodo is wearing the Ring when he cries out Elbereth’s name. This may have given his cry a certain efficacy against his foe.  Sam hears Frodo’s cry as if it had "come from a great distance, or from under the earth."  This suggests that Ring’s effect at that moment in time was quite powerful. I wonder, did Bilbo or anyone else speak when they wore the Ring, and if so, did they sound the same way as Frodo, as described by Sam?  I do not know. I am only offering two possible explanations for what happened on Weathertop.

Lady d`Ecthelion 19/Apr/2006 at 11:53 PM
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Gerontian, thank you for your opinion!
So, if I am to understand you correctly, it is actually not the name of Elbereth itself, but some other powerful item - a sword, a ring, a bow ... that perhaps does the "miracle" of driving a Nazgul away, while the name of the Star Queen is only ... poetics?

It seems that Sink is on a similar opinion.

I shall think on it.
Gerontian 20/Apr/2006 at 12:09 AM
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To be precise, I think that Aragorn is speaking poetically, not that the name of Elbereth is merely poetic. Varda is the kindler of the stars, and a very powerful being who the elves even call holy, I believe. The idea of a holy name is ancient, and names have been used as Talismans in other contexts, in other mythologies. But as you point out in your opening post, as a talisman, Elbereth’s name is not always equally effective. So, I think one has to look for explanations elswhere. I am not necessarily opposed to the notion of a name carrying a kind of power with it.  But as you point out in your research, there are problems with this explanation. 
Alcarináro 20/Apr/2006 at 12:27 AM
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Why is the third case used to demonstrate that the Nazgul show no fear at the name of Elbereth? Legolas sighed, and the Nazgul was high above them. We don’t even know that the Nazgul knew that the Fellowship was there. I see no reason to think that it heard a sigh from Legolas.

Gerontian, there is a flaw in your theory. Blades aren’t ineffective against the Lord of the Nazgul. They are destroyed when they meet with him, but they still can inflict damage, as we see every time we have an example the Lord of the Nazgul being hit (and some that are hypotheticals, like the one found in Letter 210). Especially damaging to the wraith are blades like those from the Barrow-downs. Frodo was currently using one of those. But still, even with a ’normal’ sword, there is never any indication given in the texts that the Lord of the Nazgul would be utterly immune.

As to why I think there is no effect on the wraiths at the Ford, the reason would be lack of invocation. Frodo there is more referencing than calling out for aid, especially since his speaking of the word before was in an launch of attack in a great voice. On the other hand, by the Ford Frodo is almost fainted, his voice certainly feeble; there is no threat behind it like there was before. It is no longer a battle-cry.
Gerontian 20/Apr/2006 at 12:42 AM
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Elenhir, I see what you are saying, and I do not disagree.  In my own reading of the text, I take into account that this quotation is from Aragorn’s point of view at that moment in the dramatic action of the story.  Yes, the Blades of Westernesse are potentially damaging, and I do not mean to imply that the Witch King is immune to them. I am just trying to put myself in Aragorn’s place, and think why he would make this statement at this point in the story. In the the dramatic circumstances of this scene, it just makes sense to me that Aragorn would say this kind of thing, especially with Frodo lying wounded and the company desperately needing reassurance, especially with the Nazgul still lurking all around them. I do not think Aragorn means to reveal any great wealth of lore or expound on the nature of the Nazgul, so much as to quell the hobbits fears. It is my own ideosyncratic reading pf the text, and quite flawed, I suppose, but it works well as a bit of theater.  

Lady d`Ecthelion 20/Apr/2006 at 12:49 AM
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So, Elenhir, I can’t quite understand your opinion with regard to my main question.
Does the name of the Star Queen have, or have not any effect upon the Nazgul, in your opinion?

BTW, thank you for joining the discussion!
Phil_d_one 20/Apr/2006 at 01:01 AM
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Taking the quote regarding the Lord of the Nazgul in context, I am inclined to somewhat agree with Gerontian (though not fully)

’Look!’ he cried; and stooping he lifted from the ground a black cloak that had lain there hidden by the darkness. A foot above the lower hem there was a slash. ’This was the stroke of Frodo’s sword,’ he said. ’The only hurt that it did to his enemy, I fear; for it is unharmed, but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth.’
(TFotR (I) Flight to the Ford, Emphasis is Mine)

Frodo’s blade did not even touch the Lord of the Nazgul (if it did, it would have been destroyed), and so did him no harm whatsoever, other than tearing his cloak. So here I’d tend to agree with Gerontian that Aragorn is merely stressing that the blade did him no harm -- and so even the name of Elbereth did him more harm, so to speak (my disagreement with his idea is that not all blades are neccessarily ineffective against the Lord of the Nazgul). In other words, I personally do not think that this quote shows anything either way -- it does not give us anything to say that the Nazgul do or do not fear the name of Elbereth.

And with regards the Nazgul retreating when he heard the Elves singing, looking at the quote, I’m seeing it as somewhat more likely that he was merely retreating because of a large company of Elves moving his way, rather than because he heard the name of Elbereth. First of all, why would Tolkien only tell us what they were singing after the Black Rider retreats, not even making any connection between the two, if it was in fact the name of Elbereth that caused him to retreat. The wording makes it seem as if it is the voices, and not the words that they are singing, that makes him retreat. And secondly, if the Nazgul do fear the name of Elbereth, then what Aragorn says on Weathertop can be taken into account -- Hence, the name of Elbereth is deadly to them -- but this Black Rider doesn’t react as if someone has said something deadly to him, only something that he’d rather not hear, so to speak.

But at that moment there came a sound like mingled song and laughter. Clear voices rose and fell in the starlit air. The black shadow straightened up and retreated. It climbed on to the shadowy horse and seemed to vanish across the lane into the darkness on the other side. Frodo breathed again.
(TFotR (I) Three is Company)

I am not here actually proposing that the Nazgul didn’t fear the name of Elbereth, but given the evidence presented thus far, I’d have to say that I do not believe there isn’t enough to succesfully claim they did fear it. Is there any other relevant situations that haven’t been mentioned thus far?
halfir 20/Apr/2006 at 03:46 AM
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I am afraid that I find myself in disagreement with my good friend gerontian on this subject. I beleieve that Tolkien intended us to accept that the Nazgul were indeed intimidated by the name of Varda- the Star Kindler in her verbal incarnation of  Elbereth Gilthoniel. She is the very opposite to that which they represent ,and names in Tolkien, as elsewher in lfantasy literature do carry power, particularly when used as an  invocation, as indeed in Christian observances:

’O Lord hear our prayer and let our cry come unto thee’

 {cf.  my observations on the power of names and naming   in my current Tom Bombadil: Peeling the Onion thread and my more hsitoric The Naming of Sauron thread.}

And the unpublished Marquette Hunt for the Ring passaage quoted in Hammond&Scull, written sometime between 1954-55 certainly shows that Tolkien very much believed in the power of the name Elbereth as a potent weapon against the Nazgul.

’and he {Frodo} called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgul’.{Hammond & Scull LOTR Companion p.180}.

{Tolkien is here referring to the Weathertop episode}

And in a different context- one of Varda’s greatest servants- a warrior of light- Glorfindel- had caused the Witch - king to flee:

’But Glorfindel rode up then on his white horse, and in the midst of his laughter  the Witch-king turned to flight and passed into the shadows.’ {ROTK App A (iv) Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion}

And regarding the Ford of Bruinen episode, Tolkien comments (Note 3 Hunt for the Ring UT } comments:

’only the Witch king and two others , with the lure of the Ring straight before them , had dared to enter the river; the others were driven into it by Glorfindel and Aragorn’. {my bold emphasis}

And I would suggest that the Bruinen  and Weathertop episodes are not similarin terms of the naming of Elbereth:

Weathertop

’At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the gorund, and heard himself crying aloud:O Elbereh! Gilthoniel"

Bruinen

’By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair’ said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, ’you shall have neither the Ring nor me!’ {my bold emphasis}

The Weathertop cry is ’in extermis’ - an involuntarily invocation of the name of the Queen of the Heavens, the Bruinen episode is a verbal act of defiance- not an invocation, and there is no conjoining of Elbereth and Gilthoniel.

Sadly, as with the Witch-king and the Blade of Westerness thread in AL , RL constrains me from elucidating further at this point in time, but I later intend to set out both here and in that other thread a series of detailed arguments which do not support most of the propositions  forwarded here!X(

Gerontian 20/Apr/2006 at 05:43 AM
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Halfir, I am actually relieved to read your opinion.  As I stated earlier, I have no difficulty with the notion of names carring power.  In fact, It makes total sense, but I did not make or see the distinction between the events at Weathertop and Bruinen that you do, not clearly visualizing the cry at Weathertop as an invocation. That is a very interesting interpretation, and one that fits the pieces of the puzzle together.  To invoke a power by using it’s name is extremely ancient belief and practice, one that I am sure Tolkien understood as a Roman Catholic.  As a Roman Catholic, I grew up quite familiar with idea of the Holy Name, there being not only the Feast of the Holy Name, but the Litany of the Holy Name, one of the approved litanies of the church, and the Holy Name Society.  I fear I lost my own faith in Tolkien’s consistency, unnecessarily!  Thank you! 
Jedi Ranger 20/Apr/2006 at 05:58 AM
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Well duh, she was the greatest and most powerful of the elves and was the iminenance of all that is good.  Since the nazgul serve only darkness and despair, they themselves flee at the sound of her name.  She is soo powerful that even her name strikes fear into the hearts of evil beings and bravery and courage to the one who would speak her name.  I loved it in the book when frodo yelled that in mordor and how sam sang it when finding frodo when he was captured by orcs. Wow, even i like saying it
geordie 20/Apr/2006 at 06:41 AM
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There is a religious element present here. In 1967, Tolkien co-authored with Donald Swann ’The Road Goes Ever On; the last of his writings on Middle-earth published in his lifetime.

In his notes for the poem A Elbereth Gilthoniel, Tolkien writes:

’As a ’divine’ or ’angelic’ person Varda/Elbereth could be said to be ’looking afar from heaven’ [as in Sam’s invocation], hence the use of a present participle. She was often thought of, or depicted, as standing on a great height looking towards Middle-earth, with eyes that penetrated the shadows, and listening to the cries for aid of Elves [and Men] in peril or grief. Frodo [Vol.I, p.208] and Sam both invoke her in moments of extreme peril. The Elves sing hymns to her. [These and other references to relogion in The Lord of the Rings are often overlooked].

Later in the same notes, Tolkien speaks of the High Elves going to the Tower Hills to look into the palantir there towards Eldamar. Tolkien refers to such a journey as a ’pilgrimage’. Then, Elves might be rewarded with a vision of Elbereth herself, the Star-Kindler, standing upon the mountain Oiolosse.

I think that Tolkien meant very much that the name of Elbereth Gilthoniel should be regarded as a name of power, and that invocation of that name by ’believers’ in extremis was invoking that power.
Phil_d_one 20/Apr/2006 at 06:49 AM
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’and he [Frodo] called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgul’

That’s the sort of defining statement I was hoping for
halfir 20/Apr/2006 at 03:08 PM
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geordie: Thank you for reminding us of The Road Goes Ever On. You have before pointed us in that direction, to a work of the Master’s that too many of us- myself included, forget - which is an important part of that produced in his lifetime and thus published under his aegis.

On re-reading my copy, as a result of you post, I totally concur with your comment:

I think that Tolkien meant very much that the name of Elbereth Gilthoniel should be regarded as a name of power, and that invocation of that name by ’believers’ in extremis was invoking that power.

Moreover, your post also reminded me that Frodo was an ’Elf -friend’ (cf. Gildor’s comment FOTR-Three is Company’, and Goldberry -FOTR In The House of Tom Bombadil - ’elf-friend- the light in your eyes and the ring in your voice tells it) and was thus more knoweldgeable than most regarding the elves and those they looked to for support and help.

And of course the reference Tolkien gives in your quote:

She was often thought of, or depicted, as standing on a great height looking towards Middle-earth, with eyes that penetrated the shadows, and listening to the cries for aid of Elves [and Men] in peril or grief. Frodo [Vol.I, p.208](my bold emphasis and underline),

is specifically to the cry of O Elbereth Gilthoniel  that Frodo gives on Weathertop!

gerontian and Phil_d_oneX(

geordie 20/Apr/2006 at 04:05 PM
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halfir:

And of course the reference Tolkien gives in your quote:is specifically to the cry of O Elbereth Gilthoniel that Frodo gives on Weathertop!

- exactly!
Lady d`Ecthelion 20/Apr/2006 at 09:53 PM
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The beacons!... The beacons are alight!!!...



Thank you, Phil, halfir and geordie, for joining the discussion and for your excellent posts! (as always!)

I can very well understand and accept your opinions and observations about the reasoning behind the invocation of the name of the Star Queen - both, Tolkien’s own ( as a writer, linguist, connoisseur of myth, mythologies and literary techniques ), as well as that of the characters from the story who call upon that name - the Elves, Frodo etc.

But if we look at the events from "inside" of the story only, leaving aside the writer’s idea, we witness a situation when a name is used as a sort of a "weapon". For the ones, who use it, it makes sense - they must know well its meaning and power.
But what I still can’t clearly figure out is how that name can produce its effect upon the Nazgul who have no much knowledge of the power it actually holds in itself.
In fact, does it really matter, whether the power of this name (just as the power of a "spell" or of an ’incantation’ ) is to be actually known by the one it is directed at, for it to have its effect?

Another point concerning the invocation of the name in question.
I can understand that Frodo, being an Elf-friend and brought-up by Bilbo, who had had quite a good knowledge in Elvish Lore, must’ve been aware to some extent at least of the power of this name, having gathered some Elvish Lore.
How much knowledge of Varda did Sam have, however?!
Do you think his use of this name had the same intentions - invoking the power of the Valar Queen - by crying out her name, or was it (as it seems to me) that he simply followed an example (Frodo’s, the Elves’ ) not even understanding what he was actually doing, and only "guessing" sub-consciously about the power of this particular name?
This name was something "Elvish" to Sam, and we all know about his deep respect towards everything and anything Elvish. Consciously, he would use this name as a "password", for he could understand at least that much that there was something "special" in that name if the Elves and all the rest of the people, he felt respect for, were referring to it with utmost respect. But the true power of this name, Sam seems to have not been fully aware of - for lack of enough knowledge of the Elvish Lore. Hence, even when he, too, cries out this name, this seems an unconscious act rather than conscious invocation of it power.

Let’s remember a couple of episodes:

At Cirith Ungol:
"‘Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!’ Sam cried. For, why he did not know, his thought sprang back suddenly to the Elves in the Shire, and the song that drove away the Black Rider in the trees.
‘Aiya elenion ancalima!’ cried Frodo once again behind him.
The will of the Watchers was broken with a suddenness like the snapping of a cord, and Frodo and Sam stumbled forward. "


In Shelob’s lair:
"Even as Sam himself crouched, looking at her, seeing his death in her eyes, a thought came to him, as if some remote voice had spoken. and he fumbled in his breast with his left hand, and found what he sought: cold and hard and solid it seemed to his touch in a phantom world of horror, the Phial of Galadriel.
’Galadriel! ’ he said faintly, and then he heard voices far off but clear: the crying of the Elves as they walked under the stars in the beloved shadows of the Shire, and the music of the Elves as it came through his sleep in the Hall of Fire in the house of Elrond.

Gilthoniel A Elbereth!
And then his tongue was loosed and his voice cried in a language which he did not know:
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
o menel palan-diriel,
le nallon sí di’nguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!


And with that he staggered to his feet and was Samwise the hobbit, Hamfast’s son, again.
`Now come, you filth!’ he cried. `You’ve hurt my master, you brute, and you’ll pay for it. We’re going on; but we’ll settle with you first. Come on, and taste it again!’


See what I mean?
I have brought Sam’s attitude towards this particular name, because in a way, his case is related to the case of the Nazgul.
Neither he, nor they had enough knowledge about Varda, about her powers, about Elvish Lore etc., especially the Nazgul!
So ... I again close down to the question: Is the power of a name (spell, incantantion etc. similar) to be known by the one who uses it, and especiallty by the one who is the object of it, in order for this name (spell, incantantion etc. similar) to produce its effect?

Because, if "Yes" is the answer, then my initial question shall be immediately answered - that is - the name of Varda does have effect upon the Nazgul, even if they have not enough knowledge about its actual powers.

Lastly, Master halfir, that issue about the name ’Elbereth’ used alone or/and in combination with ’Gilthoniel’, is something that I find very interesting, and I shall be following your observations on this with great interest!

geordie 20/Apr/2006 at 10:51 PM
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So ... I again close down to the question: Is the power of a name (spell, incantantion etc. similar) to be known by the one who uses it, and especiallty by the one who is the object of it, in order for this name (spell, incantantion etc. similar) to produce its effect?

I don’t think so.    Take the examples of Treebeard; and the Dwarves. Treebeard does not tell Merry and Pippin his true name; nor do Dwarves tell any non-dwarf their own real names. I take it this is _because_ of an ancient belief that if someone knows your real name, they can have a power over you. Conversely, the Nazgul are _unnamed_ , for something that has no name is increased in power and terror.
hope that makes sense.    
Lady d`Ecthelion 21/Apr/2006 at 10:37 PM
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Hmmm ... You confuse me, dear Sir...

I can very well agree on the issue of ’the power of a name’ - this, as much as I know, has for ages (and ages indeed! ) been a most peculiar psychological phenomenon concerning the human being. Just as we know of the same ’powers’ with regard to a person’s image and the person’s shadow, being "captured" and thus - having disastrous consequences for the person him/herself.

But ... I somehow can’t follow the "thread", coming from these phenomena - to the issue of using a name as a "weapon".

Some silly thoughts shall follow (I beg all to excuse them)

Say two enemies encounter in a combat, and one happens to have a material weapon totally unknown to his enemy. By using this weapon, its holder shall be perfectly well able to hurt his enemy and either chase him away or even kill him, be this weapon ’known’ or ’unknown’ to the opponent.

But what with a name, or a word, or an encantation, or "weapons" of the same order?
Isn’t it vital for their successful effect, that their object would be supposed to know about their power?
Sermela Calalen 22/Apr/2006 at 12:26 AM
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The nazgul probably do have some knowledge of Elbereth. After all they serve Sauron who would have that knowledge and they have long fought against the elves who have called on her. It seems to me that even if they did not know who she was, they knew that she was a powerful ally to the elves against them. When you have a powerful enemy you learn who their allies are. But say using the religious mindset of the author (I know you said the story only, yet I still desire to use this illustration as to disconnect the intent of Tolkien to his own writing to me seems detrimental to the discussion) as to the name of Jesus Christ. His name is used to cast demons out of people. In the Bible when this is done Jesus was not yet glorified so none fully knew who He was, yet His name had such power and cast such fear into demons they fled. Sometimes a name can contain a power that even if you do not fully understand it you can feel it. Even if you feel only because of the tone the one who calls on it uses. If I believe the name has power (which even Sam did though he didn’t understand why) my tone will reflect even if my cry is desperate. So while I beleive they had at the very least a vague notion of Varda they certainly knew she was an enemy and the hobbits and elves tones alone would speak of her power.
Kirinki54 22/Apr/2006 at 11:02 AM
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Excellent thread, Aldoriana! And some very good posts from several people…

 

Words per se possess a certain power in Faërie, and names have that latency in even more potent degrees. I do not doubt that the mere power of speaking the name ‘Elbereth Giltoniel’ could act as a spell even towards those who knew nothing of her. But I doubt there were many of the Enemy who did not; certainly the Nazgûl ought to have. Any invocation would likely fall under the magia category. An invocation of Elbereth would be poison to evil creatures, as well as refreshment for the suffering good.

 

Varda is a very special case; not just any old Vala…

 

With Manwë dwells Varda, Lady of the Stars, who knows all the regions of Eä. Too great is her beauty to be declared in the words of Men or of Elves; for the light of Ilúvatar lives still in her face. In light is her power and her joy. Out of the deeps of Eä she came to the aid of Manwë; for Melkor she knew from before the making of the Music and rejected him, and he hated her, and feared her more than all others whom Eru made. Manwë and Varda are seldom parted, and they remain in Valinor. Their halls are above the everlasting snow, upon Oiolossë, the uttermost tower of Taniquetil, tallest of all the mountains upon Earth. When Manwë there ascends his throne and looks forth, if Varda is beside him, he sees further than all other eyes, through mist, and through darkness, and over the leagues of the sea. And if Manwë is with her, Varda hears more clearly than all other ears the sound of voices that cry from east to west, from the hills and the valleys, and from the dark places that Melkor has made upon Earth. Of all the Great Ones who dwell in this world the Elves hold Varda most in reverence and love. Elbereth they name her, and they call upon her name out of the shadows of Middle-earth, and uplift it in song at the rising of the stars. (The Sil; my bold)

 

Of course the importance of Varda and of her works are mentioned several times in The Silmarillion. There is also the special relation she had versus Melkor/Morgoth, and hence in consequence, the certain power against his minions.

 

Melkor feared her most of all, because she knew him even before the Music (and thus also before Arda-marred). She held a power over him, and could reach into every dark corner with her light. That would certainly echo down the ages: to Sauron, to the Nazgûl, to evil creatures in general. And she was still there in the end of the Third Age, even if her epoch of great creations was long gone.
halfir 22/Apr/2006 at 04:27 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

aldoriana: Note that Sam’s invocation also conjoins ’Elbereth Gilthoniel" - the same as Frodo does on Weathertop.

A Elbereth Gilthoniel, o menel palan-diriel,le nallon
sí di-nguruthos! "A tiro nin, Fanuilos!

O Elbereth Starkindler, gazing afar to thee I cry
here beneath -death-horror- look towards (watch over) me, Fanuilos
  {The Road Goes Ever On p.64}

 {Fanuilos = Everwhite}

And Sam is holding the Phial of Galadriel -and thus is linked to her and it is the memory of her name that allows the invocation to be made:

as if some remote voice had spoken.......’Galadriel! ’ he said faintly, and then he heard voices far off but clear: the crying of the Elves as they walked under the stars in the beloved shadows of the Shire, and the music of the Elves as it came through his sleep in the Hall of Fire in the house of Elrond.


Lady d`Ecthelion 22/Apr/2006 at 11:26 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
One of my favourite "mini-stories" within the main myth, Kirinki!
Such stories make me "sense" the Valar closer and "feel" them as really living, breathing creatures, you know ...

But ( thoses "but"-s! ), could’ve the Nazgul known Valarin and Elvish lore that deep as to be aware of Varda’s powers?
Sermela Calalen assumes that they most probably did have quite enough knowledge as to know at least the basics about the Valar, hence - they might’ve been aware of what powers Varda had had and still had (at the end of the ThA). They also must’ve known that the enemies of their Master called upon this Goddess of theirs in critical situations, and they might’ve guessed that there must’ve been a reason for that.
However, I have this impression that in Tolkien’s Legendarium, Men out of the lands of former Beleriand, Men who had had little to no dealings and encounters with Elves, had actually little to no knowledge about the ’Gods and Goddesses’ worshiped by the Elves, and in consequence - by the Edain and /or by the Elendili.
And the Nazgul come mostly from the former!
So, the cry "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" should’ve not impressed them that much as to make them retreat.

And am I wrong in having this impression, that a Nazgul would not actually retreat before the name itself, but because this name came usually "accompnaied" - by a sword, by light, by an Elf (or more than one) ...
For some reason, I still can’t convince myself that a Nazgul can be, and was chased away by the power of the name of Varda the Star Queen only.

Master halfir, I am waiting with great interest what you have on the name used only as ’Elbereth’ and when in combination with ’Gilthoniel’. C’mon! Have mercy on my curiosity!
I know, you’re very busy, but .... I shall wait.
halfir 22/Apr/2006 at 11:35 PM
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And am I wrong in having this impression, that a Nazgul would not actually retreat before the name itself

aldoriana: According to Aragorn- yes!X(

’More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth’ {FOTR-Flight to the Ford}. Although to be fair Tolkien in the unpublished Marquette papers on The Hunt for the Ring c. 1954-5 said:

’But above all the timid and terified Bearer had resisted him, had dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies long ago for his destruction. Narrowly it had missed him. How had he come by it -save in the barrows of Cardolan. Then he was in some way mightier than the B{arrow} -wight; and he called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgul. He was then in league with the High Elves oft he Havens.

Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor -knife to Frodo (as was proved at the end), he withdrew and hid for a while, out of doubt and fear both of Aragorn and especially of Frodo. But fear of Sauron , and the forces of Sauron’s will was the stronger.{My bold emphasis and underline}.

As to the Elbereth Gilthoniel point- do you not recall that patience is a virtue?X(

Brandywine74 23/Apr/2006 at 12:48 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1291 Posts: 562 Joined: 20/Apr/2006

I think the name of Elbereth did have an effect on the Ringwraith. It did not ’harm’ him but would have disturbed him as a screeching type noise disturbs us but does no real harm. He probably wouldn’t retreat from the name though- especially with the One Ring so near. As for the time at the ford, obviously the name of Elbereth is distasteful to the wraith so the rider stops Frodo from speaking.

Hence Aragorn says the name does more harm than the sword which didn’t hit the Wraith.

A similar but opposite effect can be seen later when Gandalf says the ring verse in Rivendell. The sky seems to become dark and the elves stop their ears. Again it does no real harm- they merely find it disturbing.

On another point, it is interesting to contrast the effect of the name on the wraiths versus their non-effect on Shelob later on. Frodo uses the name against Shelob to no avail and Tolkien tells us that she had heard the elves use it long ago but she didn’t care.

Kirinki54 23/Apr/2006 at 07:12 AM
Librarian of Imladris Points: 2897 Posts: 1354 Joined: 17/Nov/2005

Aldoriana wrote: But ( thoses "but"-s! ), could’ve the Nazgul known Valarin and Elvish lore that deep as to be aware of Varda’s powers?

"Know thy enemy!" Sauron was pretty smart for a bully, and I doubt that he would not gave given the Nazgûl a thorough overview. It was not that they lacked time for a lesson now and then during the millennia. It might even have been part of the necessary ’curriculum’ for the would-be black sorcerer... That is one factor. Another is - also speculation - that the Nazgûl, living in the wrath world as they did, would have no problem sensing good powers, specially one as powerful as Varda. Likelly they did not want the focus of her light into their un-dead darkness! Whaddaya say?

 

 

 

halfir 23/Apr/2006 at 04:45 PM
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Brandywine 74: I think the name of Elbereth did have an effect on the Ringwraith. It did not ’harm’ him but would have disturbed him as a screeching type noise disturbs us but does no real harm.

How do you reconcile that statement with Tolkien’s  comment?

he called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgul. .{Hammond & Scull LOTR Companion p.180}.

And your Shelob reference is erroneous. Frodo does not call out A Elbereth Gilthoniel. He calls on Earendil- as Tolkien tells us in Letter # 297 when he refers to that passage in the text:

Aiya Earendil Elenion Alcalima {11.329} ’hail Earendil brightest of Stars

And the passage itself states:

Aiya Earendil Elenion Alcalima he cried, and knew not what he had spoken; for it seemed that another voice spoke through his, clear, untroubled by the foul pit of the air.

But other potencies there are in Middle-earth, powers of night, and they are old and strong. And She that walked in the darkness had heard the Elves cry that cry far back in time, and she had not heeded it, and it did not daunt her now.’ {TT- Shelob’s Lair}

And Shelob is of a totally different nature to the spiritually polluted Nazgul- slaves of Sauron- she is the daughter of Ungoliant, she who had coerced Melkor,  a being formed:

’Out of the discords of the Music-sc. not directly out of either of the themes - Eru’s or Melkor’s , but of their dissonance with regard to one another - evil things appeared in Arda; which did not descend form any direct plan or vision of Melkor: they were not ’his’children’; and therfore, since all evil hates, hated him too.’{HOME 10 Morgooth’s Ring Myths transformed V11}

Shelob is the progeny of this older ’wild card’ evil - and she is no respecter of Elven ’deities’, anymore than she is of Sauron:

’she ...was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad--dur, and she served none but herself ,drinking the blood of Elves and Men....

...his cat he {Sauron} calls her, but she owns him not {Shelob’s Lair}

 

 

Lady d`Ecthelion 23/Apr/2006 at 11:07 PM
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All right...
Let’s see...
So, the Nazgul, you’re saying, had attended the "Nazgul Academy" ( ), and knew enough as to know who the Valar were, at least that much as to know that these creatures were deadly enemies to their Master, and very powerful, too.

Fine!

Yet, two things :

One: Sauron was a brilliant strategist, and as we are informed, in much he followed not Melkor’s ’methods’. He would instead achieve his aims in much more subtle ways - through getting control over the very souls and minds of his minions, rather than the brutal force of destruction usually exercized by Melkor.
Now, cunning as he was, how to expect him to have created his most fearful servants - the Nazgul, letting them fear someone else than himself?
I mean, he held them by fear - the fear that he would take away his "gift" once given to them.
But had he let them know how much powerful exactly the Valar were, had he let them fear the Valar, he, IMO, would’ve never had the Nazgul-squad. They would’ve not ridden (flown) against a being with powers much higher than their Master’s, methinks.
And Sauron himself, I expect, would’ve never let his authority look less than that of the Valar in the minds of the Nazgul.

Another thing is, that even if they knew about the powerful "Gods" of Arda, they sure had been informed that these divine beings would not interfere personally in the events shaking Middle-earth. Cynically said: "what if someone invokes a Vala’s name? This "God" cannot show up to aid the one who has called him/her?! ... Then, why fear?!"

In short, the Nazgul either knew actually not about the true powers of the Valar, Varda included of course, hence if and when summoned and ordered by the only Master they respected - Sauron, they’d not fear anyone calling upon the name of a Vala.
Or, they had known about the Valar and their powers, but were pretty confident that no matter what happened and no matter who called upon the Valar, those could not and would not interfere ... for "Varda gazes from afar"
’Gazing’ seems to not frighten too much Sauron, hence - his servants.

Two: Let’s take the other theory - Yes, the Nazgul were well aware of who Varda was and what her power was ...
Still, and in spite of the above quoted statements - More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth; he called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgul; etc., in my opening post I also paid attention to cases when the name ’Elbereth Gilthoniel impressed them not as much as those statements claim. The name alone does not make them retreat.

Now ... Whaddaya say?

Oh, and Master halfir: "As to the Elbereth Gilthoniel point - do you not recall that patience is a virtue?"

I’m afraid, I’m not a saint!
halfir 24/Apr/2006 at 12:12 AM
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aldoriana: in my opening post I also paid attention to cases when the name ’Elbereth Gilthoniel impressed them not as much as those statements claim

But you didn’t - for you are not comparing like with like!

As I posted earlier:

And I would suggest that the Bruinen  and Weathertop episodes are not similar in terms of the naming of Elbereth:

Weathertop

’At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the gorund, and heard himself crying aloud:O Elbereth! Gilthoniel"

Bruinen

’By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair’ said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, ’you shall have neither the Ring nor me!’ {my bold emphasis}

The Weathertop cry is ’in extermis’ - an involuntarily invocation of the name of the Queen of the Heavens, the Bruinen episode is a verbal act of defiance- not an invocation, and there is no conjoining of Elbereth and Gilthoniel.

And Legolas’s use of Varda’s name is a sigh of resignation- not an in extremis invocation of the Queen of Heaven :

"`Elbereth Gilthoniel!’ sighed Legolas as he looked up.

Gerontian 24/Apr/2006 at 12:14 AM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 5533 Posts: 3986 Joined: 27/Aug/2002

Aldoriana, your comments about the Nazgul and fear leave me facinated yet in a muddle. What do you mean by the notion of Sauron "letting them fear someone else than himself?"  Fear is a visceral response, a very primitive emotion produced in the limbic system of our brains, a system we share in common with reptiles and amphibians. Either one feels fear because of a particular threatening stimulus, or one does not. Ostensibly, when threatened, for survival’s sake, one has to either become angry enough to fend off the threat, or fearful enough to escape the threat. Unless Sauron performed some sort of lobotomy on the Nazgul, I cannot see how he could not let them feel fear when threatened. Unless you are saying that the Valar and Elbereth formed no sort of threat to the Nazgul.

Help me out, please, I am confused.

halfir 24/Apr/2006 at 12:38 AM
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aldoriana: Now, cunning as he was, how to expect him to have created his most fearful servants - the Nazgul, letting them fear someone else than himself?
I mean, he held them by fear - the fear that he would take away his "gift" once given to them
.

How on earth do you substantiate such a claim. Sauron  had taken away his gift - in the sense that he controlled the Nine through the Rings that he had recovered from them and now possessed. [Yes I know Gandalf’s line in The Council of Elrond confuses the issue, but both Galadriel and Tolkien - the latter in the letters - are quite clear that Sauron now holds the Nine rings.}

And if Sauron wouldn’t ’let{ting} them fear someone else than himself? why did the Witch-king of Angmar flee from Glorfindel?


 

Lady d`Ecthelion 24/Apr/2006 at 03:19 AM
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Please, let me start this post by answering to Master halfir first, because there might be a misunderstanding.
Master, by "gift" I did not have in mind the rings.
"Gift", IMO, was what Sauron had made for those nine mortals when turnining them into beings more powerful than any of their race, and a menace to all the races of Middle-earth - a menace to count with.
That he held their minds captive - yes! That he used their 9 rings for that - yes of course! That they had turned into "shadows", and into beings subdued by him to his will and purposes only - yes.
But as long as Sauron lived, the Nazgul still stayed the most powerful force of Evil in the lands of ME. And that depended on his mercy. Had he wished, he could’ve destroyed any of them. IMO the fear of that, was that held the Nine under Sauron’s control.
So, this was what I meant by a "gift", because a ’gift’ they felt it to be for them, and lose it they most certainly must’ve feared to.

I hope we’ve cleared this misunderstanding?

Now, to Gerontian, who was confused by that sentence of mine as much as Master halfir, but obviously for other reasons.

This obstinate Aldo said: "Now, cunning as he was, how to expect him to have created his most fearful servants - the Nazgul, letting them fear someone else than himself?"

I hoped I had made my opinion clear by saying: "But had he let them know how much powerful exactly the Valar were, had he let them fear the Valar, he, IMO, would’ve never had the Nazgul-squad. They would’ve not ridden (flown) against a being with powers much higher than their Master’s, methinks."

Now... I understand your reasoning, of course, but we are here talking about the fear one may feel facing something this one knows he should be afraid of. And what I’m actually trying to understand is, whether or not the Nazgul had reasons enough as to fear the name ’Elbereth’.

Maybe I’m simplifying it all, but ... just an example totally out of the story:
Spells and curses exist in every people’s folklore, tradition etc. And if I’m not mistaken, for these to be effective, the person who says them would usually invoke a supernatural force - a God, a spirit etc. The thing is, that this supernatural being and its power is best known to and by the one who invokes it and its name when casting the spell or when saying the curse, for this person believes in the power of that supernatural being. Now, it is a human feature I believe, to fear, respect, but if known how - to also take advantage of the powers of the supernatural, calling upon it for certain reasons. The latter two, however, IMHO, are based upon the first. ’Fear’ the supernatural a human has always had ... until, of course, the moment when proving the non-supernatural in it. Natually, as long as religion (in all its forms!) exists, humans shall continue to fear, respect, but if known how - to also take advantage of the powers of the supernatural beings from their religious myths and tales.
Now - the example: Say, I face an aboriginal from the depths of the Amazonian rainforests, and for some reason he/she curses me, invoking the name of a supernatural being from that people’s religion/mythology/beliefs.
The question is then: Would I be frightened by that curse, having no knowledge of the true power of both - the supernatural being invoked, and/or of its name used in the very curse cast at me?

Or... what fear would’ve I felt if a Northman "threatened" me (for some reason) that I shall never be let into the Valhall, and at that invoking the name of ... say Thor?

Of course, in these modern times we live in, all that has much less value and strength.
But back in ancient times - it did mean a lot.

Back into the story, now - I believe, that the Nazgul had been "taught" to fear and respect most, only those supernatural beings of their world, whom their Master feared and respected; and in their turn, they had learned to fear and respect that particular high supernatural force, which they knew of - in their case those must’ve been Melkor and Sauron. Had they also feared Varda, I find it logical that they would’ve just as well respected her. Did they?
I don’t believe so. They were destined to serve ONE Master only - hence to respect and, most importantly, fear this One only. It would be only his name to make a spell or a curse against them ’effective’.

This is my reasoning.... for the moment.
It may be wrong, and I shall of course accept being corrected.
halfir 24/Apr/2006 at 04:29 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

It may be wrong,

It is!X( (As I will demonstrate shortly, although I am sure others will get there before me!).

Gerontian 24/Apr/2006 at 10:06 AM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 5533 Posts: 3986 Joined: 27/Aug/2002

Aldoriana, Thank you for your explanation, I very much appreciate it.  My observation, after thinking about your analogy, is that the Nazgul were all great men in their own right before receiving the rings from Sauron, kings and sorcerers, as I recall. I cannot imagine such men not having knowledge of the Elves and the history of Middle-earth. Surely they had some notion of what the Valar could achieve. 

After all, Sauron humbled himself  before Eonwe, fearful, I would imagine, that the same fate that had befallen his master was in store for him if he did not. After the fall of Thangorodrim, fear and respect were exactly the sentiments Sauron displayed toward the Valar, "And some hold that this was not at first falsely done."

Sauron, of course, never repented fully and "fell back into evil," but certainly his fear of the Valar’s wrath must have remained, if only waiting for them to show up again in person to be manifested. Unfortunately, this kind of fear is only experienced by those who possess a limited capacity to experience guilt. Immature guilt or the stunted ability to experience the feeling of guilt in the face of performing moral wrong is characterized by the individual only feeling guilt in the face of fear and punishment. A young child, for example, before it internalizes fully the concept of right and wrong, only feels guilt when faced and confronted by the parent.  It is the same for certain sociopathic types. But I digress.

The scenario you suggest, that the Nazgul were trained by Sauron not to fear the Valar suggests that they were entirely ignorant of them and their power. This might be true, but I find it unlikely.  The Nazgul are not fearless, they fear water and fire, although these elements can only cause them discomfort.  Fearing and respecting the Valar, I think, is a form of prudence exercised by their master, himself. Perhaps the name of Elbereth only causes them discomfort, like fire and water, but I do not think it beyond the realm of possibility or without textual support. 

I hope I am understanding your proposition and argument better. It is an intriguing one.

 

Lady d`Ecthelion 24/Apr/2006 at 09:23 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
Gerontian, you do understand, I hope, that I of course, too, assume that the Nazgul, before becoming ’the Nazgul’, being Kings, sorcerers and warriors of old, must’ve had some knowledge about the Powers ruling their world. That would’ve been the most normal thing - especially for times so much resembling the pre- and medieval age of Western Europe.
I however still think, that even if they’d had some knowledge, it must’ve been either incomplete, or "falsified", and knowing that the Valar might have existed, still did not make them worship them, except for One. And I assume this One they were taught to worship as the mightiest among the "Gods" in the West, was Melkor, hence - to bow before him and his closest, Sauron, was only natuarl for them.

So, you see, when you’re saying:
"The scenario you suggest, that the Nazgul were trained by Sauron not to fear the Valar suggests that they were entirely ignorant of them and their power. "
(my bold)

I still am confident that the Nazgul were "trained " not being given the full and true "picture" about the powers of the world.
And in fact, this should not be a surprise, when we take into consideration what we learn from the Athrabet and from the story of the Men of the East and South, who became allies of Sauron.

As we are here speaking here of invoking names, I remembered an episode from the story - from the LOTR chapter "A Knife in the Dark".

There the reader witnesses a clash of beliefs, if you like , in the "war-cries" of both the opponents.

On one hand we have the Nazgul, who by attacking cry out:

Open, in the name of Mordor!

And on the other side, we have the Hobbits, who have nothing even close to a religious dogma, nor even a mythology as such, as to have developed any form of worshipping some supernatural beings, and respectively - invoke their names. So, their response was their traditional war-cry and the Horn-call of Buckland:

FEAR! FIRE! FOES!

What I find funny indeed in this situation - otherwise full of high tension, and far from being funny at all - is that neither of the opponents seems much moved by the cries of the respective ’enemy’!

The name "Mordor" doesn’t obviously make the Hobbits tremble or retreat in fear, nor do the cries and the horn-sound of the Hobbits impress the Nazgul!

"Let the little people blow! Sauron would deal with them later."

halfir 25/Apr/2006 at 12:07 AM
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aldoriana; You seem to be in totall confusion about an in extremis cry to an entity whose invoked name causes terror in some and hope in others,  and the normal bravura cries and shouts of those who are simply stating the pedigree of those from whom they come, or who are part of their local community..

The cry of "Open in the name of Mordor’ might well frighten some, and strike fear into others- but it is not an invocation and "Fear Fire , Foes’ is simply the locally used alarm call of the Bucklanders use historically in times of trouble.

In my view you whole thesis is based on shifting sands, as you never compare like with like. Moreover, you have still not explained why -if the Witch-king  was ’trained ’ to fear nothing but Sauron ( a concept I find bizarre as the Nagul were not ’trained’- they were unempowered of their own persona which was replaced by the will of Sauron - through the corrupting force of the Rings) - he fled from Glorfindel.

I am afraid I find your whole argument akin to putting to sea in a sieve- so the cannonade I shall launch early next week when I have some free time is not really necessary as your arguments will sink under their own devices!X(

Lady d`Ecthelion 25/Apr/2006 at 01:23 AM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
*G*, Master halfir!
Please, remember that I do not have an "Angband" to hide from your cannonade behind! So, would you not show some mercy?

One thing I have to admit - unlike you, dear Master of mine, I am not stating; I am discussing the issue. I bring up my thoughts, waiting for them to be either approved or rejected. Either way, I shall eventually come to find an answer to my question. The more opinions I gather here, the better! I am always glad to read the opinions of other Plaza members!

The in extremis - issue I’m afraid I don’t clearly understand, so how can I not be in confusion?!

As for Glorfindel, and why the Witch-King fled before him, following the latest "vogue" in analyzing Tolkien’s works - referring to "The LOTR Companion"-book, last night I did look for relevant information about the case, and I did read what the book has to say about it. But I’m afraid I found it not enough as to explain the "why". So, I shall need some more information.
And you? How do you explain it? For your opinion I normally consider as much as those I find in various sources about the Tolkien’s books.
(and this is not some vain flattering)
Tanequil 25/Apr/2006 at 03:12 AM
Scholar of Imladris Points: 7623 Posts: 5388 Joined: 04/Sep/2005

I feel that the Nazgul knew who Varda / Elbereth Gilthoniel was. They were after all, Kings of Men, and should have some knowledge, or some basic opinion. Now, corrupted by the nine rings, they probably felt a slight fear at the name, like a slight shudder, though not as large as that of the wizards and He Who Must Not Be Named in Harry Potter. (I hope you don’t mind me drawing similarities from outside the Lord of the Rings.) You see, I agree with Master halfir that the name did not physically repel them, yet I cannot be sure that a small impact was not made.

 

For the Witch King, who exactly is the Witch King? You must remember that the Witch King is not necessarily some mysterious fantasy character. Although he is powerful, one must remember that he was the a lieutenant of Sauron, who was just a Maia. Sauron was not as powerful as Melkor, who fled before the Valar. Although Sauron was cunning and scheming, his power came mainly from the ring. Thus, he was not so powerful, and the Witch King even less. Since Glorfindel was a renown warrior, and was powerful, the Witch King might not have run away from Varda per se, but instead from the fear of being struck down and vanquished.

Gerontian 25/Apr/2006 at 08:42 AM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 5533 Posts: 3986 Joined: 27/Aug/2002

Halfir’s distinction, "an in extremis cry to an entity whose invoked name causes terror in some and hope in others," combined with geordie’s statement, " Elbereth Gilthoniel should be regarded as a name of power, and that invocation of that name by ’believers’ in extremis was invoking that power," reminded me, once again, of my Roman Catholic roots, and the special significance of invoking a name in extremis. 

I still have my St. Joseph Daily Missal, circa 1961, which contains the liturgy for the Feast of the Holy Name.  In it, the liturgy is preceeded by this statement: "The Church invites us to celebrate in a solemn feast the Holy Name of Jesus. This Most Holy Name should be on our lips during our lives and especially at the moment of our death." (the emphasis is my own)  In the Catholic tradition, the name of Jesus, spoken in extremis, at the moment of death, carries with it special significance and importance vis a vis salvation. The Missal enjoins us to remember this, to invoke the name of Jesus for  the grace it grants at that special moment.  Certainly, this usage provides a model or a template for the way the name of Elbereth is used by Tolkien, and why it carries special power when invoked in moments of extremis. I have no idea if Tolkien used this device consciously, but certainly if I can remember this item of faith so clearly after so many years, I can easily believe that he coud incorporate a facsimile of it in his story. 

In this context, I do not think the power of a name can be thought of as a weapon, but a as vehicle for divine assistance or intercession.  Of course, divine intervention is not up to the will of the individual, for the Name is not a tool or a kind of magical spell, at least not in the Catholic tradition. However, I could not help but notice the similarity of the way Tolkien uses the idea of a name being invoked in extremis with my own Catholic education.

halfir 25/Apr/2006 at 02:31 PM
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gerontian: A most helpful and illuminating post.X( I fully accept that ’Elbereth Gilthoniel could not be used as a weapon- but cried-out in extremis but one in mortal danger its impact on the forces of evil would be most powerful - an invocation of one of the greatest forces of light:

Oh Lord hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee’.

aldoriana: Please, remember that I do not have an "Angband" to hide from your cannonade behind!

Angband! Well you certainly would flinch at the name of  Elbereth Gilthoniel as she hardly saw Melkor as her No.1. pin-up boy!X(

Lady d`Ecthelion 25/Apr/2006 at 10:23 PM
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Well, Gentlemen, by invoking the religious aspect of the ’in extremis’-issue, you’re losing here this offspring of the eastern part of the Berlin wall.

Can’t we go back to the wilderness of Middle-earth? I feel safer there ...

Though ... if necessary, I shall sit quietly and listen on. I might eventually understand you.

And halfir: ...she hardly saw Melkor as her No.1. pin-up boy!

She loses! What a pair these two would’ve made!!!
Kirinki54 26/Apr/2006 at 05:25 AM
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What; no Bibles behind the Iron Curtain? Well, there are some pretty secularized communities in the West also - and I think this is the one...  

However I still can understand the point of an in extremis invocation being more of a prayer than a command to the powers, while at the same time function as a terror spell on the n-holy. And I agree; good point!

On the point of fear, Aldoriana, Tolkien wrote somewhere (I guess in Myths Transformed?) that: Evil hates. I am not sure if he wrote somwehere that Evil fears, but IMHO he might as well had; that is part of the same complex. Frightened slaves are better than secure ones though of course you have to control what they fear the most). Keep everyone on their toes. Divide and rule.

Lady d`Ecthelion 26/Apr/2006 at 10:06 AM
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Bibles?
Sure we had them!
Only we used to call them "The Statute of the Komsomol"
And our parents had theirs, too, called "The Statute of the Communist Party"


I’d rather read the Book of Lost Tales instead!

Quote:
Frightened slaves are better than secure ones though of course you have to control what they fear the most). Keep everyone on their toes. Divide and rule.

My point, exactly!
Kirinki54 26/Apr/2006 at 02:52 PM
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But did Sauron always succeed in his strategy? He was was not omnipotent, and Varda was likely the more powerful. So whatever fear Sauron could put into his slaves - even the Nazgûl caught in an almost total bind - there where factors he simply could not control.

Bearamir 27/Apr/2006 at 12:36 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). (Note:  This thread has been edited to remove extraneous commentary...pleasant as well as not so pleasant) 

Arduvei 27/Apr/2006 at 07:31 PM
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This post will be shorter than most (or all) f the other ones, as Ad Lore threads tend to have long posts. Well, my take on it is thos: Varda is revered by the Elves, and is the closest there is to Absolute Good. Therefore, the Nazgul would fear that, as they once were (at least some of them) Numenorean, and would thereby know at ;east some Elvish lore. They also knew that Varda was powerful, and they may have feared her taking action against them
Lady d`Ecthelion 27/Apr/2006 at 10:27 PM
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Arduvei, I have this impression that you have NOT read the posts in this thread from the very beginning (for the issue about the ’Nazgul-Numenor origin’ was brought in earlier above), and NOT have paid attention to what the Administrator Baelmyrrdn has explicitly stated in the post just above yours, namely:

"please remember that Ad Lore is for the in depth discussion of topics pertaining to the Lord of the Rings"

* * *

Bael, thank you for moving the thread to AdL, and especially for the clean-up!
Kirinki54 03/May/2006 at 11:54 PM
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In a note in Letter 153, Tolkien wrote:

 

There are thus no temples or ’churches’ or fanes in this ’world’ among ’good’ peoples. They had little or no ’religion’ in the sense of worship. For help they may call on a Vala (as Elbereth), as a Catholic might on a Saint, though no doubt knowing in theory as well as he that the power of the Vala was limited and derivative. (153 To Peter Hastings (draft))

 

Are we then supposed to look beyond the - even for a Vala – no doubt extraordinary qualities and powers of Varda, Elbereth Gilthoniel? Is her name such a terror to the evil powers because they get a reminder of the true score of power relations in the world, and glimpse of the absolute light?

Lady d`Ecthelion 04/May/2006 at 12:42 AM
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Varda is surely more powerful than Sauron. Even for the simple fact that in the divine hierarchy in Tolkien’s mythology, a Vala is more powerful than a Maia.
I, however, base my question on another fact - that the Valar had a less impact upon Men :
- for them not being in a direct contact with Men, as several Maiar were,
- for Men being the "creation" of Eru only, and not of the Music,
- for Men being endowed with the fate of being "The Guests" in the world created by the Valar,
- for the Maiar, in the later Ages - the time when Men had stepped on the "stage" of events - had been "withdrawn" from ME, and had little to no interference in these events, unless through the Maiar.

This is how I’ve come to the opinion that whatever the knowledge of Men was about the Pantheon of divine beings that inhabited their world, they must’ve been more under the influence of the Maiar.
Therefore, I assume that Sauron’s control over the Nazgul was stronger than that of the Valar (if any!), and that through them (Men) he tried (often successfully) to put his strategy into real action.

Thus, I suspect that his name, or that of Mordor, could’ve terrified a Nazgul, or any other of the race of Men, much more than the name of a divinity from the Elvish Lore.

Now, I understand that there is something important in the act of invoking a name of a ’divine’ being in the quoted several times above "in extremis" - situation, but I still can’t figure out the essence of this importance.
Gerontian 04/May/2006 at 09:38 AM
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I can only speculate about the issues raised in this discussion. My loose observations are on based on similarities and associations I perceive between Catholic tradition and the motifs I read in Tolkien. One observation I can make is that there are models in the Catholic liturgy that might have served Tolkien when he conceptualized his characters calling upon the Valar, Varda in particular, for aid. The cries for divine intercession said during Vespers especially come to mind in this context.  One prayer used at Vespers comes from the Biblical Psalm 141.  Here are several lines from the Psalm used during Vespers, to give an example.

 LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
 Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.

The use of Varda’s name feels to me as if it functions very much like this cry at Vespers. Perhaps Tolkien used this kind of prayer as a model, only instead of using formal prayers, he substituted the saying of Varda’s name by itself as a kind of plea for intercession. Thus, the cry of Varda’s name carries with it a kind of subtext that is not unlike the lines of Psalm 141.

Intercession by Varda in this sense could mean her instilling a state of fear in one’s enemies. The power to instill an emotional state in an individual, especially fear in an evil individual, is not beyond Varda’s capabilities, or so I would assume. Tolkien’s use of light in opposition to darkness is axiomatic. I can certainly see how the conscious awareness of “absolute light” would serve as a vehicle for this kind of intercession.

I base these speculations on the models of invocation and intercession used in Catholicism, and wonder if Tolkien uses the same kind of internal logic. His statement in letter 153 suggests this to be the case, although as I said, I am purely speculating. 

halfir 04/May/2006 at 05:22 PM
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Tolkien’s use of light in opposition to darkness is axiomatic. I can certainly see how the conscious awareness of “absolute light” would serve as a vehicle for this kind of intercession.X(

Gerontian: I totally concur. Sadly RL prevents me from enlarging upon my thoughts at the moment, but I assuredly will.

aldoriana: You have gained but a brief respite!X(

Lady d`Ecthelion 04/May/2006 at 10:27 PM
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In continuation of my previous posts, dealing with the control Sauron had over the Nazgul, I think that this old thread, now archived, shall perhaps explain best my views on this particular issue.

As for what has been introduced by geordie and supported by halfir, Kirinki and Gerontian ( I hope I have not missed anyone), I unfortunately don’t have an opinion, for this is a mental "cut" that my mind has not been "designed" for. But I shall "listen" to what you’re saying, gentlemen!
Tolkien was a devoted Catholic, so I would expect his faith must’ve penetrated, at least on a subconscious level, into his fiction.
Ragnelle 07/May/2006 at 05:27 PM
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Aldoriana: I was remined of what Ernst Cassirer writes on word magic in his Language and Myth.

"As the Word is the first in origin, it is also supreme in power. Often it is the name of the deity rather than the god himself, that seems to be the real source of effecacy." Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic

It seems to me that the name of Elbereth in many ways works like this.

halfir 07/May/2006 at 06:01 PM
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Ragnelle: As ever- a seminal contribution- and quoting one of the great ’gurus’ on language and myth- Ernst Cassirer.X( I blush to think I have the tome in my library and had not thought to use it in this excellent thread! I must now look at Barfield- an English ’Cassirer’ and see if he says anything similar on the subject, given his great influence on the development of Lewis and Tolkien’s lingusitic philosophy and concepts of myth and language.
Lady d`Ecthelion 07/May/2006 at 10:37 PM
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Ragnelle, thank you for your observation!

The thing is, that I do not question the power of ’The Word’ or of ’The Name’ per se, nor the way they "work". Each and either of these two is a more or less materializd form of the thought - the latter also including ’beliefs’.

It might be because the quote you provided is too short (I feel there’s much more "around" it), but I could not quite understand what ’The Word’ was compared to, so that it is said to be "the first in origin".

Also : "Often it is the name of the deity rather than the god himself, that seems to be the real source of effecacy."".

Well, who am I to comment on Mr. Cassirer’s doctrine?!
In fact, some of the points I made in some of my earlier posts here, concur with the essence of his statement.
Because.... it is quite understandable that: often, the name of the deity can be more efficient than the deity named by it, all right!
The question is : when this power is used against an enemy, how much the effect would be, if ’the enemy’ does not worship that particular deity?

One: I think the effect shall be almost zero.
Two: I still have this impression, that the Nazgul were not "dreadfully" impressed at hearing the name of Elbereth - the Vala Queen.

So, you see, the power / effect of ’The Word’ and of ’The Name’ depends on: the environment of, the circumstances by, and the participants in the event when either of these two are used, and in particular when invoking a deity and his/her divine powers.

This "effect" is very well present both - in the real world, and as such it is transferred into fictional worlds, too.

Finally, I have to clear up that I do distinguish between the use of ’The Word’ and/or of ’The Name’ (especially when the latter is of deity), when either of these is used by and against someone! There is a difference in the effect and in the result!

Kirinki54 14/May/2006 at 01:40 PM
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The question is : when this power is used against an enemy, how much the effect would be, if ’the enemy’ does not worship that particular deity?

One: I think the effect shall be almost zero.

 

??? Is that ’obstinate Aldo’ again?

 

How on Middle-earth would worship enter into the equation? In Tolkien´s world the power of the Valar is real; it is not dependant of the beliefs of the inhabitants of Arda. And thus it follows (at least to me) that exercising that power is not dependant upon the beliefs of those affected. It is merely an example of cause and effect. The Nazgûl did not have the option of not reacting.

Lady d`Ecthelion 14/May/2006 at 11:09 PM
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??? Is that ’obstinate Aldo’ again?



Nah, M’Lord!
It’s because I can’t imagine anyone being impressed (and far from being actually "frightened’! ) by hearing his enemy invoking the name of a deity, which (both - the deity + its name) the former does not worship.

On grounds of what I’ve learnt from the tales, namely that from early ages, in the far East, and ever stronger in the Second Age, the greater part of the race of Men were "taught" that among the Valar Melkor was the mightiest, and under him was Sauron. As other races, Men, too, had their beliefs, and they, too, worshiped - hence respected, relied on, but also feared, the deities they knew of.
Why would they respect, rely on, or fear the deities other races, or other clans of their own race, believed in?
Ragnelle 15/May/2006 at 02:13 PM
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Aldoriana: The quote I gave does indeed have much aruond it, but as it would need far more explanation than I had time to give, I choose to omit it. Perhaps that was wrong of me, but Language and Myth is not a easy book to explain in a few words .  But that the Word is first in origin is relativly easy to explain. A little earlier in the chapter, Casisirer states:

"The original bond between the linguistic and the mythio-religious consciousness is primarily expressed in the fact that al verbal structures appear as also mythical entities, endowed with certain mythical powers, that the Word, in fact, become a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found." Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic

This, as far as I understands it, is what he means by first in origin.

But I do feel that Kirinki has touched on what may be the real issue here. You seem to impose on Tolkien’s world the same rules as our own RL follows. In many cases I would do the same, but here I do not feel that it is waranted. Belif and worship of a ’deity’ does not matter in this case.

Let me try to be clear. It seems to me that Tolkien, when making the rules of his world, had as one condition that the Valar have real power, in other words, their power is not depending on whether someone belives in them, or respect them, or even know that they exist. In other words: Varda’s power is real, and not depended on the Nazgûl knowlegde of her.

When Frodo invokes her by her name, the Nazgûl does not even have to know about her for her power to be efective, because that power is not dependent on any belif.

In RL, I would not be impressed by anyone calling on, say Odin, to curse me, because I do not belive that he exists. But if Odin never the less was real, the curse would be effective whether I belived it or not. This, as I understands it, is the case in ME with regard to Elbereth and the other Valar.

Kirinki54 15/May/2006 at 02:26 PM
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Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! (The Sil)

halfir 15/May/2006 at 06:35 PM
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Ragnelle:

Let me try to be clear. It seems to me that Tolkien, when making the rules of his world, had as one condition that the Valar have real power, in other words, their power is not depending on whether someone belives in them, or respect them, or even know that they exist. In other words: Varda’s power is real, and not depended on the Nazgûl knowlegde of her.X(

As ever- beautifully put and totally to the point. But I would suggest that The Nagul are very well aware of Varda and the forces of light for they are in thrall to the will of Sauron who- together with his great Master-Melkor- was only too aware of what the Valar could do - casting the latter into the Void and reducing the former to a malicious spirit at the Drowning of Numenor. Sauron both feared and hated the Valar and that fear and hatred would -in my opninon- also be transmitted to his servants.

In any case- as we know from Morgoth’s Ring- Myths Transfomed- all evil hates- and what more hateful to evil than one of the most powerful forces of light- whether ’known’ objectively or intuitively.

Lady d`Ecthelion 15/May/2006 at 09:26 PM
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I see, you are all trying to explain to me that within the fantasy world of Tolkien, the ... let me quote that "beautifully put and totally to the point statement :

Quote: Tolkien, when making the rules of his world, had as one condition that the Valar have real power, in other words, their power is not depending on whether someone belives in them, or respect them, or even know that they exist. In other words: Varda’s power is real, and not depended on the Nazgûl knowlegde of her.

I’m not sure whether here is the place to develop the issue of "The Valar as the ’Powers of the World"; most probably not now; for now it’d be sufficient to say that I don’t object to that statement, since mythical though, as they were, the Valar were indeed the ’powers’ that actually built the world of Arda, literally built it; so it’s understandable that their power is present and effective as long as this world of theirs exists, for it exists because of them, and of them, "containing" them within, as its structural elements.
And of course, this is so, whether or not the non-divine inhabitants of this same world are aware of this fact.
Therefore, whether the Nazgul knew or not of the real power of Varda, did not matter. She was, as ever in Arda, in her full power. Put v.v. - her power existed and was effective whether or not the Nazgul knew of her (and I don’t totally reject that they did know something of her!)
Fine! We have no problem with that!

Yet, how does this answer the question of the thread - about the effect of her name upon the Nazgul?

For if I have understood you right, you’re concluding that since Varda is effectively powerful within Arda, the Nazgul are expected to tremble in fear whenever they hear her name, for the powerful being she is (them fully aware of this, or not) - especially when this name is invoked by their enemies, "in or out of extremis (if the latter is to be understood in the meaning of "an extreme situation" ).
But .... Is it really so?
From the several occasions (quoted in the opening post) I personally do not get this impression that the Nazgul got deeply moved at hearing her name.

As I said earlier, I may be of a wrong opinion. Prove me wrong !

* * *

Re: the Word << >> Myth

Ragnelle, thanks for expanding on that!
I see now that it was meant to say that first was the Word, and then came the Myth, whereafter they started to co-exist in a beautiful harmony and inter-dependence.(simply put)
Well, I’d buy a hat to take it off before Mr.Cassirer ( ) for this deduction, though this fact is so very much obvious that I doubt whether anyone could’ve had an opposite opinion.
However, the essence of the above quoute is in something else, right?

""The original bond between the linguistic and the mythio-religious consciousness is primarily expressed in the fact that al verbal structures appear as also mythical entities, endowed with certain mythical powers, that the Word, in fact, become a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found." Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic.

Notwithstanding that I wouldn’t quite agree that all ’verbal structures appear as also mythical entities’, I do accept this to be true for the Word as a ’verbal structure’, and do accept its ’supreme position’ in myth, just as well as out of myth, BTW.

In full concurrence with this comes then what Gandalf said: "More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth."

But I still see a discord between ’word’ and ’action’.
In words, ’The Word’ (in this particular case - ’the Name’ ) is claimed to be powerful enough to produce effect (to make the Nazgul retreat in fear).
I, however read ’the action’, and I realize that if it were not for the presence and the effect of various other additional factors (blades, light, water, multitude of units etc.), the Nazgul are not affected by ’The Wordonly!

This is what I find confusing.
Ragnelle 16/May/2006 at 09:15 AM
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Aldoriana: I only have time to comment shortly on what Cassirer meant by the Word being first in origin. As far as I understand his thesis he is actually not saying that first comes the word and then myth. He is finding the origin of language in the same thing that also originated in myths. The development of language can not be seperated from the development of myth. But it is rather complicated to go into his thesis and argumetns in full here, and a little outside the toppic I think.

But one impotaint point in this, is that mythicaly there is not divition between ’word’ and ’acton’. To speak is to act.

Kirinki:

halfir. Thank you for those words. And, yes, I do find it probable that the Nazgûl are aware of Varda and the Valar. They just don’t need to.

halfir 16/May/2006 at 02:47 PM
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Ragnelle: mythicaly there is not divition between ’word’ and ’acton’. To speak is to act.X(
Lady d`Ecthelion 16/May/2006 at 10:09 PM
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Ragnelle, indeed, it’s a deep topic! And a deeply psychological one, too.

However, even though the development of language is of course strongly connected with the development of mind, hence with its activities and functions - "producing" myth being one of these - still language and its development is not so much dependent on the development of myth. Yes, myth develops language, yet language is a product of far more factors than myth only.
So, I think it’s more fair to say that the development of myth can not be separated from the development of language.

As for "mythicaly there is not divition between ’word’ and ’acton’. To speak is to act.", I totally agree.

Now let’s see how it applies to the main question of this thread.
geordie 16/May/2006 at 11:17 PM
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So, I think it’s more fair to say that the development of myth can not be separated from the development of language.

I read somewhere that Max Muller once said, ’Mthology is a disease of Language’. To which Tolkien’s response was ’No. Language is a disease of Mythology’.



I’ll try and find the citation.
halfir 17/May/2006 at 12:00 AM
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geordie: It’s in the essay On Fairy Stories - Origins.X(

’Max Muller’s view of  mythology as a ’disease of langauage’ can be abandoned without regret. Mythology is not a disease at all, though it may like all human things become diseased. You may as well say that thinking is a disease of the mind. It would be more near the truth to say that languages, especially modern European languages, are a disease of mythology.’

geordie 17/May/2006 at 01:06 PM
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halfir - many thanks       
Lady d`Ecthelion 17/May/2006 at 08:36 PM
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You, too, Brutus?....

In any case, I can never underestimate The Language, which IMHO is one of the greatest wonders of Nature!
The Word, however, was first. Myth followed and ... joined at some point on the way of the development of the human mind and its "products".

What I find interesting is how The Word was endowed with mythical qualities at one certain time, thus becoming a part of the Myth.
In this sense Myth is hard to be imagined as a "disease" of Language, but Language, too, cannot be considered as such to Myth.

But we seem to have strayed away.
halfir 17/May/2006 at 08:38 PM
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In a post his interesting thread in AL Did Melkor Teach Men Speech? gerontian makes the following comment on the power of words, which underwrites the points some of us have been making here:

Suddenly, I remembered the Council of Elrond, when Gandalf dared to utter the Black Speech of Mordor.

Upon this very ring which you have here seen held aloft, round and unadorned, the letters that Isildur reported may still be read, if one has the strength of will to set the golden thing in the fire a while. That I have done, and this I have read:

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.’

The change in the wizard’s voice was astounding. Suddenly it became menacing, powerful, harsh as stone. A shadow seemed to pass over the high sun, and the porch for a moment grew dark. All trembled, and the Elves stopped their ears.

`Never before has any voice dared to utter the words of that tongue in Imladris, Gandalf the Grey,’ said Elrond, as the shadow passed and the company breathed once more.

 

 

I doubt I am correct in my speculation about Melkor teaching men language, but at least, I understand better how the seeds of my speculations came to be. The mere utterance of the Black Speech held power, even in Imladris, unless we assume that the effects in the text were all a theatrical ruse performed by Gandalf.

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=200928&PagePosition=1&PagePostPosition=1" {my bold emphasis}

 

I think we can discount-as I am sure gerontian does that the effects in the text were a theatrical ruse performed by Gandalf!X(

Ragnelle 18/May/2006 at 04:50 PM
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 We seem to have strayed little, but the toppic is interesting and probably deserves a tread of its own. If you give me some time, I’ll try to gather some thoughts and explain Cassirer’s thoughts better in a new tread. He seems to be more on Tolkien’s side than Max Muller, And much of his thesis consists in showing that Language did not come before Myth, but that the same thing that inspired myths - the momentary gods - inspired Language - or the making of words.

A short comment on the toppic in hand. Aldoriana wrote:

But I still see a discord between ’word’ and ’action’.
In words, ’The Word’ (in this particular case - ’the Name’ ) is claimed to be powerful enough to produce effect (to make the Nazgul retreat in fear).
I, however read ’the action’, and I realize that if it were not for the presence and the effect of various other additional factors (blades, light, water, multitude of units etc.), the Nazgul are not affected by ’The Wordonly!

To which my comment mythicaly there is not divition between ’word’ and ’acton’. To speak is to act. was directed. This is not to say that the Nazgûl would not be affected by anything but the name of Elbereth, but that I see no discord between ’word’ and ’action’. I may have misunderstood you, Aldoriana, but I see Frodo’s invoking of Elbereth very much as an action, which produses an eftect. Just as a thrust of a sword can be more or less effective, so can the effect of invoking a power, depening on the strenght behind the action (the sword-thrust or invoking) which will be depended on the one doing it. The effect will also depend on the resiver and his or her position. In other words: the context.

At Weathertop Frodo invokes Elbereth (he uses the invokative ’O’), and he is still unwonded. At Brunien he svears by her, a very different thing, and is also weak form his wound. Different situations = different effect.

Perhaps some of the dificulties arise since Tolkien’s writings, as far as I can see, is hard to fit into neat little boxes. I often find that one reading, or interpetation, of the texts never captures all. There is allways some exseption to the rule, some little snag that distrupt the neat system. The mere mentioning of Varda’s name does not automaticly command her power. But invoking her by the right name/s does seem to if not command then at least to call into action, her power, or part of it.

I even have a Cassirer-quote that deals with the inporatince of propper adressing.

"The ’special god,’ too, lives and acts only in the particular domain to wich his name assigns and holds him. Whoever, therfore, would be assured of his protection and aid must be sire to enter his realm, i.e., to call him by his right name. This need explains the phraseology of prayer, and of religious speech in general, both in Greece and in Rome - all the turns of phrase which ring a change on the several names of the god, in order to obliviate the danger of missing the propper an essential appellation." Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic. My emphasis

Gerontian 18/May/2006 at 05:02 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 5533 Posts: 3986 Joined: 27/Aug/2002

Ragnelle’s reference to Ernst Cassirer reminded me of a section of another work of his that I count among my favorite books, An Essay on Man.  In the section of the book on Language, Cassirer devotes special attention to the use and function of the magic word in privitive societies.  I find very useful and interesting parrelels in what his says about primitive man and the state of Men in Tolkien’s cosmology. And, I think, it provides us with a model or a mechanism for how words carry power.

 He states that, "The belief in magic is based upon a deep conviction of the solidarity of life. To the primitive mind, the social power of the word, experienced in innumerable cases, becomes a natural and even a supernatural force.  Primitive man feels himself surrounded by all sorts of visible and invisible dangers.  He cannot hope to overcome these dangers by merely physical means. To him the world is not a dead or a mute thing; it can hear and understand.  Hence, if the powers of nature are called upon in the right way, they cannot refuse their aid.  Nothing resists the magic word, carmina vel coelo possunt deducere lunam."

The solidarity of life, invisible dangers immune to physical means, a world that is not a dead thing but can hear and understand, all these elements sound rather familiar in Tolkien’s writings. Likewise, when Elbereth, or even the dark powers, are called on in the right way, they respond. The magic, if you will, in Tolkien follows the same kind of logic as seen in primitive mythologies which we abandoned long ago. 

Cassirer goes on to say that language must be viewed as "an energeia rather than as an ergon," which takes us further afield, but explains our difficulty, perhaps, in not easily percieving how words carry power. We forget how dynamic a process language actually is, in fact, something almost magical.

Lady d`Ecthelion 18/May/2006 at 09:55 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
Ragnelle wrote:

"Perhaps some of the dificulties arise since Tolkien’s writings, as far as I can see, is hard to fit into neat little boxes. I often find that one reading, or interpetation, of the texts never captures all. There is allways some exseption to the rule, some little snag that distrupt the neat system."

Absolutely always!
Hence - the brain-storming discussions.

Now, Cassier- dedicated thread would be a very interesting one, I’m sure, even though I have not read anything by him.
However, reading the quoted above, namely that :"Language did not come before Myth, but that the same thing that inspired myths - the momentary gods - inspired Language - or the making of words."

With such a statement I shall probably never agree.
Because... what is a ’Language’? It is a means of communication, meant to serve one particular species within a certain environment, used by the individuals of this particular species to communicate details of this very same environment they exist in. Every living spieces on this planet has created its own system of communication - a language of their own. Not ALL however have developed mythologies!

The way Steven Roger Fischer puts it in his book "A History of Language" (a most intriguing and useful read! ):
"In its simplest definition, language signifies ’medium of information exchange’. This definition allows the concept of language to encompass facial expressions, gestures, postures, whistles,hand signs, writing, mathematical language, programming (or computer) language and so forth."

There’s a lot else to read there about the appearance and development of language - started some 900,000 to 800,000 years ago, but one is clear - "momentary gods have obviously nothing to do with the appearing of Language.

That the environment of existance of the "talking ape" gave birth to both - Language and Myth - that is self-understandable. But Language and Myth did not originate together.

Oh! So much else to share with you on this issue, but I have to go now!

I’ll be back!
Ragnelle 19/May/2006 at 08:49 AM
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Gerontian: I see that I have to get my hands on a copy of An Essay on Man and read it.

Aldoriana: I see that I have to get yet another book . But I also fear that I have not representet Cassirer’s thesis clearly enough, and that it probably will have to wait for a tread of its own, or your tread will get very far from the origial topic.

Telacontar 19/May/2006 at 11:21 AM
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I think that the uttering of the the Star Queen’s name and its effect on evil all depends on the power of the speaker.  For example when Frodo had put on the Ring in the presence of the Nazgul on Weathertop, Frodo’s power was enhanced by the Ring so his power was increased.  Thats also the reason he was able to percieve the Nazgul.
Kirinki54 19/May/2006 at 02:47 PM
Librarian of Imladris Points: 2897 Posts: 1354 Joined: 17/Nov/2005

Ragnelle quoted:

 

"The ’special god,’ too, lives and acts only in the particular domain to wich his name assigns and holds him. Whoever, therfore, would be assured of his protection and aid must be sire to enter his realm, i.e., to call him by his right name. This need explains the phraseology of prayer, and of religious speech in general, both in Greece and in Rome - all the turns of phrase which ring a change on the several names of the god, in order to obliviate the danger of missing the propper an essential appellation." Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic. My emphasis

 

There is a very interesting letter (209 From a letter to Robert Murray, SJ. 4 May 1958) in which Tolkien is answering a plea for elaborations on ‘holy names’. In this letter the methodology of the professional philologist is spelled out in terms accessible also to a layman; this alone makes it rewarding to study. The complexity of the field is clear!

 

I hope I am not interpreting Tolkien wrongly, but can we not also note that Tolkien perhaps would have supported the analysis of Cassirer on the origin of gods:

 

Is not the idea of god ultimately independent of the ways by which a word for it has come to be?[1] whether through dh(e)wes (which seems to refer basically to stirring and excitement); or d(e)jew (which seems to refer basically to brightness (esp. of the sky)); or possibly (it is a mere guess) ghew cry, – god is originally neuter and is supposed to ’mean’ that which is invoked: an old past participle. Possibly a taboo-word. The old deiwos word (which produced dīvus, deus) survives only in Tuesday.[2] (my bold)

 

Thus we can assume a great relevance of the invocation (as stressed by several posters); it was a bearing element in a the situation were the power of  the deity in question was granted and activated.



[1] Because a single word in human language (unlike Entish!) is a short-hand sign, & conventional. The fact that it is derived from a single facet, even if proved, does not prove that other facets were not equally present to the mind of the users of this conventional sign. The λγος is ultimately independent of the verbum.

[2] But we do not know how Tīw (=dívus) became a ’name’ equated in the interpretatio romana with Mars. Perhaps another substitution of a general term (divinity) for a ’true name’. The plural tívar in O. Norse verse still means ’gods’.

halfir 19/May/2006 at 04:06 PM
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Kirinki54: While it is doubtful if Tolkien ever read Cassirer- those who have studied Barfield’s inlfuence on Tolkien and Lewis all semm to come to this conclusion- there is no doubt that the approach to Logos and myth that was proposunded by Cassirer was very similar to the verys seminal views of Owen Barfield who most ceratinly did influence Lewis and Tolkien cf. Verlyn Flieger Splinterd Light.

Aldorian: A simple reading of On Fairy Stories would show that Tolkien would totally reject the view of Fisher. He was much closer to Cassirer for the reasons I have set out in the previous paragraph. And as your definition of language appears to deny the thesis that Casirer and Barfield set out- which Tolkien adhered to, I fail to see how you can sensibly discuss the ’Elebereth Gilthoniel quote’ when ab initio you deny the power of words.

halfir 20/May/2006 at 02:51 AM
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The power of the word as name is also very much part of Tolkien’s thinking as evidenced in my thread The Naming of Sauron:

http://www.lotrplaza.com/archive3/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=130347&PagePosition=5

Below I list the references I gave to contextualize that thread, to which in themselves emphasize the power of the word, and particularly the power of the word as name- a power Tolkien most ceratinly believed in in the context of his fantasy writings.

B. References

B1:

1.The importance the Children of Israel attached to the employment of the Name (of God) is well known. Three names were  said to express the very essence of the Godhead, the chief one being the Tetragrammaton which only the High Priest was allowed to pronounce.

 

2.Invocation of the name calls up the being.

 

3.Naming a person or thing is the same as taking control of them.

 

4.To the Ancient Egyptians knowledge of the name is part of the ritual of..”casting spells, destroying, taking possession of’’ (G. Posener A Dictionary of Egyptian Civilization)

 

5. To know a name and to utter it correctly is to be able to exercise power over a person or thing. Both Jewish thought and Biblical tradition are aligned on this.

 

{Penguin Dictionary of Symbolism}

B 2:

1. ‘… the link between a name and the thing denominated by it is not a mere arbitrary and ideal association, but a real and substantial bond  which unites the two in such a way that magic may be wrought on a man just as easily through his name, as through his hair, nails, or any other material part of his person.’

 

2. Every Egyptian received two names- the true name and the good name, or the great name and the little name. Only the little name was made public.

 

3. Nicknames were introduced as part of this protective policy. As distinguished from the real or primary name these secondary names are held to be no part of the man himself so that they may be freely used and divulged without endangering his safety thereby.

 

4.Some primitive tribes permit friends to name them, but will not, if asked, name themselves. Those who think thus believe that a man’s name is only part of himself when it is uttered with his own breath, harm is only done when a name is spoken by its owner.

 

4. Great precautions were taken to guard from harm the names of gods, sacred kings or priests.

 

5. In ancient Greece the names  of priests and other high officials who had to do with the performance of the Eleusian mysteries might not be uttered in their lifetime.

 

6. Gods too were deemed to have a ‘true’ name which only they knew.

 

James Frazer The Golden Bough XX11 Tabooed words.

B 3:

1. Sauron had taken the title of King of Kings and Lord of the World (Letter # 131)

 

2. Sauron desired to be a God-king, and was held to be this by his servants (Letter # 183)

 

 

B 4:

 

1. ‘Neither does he {Sauron} use his right name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken,’ said Aragorn.

(TT-The Departure of Boromir)

 

2. ‘An Ent?’ said Merry. ‘What’s that? But what do you call yourself? What’s your real name?

 

‘Hoo now!’ replied Treebeard. ‘Hoo! That would be telling! Not so hasty’. (TT- Treebeard Tolkien’s emphasis)

 

 

3. ‘You call yourself hobbits? But you should not go telling just anybody. You’ll be letting out your own right names if you’re not careful” (ibid - Tolkien’s emphasis)

 

 

Lady d`Ecthelion 20/May/2006 at 10:55 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
halfir wrote:
"A simple reading of On Fairy Stories would show that Tolkien would totally reject the view of Fisher. "

"Totally" is a powerful word, Master halfir, and you are the one emphasizing on the power of the word.
Besides, "On Fairy Stories" can hardly ever be a "simple" reading.

In any case, I very much wonder in what Tolkien would "totally" disagree. There was at first a simple rudimental language created by a rudimental mind. With the development of the mind, developed also the language. When the mind started to realize that as Cassier was quoted above: "the world is not a dead or a mute thing; it can hear and understand.", then the mind came to the necessity of "producing" means of communication with this "hearing" and "understanding" world.
When the mind was ready to realize the presence of invisible powers which ruled and governed its environment, when the mind was ready to realize that some of those ’invisible ’ poweres could be more powerful than many ’visible’, it realized also that these ’invisible’ powers should also be referred to, spoken to, communicated with , and thus it made "tools" to deal with these powers - Language was one of these "tools", used to name them, invoke them .... expecting them, just as the "visible" ones, to also "understand" when "spoken to".
But the ’divine’ notion of such an ’invisible power’ came much, much later in the course of the development of mind - hence of language. It is only then when language started being used to express the "new turn" in the development of mind, and only at that stage, we can introduce the veracity of everything stated above in this thread by many posters, concerning the interaction of Word and Myth.

BTW, Joseph Campbell, in "Primitive Mythology" of his trilogy "The Masks of God" also gives very reasonable comments on this issue.

Anyway, whatever we here mull over, and even taking into consideration that mtyhtically "to speak is to act", I still "see" the Nazgul not much impressed and/or affected by the name, and/or all the names of Varda - the Star Queen of the Valar. And I’m thinking ... perhaps it depends on the "skill" of the one who invokes - the "skill" to really "get in contact" with the ’invisible power’, and make it act in his defence.
halfir 21/May/2006 at 03:19 AM
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It is only then when language started being used to express the "new turn" in the development of mind, and only at that stage, we can introduce the veracity of everything stated above in this thread by many posters, concerning the interaction of Word and Myth.

But that is completely irrelevant to the point at issue. We are talking about a fairy story and the precepts upon which it is based- not about a scientific discourse on the emergence of language as a communicative system. And as I read your posts there seems to me  to be a confusion of those two approaches, which clouds the issues that should be debated.

It is quite clear from On Fairy Stories and Tolkien’s dismissal of Muller, and the influence of Barfield on his lingusitic philosophy that Tolkien is firmly in the Cassierer/Barfield camp and thus in the camp of those who argue for the power of the word- as exemplified in this thread.

Lady d`Ecthelion 04/Jun/2006 at 10:11 PM
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As in the other thread, Master halfir, I’d like to assure you that I do see clearly the "line" between these issues. And if I commented on the ’scientific’ aspect, that was because although a by-discussion, this did appear in the present thread, and it had to be somehow finished and closed, in order to go on with the main topic.
There’s no way that any linguist, Tolkien least of all!, would ever reject the very simple and logical fact that Word (=Language) came first and Myth only followed, and that only later these two started interacting to an extent where Myth could become first and give origin to a Word.

Now, let’s just draw a nice red

_______________________________________________________


and move on with the main topic of this thread.
Nogrod2605 06/Jun/2006 at 09:48 AM
Vagrant of Minas Tirith Points: 87 Posts: 33 Joined: 11/Mar/2006
OK sorry if im going to post this, as I couldn’t resist the temptation of doing so. Somewhere along this thread someone mentioned why the Nazgul would fear Varda, since there is the possibilty that they came from the east. However, once they became slaves of the rings, wouldnt they be at one in mind with their master Sauron? If this is so, then it would be obvious that the Nazguls would fear the mention of HER name, as Sauron definetely must fear her great power. I still cannot explain why though sometimes in the book the Nazgul are not scared.... could there be the possibility that sometimes "they are at one with their master’s mind" and sometimes they act of their own will? Who knows, the possibilities are endless.
Lady d`Ecthelion 06/Jun/2006 at 09:37 PM
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Yes, Nogrod, you have correctly captured the main idea of this thread.

This is the question I’m asking - Why don’t the Nazgul show fear when they hear the name of the mightiest Vala-Queen, when they should have ?

And I also introduced another issue - I do not deny that Sauron must’ve very well feared Varda and any other Vala, for stupid he was far from, and knew well his and their standing in the hierarchy existing in the world of Arda. But I am on the opinion that in order to hold the 9 men under his full and unconditioned control, he must’ve "brainwashed" them to such an extent, as to make them fear only him and have no reverence, nor fear any other super-creatures of their world.
halfir 18/Jul/2006 at 11:46 PM
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 But I am on the opinion that in order to hold the 9 men under his full and unconditioned control, he must’ve "brainwashed" them to such an extent, as to make them fear only him and have no reverence, nor fear any other super-creatures of their world.

Ah! I think we had better transfer this statement to your thread on Nagul and memory!X(

I would argue that ab initio- as Tolkien points out in Myths Transformed Text7 (Morgoth’s rRng HOME 10)

’all evil hates’

and from the moment of his ’fall’ Morgoth hated and feared the light - for it represented what he had wanted to be:

 ‘As a shadow Morgoth did not then conceive himself. For in his beginning he loved and desired light, and the form that he took was exceedingly bright; and he said in his heart: ‘On such brightness as I am the Children shall hardly endure to look; and therefore to know of aught else or beyond or even to strain their small minds to conceive of it would not be for their good.’ But the lesser brightness that stands before the greater becomes a darkness. And Melkor was jealous, therefore, of all other brightnesses, and wished to take all light unto himself.’ {Myths Transfomed Text 11 (HOME 10 Morgoth’s Ring-  my emphasis}

and above all he hated and feared  Varda:

’more than all others whom Eru made’ {The Silmarillion-Valaquenta} 

and he especially hated and feared her light:

’Therefore Iluvatar, at the entering in of the valar into Ea, added a theme to the great Song which was not in it at the first Singing, and he called one of the Ainur to him. Now this was that Spirit which after became Varda (and taking female form became the spouse of manwe) to Varda Iluvatar said:"I will give  unto the a parting gift. Thou shalt take into ea a light that is holy, coming from Me, unsullied by the thought and lust of Melkor, ad with thee it shall enter into ea, and be in ea, but not of Ea.’ Wherefore Varda is the most holy and revered of all the valar, and those that name the light of Varda name the love of Ea that Eru has, and they are afraid, less only to name the One.’ Myths Transfomed Text 11 (HOME 10 Morgoth’s Ring

And Morgoth’s fear and hatred was shared by Sauron and all of Morgoth’s servants, and that same hatred of the light and fear of it passed down through Sauron to his servants and bond-slaves so that the invocation of Varda -the most holy and revered of all the valar  -in extremis - most ceratinly would affect them.


 

Lady d`Ecthelion 19/Jul/2006 at 09:32 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
"But I am on the opinion that in order to hold the 9 men under his full and unconditioned control, he must’ve "brainwashed" them to such an extent, as to make them fear only him and have no reverence, nor fear any other super-creatures of their world."

Ah! I think we had better transfer this statement to your thread on Nagul and memory! X(



But I have never objected to the fact that Sauron did have a firm grip on their minds!
Yet, it still proves not that they did not remember their past!

Besides, you’re quoting:

"all evil hates"

A non-sentient mind could not possibly IMO either hate, or love, or feel whatever, if it were "washed" to such an extent as to only serve as a field whereto other being’s thoughts, feelings, will etc. are being extrapolated. Therefore, since the Nazgul did hate, and their hatred and their feelings are distinguished from those of Sauron’s (and they themselves distinguished themselves from him), then they must have had sentient minds - very strongly "censored" yes, yet not fully "washed" - not to such a level as for their memories to be erased completely.

But ... we’ve mixed the two topics.

Within the present topic, I’d again state what I’ve said above (and what has been quote-shown! in the opening post ) - from the several occasions when we witness the Nazgul hearing the name of Elbereth, they do not seem to show much fear, even though other characters claim it to be so.
Whatever the hierarchy of beings was in Arda, the Nazgul seem to be aware of it only to the extent that suited Sauron. Sauron wished them to be in his service, and obey but also fear him. Had they feared his superiors, they wouldn’t have obeyed him, for the simple reason that they would’ve known that he was not the greatest.
halfir 19/Jul/2006 at 11:12 PM
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Eru was greater than Morgoth yet Morgoth didn’t obey him. Sauron knew Eru was greater than Morgoth yet served Morgoth -not Eru. QEDX(
Mireth Guilbain 20/Jul/2006 at 12:06 PM
Linguist of Lothlorien Points: 3657 Posts: 3995 Joined: 18/Dec/2003

Sorry to be jumping in so late in the game, folks. I only wish I’d found this thread sooner. I really should just start stalking halfir and reading any Ad Lore thread that he comments in more than twice. This thread is wonderful, and my poor little brain is so full that I’m afraid I won’t be able to latch on to any one thought coherently.

After reading through this thread in one sitting, one instance in particular jumps out at me. Citing a quote first mentioned by Aldoriana back in April:
"Gilthoniel A Elbereth!
And then his tongue was loosed and his voice cried in a language which he did not know:
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
o menel palan-diriel,
le nallon sí di’nguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!"
(TTT, The Choices of Master Samwise. bold emphasis mine)

I bring up this quote for two reasons:

1) Subconscious versus conscious: Sam does not speak Elvish. How, then, did he suddenly burst forth in Elvish verse? One possible suggestion is that his mind holds more than he consciously realizes. Perhaps he picked up this verse back in Rivendell, and in one of those astonishing bursts of memory, suddenly recalled it. But I’m guessing that if someone asked him a day later to recite an Elvish verse, he would be unable to.

If we allow that the mind holds more than we are aware of, then is it such a stretch to believe that the Nazgul, on some subconscious level, fear Elbereth? Either because their minds still recall some of what they had learned ere they fell under Sauron’s control, or because they have inherited some of Sauron’s own dread of her? And that an invocation of her name may stir up those subconscious fears?

2) Hidden Forces at work: Let’s assume that Sam had never before heard that particular verse in his life. How, then, did it come from his lips? Could it be Elbereth herself at work? his tongue was loosedIt’s inetresting that this is written in the passive voice. Is it merely poetic, or is it indicative that someone or something ’loosed’ his tongue for him?

If we assume that Elbereth, and the other Valar, may be at work in ME unseen, then we come back to halfir’s point about the existence of gods versus belief in them. Like his example of cursing in the name of Odin- if Odin exists, the curse will be effective whether I believe in Odin or not. Likewise, if Elbereth is acting at all in ME, then invocations in her name may have a strong effect whether or not the person hearing them believes in her power.

Now, did I manage to convey any of this coherently, or is it all the disconnected gibberish of a madwoman?

halfir 20/Jul/2006 at 06:31 PM
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Mireth Guilbain: Nice to hear from you again!X( You wrote:

his tongue was loosedIt’s inetresting that this is written in the passive voice. Is it merely poetic, or is it indicative that someone or something ’loosed’ his tongue for him?

In writing of  her  book The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien’s Divine Design in "The Lord of the Rings  -Fleming Rutledge a Protestant Episcopalian ministers says:

 

My own conviction is that the theological structure of the book (what I call the "deep narrative") pervades the entire work and is subtly disclosed by Tolkien by [his use] of the passive form of the verb in sentences ("Frodo was meant" to have the Ring) and the frequent references to "some other will." The observant reader will gradually come to feel an overpowering sense of the presence of God, or - in an honored theological term now unfortunately less used - Providence. Tolkien uses the passive the way the Bible does, to indicate the active, shaping presence of God ("their eyes were opened," "the rocks were split").

 

While not sharing Ms. Rutledge’s thesis I think she is correct- as are you- to focus on the way that Tolkien uses the passive tense when the possibility of some other force or supervening power is indicated.

 

Tolkien notably avoids ’Providence’ a word Ms. Rutledge clearly likes because of its religious implications, but we are clearly meant to feel some other-unstated power at work when Elrond- inter alia- says:

 

"...by chance as it may seem. Yet is is not so. Believe that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.’ {FOTR-The Council of Elrond- my bold and underline}

 

Ordered by whom- or what?

In an earlier post Ragnelle commented:

At Weathertop Frodo invokes Elbereth (he uses the invokative ’O’), and he is still unwonded. At Brunien he svears by her, a very different thing, and is also weak form his wound. Different situations = different effect.{my emphasis}

In the instance that you quote Sam -taking Ragnelle’s point of  ’ Different situations = different effect’ is touching the Phial of Galadriel- with its link back to Galadriel, obviously, but also to  Earendil- The Silmarils-The Two Trees- and Varda (she collected the dew of the Two Trees)- and thus to the powers of light!

And while Shelob had not responded to the name of Earendil alone  (when cried -out by Frodo) (cf. TT-Shelob’s Lair) that in conjucntion with the Phial- or because it - and the name of Galadriel- made the Phial blaze more strongly- effectively baulked Shelob’s purpose:

’a star had descended into the very earth’

But Sam had called on the Queen of Heaven herself:

A Elbereth Gilthoniel o menel palan-diriel, le nallon
si di-nguruthos! A tiro  nin Fanuilos

O Elbereth star-kindler gazing afar to thee I cry
here beneath -death-horror. look towrads (watch over) me, Fanuilos.

{Tolkien’s translation- The Road Goes Ever On - where he draws attention to the very invocation of Sam’s that you have quoted.}

And if, as gerontian so perceptibly observed - as I posted earlier:

The mere utterance of the Black Speech held power, even in Imladris, unless we assume that the effects in the text were all a theatrical ruse performed by Gandalf.

then I have no doubt whatsoever that the Nazgul- enslaved by the Nine- would respond in fear to the naming of Varda-  the most holy and revered of all the valar - in the same way their dark master- Sauron, would, ,and his master, Morgoth, before him.

 

Lady d`Ecthelion 20/Jul/2006 at 09:15 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
Quote: Originally posted by halfir on Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Eru was greater than Morgoth yet Morgoth didn’t obey him. Sauron knew Eru was greater than Morgoth yet served Morgoth - not Eru.

Eru, as much as I know, had never been driven by Morgoth’s or Sauron’s ambitions, nor he is told to us to have ever had the plan of having his Ainur and his Children as ’servants’ to his will.
I would not even venture into comparing these three and their methods.
Lady d`Ecthelion 20/Jul/2006 at 09:22 PM
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Mireth, nice to meet you again!

I’d only wish to draw this one out:
"...if Elbereth is acting at all in ME, then invocations in her name may have a strong effect whether or not the person hearing them believes in her power."

It may be so ... in theory, at least in the theory of mythology.
But the events as we read them show the Nazgul not so much impressed by the fact that their enemy (whoever stood before them) invoked the name of the Vala- Queen.

As to another statement:
"If we allow that the mind holds more than we are aware of, then is it such a stretch to believe that the Nazgul, on some subconscious level, fear Elbereth? Either because their minds still recall some of what they had learned ere they fell under Sauron’s control, or because they have inherited some of Sauron’s own dread of her?
(my bold)

You might wish to join us in the other Nazgul-memory-dedicated thread "Did the Nazgul remember" in AL. Come by!
halfir 21/Jul/2006 at 01:52 AM
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But the events as we read them

The events as you choose to interpret them is totally different to ’the events as we read them’ as several dissenting posts in this thread- not all by any means from me, have clearly demonstrated.And you could as lief have underlined or because they have inherited some of Sauron’s own dread of her?

Lady d`Ecthelion 21/Jul/2006 at 03:23 AM
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The point is that another person, different from me and you, assumes the presence of memories in the Nazgul’s minds.

Those two threads are getting closer and closer!
halfir 21/Jul/2006 at 04:36 AM
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I’m so sorrry but that just is not the case. The proposition put by MG contains two elements- one relates to personal memory the other to Sauron’s imprint. You have chosen to identify the one that suits the position you believe to be correct. I have identified the other because I don’t acept the interpretation you suggest. But MG has opted for neither:

Either because their minds still recall some of what they had learned ere they fell under Sauron’s control, or because they have inherited some of Sauron’s own dread of her?

Lord_Vidύm 21/Jul/2006 at 04:39 AM
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More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth

Why didn’t Gandalf call upon Her at the Great Gaate of MT, if the WK was weakening at the hearing of her name?
He just shouted he(WK) shall return back to the abyss.

halfir 21/Jul/2006 at 09:55 AM
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Lord_Vidum: Gandalf has been returned - by ERU- no less- with enhanced, but still veiled powers -after Moria. Moreover, Gandalf is a plenipotentiary of the Valar- returned after their plan has failed by Eru. And he was the specific choice of Manwe and Varda {cf. UT The Istari}, but, like all the Istari sent with veiled powers, a ban still in force on his return.  So it could well be that a Valarian ’naming’ was inhibited for this reason. Moreover  the Witch-King, by the time of that episode has been given enhanced demonic powers by Sauron.  So both he as well as Gandalf have enormous potency, far more than either had at Weathertop. And in any case, as the confrontation is cut-off in mid-stream by the arrival of the Rohirrim we have no idea what Gandalf might or might not have said.X(
Mireth Guilbain 21/Jul/2006 at 01:01 PM
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Thank you for the welcome, my esteemed Aldoriana and halfir. I’m oddly flattered that you are both now arguing over the meaning of my words as well as Master Tolkien’s!

I mentioned both the possibility of retained memory and Sauron’s own fears of Varda because I don’t know to which their response to her name might be more attributable. My own gut instinct leans more towards an inherited fear from Sauron, but I can’t really give you evidence as to why. In my own mind, I have been accustomed to thinking of the Nazgul as having completely lost their own "humanity". They were Men. They are Men no longer. Their fear are completely bound to Sauron, and they are his creatures. As children learn from their parents, I see the Nazgul as having ’learned’ from Sauron. If the reigning champion of doom and gloom fears Varda, I imagine that his less powerful underlings do as well.

I think the Nazgul’s response to the name of Elbereth is a combination of this inherited fear, as well as Elbereth’s own hand at work in the events taking place.
Lady d`Ecthelion 21/Jul/2006 at 11:04 PM
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Mireth, your words were worth analysing all right!
Besides, what is important to me, and what I’m teasing Master halfir with , is that you, just as me, still assume that the Nazgul did retain their memories from the past!

I however, shall try to "pin" us back onto the "gound".

In my opening post, I provided quotes where it was plainly and clearly obvious that the Nazgul showed no fear hearing the name of the Vala Queen only. When however the invoking of her name was accompanied by some additional acts, they would withdraw.

What I would like to see now in this thread, are quotes from the texts where it is just as plainly obvious how they withdrew in fear of the name only.
Lord_Vidύm 22/Jul/2006 at 02:03 AM
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Halfir, probably you are true. I really hate that Tolkien cut off their conflict, but maybe it was his purpose to make me hate it. But still- I didn’t understand what you said about Eru-sending and the banning of ValarNaming. It wasn;t any realease of power- why should it be an inhibition

(Aldoriana pay a visit at marriages forum)

halfir 22/Jul/2006 at 03:20 AM
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Lord_Vidum: I have no text on which to base the point I am about to make, but it could be that if Gandalf invoked the name of Elbereth- given the enhanced potency derived from Eru - that this could be construed as a breaking of the  ’veiling’- imposed both pre and post Moria, and also a breaking of the Valars own self-denying ordinance of not interfering directly, but only through their emissaries- in this instance Gandalf. But this is sheer hypothetical speculation on my part- the fact of the matter is I don’t know. But I doubt if Tolkien- in a moment of Glofindelian foresight  over your reaction wrote the way he did just to spite you!X(
Lady d`Ecthelion 22/Jul/2006 at 03:49 AM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
Quote: Originally posted by Lord_Vidύm on Saturday, July 22, 2006

(Aldoriana pay a visit at marriages forum)




OH MY LORD!!!
And I had to learn it in this way?!!

You have my answer, Sire!
halfir 22/Jul/2006 at 04:30 AM
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Aldoriana: You mean that you have no memory of it? You must have Nazgul Blood!X(
Lady d`Ecthelion 22/Jul/2006 at 04:35 AM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
You have no idea how close you are...about the Nazgul blood, that is!

Anyway, you would not expect an ol’ girl like me to refuse the affection of a young man, would you? No power can take such memories away!!!
I said "I will", and beware now, for I shall have the support of my husband!
Lord_Vidύm 22/Jul/2006 at 07:19 AM
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"Then why this statement: "More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth."
Why is it hinted in other occasions, that the Nazgul actually feared the name of the Valar Queen?"

My dear wife, and nowmore under the blessing of Eru, I think that Nazgul feared of Elbereth, because she was the opposite of him. She brought light, while Nazguls brought darkness. Varda was the one to put the Stars on the sky, she was the one to bring Sun -which Nazguls feared most- and it is made clear in AmonSul with Gandalf since they fear to attack him at daytime.

Varda was the one to hollify things. She hollified the Silmarills, so they burnt every ’inpure’ who would dare to take them.

halfir 22/Jul/2006 at 07:49 AM
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Aldoriana: Having just read your ’husband’s’ last post would you like me to give you the name of a good divorce lawyer!X(
Lord_Vidύm 22/Jul/2006 at 08:25 AM
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Why? I did not deny any of her sayings! There will be no divorce today- from tomorrow we see.
Lady d`Ecthelion 22/Jul/2006 at 09:55 AM
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Oh, honey,
remember that song Bryan Adams used to sing ...?

"...I’d lie for you
I’d die for you...
Everything I’d do
I’d do it for you"


You’d die for me, won’t you hon?!

halfir 22/Jul/2006 at 04:28 PM
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Aldoriana: Pleaaase - this is AL- not Advanced Foo!X( And if you don’t stop I’ll borrow one of Robin Hood’s arrows and shoot you myself!X(
Mireth Guilbain 22/Jul/2006 at 08:01 PM
Linguist of Lothlorien Points: 3657 Posts: 3995 Joined: 18/Dec/2003
*cough cough* Since I don’t remember any of Bryan Adam’s lyrics having to do with Tolkien, let alone the Nazgul...

As far as my last post goes, first I have to apologize for the formatting error which had me posting entirely in bold. Second, I am not assuming that the Nazgul retained any memory. I’m just allowing it to be a possibility, but one that I am by no means sold on. Aldoriana, I will read your other Nazgul thread in the coming week, and post any further comments on that subject there.

Back to this thread....I believe that there are several examples throughout LoTR that indicate the power of names, not merely that of Elbereth. I know that good master halfir and I have matched wits (or butted heads) on this subject before (*mental note: find and reread those threads. Links would be appreciated*). Likewise, the subject of "nameless things" has also been chewed upon, as it relates to the power of names in ME.

This thread, I think, dovetails with those that have explored the power of the name of Sauron, or the nameless things, etc. The name of Elbereth seems to invoke a positive power (from the protagonists’ perspective, of course. The Nazgul would disagree with me), whereas the name of Sauron brings fear and the heebie-jeebies.
halfir 22/Jul/2006 at 09:46 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

MG: I’m not sure which threads you are interested in re-looking at but here’s anything to do with ’names’ from my data bank- which is not complete regarding all archived threads.There may be some duplication between archives.X(

The Naming of Sauron

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/archive3/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=130347&PagePosition=5

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=130347&PagePosition=2

 

Creation and ‘The Word’

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=202260&PagePosition=1&PagePostPosition=1

 

Fell Beasts

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=22&TopicID=201440&PagePosition=1&PagePostPosition=1

 

Nazgul: Puppets or People

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/archive/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=62016&PagePosition=1

 

Why Didn’t Tolkien Name the Nazgul?

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=22&TopicID=194989&PagePosition=1

 

Are the Nazgul named?

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive3/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=22&TopicID=115545&PagePosition=75

 

Nazgul: Fear the Names

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=21&TopicID=157324&PagePosition=140

 

Nazgul Names

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=21&TopicID=153585&PagePosition=156

 

 

Names of  the Nazgul

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=22&TopicID=161295&PagePosition=46

 

Nazgul Names

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=24&TopicID=188453&PagePosition=2

 

Power in the Name

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=182424&PagePosition=1

 

Sauron’s Name

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=21&TopicID=185700&PagePosition=12

 

 

Lady d`Ecthelion 22/Jul/2006 at 10:42 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
I don’t think that one or two lighter posts can spoil a thread, be it in AL or elsewhere within the book fora. I know the limits.

Anyway, quite a "homework" you have provided in your post above. It seems the issue of names has been "boiling" for long. I shall certainly read those threads, and I do appreciate so much your efforts in finding them and providing links to them here! (How do you do that?! )

I’d only point out, however, that the present thread has for some reason passed into the Second Conditional. Lots of if-s, would-s, could-s... We have shifted the discussion to generalizing.
I wonder whether such approach can possibly lead us to finding a more specific answer to the specific question.

Finally, Mireth, dear, I’m aware that "assume" holds one level up of confidence than "allowing smth. to be a possibility", but in both cases it is down to talking/thinking/discussing about something which is not clearly known/seen/indicated/specified etc. in the tales of Tolkien, so all people can do is to surmise.
halfir 23/Jul/2006 at 12:48 AM
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Aldoriana:  I shall certainly read those threads, and I do appreciate so much your efforts in finding them and providing links to them here! (How do you do that?!

Your appreciation is misplaced my dear friend! Let me be perfectly frank, most of the threads I keep in my data base contain posts by me- so its a case of amour propre I’m afaid!X(

Well, it’s not quite as bad as that- but almost!X(

I keep a record of all threads that interest me, but my actual computer  archival base, which I’m still working on (now 73 pages of data) is essentially created by the sheer hard slog of going through all the archives, and then the current forums- at least those that  hold my primary interest, -Basic, AL, People, Books, Tolkien the Man.

And I think a librarian- like our good friend Sarannna- would laugh at my system of classification which is basically alphabetical. No complex Dewey for me I’m afraid- I don’t have the time or ability.

But if you or anyone else wants a copy of it I am more than happy to email it to you or them -all 73 pages and rising - if you would find it helpful.

But I should point out that some of the threads I note are only of value-in my opinion- for one or two posts- others- Like the Rings of Power  and the Frodo:Traitor or Tragic Hero?  threads contain some of the most perceptive comments on the Plaza and the Web- in virtually all posts.

However, they tend to be those written before the Dark Lord came from outside- when the books were simple and unpolluted i.e. before Peter Jackson’s misinterpretations confused a whole generation of new Tolkien afficionadoes! 

Lord_Vidύm 23/Jul/2006 at 03:26 AM
Banned Points: 1957 Posts: 2449 Joined: 26/Jun/2004
I hate PJ for he achieved in making me not knowing if what I post is written on books or seen on the movies
halfir 23/Jul/2006 at 07:32 AM
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Lord_Vidum: making me not knowing if what I post is written on books or seen on the movies

A problem shared by many others who post on the Plaza! Fortunately, my memory of the films is so hazy that my 50 plus years of reading the books remains firmly embedded in my memory-unlike that of the  Nazgul!X(

Lord_Vidύm 23/Jul/2006 at 08:17 AM
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Well my mistake was to see the movies some hundrends of times before getting the books to read
Lady d`Ecthelion 23/Jul/2006 at 10:03 PM
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halfir:

"Your appreciation is misplaced my dear friend! Let me be perfectly frank, most of the threads I keep in my data base contain posts by me - so its a case of amour propre I’m afaid! "

Aha! So much for objectivity!

Nah! Kiddin’
To have compiled 73 pages (and growing!) is an effort and a great one. Besides, I’m sure that you have saved there valuable things.
Daaaaa ( this means ’Yes’ )...
What wouldn’t people do for knowledge?!!

Thank you kindly for offering this archive. I’m afraid I simply can’t say "No" to it.

* * *

And this is where all topic-non-related talk shall cease!

Suri 03/Aug/2006 at 05:18 AM
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I always thought that the Nazgul was not afraid of the name itself but of the discovery that Frodo knew the name. I mean, until that moment the Nazguls (and Sauron as well) believed Frodo to be only a simple Hobbit with no particular strenght or power, but when he calls the name of Elbereth he shows to know (and probably to be) more than they expected. Moreover, it is said that Frodo hears himself shouting the name, as if he didn’t do it according to his own will but it was a greater power that put the words in his mouth. So, I think that maybe the Nazgul felt that power in his voice and was afraid of it.

I know your opinions are a lot better than mine, but I felt like contributing just the same