What happened to Radagast the Brown?

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Nazri 22/Dec/2006 at 04:56 AM
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Radagast the Brown followed through with the task that Gandalf had given him; he sent his bird and animal friends out to collect information as to what the enemy was doing and report back to Gandalf and Saruman.

Gwaihir, the Lord of the Eagles, was coming to make one of these reports when he found Gandalf captive upon the top of Orthanac. I assume after that, that Gwaihir carried a postBody from Gandalf to Radagast to also report to Galadriel and Elrond, they being the other members of the White Council. We can thus assume that Radagast was the ’Good Guys’ spymaster who coordinated regional intelligence gathering during the War of the Ring.

Other than the above bit of speculation, I don’t think we know what happened to Radagast.

Phil_d_one 22/Dec/2006 at 05:30 AM
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Welcome to the Plaza, Nazri

We know that Radagast didn’t return to Aman -- or at least we can deduce this from the following rhyme of lore

Wilt thou learn the lore      that was long secret
Of the five that came      from a far country?
One only returned      others never again

(Unfinished Tales, The Istari

Gandalf was the one who returned, and so the others, Radagast included, could not have. Was this because he was not allowed (as with Saruman), or because he chose not to return?

We know that he became enamoured of the birds and beasts of Middle-earth, and strayed from his task, such that he failed, though not as dramatically as Saruman? CT notes in his commentary in the Unfinished Tales, however, that Radagast was in fact sent by Yavanna with the express purpose of protecting the flora and fauna of Middle-earth, so the assertion that he failed becomes somewhat curious. I myself believe that he chose not to return, but this is by no means a certainty.

Alcarináro 22/Dec/2006 at 06:33 AM
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Radagast was no spymaster. He didn’t even know the proper name of the Shire, or how to get there. What we see him to in The Lord of the Ring, besides stay at his home and live with animals, is find Gandalf upon the wishes of Saruman and find the Eagles upon the wishes of Gandalf. If I were to label him with a job, which I would be loath to do, it would be something like ’errand boy’. Radagast made himself into someone of little importance.
Arvellas 22/Dec/2006 at 02:01 PM
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No, it seems that Radagast was not really in the know about a lot of things.  He was not as powerful as Gandalf or as Saruman, nor did he have the same priorities.  The spymaster, if anyone, was probably Gandalf.  He travelled much and saw many things, and certainly seemed to be far, far better informed than Radagast, who was more likely to be found at home with the plants and animals that he loved.
Dany 22/Dec/2006 at 11:17 PM
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I think that Radagast didn’t return because he didn’t want to. I can’t see why he wouldn’t be allowed to return; he did nothing wrong, the way that Saruman did. I think that he simply chose not to, since he seemed to be fine with where he was.

I disagree with your label of him as a ’spymaster.’ As Elenhir and Arvellas stated, he really didn’t know that much about what was going on around him, and a spymaster needs to know what’s going on. He seems almost like a senile old man who is given an insignificant task, solely for the purpose of keeping him out of the way.
Nav 24/Dec/2006 at 09:53 PM
Weathered Ent of Fangorn Points: 5671 Posts: 6218 Joined: 10/Dec/2005

I almost feel bad for Radagast. Imagine, he could conceivably have had the same power as Gandalf. Instead, he blew it and hung out with his animals and plants. The combined power of Radagast and Gandalf would have ended things with Sauron a lot quicker than they were – Two Maia versus one. But he didn’t.

The Radagast character had great potential, especially after Saruman called him Radagast the Simple and all those other assorted names. Could any of you lore-masters explain why Tolkien chose to not use the Radagast character other than in the minor role of "errand boy" or "senile old man"?

Red Saelind 24/Dec/2006 at 10:01 PM
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For a while I thought that perhaps Radagast was killed in the battles around Mirkwood at the end of the War of the Ring, but assuming his good intentions and aid to Gandalf, that would send him back to Valinor, I believe. As the riddle in Unfinished Tales omits him from that end, one must believe that he either fell under Sauron’s influence and failed as did Saruman...or that he simply continued in ME as others have already said. I prefer the latter view.

If Yavanna wanted him to protect the flora and fauna perhaps he was doing just that: did she mean for him to return or take this on as a permanent job?

Nav 25/Dec/2006 at 09:01 PM
Weathered Ent of Fangorn Points: 5671 Posts: 6218 Joined: 10/Dec/2005
Red: But Saruman failed royally. He completely abandoned task, and he got his in the end. Radagast didn’t abandon task, as you say. Which leaves the whole character of Radagast as a mystery. I like your idea that maybe he died in the battles around Mirkwood, it’s plausible, but I’m not sure he would have gotten involved in the whole fighting bit.
First Age 26/Dec/2006 at 04:23 PM
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I doubt very much that he was a "senile old man" Dany. I mean he was after all a maia even if he was of little significance. I would suggest the Radaghast stayed in ME of his own free will. I could be said that he "failed" in his task, but this would be no reason to banish him from Aman. Look at the terrible things that Morgoth did but he was allowed back by the Valar.
Magradhaid 26/Dec/2006 at 04:42 PM
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Yes, Morgoth was ’allowed back’ ... in chains! And then they killed him and sent his spirit into the Void.
halfir 26/Dec/2006 at 10:29 PM
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There is a very interesting comparison by Tolkien of Gandalf, Radagast, and Saruman, which he carried out  late in life (actual date unknown), inspired by relooking at  the postcard rendition of  Madlener’s painting Der Berggeist - which had influenced his conception of Gandalf- {cf Hammond &Scull LOTR Companion pp. 24-25, 244-245, Carpenter -BIography Chptr. TC; BS; etc’.

So significant is the comparison that it is worthwhile repeating his comments here, given that many Plaza members will not have the Hammond& Scull Companion:

On a rock beneath a pine-tree is seated a small but broad old man with a wide brimmed round hat and a long cloak talking to a white fawn that is nuzzling his upturned hands. He has a humorous  but at the same time compassionate expression – his mouth is visible and smiling, because he has a white beard but no hair on his upper lip. The scene is a wooded glade ( pine, fir, and birch) beside a rivulet with a glimpse  of mountain peaks in the distance. This {sic} an owl and four other smaller birds looking from branches of the trees. Gandalf or Radagast? Gandalf. He was the friend and confidant  of all living creatures of good will {compare Book 11, Chapter 7, p.359, 1:375: ‘With dwarf and Hobbit, Elves and Men,/ with mortal and immortal folk,/with bird on bough and beast in den,/ in their own secret tongue s he spoke’}. He differed from  Radagast and Saruman  in that he never turned aside from his appointed mission (‘I was the Enemy of Sauron’ {Book Vi, Chapter 5,  p,971.111:249} and was unsparing of himself. Radagast was fond of beasts and birds  and found them easier to deal with; he did not become proud and domineering , but neglectful and easygoing, and he had very little to do with Elves or Men although obviously resistance to Sauron had  to be sought chiefly in their  cooperation. But since he remained of good will (though he had not much courage) , his work in fact helped Gandalf at crucial moments. Saruman is sufficiently revealed in the story. No doubt he started with good will, and with higher authority and superior powers. But he was impatient with the sloth, stupidity, and obstinate free wills of the peoples he was sent to advice and encourage. It would seem from the beginning he adopted a visible form of commanding stature and noble countenance. Unlike Gandalf, who in contrast would appear stumpy, and in certain respects comic or grotesque in looks and in manner. His pride grew and he became pitiless, valuing things inanimate  or living, and all persons high and low simply as tools fro his designs, to be deceived  or misdirected, when simple force was not available.”


In a variant version of the last part of the text , Tolkien wrote that:


‘it is  clear that Gandalf (with greater insight and compassion) had in fact  more knowledge of birds and beats than Radagast, and was regarded by them  with more respect and affection’; and he added to his description of Saruman that:


‘he lost all sense of humour (always strong in Gandalf).’ { Tolkien Papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford ,my bold emphasis  throughout}


Saruman remains the no-hoper he was in the books! Radagast does not I think in the light of this evidence totally fail in his primary duty as I had previosuly asserted elsewhere,  even though he   turned aside from his appointed mission and became neglectful and easygoing, and he had very little to do with Elves or Men although obviously resistance to Sauron had  to be sought chiefly in their  cooperation, because since he remained of good will (though he had not much courage) , his work in fact helped Gandalf at crucial moments.  {my underline}



What is also interesting is that in this re-evaluation Tolkien places - in both main text and variant -Gandalf in a superior relationship to the birds and animals than he does Radagast.


As to what ultimately happened to Radagast the text and Letters are silent, and so am !.X(


geordie 27/Dec/2006 at 06:55 AM
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Excellent as ever halfir - and on the subject of Madlener’s Der Berggeist, I’ve found a picture >Here<.
[you can make it bigger by clicking on the image.]

The original painting went up for auction at Sotheby’s in London on 12th July 2005, at an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000 pounds. It actually sold for £80,000 if I remember right! Blimey.

BTW - the mountains in the background are the Dolomites, apparently
halfir 27/Dec/2006 at 10:04 PM
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Finellach 28/Dec/2006 at 08:31 AM
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Radagast became Slavic god.
outtafitz836 29/Dec/2006 at 10:07 AM
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I personally think Radagast chose to stay. BUT, it is possible that he was prevented by returning to Aman. Galadriel was put under the same ban for a different reason, but this was eventually lifted from her. Maybe the Valar felt no reason to lift it?? Since Radagast was sent specifically to protect the flora and fauna, wouldn’t he have been in "higher demand" AFTER? the War of the RIng?? It is true that Gandalf held more command among the animals of Middle Earth, but after the fight with the Balrog, he was required to return. Perhaps if that hadn’t been, Radagast would have returned to Aman??

Anyways, sorry if that was a bit rambling??

Arthur Weasley 29/Dec/2006 at 12:42 PM
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It is hard for me to condemn Radagast.  I think he simply became more "enamoured," with all of the little forest critters and "aminals," so when the Third Age ended, he simply continued to dance about the forest with his animal friends.  He never gave in to Sauron, offered Gandalf help when asked, only obeyed Saruman by being tricked, and otherwise was a good fellow. 
Deep Roots 01/Jan/2007 at 07:02 PM
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Radagast seamed to not be "all there". He was only intrested in beasts, mostly birds, and he loved the eagles. I found it odd that Tolkien left the reader with Radagast just sprinting off on his horse, with no more given. Surely a member of the Istari would play a more important role?