Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Gandalf Symbol

  1. laquil1's Avatar
    Minion
    Points
    84
    Posts
    8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    #1


    In The Hobbit, Gandalf inscribes a symbol on Bilbo's door that is described as an Elvish rune for the letter G. Later, in The Fellowship of the Ring, he signs his letters to Frodo with what appears to be an Elvish or Cirth letter or symbol. Presumably, these are the same symbol, signifying "Gandalf" or "Mithrandir" or "Ororin", ect. But this doesn't appear to have anything to do with the letter G:

    To me, this appears to be some sort of variation on the letter I, perhaps signifying the Istari? I also don't recognize the dots around the symbol as vowels from the Tengwar alphabet. Can anybody shed some light on Gandalf's mysterious signature?

    <center><em>Hamlet.I.iii.78</em></center>

  2. Naurusc's Avatar
    Voldemort
    Points
    2,392
    Posts
    1,337
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    #2
    http://www.runestones.com/RuneMeaning.htm#First%20Aett

    Reminds me of the rune "fehu" - yes slightly different with dots and a slightly longer lower branch there - so maybe it's just a coincidence.
    If all the world is a stage, then who gets to write the script?

  3. laquil1's Avatar
    Minion
    Points
    84
    Posts
    8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    #3


    Yeah, that is quite similar! Can't imagine Gandalf's symbol having anything at all to do with money, business, or financial gain, though. Perhaps coincidence, or maybe Tolkien just liked the way it looks and borrowed it?
    <center><em>Hamlet.I.iii.78</em></center>

  4. Naurusc's Avatar
    Voldemort
    Points
    2,392
    Posts
    1,337
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    #4
    Well this part might fit: (copied from the link given in my previous post - not my own writing here)

    MAGICAL USES:
    for money, business, promotion, finding a job, achieving a goal, starting new enterprises

    ANALYSIS:
    Fehu is both the day-to-day reality of our lives and the catalyst that awakens us to what lies beyond. It is whatever we think we are seeking, which frequently bears no resemblance to what we will eventually find....
    If all the world is a stage, then who gets to write the script?

  5. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
    Old Took
    Points
    7,634
    Posts
    7,481
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    #5
    Although Tolkien's certhas strongly resembles futhark / futhorc runes in shape, the significance of the runes is quite different. In the certhas, the "Gandalf symbol" is a g-rune (with decorative dots). See LotR Appendix E. Any magical significance supposedly appertaining to Scandinavian runes has nothing to do with the certhas.

    Admittedly the situation is somewhat confused by the fact that in TH Tolkien uses a version of the futhorc ....
    "I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses."

  6. Naurusc's Avatar
    Voldemort
    Points
    2,392
    Posts
    1,337
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    #6
    True Dorwiniondil, as I noted there are differences.
    But I think it might be reasonable to wonder if there could have been a relationship between the cethas and futhark of some kind. It's all just conjecture, of course. But to me such a notion is similar to the consideration of the development and evolution of a language. Meanings might shift slightly over time and representations might get simplified, adapted or otherwise "tweaked" but may at times (not always of course) have a connection or relationship.

    Again, not the same, but "interestingly" similar.
    If all the world is a stage, then who gets to write the script?

  7. Rian Eliowen's Avatar
    Princess Anna
    Points
    3,698
    Posts
    1,453
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    #7
    Hey guys - I thought that in The Hobbit Gandalf put that mark on Bilbo's door saying it was a kind of "Burglar looking for employment" sign so the Dwarves knew it was the correct door when they arrived - and his normal G rune was the one he signed the letter to Frodo with and he also left on the stones at Weathertop.

  8. I seem to remember an article (maybe in the Legendariumcollection?) that discussed the possible 'historical' connection of Tolkien's certhas to the Germanic system(s). I don't remember the argument very well, but an overly strong connection is pretty hard to argue for, since for the most part there aren't even remote resemblances between Tolkienian and Germanic runes.
    It's actually really hard to explain why the letters that were retained (the elder Futhark has only 24 runes, which is less than half the number of Cirth) would have such utterly reworked values (especially while keeping such remarkably similar shapes). For instance, Cirth #9 has the value /d/, but the rune of the same shape stands for /a/ - this is a truly drastic change! This sort of thing happens occasionally in the real world lives of scripts, but to get from the Certhas to the Futhark you'd have to imagine this sort of completely radical and bizarre shifting for virtually every letter.
    Although neither statement was published, Tolkien does say as much in two writings connected to the drafting of the linguistic Appendices. These perhaps were removed partly because they were 'extraneous' enough when he needed to make the Appendices shorter, and partly because of how he ended up arranging the material in Appendices E and F (with most comments relating things to the modern day in F, but the scripts dealt with in E) - the point is, I don't think the fact that he left it out of the published Appendix means he necessarily rejected what he says. Anyway, early in the drafting Tolkien wrote thusly:
    But whereas the flowing scripts (...) were developed in Elvenhome far from Middle-earth, the Runes, or cirth, were devised by the Elves of the woods; and from that origin derive their peculiar character, similar to the Runes of the North in our days, though their detail is different and it is very doubtful if there is any linealconnexion between the two alphabets. The Elvish cirthare in any case more elaborate and numerous and systematic.HoME XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Appendix on Languages, p. 23
    And a revision of this draft from later in the process:
    ...the Runes, or Cirthas they were called, were first devised by the Danians (far kin of the Noldor) in the woods of Beleriand, and were in the beginning used mainly for incising names and brief memorials upon wood, stone, or metal. From that beginning they derive their peculiar character, closely similar in many of their signs to the Runes of the North in our own times. But their detail arrangement, and uses were different, and there is, it seems, no connexion of descent between the Runes and the Cirth. Many things were forgotten and found again the ages of Middle-earth, and so it will be, doubtless, hereafter.HoME XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Appendix on Languages, p. 75
    In a way, I think this lack of connection is actually a good decision on Tolkien's part, since instead Tolkien designed Certhas as a plausible 'carved alphabet', meant to be chiselled on wood or stone, that followed principles of 'Elvish linguistics'. This means that, even though the Certhas had its origin in 19 'unsystematic' Cirth, the developed version we find in the Appendices very much resembles the Tengwar in principle, and even to a degree in shape.
    Seen as a historical product within the early history of Middle-earth, it reflects the cultural milieu of ancient Beleriand very well: a rougher, 'organic' native culture (yet still one that invented writing on its own) brought into contact with and influenced by (though not replaced by) the very sophisticated Noldor with well developed intellectual traditions and an endless desire to know, identify, systematize.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  9. Galin's Avatar
    Minion
    Points
    3,371
    Posts
    1,806
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    #9

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">'True Dorwiniondil, as I noted there are differences. But I think it might be reasonable to wonder if there could have been a relationship between the cethas and futhark of some kind. (...)'
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">In Certhas, Skirditaila, FutharkA Feigned History of Runic Origins (Tolkien's Legendarium)Arden Smith looked closely at this question. Conclusions seem difficult, but anywayMr. Smith notes: 'If we assume that Tolkien envisioned the Beleriandic cirth as a mythological source for the historical Germanic runes, as the essay on the Alphabet of Dairon suggests, the alphabet would have had to undergo significant changes to develop from the certhas into the futhark, whether or not the skirditaila served as an intermediate stage.'
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">I'llnote that the essay (Tolkien's)is dated circa 1937, and to try toputa complicatedmatter very simply, the years betweenthe imagined history and more 'modern' times arguably changed as Tolkien's ideas developed-- for a closer look at thistopic, or the matter of Taliska andpossibleIndo-European connections, see Elvish And Mannish, Christopher Gilson, Vinyar Tengwar 33, especially section3: A New Time Table.Anyway hereI'm just noting a general external factorto possiblykeep in the back of themind, consideringthe topic at hand.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Arden Smithdoes note some remarkable comments from JRRT concerning this topic, in addition to the suggestion of the essay already noted above. Theseincludethis statement to Rhona Beare in 1963: 'The Cirth or runes in The Lord of the Rings were invented for that story and, within it, have no supposed historical connexion with the Germanic runic alphabet.' However'within it' (notes A.S.) mightmean thatthis explanationdoes not necessarilyapply to the greater scope ofTolkien's mythology. Andthen there's this from1964 (letter to Jane Sibley): 'The runes I used for The Hobbit were genuine and historical; those in The Lord of the Rings I myself invented. The resultant discrepancy must be answered by saying that both kinds were in use in Middle Earth'.*
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Yet Arden Smith points out that some ofthe runes usedin The Hobbit resulted from certain phonological changes in Anglo-Frisian and Primitive Old English 'and cannot have been applied to those runes before that time' meaning, as I take it, that this explanation doesn't really sit that well with Primary Worldhistory. Back to the more general question: 'Although the correspondences between individual Germanic runes and individial cirth are slight, the general similarities are remarkable. Most striking is the fact that those characters that represented vowels in the certhas also tend to represent vowels in the futhark (...).' however Mr. Smith also notes that:'The other major difficulty in positing a developement of the futhark out of the certhas lies in the differing arrangements of the systems.' The essaydoesgo on to raisepossiblescenariosthat might get around the difficulties (assuming a historical connection), likesuggesting the possibility ofa tribe of Edain borrowing the idea of runes rather than the actual forms, but in the end it's noted thatwe are left with a number of questions that can't be answered with certainty.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">__________
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">* yet again in1966 (published by Tolkien himself for another edition of The Hobbit)the explanationappears to bethat the runes in The Hobbit represented other runes, suggesting a similarity of sortswith the representation of certain languages in The Lord of the Rings. By this timethe idea that the Red Book was translated was firmly part of the conceit; andno one really could have spoken Old English 'back then' for example (Orthanc aside!), or had names made up of Old English elements --and they didn't; it's all part of the mode oftranslation...
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">... so here I think Tolkien'finally' decided that the runes in The Hobbit were notbest explained as 'in use in Middle-earth' (1964) along with other kinds in use -- rather they didn't reallyexist in the supposed original. And so the Hobbit runes merely represented the real runes of the supposedoriginal, consistent (one imagines) enough with those in The Lord of the Rings.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">That's only part of the matter here in any case!
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Postedbefore I saw the post fromLord of the Rings Edited by: Galin

  10. Galin's post has prompted me to say a couple of rather more speculative things I left out of my first post. Namely, while Tolkien was at times quite clear about there being no 'lineal connexion', that doesn't necessarily mean he didn't 'want' that connection, or go some way towards imagining one. In particular, the phrases 'lineal connexion' and 'connexion of descent' leave a degree of wiggle room: he knew full well there's no linguistically rigorous way to get the values to change the way they did by normal alterations in usage over time, but that doesn't mean (as Smith seems to have suggested - many thanks for outlining the essay, Galin, since I couldn't remember it clearly at all) that the idea of runes, or even their shapes divorced from the sounds, couldn't have been borrowed.
    It's interesting that Tolkien says 'Many things were forgotten and found again'. Runes (as he just mentioned) tend to get inscribed on fairly permanent things: rocks do weather and metal corrodes, but both can preserve incised letters for a long time (we have Germanic runic inscriptions from going on 1800 years ago, and I know about stone inscriptions in the ancient Near East from well over 3000 years ago - there may well be even older ones I don't know about). Given this, is it a surprise that the peoples of Northwest Europe, if they found some ancient Elvish cirth on a rock or somesuch, that they would imitate the writing for their own purposes? The shapes would be quite closely followed, but their original sounds would be completely unknown, so they would adapt the runes for their own early Germanic completely randomly.Happenstanceof attestation could explain why only 24 runes were initially used.
    This would at least fit with the general sense I get of Tolkien moving his 'Elder Days' far back in time, but still retaining some tangible (and to his mind important) connections with historical (and philological) reality. It would also be quite a different scenario from transmission involving the Edain - but as I recall, the writings about Skirditaila and such that Smith was using were written rather earlier than the Appendix draft I quoted. These sets of speculations aren't necessarily incompatible.
    However, I'm not sure Tolkien ever meant to imply this, and most of these statements can be read other ways (the bit to Rhona Beare, for instance, could well mean that there isa historical connection outside of the story, but going the other way, in the creative process: the Certhas was inspired by Germanic runes). Hence why I didn't mention it earlier - but it's kind of interesting to think about
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  11. Naurusc's Avatar
    Voldemort
    Points
    2,392
    Posts
    1,337
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    #11
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">Galin It is interesting that there is such a general similarity while also a lack of specific and traceable mappings or consistency between the rune sets and interpretations. One's imagination could go all over the place with that! But it probably can't escape the boundaries of imagination ...
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">Mandos yes - I agree that while it is interesting, I don't know what more can be said. And the possible similarity in the uses for the rune and aspects of Gandalf's character really might just be a psychological thing where the descriptions are just vague and varied enough that some part will likely apply while some other part will likely not.
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">But it was interesting to think about and I did do that for a while!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •