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Tolkien's runes of power (was Re: Digest Number 632)

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  • Michael Martinez
    ... That s it, thanks. And I see the Beorn reference is in Letter 144, not Letter 211, which I believe I attributed it to previously.
    Message 1 of 19 , Jul 19, 2001
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      --- In mythsoc@y..., "Sweet & Tender Hooligan" <cirhsein@y...> wrote:
      >
      > It's at:
      >
      > http://mevault.ign.com/features/editorials/understandingmagic.shtml

      That's it, thanks. And I see the Beorn reference is in Letter 144,
      not Letter 211, which I believe I attributed it to previously.
    • dianejoy@earthlink.net
      ... From: Michael Martinez michael@xenite.org Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 18:27:12 -0000 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: [mythsoc] Tolkien s runes of power
      Message 2 of 19 , Jul 20, 2001
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        Original Message:
        -----------------
        From: Michael Martinez michael@...
        Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 18:27:12 -0000
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [mythsoc] Tolkien's runes of power (was Re: Digest Number 632)


        --- In mythsoc@y..., "Sweet & Tender Hooligan" <cirhsein@y...> wrote:
        >>
        >> It's at:
        >>
        >> http://mevault.ign.com/features/editorials/understandingmagic.shtml

        >That's it, thanks. And I see the Beorn reference is in Letter 144,
        >not Letter 211, which I believe I attributed it to previously.

        I must congratulate you on a very detailed and perceptive piece. Haven't read it all; I have trouble reading long articles on screen; I've bookmarked it and hope to read it once I print it off. It may be a while.
        Have you considered sending it off to a print publication---like *Mythlore* for instance, or are there legal rammifications? ---djb

        The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

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      • Michael Martinez
        ... Haven t read it all; I have trouble reading long articles on screen; I ve bookmarked it and hope to read it once I print it off. It may be a while. ...
        Message 3 of 19 , Jul 20, 2001
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          --- In mythsoc@y..., "dianejoy@e..." <dianejoy@e...> wrote:

          > I must congratulate you on a very detailed and perceptive piece.
          Haven't read it all; I have trouble reading long articles on
          screen; I've bookmarked it and hope to read it once I print it off.
          It may be a while.
          > Have you considered sending it off to a print publication---like
          *Mythlore* for instance, or are there legal rammifications? ---djb

          Thank you. I included the essay in Visualizing Middle-earth. Right
          now I have such a backlog of writing projects that I'm not going to
          submit anything to anyone. I've been approving reprint requests
          since no one ever asks for a rewrite with those. :)
        • David J. Finnamore
          ... of letter #155, where he says, Anyway, a difference in the use of magic in this story is that it is not to be come by by lore or spells; but is in an
          Message 4 of 19 , Jul 22, 2001
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            --- In mythsoc@y..., "Trudy Shaw" <tgshaw@e...> wrote:
            > The "native talent" description is supported by Tolkien at the end
            of letter #155, where he says, "Anyway, a difference in the use of
            'magic' in this story is that it is not to be come by by 'lore' or
            spells; but is in an inherent power not possessed or attainable by Men
            as such. Aragorn's 'healing' might be regarded as 'magical', or at
            least a blend of magic with pharmacy and 'hypnotic' processes. But it
            is (in theory) reported by hobbits who have very little notions of
            philosophy and science; while A. is not a pure 'Man', but at long
            remove one of the 'children of Luthien'."

            It seems to me, then, that there is a clear distinction between what
            he, as an "outside observer" believed about what was behind his tale,
            and what those who (in theory) reported the tale believed. The story
            itself, unless my memory is failing, makes numerous references to a
            relationship between magical power and the learning of lore.


            > In the quotation about technology (above), is Arthur C. Clarke
            referring specifically to Tolkien's Elves or to the (pardon the
            expression ) garden variety?

            Niether. He was not referring to Tolkien but to the fact that people
            with advanced technology can appear to be magical to those without it.
            Which seems to have happened in the case of Elves and Hobbits.

            David
          • Michael Martinez
            ... I cannot think of any such references. However, the paragraph cited above is the same one against which Tolkien wrote the marginal note pointing out that
            Message 5 of 19 , Jul 22, 2001
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              --- In mythsoc@y..., "David J. Finnamore" <daeron@b...> wrote:
              > --- In mythsoc@y..., "Trudy Shaw" <tgshaw@e...> wrote:
              > > The "native talent" description is supported by Tolkien at the
              > > end of letter #155, where he says, "Anyway, a difference in the
              > > use of 'magic' in this story is that it is not to be come by
              > > by 'lore' or spells; but is in an inherent power not possessed or
              > > attainable by Men as such. Aragorn's 'healing' might be regarded
              > > as 'magical', or at least a blend of magic with pharmacy
              > > and 'hypnotic' processes. But it is (in theory) reported by
              > > hobbits who have very little notions of philosophy and science;
              > > while A. is not a pure 'Man', but at long remove one of
              > > the 'children of Luthien'."
              >
              > It seems to me, then, that there is a clear distinction between
              > what he, as an "outside observer" believed about what was behind
              > his tale, and what those who (in theory) reported the tale
              > believed. The story itself, unless my memory is failing, makes
              > numerous references to a relationship between magical power and the
              > learning of lore.

              I cannot think of any such references. However, the paragraph cited
              above is the same one against which Tolkien wrote the marginal note
              pointing out that Numenoreans used spells in making swords.

              I was sure it wouldn't be long before an Anglo-Saxon-centric argument
              was made about Tolkien's magic, but it can be shown that his magic
              closely resembles nothing and vaguely resembles everything. I am
              sure that was his intent, but I doubt he ever confessed to doing
              things that way in writing.

              Gandalf and the wizards, for example, exhibit powers which are found
              in Greek mythology, from Zeus hurtling thunderbolts at people to
              various gods changing into animals and trees (Radagast being a master
              of shapes and hues, although there are people who argue endlessly
              and, in my opinion, pointlessly about how Gandalf's comment cannot
              possibly refer to anything like Radagast changing his own shape).

              And Tolkien made a point of calling the Rohirrim "Homeric horsemen",
              although there were no such horsemen in Homer (that I recall). On
              the other hand, Tolkien exhibited a fondness for Alexander the Great,
              at least to the extent that Alexander is mentioned more than once in
              Tolkien's letters.

              The Rohirrim thus appear to be loosely based on the Goths as they
              were perceived to be in the 1940s (at the time of their entries into
              the Roman Empire) as far as culture goes; their "translated" language
              and nomenclature are taken directly from Anglo-Saxon (Mercian,
              according to some people, but I don't know enough to distinguish such
              features of language); their ideas and values are "Homeric", even
              down to men forseeing their deaths and taking oaths which carry them
              to the far ends of the world; and they are very close to being a
              rewrite of the Third House of the Edain, the Marachians.

              Helm Hammerhand resembles Hurin in some ways, and Eorl the Young
              might be modelled on Hador. At the time he wrote THE LORD OF THE
              RINGS, Tolkien knew far more about those earlier characters than he
              was revealing to his Hobbit readership, so he seems to have had no
              qualms about borrowing from himself. And both Helm and Hurin owe a
              little something to Herakles, being men of great strength with
              tempers that get them into trouble. And they both lose their
              families because of their actions.
            • Michael Martinez
              ... I meant to add something about the two famous charges of the Rohirrim: Eorl s arrival at the Battle of the Field of Celebrant and Theoden s charge in the
              Message 6 of 19 , Jul 22, 2001
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                --- In mythsoc@y..., "Michael Martinez" <michael@x> wrote:
                > --- In mythsoc@y..., "David J. Finnamore" <daeron@b...> wrote:
                > The Rohirrim thus appear to be loosely based on the Goths as they
                > were perceived to be in the 1940s (at the time of their entries
                > into the Roman Empire) as far as culture goes; their "translated"
                > language and nomenclature are taken directly from Anglo-Saxon
                > (Mercian, according to some people, but I don't know enough to
                > distinguish such features of language); their ideas and values
                > are "Homeric", even down to men forseeing their deaths and taking
                > oaths which carry them to the far ends of the world; and they are
                > very close to being a rewrite of the Third House of the Edain, the
                > Marachians.

                I meant to add something about the two famous charges of the
                Rohirrim: Eorl's arrival at the Battle of the Field of Celebrant and
                Theoden's charge in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Both charges
                owe a little something to Alexander, who more than once led his
                Companion cavalry in charges against the center of enemy lines (an
                unusual cavalry tactic for a time centuries before the stirrup came
                along -- and I don't believe the high saddles used by Roman Cibinarii
                for similar tactics had been developed yet, either).

                Anyway, I was starting to get ahead of myself as I typed, as the
                Helm/Hurin/Herakles comparison was one I hadn't made in a long time,
                and it suddenly reoccurred to me.
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