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re: Tolkien rationalizations

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  • Old.Ghost@juno.com
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    Message 1 of 8 , Sep 24, 2002
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      > From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
      > A more serious contradiction comes in the next phrase, which (again
      > according to my recollection) is "nor does he use his right name,
      > nor permit it to be spelt or spoken."
      >
      > Even leaving aside the doubtful question of whether "Sauron" is in
      > fact his right name, there is the emissary in Book 5 who comes out
      > of the Black Gate and says, "I am the Mouth of Sauron."

      Well, I can rationalize this, but I'm not sure if the rationalization is
      supported in Tolkien's books:
      This reminded me of Glen Cook's fantasy-mercenary series "The Black
      Company" because those books provide a really simple answer: Sauron is
      what he is called but it is not his name, because names have power in
      magic (a theme that recurs over and over again in many books which
      include magic and the occult in general). By never permitting those who
      do know his name to write it or speak it, Sauron increases the chance
      that no one will be able to use it against him.
      *chuckle* The emissary could just as easily have said "I am the mouth of
      the really evil dude who rules Mordor."

      ~ Old Ghost

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    • SusanPal@aol.com
      In a message dated 9/24/2002 7:23:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... I thought of that too -- but since the scene in the book has them discussing the name
      Message 2 of 8 , Sep 24, 2002
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        In a message dated 9/24/2002 7:23:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
        Old.Ghost@... writes:


        > Sauron is
        > what he is called but it is not his name, because names have power in
        > magic (a theme that recurs over and over again in many books which
        > include magic and the occult in general).

        I thought of that too -- but since the scene in the book has them discussing
        the name "Sauron," Legolas wouldn't say what he does unless that's the name
        the really bad dude from Mordor won't permit to be spelled out.

        Susan


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David S. Bratman
        Names do have power in Tolkien, but it s not the kind of blatant power found in other fantasies, notably Le Guin s Earthsea, where a large part of wizardry is
        Message 3 of 8 , Sep 24, 2002
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          Names do have power in Tolkien, but it's not the kind of blatant power
          found in other fantasies, notably Le Guin's Earthsea, where a large part of
          wizardry is finding out the true names of things and people. Tolkien uses
          a broader principle of language and languages having power, not names in
          particular, but it's mostly a connotative, rather than a commanding,
          power. Aragorn and Gandalf both show reluctance to utter the word "Mordor"
          when Sauron's power is near, and when Gandalf recites the Ring inscription
          in the original Black Speech, the Elves find it agony to hear.

          Your solution to the contradiction depends on "Sauron" not being that
          character's "right name." And depending on what "right name" means exactly
          in Tolkien, maybe it isn't. But it's clear from context that when Aragorn
          says "right name," he means "Sauron." So he's evidently mistaken, or
          something, but he's certainly on the right track; since the name means
          "abominable" (according to Foster), it's not one he'd be likely to use a
          lot. So when the Mouth says "Sauron," it's not all that far off from "that
          really evil dude" after all.

          - David Bratman


          At 07:21 PM 9/24/2002 , "Old Ghost" wrote:
          > > From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
          > > A more serious contradiction comes in the next phrase, which (again
          > > according to my recollection) is "nor does he use his right name,
          > > nor permit it to be spelt or spoken."
          > >
          > > Even leaving aside the doubtful question of whether "Sauron" is in
          > > fact his right name, there is the emissary in Book 5 who comes out
          > > of the Black Gate and says, "I am the Mouth of Sauron."
          >
          >Well, I can rationalize this, but I'm not sure if the rationalization is
          >supported in Tolkien's books:
          >This reminded me of Glen Cook's fantasy-mercenary series "The Black
          >Company" because those books provide a really simple answer: Sauron is
          >what he is called but it is not his name, because names have power in
          >magic (a theme that recurs over and over again in many books which
          >include magic and the occult in general). By never permitting those who
          >do know his name to write it or speak it, Sauron increases the chance
          >that no one will be able to use it against him.
          >*chuckle* The emissary could just as easily have said "I am the mouth of
          >the really evil dude who rules Mordor."
        • JP Massar
          ... In the index to The Silmarillion, the entry for Sauron reads Sauron. The Abhorred ... which I take to mean that the translation of Sauron has to do with
          Message 4 of 8 , Sep 24, 2002
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            >
            >
            >Your solution to the contradiction depends on "Sauron" not being that
            >character's "right name." And depending on what "right name" means exactly
            >in Tolkien, maybe it isn't. But it's clear from context that when Aragorn
            >says "right name," he means "Sauron." So he's evidently mistaken, or
            >something, but he's certainly on the right track; since the name means
            >"abominable" (according to Foster), it's not one he'd be likely to use a
            >lot.

            In the index to The Silmarillion, the entry for Sauron reads

            "Sauron. 'The Abhorred'..."

            which I take to mean that the translation of Sauron has to do with
            abhorred, not abominable.

            > So when the Mouth says "Sauron," it's not all that far off from "that
            >really evil dude" after all.

            In the Valenquenta, it is said

            "...the spirit whom the Eldar called Sauron..."

            But it also says, paraphrasing, that 'Melkor' was the name of the Enemy,
            but the Noldor would not utter it, and called him 'Morgoth'.

            But no analogous set of two names is provided for Sauron.


            All in all, I suspect that Tolkien just didn't notice the contradiction and
            had he realized it would have changed the title 'The Mouth of Sauron'
            to something else.
          • David S. Bratman
            ... Foster wrote after _The Silmarillion_ was published, so I don t take this as a correction, unless later information (which I haven t checked) specifically
            Message 5 of 8 , Sep 25, 2002
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              At 11:13 PM 9/24/2002 , JP Massar wrote:
              >
              >>Your solution to the contradiction depends on "Sauron" not being that
              >>character's "right name." And depending on what "right name" means exactly
              >>in Tolkien, maybe it isn't. But it's clear from context that when Aragorn
              >>says "right name," he means "Sauron." So he's evidently mistaken, or
              >>something, but he's certainly on the right track; since the name means
              >>"abominable" (according to Foster), it's not one he'd be likely to use a
              >>lot.
              >
              >In the index to The Silmarillion, the entry for Sauron reads
              >
              >"Sauron. 'The Abhorred'..."
              >
              >which I take to mean that the translation of Sauron has to do with
              >abhorred, not abominable.

              Foster wrote after _The Silmarillion_ was published, so I don't take this
              as a correction, unless later information (which I haven't checked)
              specifically clarifies this question. It's not necessarily contradictory:
              I'm inclined from this alone to take "abominable" as the translation, and
              "The Abhorred" as an epithet. Not that, apart from part of speech, their
              meanings differ all that strikingly - I could conceive of a foreign word
              which could adequately be translated by both English words.

              >> So when the Mouth says "Sauron," it's not all that far off from "that
              >>really evil dude" after all.
              >
              >In the Valenquenta, it is said
              >
              >"...the spirit whom the Eldar called Sauron..."
              >
              >But it also says, paraphrasing, that 'Melkor' was the name of the Enemy,
              >but the Noldor would not utter it, and called him 'Morgoth'.
              >
              >But no analogous set of two names is provided for Sauron.

              Since Morgoth (which means "Enemy") was not the name that being started out
              with, one can presume the same of Sauron (knowing what that means), even if
              we don't know what earlier name he might have had. In many of Tolkien's
              First Age papers, Sauron is referred to as Gorthaur and Thu, but these too
              are Elvish epithets with rude meanings.

              >All in all, I suspect that Tolkien just didn't notice the contradiction and
              >had he realized it would have changed the title 'The Mouth of Sauron'
              >to something else.

              Quite possibly. That's what Tolkien might have said had the matter been
              pointed out to him. I think it also possible that he could have said that
              Aragorn was simply mistaken (which has the advantage of being an "internal"
              explanation).

              - David Bratman
            • JP Massar
              ... No, the introduction to the Index on the Silmarillion states that words appearing in inverted commas are translations, and provides an example analogous to
              Message 6 of 8 , Sep 25, 2002
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                >
                >
                >Foster wrote after _The Silmarillion_ was published, so I don't take this
                >as a correction, unless later information (which I haven't checked)
                >specifically clarifies this question. It's not necessarily contradictory:
                >I'm inclined from this alone to take "abominable" as the translation, and
                >"The Abhorred" as an epithet.

                No, the introduction to the Index on the Silmarillion states that words
                appearing in inverted commas are translations, and provides an
                example analogous to the way Sauron <-> The Abhorred is specified.

                > Not that, apart from part of speech, their
                >meanings differ all that strikingly - I could conceive of a foreign word
                >which could adequately be translated by both English words.

                Yes.

                >
                >Since Morgoth (which means "Enemy") was not the name that being started out
                >with, one can presume the same of Sauron (knowing what that means), even if
                >we don't know what earlier name he might have had. In many of Tolkien's
                >First Age papers, Sauron is referred to as Gorthaur and Thu, but these too
                >are Elvish epithets with rude meanings.

                Gorthaur is the Sindarin translation of Sauron.

                I don't think 'Thu' is used in the Silmarillion, only in earlier works. It
                could be
                Sauron's 'real' name or it could just be a name Tolkein later abandoned.
              • David S. Bratman
                ... I don t have the books in front of me, but I ve seen Gorthaur translated as abominable dread , which puts us back where we started. ... Which is why I
                Message 7 of 8 , Sep 25, 2002
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                  At 09:34 AM 9/25/2002 , JP Massar wrote:

                  >>Since Morgoth (which means "Enemy") was not the name that being started out
                  >>with, one can presume the same of Sauron (knowing what that means), even if
                  >>we don't know what earlier name he might have had. In many of Tolkien's
                  >>First Age papers, Sauron is referred to as Gorthaur and Thu, but these too
                  >>are Elvish epithets with rude meanings.
                  >
                  >Gorthaur is the Sindarin translation of Sauron.

                  I don't have the books in front of me, but I've seen "Gorthaur" translated
                  as "abominable dread", which puts us back where we started.

                  >I don't think 'Thu' is used in the Silmarillion, only in earlier works.

                  Which is why I wrote "many of Tolkien's First Age papers" and not "_The
                  Silmarillion_."

                  >It could be
                  >Sauron's 'real' name or it could just be a name Tolkein later abandoned.

                  No, it's another rude Elvish epithet.

                  - David Bratman
                • dianejoy@earthlink.net
                  ... From: David S. Bratman dbratman@stanford.edu Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 10:10:51 -0700 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [mythsoc] re: Tolkien
                  Message 8 of 8 , Sep 25, 2002
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                    Original Message:
                    -----------------
                    From: David S. Bratman dbratman@...
                    Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 10:10:51 -0700
                    To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [mythsoc] re: Tolkien rationalizations



                    >>I don't think 'Thu' is used in the Silmarillion, only in earlier works.

                    >Which is why I wrote "many of Tolkien's First Age papers" and not "_The
                    >Silmarillion_."

                    >>It could be
                    >>Sauron's 'real' name or it could just be a name Tolkein later abandoned.

                    >No, it's another rude Elvish epithet.

                    >David Bratman

                    What does "Thu" mean? ---djb



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