The White Council

Discussion in 'J R R Tolkien' started by devilsgrin, Dec 5, 2006.

  1.  
    devilsgrin

    devilsgrin Member

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    Have long been wondering who the members of the White Council were...
    Obviously Saruman, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn were on it - it only makes sense, but were there others? Also who would have been the most powerful?
    Indeed, who would be the most powerful of the good beings in Middle Earth - currently living/active during the War of the Ring? My vote is for Galadriel... from what i gather it is She whom Sauron most 'fears' for "always is his eye fixed upon lothlorien" does she not say to Frodo or something similar...
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    Pointfinder

    Pointfinder I like to do stuff!

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    That may well be true but she did not play a pivotal role (directly) in defeating Sauron.
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    devilsgrin

    devilsgrin Member

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    indeed she did not. but no major powers really did. Gandalf's role became rather peripheral after moria...and after that the only 'power' left in the quest was Frodo...
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    Marky Lazer

    Marky Lazer New Member

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    Stormlight_USMC

    Stormlight_USMC Registered Devil Dog

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    Marky Lazer with the info as usual. Gobbless the great and powerful Wiki.

    I thought I'd add something I remember from the film, something which I am reasonably certain was present in the books: at some point (I believe it is in Bilbo's house in the beginning of FOTR) Gandalf is asked some question about the Quest and the Ring and the Dark Lord by Sam or Frodo, and part of his reply is something like this: I am the most powerful being you shall meet in Middle Earth, unless you have the misfortune to meet the Dark Lord himself.

    Gandalf, though "peripheral," is the one chosen to head the White Council after the fall of Saruman, one of the bearers of the Three Rings (Narya, the Ring of Fire, is it?) and a holder of one of the five Wizards' Staffs.

    I seem to recall his being the power most feared by Sauron, until that is the Return of the King.
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    Majimaune

    Majimaune Actum pro novus diem

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    Well the Wiki file said everyone I thought of so I really dont have much to put into this post...I dont even know why I'm writing it.
  7.  
    devilsgrin

    devilsgrin Member

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    From what i understand there is no white council following the fall of saruman... the power of the council is pretty much broken with The Elven Rings failing... They never actually re-convene.
    The fact that Gandalf chose to go the Rivendell for the aid of Elrond implies that, prior to the fellowship, he is not as powerful as we are led to believe, nor as wise, and certainly not as influential.
    Also, Gandalf having said that to Sam or Frodo is undoubtably false (being that if Gandalf said it, he knew he was lying to the hobbit - or didn't expect him to meet any of the other 'powers') . As prior Gandalf's all-but-resurrection, Saruman was by far more powerful than Gandalf...as gandalf himself says, Saruman is the wisest and most powerful of their order. The remaining wizards cannot hope to compete as 'powers.' radagast seems rather pathetic, and the two Blue Wizards are heard so little of that their power is unknown.
    Galadriel, in the least, is the most powerful of the elves in Middle Earth. Making her only real rival for most powerful force of good Gandalf the White.
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    Majimaune

    Majimaune Actum pro novus diem

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    I think the last meeting of the White Counsil was before they drove the Necromancer out of Dol Guldor. That might be saying that they never met after Sarumans fall.
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    devilsgrin

    devilsgrin Member

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    thats how it seems to me... as Saruman starts falling really fast after Dol Guldor
  10.  
    Majimaune

    Majimaune Actum pro novus diem

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    Is that two people who agree with me??? wow.
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    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    A bit harsh on Saruman - I really think that he still thought at that time that study of the Rings would help in the fall of Sauron, and there is nothing intrinsically inconcievable in the idea that a benign Saruman, with the aid of Gandalf and the Elves, could defeat him - after all, they were both Maiar. Where Saruman came seriously unstuck was thinking that he could remain uncorrupted by the study of the One Ring, and in the use of the palantir of Orthanc.
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    Stormlight_USMC

    Stormlight_USMC Registered Devil Dog

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    devilsgrin - Good points. I'm currently researching that "quote" Gandalf said to Frodo and Sam, to see how accurate is was. My take on Gandalf has always been that his greatest skill was his subtlety: much of the time, when others seemed to be more powerful than he, he was simply letting them (and everyone else) believe that he (Gandalf) was less capable than he actually was. That sentence was a mess.

    Anyway, we know that he did on occasion "hide" his power, as when Bilbo attempts to run away with the Ring immediately following his elventy-first birthday party. Gandalf, unable to persuade Bilbo by words alone, does that neat expose-my-full-power-and-seem-to-grow-great-and-terrible trick, scaring enough bejeezus out of Bilbo to snap him out of his Ring-induced greed.

    Thus my view is that, even when he seemed inferior, Gandalf was just biding his time, saving the use of his full power until it was truly necessary. Would he have "let" Saruman defeat and imprison him? Maybe, maybe not. But we know also that, upon their arrival in Middle-Earth, Cirdan of the Grey Havens entrusted not Saruman, but Gandalf, with the Red Ring, Narya. Also, both Elrond and Galadriel, at the founding of the White Council, thought Gandalf should be made its head, not Saruman. Unless the Encyclopedia of Arda is lying to me.
  13.  
    devilsgrin

    devilsgrin Member

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    Your correct about Galadriel at least wanting Gandalf as the Head of the White Council... didn't know that Elrond did too.

    In regards to subtlety though... power is hard to guage when everyone is subtle. In LotR everyone who is 'good' uses their power subtly, while the evil powers tend to be more blatant.
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    Boaz

    Boaz Thaphireth!

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    Interesting comment on subtlety, devilsgrin. I believe that Gandalf was the most subtle of all the Maiar. I don't have my books with me, but I'll try to do my best...

    In The Silmarillion, Olorin (later Gandalf) is said to have loved the Eldar very much. He'd move amongst them unseen (not taking the shape and raiment of physical beings) and speak to their hearts. He brought wisdom and hope to the hearts of Elves. In contrast, Curumo (later Saruman) had great and sublte skill of hand and tongue. Yet both of his areas of expertise were still available to the naked eye. His gift of verbal persuasion influenced minds. His talent of craftsmanship influenced emotions. Yet Gandalf's abilities went deeper than the mind or emotions, they went to the core. Gandalf's tireless efforts to encourage the Free Peoples, to stir up their desire to fight back, to bind themselves together in alliance, and to give them the belief that they could actually do something about the menace of Sauron was much more effective than all Saruman's studies, speeches, friendships, and troop building. I think his success was equal to or greater than Galadriel's, Elrond's, Saruman's, Radagast's, and Cirdan's combined.

    Gandalf, in front of Pippin, stood up to Denethor and proclaimed his stewardship of all of Middle-earth. He set up the operations to drive the Necromancer from Dol-Guldur and to rid Erebor of Smaug. Gandalf removed the threat of Durin's Bane. He initiated all the key events to defeat Saruman and bring the Rohirrim to Minas Tirith. He rallied Gondor, faced off with the Witch-King, and saved Faramir. He developed the last plan to allow Frodo to succeed. And the entire plan to destory the Ring via Hobbits was his idea which he personally oversaw until his death. He was always where the situation was most dire. He only overtly used magic a few times, but he constantly and continually strengthened the hearts and courage of his allies.

    Gandalf's success at subtlety was due in a large part to the expectations on him. The Elves, the Dunedain, the Dwarves, the Beornings, the Bardings, and even the Hobbits kept expecting more overt displays. Many of the Free Peoples must have at times become vexed with Gandalf's apparent lack of desire to Fireball! their enemies. Thorin, Bilbo, Theoden, Boromir, and perhaps Denethor must have greatly desired for Gandalf to just start solving problems by force.

    In American television, we have traditionally wanted our heroes to look like George Reeves as Superman or James Arness as Marshall Dillon. Tall, muscular, controlled, intelligent, overtly masculine, protecting, and lethal if forced into action. By comparison, Peter Falk played a 70's detective named Columbo. Columbo was short, fragile, forgetful, unathletic, mumbling, and bumbling. If Marshall Dillon was the guy you wanted your daughter to marry, then Columbo was the strange uncle you never spoke about. But Columbo's genius was that he let his enemies underestimate him. He always solved the case by giving his opponent enough rope to hang himself. He wasn't brilliant, but he was thourough.

    Gandalf is the Columbo of Middle-earth. He was loyal and competent to his friends. He seemed like a fool to his enemies. He gave Saruman and Sauron both enough rope to hang themselves. Their pride blinded them to Gandalf's humble services for the Free Peoples.

    In addition to the listed members of the White Council on Wiki, I'd like to say that there were some characters who may be considered as almost adjunct members or people whom the Council would immediately inform of decisions made. Celeborn, Lord of the Galadhrim, is the most obvious. As a kinsman of Thingol, he never claimed to be Dior's heir but the legacy was obvious and undeniable. It's hard for me to imagine him not being privy to the inner workings of the Council.

    If Erestor as a lord among the Noldor was on the White Council, then what about Gildor Inglorion? He was a descendent of the House of Finwe. He may have been cousin or nephew to Galadriel. He was not just some messenger or warden that helped Hobits on camping trips.

    I don't know that Glorfindel or Erestor was on the Council, I envision Glorfindel before Erestor.

    Anyway, I also think that Isildur's Heir (i.e. the ruling Chieftain of the Dunedain of Arnor) would have been someone who would have been quietly informed of the Council's decisions. It is also hard for me to believe that the Council would not have sent messages to the Steward of Gondor through some liason or other. These leaders of the Dunedain must have known something of the operations of the White Council even if they were not represented by membership.

    On the other hand, I doubt if the King of Khazad-dum, the King Under the Mountain, the Master of Laketown, the King of Dale, the King of Rohan, Beorn, the Woodsmen of Mirkwood, the Breelanders, nor the Thain of the Shire were really even aware of the existence of the White Council. Sure, the Dwarf Kings knew of the White Council, but only the really consistent Elf-friends were even halfway in the know.
  15.  
    Rinion

    Rinion New Member

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    I had to hijack this thread, though I know it is an older one.

    Gandalf is, without a doubt in my mind, the most powerful being on Arda at the time of the war, good or no. In fact, Tolkien says this himself in one of his letters, though I cannot remember which one. I don't feel that anything save an Ainu could be as powerful as him, and there are few Ainu that are left on Middle-Earth at the time. Sauron, without his ring, is weak. Gandalf's power has been measured against Durin's Bane, the "strongest and foulest of Sauron's minions", and Gandalf is obviously more powerful the Saruman.

    Some people say the Witch-King is more powerful then Gandalf, which is folly if you ask me. The Witch-King, although a powerful sorcerer and one of the Nazgul no less, is still technically a man, prophesy or no. Gandalf might not have been able to kill him, but I doubt he would fall to him either.

    However, there might be someone more powerful then Gandalf: Tom Bombadil. The ring had no effect upon him and he is older then anything in all of Middle-Earth. He can make trees obey and tombs crumble with his voice. If there was anyone more powerful then Gandalf, I would wadger it to be him.
  16.  
    sarakoth

    sarakoth Uncool

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    Well for starters, the five wizards roaming Middle-earth.
  17.  
    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    And died!
    "Naked I was sent back- for a brief time, until my task is done"

    If he was sent back, surely this means there was something more powerful that Gandalf himself to do so. - this can only have been Iluvitar himself - who normally would not intervene.

    : Letters - 156

    My point is that the Balrog was as powerful, at least, as Gandalf.
  18.  
    devilsgrin

    devilsgrin Member

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    Though i am not in anyway saying that Gandalf is weaker than the witch-king, but the witch-king did break gandalf's staff during their minor confrontation in Minas Tirith... and as their staves are the symbols of the power of the itarii one could conclude, that originally a man or not, the Witch King is undoubtedly one of the most powerful beings in Middle Earth.

    Though to say that Gandalf was the most powerful being in Arda would possibly an exaggeration. Many of the first eldar are still alive, and their power would be considerable. Tolkein saying so doesn't make it canon, as papa tolkein was occasionally contradictory and often changed the meanings of things in later letters, etc...
    For Gandalf the Grey to have fallen to Saruman proves that in the least Saruman the White was his then equal - though clearly more cunning by far.
    Sauron without the ring may have been weak, but he would certainly have been more powerful than Gandalf. Gandalf against the Balrog did include a ring as well recall. the word Minion is key also... rarely are minions more powerful than their masters unless they are grossly stupid... and the Balrog being a demon from the earliest days of arda is unlikely to be stupid.

    Bombadil was master of his domain, tho i wonder what that power would be outside of it.


    As to other potential council members i would most certainly include Celeborn, Glorfindel would be there naturally... he is reputed to be the most powerful elf in Rivendell... aside from Elrond with his ring, and he was quite a figure in the wars with Angmar especially.
    Thranduil seems likely as well. Erestor would possibly have had a seat due to his association with Elrond and Cirdan, and of course his reputation as highly wise. Gildor ... who knows... we really only see him as little more than a warrior... but given his age its likely he would have had his own share of knowledge and wisdom to contribute.
    I'd also agree that the current chieftain of the Dunedain would be there aswell...as aside from elven scouts, the dunedain seem to be chief agents of the council's will.
  19.  
    Sirathiel

    Sirathiel Spy with looks and guts

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    To add a tidbit of information to the discussion of Gandalf's power...:
    I am sure you're all aware of the fact that Saruman and Gandalf are Maiar. And that Sauron was one, too. And that the Balrog - as unlikely as it may sound - is the same as them. The Balrog - imo - is not a minion of Sauron's. He is a minion of Morgoth like Sauron.
    Thus, it seems safe to assume that they're all more on the less the same on the power scale.

    And though Gandalf perished during the battle with the Balrog - keep in mind that the Balrog was destroyed, too, which suggest some equality in power, too.

    ~Sira - who unfortunately has no idea who could have been on the White Council and thus will stop furthering the ninja'ing of this thread.
  20.  
    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    Unfortunately, JRRT never actually told us of the exact composition of the White Council - but it's been discussed at length in other fora, and the general consensus is:

    Saruman, Galadriel, Elrond, Gandalf, Radagast, Cirdan, Celeborn, Glorfindel and Erestor (with Thranduil possibly there as a guest as well, as he would be concerned with the path of anyone fleeing from the attack on Dol Guldur)

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