Round 8: Guild of Tolkienology vs Guild of Scholars' Hall

Discussion in 'Debates' started by Niniel, Oct 3, 2003.

  1. Eriol

    Eriol Estel

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    Elfarmari points out that without the destruction of the Ring, Sauron would not be defeated at all. Surely that is a metaphor -- ask Sauron himself whether he was defeated or not at the Last Alliance :). Without the destruction of the Ring, to be sure, the evil of Sauron would linger; though perhaps it might linger dormant for many centuries, as it did before it was found by Gollum.

    The only sure thing in this "Sauron x Evil" debate as concerns the Ring of Power is this: Sauron can be defeated without the destruction of the Ring; since he was defeated before in such a manner. And if we assume that "the war on Sauron" ends only with the destruction of his spirit, well, his spirit was not destroyed... so again we are imposing on the Istari an impossible job. No, their job was neither to destroy Sauron's spirit, nor to destroy impersonal evil -- it was to defeat Sauron's incarnate form. To kill him, one more time. If the Ring had not been found, the only hope would be in arms; but it would be a hope, as it was once before.

    Now, if you compare the strength of the West in the time of the Last Alliance and the strength of the West in the time of the War of the Ring, you see an enormous weakening through time. The kinstrife and consequent loss of Umbar, the end of Arnor, growing estrangement between men and elves, etc. etc.

    Why wouldn't unveiled Maiar, with the authority of emissaries from the Valar, prevent or at least slow this trend? I think the burden of proof is with the Scholars in this question. Why couldn't even one unveiled Maiar use his authority to stop the kinstrife, or prevent the destruction of Osgiliath? We see of Gandalf the White that he has an enormous authority, even when he faces Denethor himself. Sure, he chooses to hide this authority, but he has it; and when there is need he uses it. He is no longer limited. This is the only unveiled Maiar that we have access to in the story, and even so he is not "fully" unveiled -- he is still incarnate. But many of the limitations imposed upon him were withdrawn by Eru. Look at his performance after that!

    If you consider that there were many Istari available (and not only one), this becomes a certainty. There is no way in which the trend towards weakening in the West could not be stopped or slowed by the unveiled Istari. The unveiled Maiar would be able to reason (as I did) that the only way to kill Sauron without the Ring was to use force, and they would build up the military strength of the West through centuries... How could this not shorten the war? I think it would prevent it altogether -- Mordor would surely be on the West's hands, and Minas Ithil... the Ringwraiths would be destroyed if they showed their faces around...

    All this is speculation, and fun :). It's not too productive, though, as Lhun pointed out. The big question is -- why would unveiled Maiar perform less efficiently at building up resistance and preparing for war than limited Maiar? That is the question without an answer, so far; all of the scenarios imagined by the Scholars do not address it.

    That is, until Maedhros' last post :).

    (...)

    A good suggestion by Maedhros -- that the unveiled Maiar would act just as limited Maiar did, because it was the best chance for overall success (and this consideration is not limited to "the war on Sauron", but to success "in the big picture"). It need not be pointed out that it is but another scenario, i.e. speculation. But refer back to the example of Gandalf the White. He does not become a big bully. He does not try to force his will upon other people. In that sense, he acts exactly as Maedhros is describing. However, he is still unlimited, or less limited, than Gandalf the Grey; and it shows. He has a greater authority, and a greater power, and a sharper wit.

    So yes, we can accept Maedhros' scenario without losing our position in the debate; it is far from being a fundamental flaw. It remains on the Scholars' shoulders to prove or at least try to explain why would the presence of Gandalf as "the White" from the beginning of the story prolong the war. He is the wisest of the Maiar, he would use his powers in a wise way :). Even if he uses persuasion and understanding, he will still be more efficient. If he falls to the temptation of dominating other wills, he will be more efficient still. There is no scenario in which he can be less efficient in opposing Sauron.

    That sentence, "from the beginning of the story", can be taken in two ways. The first sense, restricted to the War of the Ring and its immediate surroundings -- say, the period depicted in LotR -- is quite enough for the GoT position. Gandalf the White, without the "diminishment of the wit" that is inherent to incarnation (according to Manwë), would surely be able to identify the hobbit's ring as the Ring of Power much earlier; he would be able to cast it into Orodruin or to send a hobbit to do the job many decades before Sauron declared himself openly. He would not be arrested by Saruman, since Saruman (even if treacherous) would not be aware of the Ring. There are so many small mistakes that would have been avoided... and I am again falling back into speculation. But that should be the Scholars' job. They are the ones who must point out why a sharper Gandalf would not make sharper decisions.

    The second sense of "the beginning of the story" is "since the Istari's arrival" -- the sense in which the "war on Sauron" began in the depths of time, when Sauron attacked Eregion, with many victories and many defeats (as Elrond said in the Council). And in that sense the greater wit and power and authority of the unveiled Istari would be even more useful. But I don't want to repeat the military and political speculations of the beginning of the post. I'll wait for an explanation from the Scholars, as to how Istari with more power, authority, and wit, with less pain and fatigue, could have been less efficient in their job.

    Remember Gandalf the White.
     
  2. baragund

    baragund Brother in Arms

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    Lhun had a wonderful suggestion a while back to keep the terms of this debate simple. I am a devout follower of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

    First, I would like to establish the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY of destroying the One Ring in order to truly defeat Sauron, and then establish that only veiled Istari (partially or fully) could facilitate the destruction of the Ring and, thus, the true defeat of Sauron.

    In his last post, Eriol appeared to be making an argument that it is not necessary to destroy the Ring in order to defeat Sauron, that he could be defeated by force of arms using unveiled Istari. Now he is going to have to provide a whole boat-load of backup to demonstrate this because one of the central themes of the legendarium during the Third Age is the symbiotic nature of Sauron and the Ring. Here are just a couple of quotes from “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” from the published Silmarillion that addresses what Sauron put into the creation of the Ring and what happened when the Ring was destroyed:

    quote:

    Now the Elves made many rings; but secretly Sauron Made One Ring to rule all the others, and their power was bound up with it, to be subject wholly to it and to last only so long as it too should last. AND MUCH OF THE STRENGTH AND WILL OF SAURON PASSED INTO THAT ONE RING; for the power of the Elven-rings was very great, and that which should govern them must be a thing of surpassing potency...



    This one addresses the destruction of the One:
    quote:

    Then Sauron failed, and he was utterly vanquished and passed away like a shadow of malice; and the towers of Barad-dur crumbled in ruin, and at the rumour of their fall many lands trembled.



    You can also scan through the last 3 or so pages of the chapter "Mount Doom" in ROTK. That has some wonderfully descriptive passages of the sheer panic that gripped Sauron when he realized what was about to happen to the Ring, and then the complete destruction of he and his kingdom when the Ring was destroyed.

    Without the destruction of the Ring, the scenario that Eriol portrays would be an endless cycle of epic battles like the Last Alliance where the might of Sauron may be thrown down, but his spirit remains to regenerate. It may take a couple of millennia like it did during the Third Age, but it will happen. This is no way to hasten the destruction of Sauron!! The ONLY way to truly defeat Sauron once and for all is to destroy the Ring.

    Now let’s talk about how the Istari, veiled or unveiled, would go about achieving the destruction of the Ring. Lhun and Eriol seem to think that an unveiled Istari could somehow resist the evil powers of the Ring. Eriol engages in some speculating of his own, describing how an unveiled Istari could cast the Ring himself into the Cracks of Doom or “send a hobbit” to do the deed.

    Here are some particularly moving passages from “The Shadow of the Past” from FOTR. The first is the famous passage where Frodo tempts Gandalf with the Ring:

    “’You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?’

    ‘No!’ cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. ‘With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.’ His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. ‘Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.’”

    Gandalf’s reaction here was something that struck at the very core of his being, not some technical diminishment of power as a result of his veiling. The Ring was supremely corrupting to any of the Istari. Gandalf was wise enough to understand this. Saruman fell to the corrupting power of the Ring and he never even got near it! No, they could not destroy the Ring themselves. A third party had to do it.

    The second passage from “The Shadow of the Past” addresses how someone could not be forced to destroy the Ring, for it would “break [his] mind”. So the only way the Ring could be destroyed, thereby achieving the true defeat of Sauron, was if one of the free peoples of Middle Earth were to willingly cast it into the Cracks of Doom.

    I do not see how an unveiled Istari could do a better job of persuading somebody to carry out such a mission than a veiled Istari. Indeed, the veiled Istari would be more effective, being cast in a Man’s body and fully aware of all of the trials and tribulations the Children of Iluvatar go through in Middle Earth. They can and did relate better to the different peoples than appearing as some kind of deity out of the sky.

    Regarding to the partially veiled Gandalf that the Tolkienologists alluded to, and his interventions during the war, this was merely a leveling of the playing field between Sauron’s forces and the forces of the West. Don’t forget, it was predominantly mere mortal Men who were fighting “magical” and “mystical” creatures such as the Maia Sauron, along with his Nazgul, orcs, and trolls. The Elves definitely had a secondary role in the war, and without a “ringer” like Gandalf on their side, Gondor and Rohan would have been simply outgunned. Gandalf was buying time and creating a diversion so the real mission, Frodo destroying the Ring, could be successfully accomplished.

    So here is the simple break down:

    · Sauron could only be truly defeated through the destruction of the Ring.
    · The Istari could not wield the Ring themselves.
    · They needed one of the peoples of ME to willingly cast the Ring into Mt. Doom.
    · The most viable way to accomplish this was to appear as one of them and use their powers of persuasion and encouragement.
     

  3. Lhunithiliel

    Lhunithiliel Fëanorean

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    Thanks for the KISS, baragund! ;) :D

    I'll leave enough space for Eriol to comment.

    I'll however return the a.m. ;) very briefly:

    And was he? What do we know exactly of what happened to his dematerialized (as far as it was ) Maia "soul"?
    The thing is that for the moment, ME was freed (finally!) from one incarnation of evil. This war was meant for that in the sense of direct military actions = battles.

    It was in fact the preceding period that occupied much efforts and time with limited Emissaries having been sent on a mission.

    This mission, in the sense of to lead to a direct war, failed as is known. After such a long time no direct opposing was achieved. An unveiled Istari was needed for that. And he was provided. And when he came - the war finally broke out.

    But it was successful in the sense of uniting the forces of good in ME against evil. 4-th Age started in bliss....and continued so...untill the rising of the "new shadow".
    But this has little (if anything) to do with the topic of the debate!

    True. And it all took a large span of time! - which is what the GoT is aiming to prove! That all these Emissaries with all their "techniques" of teaching and persuasion needed time and this in fact prolonged the direct war against Sauron.

    A KISS from me for all of you! ;) :D
     
  4. Eriol

    Eriol Estel

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    Point by point:

    1) "Defeated" is not the same as "destroyed". Sauron was defeated at the Last Alliance. In fact I remember a quote in which Gandalf (or Elrond) in the Last Council says exactly that: that Sauron was "defeated, but not destroyed". (It is that quote that is followed by "the Dark Tower was cast down, but its foundations endured", or something like it; I'll hunt for it later).

    I don't know why the Last Alliance was a "false defeat", or "not a true defeat". As I said in my last post, ask Sauron if he thought that was a false defeat ;). It's not the same as what happened when Ar-Pharazôn attacked Sauron -- that was a false defeat. That was a ruse used by Sauron to destroy the hated Númenóreans. But the Last Alliance? Surely it was a defeat for Sauron.

    The rebuttal of this first point in effect negates all the other points of baragund... especially because we agree with the others :D. But to link Sauron's defeat with the destruction of the Ring is erroneous; and empirically so. He was defeated once without any harm to the Ring. Now, if you want to talk about Sauron's destruction, or crippling (I think crippling is a better word because Sauron's spirit was not absolutely destroyed), I will agree that destroying the Ring was essential.

    But that is not the question of the debate.

    The other points are mostly correct in my opinion, but they need clarification:

    2) "The Istari could not wield the Ring themselves". Surely that omits an important caveat: "without being corrupted by the Ring's power". For the Istari could wield the Ring. As Gandalf's quote, in baragund's post, says explicitly. Sure, Gandalf would be corrupted by it, but he would still wield it. And what would be the effect of his wielding it? A shorter war with Sauron.

    Remember, we're not discussing whether the limitation of the Istari's powers was wise, but only if it prolonged the war on Sauron. A "ringer" like Gandalf, with the Ring, would defeat Sauron much more quickly. What would happen later is NOT the point of the debate; Gandalf would become a tyrant, but Sauron would have been defeated. (And this shows another way in which Sauron can be defeated without the destruction of the Ring...)

    3 and 4) "They needed one of the peoples of ME to willingly cast the Ring into Mt. Doom." Not to defeat Sauron, they didn't; they needed a hobbit to cripple Sauron and destroy the Ring. There is no doubt that this is the wisest way to deal with the problem; and therefore I don't see why unveiled Maiar would not do exactly that. I mention again that incarnation results in diminishment of the wit; and that therefore non-incarnate Maiar would be smarter and wiser. They would see the wisdom of point 3 as well as we are seeing it now. And they would probably follow that plan -- more efficently. What would be in Gandalf's way to realize the true nature of the Ring much earlier, and arrange things much earlier? Would Gandalf the White be a worse ally than Gandalf the Grey? Would he not see as clearly the need for getting rid of Smaug, as well as many other needs?

    One thing is for certain -- the actual timetable of the War of the Ring was the most stretched timetable imaginable! Frodo casts the Ring into Mt. Doom at the same time as the forces of the West are being crushed on the last battlefield! Sure, it makes for great storytelling :D. But I doubt that a wiser and smarter Gandalf would have preferred it for that reason. In effect, the Scholars' position amounts to saying that any and all decisions by Gandalf were the perfect ones; that no improvement was possible. If there was any room for improvement; and if there was any chance that this improvement would have been effected by more powerful and wiser Istari -- then the limitation prolonged the War.

    Note, this last reasoning assumes that the Istari would deal with the situation in the same way: trying to cast the Ring into the Fire. It is a reasonable assumption because they would be wiser. But that is also the slowest way to deal with the situation; if any of the Istari fell to the temptation and wielded the Ring, we'd have -- a shorter war.

    Any way we look at it we have a shorter war.

    And I didn't even mention again the strategic and military concerns that would occupy the mind of the Istari until the Ring was found. We'd have no Angmar, no kinstrife, a lot of seeing stones, a strong and unified Arnor, a strong Gondor, no Minas Morgul, Mordor under the control of Gondor... If the Istari could, wielding their full authority as open emissaries of the Valar, guide the Free Peoples in that aspect as well (and why wouldn't they?), we'd probably have the shorter war of all -- no war. Sauron was powerful, but he needed orcs and men to command. He needed lands under his control. The Istari knew that.
     

  5. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

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    Attention debaters! The debate ends tomorrow at 2.26 PM CET! So come to your final remarks please!
     
  6. Elfarmari

    Elfarmari Tingilindë

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    (this is not closing remarks, sorry I wasn't able to post this earlier)

    Sauron could not be truly defeated without the destruction of the Ring. While the Ring remained, Sauron remained, and could rise again. In The Last Debate in LotR, before Gandalf speaks of how it is not their part to concern themselves with all evil, he says:
    My argument is that this was the purpose of the Istari: to defeat Sauron. While it was obviously not their mission to destroy all evil, and impossible task, it was their mission to defeat Sauron. Because Sauron had put so much of himself into his Ring, as long as it existed, he existed.

    From the Council of Elrond, of the Last Alliance:
    The Istari were not to diminish Sauron, they were to defeat him. Had unveiled Maia taken the Ring, the war against Sauron would not have been over: Sauron would live on in his Ring. There was no direction to the Istari to destroy Sauron's body and call it quits. That had already been done several times. Gandalf, even in his limited state, realizes that to destroy Sauron, you must destroy his Ring. Again, in his limited state he realizes that the only way to do this is to keep it away from those possessing enough power to wield it, for the temptation would be too great. While this may have made the fighting war longer, it shortened the war against Sauron by utterly destroying him the first time. There was no need to destroy his body, and then find means to destroy his Ring, now wielded by another Maia who would not be likely to willingly relinquish it.
     
  7. Captain

    Captain Ramble On!

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    Please forgive that I do not have the time to find quotes to back up my statements. We have seen throughout literature and history that great power and divinity causes many responsibilities. In the Hebrew Scripture, God was responsible to lead the breakup, well-being, and unification of his people. Sometimes there are those who do not have the spiritual depth to bear these resposibilities such as Saruman, whose duplitic activities we are well aware of. With no limit to a Maia's powet, we can assume that even one of great celestial nature such as Olorin would not have a will abstinent enough to engage these great responsibilities. We saw that Gandalf refused to take the Ring, for fear it should overcome him. You can not be sure that unrestricted powers would allow him to bear the Ring, let alone make choices resulting in Sauron's defeat. As a closing statement, it is very logical that this is the reason the Valar restricted the Istari, as I do not recall the reason having been stated.
     
  8. Lhunithiliel

    Lhunithiliel Fëanorean

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    CLOSING POST

    The question of the present debate was:
    Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron?

    The GoT team is defending the opinion that :

    Yes , it was so. Limiting the powers of the Istari led to the effect of prolonging the period of time known in the history of Middle-earth as the War of the Ring which we also call here – the war against Sauron.

    At the beginning of this closing post I find it necessary to provide a brief overview of the situation in ME by the time the Istary appeared, because I find it essential for the mission of the Istari to be well understood.

    Third Age is the age of the war of the ring or as Tolkien calls it : “…concerned mainly with the Ring” (Letter: 131).

    What does it tell us? A whole age throughout which the events were directed to one purpose - unite the forces of good against the forces of evil – the evil incarnated in Sauron and in its own turn – into the Ring and finally – destroy them.
    A whole age!!!!
    Can this time be called a long time? Well… who could argue this ?!?

    But here comes a question - Why did it take a whole lot of years from that age for the peoples of ME to realize the danger, to finally perceive the presence of evil and to understand that unallied they will fall?!
    And this one leads to the other – What did the Gods do as to help the free races of ME in their struggle against Sauron?

    To answer the first one I’ll use a short summery done by Tolkien himself, describing the situation in ME, which description is absolutely enough in order to understand the dangerous circumstances and the overall very complicated and unfavourable situation in which the Emissaries from the West found themselves when they came to ME – a situation that has its roots far from the depths of the Second Age!

    Letter 131:
    It is clearly seen that the races in ME had a way of life and policy of living separately and that they had lost the healthy atmosphere of friendship and co-operation, which only strongly facilitated Sauron in gaining more strength and influence in territories that might be considered completely forsaken and forgotten by the Gods .
    And this is precisely what happened – evil started demonstrating its presence.

    Pity that it took the free peoples of ME about 1000 years to really pay attention to the new danger!
    But the fact is that at around year 1000 of the T.A. it became obvious that Evil had risen again and it also became obvious that it should be fought back!

    This explains the necessity in organizing and uniting the forces of the free peoples of ME against the rising evil.
    This was the first step – though a giant one and a most difficult one, to be undertaken.
    However, the peoples of ME seemed to not care much.
    Something had to be done! Someone had to intervene!

    At this moment we inevitably come to answer the second of the above asked questions, namely : What did the Gods do as to help the free races of ME in their struggle against Sauron?

    To start with, we should point out that the Valar, although thought to be totally neglecting the affairs of the peoples in ME through the ages, never in fact dropped their “guard” and assistance, guidance and care.

    Of course, as Tolkien himself stated: “Children of God were not under their ultimate jurisdiction: they were not allowed to destroy them, or coerce them with any 'divine' display of the powers they held over the physical world.” (L.156)

    The Valar were obviously highly concerned with the affairs of the peoples in ME and had to find the right w ay to overcome and hinder the rising force and influence of the new representative of evil. But they could not do that in and through direct actions .
    Therefore, the Gods decided to send Emissaries to ME – Maiar – embodied and limited in their “angelic” powers, wise ones to :
    >> to encourage and bring out the native powers of the Enemies of Sauron;
    >> to advise and persuade Men and Elves to good, and to seek to unite in love and understanding;
    >> to train, advise, instruct, arouse the hearts and minds of those threatened by Sauron to a resistance with their own strengths; and not just to do the job for them;
    >> to contest the growth of the Shadow, and to move Elves and Men to beware of their peril.

    (all above are quotes taken from Letters and UT)

    In the light of the above described situation, it is obvious that these Emissaries had quite a difficult mission which needed their whole attention, a lot of effort s and patience – all these were time-involving activities !

    *******
    tbc
     
  9. Lhunithiliel

    Lhunithiliel Fëanorean

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    continued| :
    *********
    On the other hand it is essential for the present debate to pay special attention to the fact that they were limited in powers .
    What exactly the se limitations were?

    UT, “The Istari”:
    One would of course wonder – why were they limited? Why weren’t they allowed to use their special powers as to speed up the events and to overthrow Sauron sooner?
    Above I already provided a short statement by Tolkien who explains it quite clearly that the Gods were not allowed to interfere directly in the matters of the Children. Yet, they had to take care of the situation. And sending limited Istari was their solution.

    But still - why limited ? !!!!
    Wouldn’t it be much easier to send those “angels” in their full powers?! That would’ve helped them perhaps to find the Ring sooner, destroy it and thus defeat Sauron! Or …why not use it?! Lead the free peoples of ME into a glorious battle against the new evil and destroy it before it had gained its power?! Win a glorious war and show the Children that the Gods had not forsaken them…

    A good scenario! But impossible! And unreasonable!

    Tolkien once said in one of his letters: “ You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy…
    To send their Emissaries in full powers, to let them wield the Ring …all that might have shortened the “pleasant” stay of Sauron in ME…but to what end and for what reason? This could’ve only led to replacing one representative of evil with another, because the Ring was strongly and dangerously corruptive and the embodied Istari were:
    … in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed'…” which explains the “fear” Gandalf showed when offered to take the Ring.

    No! The Istary had a completely other mission and the GoT has cleared this throughout its previous and in the present closing posts.
    Their mission was to organize and persuade the free peoples of ME that it was time to unite against the “new shadow” and through them – oppose Sauron ; not to directly face him!

    That cleared, now it is easily seen that to achieve their goals the limited Istari needed a long span of time, therefore it was the reason why the direct hostilities against the allied forces of Sauron were prolonged.

    And this is exactly GoT-team’s position in the present debate and this is the logical result we see from sending limited Istari into a mission that probably needed some other approach.
    But to comment on the wisdom of the decision of the Valar and on the outcome of the whole mission itself – this is not the purpose of the present debate! (although the matter was discussed throughout it) Neither it is the subject of the present debate to find out how effective the whole mission was and whether Sauron was eventually destroyed, defeated etc…
    The fact stays :
    The limited Istari needed a large span of time to prepare the free peoples of ME for their battle against the incarnation of evil in their age. Unlimited Istari was out of the question to be sent in the initial plans of the Gods for reasons already stated above. The only possible way to achieve the Valar’s plan was to send those “angels” but with “tied wings” and let them fight evil with the means and within the powers of the Children.

    That took time! That prolonged the war against Sauron.

    **********
     
  10. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

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    The debate is closed!
    Check the judging threadhere .
     
  11. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

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    Baragund was confused about the closing time, and had not yet posted the closing post; so I'll allow him to do that; if people are terribly annoyed by that let me know.
     
  12. Eriol

    Eriol Estel

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    Not annoyed :D. But I suggest that you edit your closing post, Niniel. There is a chance that a judge will get to the last post of a page which says "debate closed" and will forget to check what's on the next page: baragund's devastatingly brilliant closing post!

    ;)
     
  13. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

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    Well,after all baragund won't post one, so forget what I said. The debate is CLOSED.