Saruman the Ring Lord

Discussion in 'Judging' started by Ithrynluin, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. Ithrynluin

    Ithrynluin seeker of solace Staff Member

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    Team A (Annaheru, Bethelarien, chrysophalax, Ithrynluin) argued that Saruman had considerable chances at becoming the new Ring-lord and had good reason to think so.

    Team B: (Ichigo*, Ingwe, Maedhros, Seregon*, YayGollum) argued that Saruman had little to no chance at becoming the new Ring-lord, and was foolish to think so.

    Also, becoming a Ring-lord = Supplanting Sauron as the Dark Lord.

    The debate is HERE.

    The judges are Grond, Snaga and Turgon. I've let them know the debate has finished, so they should be posting their opinions sooner or later.

    Each of the judges will have 10 points at their disposal which they will divide among the two teams according to how persuasive each team was to them; e.g. 5 points for team A and 5 for team B means the judge thought both teams were equally (un)persuasive (i.e. a draw)

    * signed up but did not participate
     
  2. Snaga

    Snaga The Usual Suspect

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    Time for me to post my judgement. A good question I feel, since it gives chances to both sides, and a good attempt by both sides.

    I think its good for a judge to think about what would convince them, and consider if there is any inherent bias in the question. For me the question comes down to this:
    (1) Could Saruman have obtained the Ring?
    (2) If he had obtained it, did he have the capacity to wield it?
    (3) Could he have retained it long enough to be able to learn to use it?
    (4) If he had learned to use it, would this have allowed him to defeat both the West and Sauron?

    For Team A to win they need to convince me on all 4 points. For Team B to win, they need to demonstrate that at least one can be answered no. It appears on the face of it that it would be harder for the proposers to win, since they need to prove 4 points and not just one.

    But how did they do?

    (1) Could Saruman have obtained the Ring?
    In his opening post Ithrynluin argues that Saruman had put a great deal of effort into obtaining the ring, citing the imprisonment of Gandalf. He also asserts that Saruman was able to track the ring and mount the uruk-hai attack at Parth Galen. He returns to this point in his next post, by claiming that only the presence of Merry and Pippin as decoy hobbits prevented him taking the Ring. Yay is first to attempt to topple this point: in his view, Saruman's failed attempted is proof that the Ring could never be taken by Saruman. Bethelarien attempts to dispute this - referencing Ithy's post. Chrysopholax later claims he did have a chance but wasn't fast enough.

    Overall - quite an under-developed area of the debate but one whether the better points are made by Team A.


    (2) If he had obtained it, did he have the capacity to wield it?

    In his opening post Ithryluin argues that Saruman had studied ring-lore deeply, and was a capable and powerful maia. Yay is first to dispute this point, by arguing that Saruman's innate power was not strong enough to be enhanced to a great level. He also argues that Saruman had the wrong type of personality - this is leftfield, and obviously wrong. But will it get knocked down?

    Chrysopholax disputes it much later, and indirectly by stating that Saruman had the will and the knowledge required. After Yay repeats the point, Annaheru does a much better job and supplies the appropriate quote and effectively proves that Saruman did want power. Yay doesn't concede at all - repeating the point again - but without countering Annaheru's quote.

    Ingwe returns to the 'lack of will' argument, suggesting that the only way to become the new Ring-Lord is to destroy the ring and make a new one, because it would be impossible (for anyone) to wield the ring. I don't agree at all with this, but Chrysopholax seems to suggest that Saruman had some plan along these lines. That seems very counter-productive to her cause, and even Annaheru later concedes too much on this point for my liking.

    Bethelarien in her summary rightly by-passes these latter points and focusses back on Ithryluin's original points.

    Overall - honours even here I feel. Saruman's ability to wield the ring is implicitly argued by Team A elsewhere, but not drawn out to defeat the arguments of Yay and Ingwe. These arguments are not strong, and don't really dispose of Ithy's thesis. Annaheru does knock one of Yay's points down, but more attention was needed.

    (3) Could he have retained it long enough to be able to learn to use it?

    This is not really discussed in much depth, but Annaheru come closest with his arguments about the role of Gondor providing a buffer between Saruman and Sauron.

    Therefore I'd have to say Team A won out here.


    (4) If he had learned to use it, would this have allowed him to defeat both the West and Sauron?

    There were three aspects to this: numerical force, tactical superiority and the outcome of any one-on-one battle between Saruman and Sauron. I break it down this way to make things a bit easier to follow.

    (a) Numbers/superior force

    Maedhros's opening reply focusses on this aspect. He argues that Sauron could not have been defeated due to his overwhelming superiority, and because of his [edit: Saruman's] lack of allies. He also argues that Sauron could pre-empt him, by understanding his mind from the get-go.

    Ithrynluin disputes the lack of allies point, by saying the same would have applied to any of the 'good guys' such as Elrond, Gandalf or Galadriel. This is fair comment, and is supplemented in convincing fashion in the same post with some evidence that what these three could do, so too could Saruman. He begins to develop an argument about how this would happen - by focussing on Sarumans existing army, and his powers of persuasion. He is also successful in convincing that just as Sauron understood Saruman, so Saruman understood Sauron, and did indeed outwit him.

    Maedhros' second post returns with an argument about Sauron's forces being far superior. His point that the Ring alone does not equal invincibility is well made, with the precedent of Sauron's defeat by the Last Alliance correctly cited.

    Ithrynluin also elaborates that the power of the Ring would have allowed him to gather an army, and so numbers would be less of a problem. And Chrysopholax makes one of the better points in the debate - by stating that the Nazgul (and other evil creatures) would have been drawn to Saruman. Quite correct, but the Unfinished Tales references were needed to prove the point.

    Maedhros later demands to know if Gandalf would have sent Frodo to Mordor if force of arms would have worked. This is a tactical error. Annaheru does a pretty good job of demolishing the idea that defeating Sauron is impossible, by putting Maedhros' quotes from Gandalf (in the Last Debate) into better context. This makes it fairly convincing that Sauron was NOT invincible.


    (b) Tactical ability

    I found Annaheru's case to be very well made: numbers alone do not mean victory. Sauron would first need to defeat Gondor before attempting to reach Saruman, and this went astray through haste. Bethelarien makes the same point with real-life examples.

    When Maedhros returns to the fray, he does a wonderfully concise job of rubbishing Saruman's military leadership skills; which does rather undermine the suggestion that good tactics could overcome Sauron's superior forces. He goes on to say that Sauron's "first great assault" only failed because of the Army of the Dead, suggesting this would not have been there for Saruman. In this case, Maedhros is too concise perhaps, since Annaheru was arguing that Sauron had to defeat Gondor first. A point later made by Annaheru.

    Chrysopholax unfortunately for her own side rather shoots poor Saruman's foot off, by trying to rationalise his defeat by analogy to Sauron's earlier one. The way that was put made it seem pretty damning to Saruman. Annaheru recovers Saruman's tactical reputation somewhat, citing his victory at the Fords of Isen

    (c) One on one

    Maedhros opens this aspect of the debate in his second post, asserting that Saruman could not defeat Sauron one-on-one, even with the Ring. Rather than challenging Maedhros on his assertion about his inability to defeat Sauron individually, Ithy ducks it by saying it was irrelevant, because noone would risk fighting Sauron. I can't see why this is true, and it does seem to concede Maedhros' point. Consequently, Maedhros can nail Ithy on the 'one-on-one' point, but unfortunately asks for evidence, on a different point, immediately afterwards. That did draw attention to his lack of evidence on his point. But noone ever calls him on it. On the other hand, Maedhros never quite explains why this point IS relevant, so although I am inclined to agree with him, I can't give as much credit as I might otherwise do.

    Overall - this was the bulk of the posts, and was quite closely argued. Team A again, on balance, made the better points.


    I'll also give some credit to each team for style. Maedhros for his good use of quotes, Yay for his amusing diversionary tactics, Annaheru for excellent points consistently, Bethelarien's summary post and Ithrynluin for his marvellous 'Glittering Caves' put-down.


    So after all that waffle... what you actually want to know.... On balance, I thought Team A had it, and I'll score it 7-3 in their favour.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2007

  3. Grond

    Grond Melkor's Mallet

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    I'm in the process of finally moving into our dream house; however, I will have time to review the debate in detail tomorrow and will post my comments and vote tomorrow.

    I have purposely not read Snaga's comments so as not to influence my opinions.

    Cheers,

    grond
     
  4. Turgon

    Turgon Ghost-King of Gondolin

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    Re: Saruman the Wrong Lord

    Um, Snaga, that was quite a judgement you passed up there. Nicely done, don't think I can come close to it in style or content. Luckily though, nobody is judging the judges. So I'll just crack on with it as best I can.

    The question itself was an interesting one, offering promise to both teams. 'Saruman had considerable chances at replacing Sauron as the Ring-lord and had good reason to think so.' I'm not going to go into an indepth discussion for this, Snaga did a great job above, and you don't need me to go over the specifics again, I'm just going to waffle on for a bit and then post my score.

    The debate opened well with a lively debate between Ithryn and Maedhros, in which they set forth their first arguements. This opening went through several phases, but I could not determine a definte winner here. Team A, in my opinion gained a slight advantage. Ithryn countering Maedhros' arguements well, and putting a few interesting ideas about of his own. Letter 246 was an interesting addition on Maedhros' part, just re-read it myself and found it very cool. There was much in it that could have been used in the debate, on both sides, which led me to wonder why it wasn't? However, in the context of this debate the letter was a double-edged sword, harming Team B just as much it helped them. Maedhros uses this quote to show that Tolkien himself thinks Saruman is not a match of Sauron, yet it is not clear quite who Tolkien is refering to when he says 'Of the others only Gandalf might be expected to master him...' and I think Ithrynluin is correct to dismiss it. This letter also contridicted him at least once during the debate, though none of Team A seemed to notice. It would have been great irony to use an opponent's weapon against him in this case.



    This for me is the stand out quote of the openings. Saruman did have the means to capture the ring.

    The debate then moved on to military strength, with Maedhros declaring that Sauron held all the cards here. Ithrynluin and Annaheru attack him on this point, bringing this little gem out of Maedhros' arsenal.

    Hehe!

    But Team A's arguements prove the stronger. Maedhros plays a few gambits and they, in my view, weaken his position.

    Good move. By this point I think Team A definitely have the advantage. Chrysophalax has brought the Nazgul into arguement, which could have been backed up well with a few quotes from Maedhros' Letter 246. And Ithryn adds this.

    Yay comes along with a good counter-strike. In fact a couple of his questions are not refuted, even though the means are there to do so, specifically his question about the Nazgul. Chrys brought the Nine into the debate earlier, as did Ithryn, but when Yay calls them on this there is no response. The debate trailed off towards the end I thought, a few interesting points made, but nothing too salient. Both teams put forth good closing statements though, and I thought Beth's summary was as skillful as Yay's was subtle.

    Anyhoo, how to score it? Hmm? I thought Team A had slightly better arguements and had the upper hand for the majority of the debate. They defended Maedhros' furious attacks well, weakening Team B's position whilst strengthening their own. Team A could not land a killer blow however, allowing Yay to sneak some doubts into the final post. Team A had have my vote. 6 points to 3. Good fun.

    *Slips spare point in pocket and wanders away*
     

  5. Snaga

    Snaga The Usual Suspect

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    *bows* Thank you Turgon. I must say your judgement is quite cunning!:D Let's see what Grond has to say!
     
  6. Ithrynluin

    Ithrynluin seeker of solace Staff Member

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    While we're waiting for Grond to post his judgement (which will happen soon hopefully), I'd like to tackle the issue of letter 246; namely, the exclusion of Saruman's name from the hypothetical scenario where someone would claim the One Ring and challenge Sauron.

    Maedhros, now that the debate is over, you can state your honest opinion as to why you think Saruman is not mentioned. :p Unless of course you truly believe he is not mentioned because he is not eligible? I simply cannot agree with that for several reasons:

    • The mere mention of a name on that list does not presuppose the person is instantly eligible for ousting Sauron one on one. Aragorn is mentioned, but Tolkien clearly puts his odds of victory at zero. Even Gandalf's chances (while wearing the One) of defeating him are rather shaky, so again this is no proof. This is actually a pretty good point, and I probably should have used it in the debate. :D
    • Why would Tolkien mention elves (Galadriel, Elrond) but not a Maia? Obviously, most Maiar are more powerful than most elves; I put it like that because I remember a passage somewhere that mentions the lesser Maiar as having about the same amount of power as the mightier Eldar/Calaquendi (don't remember which), but I can't recall where that was. Anyhow, even if Saruman was a lesser Maia -- which I don't think he was, I'd say he was a "mid-Maia" :p -- and even if Galadriel and Elrond are among the greatest and most powerful of the elves (which doubtless they are), this still means Saruman should be eligible, if the two of them are.
    • We do not know what kind of context Tolkien placed this letter into, or what his train of thought was. He may simply have been considering the "good" guys, or he may have taken into consideration only those who were still among the living towards the end of the tale.

    Snags, you say:

    Alright, so I wasn't completely frank when I said this point was completely irrelevant, but I do think it is largely irrelevant. I believe that even if the letter said outright that Saruman was incapable of defeating Sauron in close combat that this would not have aided team B's argument as much as the opposite statement would have aided ours; For if the first were true, I would still maintain that it was irrelevant (even if it made Saruman seem less powerful), because battling Sauron one on one is not a prerequisite for becoming a Ring-lord aka supplanting Sauron; And if the second were true, well, that would simply make Saruman seem very butch and able. :p It would still be irrelevant in that case, but I would not say so and perhaps the opposing team would not think to say it either. ;)

    I'm pointing this towards Maedhros (with whom I debated this) and Snaga (who contested this in his judgement), but anyone is welcome to jump in.

    Oh and Turgon, at first I thought you were merely joking by withholding the one point, but now I am beginning to wonder why you did not give it to one of the teams and whether you intend to do so ever? :confused: Not that there's any rule against doing this, it just makes me wonder what would happen if more judges pulled something like that.
     
  7. YayGollum

    YayGollum Conscience of TTF

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  8. Ithrynluin

    Ithrynluin seeker of solace Staff Member

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    We could use that thread, but if we do that for every debate it'll just get messy, with posts and points from each topic getting mixed up, so I prefer to keep it in the judging thread of each topic.
     
  9. YayGollum

    YayGollum Conscience of TTF

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    Ack! Okay. Yes, sir! Those who weren't on teams in the actual debate get to toss the arguments that they were holding back the whole time in here. Also, people in the debate who wish to continue the thing in some way get to do so in here. Got it. That's okay. *sniff* None of my threads survive. *bawls* :rolleyes: Anyways, here's what I wrote in that other thread. --->

    I was planning on waiting until the Grond person came up with a judgement in that evil Saruman debate, but since other humans are already writings such things, why allow them to be the only ones to share unfinished type things from debateses? For one point ---> What about the evil Saruman's personality? I was the only one to really write about that. Nobody but the snaga1 person seemed to noticed that point of mine, and it looks like he decided to let his personal opinions delete a point in my team's favor.