"Whatever happened to Radagast the Brown?"

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Rivendell_librarian, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    This is a quote from a fan letter from W H Auden to J R R Tolkien. Auden went on: "I hoped we would meet him again". Auden wrote the letter from Berlin in 1955 on notepaper headed "Hotel Continental". He had just read a proof copy of LOTR for review. I came across this reading the catalogue of the recent Tolkien exhibition: Tolkien Maker of Middle Earth.

    Radagast does appear briefly (in an account given by Gandalf, not directly) in FOTR to pass on a message from Saruman to Gandalf for Gandalf to visit Saruman at Isengard. "It's a trap" as Admiral Ackbar would say (funny how that has become his phrase now), though Gandalf judged that Radagast passed on the invitation in all innocence.

    So why didn't Tolkien make more use of Radagast the Brown in LOTR? What was Radagast doing during the War of the Ring?
     
  2. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    Indeed, the wizards (Istari) were sent to resist the destructive force of Sauron.

    There is a whole chapter on them in the Unfinished Tales, if you're interested. We can read there about their mission:

    Emissaries they were from the Lords of the West, the Valar, who still took counsel for the governance of Middle-earth, and when the shadow of Sauron began first to stir again took this means of resisting him. For with the consent of Eru they sent members of their own high order, but clad in bodies as of Men, real and not feigned, but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth, able to hunger and thirst and be slain; though because of their noble spirits they did not die, and aged only by the cares and labours of many long years. And this the Valar did, desiring to amend the errors of old, [...]

    Specifically mentioned are five of them: the White (Saruman), the 2 Blue ones, the Brown (Radagast) and the Grey (Gandalf). Yet only one held true to their mission:
    • The ill turn with Saruman is well known.

    • Both blue ones disappeared in the East:
    Of the Blue little was known in the West, and they had no names save Ithryn Luin ‘the Blue Wizards’; for they passed into the East with Curunír, but they never returned, and whether they remained in the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they were sent; or perished; or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not now known.
    • As for Radagast, to which you refer:
    Radagast, the fourth, became enamoured of the many beasts and birds that dwelt in Middle-earth, and forsook Elves and Men, and spent his days among the wild creatures. Thus he got his name (which is in the tongue of Númenór of old, and signifies, it is said, ‘tender of beasts’).

    So the answer is that Radagast no longer contributed to their mission and plays no further significant role either. If he survived the War of the Ring, one could assume he would eventually return to the East. Maybe after he had learned how to fly from his birds! :cool:
     

  3. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    Since they are works of fiction one can argue that Tolkien's characters only do what we are told about them by their author. But since Tolkien described an alternative world (with definite similarities to our own world) I think many people think about the lives of the characters beyond the written words using the information given to make deductions.

    There is more information (Christopher Tolkien) in The Treason of Isengard. After Radagast told Gandalf that the Nine were abroad:

    "Stay a moment, Radagast," I said. "We need help of many kinds. Send out messages to all the birds and beasts that are your friends. Tell them to bring news to Saruman and Gandalf. Let any message go to Orthanc."] But I could not follow him. I had ridden far and Galeroc was weary. I stayed the night in Bree and departed at dawn -

    and later:

    At first I feared, as Saruman wished that I should, that Radagast had also fallen. But it is not so: he trusted Saruman, who had not revealed his purposes to him. And the very fact that Saruman had so successfully deceived Radagast proved the undoing of his scheme. For Radagast did as I bid. And the Eagles of the Misty Mountains kept watch and they saw the mustering of orcs, and got news of the escape of Gollum, and they sent word to Orthanc of this to me. And so it was when the moon was still young on a night of autumn that Gwaewar the Windlord chief of the eagles came to me; and I spoke to him and he bore me away before Saruman was aware, and the orcs and wolves that he released found me not

    There is also a theory that Radagast inherits Isengard. A good choice imo given the relationship of Isengard to the Ents.
     
  4. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

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    I've never seen or heard this rumor at all, do you have anything that was written describing this? In Many Partings from ROTK I remember reading that Aragorn left Orthanc to the Ents to watch over and not allow anyone into Isengard without the King's permission. I don't have my books with me so can't find the exact text. I don't recall Radagast being mentioned again.
     

  5. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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  6. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

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    I missed that! Nice catch!

    Treebeard’s “Treegarth of Orthanc” replaced Isengard in the published version. Some time later, Aragorn visited it, and with the assistance of Gimli found Saruman’s secret safe, which contained the box in which Isildur had kept the One Ring he took from Sauron, along with his “crown,” the original Elendilmir of Silmariën of Númenor. (Unfinished Tales, “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields”, “The sources of the legend of Isildur's death”)

    You know, I think Radagast was sighted running a Ben & Jerry’s in San Francisco, still wearing Birkenstocks and no socks.
     
  7. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    Or else wandering around here in Europe wearing a yellow vest instead of a brown one for a change :mad::eek::oops:
     
  8. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I noticed that reference.


    CL
     
  9. Desert Loon

    Desert Loon Member

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    A few years ago I had a dream that I was traveling with Radagast. He had a waffle iron that was enchanted to be lightweight. This fantasy has been a great comfort and inspiration for me ever since. And I harbor a private conviction that he now lives on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos.
     
  10. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    Regarding Radagast's limited role in LotR, let me just remind you of another event in which he played a role.

    Not long before the events of TH, Saruman was exploring the Gladden fields, hoping to find the Ring and to take it for himself:

    And he deemed that the Ring, which was Sauron's, would seek for its master as he became manifest once more; but if he were driven out again, then it would lie hid. Therefore he was willing to play with peril and let Sauron be [= in Dol Guldur] for a time, hoping by his craft to forestall both his friends and the Enemy, when the Ring should appear.

    When he became aware that the enemy was searching in that region too, he needed spies to check on their progress. Just like the other later event (when he abused Radagast's naivety and cooperation to lure Gandalf into Isengard) he let Radagast work for his own ends:

    Then he perceived that Sauron also had learned of the manner of Isildur's end, and he grew afraid and withdrew to Isengard and fortified it; and ever he probed deeper into the lore of the Rings of Power and the art of their forging. But he spoke of none of this to the Council, hoping still that he might be the first to hear news of the Ring. He gathered a great host of spies, and many of these were birds; for Radagast lent him his aid, divining naught of his treachery, and deeming that this was but part of the watch upon the Enemy.

    These quotes come from TS "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age".

    Sadly, the very few times Radagast did something small it was for the wrong purpose as well, the poor lad! :oops:
     
  11. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Well-Known Member

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    I know I'm going far afield here but the way Radagast was portrayed by PJ still sets my blood boiling :mad: bird poop!!!
     
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  12. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Me but with Aragorn.





    :mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::confused:




    CL
     
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  13. Desert Loon

    Desert Loon Member

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    Right! He has taken on a special meaning for me, and that goofball in the movies is an insult to that. Maybe it's just as well, since it helps me keep my own experience to myself.
     
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  14. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

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  15. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    Not quite. Radaghast ended up sending the eagle that rescued Gandalf, which did end up helping Frodo out as Gandalf was able to distract some of the Nazgul. Had Gandalf still been in the tower, the Nazgul would have gotten Frodo sooner and taken him over and seized the Ring.