Why Can't Gandalf Read Thrór's Map?

Discussion in '"The Hobbit"' started by Azrubêl, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    Why can't Gandalf read Thrór's Map himself? Elrond is able to, but I thought Gandalf is supposed to basically have a mastery of the languages of Middle-Earth. I thought I've seen that Maiar have some sort of intuitive ability to understand the created languages, especially Gandalf as one of the Istari.

    Do you think this is just a discrepancy between The Hobbit and the rest of Tolkien's mythology like how the runes on the map are actually Old English runes rather than Cirth?
     
  2. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Understand that when he took the form of an Old Man, Olorin, forgot much and learned much, meaning, he most likely forgot this intuitive ability to read these languages. (Remember how hard of a time he was having at the Door of Moria? :D)

    Maiar do have this ability, and many more, but they forsook most of their inherent Maiar traits when coming to Middle-earth on their mission.

    Hope this helps.

    CL
     
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  3. Merroe

    Merroe Member

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    Elrond was not reading the map, plain to see for all, but the moon-runes written aside them and these are invisible unless lit by the same moon as when they were written.

    Elrond was therefore just lucky to look at them at precisely the right moment; refer for this to the following text:

    “Moon-letters are rune-letters, but you cannot see them,” said Elrond, “not when you look straight at them. They can only be seen when the moon shines behind them, and what is more, with the more cunning sort it must be a moon of the same shape and season as the day when they were written. The dwarves invented them and wrote them with silver pens, as your friends could tell you. These must have been written on a midsummer’s eve in a crescent moon, a long while ago.”
    “What do they say?” asked Gandalf and Thorin together, a bit vexed perhaps that even Elrond should have found this out first, though really there had not been a chance before, and there would not have been another until goodness knows when.
     
  4. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    I believe Gandalf says that he can't read the visible runes on the map, which is why they went to Elrond. And yes, Elrond uncovers the moon runes as well.
     

  5. Merroe

    Merroe Member

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    May I refer you to the meeting in Bag End at the beginning of the book, between Gandalf, Thorin and his companions and Bilbo. Gandalf presented the map and read the runes for all of them to know:

    “It [the hidden door] may have been secret once,” said Thorin, “but how do we know that it is secret any longer? Old Smaug has lived there long enough now to find out anything there is to know about those caves.”
    “He may—but he can’t have used it for years and years.”
    “Why?”
    “Because it is too small. ‘Five feet high the door and three may walk abreast’ say the runes, but Smaug could not creep into a hole that size, not even when he was a young dragon, certainly not after devouring so many of the dwarves and men of Dale.”
     
  6. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    Interesting, thanks for the quote. Maybe I have misremembered, thinking that Gandalf said he was unable to read the visible runes.
     
  7. Merroe

    Merroe Member

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    No problem.
    It's only in the movie that Gandalf said a few things of that nature.
    These movies, all their artistic qualities left aside, confuse more than clarify the original work.
     
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  8. Rilien

    Rilien Registered User

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    Also, at the time of The Hobbit's writing, LOTR did not yet exist (and wouldn't for many years). It is quite probable that Tolkien at that early point had not yet fleshed out exactly who or what Gandalf was.
     

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