Words of Command

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Niniel, Jun 29, 2002.

  1. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

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    I was wondering what Gandalf meant when he said in Moria that he had to speak a 'word of command' to close the door. My idea was that maybe, being a Maia, he had the power to make all kinds of things happen just by a simple spell, but that he wasn't allowed as long as he was on Middle-Earth. And that a word of command was a Maia-spell that he wasn't actually allowed to use. But maybe I'm wrong here, does someone know what it means?
     
  2. Anarchist

    Anarchist The Eternal Champion

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    Niniel, I think the word of commant was used to open the door, not to close it. The door was a magic dwarf door, which from outside opened only if a word of command was spoken. In the old days, everyone knew that word and any dwarf could say the word and make it open. It didn't take a Maiar to open it. In the case of the door in Moria, the word was friend in elvish ("mellon" that is).
     

  3. Beorn

    Beorn In the shadows Staff Member

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    Well, I can't find 'word of command', but you can be sure it wasn't to close the doors:

     
  4. Lily from Bree

    Lily from Bree Adventuresome Hobbit

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    I think what Niniel means is when they are already a couple days into Moria, after they have left the Chamber of Mazarbul, when the Orcs are chasing them. Gandalf was trying to close the door to the chamber so that the Orcs would be stopped. Read this quote here:

    "I could think of nothing to do but to try and put a shutting-spell on the door........For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command."

    That, I think, is what you mean, Niniel, but I'm not sure exactly what a word of Command is. Now that what she means has been specified, I will leave the explanation to those who have more knowledge than I have.
     

  5. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

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    That was indeed what I meant, sorry that wasn't clear. (I couldn't include a quote since I don't have my book here). I don't hthink Gandalf meant something like a Dwarf spell, but something else. Anyone have a clue?
     
  6. Gamil Zirak

    Gamil Zirak The Ladies' Dwarve

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    Gandalf was a Wizard afterall. He just cast a spell on the door to close it and that it would only be opened by a spell.
     
  7. GladrielElf1985

    GladrielElf1985 Registered User

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    I believe that he was just talking about a password that he had to use. Speak "friend" and enter. So the command he is referring to is the password in the dwarf tongue "friend". That probably didnt make much sense but I am sure you know what I am talking about.
     
  8. Gamil Zirak

    Gamil Zirak The Ladies' Dwarve

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    GladrielElf1985- Nineal is refering to the door Gandalf shuts when they flee from Balin's Tomb. You are refering to the West Gates of Moria. They used the elvish word for friend not the dwarf to get into the mines.
     
  9. BelDain

    BelDain The Faithful

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    It seems to me that in the world of Middle-Earth everything has been given a certain level of awareness or innate intelligence. Things from trees to horses, mountains to rivers. There is usually a principle of magic in worlds such as these where sorcery, at least in part, is derived from the ability of a person, an adept, to communicate with and obtain cooperation from the "inanimate" objects or elements around them to perform the needed task.

    I would suppose that as a Maia, Gandalf would have the ability to not only to speak with and persuade the world around to help him but to command it as well. Of course being who he was Gandalf would probably only do this in the most dire of need such as the Fellowship found themselves in escaping from the orcs of Moria.
     
  10. Lantarion

    Lantarion no house

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    What a briliant idea, BelDain! C'est trés ingénieux!:D Sorry, been reading Hercule Poirot again..
    Now.. I agree with BelDain, at least I want to believe it, but I think this is one of the few things that Tolkien forgot to explain. Or maybe it was a preliminary thought that occured to him, which he did not change before the LotR went public in its current form. But I really think your idea is excellent, BelDain, it has a sort of alchemical/druidic feel to it.
     
  11. Elfarmari

    Elfarmari Tingilindë

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    I could be wrong, but I think Gandalf also uses a word of command on Caradhras to light their fire. He may also have used one against the wolves before the Fellowship enters Moria.
     
  12. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

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    On Caradhras he lights the fire with his staff, and he says a spell, but I don't know if that is a 'word of command.' Maybe he also uses his staff to close to the door, but I don't think so. About the wolves I'm not sure.
     
  13. Lantarion

    Lantarion no house

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    Tolkien gives us astoundingly little information about the presumed 'magic' that the Istari practice in Middle-Earth. It is obvious that all three of them, who are accounted for, each have some sort of 'aura' that allows them to do their job: Radagast has an aura of trust, kindness and love of nature which allows him to interact with the fauna of M-E; Saruman has an aura of importance, leadership and councelling to help him manipulate his subjects; and Gandalf has an aura of kindness and trust also, but also of immense knowledge and wisdom, as well as pure goodness. These 'auras' may have nothing to do with their magical skills, but rather with their practical and more 'social' skills, but it was just a thought of mine.
    Anyway, as I was saying, Tolkien gives us absolutely no idea of what effect the saying of a 'spell' can have on surroundings or objects, or people. Gandalf says a spell three times in the book (supposedly, although only two are certain): with the wolves, with the fire, and (supposedly) with the door. But can we be sure that the 'Word of Command' is actually a spoken word? If the Maiar coexist between the Seen and Unseen worlds, do they really need to speak the words in order for them to work? Perhaps Gandalf mumbled his thoughts, but the main 'spell' might have been a mental utterance which caused the door to do what he wanted it to do.
    But what I mean is that we have little or no solid evidence to back up any argument about actual magical powers. Maybe the HoME have something, but I doubt it.
     
  14. HLGStrider

    HLGStrider All Knowing Magic Cat

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    It is possible it had something to do with the true name of the door.


    Knowing a person's true name is said to give you power over him. I think the same would be true for objects.
     
  15. Arvedui

    Arvedui Stargazer

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    Well, I still believe that Gamil Zirak's explanation is the closest one. Gandalf was a wizard (in Middle-earth), and he cast a spell on the door.

    Just as simple as that.
     
  16. Inderjit S

    Inderjit S Bootylicious

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    It is possible that there was a specific shutting spell for the door, just as there was a specific opening spell for the door.
     
  17. AustintheGreen

    AustintheGreen the Green Man

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    Yes, but when it comes down to it, what is a spell? A spell, or working magic is the manipulation, or movement of energy to accomplish change. In order to do this you would have to be very much in tune with the nature of the thing... its true nature. Gandalf, being a messenger of the Valar, is most likely in tune with the natural structures that make up the visible world. So, I think it is a combination of all of these answers. I really liked the ideas about the auras of the three Wizards.
     
  18. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    "Gimli took his [Gandalf's] arm and helped him down to a seat on the step. 'What happened away up there at the door?' he asked. 'Did you meet the beater of the drums?'

    "'I do not know,' answered Gandalf. 'But I found myself suddenly faced by something that I have not met before. I could think of nothing to do but to try and put a shutting-spell on the door. I know many; but to do things of that kind rightly requires time, and even then the door can be broken by strength.

    "'As I stood there I could hear orc-voices on the other side: at any moment I thought they would burst it open. I could not hear what was said; they seemed to be talking in their own hideous language. All I caught was ghâsh: that is 'fire.' Then something came into the chamber — I felt it through the door, and the orcs themselves were afraid and fell silent. It laid hold of the iron ring, and then it perceived me and my spell.

    'What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of command. That proved too great a strain. The door burst in pieces. Something dark as a coud was blocking out all the light inside, and I was thrown backwards down the stairs."

    FotR, The Bridge of Khazad-dum

    Barley
     
  19. Faithful Servant

    Faithful Servant New Member

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    I've pondered the issue for decades. I believe that the Balrog sensed that Gandalf was a Maia and the counter-spell was not just for the door but to attack Gandalf with sudden power. The Word of Command may have frozen the door at the molecular level. The Balrog pressed the attack; the whole edifice exploded and blew Gandalf out of the room.