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Aragorn's Strategic Error

JeffF.

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The Dead Men of Dunharrow are a realtively minor part of LOTR because JRRT chose to tell their story in the form of Legolas and Gimli updating Pippin and Merry after the relief of Minas Tirith.

They were an important factor in the War of the Ring though and almost by their presence alone destroyed Sauron's fleet and army of Corsairs of Umbar and obtained a mighty armada for Gondor.

When they were alive they rejected a call by Isildur to defend the kingdom, which at the time included Minas Ithil (Minas Morgul by the time of the Warof the Ring). I see no reason why Aragorn needed to release them after the battle at Pelargir. If he had brought them that far he might as well have brought them to Pelennor Fields to the relief of Minas Tirith and later evenused them to at least assault Minas Morgul or the Black Gates. There may be some unspoken/unwritten restriction that they must be used within the bounds of the kingdom as it existed in their time but even then they could be used against Minas Morgul. Doing so would have saved lives since their presence seemed to inflict their enemies with absolute fear and panic.

Any discussion/agreement/disagreement?

best regards,

JeffF.
 

Tyaronumen

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Great question... my initial thoughts would be:

1. Not enough room on the boats for all of those dead people
2. Perhaps the living could not abide to be *so* close to the dead as to be actually travelling in close quarters with them.
3. Perhaps the dead were restrained from travelling over the seas because of some conflict with the power of Ulmo...
 
H

Harad

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There are limits to use of a magical army. I believed it was a one-for-one deal. One betrayal=one later victory. Aragorn knew explicitly or sensed implicitly that he could get no more than that from the Dead.

Give them a break, ok? Theyre already dead!, he figured.
 
D

Durin's Bain

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An interesting question

Are the dead actually still in a tangible form or are they basically body-less ghosts? If they are only ghosts you only get the 'fear factor' out of them which might be lessend after the first confrontation. Also, they broke their treaty by not coming to defend Minis Arnor, not from not taking apart in an assault on Mordor. After they came to the rescue of Minis Tirith it would be a resonable expectation that they would be released of their service.

Just a thought.
 

JeffF.

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Dead Men

ROTK states they refused a call of Isildur and I don't see any place stating any condition of relieving Minas Anor. In fact the Appendices and The Silmarillion state that Anarion held Ossigliath after Isildur lost Minas Ithil and sailed north to Elendil. In ROTK the Dead do not relieve Minas Tirith but get only as far as Pelargir, of course their action resulted indirectly in the relief of Minas Tirith by Aragorn's armada and the folk of Lebenin. I also note that at Pelargir the Dead past over the water and so would not need room on the boats (whose live passengers would no doubt be unable to tolerate such a presence). I thought I had previously seen a passage stating that they had to serve until all the lands on the near side of Anduin were free (which would include Minas Tirith) but I haven't found in again (still looking).

thanks to all for the input.
 
H

Harad

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And--where logic fails--and it does at times--there is the fact that an army of Dead stomping everything in its path, would detract from the rest of the story.
 

JeffF.

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Harad

OK Harad, but if you're going to bring facts into the discussion you'll just spoil everything.

On the other hand having these wraiths of fear (as Legolas calls them) go up against the Nazgul would be an exciting additional element!
 

Brown Ribbon

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1. They fulfill their oath and Aragorn releases them. In Tolkien's Middle earth, an oath is quite a specific thing, (the oath of Feanor and his sons is a case in point), Aragorn could not have released them to the peace of the dead until they fulfilled that oath, nor could he have made them do more than their oath demanded. They fulfilled their oath and were thus released

2. The dead army causes havoc amongst the Corsairs, men who would naturally flee from such a host due to fear. The Uruks of Mordor, long used to the shadow of the Tower of Sorcery might not have found such apparitions as disconcerting.

3. If you are an exiled King, returning to claim the crown of yur forfathers, who would you choose as your entourage, beaing in mind that the trust of the people is essential to your being accepted.
Do you choose;
a) an Elf, two Half Elves, a Dwarf and some tall Men?
b) an army of blood curdling appartions of the tormented Undead who canterrify a whole army so much hat they wll abandon their ships and neglect the wrath of their cruel Lord?

4. All Aragorn wanted from this was the strength to come to the aid of Minas tirith, which he was able to do. When it came to assailing the Black Gate, the armies of Mordor outweighed the forces of good so many times over that it would not have been enough if all the Elves of Lindon, Rivendell, Lorien and Mirkwood, the Dwarves of Erebior, the me nof Dale and their Beorning mates, the Ents of Fangorn, the Blue Wizards, all the Shirrifs of Michael Delving and Queen Beruthiel's cats had been there. They were going to lose. Frodo offered the only hope they had.
:)
 

Bucky

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I really don't see that these 'dead men's ghosts' would have much power vs. The Nazgul......

The Nazgul are neither living nor dead, but 'undead', kinda like a vampire.
They hold a power from their rings & how they tie into Sauron.

The others are simply ghosts that can't rest until their oath is fulfilled.

Gandalf the WHITE wasn't even confident of victory in a one on one confrontation with The Lord of The Nazgul.....

Why didn't Aragorn bring them further?
I would agree it was a one shot deal.
Also, ROTK states that all, both people of Gondor & their enemies, fled before them.

Doesn't sound like many of the people of Lebbanin were likely to hop aboard a ship full of ghosts.
So, Aragorn would have to keep the slaves chained to have them row.

And, are enemies who stand in the pressance of & are commanded by The Lord of the Nazgul likely to flee in fear from plain old ghosts?
 

JeffF.

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Orcs and Nazgul

I think the Orcs would have been prone to the fear inspired by the Dead Men. The orcs as a species seemed to be prone to fear of all sorts: Nazgul, elvish warriors/weapons, Shelob, etc. Even the Uruks were dismayed by Boromir blowing his horn.

We don't know the extent of the power of the Dead. Legolas in his desciption says that it couldn't be known whether their weapons could stil bite because no foes would fight them. Such a force would have been very useful at Minas Tirith since the Haradrim alone numbered at least 18,000 and other men like Easterlings were there as well.

It is porbable that the Dead had some power in 'the other world' where the Nazgul moved in simultaneously. It probably would have resulted in some otherworldly conflict which if I had to guess I'd say the Nazgul would win.

I think the most effective argument against bringing them to Minas Tirith was the one that stated that it would have been inappropriate for Isildur's Heir and a returning King to rescue his main city with such a host. On the other hand the army Aragorn brought with him witnessed his leading of the Dead Men of Dunharrow against the Corsairs at Linhir and Pelargir so at the very least the word of this dreaded host and Aragorn's role in their appearance would have been brought to the city by the relieving army of the South.

Thanks again for the discussion.
 

lilhobo

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i thought the curse was to rid ME of every army of Sauron

but since legolas had no fear of the dead of men, you cant expect the orcs of Mordor to be sucked in lol
 

JeffF.

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Not Necessarily

Gimli greatly felt the dread of the Dead Men. There are several instances of one species feeling the same dread and fear as others did. Evveryone seemed to fear the Nazgul including elves (Glorfindel's statement that there were few even in Rivendell who could ride openly against the Nine) and the Balrog had a similary effect on the whole Fellowship. In any case much of Sauron's army was composed of men and historically panic is very contagious. If one wing of an Army panics it is inevitable that the remainder is also.
 

Firiel

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It seems to me that several black ships full of ghosts would be more disheartening to the men of Gondor and Rohan than to the orcs of Mordor no matter what flag was on the prow. Would the advantage of several ships full of ghosts outweigh the terror they would evoke in those defending the city?

Also, I agree with the "One shot deal" theory: That Aragorn didn't have the option of conscripting the ghosts indefinitely.

And just a textual annotation to Brown Ribbon's comment:

Legolas (Of Aragorn on the ships with the ghosts): "In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself".

An image that calls to mind how you would be as the next Dark Lord is probably not the impression you want to give to people you want to willingly accept you as their ruler, eh?
 

JeffF.

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I agree...

...about the image not being appropriate. But as Legolas pointed out, the Dead were able to pass over the water so Aragorn didn't need to borad them on ships. Perhaps he could have held them back as a final reserve.

i don't agreea bout the one shot deal though. The Dead were used at two battles Linhir and Pelargir so why not another?

One possible explanation is that perhaps the fear imposed by the Nazgul and that by the Dead would have been just too much for either host to withstand. Wouldn't want an army of madmen.
 

Elfarmari

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Interesting thread, which I'd like to bring back to light from the depths . . .

I agree with Brown Ribbon's points, but also with Harad's point . . .

Harad said:
And--where logic fails--and it does at times--there is the fact that an army of Dead stomping everything in its path, would detract from the rest of the story.
 

Confusticated

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A way I have always answered the question to myself is that just maybe they had no power of fear over Orcs and Aragorn knew this. Men would still be needed to fight the orcs (and maybe other non-human enemies such as trolls) but few could have done so near the Dead.

And even if the Dead would have frightened off all of the enemies, they'd only be moved away. Living Men would have killed most of them. Probably better to defend your own lands than have someone else do it while you hide in fear of the defenders, if you possably can.

And any men who were out among the enemies fighting when Aragorn arrived would have probably run right off with the enemy to be slaughtered later.
 

Gildor

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To bring an army of shades to the borders of Mordor itself would be very foolish. I believe Sauron's watchful presence would keep his minions from faltering, as they no doubt fear him and his lieutenants far more than any ghosts of Men. Then there is the danger of Sauron's power bowing such restless spirits to his will. Shadows and ghosts are his domain, and it would be more than reckless to assault him with such things in his own land.
 

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