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Round 8: Guild of Tolkienology vs Guild of Scholars' Hall

Niniel

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This is the debate thread for the round 8 debate between the Guild of Tolkienology vs Guild of Scholars' Hall. The topic has been approved, so please both Guilds name your teams!
 

Maedhros

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I will need a few days for a team. We just finished our debate with OiE like 1 day ago.
 

baragund

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I think we've got our team together now. The Scholars will be represented by:

Maedhros (of course)
Captain
Elfarmari
Yours truly:)

Sooooooooo... Let's Get Ready to Rumble!!!
 

Niniel

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Ok, here goes:
Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron? And if so, was it a wise decision of the Valar to limit their powers?
The Guild of Tolkienology gets the choice of sides and the debate will last for 7 days from their first post.
Good luck to both teams!
 

Lhunithiliel

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Could we, please, have one question not two?

I think it will only help the teams to focus better on a specific issue.
 

Niniel

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Ok then, only the first one will be quite enough for a good debate I suppose:
Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron?
 

Eriol

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Well, assuming that the Scholars are ok with that question, here is the opening post... if they are not ok with it, forget this post :).

***

The Tolkienologists will defend the position that the limitation of the Istari's powers DID prolong the war against Sauron.

There are a few issues of definition that we'd like to clear up at the beginning.

First: the two options being considered here are (1) limited Istari (what took place in the actual story) and (2) unveiled Istari. If we extend the discussion to all possible actions by the Valar, it would become very open-ended. For instance, we could discuss whether Eönwë was supposed to let Sauron slip away or not... whether the Valar should have arrested Sauron in S.A. 1... many variables that would be very hard to sort out.

Second: a definition of what exactly was involved in the "limiting" of the Istari's powers.

From Letter 156:

... By 'incarnate' I mean they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed', though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour.
From UT, the Istari; forgive the translation, I only have UT in Portuguese:

[Spoken at the Council of the Valar deliberating on the Istari's mission]

'Who would like to go? For they must be powerful, Sauron's peers, but they will have to forget the power and clothe themselves in flesh, so as to deal with elves and men with an equal standing and to win their trust. But this will place them in danger, diminish their wit and knowledge and beset them with fears, worries and fatigue coming from the flesh'
So, as it seems, the limitation was incarnation; of a fuller and more complete kind than the "raiment" of the Ainur. This incarnation would result in weariness, pain, fear, and other bodily concerns. Another limitation (I'm not sure if it is directly related to incarnation) is the ban on imposing themselves by sheer power upon the free peoples. Again free translation from that UT essay:

... now their [of the Valar] emissaries were forbidden to reveal themselves in forms of awe, or to attempt to govern the wills of men and elves by sheer demonstration of power, but rather by presenting themselves in weak and humble shapes, with instructions to advise and persuade men and elves toward goodness and to unite in love and understanding all those who Sauron would, upon his return, attempt to dominate and corrupt.
Whether or not this limitation is inherent to their incarnate forms or a simple command is not important; it may be added to incarnation as the two major modes of limitation of the Istari which are to be discussed in the debate; unless there are other limitations which escaped me in this opening post.

Now, we must consider the alternate scenario; the Valar send unveiled Maiar to deal with Sauron. That means Maiar who are not incarnate, and who are free to use their power in the attempt to achieve their goals; rooting out Sauron's servants, and altogether preventing Sauron’s reappearance.

I suppose it is unquestionable that the Istari were faithful at the beginning; Gandalf himself say so of Saruman. So if we had unveiled and faithful Maiar in charge of the "resistance" against Sauron and his servants, there is no clear reason why they would not achieve their goals much more quickly and efficiently. Not having to persuade Elves and Men, being able to command them, they would have kept strict guard over Mordor, destroyed Angmar and the Ringwraiths, etc. We are talking about at least five Maiar of the same stature of Sauron (though less powerful), as Manwë says. The total number of Istari is unknown... we know only of the five sent to the North of Middle Earth.

While the question of the debate encompassed the wisdom of the decision, it was more debatable; my own personal opinion is that the limitation of the powers of the Istari was very wise, for reasons set out both in the Letters and in the UT essay. But it prolonged the war. Five (or more) Istari set without any limitations to rally the free peoples and fight Sauron’s minions would shorten the war enormously. Consider: Gandalf alone remained faithful, and he managed to do it almost by himself. If there were five faithful unveiled Maiar in action, what chance would Sauron have?

What would happen after Sauron was defeated is open to speculation; would they take up his throne and become tyrants themselves? Who knows? But one thing we do know – the war would have been shorter; more likely it would not have happened at all, as Sauron would be down before he got up.
 

baragund

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The Scholars are OK with the topic. Maedhros should be posting his devastatingly brilliant response:D late this evening or tomorrow.
 

Maedhros

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The Topic is: Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron?
Lets us make some clarifications on certain concepts:

From Morgoth’s Ring: Later Quentas
Ëalar: 'spirit' (not incarnate, which was fëa, S[indarin] fae). ëala 'being'.
Maiar and Valar are of course ëalar.

From Vinyar Tengwar 39: Ósanwe-kenta
Here Pengolodh adds a long note on the use of hröar by the Valar. In brief he says that though in origin a "self-arraying", it may tend to approach the state of "incarnation", especially with the lesser members of that order (the Maiar). "It is said that the longer and the more the same hröa is used, the greater is the bond of habit, and the less do the 'self-arrayed' desire to leave it. As raiment may soon cease to be adornment, and becomes (as is said in the tongues of both Elves and Men) a 'habit', a customary garb. Or if among Elves and Men it be worn to mitigate heat or cold, it soon makes the clad body less able to endure these things when naked". Pengolodh also cites the opinion that if a "spirit" (that is, one of those not embodied by creation) uses a hröa for the furtherance of its personal purposes, or (still more) for the enjoyment of bodily faculties, it finds it increasingly difficult to operate without the hröa. The things that are most binding are those that in the Incarnate have to do with the life of the hröa itself, its sustenance and its propagation. Thus eating and drinking are binding, but not the delight in beauty of sound or form. Most binding is begetting or conceiving.
"We do not know the axani (laws, rules, as primarily proceeding from Eru) that were laid down upon the Valar with particular reference to their state, but it seems clear that there was no axan against these things. Nonetheless it appears to be an axan, or maybe necessary consequence, that if they are done, then the spirit must dwell in the body that it used, and be under the same necessities as the Incarnate."
So we can see that actually the difference between the self-arrayed and the incarnate. The restriction set by the Valar on the Istari, was that they used a body for their interactions in ME, therefore they became incarnates. They had the same necessities as the other incarnates in ME not because the Valar made it so, but because of the process of Incarnation itself.

One might question then, what exactly was the limitation that the Valar had on the Istari:
From Unfinished Tales: The Istari
whereas now their emissaries were forbidden to reveal themselves in forms of majesty, or to seek to rule the wills of Men and Elves by open display of power, but coming in shapes weak and humble were bidden to advise and persuade Men and Elves to good, and to seek to unite in love and understanding all those whom Sauron, should he come again, would endeavour to dominate and corrupt.
So it would seem that the limitation on the Istari were:
1. Were incarnated.
2. Could not display openly their powers.
3. Seek to unite in love and understanding the peoples of ME against Sauron.

The Valar send the Istari to fight against Sauron. They were supposed to free ME of his evil influence and not to simply replace one evil lord for another, for that would serve no purpose at all.
A note, those were the limitations that the Valar had set upon them. This does not mean however that all of the Istari acknowledged them. For instance, it is no where stated that they were less powerful than their normal spirit state, they were just prohibited to display such powers openly.

Why would one think that unrestricted maiar would be more effective in the fight against Sauron? How could one make both Elves and Men fight against Sauron if not because they believed it to be the right thing to do? Why would revealing themselves in their majesty would help them in achieving this?
The Valar had tried that before to make the Elves go with them to Valinórë, and while some of them did eventually go, some of them didn’t (a very big part of the Elves). If the great Valar failed to do that, why would lesser Maiar succeed? It of course makes no sense, and that is why the Valar used those restrictions.

Why would unrestricted maiar would be more faithful to the War against Sauron than with their restrictions?
Saruman in the beginning was jealous of Gandalf because of the Ring that Círdan gave him. And that was just before they began their journey. Why would they be able to work together, harmoniously? If the Istari as my friends of GoT state,
I suppose it is unquestionable that the Istari were faithful at the beginning; Gandalf himself say so of Saruman. So if we had unveiled and faithful Maiar in charge of the "resistance" against Sauron and his servants, there is no clear reason why they would not achieve their goals much more quickly and efficiently. Not having to persuade Elves and Men, being able to command them, they would have kept strict guard over Mordor, destroyed Angmar and the Ringwraiths, etc.
From Unfinished Tales: The Istari
And the Grey Messenger took the Ring, and kept it ever secret; yet the White Messenger (who was skilled to uncover all secrets) after a time became aware of this gift, and begrudged it, and it was the beginning of the hidden ill-will that he bore to the Grey, which afterwards became manifest.
Is this faithfulness? I don’t think so. If the Istari behaved as my friends of the GoT states ordering Elves and Men, what would make them different from Sauron? They would have taken their first steps towards becoming him.
I think that Ósanwe-kenta explains this beautifully:
How otherwise would you have it? Should Manwë and the Valar meet secrecy with subterfuge, treachery with falsehood, lies with more lies? If Melkor would usurp their rights, should they deny his? Can hate overcome hate? Nay, Manwë was wiser; or being ever open to Eru he did His will, which is more than wisdom.
If Manwë had broken this promise for his own purposes, even though still intending "good", he would have taken a step upon the paths of Melkor. That is a perilous step. In that hour and act he would have ceased to be the vice-gerent of the One, becoming but a king who takes advantage over a rival whom he has conquered by force. Would we then have the sorrows that indeed befell; or would we have the Elder King lose his honour, and so pass, maybe, to a world rent between two proud lords striving for the throne? Of this we may be sure, we children of small strength: any one of the Valar might have taken the paths of Melkor and become like him: one was enough.
If the Istari could not compel Men and Elves to fight against Sauron of their own free will, if they made them do it, they would have just become like Sauron or worse, prolonging the War against evil. The War is a war against evil, which Sauron was the enemy. If you would replace Sauron with another Maia or Maiar, it would be the same thing or worse.
Posted by GoT
What would happen after Sauron was defeated is open to speculation; would they take up his throne and become tyrants themselves? Who knows? But one thing we do know – the war would have been shorter; more likely it would not have happened at all, as Sauron would be down before he got up.
So, one or two Istari would have overthrown Sauron, and taken his place, would the Valar need to send more Istari to oppose them? It makes no sense. The War was against evil, which Sauron personified, the objective was defeating the evil not Sauron per se. If Sauron was defeated and Saruman would take his place, then it would be the same thing. Worse even if one of the Istari would have taken the One Ring as their own. If they did that, the spirit of Sauron would have lived still.
 

Lhunithiliel

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Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron?

Did it, really?
But of course it did!
Why I think so, I'll come to that a bit further herein.

Before I comment on that, I’d like to throw in just a few words in response to what my beloved sonny has said:

Maedhros:

The Valar send the Istari to fight against Sauron. They were supposed to free ME of his evil influence and not to simply replace one evil lord for another, for that would serve no purpose at all.
I see here some misunderstanding and contradiction in those words of yours my sonny! ;):
Look at the quote from UT again!
…..(the Istari) were bidden to advise and persuade Men and Elves to good, and to seek to unite in love and understanding all those whom Sauron, should he come again, would endeavour to dominate and corrupt.
It is so clearly stated! The Istari were NOT sent to fight Sauron! Nor it was expected from them to throw down one king (whoever) and provide ruling for another!

They had the task of uniting the races of ME. Their main task was to spread the “seeds” of “good” and thus “cure” those mental “wounds” that evil (Melkor first and Sauron later) had inflicted upon the once healthy and friendly social environment in which the Children of Eru used to live.

And all that needed time! Long were the years in which evil in ME was left untaken care for!
If the war against it was for this reason prolonged it is only a side effect, which of course is both – a logical consequence and an inevitable one (see above reasons).

As for the other comments in Maedhros’s post I get the feeling that there is some misunderstanding mostly concerning the matter of the Istari’s influence upon Men and Elves. But I’ll leave this to Eriol to handle! ;)

Because …. I’d rather like to comment on another aspect – namely duration of the war.

I am paying attention to this aspect for I find it asked in the very question of the debate: “Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron?”

I’d say it was a long war…. But of course we should be careful at using words! For the word war is :
1/ A situation in which two or more countries or groups of people fight against each other over a period of time.
2/ A situation in which there is aggressive competition between groups companies countries etc.
3/ A fight or an effort over a long period of time to get rid of or to stop sth. unpleasant.
Oxford Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2000.

Now… What is there to be seen and learnt, that would concern our debate?
The very essence of the word “war”! It clearly states that this phenomenon is time-absorbing and time-involving.

Further on, taking into consideration the events as described in the book, it’s simple to see and agree on, that the war itself in the meaning of direct military strikes took not too much time in comparison to the period of the events that preceded those battles!

And that preliminary period was the one when the Istari did their work under the limitations imposed on them.
Should they’ve come to ME in forms and with powers others than the ones imposed upon them, should they’ve come in the form of glorious and invincible warrior-kings then it would’ve quickly led to direct military actions = war.

But that war would’ve been completely meaningless! That war would’ve been a battle between powers that did not belong to ME. That war would’ve not changed the situation, for one evil representative would’ve been thrown down only to be in time replaced by another one (as Maedhros commented in his post and provided marvellous quotes).
Was that the purpose of sending the Istary to ME?

Not at all!

At the beginning of my present post I made myself clear on this point.
So… to send “unrestricted” Maiar = Istary would’ve shortened the period of time one would call a war.
But the aim was never this one! The aim was never the war itself!
The aim was to … let me again quote those words so well said:
… to advise and persuade Men and Elves to good, and to seek to unite in love and understanding…
Therefore the only logical and inevitable consequence of limiting the powers of the Istary was that the war against Sauron as the representative of Evil, was indeed a long one… taking into consideration and NOT forgetting about the period of time that proceeded the direct military actions.
 

baragund

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This is intended to complement Maedhros' opening post to describe the Scholar’s position that the limiting of the Istari’s powers did not prolong the war against Sauron. And although it is not intended to specifically counter Eriol's and Lhun's positions, it does give a holistic contrast to the Tolkienologist’s position. The passages I'm quoting is from "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" in the published Silmarillion. Toward the end of that section of the book is discussion on the coming of the Istari, the forming of the White Council and the events leading up to the War of the Ring. Referenced dates are from The Tale of Years, Appendix B, LOTR.

The passage in question begins by verifying the purpose of the Istari, to "... contest the power of Sauron, if he should rise again, and to move Elves and Men and all living things of good will to valiant deeds." It then goes on to describe the Istari and their initial mission with respect to Sauron, which was one of surveillance and monitoring. It was after the first meeting of the White Council, when Saruman successfully argued to continue their policy of watching and waiting, did Elrond make the prediction to Gandalf that “…The One will yet be found, and then war will arise again, and in that war this Age will be ended. Indeed in a second darkness it will end, unless some strange chance deliver us that my eyes cannot see.” Now keep in mind the Istari had been in Middle Earth since about the year TA 1000. The first meeting of the White Council was in 2463 and there was no outright conflict with Sauron until 2941 when the White Council supposedly drives Sauron from Dol Guldur. The conflict, of course, reaches its climax with the War of the Ring in 3019.

What this suggests is a narrowing of the definition of the “war against Sauron” to the actual War of the Ring in TA 3019. During most of their stay in Middle Earth in the Third Age the Istari was following a policy of containment toward Sauron as opposed to warfare. Now you may ask ‘What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?’ and the answer is the war ended in the cataclysmic action (to Sauron anyway) of Frodo throwing the One Ring into the Cracks of Doom. The valiant deeds of Frodo, the Fellowship and the events leading up to the assembly of that famous group were inspired, coordinated, encouraged and cajoled by Gandalf, the only Istari to remain true to his mission. This approach turned out to be way more effective than some kind of new War of Wrath with the Istari descending to ME in all their unveiled glory.

What would be the alternative? Maedhros already discussed the very real possibility of Sauron being merely replaced by one of the Istari due to the corrupting influence of the Ring or their own hubris. Well the only other scenario is no better. Suppose Sauron was defeated by strength of arms but the Ring was not destroyed. The unveiled Istari could not take the Ring themselves without falling under its power and they could not force an Elf or Man to cast it into Mt. Doom. The result would be Sauron never being truly vanquished and an endless cycle of Sauron rising again and again, and multiple wars of attrition. Looking at the matter this way, the Istari coming in a humble form and using the power of persuasion to inspire the free peoples of ME to undertake the task of willingly destroying the Ring SHORTENED the war against Sauron by bringing it to it’s only possible successful conclusion.
 

Eriol

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There are two main points to be addressed in the Scholars’ arguments:

1)The definition of the mission of the Istari (Maedhros)
2)The definition of the war on Sauron (Baragund)

What was the mission of the Istari?

Posted by Maedhros:

The War was against evil, which Sauron personified, the objective was defeating the evil not Sauron per se.
I can’t agree... it seems to me that the mission of the Istari would be completely hopeless, since there was no way in which they could defeat evil. It is an inherent part of Arda Marred. I won’t post quotes from the Athrabeth and from other parts of HoME X unless the Scholars require it… I think it is pretty much accepted by all.

I will post some quotes from Gandalf himself as pertains the scope of his mission, though.

Before that, I must point out – also – that even if the mission of the Istari were to defeat evil, that is not the question of the debate. If they, in an unveiled state, could wipe out Sauron in a single day, and immediately afterwards take up his throne and begin a new age of oppression, this would still have shortened the war against Sauron… to the great grief of the peoples of Middle-Earth, no doubt; but it would be a shortening, still.

Now, quotes from Gandalf regarding his mission:

RotK, The Last Debate

‘Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule’
And even more clearly:

RotK, The Steward and the King

‘The Third Age was my age. I was the Enemy of Sauron; and my work is finished. I shall go soon. The burden must lie now upon you [Aragorn] and your kindred.’
No, for me at least it is clear that the Enemy was Sauron, not impersonal evil; so much so that Olórin says that he does not want to come “because he fears Sauron”. They had a clear job description, to deal with Sauron; at least this is how Gandalf apparently perceived it. New evils might come, and would come, but they were not to be his burden.

There are other questions in Maedhros’ post, such as the possible unfaithfulness of Saruman; the quote he offered pointed at Saruman’s pride, I think, not treachery. We know Saruman was proud. But there is no evidence – and there is Gandalf’s testimony to the contrary, as well as the entire White Council experience – that he was not faithful at the beginning...

I think his incarnation, and his forced humility (which is among the limitations imposed on the Istari by the Valar – within the scope of the debate’s question), helped to push him over the brink. But the point about the lessened risk for unfaithfulness is not focused at that... it is rather that the Istari would arrive as victorious commanders who could not be withstood by any (since Sauron was still missing). They would face no opposition. There would be no one “on the other side”.

This is also a point that has some bearing in my answer to Baragund... unveiled Maiar would be like a preemptive strike :D. There would be no war against Sauron; since there would be no Dol Guldur, no Angmar, and a prosperous Northern Kingdom under the protection (or as thralls) of the Istari.

You can’t shorten a war more than that ;).

Now, point 2: When did the war on Sauron begin? (Baragund)

The Scholars are arguing for a narrowing of it to the beginning of the actual hostilities at the War of the Ring, in 3019. Now, there are several grounds for this opinion to be rejected. One is that many conflicts happened way before Sauron reappeared, but undeniably through his influence, since the Ringwraiths don’t have a will of their own. When the Witch-King founded Angmar, he was doing it for Sauron. When the Ringwraiths took over Minas Ithil, they were doing it for Sauron. The fact that the Free People did not know that Sauron was behind it does not make it less true. Note also that the White Council did know that Sauron would eventually reappear – when Gandalf discovered the Necromancer’s true identity, his (and the Council’s) reaction was not surprise at the resurrection of an enemy, but rather the acceptance of a struggle that was foreseen of old. They knew Sauron would reappear some day.

Another reason for this narrowing to be rejected is the very creation of the White Council – a body created for the express purpose of opposing Sauron. As baragund said, this took place in 2463; but there were some scary moments before that. From the Tale of Years:

2060 – The power of Dol Guldur grows. The Wise fear that it may be Sauron taking shape again.

2063 – Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur. Sauron retreats and hides in the East. The Watchful Peace begins. The Nazgûl remain quiet in Dol Guldur.

2460 – The Watchful Peace ends. Sauron returns with increased strength to Dol Guldur.
There are many instances of battles and confrontations in the Tale of Years that are directly attributed to Sauron; even if we overlook the fact that any action by the Ringwraiths falls into that category, we have, as examples,

c. 2480 – Orcs begin to make secret strongholds in the Misty Mountains so as to bar all the passes into Eriador. Sauron begins to people Moria with his creatures.

(in 2509 Celebrían was waylaid at the Redhorn pass...)

2885 – Stirred up by emissaries of Sauron the Haradrim cross the Poros and attack Gondor. The sons of Folcwine of Rohan are slain in the service of Gondor.
Another reason to consider the whole of the Third Age, or at least the last two millenia – after the foundation of Dol Guldur – as “the war on Sauron” is the perception of the characters involved. “The long defeat”, Galadriel calls it...

And this enormous timespan is the one we are claiming would be shortened – considerably – by the appearance of unveiled Istari, in unknown numbers.

But let us assume, for one moment, that we are considering only the War of the Ring. Would the unveiled Maiar have shortened that conflict? Most assuredly! They would have prepared for it with more efficiency; Gandalf would probably have discovered the true nature of the Ring much more quickly (we are speaking of the wisest of Maiar here... there were many discussions in TTF about Gandalf’s delay in perceiving that; and I think that the “diminishing of the wit” that Manwë said would accompany the incarnation can’t be overlooked). They could have travelled to Mount Doom invisibly! And, if they fell to the temptation of the Ring – that would still have shortened the war. For if one of the Istari fell to that temptation and became the master of the Ring and became a tyrant... what chance would Sauron have? Not much.

As long as we focus on the question asked – which points at the war on Sauron, not the war on evil or the happiness of the free people or the wisdom of the Valar – then the answer is clear, in my opinion: the war would have been shortened.
 

Maedhros

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Posted by GoT
It is so clearly stated! The Istari were NOT sent to fight Sauron! Nor it was expected from them to throw down one king (whoever) and provide ruling for another!
Are you sure?
From Letters 156
Gandalf alone fully passes the tests, on a moral plane anyway (he makes mistakes of judgement). For in his condition it was for him a sacrifice to perish on the Bridge in defence of his companions, less perhaps than for a mortal Man or Hobbit, since he had a far greater inner power than they; but also more, since it was a humbling and abnegation of himself in conformity to 'the Rules': for all he could know at that moment he was the only person who could direct the resistance to Sauron successfully, and all his mission was vain.
It is interesting to note that, if the Istari were not send to fight Sauron, why would JRRT state that Gandalf at that point had failed in his mission, and that mission being to direct the resistance to Sauron. Of course the Istari were forbidden to use their powers directly, but their purpose was to fight the evil of Sauron.
ibid. Gandalf speaking:
In the end before he departs for ever he sums himself up: 'I was the enemy of Sauron'. He might have added: 'for that purpose I was sent to Middle-earth'.
I think that Gandalf knows what he is saying.
Posted by GoT
And that preliminary period was the one when the Istari did their work under the limitations imposed on them.
Should they’ve come to ME in forms and with powers others than the ones imposed upon them, should they’ve come in the form of glorious and invincible warrior-kings then it would’ve quickly led to direct military actions = war.
It is interesting to post effects with no causes and their explanations. Suppose that the Istari came with forms glorious and as warrior kings as my friends of GoT says, why would both Men and Elves would follow them blindly to war? How much time would they need to do such a thing?
Remember, all of the unrestricted Istari would not be perfect? None were:
ibid.
But in this 'mythology' all the 'angelic' powers concerned with this world were capable of many degrees of error and failing between the absolute Satanic rebellion and evil of Morgoth and his satellite Sauron, and the fainéance of some of the other higher powers or 'gods'.
Image as my friends of GoT say:
So if we had unveiled and faithful Maiar in charge of the "resistance" against Sauron and his servants, there is no clear reason why they would not achieve their goals much more quickly and efficiently. Not having to persuade Elves and Men, being able to command them, they would have kept strict guard over Mordor, destroyed Angmar and the Ringwraiths, etc.
If the faithful Maiar would not have to persuade by command them, they would have taken their first steps toward becoming Sauron or worse. Saruman could have well become jealous of the other Istari and allied himself with Sauron as he did. What then if they had won? What if they were in a stalemate? The War would have been longer that it normally was?
Using the definition given by my friends of GoT, the actual warfare would have been longer. The good thing is that my friends of GoT agree with this:

That war would’ve not changed the situation, for one evil representative would’ve been thrown down only to be in time replaced by another one (as Maedhros commented in his post and provided marvellous quotes).
Posted by GoT
I can’t agree... it seems to me that the mission of the Istari would be completely hopeless, since there was no way in which they could defeat evil. It is an inherent part of Arda Marred. I won’t post quotes from the Athrabeth and from other parts of HoME X unless the Scholars require it… I think it is pretty much accepted by all.
This is what happens when you don’t read my quotes as they should be:
The War was against evil, which Sauron personified, the objective was defeating the evil not Sauron per se.
The Istari were send to ME to resist Sauron because he was a maiar of greater powers than the Men or Elves in ME. If the Istari would have defeated Sauron but one of them would have taken his place instead, then they would have accomplished nothing. Suppose that Sauron was defeated, and that Saruman would have taken his place as the New Lord, do you think that Gandalf would have said: “Well, Sauron is defeated, my work is done?” Of course not, it makes no sense whatsoever. But our friends of GoT say that:
No, for me at least it is clear that the Enemy was Sauron, not impersonal evil; so much so that Olórin says that he does not want to come “because he fears Sauron”. They had a clear job description, to deal with Sauron; at least this is how Gandalf apparently perceived it. New evils might come, and would come, but they were not to be his burden.
Saruman usurping the place of Sauron as the dark Lord would have not bothered Gandalf then. Wow.

If they, in an unveiled state, could wipe out Sauron in a single day, and immediately afterwards take up his throne and begin a new age of oppression, this would still have shortened the war against Sauron… to the great grief of the peoples of Middle-Earth, no doubt; but it would be a shortening, still.
Wipe out Sauron in a single day? Hehe. I guess these are the nukes Istari then. Nowhere it is stated that the incarnate Istari have less power than being disincarnate if you will. They just had restrictions on them by the Valar. But Saruman broke the rules, how does my friends of GoT know that he didn’t use all of his power. My guess is that he did use his might. Which means that they have not all of that great power that my friends of GoT would have us believe.
Posted by GoT
We know Saruman was proud. But there is no evidence – and there is Gandalf’s testimony to the contrary, as well as the entire White Council experience – that he was not faithful at the beginning...
From Unfinished Tales: The Istari
And the Grey Messenger took the Ring, and kept it ever secret; yet the White Messenger (who was skilled to uncover all secrets) after a time became aware of this gift, and begrudged it, and it was the beginning of the hidden ill-will that he bore to the Grey, which afterwards became manifest.
Faithful to the quest, but bore ill-will to one of his fellows. I wonder if that would hinder his task.

it is rather that the Istari would arrive as victorious commanders who could not be withstood by any (since Sauron was still missing). They would face no opposition. There would be no one “on the other side”.
So at that time there were no Orcs or creatures of Sauron anywhere in ME? The Istari would just come and by their inherent powers destroy all of the evil creatures in ME? Hehe. A good fairy tale perhaps, but it doesn’t makes sense. Consider. In the First Age, if Sauron with all of his might, Morgoth could have send him to go and destroy the elves with his inherent power. He would just go there in spirit and when he saw his enemies he could use his power of magic balls (or whatever) and vanquish his enemies in no time. But, why didn’t that happen then. Perhaps it is because that is not the way that it works. Either that, or Morgoth is a complete moron. I will go with my first option then.

Posted by GoT
And this enormous timespan is the one we are claiming would be shortened – considerably – by the appearance of unveiled Istari, in unknown numbers.
Hehe. Unveiled Istari in unknown numbers who can cast magic powerballs from their beings and destroy hundreds and hundreds of Saurons servants in an instant. Hmmmmm. Let me think about it. Naaaaa.

Posted by GoT
But let us assume, for one moment, that we are considering only the War of the Ring. Would the unveiled Maiar have shortened that conflict? Most assuredly! They would have prepared for it with more efficiency; Gandalf would probably have discovered the true nature of the Ring much more quickly (we are speaking of the wisest of Maiar here... there were many discussions in TTF about Gandalf’s delay in perceiving that; and I think that the “diminishing of the wit” that Manwë said would accompany the incarnation can’t be overlooked).
Why would they have prepared with more efficiency? Because you say so? I don’t buy it. Saruman, using not magic powerballs as our friends from GoT would have us think, would have still had a grudge against Gandalf and could ultimately twarth the plans of the good guys so to speak. If the unveiled Istari would command armies because of their might, they would have become very much like Sauron and they could have battled themselves.

Posted by GoT
They could have travelled to Mount Doom invisibly! And, if they fell to the temptation of the Ring – that would still have shortened the war. For if one of the Istari fell to that temptation and became the master of the Ring and became a tyrant... what chance would Sauron have? Not much.
This is a very odd thing to post. The Ring is part of Sauron, it was made with his power. You can’t really separate the two. If an Istari would gain the ring and usurp the place of Sauron, his power would have remained in the Istari and his influence. He would be forever bound with him.
 

Lhunithiliel

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It was numerous times pointed out what the exact mission of the Istary was and it is quite clear that none of them was sent from the West to directly oppose Sauron.

The Schollars asked:
Are you sure?[
How can I not be, if I read the following:
Letter 144:
Istari. Their origin was not known to any but a few (such as Elrond and Galadriel) in the Third Age. They are said to have first appeared about the year 1000 of the Third Age, when the shadow of Sauron began first to grow again to new shape. They always appeared old, but grew older with their labours, slowly, and disappeared with the end of the Rings. They were thought to be Emissaries (in the terms of this tale from the Far West beyond the Sea), and their proper function, maintained by Gandalf, and perverted by Saruman, was to encourage and bring out the native powers of the Enemies of Sauron.
..or
Letter 156:
Why they should take such a form is bound up with the 'mythology' of the 'angelic' Powers of the world of this fable. At this point in the fabulous history the purpose was precisely to limit and hinder their exhibition of 'power' on the physical plane, and so that they should do what they were primarily sent for: train, advise, instruct, arouse the hearts and minds of those threatened by Sauron to a resistance with their own strengths; and not just to do the job for them.
To my understanding, it cannot be said clearer than that! And whatever interpretations might be on part of the readers, the ultimate authority has the author himself. If Tolkien says so, then it is so!
The limitedIstari were sent with a difficult mission and that mission needed great efforts but taking into consideration their limited powers it also needed a large span of time. Which in fact occurred.

I try to keep it simple.
The question of this debate is whether or not the limiting of the powers of the Istary prolonged the war against Sauron. And keeping it simple and trying not to lose the main subject out of sight, I say a simple “Yes”.
And the simple reason for this I have explained in simple terms and words, which may not be too impressive and perhaps lacking many quotes to back them up… But a simple fact should not be IMHO turned into a complex one just for the purpose of concealing its simplicity. For me it is enough to trust the words of Tolkien.

Yet, I’ll try to stay “tuned” with the going on discussion, which in its own is a very interesting one, though slightly drifting away, perhaps, from the question of the debate.

The question what the Istari’s power and influence upon the events and the main forces of the greatest conflict of that age would’ve been, should they’ve come to ME unlimited, seems to have already strongly engaged the minds of the debaters here ;)

It has been already pointed out by my team-fellow Eriol, that unveiled=unlimited Istary would’ve ended the conflict “in no time” ;) He provided his arguments in many details and these details were taken up by our opponents and commented on also in details and backed up with numerous quotes therefore ….. Even “What if”- scenarios have been suggested and analysed…
Our friends, the Scholars try to persuade us that this can not be so.
A debate within a debate? ;)
No harm! ;)
It may eventually lead to find some conclusions concerning the main question of the main debate!

For all that has been said on part of GoT tends actually again and again to make it clear that limiting the Istary’s powers prolonged the war against Sauron. Otherwise that war, that heavy crisis in ME, would’ve been settled and done with in much shorter terms.

True to the principle of simplicity, I’d rather seek a counsel on this matter again with Tolkien himself.
Here what the Professor has to say about it all, quoting him from that letter 156, which seems to have become the “Bible” for this debate ;) :
The 'wizards', as such, had failed; or if you like: the crisis had become too grave and needed an enhancement of power. So Gandalf sacrificed himself, was accepted, and enhanced, and returned…. Of course he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy, but both his wisdom and power are much greater. When he speaks he commands attention; the old Gandalf could not have dealt so with Théoden, nor with Saruman. He is still under the obligation of concealing his power and of teaching rather than forcing or dominating wills, but where the physical powers of the Enemy are too great for the good will of the opposers to be effective he can act in emergency as an 'angel' …
Now… this has everything to do with the quote our opponents brought up, namely:

Gandalf alone fully passes the tests, on a moral plane anyway (he makes mistakes of judgement). For in his condition it was for him a sacrifice to perish on the Bridge in defence of his companions, less perhaps than for a mortal Man or Hobbit, since he had a far greater inner power than they; but also more, since it was a humbling and abnegation of himself in conformity to 'the Rules': for all he could know at that moment he was the only person who could direct the resistance to Sauron successfully, and all his mission was vain.
So… you see, it turns out that as many efforts and much time had been spent in vain – persuading and teaching etc… the mission of the Istary, limited by the Valar, obviously failed!
Then and only then, the ultimate Authority – Eru himself, made his move by sending an Emissary with powers. To what purpose? To end the conflict as soon as possible using his “angelic” powers openly whenever it was needed. The result of sending to ME a new-generation-Istary brought the events to a swift and fortunate end.
ONLY ONE was enough with such special and not too much restricted powers to take the whole plan to a favourable end! Only one… but with powers only partially limited! And that strongly speeded up the events towards their end.

Now tell me, what would’ve happened if all those Istary, who were sent at the start came to ME with the same only partly limited powers?

As I said earlier in this post – this inner debate within the main one eventually did lead us to some conclusions.

Namely that: Limiting the Istary prolonged the war against Sauron.
Because unlimted Istary would’ve shorten it.
 

Eriol

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Originally posted by Maedhros
The Istari were send to ME to resist Sauron because he was a maiar of greater powers than the Men or Elves in ME. If the Istari would have defeated Sauron but one of them would have taken his place instead, then they would have accomplished nothing. Suppose that Sauron was defeated, and that Saruman would have taken his place as the New Lord, do you think that Gandalf would have said: “Well, Sauron is defeated, my work is done?” Of course not, it makes no sense whatsoever.
But that's what he said when Sauron was defeated. And it is also beside the point of the debate -- the war against Sauron would be finished. Perhaps the "mission of the Istari" wouldn't; but the war on Sauron would be finished.

Saruman usurping the place of Sauron as the dark Lord would have not bothered Gandalf then. Wow.
Perhaps it would have bothered him enough to ask for reinforcements ;). But the war on Sauron would still be finished.

Wipe out Sauron in a single day? Hehe. I guess these are the nukes Istari then. Nowhere it is stated that the incarnate Istari have less power than being disincarnate if you will. They just had restrictions on them by the Valar. But Saruman broke the rules, how does my friends of GoT know that he didn’t use all of his power. My guess is that he did use his might. Which means that they have not all of that great power that my friends of GoT would have us believe.
It was stated in the essay of UT, both by the author of the essay and by Manwë, that the incarnate Istari would have many "ailments of the flesh", including pain, weariness, fatigue, a diminishment of the wit... all of these result in a diminishment of power. These quotes were offered before. The incarnation itself takes away a few powers -- like the power to "change raiments". So yes, it is stated that the incarnate Istari have less power than disincarnate Istari. Also, the "wiping out Sauron in a single day" is just an example. Make it 10 days, or 10 years, if you wish :). But if they had done that, they would have shortened the war; even if they had wiped out not only Sauron but half the population of Middle-Earth in the process.

We are questioning the duration, not the wisdom, in the debate...

So at that time there were no Orcs or creatures of Sauron anywhere in ME? The Istari would just come and by their inherent powers destroy all of the evil creatures in ME? Hehe. A good fairy tale perhaps, but it doesn’t makes sense. Consider. In the First Age, if Sauron with all of his might, Morgoth could have send him to go and destroy the elves with his inherent power. He would just go there in spirit and when he saw his enemies he could use his power of magic balls (or whatever) and vanquish his enemies in no time. But, why didn’t that happen then. Perhaps it is because that is not the way that it works. Either that, or Morgoth is a complete moron. I will go with my first option then.
Hehe, I like the magic balls :D. There isn't any in GoT posts, but I like it.

As for the method the unveiled Maiar would employ to fight Sauron, in my view it is simply... the same thing they used to fight him in their incarnate state. Mustering armies to kill orcs, strengthening military positions, increasing goodwill among the Free Peoples... they would do it more efficiently, that's our claim. Why? Because they would have the authority and the power of open emissaries from the Valar. Elves would not disobey them, and faithful Númenóreans wouldn't, either -- they had a bad record of disobeying the Valar ;).

This is a very odd thing to post. The Ring is part of Sauron, it was made with his power. You can’t really separate the two. If an Istari would gain the ring and usurp the place of Sauron, his power would have remained in the Istari and his influence. He would be forever bound with him.
And the war on Sauron would be over... it's not the war on evil, it's the war on Sauron we're talking about.
 

Elfarmari

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My personal logic, with no real quotes to back it up, is this: If the Istari had come to ME with all their native power and authority, perhaps elves and men would have followed them. However, what would they have done? At the time the Istari came, Sauron was still without physical form, and the One Ring was still hidden. Would it have been possible for the Istari to discover the One Ring? Would even unveiled Maiar be able to find the location of Isildur's demise and find the ring hidden at the bottom of the river? I would think the answer would be no. Even if the Istari were able to defeat Sauron in his invisible form in a short time, the Ring would have still remained. The destruction of the Ring was brought about by an improbable chain of events, all stemming from the fact that Olorin the maia was unable to use his inherent powers. Gollum found the ring when it was seeking for its master, Sauron, who was gaining power. Gandalf worked with Thorin Oakenshield to destroy Smaug, which he would not have needed to do had he not been incarnate. For whatever reason, he insisted on bringing along Bilbo, who found the ring and took it from Gollum. Without this chance occurrence, the Ring could not have been found by Gandalf and destroyed.
Originally posted by Eriol
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a very odd thing to post. The Ring is part of Sauron, it was made with his power. You can’t really separate the two. If an Istari would gain the ring and usurp the place of Sauron, his power would have remained in the Istari and his influence. He would be forever bound with him.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And the war on Sauron would be over... it's not the war on evil, it's the war on Sauron we're talking about. [/B]
If the One Ring remained, Sauron would not be completely defeated. Sauron was defeated as far as his incarnate form went in the downfall of Numenor and at the end of the Second Age when he was overcome by Elendil and Gil-galad and had his ring taken by Isildur. These were not really victories in the fight against Sauron, as Sauron was not completely vanquished. Only by destroying the Ring as well as Sauron himself could Sauron be utterly destroyed.
 

Maedhros

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Fundamental Flaw

As I read the opening post of the debate by my friends of the GoT, I have to admit that I was amazed at their approach support their view. Even as I read it, I knew that there was a fundamental flaw in it. I just didn’t notice it until now. Consider the following:

The topic is:
Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron?
One thing that has been erroneously assumed in this debate is that the Istari would use the powers openly and reveal themselves in all of their majesty to the Free Peoples of ME, but that should not be taken for granted. The topic only says that the Valar would not limit their powers, it doesn’t say that they couldn’t limit their powers on their own accord.

Now, the logic of my friends of GoT is that
Posted by GoT
While the question of the debate encompassed the wisdom of the decision, it was more debatable; my own personal opinion is that the limitation of the powers of the Istari was very wise, for reasons set out both in the Letters and in the UT essay.
Posted by GoT
Five (or more) Istari set without any limitations to rally the free peoples and fight Sauron’s minions would shorten the war enormously. Consider: Gandalf alone remained faithful, and he managed to do it almost by himself. If there were five faithful unveiled Maiar in action, what chance would Sauron have?
And
Posted by GoT
What would happen after Sauron was defeated is open to speculation; would they take up his throne and become tyrants themselves? Who knows?
Consider, my friends think that the restrictions set by the Valar upon the Istari were very wise. They think that the war against Sauron as a result would be more shorter and that it is very possible that they could replace Sauron with one of the Istari.
Posted by GoT
Therefore the only logical and inevitable consequence of limiting the powers of the Istari was that the war against Sauron as the representative of Evil, was indeed a long one…
But wouldn’t the wise Istari know this? Wouldn’t they know that if they reveal their powers openly, they would risk becoming like Sauron or worse?
From the Letters: 156
In any case none of my 'angelic' persons are represented as knowing the future completely, or indeed at all where other wills are concerned. Hence their constant temptation to do, or try to do, what is for them wrong (and disastrous): to force lesser wills by power: by awe if not by actual fear, or physical constraint.
Why were the Istari send to ME?
From the Letters: 181
There is no 'embodiment' of the Creator anywhere in this story or mythology. Gandalf is a 'created' person; though possibly a spirit that existed before in the physical world. His function as a 'wizard' is an angelos or messenger from the Valar or Rulers: to assist the rational creatures of Middle-earth to resist Sauron, a power too great for them unaided.
The problem is that Sauron was a being of native power which was greater for the creatures of Middle-Earth to deal with them, that is why the Valar send the Istari. The Istari being maiar like Sauron could lead the resistance against the evil that Sauron represented. If Sauron was defeated but one or several (Istari) would take his place as a Dark Lord, then the new Dark Lord or Lords would still be a power far too great for the peoples of Middle-earth to handle. Their mission was to overcome that greater than life evil, be it Sauron or anyone else. Can you imagine for one second, that if Saruman would have overtaken Sauron and would have ruled in his place, can you imagine Gandalf and the other Istari leaving ME because they had defeated Sauron only, while leaving a maiar like Saruman to rule instead? I can’t.

In view of all that we have seen, and with the previous fact that the Valar had tried before to use their full might to attract the Elves to Valinórë, which didn’t end up well. Wouldn’t the Istari know that the only way they could defeat the evil that Sauron represented was to convince the peoples of Middle-earth to resist him by their own free will, and not to either force them or dazzle them, both approaches which could make them take their first steps into becoming Sauron. Wouldn’t the Istari, instead of showing themselves in forms of majesty and splendour, would try to convince them by reason, and that the only way to do that was to become incarnate as to feel for themselves how the peoples of ME were and how did they feel in order to appeal to them better? Wouldn’t they know that it would be a long resistance against Sauron? Yes they would, as my friends of GoT have already said. Wasn’t that the only way they could have succeeded against him. Yes, it was the only way for them, because to force the people of ME by either force or awe was wrong and they knew that. They would have had to incarnate themselves, and the story would have just been the same.
 

Lhunithiliel

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Elfarmari:
My personal logic, with no real quotes to back it up, is this: If the Istari had come to ME with all their native power and authority, perhaps elves and men would have followed them. However, what would they have done?
They would have speeded up the events and the war against Sauron, as the new arising evil over ME, would have been finished much earlier!

But….I see it’s worth repeating once again that this was NOT the Istari’s mission! And drawing one more quote out of “my sleeve”, let me again point at this mission :
The istari are translated 'wizards' because of the connexion of 'wizard' with wise and so with 'witting' and knowing. They are actually emissaries from the True West, and so mediately from God, sent precisely to strengthen the resistance of the 'good', when the Valar become aware that the shadow of Sauron is taking shape again.
Tolkien’s Letter 156

Apart from pointing to the true mission of the Istari, the highlighted section in the above quote also shows that the Istari were sent when the presence of Evil was once again sensed “in the air”. So, the Gods tried to make their move in due time as to do everything possible to organize the races in ME who still were faithful to Eru and the Valar against the arising evil.
No direct conflict a Maia vs. a Maia was ever planned by the Valar, therefore they limited their Emissaries’ powers.
Time was needed!!! Time to strengthen the faithful in ME and NOT to do the job instead of them! Time!!!
And time it took! Because of limiting the powers of the Istari.

Elfarmari:
If the One Ring remained, Sauron would not be completely defeated. Sauron was defeated as far as his incarnate form went in the downfall of Numenor and at the end of the Second Age when he was overcome by Elendil and Gil-galad and had his ring taken by Isildur. These were not really victories in the fight against Sauron, as Sauron was not completely vanquished. Only by destroying the Ring as well as Sauron himself could Sauron be utterly destroyed.
Very true! But what does this prove, concerning the question of the present debate, please?

Our friends say that Sauron would’ve not been destroyed without destroying the Ring. We do not deny this!
But let’s not forget :

1/ The question of the debate is : ” Did limiting the powers of the Istari by the Valar prolong the war against Sauron? ….and not against evil in general.

Because:

2/ Evil could never be entirely overcome completely! Remember :
'Deep indeed run the roots of Evil,' said Borlas, 'and the black sap is strong an them. That tree will never be slain. Let men hew it as often as they may, it will thrust up shoots again as soon as they turn aside. Not even at the Feast of Felling should the axe be hung up on the wall! '
UT, “The New Shadow”

Ring or no Ring, Sauron or another one…. Evil has many faces! The struggle against it will never end because its presence is woven in the very “substance” of ME – both material as well as spiritual.

While the Istari were still with limited powers their actions in ME, though sensed and with certain results, eventually failed, after having lasted for quite much time!!! But when the crisis went deeper and when it was clear that limiting the Emissaries’ powers would endanger the desired outcome of the whole “plan”, an unveiled Istari (and only one was enough!) was sent with only partly limited powers and he “saved the day” !
The Ring was destroyed and so was Sauron. Not evil! But Sauron – yes.

It wouldn’t be fair if I give all the credits to Gandalf and if I don’t mention that the resistance of the faithful in ME had grown immensely! Of course, it came as a result from the years-long work of the limited Istari (Gandalf mainly) that the forces of good had come to be already well organized and directly opposed against the direct representative of evil – Sauron by the time of the final combats.
Tolkien comments on this:
He (Gandalf) seldom does so, operating rather through others, but in one or two cases in the War (in Vol. III) he does reveal a sudden power: he twice rescues Faramir. He alone is left to forbid the entrance of the Lord of Nazgûl to Minas Tirith, when the City has been overthrown and its Gates destroyed — and yet so powerful is the whole train of human resistance, that he himself has kindled and organized, that in fact no battle between the two occurs: it passes to other mortal hands.
This was able because of the long-years of efforts by Gandalf mainly to “strengthen the resistance of the 'good’ ”.
But we are here to debate whether or not the war against only one of evil’s personifications – Sauron, was shortened because of limiting the powers of those opposing him – the Istari.

Should the Istari have come to ME unlimited they would’ve used their special Maiar’s skills for quite many reasons. Can we be sure that they wouldn’t have found and destroyed the Ring earlier using these unlimited powers?
Please! The “What if”-scenarios could be numerous!!! IMO, we should stick to the events as given in the story as it was written.
And the story tells us that the Istari were limted in their powers when they first came to ME! Therefore, a lot of their actions were hindered and subdued to the incarnate form they were limited into.

Limited Istari were all right for a mission with the main purpose of “strengthening the resistance of the 'good’”. This mission was aimed at NO direct interference with the matters of the population of ME, but rather with “help”. This mission needed time…but what is time to immortals!?! So… “working” on their mission (succeeding or failing in it) the limited Istari had all the time they needed. And time went on! And that is why we see how the events we call “war against Sauron” developed in a large span of time.

When however this mission failed, the moment came when unlimited Emissaries were needed to speed up the events and so they did.

To sum it all up for now:
1/ Limted Istari – a perfect choice for a mission that involved only “techniques” like persuading and teaching and organizing the forces of good. This was time-involving mission, and therefore the war against Sauron, was prolonged.

But still that was the main reason – not demonstrate angelic powers but rather teach how to use “normal” powers in the never ceasing fight against evil!

2/ Unlimited Istari Gandalf – using only part of his Maia powers he makes it possible for the success of Frodo’s mission (which BTW he himself had organized).
This proves that if the Istari came to ME unlimited right from the beginning, the events would’ve been sped up to its final result in much shorter time-terms.

But to what result? Would then Elves, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves and other forces of good in ME have understood that the destiny of the world they all lived in, depended on their will to fight evil? No! It would’ve been easy – “We have the Gods to take care of us”
But the Earth was not and should not be the concern of the Gods but of the races that inhabited it. These races had to be taught from …within.
This is what the limited Istari were sent for. That was their mission. And that mission took a large span of time. Therefore the war against Sauron was prolonged.
 
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