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The Power of Galadriel in the Third age- That of a Maiar?

Was Galadriel as powerful as a Maiar in the Third age?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 42.9%
  • no

    Votes: 4 57.1%

  • Total voters
    7
  • This poll will close: .

1stvermont

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The question is not of her power in the first age vs the created power of a maiar, but of her power vs general maiar in the third age. I have argued that the Maiar are overrated in their power and I also argue the strength of the Noldor [individually not collective] increased from the first age to the third age. I think it vital to read before voting and can be found on the post following my op.




Galadriel

“Lady Galadrial....was of the Noldor and remembered the day before days in Valinor, and she was the mightiest and fairest of all the elves that remained in middle earth.
-The Silmarillion


Galadriel..is the last remaining of the great among the high elves, and “awoke” in Eldomar beyound the sea.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 144


Galadriel, noblest of the Noldor still in middle-Earth.”
-Karen Wynn Fonstad the Atlas of Middel-Earth Revised Edition Houghton Mifflin Company Boston NY 1991


Born in Valinor the only daughter of Finarfin high king of the Noldor in Valinor and niece of Feanor, also a high king of the noldor. In Valinar the Noldor elves “thirst for more knowledge , and in many things surpassed their teachers” [valar]. Lady Galadrial was taught by Yavanna [valar] and Aule. Later she lived with and became close friends with Melian the maia learning from her.

Galadriel remained long with Melian, for their was much love between them.”
-The war of the Jewels

Galadriel....remained long in Doriath....there learned great lore and wisdom concing Middel earth.”
-The Later Sillmarillion the war of the Jewels



Also Melian also learned from Galadriel, such as what had happened in aman. In the third age she was the holder of the elf ring of adamant [Nenya] the last of the rings to be made [besides the one ring] and the most powerful. The rings main power was protection, preservation and concealment, however it also enhanced the natural powers of the holders [130 letters of Tolkien].

for the power of the elven rings was very great.”
-of the rings of power and the third age

"Throughout the second and third ages Lorien remained safe from Sauron, For Galadriel's power was such that she knew his mind but hers was closed to him, and she could protect Lorien from assault by any power less than Sauron himself"
- Robert Foster the complete guide to middle earth


Protected within Lothlorien in part by the power of her ring, she could also use her mirror “the mirror of Galadrial” to see “things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be” to further her knowledge of middle earth and counter moves by sauron. She was also a member of the council of the wise having another source of great knowledge of middle earth.

In the letters of Tolkien he says of the "free people" of middle earth Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel are the most powerful and in 246 he suggested Galadriel would have been able to face Sauron alone if she had his ring. In “flotsam and jetsam” Aragorn named Galadrial as one of the three that could stand up to the maiar Sauruman.

She helped force Sauron out of dol Guldor, sent Gwaihir to rescue Gandalf, of the flight of noldor galadriel helped lead the house of fingolfin to middle earth over the dangerous mountain pass, tore down the walls of Dol Guldur, and helped defend lorien from assaults.

"Lórien itself was assaulted three times, but the armies ofDol Guldur were driven back due to the courage of the Elves and the power of Galadriel's Ring. It is said that the power of her Ring could not be overcome unless Sauron himself would come to do battle. After the fall of Sauron she, with
Thranduil of Mirkwoodand their elven allies, crossed the Anduin into Dol Guldur, where they tore down its walls and laid bare its pits. She is, however, no mere fey being, but a lady of great power. She bears one of the Great Rings - Nenya - the Ring of Adamant, and with the One Ring in her grasp as well, she would be a mighty match for the Dark Lord Sauron. Galadriel possessed a tremendous amount of magical powers, and was said to be the greatest of the Ñoldor after Fëanor..
-Galadrieal one wiki to rule them all



Glorfindel the mighty first age eldor warrior, became “almost equal” to the maiar, yet was not as powerful as Galadriel the most powerful third age Noldor.


"or long years he remained in Valinor, in reunion with the Eldar who had not rebelled, and in the companionship of the Maiar. To these he had now become almost an equal, for though he was an incarnate (to whom a bodily form not made or chosen by himself was necessary) his spiritual power had been greatly enhanced by his self-sacrifice.
-History of Middel Earth The Last Writings, Glorfindel


Galadriel also posses intercessory powers she also seems to have divine powers, reading the hearts/minds of the fellowship..

“I dont like leaving it and that's a fact as he [Sam] stroked the ropes end and shook it gently “it goes hard parting with anything I brought out of elf-country. Made by Galadriel herself too, maybe, Galadriel” he murmured, nodding his head mournfully, he looked up and gave one last pull to the ropes as if in farewell. To the complete surprise of both the hobbits it came lose.” I think the rope came off itself- when I called”

To call upon galadriel even unawares, is for her to answer.”
-Ralph C Wood The Gospel According to Tolkien Westminster John Knox Press Louisville Kentucky 2003


Later prior to the battle of the Pelennor fields when the dundain were sent as reinforcement “yes you have it” said Gimli “the lady of the wood she reads many hearts and desires.” Much of Galadrial comes from the teachings of Mary the mother of Jesus and like Mary is to Catholics, Tolkien said in letters 353 Galadriel was 'unstained': she had committed no evil deeds.

Galadriel was 'unstained': she had committed no evil deeds. She was an enemy of Fëanor. She did not reach Middle-earth with the other Noldor, but independently. Her reasons for desiring to go to Middle-earth were legitimate, and she would have been permitted to depart, but for the misfortune that before she set out the revolt of Fëanor broke out, and she became involved in the desperate measures of Manwe, and the ban on all emigration.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 353



Hyperbole Within the Sillmarillion


What we have in the sillmarillion are traditions....handed on by men in numonor and later in middle-earth.... blended and confused with their own mannish myths and cosmic ideas.”
-J.R.R Tolkien Myths Transformed


Pure myth and legend....cosmological myth ”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 122


Moreover my father came to conceive the silmarillion as a compilation , a compedious narrative, made long afterwords from sources of great diversity [poems annuals and oral tales] that have survived in tradition
-Christopher Tolkien Forward to the Silmarillion


I think sections of the silmarillion were meant by Tolkien as traditions based on truth that also incorporate hyperbole language given their legend/myth status. Tolkien viewed elven written history [the sillmarillion] as legendary writings also influenced by the numonreans myths. As an example Tolkien talked in myths transformed of the “absurd business of the making of the sun and moon” rather than the third age historical accounts. However Tolkien said in letters 130 “I believe that legends and myths are largely made of truth.”

It is to be remembered that the 'mythology' is represented as being two stages removed from a true record. It is based first upon elvish records and lore about the valar and their own dealings with them, and these have reached us [fragmentary] only through relics of numenorean traditions....supplemented by anthropocentric histories and tales.”
-J.R.R Tolkien Myths Transformed


Tolkien's writings use hyperbole language especially in his yet unpublished silmarillion. This is not false, just a style of writing. Over long periods of history tales grow and over time exaggerated characters and beasts become more powerful than they were. The strength of the legendary creatures and heroes was exaggerated in the mythical/legendary writings of the first two ages. This is common in military writings of the past such as the Bible and today in sports. When people talk of the "greatest ever" basketball player, or pitcher, or boxer etc over time they become legendary and we forget their weakness and exaggerate their up sides. We also tend to use language and exaggerate their accomplishments and often talk of them as the best ever, often various times you will hear someone was the “greatest” or “tallest” etc. .Yet even within the text of the sillmarillion they are often not as mighty as presumed.

Tolkien uses profoundly figurative language – particularly when describing distant events in semi-legendary past.
-John Garth



The sillmarillion provides the mythical background for the LOTR and is crucial to its full comprehension.”
-Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans Ents Elves and Eriador the Environmental Vision of L.R.R Tolkien University of Kentucky Press 2011



How Powerful Were the Maiar, the Valar, and the First age Creatures?

Examples abound in the silmarillion of the results of hyperbole and the effects of tradition and legends coming long after the events. Where mighty warriors and creatures are exaggerated [this also occurs in LOTR to a lesser extent]. I think this language is used often of great creatures of the first ages however there is also information that gives them a more historical/realistic portrayal as Tolkien desired.

A secondary world which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true” it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken, the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the primary world from outside.”
-J.R.R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien a Biography by Humphrey carpenter p 194-195


I wanted people simply to get inside this story and take it as actual history.”
-J R R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000



Balrogs

Melkor had corrupted many spirits some great, as sauron, or less so as balrogs”
-Myths transformed


Balrogs [maiar] were not even said to be melkors strongest weapons in the war of wrath. Dragons [creation of Melkor] were his most powerful servants and they were the most effective in the great battle. Fingor king of Noldor fought 1v1 vs Gothmog the captain of Balrogs and most powerful balrog ever, and Gothmog was unable to kill Fingor 1v1. It was only when other balrogs who encircled the elf king, distracted him, and this enabled Gothmog to kill Fingor. Previously Morgoth and his balrogs fled from Fingolfin and his kin.

Later Gothmog was killed by elven lord Ecthelion. Ecthelion jumped and wrapped his legs around the demon, driving the spike of his helmet into Gothmog's body. This caused Gothmog to lose his balance, and he, along with Ecthelion, fell into the Fountain of the King. Gothmog's fire was thus quenched, showing a weakness, water. Glorfindel killed a balrog with his sword to the stomach. In “of the return of the Noldor” Feanor for a long time fought alone against multiple Balrogs before being killed. After, Feanor's sons fought off the balrogs.

Melkor and Sauron

His [Melkor] might was greatest of all things in this world.”
-The Sillmarillion of the ruin of Beleriand


Sauron chief of the maiar who turned to Melkor”
-MR later sillmarillion


"Sauron, greatest and most terrible of the servants of Morgoth, who in the Sindarin tongue was named Gorthaur".
-The Silmarillion, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin.


Melkor [morgoth] was the “greatest” “most powerful” and knowledgeable of all the valar the strongest beings outside of Eru [God]. Yet even with him we see weaknesses. He rarely left his strongholds out of fear of valar or the combined strength of the elves. He was besieged by the Noldor for 400 years. Ungoliant the giant spider was able to match Morgoth in battle and he had to be saved by his servants the balrogs [his power was not yet reduced by giving it to other creatures yet, see Annuls of ammon Morgoths ring] .

Ungoliante....drank and swelled to a shape so vast and hideous that even Melkor was adread...morgoth could not master her and she emeshed strangling webs, and his dreadful cry echoed throughout the world.”
- Morgoths Ring aam


And yet of Ungoliant, soon after we read in the war of the jewels

Soon after [morgoths cry] indeed, Ungoliante fled from the north and came to the realm of king Thingol....but by the power of melian [maiar] she was stayed, and entered not into Neldoreth.”

He later lost the silmarill to Beren and Luthian and was put under a spell by luthien. He was eventually overpowered by Sauron a maia.

Sauron was greater, effectively, in the Second Age, than Morgoth at the end of the First.”
-Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed



Morgoth fought at least once when the high elf king Fingolfin challenged him to a 1v1 fight. Morgoth feared Fingolfin and did not want the fight but had to accept given the horn blasts of Fingolfin being so loud that all his servants would know of his fear. In the 1v1 dual the elvin king wounded melkor eight times including one on his foot that bled and caused morgoth to forever limp. Morgoth gave a cry of anguish and his nearby chieftains “fell on there faces in dismay.” It was not until “the king grew weary” [having traveled a long distance to challenge melkor] that Morgoth was than able to kill him. Following the fight Thorondor king of the eagles, marred Morgoths face and stole the body of the king from him. Morgoth limped on one foot and never fully recovered from his wounds.

[Morgoth was]“Severely wounded by fingolfin and Thoronder in 455 and lost a silmarill to Beren and Luthian in 467”
-Robert Foster Tolkien's World from A to Z: The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth


Further it is prophesied in the second prophecy of mandos, Morgoth is to be killed by a man, Turin.

Sauron, a Maiar, was Melkors mightiest and strongest servant. Yet Sauron was defeated by the large hound Huan [said to be the size of a large horse] a creation of the valar and Luthien rescued Beren from sauron's dungons. Later Sauron feared the Númenóreans [men] and would not give battle but retreated from them many times. Sauron later submitted to Ar-Pharazon rather than fight and was led away captive. In the second age with extra power from the one ring, Sauron “wrestled with Gil-Galad and Elendil [elf and human], and they were both slain.” and Sauron lost his physical form. Despite that he was at Mt Doom

Where his ring was at its fullest power.”
-Karen Wynn Fonstad the Atlas of Middel-Earth Revised Edition Houghton Mifflin Company Boston NY 1991


In the third age Sauron was overthrown by a hobbit that was able to sneak deep within Mordor and destroy the ring after he was fooled to attack at the black gate.

The Valar and Maiar

The valar appeared as “Shapes of human form, though taller [not gigantic] and more magnificent.”
-Christoph Tolkien Morgoths Ring the annals of aman


And the Valar drew unto them many companions, some less, some well nigh as great as themselves, and they laboured together in the ordering of the Earth and the curbing of its tumults.”
-The Sillmarillion


Melian was a maia, of the race of the valar
-Of Thingol and melian



Valar were the strongest creations by Eru but not so vastly powerful to be beyond compare to other groups and kinds of beings. Maiar and valar are of the same race as elves are with men and even elves like Thingol, married maiar like melian. The chief among the maiar in valinor was a Maiar Eonwe, the banner bearer and herald of Manwe, “whose might in arms is surpassed by none in arda.”

In Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth Tolkien says of the valar “They had sufficient power for their functions.” Their main function was to creation and to fight morgoth. Much of their power has to do with the potential for creation such as the power of the air, water, keeper of the dead, weaver of time, master of visions and dreams etc. Of the 14 valar it seems only 2 Orome, and Tulkas had power of strength. Morgoth fled often from Tulkas even though he was the most powerful of the valar. As a poster wrote

“Tolkien did not really think in terms of video game–style levels of power. Power to him was an intangible thing that can take many forms, and is not the same as raw strength or destructive ability. Tulkas, one of the Valar, is the strongest and the best at fighting; but he's certainly not the most powerful among them, and he readily accepts Manwë's leadership...Likewise, Morgoth at his height was the most powerful nondivine entity in Arda; but even he was defeated in a fight by Ungoliant, who could only do one thing (engulf and consume things in darkness), but could do it really, really well.To Tolkien, the power to resist, the power to stay true to your goals, the power to inspire other people to follow you, were all equally or more important than the power to win battles or use “magic” to change the world..”

And in letters 181 Tolkien said they “shared in its [earths] making, but only in the same terms as we make a work of art or story.” Further like Melkor, they poured much of their power into the creation of arda, reducing their power.

https://books.google.com/books?id=4OfWWfRDAXcC&pg=PT26&lpg=PT26&dq=valar beyond compare in power highest to lowest&source=bl&ots=AgRxCugAm7&sig=BQ4gBf6-Y83d0IvBaMiexmXDBCE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiB05nig43ZAhWmxFkKHc_cCDUQ6AEILDAA#v=onepage&q=valar beyond compare in power highest to lowest&f=false

They rarely engaged in battle with any other than Morgoth besides the war of wrath in the first age. In this battle dragons drove back the valar and it was not a victory for the Noldor elves, the men of the edain and the valar until the eagles and Earendil [man/elf] came and saved the day. Dwarves were able to break through Melian's defense while destroying Doriath. In Valinar the Noldor elves “thirst for more knowledge , and in many things surpassed their teachers” [valar].

Now the Noldor took delight in all lore and crafts and Aule and his folk came often among them. Yet such skill had Iluvatar granted to them that in many matters.....they soon surpassed their teachers....and all the valar were enriched by their labors.”
-Mr Annuls of ammon section 4


Eleven smiths of Ost-in-eduil in Erigion learned skills of forge and fire only matched by the Vala Aule the smith.”
-David Day The Battles of Tolkien Thunder Bay Press San Diego CA 2017


And yet still often the dwarves bettered the elves in this area.

In the tempering of steal alone of all the crafts the dwarves were never outmatched even by the noldor, and in making of mail of linked rings their work had no rival.”
-The Grey Annuls The war of the Jewels


They it was that first devised mail of linked rings.... and in making of byrnieg and of hauderks none among elves or men have proved their equal.”
-Later sillmarillion The war of the jewels


Osse and Uinen taught the elves all manner of sea lore and shipbuilding yet we read in gray annals their ships were “not so swift and strong that they might dare the deeps of the great sea” Instead it was the numenoreans who built the greatest fleet ever seen on middle earth. Melkor was envious of Feanor because of his great crafting abilities. In Tolkiens letters 130 he said of the attack on valinar by men with the largest navy ever assembled on middle earth, “The Numen-oreans directed by Sauron could have wrought ruin in Valinor itself.

In the third age Saruman's army was defeated at helms deep, and his fortress and garrison was taken and destroyed by ents while he hid in fear in his tower. And ultimately, he was slain by Grima Wormtongue. Elrond was part maiar yet galadrial was the most powerful elf of the third age.

Lady Galadrial....was of the Noldor and remembered the day before days in Valinor, and she was the mightiest and fairest of all the elves that remained in middle earth.”
-Silmarillion


Further Glorfindel who became “almost equal” to the maiar yet was not as powerful as Galadriel

"or long years he remained in Valinor, in reunion with the Eldar who had not rebelled, and in the companionship of the Maiar. To these he had now become almost an equal, for though he was an incarnate (to whom a bodily form not made or chosen by himself was necessary) his spiritual power had been greatly enhanced by his self-sacrifice.
-History of Middel Earth The Last Writings, Glorfindel


Even Gandalf was unsure of his ability vs the witch king while Glorfindel faced him. He did not see Sauroman for who he had becomes, he failed 1v1 vs Sauroman and he could not escape the battel of the 5 armies as his arm is in a sling from being injured. Gandalf debates with Aragorn on what path to take the fellowship and he gives way to Aragorn saying “if you bring a ranger with you, it is well to pay attention to him, especially if the ranger is Aragorn.” despite the fact we are told in the Valaquenta “Wisest of the maiar was Olorin.” In the hobbit the party went to Rivnedall and it was Elrond [not Gandalf] whos wisdom dicerned the map, found new letters, and knew the history of the swords Glamdring and Orcrist carried by Gandalf. Neither and Gandalfs plans always correct. He advised them to take the elf road near mirkwood but it was now impassable.

Even the good plans of the wise like Gandalfs and of good friends like Elrond go astray sometimes.”
-The Hobbit chapter 4


First age vs Third age Elves

Rational incarnate creatures of more or less comparable stature with our own.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 130


Elves of the sillmarillion...are men before the fall which deprived him of his power of achievement.”
-Humprey Carpenter J.R.R Tolkien a biography


Since morgoth, balrogs and sauron feared the elves at various times in the first age, and since various elves killed balrogs and challenged morgoth, must the first age elves be more powerful than the third age elves? I dont think so. When the silmarillion speaks of elves being more powerful in the first age, it is referring to their collective strength. The elves had a larger population in the first and and their numbers dwindled over time having few children and loss in wars. In letters 153 Tolkien said “Elves and men are evidently in biological terms one race.” in 181 he says “Elves and men are just different aspects of the humane...elves and men are in their incarnate forms kindrid.” In fact they are so close in the first age they produce offspring and in Morgoth's ring laws and customs of the eldar it reads “A man who watched elf children at play might well have believed they were the children of men.” In letters 131 we read of the numenorens “they became thus in appearance, and even in powers of mind hardly distinguishable from the elves.”

Elves....of a race of beings closely akin to men, so closely indeed that they must be regarded as physically [or biologically] simply branches of the same race.”
-Andreth Athrabeth Finrod AH Andreth


In those days elves and men were of like stature and strength of body”
-Of men the sillmarilliom


In “of the ruin of Doriath” the dwarves of Nogrod defeated the mighty kingdom of elves of doriath, captured their city and Nauglamir. The “Naugrim passed unhindered into the woods of Doriath and none withstood them for they were many and fierce and the captains of the Grey elves were cast into doubt and despair.” In of the fifth battle men of dor-lomin and the dwarves of Belegrost won renown as the last to stand firm at the battle rather than the noldor who fled. In the first age elves usually were not well armed and as a result, at time lost to orcs.

The elves of Ossiriand were light-armed, and no match for the orcs who were shod with iron and iron shielded and bore great spears with broad blades.”
-The Grey Annuls The war of the Jewels


The people of Hador [men] were yet greater [than the eldar] strength and stature, mighty men, the children of Eru.”
-The Grey Annuls The war of the Jewels


Many times men rose high in elf kingdoms in the first ages and in warfare and were better fighters than elves. .

There were some among men that learned the wisdom of the Eldar, and became great and valiant among captains of the Noldor.”
-Of men the sillmarillion


In the second age Sauron has his way with the Eldar, sacking Eregion of the Noldor, holding at bay Elrond, and advancing toward the Grey Havens. It was only a force of Númenor, sent by Tar-Minastir, that turned the tide. The eldar fled the numonrians who charged for battle in aman, tuna, and the coast of valinor. The elves of the first age often had dwarves craft great jewels, weapons, and build cities for the elves due to their great abilities.

In the tempering of steal alone of all the crafts the dwarves were never outmatched even by the noldor, and in making of mail of linked rings their work had no rival.”
-The Grey Annuls The war of the Jewels


They it was that first devised mail of linked rings.... and in making of byrnieg and of hauderks none among elves or men have proved their equal.”
-Later sillmarillion The war of the jewels


I think it can be argued the elves grew in strength over time.

Indeed in their earlier days death came more readily ; for their bodies were the less different from the bodies of men, and the command of their spirits over their bodies less complete.”
-MR laws and customs of the eldar


Elves went and lived for ages, and grew fairer and wiser and more learned and invented their magic and their cunning craft.”
-The Hobbit Flies and Spiders


One clear example is Glorfindel, a Lord and mighty eldor warrior of the first age who became even more powerful in his return to ME and yet still was not as powerful as Galadriel .

"or long years he remained in Valinor, in reunion with the Eldar who had not rebelled, and in the companionship of the Maiar. To these he had now become almost an equal, for though he was an incarnate (to whom a bodily form not made or chosen by himself was necessary) his spiritual power had been greatly enhanced by his self-sacrifice.
-History of Middel Earth The Last Writings, Glorfindel
 

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