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The Significance of '9'

Xenith

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Hi All.

I was just reading through some of FOTR a second time yesterday and got to thinking about the significance of the number 9.

Does anyone have any ideas on this? What do you think the significance was if any in its relation to the book/books?

There are Nine Nazgul, there are Nine Fellowship members.

Nine obviously meant something but what?


:)
 

bunnywhippit

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Nine was always quite a powerful number in ye olde days, if i remember correctly. Usually i think of 7 as being important, but there are quite a lot of things that resonate with that 9 significance. Aren't there 9 ranks of angels? And my mind is ringing of Shakespearean times when everything was ranked - flowers, birds, colours etc etc etc and i think they were ranked in 9 levels of importance. Why this was done, i can't quite remember... :( Some sort of religious tone to it, i imagine.
 

Xenith

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Hmm that sounds interesting. I hope more ppl post their thoughts about it because it is kind of interesting to know.

Numbers played a very important part in the book/books. 3 rings for the elven kings, 7 for the dwarf lords, 9 for mortal men and then the One Ring making a total of 20 in all.

Perhaps I am just speculating but its really interesting :)
 

Eonwe

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Warning! Movie Spoiler!

remember also, that Sauron had his ring finger cut off (9) and Frodo had his finger bit off by Gollum (9) 9 Fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom. Those 9 were busy HAHA
 

Lindir

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As for the Fellowship, their number was chosen to equal that of the nine riders.
But I don´t think 9 was a randomly chosen number by Tolkien, it has been thought to have magical powers. And it is a weird number. You know what 9 x 9 is? 81. And what is 8+1? 9. An other exampe, and then you can do the rest for yourselves. 9 x 5=45. 4+5=9. If you try it with other numbers it doesn´t work.
 

Legolam

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Something I dredged up from school...

I remember doing Macbeth in Higher English a while ago, and our teacher said that 3 used to be a really powerful number (3 witches and all that) and that 9 is 3x3 so he reasoned that 9 would be the most powerful number.

Just a thought ...
 
R

ReadWryt

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I still like the idea that Sauron made the numbers of rings as he had so that he could eventually where all the rings on his fingers and toes, there being 20 all together. There is just something too silly about imagining big old Sauron rolling on the floor laughing maniacally as he looks at his hands and feet.:D
 
C

cjesun

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the number '9'

as one has said beofre me-- I feel as if the nine must signify the nine cardinal sins-- as the 9 Nazguls- Remember-- Tolkien was Catholic and he admits that the religous imagery is there apurpose... this seems the most plausible to me....


Chris Jesun
 

A Ranger

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6 represent imperfection, but i believe that 12 represent perfection, but that really has nothing to do with 9
 

Elanor2

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Before this goes too much on the Catholic side, there are 7 Capital sins, not 9.
As for the mathematics, all multiples of 3, when you add the individual numbers, you get another multiple of 3. It applies also to 9 because it is 3x3.

I have no idea why Tolkien chose 9, but I think it just sounded good! It makes a nice progression 3-7-9. I think that Tolkien wanted to use 3 and 7, because he had already in his mind the three houses of Elves, the seven houses of dwarves, etc. And then he got 9 for the men because he did not want a number over 10, or an even number (does not go well with the other ones that are odd), but had to be more that 7 to make the progression upwards.
So, the answer is 9. I would have done the same.

There is not significance linking the number 9 with men in any story that I read, so Tolkien should have picked it at random and never bothered to explain why (probably because it was just a hunch).

my2cents, Elanor2
 

Moonbeams

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Nine is a very important number in numerology. Three is a number that represents perfection, it's a number of understanding, it represents past, present, future, it represents three forms of god, etc.. and nine is the number that is 3 x 3, therefore it is the number of ultimate perfection.
I also read somewhere that if you ask a person to say a first number that comes to mind, the most often numbers that come to mind are three, seven, and nine.
 

EverEve

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i usually think of 4...but thats just me. i think that the nine might have been a random number, but the fact that he used it so much makes me think there may have been some purpose for it.
 

syongstar

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nine

three is a magic number to elves and 9 is 3 times 3.If one see's 6 as evil then turn it upside down(opposite)and it's 9
 

Legolam

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I always thought that 3, 7 and 9 were the magical numbers in ye olde days ie in all the myths and legends. I can't think of any more off hand other than those that people have already mentioned, but prime numbers rings a bell as being a reason.

The more I think about this, the more I think Prof T meant something by the numbers, even if it was just to signify magic and superstition

:)
 

Legolam

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Connotations ...

I thought I'd just do a general search on the Net for stuff, and came up with this for the numbers 3,7 and 9:


The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable points out that Pythagoras called three the perfect number, basically because it expressed all - beginning, middle, and end.

The holy trinity in Christianity

The ancient Greek and Romans had the three Graces, Furies, Sirens

The vikings had the three Norns

Three represents the triad of family; male, female, and child; beginning, middle, and end; birth, life, and death.

The 3 Fates - Clotho held the spool, Lachesis pulled the thread, Atropos snipped.

7 is a main astrological number, with 7 original planets, 7 days of the week (worked out by lunar phases),

Seven is often used as a number of wisdom. From the Old Testament, Proverbs 9:1:
"Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars"

The Jews have 7 as a number of completeness and perfection

Seven deadly sins

Noah had seven days to prepare before the flood. He was commanded to take seven pair of clean beasts and birds.
"Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and the female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and the female."

With ten as complete, nine comes into prominence as almost complete. Troy was besieged for 9 days and fell on the tenth. Odysseus wandered for 9 years and arrived home on the tenth.

Bahai religion - Nine, as the highest single-digit number, symbolizes completeness


I just copied those off various sites on the Internet, so I guess some of them contradict each other!
 

Lantarion

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Wow, I only just found this thread...

I'm quite interested in numerology (not as the actual science, it's just what I call my fascination with numbers), and I have actually come up with a sort of "Rule" for numbers. It is only my own view, and it works only for most events and myths (I've posted it before, but this version may have more insite):

1) The First, the most powerful. The ruler of all. (God, the Ring)
2) Co-operation, brotherhood. (Adam+Eve, the eyes)
3) Basic good will and aid, morals etc. (which can be twisted.) (Elven Rings, Silmarils, 1)+2))
4) Strength, loyalty. (Four hobbits off to Rivendell)
5) Eagerness, will to learn. (Men in Beleriand)
6) Evil, corrupted good. (2x3, 666)
7) Skill, expertise. (Dwarf Rings)
8) Shield, hidden strength.
9) Lore, skill; but eagerness to fight for what one believes is right; steadfastness; good, but corruptible. (Men, Nazgûl, Fellowship)
10) Captain, lesser lord; power, either good or bad. (10 Commandments)

I haven't researched these numbers very thoroughly, and these examples are off the top of my head. But this is how I view numbers. I don't know why, really; their shape, their usage and their amount have all been factors in my choices.
 

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