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Old 04-08-2013, 07:22 AM   #1
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Origins of the Great Goblin

I have not read the Book of Lost Tales yet, but I was looking around on Tolkien Gateway and found the entry on the elf Salgant of Gondolin. It seems that the fate of this character is uncertain; the entry mentions that either Salgant died during the fall of Gondolin or that he “suffered an ill-fate” and became a “buffoon of Morgoth.”

Now I am wondering, assuming of course that Salgant did indeed survive, could Morgoth have made him into an orc, the Great Goblin perhaps. This would certainly be an “ill-fate.” The Great Goblin’s reaction to Orcrist suggests some familiarity with it, and if he was a noble in Gondolin and the sword was wielded by someone important in Gondolin he should be familiar with it. Also Salgant seems to be the only elf described as “heavy” and the Great Goblin is said to be “tremendous.” It is also interesting that Salgant was the chief of the house of the harp, and that the Goblins of Goblin Town are the only Orcs we see singing. I know a wiki is not the best source, so perhaps someone who has actually read the Book of Lost Tales can comment on the possibility of this theory. So what do you think, could Salgant have become the Great Goblin?
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:01 AM   #2
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No. I rather think this falls under the "extraordinary claims" principle. You'd need to find an actual direct statement to that effect in something Tolkien wrote. You see, these comparisons you draw– well, no offence, but I really don't think they amount to much. I suspect you could find as many similarities between any two characters, just chosen at random.

Anyway– sorry for the cold water– and welcome to the Downs!
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:15 PM   #3
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The goblins who captured the company were apparently all generally familiar with both Orcrist and Glamdring, as seeming objects of legend. So I don't think the Great Goblin's reaction to Orcrist was anything notable.

As for his girth, well, RHIP you know. He no doubt, as a local ruler, got the best food available, and was also spared the harder work done by subordinates. Gaining weight was probably natural.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:28 PM   #4
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Need "tremendous" mean "fat", anyway? It might, but I always interpreted it as meaning "big" generally.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:27 AM   #5
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Need "tremendous" mean "fat", anyway? It might, but I always interpreted it as meaning "big" generally.
Me too.
"There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head." (p. 60)
I always took 'tremendous' as meaning large but also awe-inspiring, impressive, intimidating etc. Similarly it's his head specifically that is pointed out as being "huge"; I considered this as meaning that his head was particularly big in proportion to the rest of his body - which may have already been large.
I think these comparisons are interesting (I've only read Book 1 of Lost Tales, been meaning to start a thread about it actually) but I would imagine that they were probably unintentional on Professor Tolkien's part.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:59 AM   #6
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Me too.
"There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head." (p. 60)
I always took 'tremendous' as meaning large but also awe-inspiring, impressive, intimidating etc. Similarly it's his head specifically that is pointed out as being "huge"; I considered this as meaning that his head was particularly big in proportion to the rest of his body - which may have already been large.
I think these comparisons are interesting (I've only read Book 1 of Lost Tales, been meaning to start a thread about it actually) but I would imagine that they were probably unintentional on Professor Tolkien's part.
Agreed. The Golbins are a warlike race, I have difficulty imagining that an actually fat, out of shape leader would be able to command the neccecary respect to keep his title (or the neccecary fighting prowess to defend it if challenged) The best food argument still might hold, but only if you assume that goblins are so poorly fed that stunting due to malunutition was basically universal for all but the top of the top (a sort of version of the Chulplex society from Avrham Davidson's Masters of the Maze)
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:39 AM   #7
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Agreed. The Golbins are a warlike race, I have difficulty imagining that an actually fat, out of shape leader would be able to command the neccecary respect to keep his title (or the neccecary fighting prowess to defend it if challenged) The best food argument still might hold, but only if you assume that goblins are so poorly fed that stunting due to malunutition was basically universal for all but the top of the top (a sort of version of the Chulplex society from Avrham Davidson's Masters of the Maze)
I wonder if the Great Goblin might not have been a uruk, rare in the North, which would have given him a greater fear-factor among smaller breeds of orcs.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:29 AM   #8
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I wonder if the Great Goblin might not have been a uruk, rare in the North, which would have given him a greater fear-factor among smaller breeds of orcs.
I had always considered the Great Goblin to be an Uruk as well. The scenario is plausible, given that these larger Orcs appeared out of Mordor in 2475 (Osgiliath was overwhelmed and destroyed). In addition, the Tale of Years indicates that soon after, Orcs began making strongholds in the Misty Mountains. The TOY specifically states "Sauron begins to people Moria with his creatures." Almost three hundred years later, there is an invasion of Eriador and the Shire is attacked (1747) and Bandobras Took beheads the large Orkish leader Golfimbul (fimbul in Old Norse means "great"), a chieftain of the Orcs of Mount Gram.

Taken in context, Sauron repeoples the Misty Mountains, and given the bellicose and belligerent attitude of Orcs (the Orkish hierarchy in Mordor always goes from biggest down to smallest), who but Uruks would lead such an invasion? It would seem to me that a ruling elite of Uruk-hai was maintained since the first invasion of the Misty Mountains, and that Azog and Bolg were also members of an Uruk dynasty.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:14 PM   #9
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Makes sense: Thereupon Azog came forth, and he was a great Orc with a huge iron-clad head, and yet agile and strong. The Moria-orcs that were among Merrry's and Pippin's captors were described as "smaller goblins" compared to both Ugluk and Grishnakh (also an uruk); not I think to be described as "great orcs." Similarly "some" of those who attacked the Company in Moria were "large and evil: black uruks of Mordor," distinct from the locals.
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Old 04-16-2013, 04:04 PM   #10
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In one of the earlier texts there's reference to Boldogs, who appear to be sort of minor spirits and followers of Morgoth. IIRC they were interbred with orcs. Perhaps the Great Goblin was one in whom the Boldog ancestry 'ran true' to some extent?
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:31 PM   #11
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In one of the earlier texts there's reference to Boldogs, who appear to be sort of minor spirits and followers of Morgoth. IIRC they were interbred with orcs. Perhaps the Great Goblin was one in whom the Boldog ancestry 'ran true' to some extent?
Even if the story of Boldog's raid on Doriath is taken as canon, I don't think the Great Goblin need be elevated to that extent. Unless of course, Boldog's race is simply shown in the uruks as generally larger and stronger than "regular" Orcs.
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Old 04-17-2013, 12:19 PM   #12
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Could be Inzil.

I've always thought of the orcs as a bit genetically unstable if you like, due to their dubious origins and variety of shapes and sizes.

For example cats look pretty much like cats, some bigger, some smaller, but all cat-like. But dogs can look very different - Chihuahua, Great Dane, Bulldog, Collie etc.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:40 PM   #13
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Could be Inzil.

I've always thought of the orcs as a bit genetically unstable if you like, due to their dubious origins and variety of shapes and sizes.

For example cats look pretty much like cats, some bigger, some smaller, but all cat-like. But dogs can look very different - Chihuahua, Great Dane, Bulldog, Collie etc.
But as we all know, cats are rather Orkish in their surreptitiously maleficent proclivities.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:59 AM   #14
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But as we all know, cats are rather Orkish in their surreptitiously maleficent proclivities.
Tolkien did think Siamese cats were fauna of Mordor.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:37 AM   #15
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Tolkien did think Siamese cats were fauna of Mordor.
One of the few points on which I would heartily disagree with the dear Professor. Dogs, on the other hand...

Anyway, I've posited that the Orcs were indeed not necessarily all of the same original stock. Maybe the uruks came from Elves or Men, with the "trackers" coming from the Drúedain, or something like that. Orcs did obviously possess different physical characteristics.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:07 PM   #16
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Anyway, I've posited that the Orcs were indeed not necessarily all of the same original stock. Maybe the uruks came from Elves or Men, with the "trackers" coming from the Drúedain, or something like that. Orcs did obviously possess different physical characteristics.
I have more or less given up on the Orcs

The whole question of what the Orcs were, how they came to be etc. is so wrought with problems and huge inconsistencies that attempting to make sense of it inevitably creates some hybrid that is far from anything Tolkien ever imagined. Even within The Lord of the Rings he cannot settle on a single view, and we get passages that clearly reflect (even in the authorial voice) the older view that the Orcs were indeed demonic spawns created by Morgoth in mockery of the Elves, while other passages show the emergence of the new view, that the Orcs are a corruption of some pre-existing creatures.

What we know about the Drúedain was written quite late in Tolkien's life — even later than the various musing about the Orcs that we see in ‘Myths Transformed’ (Morgoth's Ring), and it is impossible to say how the hints there should be seen in connection with the statements elsewhere — all we can know is that any detailed guess, while possibly logically consistent (or as consistent as possible), almost inevitably will represent something Tolkien never imagined.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:46 PM   #17
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But as we all know, cats are rather Orkish in their surreptitiously maleficent proclivities.
"In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods. They have never forgotten this."

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Old 05-08-2013, 07:26 AM   #18
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Even within The Lord of the Rings he cannot settle on a single view, and we get passages that clearly reflect (even in the authorial voice) the older view that the Orcs were indeed demonic spawns created by Morgoth in mockery of the Elves, while other passages show the emergence of the new view, that the Orcs are a corruption of some pre-existing creatures.
Do any of the works say that the Orcs were "created", as opposed to "made"? They are not the same.
I think Tolkien's Catholicism would at least shed some light on this. Within that belief, evil is incapable of true creation: it is restricted to perversion or corruption of the raw materials at hand, though there would seem to be a great deal of room for creativity in that respect. I see no reason to think Morgoth would have been different. The Silmarillion says more than once that the Fire is with Ilúvatar, and that Fire (of creation) cannot thus be used by any other. If Morgoth were able to truly create his own incarnate creatures, would he not then be the equal of Eru?
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:45 AM   #19
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Do any of the works say that the Orcs were "created", as opposed to "made"? They are not the same.
Oh yes, it is quite clear in the prose writings on the mythology from The Book of Lost Tales until some during the writing of The Lord of the Rings that Melko > Morgoth creates the race of Orcs.

In ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ in The Book of Lost Tales , Tolkien wrote that the Orcs “were bred by Melko of the subterranean heats and slime. Their hearts were of granite and their bodies deformed;”[1] and in the last pre-LotR (mid-thirties) we learn that Morgoth “brought into being the race of the Orcs, and they grew and multiplied in the bowels of the earth. These Orcs Morgoth made in envy and mockery of the Elves, and they were made of stone, but their hearts of hatred.”[2]. The idea of making the Orcs in mockery of the Elves apparently entered into the mythology in writings associated with The Lost Road, specifically the second version of The Fall of Númenor (circa 1937-8), and it seems quite clear that this idea of the origin of the Orcs underlies not only Treebeard's comments, but also the jolly wee game of counting Orc-heads that Gimli and Legolas play during the Battle of the Hornburg (this game, and indeed the treatment of the Orcs throughout the whole of the Rohan chapters) is not ethically consistent with the later view of Orcs as corrupted Eruhíni that should be pitied and spared when possible).

  1. The Book of Lost Tales 2 (HoMe 2), ch. III ‘The Fall of Gondolin’, p. 159
  2. The Lost Road and Other Writings (HoMe 5), part 2, VI ‘Quenta Silmarillion’, ch. 5 §62, p.233
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:19 AM   #20
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In ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ in The Book of Lost Tales , Tolkien wrote that the Orcs “were bred by Melko of the subterranean heats and slime. Their hearts were of granite and their bodies deformed;”[1] and in the last pre-LotR (mid-thirties) we learn that Morgoth “brought into being the race of the Orcs, and they grew and multiplied in the bowels of the earth. These Orcs Morgoth made in envy and mockery of the Elves, and they were made of stone, but their hearts of hatred.”
In Letters #144 written in 1938, Tolkien states:

Quote:
Orcs...are nowhere clearly stated to be of any particular origin. But since they are servants of the Dark Power, and later of Sauron, neither of whom could, or would, produce living things, they must be 'corruptions'.
In Letters #153, regarding Treebeard's words:

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Treebeard does not say that the Dark Lord 'created' Trolls and Orcs. He says he 'made' them in counterfeit of certain creatures pre-existing. There is, to me, a wide gulf between the two statements, so wide that Treebeard's statement could (in my world) have possibly been true. It is not true of the Orcs - who are fundamentally a race of 'rational incarnate' creatures, though horribly corrupted, if no more so than many Men to be met today.
Later in the same letter:

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Suffering and experience (and possibly the Ring itself) gave Frodo more insight; and you will read in Ch. I of Book VI the words to Sam. 'The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make new real things on its own. I don't think it gave life to the Orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them.'
Corruption seems to be the overriding theme.

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[2]. The idea of making the Orcs in mockery of the Elves apparently entered into the mythology in writings associated with The Lost Road, specifically the second version of The Fall of Númenor (circa 1937-8), and it seems quite clear that this idea of the origin of the Orcs underlies not only Treebeard's comments, but also the jolly wee game of counting Orc-heads that Gimli and Legolas play during the Battle of the Hornburg (this game, and indeed the treatment of the Orcs throughout the whole of the Rohan chapters) is not ethically consistent with the later view of Orcs as corrupted Eruhíni that should be pitied and spared when possible).
Even if Tolkien had indeed intended for Morgoth early on to be a creator (which I think is still debatable), it seems clear the idea was abandoned later, possibly, as I said, out of a desire on the part of the author to avoid elevating the world's Prime Evil to a status on par with the True Creator.

Also, consider the situation of Morgoth's peer, Aulë. He did 'create' on his own, or at least made the attempt with the Dwarves. But that act was futile as a measure of creation. The Dwarves had no true life or fea until it was provided by the One. Otherwise, as he said to Aulë, the 'creations' would have had no independent thought or being, mere 'breathing meat'.

As for the wholesale, remorseless slaughter of the Orcs, I think it can be attributed to the length of time the 'good guys' had been dealing with them, which had led to a view of them as uncurable, implacable enemies.
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:29 PM   #21
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In Letters #144 written in 1938, Tolkien states:
Letter no. 144 is dated 25 April 1954 to Naomi Mitchison. It is thus later than the transition that occurred while Tolkien was writing The Lord of the Rings. I'd have to go back and check the four HoMe volumes on the history of The Lord of the Rings for the details, but I think this change was fairly late in the writing — after his (near?) break-down in '46 and, IIRC, after he had worked on The Notion Club Papers also.
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:29 PM   #22
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Even if Tolkien had indeed intended for Morgoth early on to be a creator (which I think is still debatable),
If you read the first five volumes of The History of Middle-earth, you will soon see that this is not really debatable: this is clearly Tolkien's intention. You have him use phrases stating that Morgoth “devised” the Orcs or “brought into being” their race. Christopher Tolkien is also explicit in relation to The Book of Lost Tales, saying that “There is no trace yet of the later view that ‘naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindalë before the Beginning’”. This later view enters into the mythology after Tolkien had finished The Lord of the Ring (Morgoth's Ring (HoMe 10), part 2 ‘The Annals of Aman’ §45 p. 74), and clearly in response to the development during the writing of LotR, which is also expressed in the letters from which you quoted.

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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
it seems clear the idea was abandoned later, possibly, as I said, out of a desire on the part of the author to avoid elevating the world's Prime Evil to a status on par with the True Creator.
Yes, as I said, Tolkien changed his ideas during the writing of The Lord of the Rings, and that work therefore contains passages that are written based on the old view. Treebeard's statement is an example of this — regardless of what Tolkien said later, when he had changed his mind, Treebeard was stating the correct lore as Tolkien saw it when he wrote it. I suppose that Tolkien would have edited these passages more heavily if they had been wholly inconsistent with the later ideas, but knowing how his ideas evolved it is quite clear that the Rohan chapters are informed by the earlier conception of the origins of the Orcs. After he had finished writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien had clearly changed his conception of the Orcs and now considered them corrupted Eruhíni, and he decided, no later than ca. 1951, that they were corrupted from Elves caught early on, and t. This view was, however, not entirely without problems either, and when he went back to the Silmarillion mythology about 1959 he was very concerned with these problems. how could the corruption be inheritable? Were the perhaps nothing but mindless automata? Or were they perhaps to be considered beasts without fëar? Etc. Etc. These considerations are documented in the ‘Myths Transformed’ section (part 4) of Morgoth's Ring, and show that Tolkien was aware that his chosen solution was not perfect either, and he was searching for a way out. He always seems to come back to the idea of the Orcs as corrupted Eruhíni (though not necessarily always Elves), but he is obviously not entirely happy with that choice either (particularly the question of their being irredeemable and their corruption being inheritable while they at the same time supposedly were free-willed and had fëar {roughly corresponding to the soul of Christian thinking}).

So, yes, Tolkien did abandon the idea that the Ainur > Valar could create a new race (though from pre-existing matter), but the idea was clearly present in the early history of the mythology and in the earlier parts of The Lord of the Rings.

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Also, consider the situation of Morgoth's peer, Aulë. He did 'create' on his own, or at least made the attempt with the Dwarves. But that act was futile as a measure of creation. The Dwarves had no true life or fea until it was provided by the One. Otherwise, as he said to Aulë, the 'creations' would have had no independent thought or being, mere 'breathing meat'.
But the whole text describing the making of the Dwarves by Aulë’ is also quite late — after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, IIRC (there were some brief hints in earlier text that Aulë had made the Dwarves, but no details, and the simple statement that he had made them implies rather that there was no intervention by Eru).

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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
As for the wholesale, remorseless slaughter of the Orcs, I think it can be attributed to the length of time the 'good guys' had been dealing with them, which had led to a view of them as uncurable, implacable enemies.
Not according to the laws as described later, according to which the Orcs should always be spared if they surrendered:
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But even before this wickedness of Morgoth was suspected the Wise in the Elder Days taught always that the Orcs were not ‘made’ by Melkor, and therefore were not in their origin evil. They might have become irredeemable (at least by Elves and Men), but they remained within the Law. That is, that though of necessity, being the fingers of the hand of Morgoth, they must be fought with the utmost severity, they must not be dealt with in their own terms of cruelty and treachery. Captives must not be tormented, not even to discover information for the defence of the homes of Elves and Men. If any Orcs surrendered and asked for mercy, they must be granted it, even at a cost.
(Morgoth's Ring (HoMe 10), part 5 ‘Myths Transformed’, text X, p. 419)

Clearly many of the Orcs before the Hornburg and would have surrendered if they could: they were fleeing into the wood of huorns). Thus, IF we accept the Orcs as corrupted Eruhíni, creatures with fëar, the whole way of dealing with the Orcs before Helm's Deep becomes inconsistent with the ethics described in the above passage, but also with the ethics later expounded by Faramir
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War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.
Tolkien's Catholicism is not particularly obvious in the earliest parts of his legendarium — particularly in The Book of Lost Tales the basis is not particularly Catholic (beyond The Music of the Ainur with its monotheistic omnipotent and omniscient Creator). Tolkien himself wrote that The Lord of the Rings only became consciously Catholic in the revision, and this, in my considered opinion, marks the point when the whole mythology became consciously Catholic. Before the writing of LotR there is no hint of Tolkien being particularly concerned about staying consistent with his faith (the ability of the Ainur > Valar to actually create sapient creatures is a clear example), but after LotR he is clearly very conscientious about this; a factor that contributed to the whole Silmarillion project bogging down in endless niggling.
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:27 PM   #23
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We may endlessly quibble over opposing ideas from Tolkien between early and later writings. It is enough for me that the most recent conceptions of Orcish origins considered them as 'counterfeits'. As that is in line with my own thoughts of Arda's cosmology, I'll stick to it.
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Old 05-09-2013, 03:48 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
It is enough for me that the most recent conceptions of Orcish origins considered them as 'counterfeits'. As that is in line with my own thoughts of Arda's cosmology, I'll stick to it.
The problem is that even that is not quite that simple, as shown in the ‘Myths Transformed’ section of Morgoth's Ring. Of course, if all you wish is to maintain your own view, then by all means, but I strongly advocate that we at least recognize that Tolkien's conception was rather more complex.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:31 AM   #25
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I also think the old idea was in place when Tolkien wrote the chapter Treebeard [Orcs were made in mockery of Elves, but made by Morgoth out of stone and 'hatred' rather, not from Elves].


I can't date [precisely] when Tolkien penned Frodo's comments however [from The Land of Shadow IIRC], which seem to represent the major shift in thinking -- but when Tolkien returned to The Annals of Aman in the early 1950s, as first written the old concept was still in place. Then, and still in this phase of writing, comes the darker tale told in Eressea noted by Pengolodh [Orcs from Elves], but The Lord of the Rings -- the main story -- had already been written by this time.

As Troelsfo noted. Hello!

Tolkien's latest texts, after going over a number of variations when Orcs from Elves didn't seem to work well enough for him [although he still considered this], are about Orcs created from Men, with an adjusted chronology. This is text X, Morgoth's Ring. Christopher Tolkien will then mention two later notes which might only possibly raise the question as to whether or not Tolkien was once again changing his mind and moving away from Orcs created from Men -- these two later notes do not actually deny the main conception described in Text X however -- one note, for example, concerns only the point that JRRT spelled the word orks instead of orcs; and this may mean nothing more than a change in spelling rather than reflect another change in conception.

And in any case, an equally late note [to The Druedain, Unfinished Tales] once again has Elves stating that Morgoth made Orcs from various kinds of Men.

Well Troelsfo noted most of this anyway, but yes, so far I would agree that the old concept was in place during the writing of The Lord of the Rings, with Frodo's comments seemingly pointing to a change of mind at one stage -- possibly a change of mind again for the Annals -- or maybe Tolkien simply first 'updated' what was already there, without really giving too much thought...

... to updating
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:00 PM   #26
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I also think the old idea was in place when Tolkien wrote the chapter Treebeard [Orcs were made in mockery of Elves, but made by Morgoth out of stone and 'hatred' rather, not from Elves].
Thank you, Galin (Hello!). One thing that I omitted in the earlier account is the influence of the McDonaldesque goblins of The Hobbit — when he began The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien would at some point have had to face the incongruities between the orcs/goblins of the earlier mythology and the goblins of The Hobbit — no matter how far we stretch things, I cannot see the the early Orcs as neither singing nor innovating (even innovating machines of war and torture). The later view of the Orcs bring them much better into line with the published goblins in The Hobbit.

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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
I can't date [precisely] when Tolkien penned Frodo's comments however [from The Land of Shadow IIRC], which seem to represent the major shift in thinking
That statement (“The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.”) is in ‘The Tower of Cirith Ungol’ about which Christopher Tolkien notes that his “father returned to the story of Frodo and Sam more than three years after he had ‘got the hero into such a fix’ (as he said in a letter of November 1944, VIII.218) ‘that not even an author will be able to extricate him without labour and difficulty.’” (Sauron Defeated (HoMe 9), part 1 ch. II, p.18). In their J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology, Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond explain, under the entry for 14 August — 14 September 1948, that Tolkien in period used his son Michael's farm in Woodcote as a retreat while Michael and family were on holiday, and that he there
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makes two drafts for ‘The Tower of Kirith [later Cirith] Ungol’ (bk. VI, ch. 1 as published). He soon abandons the first, [...]; he makes significant changes and additions in the second, which as he proceeds becomes rough and in places only an outline. He then writes a fair copy, [...], which reaches to the end of the chapter. [...]. At some point he makes a second fair copy manuscript, and places with it the page from the first draft with the drawing of the Tower [...]
Minor details have been cut by me (‘[...]’)
Frodo's statement enters at the earliest in the first fair copy manuscript, denoted D in Christopher Tolkien's explanations in Sauron Defeated.

So all in all we can say within a week or so when precisely Tolkien made that statement: during his stay at Payables Farm in Woodcote, he would continue through to the abandoned epilogue, so I think it is a fair guess that he would have finished drafting ‘The Tower of Cirith Ungol’ during the first week of his stay.

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but when Tolkien returned to The Annals of Aman in the early 1950s, as first written the old concept was still in place. Then, and still in this phase of writing, comes the darker tale told in Eressea noted by Pengolodh [Orcs from Elves], but The Lord of the Rings -- the main story -- had already been written by this time.
I had completely forgotten about this in The Annals of Aman, thank you! Christopher Tolkien's comment to §127 of The Annals of Aman is quite lucid despite the additional complications brought about by Tolkien's shifting about of the timing of Morgoth's creation of the Orcs (in the last pre-LotR version of the Quenta Silmarillion, denoted the ‘QS’ in the History of Middle-earth series, Morgoth “brought into being the race of the Orcs” in mockery of the Elves after the Darkening of Valinor and his return to Middle-earth).


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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
Tolkien's latest texts, after going over a number of variations when Orcs from Elves didn't seem to work well enough for him [although he still considered this], are about Orcs created from Men, with an adjusted chronology. This is text X, Morgoth's Ring.
Aye — there are three texts on Orcs, VIII through X, and they are very much worth reading, particularly (at least in my opinion) for the philosophical deliberations. This, along with some other contemporary texts — particularly the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, show what Christopher Tolkien means when, in the foreword to The Silmarillion, he writes that in his father's later writings “mythology and poetry sank down behind his theological and philosophical preoccupations: from which arose incompatibilities of tone.” But that's an aside ... well, perhaps it is still tangentially connected, as the basic interest and intention is now completely different: Tolkien is now no longer preoccupied with the creation of mythology, but rather with theology and philosophy, making his mythology “the vehicle and depository of his profoundest reflections.” We are, in other words, trying to use writings to answer one type of question, while Tolkien wrote these things in an attempt to answer some fundamentally different questions, and his answers may well be incommensurable to the questions we are asking.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:48 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Troelsfo View Post
That statement (“The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.”) is in ‘The Tower of Cirith Ungol’...
Ah thank you Troelsfo. I mixed things up there [I think I mixed up The Land of Shadow with another quote in which the term Uru-hai is mentioned, but that's a different ball of twine]. Anyway you are correct, that's the statement I meant [Frodo's statement] and where it can be found.


Quote:
... about which Christopher Tolkien notes that his “father returned to the story of Frodo and Sam more than three years after he had ‘got the hero into such a fix’ (as he said in a letter of November 1944, VIII.218) ‘that not even an author will be able to extricate him without labour and difficulty.’” (Sauron Defeated (HoMe 9), part 1 ch. II, p.18). In their J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology, Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond explain, under the entry for 14 August — 14 September 1948, that Tolkien in period used his son Michael's farm in Woodcote as a retreat while Michael and family were on holiday, and that he there Minor details have been cut by me (‘[...]’)
Frodo's statement enters at the earliest in the first fair copy manuscript, denoted D in Christopher Tolkien's explanations in Sauron Defeated.

So all in all we can say within a week or so when precisely Tolkien made that statement: during his stay at Payables Farm in Woodcote, he would continue through to the abandoned epilogue, so I think it is a fair guess that he would have finished drafting ‘The Tower of Cirith Ungol’ during the first week of his stay.
Good digging! I'm perhaps wrong -- or didn't dig deep enough myself -- but I have a vague memory of not finding Frodo's statement in any of the draft texts represented in HME, so that while one could date the writing of this chapter with some certainty, does it remain possible that this statement [specifically] was a later addition at some unknown point?

I don't have Sauron Defeated at hand at the moment, but when you write: '... Frodo's statement enters at the earliest in the first fair copy manuscript, denoted D in Christopher Tolkien's explanations in Sauron Defeated.'

... does this rule out that it entered later? I'm just wondering if we could possibly have a scenario like:

A) Tolkien writes out the chapter but it doesn't yet include this statement [old idea still in place]

B) Tolkien begins new version of the Annals [Annals of Aman] [old idea still in place]

C) Darker tale from Eressea enters in revision to the Annals of Aman [Orcs thought to be from Elves]

D) At some point before the main story of The Return of the King goes to print, Tolkien adds Frodo's statement to this chapter.


That would seem [to me] a bit more 'tidy' as far as the external chronology goes, in conjunction with this change in thinking... but again I'm not sure it's possible and may be missing something.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:32 AM   #28
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Good digging! I'm perhaps wrong -- or didn't dig deep enough myself -- but I have a vague memory of not finding Frodo's statement in any of the draft texts represented in HME,
You're right, the statement is not there expressly.
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I don't have Sauron Defeated at hand at the moment, but when you write: '... Frodo's statement enters at the earliest in the first fair copy manuscript, denoted D in Christopher Tolkien's explanations in Sauron Defeated.'

... does this rule out that it entered later?
I suppose it doesn't rule it out explicitly, but I would say that it does rule it out implicitly.

Christopher Tolkien writes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sauron Defeated, p.26
From ‘“That's done it!” said Sam. “Now I've rung the front-door bell!”’ a draft text ('C') takes up. This is written in a script so difficult that a good deal of it would be barely comprehensible had it not been closely followed in the fair copy D.[12] The final story was now reached, and there is little to record of these texts.
and notes in note 12 that
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Originally Posted by Sauron Defeated, p.30
The very rough draft C stops near the beginning of Sam's conversation with Frodo in the topmost chamber (RK p. 187), and from that point there are only isolated passages of drafting extant; but the latter part of D was much corrected in the act of writing, and was probably now to a large extent the primary composition.
After this, Christopher Tolkien goes on to note differences between texts C, D, the later fair copy E, and the final text without noting anything about Frodo's statement despite the focus he has given throughout the whole of The History of Middle-earth series to the matter of the origin of the Orcs, then I think it is reasonable to assume that if this statement had not been present in D when “the final story was [...] reached”, then he would have noted this.

Actually I am a little surprised that he doesn't note this point at all — I would have expected him to comment on this point, though at that point he might have had other things on his mind Still, if this statement not been present in text D, then I am certain that this would have been noted.

<snipping suggested chronology>

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That would seem [to me] a bit more 'tidy' as far as the external chronology goes, in conjunction with this change in thinking... but again I'm not sure it's possible and may be missing something.
I agree that it would be more tidy, and would have to acknowledge that the presentation in Sauron Defeated cannot entirely rule this out, though I think the odds are not in favour of it (the whole episode about Cirith Ungol, including the earlier discussions between Shagrat and Gorbag, seems to me to suggest this newer view — I can hardly imagine the earlier Orcs, created in mockery of the Elves by Morgoth from stone, having the kind of discussion that we are, through Sam, allowed to witness between these two captains. The evolutions of Tolkien's legendarium is, unfortunately, quite often not tidy — take the issue of the round vs. the flat world versions of the cosmogonic myth: we know that Tolkien was playing with both ideas during the time he wrote LotR and we can see traces of both in the text (the round-world version is best seen in e.g. Gimli's song about Durin in Moria: “No stain yet on the Moon was seen, / [...] / When Durin woke and walked alone.” Durin awoke in the First Age long before the rising of the Moon and the Sun according to the flat-world version).
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:47 PM   #29
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Does anyone have any personal theories on how Professor Tolkien could have reconciled the origins of Orcs with the metaphysics of the story? Something he might have overlooked? While I think the "corrupted Elves" idea is an elegant one, I do agree that the question of how Morgoth could make their condition inheritable and why Eru would continue to endow them with fëar is problematic. That being said I was never entirely convinced that turning them into corrupted Men was necessarily the best alternative, because it always seemed to me that Men didn't need to be corrupted in the same way as Elves might to become Orcs - that they already Fell further and had a greater vulnerability to Evil without the need for them to be subjected to torments and experimentation.

It's the same as the Sun and Moon origin and Round vs Flat First/Second Age World conundrums I think - the earlier, more mythological stories are so poetic that it's a shame they started to jar so much with the Professor's desire for Arda to seem like a realistic place.

In that regard as a reflection of Professor Tolkien's philosophical ruminations perhaps a definitive origin of Orcs is best left ambiguous - it would certainly emphasise that suggestion in the aforementioned Letter 153 of "Orcism" as a state of character or behaviour being a persistent degeneracy among people in the present day; that the hatefulness and moral decrepitude of the monstrous soldiers of the ancient past are almost a standard of normalcy in the "grey and leafless world" of modern times.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:36 AM   #30
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Thanks Troelsfo; and after reading your citations above I agree with your conclusions.

I also think it a little odd that Christopher Tolkien did not note this statement with respect to the larger issue of the origin of orcs [if I recall correctly he did not refer to it in the Annals of Aman commentary either], but there is a lot going on in HME of course, and CJRT is pretty comprehensive in general regarding the orc issue.

Anyway, great digging!
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:04 PM   #31
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Does anyone have any personal theories on how Professor Tolkien could have reconciled the origins of Orcs with the metaphysics of the story? Something he might have overlooked?
Not really. I mean, he played with just about every conceivable variant and I don't think any of them work on the level he wanted– substituting Men for Elves, for example, doesn't actually solve any of the metaphysical difficulties either, making them beasts "reeling off records" seems hopelessly strained, etc.

However. All this arises only because Tolkien was, by then, struggling to make his work consistent with a philosophical framework that wasn't necessarily in place when he actually wrote it. "In-story" there isn't a problem, because, as usual, the "translator conceit" means he doesn't have to provide the reader with a final, definitive answer.
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:07 PM   #32
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In one of the earlier texts there's reference to Boldogs, who appear to be sort of minor spirits and followers of Morgoth. IIRC they were interbred with orcs. Perhaps the Great Goblin was one in whom the Boldog ancestry 'ran true' to some extent?
I seem to remember something like this was suggested in Myths Transformed, or at least that's how I see the Great Goblin.

Also I can't remember if it was Rumil or somebody else that I repped and told that in Hungarian, boldog means happy, but in any case, you all need to know it because it's seriously the funniest thing ever.

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I see no reason to think Morgoth would have been different. The Silmarillion says more than once that the Fire is with Ilúvatar, and that Fire (of creation) cannot thus be used by any other. If Morgoth were able to truly create his own incarnate creatures, would he not then be the equal of Eru?
This is either something I've cobbled together from a fairly canonical source (as in HoME, as opposed to Wikipedia) or something Lommy or some other Downer has said to me, but I've got this notion that Melkor could, in a way, bring things to life by giving up some of his own essence and weakening himself (which Ilúvatar didn't do). On the one hand I think orcs are mere beasts, on the other, I see them as some kind of Incarnates. I can't imagine them as having fëar given to them by Ilúvatar, though.

As for CaptainFaramir's original question, the idea is funny but what is maybe the biggest factor against it is the Great Goblin's age. He would have to be thousands of years old to be Salgant, and given the orcish lifestyle, I don't see he could have survived that long.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:16 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Rumil
In one of the earlier texts there's reference to Boldogs, who appear to be sort of minor spirits and followers of Morgoth. IIRC they were interbred with orcs. Perhaps the Great Goblin was one in whom the Boldog ancestry 'ran true' to some extent?
I seem to remember something like this was suggested in Myths Transformed, or at least that's how I see the Great Goblin.
That's rather complicated. "Boldog" is the name of an orc in the "Lays of Beleriand". At this point it is pretty clearly a personal name.

Later, though, in "Morgoth's Ring", the Maia--Orc concept appears: first in some notes on Orc origin ("Myths Transformed" VIII) in which Tolkien is more-or-less "thinking aloud", trying out different possibilities to see if they work. At this point, at least as a sole origin, he seems to reject it, but then Maia-Orcs show up again in two more texts (IX and X), now as special, "greater" Orcs (rather than being their main source). In X, we find the following:

Quote:
Those whose business it was to direct the Orcs often took Orkish shapes, though they were greater and more terrible. Thus it was that the histories speak of Great Ones or Orc-Captains who were not slain, and who reappeared in battle through years far longer than the span of the lives of Men. [footnote] Boldog, for instance, is a name that occurs many times in the course of the War. But it is possible that Boldog was not a personal name, and either a title, or else the name of a kind of creature: the Orc-formed Maiar, only less formidable than the Balrogs.
Which neatly illustrates the whole canonicity problem. Can we really take that tentative "it is possible... or else..." and say, "yes, yes, there was a kind of creature in Middle-earth called a 'Boldog'"?

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Originally Posted by Aganzir
This is either something I've cobbled together from a fairly canonical source (as in HoME, as opposed to Wikipedia) or something Lommy or some other Downer has said to me, but I've got this notion that Melkor could, in a way, bring things to life by giving up some of his own essence and weakening himself (which Ilúvatar didn't do). On the one hand I think orcs are mere beasts, on the other, I see them as some kind of Incarnates. I can't imagine them as having fëar given to them by Ilúvatar, though.
What does become fairly consistent in Tolkien's later writing is that he sees Orcs as corruptions of beings that already existed, and mostly he favours these beings having been rational creatures, i.e. Elves and/or Men– but yes, the problem of their fëar bugged him no end.

By the way, Troelsfo:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troelsfo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun
As for the wholesale, remorseless slaughter of the Orcs, I think it can be attributed to the length of time the 'good guys' had been dealing with them, which had led to a view of them as uncurable, implacable enemies.
Not according to the laws as described later, according to which the Orcs should always be spared if they surrendered:
Quote:
But even before this wickedness of Morgoth was suspected the Wise in the Elder Days taught always that the Orcs were not ‘made’ by Melkor, and therefore were not in their origin evil. They might have become irredeemable (at least by Elves and Men), but they remained within the Law. That is, that though of necessity, being the fingers of the hand of Morgoth, they must be fought with the utmost severity, they must not be dealt with in their own terms of cruelty and treachery. Captives must not be tormented, not even to discover information for the defence of the homes of Elves and Men. If any Orcs surrendered and asked for mercy, they must be granted it, even at a cost.
But the next line is: "This was the teaching of the Wise, though in the horror of the War it was not always heeded". And there is a footnote to the effect that Orcs rarely surrendered anyway.

This is all really a quibble, as there is other evidence Tolkien had not yet come up with the "corrupted Eruhíni" idea at the stage under discussion. I'm just saying, as a matter of principle, that I don't think you can argue from "the laws as described later" without noting that it also says those laws weren't necessarily followed.

And I do agree with your basic, original point: it is just not possible to reconcile all Tolkien's various writings on Orcs without creating "some hybrid that is far from anything Tolkien ever imagined".
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Old 05-16-2013, 05:24 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Aganzir View Post
This is either something I've cobbled together from a fairly canonical source (as in HoME, as opposed to Wikipedia) or something Lommy or some other Downer has said to me, but I've got this notion that Melkor could, in a way, bring things to life by giving up some of his own essence and weakening himself (which Ilúvatar didn't do). On the one hand I think orcs are mere beasts, on the other, I see them as some kind of Incarnates. I can't imagine them as having fëar given to them by Ilúvatar, though.
This thought has occurred to me as well. We know that Melkor spent vast amounts of his strength on his armies at the expense of his own personal potency, but in what way? According to Morgoth's Ring controlling the Orcs and other creatures gradually eroded Morgoth's power; I take it that in that sense the exercise of will diminished the fëa. Otherwise I would suggest that perhaps Orcs achieved the semblance of will because each of their fëar was a sliver of Melkor's own. I'm not sure that's a very satisfying notion either, though, of thousands of miniature Morgoths running around.

Personally I think that the Orc-scenes in The Lord of the Rings, especially the conversation of Gorbag and Shagrat, are so much less intriguing if they're not rational incarnates, because I think it's important that at some level Orcs are not altogether different from Men and Elves. I think that's why I prefer the "corrupted Eruhíni" explanation. Perhaps it could have been considered that Orcs having fëar was incorporated into The Plan by Eru because at the end of they day they were still his children, no matter how corrupted. Asking how they were permitted to exist seems no more difficult a question than why he permitted Melkor to continue existing after his fall, or Sauron, or virtually anyone else who was evil in Arda; it would all be incorporated into the greater whole.
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:26 AM   #35
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Eru might also have wanted the orcs around as a sort of object lesson to his other children. We are told Melkor made the Orcs, but not really how. That is, if the orcs are corrupted elves we are not informed as to how Melkor corrupted them, whether it was wholly involuntary or not. I tend to think the "wholly involuntary" route is a bit unlikey since it would probably clash against Tolkien's Christian beliefs (Since it would mean that Melkor basically had the ability to corrupt elves and turn them evil against thier will.) So that leaves the semi-voluntary path, that the orcs are the decendents of elves who, through some failing or weakness of thier own came into darkness sort of by thier own volition. This fits a lot more with the Christian view of evil, that it can only tempt, not compel. It is easly to fall to temptation, but no one can be thrown to it (leaving aside posession). In that case, the Orcs serve as a very good warning to the elves, provided they know (or at least, believe) the story of Orchish origin in elves; a warning or what can happen if you allow your weaknessess and temptations to master you, the consequences of listening to the little shadows in your head. And, should an orc ever return to the path of light be it in this life or the afterlife (If orcs really are the decendents of elves, then it is still possible that the fea of slain orcs do go to the Halls of Mandos.) it would show that NO ONE, no matter how far gone, is wholly beyond the chance of redemption.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:14 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Nerwen View Post
(...) Later, though, in "Morgoth's Ring", the Maia--Orc concept appears: first in some notes on Orc origin ("Myths Transformed" VIII) in which Tolkien is more-or-less "thinking aloud", trying out different possibilities to see if they work. At this point, at least as a sole origin, he seems to reject it, but then Maia-Orcs show up again in two more texts (IX and X), now as special, "greater" Orcs (rather than being their main source).
Perhaps I've been too much influenced by texts IX and X, but I took VIII to also describe the Maiar orcs as one kind of orc compared to the greater numbers of 'regular orcs', which in this text turn out to be perverted beasts.

Reading it again, I admit there's not much evidence for this in VIII itself, but if I recall correctly Tolkien does refer to the Maiar-orcs as primitive, and much more powerful and perilous -- I took that to mean more powerful than the regular orcs, about whom Tolkien was still musing about -- but seemingly not for long until the beast idea came to him.

In other words, I did not take the 'Maiar section' in VIII to be about the sole origin, but rather Tolkien reflecting on whether they could be part of the picture here; although I see how it can be read that way in any case, and cannot claim my interpretation is correct.

And again, perhaps reading VIII now more times after reading texts IX and X is the real reason. I can't really recall my interpretation when first reading VIII in Myths Transformed, which came before IX or X...

... I assume
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:16 AM   #37
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Let's remember that CT was under both time and space pressure in Vols VIII-IX of HoME; it "grew in the telling" much like the LR itself had (originally his account of the Lord of the Rings was to be just two volumes!) and a great deal of compression was involved.

Add to this the fact that the majority of the papers associated with Book VI, IIRC nearly all of them, had gone to Marquette and so CT was working from photocopies of those manuscripts he asked for, not, as was the case with most of the FR drafts, still in his possession.

It would however be entirely possible for someone who was able to get to Milwaukee to review the succeeding versions of Chapter VI/1 and determine when the passage in question entered (anyone can view the documents on microfilm).
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:14 AM   #38
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I nominate WCH to go and check for us!

I trust you


[and I nominate Troelsfo to pay for your travel expenses]
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