No Living Man
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Author:  tindomiel [ November 3rd, 2007, 3:07 am ]
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Honestly i thought the way the witchking died in the movie was a serious disgrace to him LOL :-D I mean Gandalf and Pip had tht talk in gondor abt the witchking and it showed tht Gandalf was kinda scared of him..fastforward,eowyn sees him and just stabs him and he dies........ :confused: i kinda expected more LOL

Author:  [ November 3rd, 2007, 5:16 am ]
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Aerlinn, I'm so glad you wrote that post about Elven 'magic' and I couldn't agree more. I also view elves more in the same league as men. But the elves are Ilúvatar's Firstborn and have been graced with a longer lifespan than men so they will naturally develop and perfect certain skills to the point where it will appear almost supernatural to younger souls.

I have been reading through the discussion on who killed the Witchking and I'm not sure where I stand. All the arguments seem plausible.
Whether he died by the Numenorean blade, or was killed to fulfill a prophecy by a woman and a halfling, or if the spell was broken when Pippin stabs him.
I think I might lean towards the prophecy argument. I like how prophecies are so powerful that they almost create 'magic' within themselves. Like it was prophesised how Aragorn was going to be king and he had carried that prophecy with him in all his years as a ranger and finally were ready to fulfill it.

Author:  Aerandir [ November 3rd, 2007, 2:32 pm ]
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I kind of agree with you, Aerlinn--I don't think Elves should be classed with the Ainur, but...I think that it's not just 'skill' that sets them apart from man. I don't think it's merely a 'skill'. I think it is more of a 'supernatural' thing that Elves have over Humans. It'd be 'magic' in the sense that the hobbits use it in LotR, but to the Elves, it is commonplace.

Author:  Sinbearer [ November 3rd, 2007, 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  "Magic"....

What seems "magic" to us is only the working out of a universal law that we don't understand. Some creatures are on a different plane from us or have greater knowledge than us so from our perspective some things seem magical. But, like Galadriel explained, those magical "powers" seem seem rather commonplace and perfectly natural to the creatures that possess them and they are not a departure from universal law.

I like what you said about the elves Aerlinniel. I do think their "magic" was more along the lines of increased knowledge from living longer. They, in many ways, were a lot like men.

Author:  Firiel [ November 4th, 2007, 6:10 pm ]
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Here's what Tolkien says about Magic in a few of his letters;

"By [Magic] I intend all use of external plans or devices…instead of development of the inherent inner powers or talents—or even the use of these talents with the corrupted motive of dominating: bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills...
“I have not used ‘magic’ consistently…I have not, because there is not a word for [the magic of the Elves] (since all human stories have suffered the same confusion). But the Elves are there (in my tales) to demonstrate the difference. Their ‘magic’ is Art, delivered form man of its human limitations: more effortless, more quick, more complete…And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation." Letter 131, p. 145-146.

“Anyway, a difference in the use of ‘magic’ in this story is that it is not to be come by by ‘lore’ or spells; but is an inherent power not possessed or attainable by Men as such. Aragorn’s ‘healing’ might be regarded as ‘magical’, or at least a blend of magic with pharmacy and ‘hypnotic’ processes. But it is (in theory) reported by hobbits who have very little notions of philosophy and science; while [Aragorn] is not a pure ‘Man’, but at long remove one of the ‘children of Lúthien.’” (Letter 155, p. 200)

Author:  Sinbearer [ November 4th, 2007, 11:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Thanks....

Thanks for compiling that for us Firiel. Many of us have read the letters but it can be hard to turn at will to the right places. It at least makes Tolkien's intention and opinion more clear.

Author:  Aerandir [ November 5th, 2007, 11:04 am ]
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Most unfortunately, I do not have The Letters. Thanks, Firiel!

Aerlinn, I think that Firiel's post answered your question better than I can, and if my post contradicted the quotes that Firiel posted, then I yield to Tolkien's better knowledge of his own creation. :P

Author:  Firiel [ November 5th, 2007, 3:31 pm ]
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I hope I didn't sound like I thought no one else had read the Letters! I'm sure a number of people have. Those quotes just put so perfectly in Tolkien's own words what I think we were trying to say.

Author:  Aerandir [ November 5th, 2007, 3:59 pm ]
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Oh, no! Don't worry about that, Firiel. It didn't sound that way. Those quotes fit great.

Author:  Aerandir [ November 6th, 2007, 6:04 am ]
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Yeah--I'd much prefer it if earth was the way Tolkien thought it should be; his idea of it was fantastic. No machines (not even computers O_O). It'd be much more beautiful, though we'd have a lot less diverse friends. <_<

But then, there's still an apparent difference between the 'Magic' of the Elves and the 'Magic' of the Ainur. Which is, of course, good (the difference).

Author:  Aerandir [ November 7th, 2007, 2:42 am ]
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Ditto. I love the Elves more....but the Ainur are seriously awesome. Very awesome.

Author:  Elthir [ January 26th, 2017, 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: No Living Man

Sinbearer wrote:
(...) Remember the words in RotK: "So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of the Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his undead sinews to his will."

So obviously it was Merry’s blow that allowed Éowyn to kill the Witch King.

I agree, but not in the sense that (I think) you mean though, judging from what you write in your fuller post.

As for his words, "Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"? Could another men or an elves or dwarves have killed him? I think the Witch King was full of himself! If you lived more than a millennium, had a very high rank, and were invisible, you would think you were hot stuff too. Anyone there could have killed him—...

I agree again. Mere mortals are guilty of hubris, thinking they are too powerful to be hindered, and so it was with the Witch-king in my opinion.

... after Merry poked him, of course.

This is where we part ways, I think. Merry's sword was magical, yes, and extra effective, but I don't believe the Witch-king was invulnerable before Merry's strike. Very powerful? Yes, and thus unlikely to be "brought to nothing" by even strong warriors, although strong willed warriors had a chance. Eowyn is in a particular frame of mind to harness her will to even stand before the Witch-king here, noting that, in earlier days, the Witch-king feared Boromir (not the Boromir of the Nine Walkers): "... and even the Witch-king feared him. He was noble and fair of face, a man strong in body and in will,..."

In any case, I don't think Merry's strike suddenly made the Witch-king vulnerable to ordinary blades, but being extra potent, gave Eowyn her chance. She doesn't exactly react quickly after Merry's stab, but the Wraith does nothing to try and parry her blow. Merry's stab broke a spell that knit sinews to will... think about what would happen if the connection between a man's sinews and will was broken, he would not be able to will his arm to lift a weapon in defense, for example, or twist his body to avoid a deadly strike.

The Nightingale wrote:
...but would the dead have been able to kill the Witchking, as they’re not a living man?

It's questionable whether or not the Dead that followed Aragorn could slay anyone. Tolkien even adds that it was not known if their swords would bite -- we know the Witch-king's weapons bit -- but the Dead instilled fear (as did the Witch-king) in any case, and fear is a powerful weapon on the battlefield.

That said, as far as fulfilling the prophecy, which is not quite the same thing as who "could" have brought the Nazgul-lord to nothing, really it was Eowyn (not a man) and Merry (a Hobbit, not a Man) -- according to a footnote in Appendix A anyway -- I mean that's how the Rohirrim themselves saw the prophecy as being fulfilled, and I see no reason for the reader to not follow Tolkien's arguable lead here.

To my mind the very point, and fun, of the phrophecy by Glorfindel is that it's tricky (internally, I wouldn't say Glorfindel meant it to be tricky, but is came out that way), the wording leaving options revolving around the ambiguity of the spoken word "m[M]an", which of course was not spoken in English, but still spoken.

Author:  Jax Nova [ January 26th, 2017, 11:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: No Living Man

Hm... interesting indeed!

I always thought it was a set thing that the Witch King could not be killed by a man. Was this (apparently) not a cold hard fact but more of an assumption?

So perhaps, given the right man (or men) he actually could have fallen in battle?

Also, what about the other wraiths? Were they able to be killed?

Author:  Elthir [ January 27th, 2017, 11:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: No Living Man

I would say that the prophecy is about what would happen... very different from what could happen. Glorfindel says "Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall." And as this foretelling was in Third Age 1975, Glorfindel was correct about the timing, as the Nazgul-lord fell more than a thousand years later! And the prophecy is fulfilled in two senses: "And thus the words of Glorfindel long before to King Earnur were fulfilled, that the Witch-king would not fall by the hand of man. For it is said in the songs of the Mark that in this deed Eowyn had the aid of Théoden's esquire, and that he was also not a Man but a Halfling out of a far country." Appendix A, The House of Eorl

Merry "also" was not a Man, and Eowyn was not a man, and M[m]an sounds the same when spoken. Note also a couple examples of prophecy from Macbeth: "When Macbeth meets with the witches in Act 4 Scene 1, the witches call up an apparition, an Armed Head, which tells Macbeth "Beware Macduff," who ends up killing Macbeth. Then, a Bloody Child appears, that says "none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth," which reassures him, because he doesn't know Macduff had a Caesarean birth. A Crowned Child appears next, holding a tree in his hand, who tells him that he will not be "vanquished" until "Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him," which turns out to be the way his enemies creep up on  him, hidden in trees cut from Birnam Wood, at the final battle on Dunsinane Hill." It's about "shall" and "will", and about technicalities: in a sense Macduff was not "of woman born", that is, not in the traditional way of course, and obviously the trees themselves did not go to war -- noting Tolken's comments about his Ents in a letter, interestingly: "Their part in the story is due, I think, to my bitter disappointment and disgust from schooldays with the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of "Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill': I longed to devise a setting in which the trees might really march to war. And into this has crept..." JRRT, footnote to letter 163, 1955

As mentioned above, the Witch-king feared Boromir, but Boromir received a Morgul-wound which shortened his days. A notable problem was standing firm to face the Witch-king in the first place, which is why I think Tolkien makes sure to note that this Boromir had a strong will. The wraiths instilled unreasoning fear: "But it is the Black Captain that defeats us. Few will stand and abide even the rumour of his coming. His own folk quail at him, and they would slay themselves at his bidding." And when Théoden arrives upon the field and the Witch-king descends upon his winged steed "Men cast from the saddle lay govelling on the ground."

Fear is a great advantage in battle! Plus, if you strike the Witch-king (assuming that you're one of the few who can master your will to fight him) it better be a deadly blow, as all blades perish that strike the Lord of the Nazgul (this in noted earlier in the story after the encounter with the wraiths and Aragorn and the Hobbits, before reaching Rivendell). We see that both Merry and Eowyn's swords perish, Eowyn's strike being lethal.

As for "killing" a Ringwraith, in my opinion I don't think they can die in the ordinary sense until Sauron is destroyed. After the flood Gandalf explains: "You cannot destroy Ringwraiths like that," said Gandalf. "The power of their master is in them, and they stand or fall by him." Later Gandalf hopes that the wraiths have been scattered, obliged to return to Sauron empty and shapeless. "If that is so, it will be some time before they can begin the hunt again." One scene I find somewhat odd however, occurs much later, when Gandalf says of the Winged Messenger: "One that you cannot slay with arrows," said Gandalf "You only slew his steed. It was a good deed; but the Rider was soon horsed again."

From this it would appear that Legolas' arrow wouldn't "kill" the wraith, at least not in an ultimate sense, but what I find a bit odd here is how understated this seems, as, to my mind anyway, if the Wraith had been "taken out" by the arrow or by his fall, I would think this would be thought of as a very good deed, comparable, at least in some measure, to Eowyn's, as far as Ringwraith "killing" goes in general... but then again, if so, so was the flood before Rivendell. Perhaps Gandalf is thinking "big picture" here, and in any event that the Rider would "soon" be horsed again also appears to downplay Legolas' shot. As a side note, interestingly, in a draft version of the slaying of the Witch-king, at one point Eowyn's deed was the killing of the winged steed -- so that the Witch-king was "slain" in the crash of his fall!

Anyway, I think it was rather about taking out the wraiths, taking away their power for a time, and even though they seemingly could return, eliminating them from the scenario at hand was still a great victory. Eowyn and a Halfling beat Sauron's great captain of fear! "For her shield-arm was broken by the mace of the Witch-king, but he was brought to nothing, and so the words of Glorfindel..." And in this instance, the Witch-king was truly brought to nothing in that Sauron fell soon after -- all the Nine were vanquished and could not return, and so Eowyn and Merry's "felling" of the Nazgul-lord proved to be his ultimate slaying as well.

That's how I see this matter anyway :)

Author:  Jax Nova [ January 28th, 2017, 9:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: No Living Man

Eye Sea! lol

I guess I did not recall that it seemed he could return after Eowyn killed the witch King. (if he could I guess he would have had no time due to the ring's demise)

It makes a lot of sense, though, as you say it. The prophecy was not about what could happen but what would. That's a simple perspective shift that changes a lot in my eyes.

Author:  Deumeawyn [ March 26th, 2017, 12:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: No Living Man

Nice essay Elthir! Thank You! I think I learned more about Middle Earth in the week I have been here than in the last 17 years!

The lines are more in depth than the abbreviated line Eowyn used in the movie.

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