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 Post subject: Re: No Living Man
PostPosted: January 26th, 2017, 11:59 pm 
Warden of the Knight
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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?

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 Post subject: Re: No Living Man
PostPosted: January 27th, 2017, 11:29 am 
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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 :)


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 Post subject: Re: No Living Man
PostPosted: January 28th, 2017, 9:57 pm 
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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.

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 Post subject: Re: No Living Man
PostPosted: March 26th, 2017, 12:39 am 
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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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