Monday, March 1

In The Lord of the Rings,

Curumo, Olórin, Aiwendil, Morinehtar, and Rómestámo were what kind of creatures/beings?

Hint: These names are in Quenya. Extra points if you know their Sindarin names, Common (Westron) names, or anything more detailed about them. :-)


Hans said...

I don't know - they don't sound familiar, so maybe they were horses?

billybytedoc said...

Sorry, me too, never heard those names. Are they evil?

Soul Survivor said...

Wizards? Olorin's another name for Gandalf, right? And he's a wizard... I really need to buy a new copy and read again. *eyes her copy disdainfully*

Metamatician said...

We have a winner!

The five wizards, or Istari, were enigmatic beings sent by the Valar from the Undying Lands in the West across the sea to Middle Earth early in the Third Age, so that they might subtly direct the free peoples of that realm against the growing shadow of Sauron.

The plan was only somewhat successful, as the chief amongst them, Curumo (known to many in Middle Earth as Saruman) grew ambitious and desired Sauron's power (and Ring) for himself after long study of it. Another of the Istari became hopelessly lost in his fascination for studying the flora and fauna of the new land, and two others went east to Rhûn and south to Khan, respectively, and little is now remembered of their endeavors.

Indeed, the only "wizard" to achieve the valar's aims was Olórin, known to many as Gandalf or Mithrandir. Though even he was slain by the balrog of Moria (and raised directly Eru Ilúvatar, the maker of all things, in a move widely unpopular with bad guys everywhere), and returned with new powers, he assisted the Fellowship in bringing the ring to the council at Rivendell, and furthermore in thwarting Sauruman's attack upon Rohan and Mordor's attack upon Gondor, thus buying valuable time for Frodo and Sam (and gollum) to sneak into Mordor and destroy Sauron's Ring.

Tolkien changed his mind periodically about names and sequences of events, and at one point the Istari came east in the Second Age, amongst other variations. To paint a relatively consistent picture of who they were, it is virtually certain they were Maiar - ageless spirits created by Eru like the Valar, only less powerful and more numerous. The Maiar tended to serve particular Valar, though this wasn't always the case. At any rate, the entire body of created "demi-gods" - the Valar, Maiar, and those who remained in the void beyond the circles of the world and never entered into Aman, Middle Earth, or anywhere else on Arda (the earth), were collectively known as the "Ainur." An ainu was ageless like am elf (though much more powerful) and would not die by natural means, though as the example of Gandalf shows, they're bodily 'raiments' were made of mortal flesh and they could be slain by violence.

Other examples of Maiar dabbling in Middle Earth include the balrogs, Sauron himself, and Melian in the First Age, from whom Arwen (and Aragorn, and Elrond, though all by different routes) is descended. The Maiar are the most powerful class of beings that come into the story proper in The Lord of The Rings; for the story of the Valar and of Eru Himself, one must read the Silmarillian or other unfinished volumes edited for publication by Tolkien's son Christopher.


Metamatician said...


The names of the five Istari in all three chief languages of the learned of middle earth is as follows (Quenya, Sindarin, Westron):

Curumo, Curunír, Saruman
Olórin, Mithrandir, Gandalf
Aiwendil, ?, Radagast
Morinehtar, ?, Alatar?
Rómestámo, ?, Pallando?

Saruman wore white robes (initially)
Galdalf wore grey robes but returned from death wearing white robes.
Radagast wore brown robes
Pallando and Alatar both wore blue robes.

There is some confusion with the names that will probably never be sorted out, as I've indicated previously. Alatar and Pallando for example, were originally what the Blue Wizards were called "within Valinor" seeming to indicate that these were Quenya forms. However, Tolkien later gave them the names I have given above, though the former names were still used in his notes and correspondence, thus I have equated them, as seems linguistically more correct to me, with the Westron form. And any Sindarin ("common-elf" where Quenya could be called "high-elf") forms of all but Saruman and Gandalf have also, to my knowledge, been lost to time. With the passing of the author went perhaps all chance of settling the matter, much as with the true nature of Tom Bombadil and the question of whether balrogs had wings!

For more on the Istari, see the following links (which may well lead you on an endless journey of linkage, but nevermind that):

Wiki page
Encylopedia of Arda page

You can also of course look up specific terms of interest such as Gandalf, Maia, Sauron, Balrogs, or Quenya on either Wikipedia or The Encyclopedia of Arda, and elsewhere. In print, see the article called "The Istari" in the volume "Unfinished Tales," edited by Christopher Tolkien, for the most succinct distillation of information about them that JRR Tolkien probably ever got close to finishing. It was purportedly to have been written for inclusion as yet another appendix within the Lord of The Rings but wasn't finished when the deadline arrived, and was anyway likely to be excluded due to its length, much as literally dozens of other manuscripts detailing languages, genealogies, and time-lines were also left "on the cutting room floor" - to be picked up and diligently handled by Christopher in the years following his father's death.

Tolkien sure was a nut. The best kind!

Metamatician said...

Last note: I apologize for inevitable spelling and grammatical errors in the comments above; I didn't bother to proofread them before posting because I'm feeling lazy and I doubt that anyone will actually read them anyway.

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