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I missed this yesterday, but here are sixty words from Return of the King anyway. I saw a few people do this, and all of the quotes were about the Rohirrim, and I have to admit that was my first instinct too. But then I decided to hear from Legolas:

In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring for himself.  But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron, for is he not of the children of Lúthien ? Never shall that line fail, though the years lengthen

I like these sixty words because they are so full of the contradictions of Lord of the Rings. Aragorn is strong in will because he is descended from a Maia? Really? Like Isildur, who was tempted by the Ring and failed to become a Dark Lord only because of that lucky orc-arrow? Like Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, who rose against the Valar?

Clearly, being of the children of Lúthien is no guarantee. Sauron, who actually was a Maia, can't understand him.

Legolas, what you are saying here doesn't quite add up! But the really important thing is not that Aragorn is strong of will, or that his family will last forever, but that he made his own decision to forgo power. Which is something that Frodo and Sam probably understand better than Legolas, for all his immortality and princely elvishness.

As Diana Wynne Jones says : All power corrupts, but we need electricity. :-D


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
21st Oct, 2015 13:35 (UTC)
Yes, you're right about Mr. Greenleaf's logic. I was pleasantly stirred by his words anyway, so thanks for posting them and for mentioning the sixtieth anniversary, which I would otherwise have known nothing about.
21st Oct, 2015 13:51 (UTC)
I don't know how carefully Tolkien thought those words out, but somehow that sentence reads to me as pure Silmarillion-explainery. Legolas is looking at things in terms of lineage, power and descent: ie, in Silmarillion language - and if you do that, the Ring will get you every time. I bet poor old Celebrimbor would have seen it that way too, and he would be *all wrong*.

You need to be able to look at things in terms of the importance of damp boots, jokes about apples and the fact that there is an excellent pub in Bree, I think.

What a fine book it is!
21st Oct, 2015 19:10 (UTC)
You know, the nights are drawing in. It may be time for me to read LOTR again.
22nd Oct, 2015 18:51 (UTC)
Always a worthwhile plan!
22nd Oct, 2015 18:28 (UTC)
Yes, I was surprised by just how many people picked various parts of the Rohirrim - I don't know whether a couple of people quoting it early on made others more likely to remember it.

(Of course, I'd claim that Éowyn's speech is my favourite, so I'd have picked it anyway, but who knows about sub-conscious influences. ;-D)
22nd Oct, 2015 18:51 (UTC)
There's definitely an argument the Rohirrim get most of the best lines. Did you ever do the thing of reading LOTR and skipping the grim Frodo and Sam bits so that you could spend more time (proportionately) in Rohan and Gondor...?) I did that several times when I was a small bunn obsessively reading and re-reading until it was embossed in letters of fire across my brain...

Considered Faramir and Eowyn facing the darkness together, and also Frodo after the Ring was destroyed (possibly as a bit of an apology for having skipped through his bits!)
22nd Oct, 2015 19:15 (UTC)
Yes, I did that a number of times, too. :-) I have spoken to people who skipped Rohan and Gondor bit to read Frodo and Sam more often, though - I guess they balance us out.

(I also borrowed RotK from the library regularly to read the Appendices, because our one-volume edition didn't have them.)
4th Nov, 2015 23:10 (UTC)
Yep, I'm a frequent skipper of all that battle-stuff to get back to Frodo and Sam :-) Takes all sorts :-D

(not that I don't think there are some fantastic sections and passages among the Rohan and Gondor stuff, though, some of them even including battles :-) )
24th Oct, 2015 17:16 (UTC)
I read it not as "descendant of a Maia" (he doesn't say "child of Melian") but descendant ofLuthien specifically. The one who beat two Dark Lords (the second and greater single-handed), talked the Judge of the Dead into letting a dead Man return to life and persuaded the Valar to let her change her species, all for love. So I thought that what Legolas was really saying was that that level of lunatic single-mindedness would be proof even against the Ring.
24th Oct, 2015 17:53 (UTC)
Same argument would apply to Isildur and Ar-Pharazôn though, surely? I am inclined to consider Aragorn's character as more divorced from his ancestry.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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