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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » Why didn't Eagles just fly the Ring to Mt. Doom? (Page 3)
Author Topic: Why didn't Eagles just fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
Dingalen
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Oh boy, now we are seriously off the track. I can't believe, that Prof. Tolkien would have put it that way. Or even considered it that way! This is rapidly degrading into rambling about american foreign policy. Does anyone want to cite the Monroe-doctrine? Yes? Make my day!
Did you hear President Bush giving his "state of the union" speech: "When America wORKs, it's eConomy prospers. Therefore I can summarize my economical policy in one word: Jobs." Halleluja! []
Sounds very much like "grandad telling a story" to me. Stephen King style...
Stop!

The eagles are not allegorical - their role and character is too much part of the mythology to explain it in such a simplified fashion. The eagles are aloof, because they stand (fly) beyond the world of men - part because they might be still close to Manwë, part because they are not concerned by the troubles of men.

[ 01-30-2002, 02:23 PM: Message edited by: Dingalen ]

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Roll of Honor TheGentleman
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The fact that the Eagles always arrive at the last minute would seem to suggest that they do know what is going on and only get invloved if things are not going too well against Sauron and no hope is left.

For example the Eagles saved the day when:

1. During the Quest of Erebor in 2941, Gwaihir and his Eagles rescued Thorin and Company from Orcs.
2. During the Battle of Five Armies Gwaihir and his eagles played an important roll.
3. Gwaihir freed Gandlaf from Isengard and then later carried him from Zirak-zigil in The War of the Ring.
4. During the last battle Gwaihir and his brother Landroval turned up again at the last minute when the battle seemed lossed.

There are probably more examples but these are the only ones I remember.

However - they didn't turn up at the Battle of the Pelenor Fields, although that wasn't going too well either. This would suggest that they knew of Aragorn's journey up the river and didn't feel their aid was needed.

It seems strange that they only appear when aid is needed - never before.

This could almost be interpreted as some form of 'divine intervention'?

[ 01-31-2002, 03:19 AM: Message edited by: TheGentleman ]

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Dingalen
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Good point. But wouldn't that imply, that the eagles of middle earth are still close to the Valar?
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Roll of Honor TheGentleman
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Or even Illúvatar himself - a little extreem I know but I'm certain the Eagles were far more than mere 'large birds' in the right place at the right time.

[ 01-30-2002, 02:35 PM: Message edited by: TheGentleman ]

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Galion The Tipsy Butler
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quote:
...rapidly degrading into rambling...
Dingalen, you ramble with the best of 'em. []

[ 01-30-2002, 04:54 PM: Message edited by: Galion The Tipsy Butler ]

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Roll of Honor Thorondor
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I did not intend to imply that the Eagles are allegorical; they are not representative of angels, just that their role in the events is similar to the role angels often play in other stories.

As pointed out above, the Eagles never get involved unless the situation is desperate, and it hangs on a "knife-edge". There are plenty of battles where things go badly and the eagles never show.

They also are not "expected" or anticipated (with a few exceptions). One must be fully prepared to die for your cause, and must put up a fully committed fight, before the eagles will save your tail. You cannot sit back and expect that "the eagles will show up and save us anytime now". That won't work.

I see no indication that the eagles are no longer in Manwe's service. Despite his pledge of non-intervention, he remains concerned about affairs in ME and likely gets regular updates from his messengers. I believe that the eagle take orders from Manwe only, and are unlikely to get involved unless they know or believe that he wishes it.

The comparision with the angels works like this. If you are true to your quest and are prepared to make an entirely selfless sacrifice, you *might* receive a gift. You might be rescued from beyond all hope as an act of divine pity. Perhaps its Manwe at work, perhaps its Eru working though Manwe or the eagles directly, but the rescue is only afforded to the "hopeless" who have earned it.

Again, I'll repeat...I do not believe that the eagles are angels, or representations of angels. The comparison is one of literary use.

[ 01-30-2002, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: Thorondor ]

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Dingalen
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You "do not believe the eagles are angels" or divine messengers - but they only appear when a dedicated hero or a righteous cause is rightfully entitled to a "deus ex machina" according to the true meta-physical law of of a fairy tale world:
"Good always triumphs over evil"...

I advise you to read "Out of the frying pan, into the fire" from The Hobbit to get an impression of the eagles as earthly denizens of middle earth. They are characters - earthly creatures with personalities and interests - not only a divine rescue force.

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Orome
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I have made several posts on this topic and still feel that noone has contradicted my argument as to why they could have easily flown in.
So it is up to me to finally end the controversy i suppose.Enough of playing devils advocate.

What jumped out at me right away about the idea is that the ring always corrupts its bearer and makes itself extremely difficult to throw away. And we saw that the more powerful the person to take it the greater the danger to their integrity.
Doesn't it seem logical then to assume that Tolkien viewed the eagles as more than stupid beasts. That perhaps he saw the eagles as powerful beings both of body and mind. It seems to me that there is no reason that the eagles wouldn't be more easily corrupted than frodo or sam were. So perhaps the thought passed through Gandalf's mind as early as his last visit before frodo left the shire. He must have known they could have been corrupted or he would have led them on the path that bilbo took instead of marching towards Gondor.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
_ _ _
Orome

"The strongest hand uppermost!" Brian Boru, Lion of Ireland.

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Dingalen
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As a friend of cites, you might like this one Oromë:
"Nobody can convince you as easily as you yourself."

First of all, Warg came up with the weak explanation "that the eagles might be tempted by the ring" right at the beginning of the discussion. I do not see, how he eagles could be tempted by the ring, if they are just "messengers of the gods" - they would have no interest in power or glory on middle earth. That is why Tom Bombadil was not tempted by the ring: He was content with existing in his wood with no interest in the lures of the outside world. As Galadriel said: "I would be a queen wonderful(?) and terrible. All would love me and despair. [...] .., but I resist the temptation and remain Galadriel." The ring has only a lure, if the person/creature wielding it has an active interest in the world. So scrap the eagles - what use would it be to them?
As for Gandalf: He knew, he could not burden the eagles with the ring, because it would drag these proud & independent creatures into a war, that was not theirs to fight.

I think you judged too soon, Oromë. (But that is just my opinion.)

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Orome
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How did you judge me? It is of no matter.
Anyway i missed that post by Warg. My apologies.
I disagree however that the eagles could not be lured. We the readers weren't given the luxury of seeing into their thoughts. We don't know if they had interests in the movements of the world, and in my opinion the ring latched on to even those who didn't. The hobbits had little interest outside the shire before setting on their journey. Whether Bilbo or Frodo, before meeting Gandalf they definately had tunnel vision about the world.
I certainly have seen no solid evidence that they were "messengers of the gods", and in fact the statement sounds vaugely ludicrous to me.
I see Gandalf as having no qualms with grabbing whatever live body he could get to help his cause.
If you see another plausable reason why they couldn't have done it, please share.

[ 02-26-2002, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: Orome ]

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Dingalen
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Look-a-there. Another ego ruffled!
Don't take it personal, Oromë, but I think you are simplifying things a bit, if you exaggerate the danger of the lure of the ring and imply that Gandalf has a machiavellian character ("the end justifies the means"). There are enough indications in the book, that Gandalf is determined but not ruthless in his struggle against Sauron: He scolded Frodo, when Frodo wished Gollum's death in FotR, he left the decision of how to deal with the ring to the council of Elrond, he convinced Bilbo to part with the ring to save the hobbit's spirit (instead of having the hobbit carry the ring to safe Rivendell, while Gandalf was still unsure about the true nature of ring) and he sacrificed himself to save the fellowship from the Balrog.
And the eagles are not there on his beck and call, they are independent creatures - giving their aid only, when they deem it necessary. If the eagles did not offer to transport the Ringbearer to Mordor, then they might not want to!

So what lure would the ring have to the eagles? What kind of power would they wish for?
(And I admit "messenger of the gods" is a misleading term, as I explained earlier. They ARE earthly creatures. But from the description of their appearance and interferance they possess great oversight and wisdom - when to act and when to refrain from acting.)

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Orome
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My ego is in perfect form. Don't worry about offending me, I enjoy your comments.
I don't think it is clear that the eagles had some sort of foresight about their actions. The Eagles never showed up by accident, there was alway a reasonable explanation for why they showed up when they did.
Certainly Gandalf did notthink the ends justify the means, but he certainly weighed every option. I can't see anything wrong with his going to the eagles for help. Unless he saw something we, the readers, did not. And the only thing i can see him thinking was that the eagles could be corrupted. He knew more about them then we do.
Maybe i have a set of blinders on as to this topic, if so give me another reason that the eagles didn't just fly 'em in.

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Dingalen
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Now we get to an interesting point: (Atleast for me.)
The factions invited to Elrond's council to decide on the fate of the ring (or rather to hear Elrond's judgement and accept it apparently so equianimous): The elves, the dwarves, Boromir as a representative of the men of Gondor and Aragorn for the Dunedain of the North. No representative of Dale from king Brand, no representative of the Rohirrim, nor of the ents, the eagles or any of the other sentient free peoples of north western middle earth.
It is this council, which decided on the fate of the ring - that it actually should be destroyed.
Most probably, because these are the factions, that were involved in the fate of the ring till now and remembered the awfull power of Sauron. They saw themselves responsible for the ending of Sauron's might, as they were the "old" peoples - those that had known and resisted him since the forging of the one ring.
And Gandalf agrees with this concept by accepting it. And by this he also accepts, that the ring is an affair of the elves, the dwarves, the dunedain and - by fate - the hobbits. nd you can be sure that if not Bilbo had been involved with the ring by chance, Gandalf would not have dragged the hobbits (or any other of the unknowing younger races) into this struggle, if it was not inevitably necessary.
So why not the eagles? Their ability to provide swift transportation into Mordor would not be the only advantage of their participation in the war of the ring - taking him swiftly to Minas Tirith, providing reconnaissance about the enemies' movements and their physical strength in battle (remember the battle of 5 armies?) would have been invaluable.
And why not convince the ents to participate in the battle against Sauron for good measure, too? After all, if Sauron would rule, the ents would be affected far more surely than the great eagles!
Because they are both, ents and eagles, old peoples. They had remained aloof in most struggles of the free peoples against the dark lords. And Gandalf would nor could force them to an involvement in the affairs of men and elves beyond what they were willing to offer.

As for the eagles entering Mordor: I find it very decisive, that they only entered Mordor to save the ringbearer AFTER Sauron and the flying Nazgul were destroyed. It was their first involvement in the battles of the war of the ring - while in the battle of 5 armies they appeared readily to crush the goblins. This suggest a very simple explanation: They did not dare to venture against Saruman's or Sauron's troops as long as the magically potent lord of these armies was still active!

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Orome
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Thanks Tuor.
BAH! Dingalen. Did not dare? I find that laughable after you have decried their nobility in your previous posts. Useful in scouting? Bah. Sauron wasn't exactly being subtle about his attacks, it was pretty straightforward.
The Eagles can't be compared to the ent's. The ent's did their part. By crushing Isengard they facilitated the eventual defeat of Sauron.
This is beside the point anyway. We are not questioning why they did not do battle but why they did not take the ring.
Finally you said this:
quote:
This suggest a very simple explanation: They did not dare to venture against Saruman's or Sauron's troops as long as the magically potent lord of these armies was still active!
I thought i had already busted that argument down. They need not have plowed through enemy forces, but simply flown the borders of Mordor until they found an opening. Certainly they could have seen any potential enemy long before it saw them. And Sauron's eye was not on them but, focused mostly on Rohan and Gondor.
The reason is simple indeed. We must assume that Gandalf knew the eagles could have been corrupted.

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Telperion
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i just saw this thread and didn't read the posts, but i saw a thread just like that in an israeli tolkien forum and they had a very interesting conclusion:

had the eagles brought frodo to orodruin, the quest would have failed - frodo would still claim the ring to himself. it was the journey himself that allowed the destruction of the ring; the meeting with gollum, to be exact. the eagles can't force frodo to destroy the ring. manwe won't let them.

anyway, that's my bad translation of what they made of it. mybe it can help you out.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadow of his fluttering leaves. Telperion the one was called in Valinor, and Silpion, and Ninquelótë, and many other names;
The Silmarillion, "Of the Beginning of Days"

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Roll of Honor TheGentleman
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Telperion, although and intersting point it only answers the question of what would happen if they did fly the ring to mount doom, not why they didn't.
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Telperion
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what do you mean? they didn't because it wouldn't have worked for the reasons above.
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Orome
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Yes it is clear you didn't read any of the above posts.
here is your quote:
quote:
had the eagles brought frodo to orodruin, the quest would have failed - frodo would still claim the ring to himself. it was the journey himself that allowed the destruction of the ring; the meeting with gollum, to be exact. the eagles can't force frodo to destroy the ring. manwe won't let them.

If the eagles had taken it there was no need for frodo to come.
The only plausible reason we have seen is that Gandalf knew the eagles could be corrupted.

[ 03-26-2002, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: Orome ]

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Roll of Honor TheGentleman
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Telperion - then that would assume that they knew what was going to happen if they did help.
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Telperion
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orome, i assumed the option of the eagles carrying the ring ALONE to mordor is immediatly ruled out because they are very powerfull, thus will be instantly corrupted, as you say yourself.

TG, i was trying to answer the question 'why was frodo bearing the ring without the eagles the path chosen by iluvatar'. and he - naturally - knew what was going to happen.

anyway - i was just introducing a thought. maybe i'm wrong. []

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadow of his fluttering leaves. Telperion the one was called in Valinor, and Silpion, and Ninquelótë, and many other names;
The Silmarillion, "Of the Beginning of Days"

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Dingalen
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Hmm, Oromë, tou are surprisingly stubborn in clinging to your point of view. Grasping for every argument that will support it:

Certainly they could have seen any potential enemy long before it saw them.

How "certain" is "certainly"? Just flying along the borders till they see an opening.. This is not as easy an operation as you make yourself believe. First, they need to be given the ring or be entrusted with the ringbearer. Eagles circling Rivendel could be noticed by spies of Sauron or Saruman - alarming them of the possibility that the ring could be moved by air. And remember the attack of the crebain on the fellowship in Dunland? The dark lord certainly had more assets in the air than just the flying Nazgul - assets which could and would be used for interception of the ring. Assets that could as easily be used as flying spies to alarm Sauron of airborne intrusion. The eagles did not enter Mordor till Sauron was destroyed - they must have had a reason! Did they not dare to take the opening?

From the map it seems to be 60 miles from the ered lithui to the orodhruin. Maybe a giant eagle could fly that distance in one hour. And nobody knows what Sauron could employ to get it from the sky - but he would. An eagle is to mighty a creature of Manwe to let it pass. In the very least he would assume it to be a spy!

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Aragorn III
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I didn´t read all posts, so I may repeat something. Eagles can make the trip from Rivendel, to Mordor because at the end of thee storie they arrive to the Black Door and help the few attackers. And they can fight against the Eight, because there they did. And they probably could pick up Frodo, Sam, Gandalf and some other Elven Lords to go to Mt. Doom. Gandalf and the Elven Lords would take out some of Saurons Power, and the Eagles would make the rest.
But maybe, like eagles are creatures of Manwe they can´t take place so activly in the storie.
I don´t know....

Thosse are the options, Pick one up.
At your service, Aragorn III.

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Orome
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Good pt. Aragorn.
Dingalgen have you read all my posts?
I think i have explained myself pretty well.
As for saurons creatures in the air i think you are forgetting how good the eyesight of the eagles was. They knew somethin would be coming long before what was coming knew they were there.
There is no reason the couldn't have flown it excepting their corruption.

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I don't think any of Sauron's creatures, be them Men, Orcs, or Crebain could have stopped the Eagles. But, what of Sauron himself? If he noticed Eagles flying into Mordor he could have personally cast a bolt of power at them to knock them down. I mean, if Gandalf could attack the Nazgûl thus... [he raised] his hand, and from it a shaft of white light stabbed upwards. The Nazgûl gave a long wailing cry and swerved away., couldn't Sauron do something similar?

Just a thought.

[ 04-03-2002, 10:23 PM: Message edited by: Aiwrendel ]

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Dingalen
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Aragorn III, check LotR again: The eagles did not engage the eight OR the nine OR even a single Nazgul in combat - neither on the Pelennor fields, nor at Isengard, nor in Mordor. They only intercepted AFTER Sauron was defeated and the Nazgul destroyed. They either did not dare to go against a Nazgul or they choose to stay aloof of the struggle, till it was decided - so as not to influence fate by their intervention (or whatever metaphysical reasons you can cook up).
They certainly had the chance to intercept the flying Nazgul on his way to or even at Isengard! And they didn't. Their intervention at Pelennor (i.e. attacking the witchking) might even have saved Theoden's life. Except, that most probably it also means death to an eagle to strike the Witchking (as Merry & Eowyn).
The eagles might have disliked the ring - but being corrupted by it? Oromë says that "the mighter you are, the more easily you will fall to the ring's lure". Which is has some truth, but misses some vital points (as I explained in previous posts, which Oromë doubtlessly has read...):
Let me give a simple example: Aragorn appears in the story to be a more impressive character than Boromir - from which you could glean that he is more "powerful" than Boromir - Galadriel & Gandalf most certainly are. Yet Boromir was tempted, while Galadriel, Gandalf and Aragorn resisted temptation. Because they were more wise? They had more "will"? So how wise are the eagles then, Oromë? How strong is their will?

As far as I understood it, the lure of the ring is the temptation of what a wielder can achieve or imagine himself achieve with the power it grants. That is why Boromir, heavily burdened with his obligations to Gondor, was tempted beyond his strength to resist. The ring is a "deus ex machina" - seemingly a solution to all the wielder's wishes. Granting Gollum invisibility to sneak unnoticed, granting Boromir power to save Gondor, granting Galadriel & Gandalf power to save Middle Earth from whatever ill they could foresee. But what is the eagles interest? What do the eagles want to achieve with it? Would they wield it, its power might corrupt them - but as carriers to the ringbearer? Why should they betray him?

That is why I cannot accept your corruption theory, Oromë. It only offers a superficial explanation to me till now. And I do not think, that I am overinterpreting.

As for the others - middle earth is not to be judged by warhammer or mage knight tabletop standards. It is not a game like diablo or warcraft. You don't just fly in some elven lords on giant eagles to distract the dark lord long enough to give the ringbearer time to cast the ring into the volcano - mission accomplished. Characters on middle earth are not commando-style pawns willing to move around - and to be wasted in whatever missions give the best statistical probability of success. Apart from the faultiness of this inhumane, superficial point of view - even now and here after 50 years of LotR we can't agree upon how mighty the eagles would be in relation to the Nazgul, the elven lords or the wizards. Because it is like in real life: You might have an idea how strong an individual person is compared to you, but you don't know for certain. Everyone has hidden reserves. There is luck, intuition and other persons (helping or harming) modifying the outcome ... just bad weather over the ered lithui and your "elven lords" arrive to early before the ringbearer - and Sauron is warned and wary!

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
As silent as greenwood the great.

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