Minas Tirith Forums Create a New Topic  Reply to this Topic
profile | register |
search | faq | avatars | citizens
donate | about | library
 
Minas Tirith Forums » Lord of the Rings » Denethor, the Palantír, and Aragorn
Author Topic: Denethor, the Palantír, and Aragorn
Anorgil
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 4494
posted      Profile for Anorgil   Email Anorgil   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
I've heard it said that Denethor knew through the Palantír that the black fleet was sailing up the Anduin, but not that Aragorn had commandeered it.

The first part is indisputable: "And even now the wind of thy hope cheats thee and wafts up the Anduin a fleet of black sails."

But is it possible that Denethor did see that Aragorn had commandeered it? Denethor considered Aragorn a usurper, so I think he would probably consider Aragorn's presence in the fleet and imminent arrival just as bad as (or maybe even worse than) the arrival of the Corsairs themselves.

From: Illinois or Iowa | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Snöwdog
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 15

posted      Profile for Snöwdog   Author's Homepage   Email Snöwdog   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Good observation if we believe that Denethor only had himself in consideration. of course there was history between Denethor and Thorondir, so it is conceivable as a thought from reading the tale. []
From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Although, Denethor did not do his own cause any favours by committing suicide and trying to get his son to do the same.
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Alcuin
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5185
posted      Profile for Alcuin   Author's Homepage   Email Alcuin   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
JRR Tolkien moved back and forth between whether Denethor knew whether Aragorn was master of the black ships or not. There’s a discussion of this by Christopher Tolkien in War of the Ring and by Hammond and Scull in Reader’s Companion.

The black sails are important because, according to Tolkien, the Númenóreans used them during the Second Age. (See Peoples of Middle-earth, “Tal-Elmar”.) So when Elendil and his sons were blown to Middle-earth from the wreck of Númenor, their tattered sails were black, not white. The black was in honor of the night-sky and the stars of Elbereth. Thus when Aragorn unfurls Arwen’s Standard with the heraldry of Elendil upon it, the jeweled stars are a direct reference to old Númenor and part of a double reference to Elendil (black sails as well as the heraldry).

For the Corsairs, the black sails had come to mean the overlordship of Sauron the Dark Lord. (Cf. the Haradrim king and his scarlet serpent upon black whom Théoden cast down in the Charge of the Rohirrim.) Aragorn’s seizure of the ships of the Corsairs is symbolic of old Númenor (the Faithful Númenóreans, remnant of the Eru-fearing Edain who settled Westernesse) overcoming the Black Númenóreans (“Kings’ Men” in third millennium Second Age) of Sauron.

As Tolkien wrote this section, at one point, he apparently had Denethor gesturing toward Osgiliath with his left hand – “With the left hand thou wouldst use me for a little while as a shield against Mordor” – indicating the attacking Army of Minas Morgul; then gesturing with his right – “and with the right bring up this Ranger of the North to supplant me” – indicating Aragorn and his approaching fleet from Pelargir. But this intention did not survive into the final version: as published, Denethor is unaware that the Black Fleet is full of his allies and fellow countrymen (much less Aragorn and his Rangers of Arnor), and chooses to immolate himself rather than face what he believes to be inevitable defeat. The text survived intact, but the intention behind it was altered.

So as it stands in publication, Denethor believes the defense of his City is about to be utterly overwhelmed by reinforcements of Corsairs from Umbar, ancient Gondor’s chief rival in Middle-earth for most of the Third Age (remember, Minas Ithil only fell two-thirds of the way through the age) and formerly the greatest of the Númenórean fortress cities of Middle-earth. But allusions to Tolkien’s other intention – that Denethor knew his old rival, Thorongil, Aragorn in disguise, was about to return and claim the throne of Gondor – is fundamentally intertwined into the text. And that intention shows through.

Complicating the matter one step further is the fact that Denethor is well aware that Aragorn is coming, though as published he is unaware that Aragorn has passed the Paths of the Dead. (Sauron is also unaware of this. To both users of the palantíri, Aragorn has vanished; and while we know Sauron has communicated with Aragorn via the palantír of Orthanc (Aragorn did not speak to him, but threatened him, showing him Narsil reforged), we are not told whether Denethor has or not.) Denethor discerned as a young man who Thorongil was – the Heir of Isildur in disguise – and clearly understood his claims as rightful King of Gondor. He knew Aragorn was in Rohan well before Gandalf and Pippin’s arrival in Minas Tirith, not only from the palantír, but probably from more mundane methods, too. (Denethor was a suspicious dynast: he may well have maintained spies and informants in Rohan. He would certainly keep tabs on his single most important ally at the point of crisis!) Gandalf suspected Denethor had fallen as had Saruman: this both irritated and amused Denethor (he never succumbed to treachery, though at last his mental health broke). He deeply distrusted Gandalf: In the end, his pride overcame his judgment.

[ 04-02-2016, 09:33 PM: Message edited by: Alcuin ]

From: New England | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
I would guess that both Denethor and Sauron think that Aragorn is with the Rohirrim at this time, but cannot see because the Rohirrim are surrounded by the very darkness which Sauron made. I like the idea of Gondor spies in Rohan. I don't suppose we need to be George Smiley to figure out who he was. Hello, Grima, like to play both ends down the middle do we?
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
faithfull
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 11417

posted      Profile for faithfull   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Denethor considered Aragorn a usurper
Right - Who wants to be de-throned? He chose his fate, poor soul.
From: East of the sun, West of the moon | Registered: Oct 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Flammifer
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 11407
posted      Profile for The Flammifer   Email The Flammifer   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Two things to be overly picky. []

Denethor couldn’t be de-throned as he was never “throned” [] (is that a word?). He sat on a stone chair in front of the throne.

I don’t believe he “chose” his fate, as the line of the Ruling Stewards was hereditary. Could he with any kind of honor whatsoever decline this stewardship? I wouldn’t think so.

(Sorry, being very persnickety here. [] )

From: East Bight | Registered: Jun 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
To out picky picky! One can be on the Throne without been a ruling King. Emperors, who where selected differently and one up, I think from Kings, could be, I think Oliver Cromwell, not a King, considered himself to have sat on the throne of England. Denethor probably thought he was on a throne.
Didn't Faramir show a dignified way of rellinqusing his rule with Aragorn? I admit it would be hard for someone like Denethor who had ruled for decades to do the same but imagine that if Denethor survived, Aragorn would have found a way.

From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Flammifer
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 11407
posted      Profile for The Flammifer   Email The Flammifer   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Right-o Hamfast, we can use the word “throne” as a position of power (a concept), or as an actual “seat” (an object).

I was persnicketying that “throne” in this case was an actual “seat”:
quote:
At the far end upon a dais of many steps was set a high throne . . . But the throne was empty. At the foot of the dais, upon the lowest step which was broad and deep, there was a stone chair, . . . and on it sat an old man [Denethor]. . .
And yes Faramir was most honorable in relinquishing is rule. I love the repartee between him and Aragorn:

quote:
Faramir met Aragorn in the midst of those there assembled, and he knelt, and said: ‘The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office.’ And he held out a white rod; but Aragorn took the rod and give it back, saying: ‘That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs’ as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!’
There’s much more of course, but this peaceful “change of the guard” (if I may) is written with such beauty and poignancy does it not beggar a tear or two. []
From: East Bight | Registered: Jun 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, that is a nice passage. I somehow can't see Denethor doing this.
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
faithfull
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 11417

posted      Profile for faithfull   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Persnickety said,
quote:
the line of the Ruling Stewards was hereditary.
[] I meant he chose his ultimate fate, the timing and manner of his death. Fear and ego drove him there. [] Who we become while we are confronting fear is the true test of everyone's character. I believe it was Churchill who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear, itself."
From: East of the sun, West of the moon | Registered: Oct 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Snöwdog
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 15

posted      Profile for Snöwdog   Author's Homepage   Email Snöwdog   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I believe it was Churchill who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear, itself."
[] Oh Dear. []

quote:
Faramir met Aragorn in the midst of those there assembled, and he knelt, and said: ‘The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office.’ And he held out a white rod; but Aragorn took the rod and give it back, saying: ‘That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs’ as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!’
It is quite touching really. Aragorn saw the advantage of having a good and trusting 2nd separate line.
From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Varnafindë
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 4097

posted      Profile for Varnafindë   Author's Homepage   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
It is quite touching really. Aragorn saw the advantage of having a good and trusting 2nd separate line.
Touching indeed.

And it would still be a good idea even for a ruling King to have a Steward. A chief advisor, and someone who could be trusted with temporarily running the business if the King was away. He would have less authority than the Stewards had had for centuries, but he would be second only to the King.

Unfortunately, Denethor wouldn't readily have accepted being second to anyone.

From: Narnia, also connected with Norway | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Equally unfortunately, no-one anticipated what Faramir's great-great-Grandson did to the son of Eldorion. That treason was nasty!
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Alcuin
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5185
posted      Profile for Alcuin   Author's Homepage   Email Alcuin   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Equally unfortunately, no-one anticipated what Faramir's great-great-Grandson did to the son of Eldorion. That treason was nasty!
What are you talking about? or is this just a jesting aside?
From: New England | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Flammifer
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 11407
posted      Profile for The Flammifer   Email The Flammifer   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
What are you talking about? or is this just a jesting aside?
If so, bad jest, bad typo? Off with his head! []
From: East Bight | Registered: Jun 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Varnafindë
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 4097

posted      Profile for Varnafindë   Author's Homepage   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Equally unfortunately, no-one anticipated what Faramir's great-great-Grandson did to the son of Eldorion. That treason was nasty!
First I thought you might be talking about something from The New Shadow in HoME 12, but I cannot find it there. Is it what you thought would have been Tolkien's conclusion there, if he had finished that story?

(Or are you talking about some fanfiction that you have written?
Or even about some fanfiction that you are planning to write?
If so, write it in The Green Dragon and link to it there, so we know the source [] )

From: Narnia, also connected with Norway | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mithrennaith
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5239
posted      Profile for Mithrennaith   Author's Homepage   Email Mithrennaith   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
[Varnafindë:] And it would still be a good idea even for a ruling King to have a Steward. A chief advisor, and someone who could be trusted with temporarily running the business if the King was away.
So good an idea that the Kings had had a Steward from Rómendacil I on [UT 3 II iv & note 53], although the office had become hereditary only since Pelendur, King Ondoher’s Steward. Aragorn would have had to have a very good reason indeed to abolish the office, though he might have abolished the heredity and selected his own Steward, as had been the rule until Ondoher’s time. But his wisdom was that Denethor’s behavior, counterweighed by Faramir’s conduct during the War of the Ring, did not warrant it.
From: Amsterdam, Netherlands | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
And I suppose that the Stewards did rule Gondor for around one thousand years and did not make a total mess of things considering.
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Create a New Topic  Reply to this Topic Minas Tirith Forums » Lord of the Rings » Denethor, the Palantír, and Aragorn
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic       The Red Arrow!       Admin Options: Make Topic Sticky   Close Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic

About  ~ • ~  Contact  ~ • ~  Minas Tirith  ~ • ~  F. A. Q.  ~ • ~  Help

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.6.1