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Minas Tirith Forums » Silmarillion » The Ban of the Valar (Page 1)
Author Topic: The Ban of the Valar
Belthronding
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quote:
But the Lords of Valinor forbade them to sail so far westward that the coasts of Númenor could no longer be seen; and for long they were content, though they did not fully understand the meaning of this ban.
- Akallabêth

Seems to me, knowing human nature, that forbading us from exploring and understanding our own world was folly on the part of the Valar. Tolkien frames the fall of the the Númenóreans with a lust for immortality, and that is true. But I contend that the Valar's very presence invited disaster from the start.

[ 11-13-2009, 02:07 AM: Message edited by: Belthronding ]

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Nimphedal
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But the Valar had never before had Men so desiring to get to Valinor. Men had journeyed from Hildórien into Beleriand just like the Elves did from Cuiviénen, but Men in the First Age had not been so willful as to try and cross the Helcaraxë east-west to reach Valinor.

It does seem a bit foolish, essentially pinning the Númenóreans to an island, but they did have Middle-earth to explore if they wished. Being an adventuring people and part of the Secondborn race that was barred from a land any Elf was allowed to journey to probably stung their pride greatly, making for that dangerous combination.

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Tuor
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quote:
But I contend that the Valar's very presence invited disaster from the start.

Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. The fact remains that in Tolkien's Secondary world, the ones who tried to go against the ban were considered evil. Those who were good did not try to go against the ban. There is only one exception to the rule and that was a man tried to warn the Valar of what was about to take place(not because he wanted to become immortal). Tolkien never tells us what happens to him. If Tolkien does, I've never read the story.
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Roll of Honor pi
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What do you mean, Tuor? I'm sure you know Eärendil on Vingilot sailed the heavens with the Silmaril on his brow.
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Wetwang
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Um, wasn't Eärendil half-elven and therefore not strictly speaking a man?
Or am I just splitting hairs? []

E: Or should that be 'heirs'?! []

[ 11-13-2009, 07:07 PM: Message edited by: Wetwang ]

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Tuor
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If Earendil was to be considered Man, then he'd have to leave this world. Since he remains in Ea, he chooses the life of the Elves. The half-elven live the life of the Elf until the decision is made to accept the life of man.

But I think Pi's point is valid, there is one other who breaks the ban, but this one was foretold and was part of the plan. I see nothing wrong with adding Earendil to the list.

My point remains, evil men try to achieve immortality, while the good accept Eru's gift. Of course many have a difficult time seeing Tolkien's evil as evil, both characters in the Secondary world and people in this world.

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Erinti
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I think that Tuor is referring to Amandil, Elendil's father, who tried to sail to the West to seek pardon from the Valar for his people, and was never heard of again. As far as I know, his fate was left open.

But then, there was also Tuor, who definitely was a human, and also sailed into the West. Of course, his fate is also just referred to as a legend, and thus actually left open.

[ 11-18-2009, 11:57 AM: Message edited by: Erinti ]

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Grimwulf Stormspear
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But I contend that the Valar’s very presence invited disaster from the start.

That may be the dumbest thing I have read this week. [] []

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Alatar the Wizard
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"But I contend that the Valar's very presence invited disaster from the start."

I take it that you are arguing that if anyone would know of a "fatal flaw" in human beings, it would be the Valar. I think this is a fair point, actually.

I suppose it depends on just what the Valar expected of human beings. Perhaps they thought that their warning was enough, and if human beings were to violate the ban, well tough for them. And it did seem to take Sauron's corrupting influence to get human beings to do so, if memory serves.

Of course, it is also possible that the downfall of Men here was entirely part of Eru's plan. Manwë may simply have been told: "Men will screw up eventually and suffer the consequences. Let them."

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CALVUS
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Does it say anywhere that if mortals start living in Valinor they would become immortal? Or does living around the Valar turns you into one? Or did Sauron get the Edain thinking that way?
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White Gold Wielder
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The last one.
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Hamfast Gamgee
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Yes, Sauron talked a whole bunch of sh*t to the Numenoreans!
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Earendilyon
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@ CALVUS:

when the people of Númenor first began to question the Ban Manwë sent messengers to them saying:
quote:
'The Doom of the World (....) One alone can change who made it. And were you so to voyage that escaping all deceits and snares you came indeed to Aman, the Blessed Realm, little would it profit you. For it is not the land of Manwë that makes its people deathless, but the Deathless that dwell therein have hallowed the land; and there you would but wither and grow weary the sooner, as moths in a light too strong and steadfast.'
- The Silmarillion, Alkallabêth

~ Ear.

[ 12-08-2009, 07:36 AM: Message edited by: Earendilyon ]

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

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CALVUS
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Thanks Ear! []
So the issue is the proximity of the Valar made it easier for Sauron to dupe the Edain - the sailing ban was not in itself the cause for their downfall.

I wonder what Sauron might have done if Valinor had been removed to its current location after the first age. Or if the Valar had come to the Island and lived among the Edain to show their ideas were just that - ideas?

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Hamfast Gamgee
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I'm not sure that the Valar were ever fated to live amongst Men!
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Belthronding
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quote:
But the design of Manwe was that the Numenoreans should not be tempted to seek the Blessed Realm, nor desire to overpass the limits set on their bliss, becoming enamoured of the immortality of the Valar and Eldar and the lands where all things endure.
This is the sentence immediately following the one I quoted in the opening post of this thread. Manwe knows already of man's weakness, and the dangerous potential of the situation, but allows interaction with the Eldar anyway.
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Roll of Honor Aoife
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The Valar don't always make choices that result in only pleasant consequences. In "Of the Coming of the Elves" we read: From this summons came many woes that afterwards befell (regarding the summoning of the elves to Aman).
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Belthronding
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quote:
The Valar don't always make choices that result in only pleasant consequences.
Indeed. I found this in the essay "The Istari" from Unfinished Tales, in which the origins and purposes of the Valar in regards to the wizards are revealed:

quote:
And this the Valar did, desiring to amend the errors of old

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White Gold Wielder
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I wouldn't say 'revealed', since that isn't exactly a full disclosure of their intentions. A sliver perhaps, and here-say at that (reputable though it may be).
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The White Hand
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Numenor was built and given to the Numenoreans in reward for their alliance with the Valar against Melkor, who had controlled other Men (except the Three Houses of the Edain) by causing them to fear the Gift of Eru (i.e. their mortality); so this would be a special case, whereby Numenor was held to a higher standard than the lesser men.

This was also perhaps why their treachery suffered a greater punishment than that of the lesser men, as the Valar abandoned them completely for quite some time, and they had to earn their redemption.

As for the Istari, Gandalf was about the only one who was much help; Saruman did more harm than good, while the Blue Wizards seem to have failed utterly in keeping the entire East from joining Sauron.

[ 04-25-2011, 01:00 AM: Message edited by: The White Hand ]

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Belthronding
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quote:
I wouldn't say 'revealed', since that isn't exactly a full disclosure of their intentions.
OK then, lets examine the situation. The Valar had already recognized their folly in inviting the Eldar to Aman before the making of the sun and moon. There are several quotes from the Silmarillion that mention this idea. Why tempt fate again?

Perhaps the Music required it?

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Belthronding
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Three year later WGW, but better late then never. Here's the rest of that quote from The Istari, and it does reveal their intentions, and note their mistake (italics my own)

quote:
This the Valar did, desiring to amend the errors of old, especially that they had attempted to guard and seclude the Eldar by their own might and glory fully revealed ... :

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White Gold Wielder
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My quibble with "revealed" wasn't that your statement was wrong, but that it is highly likely that it is an oversimplification.

I would even consider use of the word "intentions" to be an oversimplification when aimed at the Valar. They are even more subject to their inherent nature than the Elves, and it is my belief that it is more a case of fulfilling their being than weighing the pros and cons and deciding, or Manwe's five-year plan.

This train of thought eventually comes down to the actual divisions between Man, Elf, and Vala. In the end, Elves have always been just beyond our full understanding (and vice versa). We can speak to each other and understand one another, but we cannot claim to "get" one another in all the most important ways - in our being. I would venture to say that a similar situation exists between Elf and Vala.

But between Men and Valar, there is an order of magnitude of difference. To me, any understanding of the Valar is akin to a child understanding what parents think and do after tucking them into bed. They may overhear things and even be told things, but the child simply cannot fathom the mind of the parent. It is beyond them.

And the most important conclusion to this is that we are EQUALLY as inexplicable to the Valar. I don't know if many people have this opinion, but it bears out under examination. I could prattle on at length about this, but let's get back to the point...

I would say that calling the Ban of the Valar "folly" is not accurate, just as I would say their "intentions" with the Istari is also not accurate.

I would venture to state that their actions are simply expressions of their being, tempered with long ages of victories and failures and the wisdom that naturally accompanies them.

To give something not human the characteristics of a human in order to further our understanding is a useful learning tool, but it doesn't make it real. I find the "translation" of the actions of the Valar into concepts we can grasp to be sorely lacking in the reverence deserved by the powers of the world.

But believe me, the Valar also revere Men. Why else would they suffer our dominion in these late ages? Actually, there is no "Why". It is a coequal "respect" if you will, as creations of Eru being allowed to be what they are and fulfill the purposes set within themselves.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Maybe it is possible that Morgoth's Ring is so enhanced there is little that the Valar could do to change anyway! []
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Belthronding
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WGW - an interesting take, especially regarding our own inexplicability from the standpoint of the Valar, and our co-equal mutual respect.

And yet, I feel like the logic doesn't completely work, mostly because your claim appears to be denying the Valar free will, and there is no evidence of this that I can think of.

"Fulfilling their being" could imply that all their actions are predestined. I suppose, depending on how you interpret the Ainulindale, that all their actions are predestined - but I think not. There are too many instances of individual Valar doing their own thing - Morgoth being the chief example.

Just because the Valar's intentions and thought processes are inscrutable to Men, does not preclude the possibility that they may err, or that those mistakes could be perceived in some way as mistakes. A child may not totally understand a parent's actions, but they can intuit a fair amount about the basic underpinnings of many adult situations - as I think you sort of said.

I mean, the Valar wanted to protect the Elves from Morgoth, and so they did - by removing them to the West. Surely they didn't intend in that moment to set in motion events that would lead to the destruction of the Trees, murder in Valinor, and Feanor's rebellion? What did they really know of the Music and its meaning while imbued as they were in the trappings of the physical realms of M-E?

You mention their (the Valar's) failures - right there your argument sort of falls apart, no?

I guess what's interesting here regardless of the correct interpretation is the fact that, from the text, we know that the Elves and Men responsible for the recorded history of M-E certainly thought the Valar had erred, and sought to make amends somehow.

The Valar are no doubt orders of magnitude removed from Men, but there is much we share with the Elves, why can't there be a similar sharing with the Valar?

It opens a whole new set of questions...

Maybe Letters can offer some answers.

[ 05-01-2014, 09:04 AM: Message edited by: Belthronding ]

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