Episode 168 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Comment on “try and” vs “try to”:
  • There seem to be relatively equal usages of each phrase, though certain characters lean one way or the other. This may be a question of the formality of the context of the word choice.
  • It’s possible that there may also be a difference in the certainly of success being alluded to.
  • The narrator does lean more towards “try to”, as does Sam, though the reason is unclear.
  • “Try and” seems to be associated more with hypotheticals, though this is not universal.
  • Note: While this may simply be arbitrary, that is not consistent with Tolkien’s other choices.
  • “Try to” is a double-infinitive, which emphasizes the second infinitive as the priority, while “try and” is simply a compound infinitive as one action that emphasizes the trying foremost.
  • Note: While the OED describes the two phrases as interchangeable in usage, Tolkien was someone who might have had strong opinions about the linguistic distinction between them.
The Riddermark of Rohan the Rohirrim, the Horse-lords:
  • Note: It was in the first draft of this speech during the Council that Tolkien discovered the concept of Rohan, just has he had also done with what was later known as Gondor.
  • Gandalf may be shaming Gwaihir slightly in saying that he will need a swift steed on land, but he also explains himself for the benefit of the hobbits and others who aren’t familiar with Rohan.
  • The distance and relatively recent establishment of Rohan may make it unknown to Elves, et al.
  • By explaining who the Rohirrim are, he establishes the context for his choice of there to alight.
  • Gandalf seems to be saying that Gwaihir has done the best thing that he could do for him.
  • Note: By mentioning Edoras as the first thing about Rohan, Tolkien establishes a connection between Anglo-Saxon and the Rohirrim, as “edoras” means “buildings” in Old English.
  • Rohan had been mentioned previously in Boromir’s story, establishing their loyalty to Gondor, and The Gap of Rohan was mentioned by Gandalf to locate Isengard in geography.
  • While the normal assumption would be that Rohan was to be trusted, Saruman has broken that, since his proximity means that they are either in league with him or in danger from him.
They pay a tribute of horses:
  • What is the source of Gwaihir’s information on the relationship between Rohan and Mordor?
  • This isn’t clear, but it does highlight the mission of the Great Eagles in Middle-earth, and why Radagast went to them. They not only collect information with their eyes, but also in hearing.
  • Gwaihir’s use of the passive voice not only obscures who has spoken the rumors about the Rohirrim but reverses the emphasis back onto the action taken in the taking of horses.
  • Note: In scientific papers, the passive voice is almost exclusively used to focus on the objectivity of the experiment or study, rather than the scientists involved, which may betray subjectivity.
  • This emphasizes the second-hand nature of this information, as opposed to direct observation.
  • Note: We will learn later that while this rumor is incorrect, Éomer has also heard this rumor, saying the truth behind it in that black horses are being stolen from Rohan and taken to Mordor.
  • Where would Gwaihir have heard the rumor? Possibly people like the Beornings or Radagast, though it’s not clear where they would have heard it, as they are far enough away not to see it.
  • It’s also possible that the source is in Gondor, as they would have an interest if it were true.
  • This may be a recent rumor, as Boromir probably hasn’t heard it, based on the time elapsed.
  • Saruman, through Wormtongue, may be the ultimate source, spreading this rumor to create disharmony or ambivalence among the Rohirrim, and mistrust between them and Gondor.
  • This would be hugely countercultural among the Rohirrim, so it must be spread maliciously.
  • Perhaps this has been transmitted to the Eagles through other birds, such as the crebain.
  • While Orcs would be directly involved in the theft of the horses and seen with them, they are more likely to boast about their raids than lie, and no one would give their stories credence.
  • It’s also possible that Saruman lied directly to Radagast, which he later told the Eagles in messages, and then spread it to Rohan through Wormtongue, from whom Éomer heard it.
  • He may have done this as a way to reduce resistance in the north among the people with whom Radagast has contact, thinking that if Rohan has thrown in with Mordor, they have less chance.
  • This also isolates Rohan in advance of his military campaign and gives him cover for his actions.
  • While using orcs and wolves himself is dubious, that is only true for those who witness him do it.
  • Why would Sauron need so many black horses? Partly for the Nazgûl, as many would die or refuse to be handled by them and the other servants of Sauron, and some for his human cavalry.
  • A disinformation campaign is in line with Saruman’s character and strategy, and explains why Gwaihir has incorrect information, which would be supported by what he has personally seen.