I posted this in the question for Narnion section, but I hoped others might have some thoughts, so I'm copy and pasting it here: Hi Narnion, In episode 6, you spend some time on a line from Gandalf which you were interested in primarily because of a pair of understatements: "That is a chapter of ancient history which it might be good to recall; For there was sorrow then too, and gathering dark, but great valour, and great deeds that were not wholly vain." In your reading, you seemed to take it for granted that it would be good to recall this story because it provides hope that Sauron can be defeated. But, I note, that's not the reason given in the text. The first reasons Gandalf gives us directly for why this is worth remembering are "For there was sorrow then too, and gathering dark". Only after he's mentioned those, does he mentioned "great valour, and great deeds". He clearly views those as a secondary reason -- which is emphasized by the fact that they are only included after the conjunction "but". (In fact, an extremis interpretation could be that he views "great valour, and great deeds" as a counter-argument to his reasons for remembering the story). I know this seems to oppose the reasons why we might expect it to be important to remember this chapter. But if Tolkien had wanted to emphasize the "great valour, and great deeds" he could easily have phrased this in a way which made that clear: "That is a chapter of ancient history which it might be good to recall; For there was great valour, and great deeds that were not wholly vain, but there was sorrow then too, and gathering dark." (The reason I think "great valour, and great deeds might be a counter-argument is because this re-phrasing makes "sorrow" and "gathering dark" seem like a counter-argument -- but let's set that aside. And, no, I don't think he reversed the reasons so they could complement each-other instead of countering one another. If he wanted that, he could have replaced "but" with "and also"). This is the obvious phrasing to emphasize "valour, and great deeds". The fact that he doesn't use it, and puts sorrow first, seems intentional and important. I'm not sure why he would choose this emphasis, except that we later hear Aragorn tell stories to the Hobbits in order to buoy their spirits -- and he chooses sad stories. In fact, he takes stories which (when you read them in the Silmarillion) don't have sad endings, but makes them sad. This makes me wonder if, in LOTR (or, perhaps in Tolkien's personal philosophy), stories of sorrow have power. If they make the listener stronger. And if Gandalf's reason for saying it would be good to recall is this reason above all others. To me, this makes more sense than recalling it for the sake of proof that Sauron can be cast down by might of arms -- because that approach was mostly vain. And he must already know it won't work now, so it's not like he's trying to present a blueprint for what must now be down. Does this seems reasonable to you? Do you think sorrow has a power like this in LOTR? Or have I invented something which isn't there?