Why did Saruman watch the stars?


Well-Known Member
The class discussed many possibilities, but I would like to suggest one more.

One of Saruman’s tasks and skills, according to Gandalf, was to devise devices to counter the Enemy.

Galadrial also constructs a device which helps counter the Enemy: The Phial of Galadriel. From whence does it draw its power? From the light of Earendil’s star.

If you want to build devices to counter the Enemy, one of the best sources of power seems to be the light of the Silmaril, now the Evening and Morning Star.

If Galadriel makes powerful devices incorporating the light of that star, it is highly likely that Saruman, when attempting to figure out how to make instruments to counter the Enemy, would also be interested in studying the stars. Particularly Earendil’s star.

Ash Nazg

New Member
I like this inference quite a bit!

The reference to Saruman's watching the stars from the pinnacle of Orthanc was, I think, supposed to make us consider Saruman as Gandalf used to think of him in times past. Gandalf is the one reporting this to us, and it would make sense for him to be thinking about his (presumably few) previous visits to the tower of Orthanc during this moment. And so it might well follow that Saruman used to study the stars for exactly the anti-Sauron purpose that you are suggesting -- but now doesn't any longer.

I also like your argument about the Phial of Galadriel. Saruman and Galadriel are known to have disliked and/or distrusted one another for many years -- and if Saruman was, at one point, trying things her way, but without results, then it might have contributed towards his obvious resentment toward her.

It feels to me like Saruman would probably get some kind of perverse pleasure out of leaving Gandalf outside, with no shelter, with only the stars of Elbereth for company. The same Elbereth that he has now abandoned.


Well-Known Member
(Caveat, I missed class and haven't had time to catch up yet, so this is pure Mike unfiltered by the group discussion.)

I think in context here, there's something righteous or holy about taking delight in the beauty of the stars (see: goodly Elves), but it turns to something sinister or heathen when it's about seeking hidden knowledge in the stars