Questions for the Lore Masters.

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by David H on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:42 pm

[quote="Elthir"]
Elthir (that's me) wrote: '... and an author might even employ 'chestnut' instead of brown just for literary reasons.....
OK but I meant employing 'chestnut' for a horse to raise an image of brown or 'reddish brown' in the reader's mind.
In that case "chestnut" may be the proper term. 'Brown' would suggest the look of having been left in the oven a little too long. In the end the author is free to choose his words and the reader free to imagine, but the more the author and the reader share an understanding words the closer the images may be.

Or are you, by posting your opinion that Shadowfax is not white, challenging Mrs Figg's artistic interpretation?

Most definitely NOT! Shocked I have too much respect for Mrs Figg {{and fear of her hot, redheaded temper}} to ever challenge her personal artistic interpretation!!! {{{What kind of hot water are you trying to get me into here, Elthir???}}}


To note the context of JRRT's description: Tuor sees a host of the army of Gondolin, and among this host are representatives of the Seven Gates: '... but their captains and chieftains were upon horses, white and grey.' (Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin

To me, the most interesting thing out of this whole conversation has been your observation that of all the horses described in JRRT, you have yet to find one that has other colour or markings than white, grey, or black. That's extremely interesting!


OK and if the purpose behind choosing a black horse in a story is because it is associated with hearses, highwaymen, or the 'evil guys' then did HRT really have much, if anything, to do with authorial intent?

In my opinion yes. I think Tolkien was aware of the noble symbolism when he chose white an grey mounts for certain characters, and of the fell symbolism when he chose black mounts for others. To me it seems obvious, but if somebody else doesn't see it, that's fine with me too.

Does HRT factor in to Tolkien's decision to note that Tuor sees a group of Elf-chieftains and captains upon horses white and grey, given that any 'grey' horse can look white to the eye?

This is the one point on which I have to strongly disagree with you (though only because you seem to enjoy it Razz). The majority of grey horses do not look white to the eye! They may turn white when they get to be 10 or 15 or 20 years old, but having once been a grey horse they will always be considered a grey horse, though they may also be called a white horse because of their current colour.

It's really not that hard a concept. Just imagine going to a convention for grey haired people. All different shades would be there, including some people with hair that you might normally call white, but the doorman let them in anyway. White is used very loosely in this context. Now imagine an author describing the crowd.... do you see what I mean?

As to what the author really intended, I'm guessing that JRRT would have dismissed the question of horse colour in a couple of words and been amazed that any of us cared. Just my opinion.
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:46 pm

Suspect yeah just watch it Dave! Very Happy

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by David H on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:51 pm

Yes ma'am! Very Happy
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Elthir on Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:35 pm

David H wrote: In that case "chestnut" may be the proper term. 'Brown' would suggest the look of having been left in the oven a little too long. In the end the author is free to choose his words and the reader free to imagine, but the more the author and the reader share an understanding words the closer the images may be.

The point was (returning to the context of this) that an author who knows nothing about horses might chose the word chestnut instead of brown because he or she prefers the word and desires this colour image. I'm not arguing it can't be more specific than that, it's just an example of how a reader might bring HT to the tale despite an author's intent.


HT means 'horse terminology' as 'HRT' is making my posts too long... and it's much harder to pronounce anyway.


Elthir (me again) wrote: OK and if the purpose behind choosing a black horse in a story is because it is associated with hearses, highwaymen, or the 'evil guys' then did HRT really have much, if anything, to do with authorial intent?

David H responded: In my opinion yes. I think Tolkien was aware of the noble symbolism when he chose white an grey mounts for certain characters, and of the fell symbolism when he chose black mounts for others. To me it seems obvious, but if somebody else doesn't see it, that's fine with me too.

Well this much seems obvious enough to me too David. What isn't obvious to me is that HT has anything much to do with such symbolism however.

Elthir wrote: Does HRT factor in to Tolkien's decision to note that Tuor sees a group of Elf-chieftains and captains upon horses white and grey, given that any 'grey' horse can look white to the eye?

David H responded: 'This is the one point on which I have to strongly disagree with you (...). The majority of grey horses do not look white to the eye! They may turn white when they get to be 10 or 15 or 20 years old, but having once been a grey horse they will always be considered a grey horse, though they may also be called a white horse because of their current colour.'


But I wrote given that any grey horse can look white to the eye -- that's about potential, given HT. What you seem to disagree with here is the Wikipedia assertion (which I either misquoted earlier of has changed since! as it now states): 'The vast majority of so-called "white" horses are actually grays with a fully white hair coat.'

Not being a horseman I had no reason to think this untrue, but in any case I did not post the quote again, and chose my wording differently here.

It's really not that hard a concept. Just imagine going to a convention for grey haired people. All different shades would be there, including some people with hair that you might normally call white, but the doorman let them in anyway. White is used very loosely in this context. Now imagine an author describing the crowd.... do you see what I mean?

I imagine an author might describe this crowd as including white and grey haired people -- or -- as here you seem to be saying that white can be used loosely to include people with grey or white hair, that you think an author might use white loosely to include white and grey.

If so, what does this illustrate about the Gondolin example ('upon horses, white and grey') with respect to Tolkien's arguable intent and HT?

As to what the author really intended, I'm guessing that JRRT would have dismissed the question of horse colour in a couple of words and been amazed that any of us cared. Just my opinion.

Well intent implies to me what the author thought about when he wrote something and put into the story with purpose, not how he would have reacted to a later question, about that something, from fans.
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by David H on Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:59 pm

Elthir wrote:
The point was (returning to the context of this) that an author who knows nothing about horses might chose the word chestnut instead of brown because he or she prefers the word and desires this colour image. I'm not arguing it can't be more specific than that, it's just an example of how a reader might bring HT to the tale despite an author's intent.

The writers I know would never do that. They tend to be obsessive about researching details. Aside from the fact that it's fun, there's the fear of editors if something were to slip by them and make them look foolish. Do you think Tolkien was so amateurish as to not trouble with simple research? And when you're referring to "an author who knows nothing about horses" are you referring to Tolkien?? I thought we had already clarified that point.


Well this much seems obvious enough to me too David. What isn't obvious to me is that HT has anything much to do with such symbolism however.

And it's become obvious to me that it isn't obvious to you. What can I say? It's obvious to me Smile



I imagine an author might describe this crowd as including white and grey haired people -- or -- as here you seem to be saying that white can be used loosely to include people with grey or white hair, that you think an author might use white loosely to include white and grey. If so, what does this illustrate about the Gondolin example ('upon horses, white and grey') with respect to Tolkien's arguable intent and HT?

Let me try it this way: In HT as is in PT (painter's terminology) their is a clear distinction between grey and white but there is no clear boundary. The spectrum fades seamlessly form one to the other just like green to blue, orange to red etc. What the Gondolin quote suggests to me is noble, wise men on noble, wise steeds. HT reinforces this when you factor in that the greying comes with age and experience. The wisdom of older horses is understood. By contrast, young horses have a lot of energy but spook easily and need a lot of correction. Not a good mount for a leader, symbolically or practically.

You know, Elthir, if you're really interested in this subject you should just go out to a stable and look at some horses, white and grey. I think a lot would become clear to you that I'll never be able to explain through the mysteries of the internet.
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Elthir on Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:57 pm

David H wrote: The writers I know would never do that. They tend to be obsessive about researching details. Aside from the fact that it's fun, there's the fear of editors if something were to slip by them and make them look foolish. Do you think Tolkien was so amateurish as to not trouble with simple research? And when you're referring to "an author who knows nothing about horses" are you referring to Tolkien?? I thought we had already clarified that point.

Yes my commentary there was purposely not about Tolkien. And though admittedly a minor and general point, I think you might agree that 'an author' who knows nothing about horses does not need to research that describing a horse with the word chestnut will raise a 'somewhat specific' colour image in the reader's mind. Probably obvious enough, but anyway...


And it's become obvious to me that it isn't obvious to you. What can I say? It's obvious to me Smile

If I ask someone to explain what the term 'black' means within horse-circles -- given that I already know what in means as an adjective, and given that I already know what associations it might carry with respect to horses -- if I ask someone what black means with respect to horse terminology, is the answer going to include anything about highwaymen or hearses?

What the Gondolin quote suggests to me is noble, wise men on noble, wise steeds.


I can agree with noble steeds. And in addition I don't see them (with Tuor's eyes) as all white to the eye, despite that a 'grey' horse can actually look white to the eye if we are talking HT.

HT reinforces this when you factor in that the greying comes with age and experience. The wisdom of older horses is understood. By contrast, young horses have a lot of energy but spook easily and need a lot of correction. Not a good mount for a leader, symbolically or practically.


But maybe you're putting the horse before the cart? Sorry I couldn't resist again.

So to clarify first: you think the 'greys' here actually look grey to the eye? in other words, a purely visual image of distinct colours (compared to white) is at least part of Tolkien's intent behind his Gondolin example?

Also if in HT a 'white' horse refers to a horse that '... has white hair and fully or largely unpigmented (pink) skin. These horses are born white, with blue or brown eyes, and remain white for life' (unless this too is incorrect from Wikipedia) how do we know its age? And I don't mean how can one find out with respect to a given horse in the Real World (by checking its skin or how large it is or whatever), I simply mean, if this is true with respect to HT, when a reader simply encounters a horse described in a book as white, how can how old it is be known?

You know, Elthir, if you're really interested in this subject you should just go out to a stable and look at some horses, white and grey. I think a lot would become clear to you that I'll never be able to explain through the mysteries of the internet.


Hmm, that would be nice of course, but I'm not sure what it is you think would become clear to me, within the context of this discussion, by seeing horses again in real life, but as they say: you can lead a horse to water... but you can't easily explain the reflected colour in that water.

I may have that saying wrong Wink


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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Elthir on Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:18 pm

More examples. Also, this has no real significance in the following.

The Hobbit published 1937

Rohald white -- Gandalf's horse in the 1960 Hobbit -- noted as white in the published Hobbit but not named there.
white pony noted in The Hobbit around the time when the Dwarves are attacked by the Misty Mountain goblins
four white ponies appear in Beorn's home

Thirty white horses on a red hill ... well, in a riddle, so not really horses but teeth of course.

The Lord of the Rings published 1954, 1955 (with some Hobbit examples too)


Asfaloth white
White-socks name of a pony at least
white pony painted on a sign (so yes just an illustration of course)
Shadowfax grey, shines like silver, shadow-grey
Snowmane white
Hasufel 'dark-grey'
Arod 'lighter' than Hasufel (seemingly referring to colour as opposed to build)
The Riders of Rohan as horsed in this chapter 'their horses were of great stature (...) their grey coats glistened'
steeds of the Black Riders black
Rohan is noted to have had few black horses, due to theft
Eomer wears a white horse-tail
Eorl the Young illustrated as riding a white horse
Felarof 'white foal'
Windfola 'great grey steed' (Dernhelm's horse)
Stybba 'shaggy grey pony'
a company of knights of Dol Amroth 'riding grey horses'
Galadriel and Celeborn ride 'white steeds' into Minas Tirith
Arwen rides a 'grey palfrey' into Minas Tirith
Galadriel rides a 'white palfrey' to the Grey Havens
the Riders of the King's House rode upon white horses singing a song of Theoden
Bilbo rides a small grey pony to the Grey Havens

When confronting the Witch-king on his black horse, Glorfindel rides his white horse (Appendices)

Epilogue (second version) not used, nor published by JRRT himself

'The Riders also have many ponies, especially in Harrowdale; white, brown, and grey.'

Silmarillion (or Silmarillion related texts)

Nahar white, shines like silver in shadows

'Orome rode before them upon Nahar, white in the Starlight' Annals of Aman 'Then his white horse, Nahar, shone like silver in the shadows; and the sleeping earth trembled at the beat of his golden hooves.' Annals of Aman Orome's horse is noted as white in the Sketch of the Silmarillion (1926, but revised later, possibly as late as 1930), and his 'stallion' is noted as 'golden-shod' in the Lay of Leithian (roughly 1925 -- 1931) as well as 'shod with gold were his great horses'

Ecthelion rides a white horse
Tuor a grey horse was brought for Tuor
'... their captains and chieftains were upon horses, white and grey.' Fall of Gondolin, revised but unfinished version, Unfinished Tales, early 1950s

The Lay of Leithian (again roughly 1925 -- 1931)

XI
Once wide and smooth a plain was spread,
where King Fingolfin proudly led
his silver armies on the green,
his horses white, his lances keen;
his helmets tall of steel were hewn,
...


The Book of Lost Tales Tolkien's early prose, written in his early style. In The Theft Of Melko Melko steals a herd of black horses from Orome. And from The Chaining of Melko

'But when the great Gods and all their folk were armed, then Manwe climbed into his blue chariot whose three horses were the whitest that roamed in Orome's domain, and (...) Fionwe his son stood behind him and Nornore who was his herald ran before; but Orome rode alone upon a chestnut horse and had a spear, and Tulkus strode mightily beside his stirrup, (...) Telimektar his son but just war-high was by his shoulder with a long sword girt about his waist by a silver girdle. There rode the Fanturi upon a car of black, and there was a black horse upon the side of Mandos and a dappled grey upon the side of Lorien, and Salmar and Omar came behind running speedily, but Aule...'


Again, not necessarily all the examples, as that would take a bit of reading!


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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by David H on Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:59 pm

I still don't like that Wikipedia white quote. It's not exactly false but it's misleading. It comes from a kind of nitpicking that only came into what you call HT with the advent of modern breed registries and genetic testing. To say it one more time, throughout history, most critters called "white horses" are mature critters that were once called "grey horses". The whites that Wiki is talking about were sometimes referred to as 'pure white', "true white", albino etc. They were fairly rare, and considered something special, but weren't always differentiated from the other "white horses".

What you call HT was never a precise science but you can usually tell pretty quickly if a person doesn't know what they're talking about. That's why an author shouldn't bluff if they want to be taken seriously.

Since you like Wikipedia, why don't you read this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roan_%28horse%29
especially the part about roan vs. grey, and consider whether Shadowfax might not have been a blue roan. Because I trust Tolkien to not intentionally use misleading language, I assume that Shadowfax was not a roan. A person with no horse knowledge could easily think otherwise.
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Elthir on Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:25 pm

David H wrote: Since you like Wikipedia, why don't you read this article: http://en.wikipedia...

For the record I don't like Wikipedia and generally dont trust it, but was using it for mere convenience knowing that you might correct it if wrong or misleading.

So I had no real confidence in Wikipedia before you made it even less... but I'll read this Wikipedia page you're suggesting here Wink


especially the part about roan vs. grey, and consider whether Shadowfax might not have been a blue roan. Because I trust Tolkien to not intentionally use misleading language, I assume that Shadowfax was not a roan. A person with no horse knowledge could easily think otherwise.

I trust Tolkien to not intentionally use misleading language too Smile
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Lancebloke on Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:36 pm

I have a question that might have already been talked through on many occasions, but I will ask it anyway.

What or who was there first living, sentient being in middle Earth?

I ask this because there seem to be several references to the oldest things walking and being in the world before they came in from outside etc etc.

Is there a definitive answer?
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Mrs Figg on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:35 pm

I reckon it was Tom.

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Ringdrotten on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:44 pm

I thought so too. "First as he was last" as was said by some elf (Elrond?) during the Council of Elrond. Edorion or Elthir? Smile

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by halfwise on Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:04 pm

I think Tom was a maia, which may not count if you consider living things that originated on middle earth. If counting the first intelligent being who originated on middle earth then Treebeard himself claimed that honor, though perhaps incorrectly.

Don't know where exactly I got the impression Tom was one of the maiar, and in fact Tolkien wrote in reference to him that "some things should remain mysterious, especially if an explanation exists." The qualifier is something so purely Tolkien that it sends chills up my spine. (I need to get my own copy of his letters, I've read a copy once, but mainly rely on second hand references.)


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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Elthir on Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:07 pm

Ringdrotten wrote: (...) Edorion or Elthir? Smile

I would like to comment but I'm still a bit weary...


... as (after my last discussion above) I was behorsed for many days, wandering wild and nearly witless.

But I have added some new examples of white and grey to my list above.
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Eldorion on Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:13 pm

It's good to see you back here, Elthir. I had started to get a little bit worried. Smile
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Lancebloke on Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:46 pm

Ringdrotten wrote:I thought so too. "First as he was last" as was said by some elf (Elrond?) during the Council of Elrond. Edorion or Elthir? Smile

But doesn't Tom himself say he was there before the powers came in from outside or something to that effect suggesting he was there before the Valar and Maiar came in to middle earth? Also, the ring had no effect on him which it did to beings such as Maiar (Sauron, Gandalf, Saruman for example).

Also, I thought the elves awoke the ents and taught them to speak etc?

This is why I am confused.
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Mrs Figg on Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:15 pm

I would like to think it was Tom who sang all the plants and creatures of the Earth awake. I love you

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by halfwise on Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:32 pm

Correction to my last statement: it was Gandalf who called Treebeard the oldest of all living things. It's quite possible this meant that others that were before him are no longer alive, or no longer on middle earth. So he's not the 'first', just the 'oldest left'. It seems strange that Gandalf, who was quite familiar with Bombadil, would refer to Treebeard in this fashion unless Tom did not in some way count as a living thing. This would class Tom more as a spirit than a living thing.

The elves taught the ents to speak, and for Tolkien language and sentience are inseparable. But the Silmarillion implies that the Ents would be woken simultaneously with the firstborn, or Elves. To me this means that the Elves 'woke up' the Ents to sentience; they were already alive and awake.

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Elthir on Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:19 pm

Back by imagined popular demand (the topic not me)! Here is a statement I found elsewhere on the interweb, by another modern Rohir it seems. I underlined the end part, but only on my actual computer screen. The source is a Tolkien forum, or message board, or chat site... or whatever you call it... but it's not a site for horse chat specifically.

A horse who is considered "grey" Is any horse that starts "greying out" at about one or two years of age. Over their lifetime they get whiter and whiter, but still have dark-colored skin - thus not to be confused with pink-skinned white horses. A true "grey" horse is usually a dapple grey - a horse that remains grey and does not lighten past a certain point. Very few breeds have horses like this, so having horses referred to as "grey" means they are either young to middle-aged, or of a specific breed.

Ista Sharrasi

And hailing from someone with a name like Ista Sharrasi... well it just has to be true!
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by David H on Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:46 pm

I agree the author has a good name, and therefore what is said is almost certainly true. Yet we seem to have a paradox, for I think you'll agree that the website http://www.thehorseguide.com/HorseColors/Grey.htm has a very authoritative name as well, yet they assert that:

Grey occurs in almost every breed, those that it does not occur in are those that have been selectively bred to a narrow or specific color range, such as the Friesian, Cleveland Bay, Suffolk Punch and Haflinger. In other breeds such as the Andalusian, Grey is very common. In some breeds Grey occurs, but is very rare, with only a few individuals existing in the world, such as the Morgan.

What are we to make of all this? scratch
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:31 pm

That you two are obsessed with horses and the colour grey? Wink

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by David H on Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:58 pm

The point that arose out of this discussion that still fascinates me is that all the horses so far mentioned in Tolkien cannon are either black, white, or gray. That's startling, and I still am not sure what to make of it.
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Eldorion on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:43 pm

Elthir wrote:The source is a Tolkien forum, or message board, or chat site... or whatever you call it... but it's not a site for horse chat specifically.

Off-topic, but are you by any chance a member of that site, Elthir? I recognize the username (and googled the paragraph you quoted) and its from a site that I used to spend a lot of time on. Smile
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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Orwell on Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:48 pm

Silver or grey - David does have a thing about it, true! Nod

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Re: Questions for the Lore Masters.

Post by Norc on Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:06 pm

why do you guys take this color of the horse so serious???? it's a metaphor! he is a fiction horse! he is a magic horse!
grey as the morning dusk, grey as shadow, grey as the wind, white as sunlight! he is ever-changing! camouflage !
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Norc
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