Aragorn in Tolkien's Letters 


by Rogorn


Could Aragorn mean 'tree-king' (with lenition of *gorn to orn in Celeborn, etc.), and Arathorn possibly 'Two-trees-king', with reference to the Two Trees? No, this cannot contain a 'tree' word. 'Tree-King' would have no special fitness for him, and it was already used by an ancestor. The names in the line of Arthedain are peculiar in several ways; and several, though Sindarin in form, are not readily interpretable. But it would need more historical records and linguistic records of Sindarin than exist (sc, than I have found time or need to invent!) to explain them. The system by which all the names from Malvegil onwards are trisyllabic, and have only one 'significant' element (ara being used where the final element was of one syllable; but ar in other cases) is peculiar to this line of names. The ara is probably derived from cases where aran ' king' lost its n phonetically (as Arathorn), ara- then being used in other cases.

The essential Quest started at once. But I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the comer at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo.

Gandalf's opposite was, strictly, Sauron, in one part of Sauron's operations; as Aragorn was in another. In Sauron’s actual presence none but very few of equal stature could have hoped to withhold the Ring from him. Of 'mortals' no one, not even Aragorn. In the contest with the Palantír, however, Aragorn was the rightful owner. Also the contest took place at a distance, and in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when actually physically present.

It is possible to love more than one person (of the other s ex) at the same time, but in a different mode and intensity. I do not think that Eowyn's feelings for Aragorn really changed much; and when he was revealed as so lofty a figure, in descent and office, she was able to go on loving and admiring him. He was old, and that is not only a physical quality: when not accompanied by any physical decay age can be alarming or awe-inspiring.

A difference in the use of 'magic' in this story is that it is not to be come by by 'lore' or spells; but is in an inherent power not possessed or attainable by Men as such. Aragorn's 'healing' might be regarded as 'magical', or at least a blend of magic with pharmacy and 'hypnotic' processes. But it is (in theory) reported by hobbits who have very little notions of philosophy and science; while A. is not a pure 'Man', but at long remove one of the 'children of Luthien'

So ends the Middle Age and the Dominion of Men begins, and Aragorn far away on the throne of Gondor labours to bring some order and to preserve some memory of old among the welter of men that Sauron has poured into the West. But Elrond has gone, and all the High Elves. I did not, naturally, go into details about the way in which Aragorn, as King of Gondor, would govern the realm. But it was made clear that there was much fighting, and in the earlier years of his reign expeditions against enemies in the East. The chief commanders, under the King, would be Faramir and Imrahil; and one of these would normally remain a military commander at home in the King's absence. A Númenórean King was monarch, with the power of unquestioned decision in debate; but he governed the realm with the frame of ancient law, of which he was administrator (and interpreter) but not the maker. In all debatable matters of importance domestic, or external, however, even Denethor had a Council, and at least listened to what the Lords of the Fiefs and the Captains of the Forces had to say. Aragorn re-established the Great Council of Gondor, and in that Faramir, who remained by inheritance the Steward (or representative of the King during his absence abroad, or sickness, or between his death and the accession of his heir) would [be] the chief counsellor.There had been a 'hallow' on Mindolluin, only approachable by the King, where he had anciently offered thanks and praise on behalf of his people; but it had been forgotten. It was re-entered by Aragorn, and there he found a sapling of the White Tree, and replanted it in the Court of the Fountain. It is to be presumed that with the reemergence of the lineal priest kings (of whom Lúthien the Blessed Elf-maiden was a foremother) the worship of God would be renewed, and His Name (or title) be again more often heard. But there would be no temple of the True God while Númenórean influence lasted.

Here I am only concerned with Death as part of the nature, physical and spiritual, of Man, and with Hope without guarantees. That is why I regard the tale of Arwen and Aragorn as the most important of the Appendices; it is part of the essential story, and is only placed so, because it could not be worked into the main narrative without destroying its structure: which is planned to be 'hobbito-centric', that is, primarily a study of the ennoblement (or sanctification) of the humble.

(thanks to JAE Tyler's Companion)


24-September-04