Legolas and Gimli Speak of The Greatness of Aragorn, The Heir of Isildur.

So it is that Legolas and Gimli meet and speak with Merry and Pippin in the gardens of the Houses of Healing. And there the Elf and the Dwarf tell of the mighty ride of the Dunedain and the hosts of the Dead through the valleys of Gondor through Lebennin to the mouth of the Great River at Pelargir. And they tell of how the Corsairs of Umbar and the Haradrim were overthrown by the terror of the Dead so that it was an army of Gondor that came to the landings of Harlond at the key moment in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and not her enemies.

And the friends speak of the greatness of Aragorn, a greatness that through the mighty ride through Gondor and in the battles after was a terrible thing to behold. And Legolas says,

“In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his own will, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor fear him.”

In the Houses of Healing we saw Aragorn as a healer passing his hand gently through Merry’s hair and kissing Éowyn gently upon her brow, restoring both to life. Is it possible that one man should contain such apparent opposites within himself? We might remember that the Warden of the Houses of Healing presumed that a captain of war could not also be a man of learning. His assumption is that a man will be either one or the other but not both.

So is Aragorn a divided man? I would argue not. And that is why he does not take the Ring for himself. His might in battle is not the seizing of power by a ruthless man but a self offering for the sake of the peoples of Middle-earth. He will die for his people if need be and his offering is a terrible thing in its ferocity. But he will not win at any price and he values the freedom of the peoples of Middle-earth above victory.

Compare this to Denethor when debating with Gandalf before the battle. Denethor makes it clear that he values Gondor above all other nations and also that he values his own lordship even above the welfare of his people. Aragorn is entirely different. He has spent his life in the service of all Free Folk and that is why Elf, Dwarf and Hobbits love him. And like Faramir his desire for Gondor is that it should  be “full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens… Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.”

Moore and Gillette would argue that what Aragorn does is to access the energy of the great masculine archetypes, King, Magician, Warrior and Lover and is able to do so at will but that he never identifies his Self with any of them. This is such an important distinction to be able to make if we are to understand true maturity. If we overly identify our Self with one of the archetypes then that Self will be a slave to the archetype and almost certainly to a false or immature version of it. Sauron is a terrible example of this. His desire for domination has led him to identify entirely with the energy of the King archetype. He is enslaved by his desire for power and has no freedom over this. By contrast Aragorn’s Self is greater than any of the archetypal energies. Legolas puts it this way, “But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron; for is he not of the children of Lúthien?”

To become our True Self we must learn how to draw upon archetypal energy but we must learn too that our True Self is greater than any archetype. Aragorn is able to call upon the energy of the Warrior archetype to a terrible degree in battle and then to lay it aside afterwards. He is master of himself for a purpose higher than himself.

8 thoughts on “Legolas and Gimli Speak of The Greatness of Aragorn, The Heir of Isildur.

  1. Aragorn’s leadership shows most clearly in how he adapts his speech to the hearer. He’s pompous with the Men of Gondor, respectful with Galadriel, macho with the Rohirrim, cerebral with Gandalf and Elrond, and jocular with Merry and Pippin.
    We’re gonna need more archetypes.

  2. Sounds like a politician canvassing support in an election campaign! Though there is a difference between targeted messaging and the ability and willingness to connect to another as they are. As a shy young man I was greatly helped by reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I still think that its principle message about taking an interest in others is spot on. But I also believe that there is a profound difference between doing so simply to achieve my own ends and doing so for the sake of the Other. I still believe that the reason that Aragorn is loved is not because he is skilled in targeted messaging but because they know that he would die for them. Now that is kingly!

    • You’re right – the content of Aragorn’s orders are a necessary foundation for his leadership.

      Rhetoric has always had a dubious moral character. Since the invention of mass communications, it’s gotten worse. It’s still necessary, though. I have just spent a couple of entertaining minutes, imagining how the story would have come out if Aragorn had spoken in the Prancing Pony with the style he used at the Last Debate, or vice versa.

  3. Apparently even Tolkien did not know who Aragorn was when he first encountered him at The Prancing Pony! I love that about The Lord of the Rings. You are reading a story that is unfolding from within. It has its own reality. I see the figure that we first meet in Bree as one who has lived inside the identity of Strider for a long time but he is Strider and he is Aragorn and he is Elessar. And it feels spontaneous when Imrahil is rather taken aback by his easy chat with Pippin and he declares that the name of his house will be Telcontar. I don’t think that he has been waiting to play that particular card.

    • I love this about the tale – the reality of it and its sub-creator discovering it rather than writing it. Tolkien speaks of this several times in his Letters. The History of the Lord of the Rings also is fascinating because it shows this process. The Professor had a lot of ideas for the story and some are wildly different from what he learned really happened.

      Love your thoughts on the humility of Aragorn – giving his self to others. That is what makes him kingly and manly and loving and a warrior. He could have claimed the Ring but he does not. He knows that power is not for him and he does not desire it. My favorite words from him are offering himself to Frodo and if by life or death,he can aid the Ring-bearer he will. This is moving in the film but even better in the book because Frodo is still a stranger he has just met though one he has heard of from Gandalf. No wonder Faramir loves him straightaway upon waking.

      Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie 🙂

  4. Thank you for taking me back to the hobbits’ room at The Prancing Pony and to Aragorn’s words there. I just re-read the passage in order to refresh my memory. What strikes me is the complete lack of ego in the way that Aragorn offers his life to save Frodo. It is simply a statement of fact made with a face softened by “a sudden smile”.
    I think that it is so important that we learn that such greatness comes through the practice of small acts of kindness and service over many years. We all know a young person who promises everything and we smile inwardly and kindly because we know that great promises are kept only at great cost. I feel that deeply at every wedding and baptism. And there is nothing more moving than to meet someone who has kept their promises with love. They may not be kings or queens but they have that kind of quiet authority about them.
    Thank you for your prayers and blessing. May God bless you too.

    • That complete lack of ego is what makes him such a great servant, as all true leaders must be. He has no desire or interest in ‘showing off.’ He was born with a great destiny yet for decades he is a Ranger, loved by his own, but not respected or liked by those he silently and lovingly protects, and he enters Minas Tirith first as a healer, not as a king. We need more leaders like him.

      Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie 🙂

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