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User talk:Narfil Palùrfalas/Essays/Concerning Foresight

This is a minor comment compared to all the interesting work you did here. However, the question that immediately springs to my mind upon reading this is: are people who make prophecies considered prophets? Because if so, Tar-Palantir is another example of a prophet in Arda. "...[Tar-Palantir] was far-sighted both in eye and in mind, and even those that hated him feared his words as those of a true-seer.... he prophesied, saying that when the Tree perished, then also would the line of the Kings come to its end." —Akallabêth (my emphasis)

Two intriguing things come up here: first Tar-Palantir had good physical eyesight in addition to clairvoyance. Is this said of any other Seer? It's something I find rather interesting. Second, his enemies trusted his prophecies. Why? And how exactly does one (especially one who is distrustful of the Seer in question) know when a Seer is making an actual prophecy versus making a mere prediction or insight? One of the strangest things about the words of the Seers is that their opposers really did believe them (even the Witch-king did so!). What would make them take foresight so seriously?

Getting back to Tar-Palantir, Tolkien even made an Adûnaic word that means "true-sayer" or "prophet": izindu-bêth, from izindi "straight, true" and bêth "sayer". Given how limited the Adûnaic lexicon is, I find it interesting that he would bother to devise such a word. Maybe foresight was not as uncommon among Númenóreans as we are led to believe? Or maybe I am just reading a little too much into the examples cited in Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language... —Tar-Telperien 00:36, 15 November 2006 (EST)

Thank you for your comments. While I was intending to have a section dedicated to foresight in men, I actually never thought of prophecy among the Númenóreans. We can recall back to Faramir's words about the "fading" of the Dúnedain into the love of warfare rather than knowledge. The Númenóreans feared death. Here is an interesting thought: might they have feared death because they could not see past it? If they were given great foresight, so that they could "feel" the future, or something of the like, would they not be in terror of death, which they not only cannot foresee, but they don't know what happens following? Those earlier kings closest to the Elves might leave it to Eru and/or the Valar in their minds, but when those High Men lost their relationship with the elves, so their fear of death increased. Just some thoughts that come to me as I write this. I'll have to look into it more (if I can keep those library books much longer!). --Narfil Palùrfalas 08:05, 15 November 2006 (EST)
Some good ideas here. Unfortunately, they start to get us off the topic of foresight and into a subject I could drone on and on about: the ontology of the Children of Ilúvatar, and Men in particular. Most likely you don't want to read that (unless I write my own essay!), so I'll try to be brief here.
I definitely agree that the Númenóreans' fear was strongly connected to the unknown and (frustratingly, for both them and us) unknowable nature of death. The Númenóreans, in addition to having far more knowledge about the natural world and its history than other Men (who were kept in ignorance by the Shadow on Middle-earth), probably really did have increased mental faculties and ability to discern the future (though obviously some had this degree far more than others, hence the respect given to Tar-Palantir). For example, in Unfinished Tales it is hinted that they had the ability to mentally summon their horses, in times of great need. (Which, a discussion on this type of telepathy might make an interesting sidenote to your essay! Is it anywhere said that Elves could do such a thing?)
Anyway, their complete lack of knowledge about what was coming to them after death, in spite of their earthly wisdom and seeming "superiority" over other races, must have indeed rankled them. In fact, when they debate the messengers of the Valar in the Akallabêth, the Númenóreans explicitly mention this: "for of us a blind trust is required, not knowing what lies ahead in a little while" (sorry if this quote is not exact; I'm going from memory here. Due to a power outage, I can't write this in my room where my copy of The Silmarillion is).
(As a sidenote, I must say that it was not a Númenórean's closeness with the Elves that determined how that Númenórean reacted to death. The Shadow fell on Númenor and affected everyone, Faithful and King's Man alike. "[The Faithful] did not escape the affliction of their people, and they were troubled by the thought of death", we read in the Akallabêth. It was how one reacted to the Shadow (either by having faith or fear) that determined one's relations to the Elves, not the other way around. The Númenóreans were all afflicted, but some chose to continue trusting and some did not. Those who did not naturally grew to envy the Deathless, and thus stopped liking them.) —Tar-Telperien 01:51, 16 November 2006 (EST)