Saruman the White

‘You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts.
You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold!’

LOTR: B3 C10

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Saruman the White was one of five Istari, who came to Middle-earth as Emissaries of the Valar in the Third Age. They were each, one of the Maiar, who were angelic creatures of a lower order than the Valar, as was Sauron when he came into world. Saruman was counted as the first among the order of Wizards and was named the leader of the White Council. In Sindarin his name was Curunír, which meant “Man of Skill”.

saruman2In Valinor, a council was called by Manwë. This was likely in the middle of the Second Age, shortly after the creation of the Rings of Power. They elected to send five emissaries to Middle-earth. Though they each held great power and were indeed peers of Sauron, they were ordered to forgo might and entered the world with the appearance of wise older men, who would guide, rather then establish themselves as powerful beings to challenge Sauron.  One of those was named ‘Curumo’ and in Sindarin called ‘Curunír’ and in the Westron tongue ‘Saruman’.

It has been written, that Saruman was one who volunteered for this mission, whereas another one, Olórin, who was later know as ‘Mithrandir’ and also ‘Gandalf’ was commanded by Manwë to go. Saruman’s jealousy of Gandalf may have began even then. Varda Elentári, one of the greatest of the Valar said of Gandalf, who was the third Istari to enter Middle-earth, that he was not counted  as third, but was as powerful as each. Saruman was charged to take Aiwendil, who would later be known as Radagast in the common tongue, with him into Middle-earth to please Yavanna, which he did not wish to do, and so may have led to feelings of contempt for the latter Wizard.

Of the last two Istari, Alatar and Pallando, who would later be known as the Blue Wizards, there is little to tell after they traveled far into the East.

Saruman also traveled far to the East and after a millennium of wandering returned to the West just as Sauron began to rise once more and settled in Orthanc in help order the defenses of the West, which was welcomed by the then King of Rohan.

saruman3Of Saruman the White we know much, for his story was chronicled in the Red Book of Westmarch, as it concerned greatly the hobbits of the Shire during the War of the Ring. At the Council of Elrond in Rivendell, Gandalf told of his meeting with Saruman.

“And here you will stay, Gandalf the Grey, and rest from journeys. For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!”
“I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.”
“I like white better,” I said.
“White!” he sneered. “It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page may be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.”
“In which case it is no longer white,” said I. “and he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”
“You need not speak to me as to one of the fools that you take for friends,” said he. “i have not brought you hither to be instructed by you, but to give you a choice.”
He drew himself up and then began to declaim, as if he were making a speech long rehearsed. “The Elder Days are gone. The Middle Days are passing. The Younger days are beginning. The time of the Elves is over, but our time is at hand: the world of men which we must rule. But we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see.”
saruman4“And listen, Gandalf, my old friend and helper!” he said coming near and speaking now in a softer voice. ” I said we, for we it may be, if you will join with me. A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all. There is no hope left in Elves or dying Númenor. This then is one choice before you, before us. We may join with that Power. Tit would be wise, Gandalf. There is hope that way. It’s victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those that aided it. As the Power grows, it’s proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come to at last direct it’s courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose. Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means.”
“Saruman,” I said, “I have heard speeches of this kind before, but only in the mouths of emissaries sent from Mordor to deceive the ignorant. I cannot think that you brought me so far only to weary my ears.”
He looked at me sidelong, and paused a while considering. “Well, I see that this wise course does not commend itself to you,” he said. “not yet? Not if some better way can be contrived?”
He came and laid his long hand on my arm. “And why not, Gandalf?” he whispered. “Why not? The Ruling Ring? If we could command that, then the Power would pass to us. That is in truth why I brought you here. For I have many eyes in my service, and I believe that you know where this precious thing now lies. Is it not so? Or why do the Nine ask of the Shire, and what is your business there?” As he said this a lust which he could not conceal shone suddenly in his eyes.

From The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in the Chapter ‘The Council of Elrond’


After leaving the destruction of Isengard, Gandalf carried Merry with him on their way to Rohan.

“Are we riding far tonight, Gandalf?” asked Merry after a while. “I don’t know how you feel with small rag-tag dangling behind you; but the rag-tag is tired and will be glad to stop dangling and lie down.”

saruman5“So you heard that?” said Gandalf. “Don’t let it rankle! Be thankful no longer words were aimed at you. He had his eyes on you. If it is any comfort to your pride, I should say that, at the moment, you and Pippin are more in his thoughts than the rest of us. Who you are; how you came here, and why; what you know; whether you were captured, and if so, how you escaped when all the orcs perished—it is with those little riddles that the great mind of Saruman is troubled. A sneer from him, Meriadoc, is a compliment, if you feel honoured by his concern.”

“Thank you!” said Merry. “But it is a greater honour to dangle at your tail, Gandalf. For one thing, in that position one has a chance of putting a question a second time. Are we riding far tonight?”
Gandalf laughed. “A most unquenchable hobbit! All wizards should have a hobbit or two in their care—to teach them the meaning of the world, and to correct them.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the chapter ‘The Palantir’


Saruman once counted great among the Wise had fallen, a mere shadow of what he had once been.

“Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. ‘You have grown, Halfling,’ he said. ‘Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. you have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Scouring of the Shire’


The death of Saruman at the hands of Wormtongue was the last stoke to fall in the War of the Ring.

To the dismay of those that stood by, about the body of Saruman a grey mist gathered, and rising slowly to a great height like smoke from a fire, as a pale shrouded figure it loomed over the Hill. For a moment it wavered, looking back to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh dissolved into nothing.
Frodo looked down at the body of Saruman with pity and horror, for as he looked it seemed that the long years of death were suddenly revealed in it, and it shrank and the shriveled face became rags of skin upon a hideous skull. Lifting up the dirty cloak that lay sprawled beside it, he covered it over, and turned away.

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Scouring of the Shire’


“I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, but you have elected the way of pain.”


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 Posted by at 11:24 am