MiddleEarthBlog: The Palantiri


Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Palantiri

The Palantiri were the seeing stones that were introduced to the reader in "The Lord Of The Rings". In this post I will discuss their magical properties, who made them and for what purpose,how they were used, and how Sauron ultimately used them to corrupt and weaken others, most notably Saruman and Denethor the Steward of Gondor.The Palantiri, according to "The Tolkien Companion", were made by Feanor during the Elder Days and seven of them were given to the Men of Numenor in the Second Age. Prior to Numenor's destruction, the Palantiri were taken by Elendil and his people on the ships bound for Middle-Earth and upon their arrival were distributed throughout Arnor and Gondor. In these days, their use held no danger as they were all in the hands of the Numenorean exiles and served as a means of communication between their locations.Elendil and his heirs placed the stones at strategic points around Gondor and Arnor.They placed one atop Amon Sul (Weatertop) another at Anuminas the capital city of Arnor, another at the Grey Havens where Cirdan the Elven Shipwright dwelled ( it was useless to the Numenoreans as it would only look towards the west and the undying lands of the Valar).The other four Palantiri were kept in Isengard, Minas Anor, Minas Ithil and Osgiliath. The Stone at Osgiliath was lost in the civil war among the Numenoreans in the year 1437 of the third age When Minas Ithil was captured by Saurons forces in the year 2002 of the third age they captured the Palantir and returned it to Saurons lair in Minas Morgul. This caused the posessors of the other stones to lock the remaining stone at Isengard and Minas Tirith  away fearing that Sauron could spy on them with the aid of the stone and they were kept that way for the next thousand years. It was in the year 2050 that the last king of Gondor disappeared in a confrontation with Sauron and the right to use the stones fell to the ruling stewards of Gondor. Saruman the Wizard began to occupy the tower of Isengard and there he found the Palnatir and began to use it as did Denethor the Steward of Gondor both to there own destruction but I will explain that later. For now let's discuss the stones themselves. Some were small and coud be held in your hand but others were as large as a large globe you may see in someones study,the more powerful the stone the further it could see, the smaller stones had a distance of 500 miles. They could see through stone and brick but only see what was illuminated by fire or,candle or sunlight. You could not hear an audible voice but could read the others mind so it came to your mind as a voice. That is,Thought could be 'transferred' (received as 'speech'), and visions of the things in the mind of the surveyor of one Stone could be seen by the other surveyor. They were unbreakable and appeared to be made of a black crystal. They had poles within them and in order for them to be used the nether pole had to be placed at the bottom.In order to look at a specific direction the surveyor had to stand at the opposite end, for example to look East you had to look from the Western side and vice-versa.


       Now as for Saruman and Denethor and how they were ensnared by Sauron through the Palantiri. Saruman found the Palantir at Isengard and having studied ancient lore concerning them was aware of how they worked,Desperate to acquire knowledge he turned to using the Stone and eventually made contact with the Stone held by Sauron and a communication began between them began..Saruman possessing a strong will  would not have been made to bend to Saurons will but Sauron used the thoughts and messages he sent to convince him that war against him could only end in defeat so Saruman decided to go over to the winning side and allied himself with Sauron as for Denethor Sauron played the same mind games on him via the Stone and also convinced Denethor that to wage war against him was hopeless.To Denethors credit he did not abandon his people and their struggle against Sauron for personal gain but he did abandon hope and after losing one son (Boromir) and feeling he was about to lose another (Faramir) he became despondent and planned to take his life and that of his son until stopped by Gandalf but Denethor did perish after setting himself on fire. But there was one who used the Palantir to his advantage against Sauron, Aragorn dared to take the stone and to find communication with Sauron and revealed himself to be the true heir of Isildur and the rightful king of Gondor,this caused fear in Sauron who prematurely released his armies against Gondor and turned his focus in that direction and was unaware until too late the activities of Frodo and Sam and their quest to destroy the one ring in his own back yard.So in the end the tables were turned against Sauron and the Palantiri were turned into a weapon to be used against him instead of for him. In the end  the Palantiri played a major role in the tale of "The Lord Of The Rings" what happened to them after the war I'm not sure of, The Stone of Barad Dur would not have been destroyed when Sauron, fell if anyone tried to loacte it and retrieve it for their own purposes either good or evil no tale tells.

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