I noticed an interesting passage in the White Rider chapter in the Two Towers. Gandalf is giving his account of his battle with the Balrog when he says this:
" Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin's Folk, Gimli son of Gloin. Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."
The last sentence of this passage is very strange. As one of the Ainur, Sauron came to being as an offspring of the thought of Eru Illuvatar, before even the creation of Middle Earth. This creates many questions about these "nameless things" that are apparently older than the Ainur. Were these things too created by Eru, or did they come to be in another way? How did they come to live in Middle Earth if they have existed for so much longer? Also, how would Gandalf ever find knowlege of them beyond observing their tunnels? He appears to know a bit of their history which even Sauron, the most powerful the Maia, does not know. I doubt anyone has firm answers to this but it makes for some interesting thought.
That's a very interesing inquiry... but I think more than anything it's a hole in the plot, as there are many in other places throughout the books. Something I would like to know, however, is what those horrible things Gandalf mentioned were. He did say that he would not report, but perhaps enough time has passed so that he can now?
I have thought about this and I think I have the answer. You may notice that when Treebeard is talking about Gandalf and Saruman he refers to them as "young" even though, as Maiar they have existed longer than him. Therefore, it seems that "age" refers to how long they have dwelt in Arda; their time in the Undying lands not counting. Treebeard has lived in Arda longer than the Wizards, and the creatures below Moria have lived in Arda longer than Sauron. This seems the most likely solution to me. Aradorian 16:13, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
Also, Sauron may be the most powerful of the Maia, but he is not necessarily the most knowledgable. Gandalf dwelt for a long time with the Valar, and with Manwe himself, and so would have learned a lot from them. Gandalf is likely to have a wider knowledge of Middle Earth than Sauron, as Sauron would only be interested in things that he could use to create evil. Gandalf is also mentioned in the Silmarillion to have been the wisest of the Maiar. Aradorian 16:18, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
- This seems to be an acceptable explanation. It's debatable, also don't forget Tolkien intentionally left things shrouded. The things like the Istari and in particular the less known wizards (Radagast, Pallando, Alatar) are known to be vague and to have a few lose ends.
- Tolkien also wrote his books over a few decades and therefore wrote contradictory things, he has rewritten most of his texts over and over again. --Nognix 17:21, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
- When I first read that line a few years ago, I found it absolutely unnerving. Either Tolkien indeed botched something up in his writing (which would in no way affect my respect for the man, mind you), or something is afoot. Although I would like to believe that there is something old and mysterious living within the Earth that few know of, I tend to believe that it was simply a mistake. However, Aradorian's answer also makes sense. But, it's a cool thought, and a very disturbing one at that. --User:Henneth Annun