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Radagast the Brown is a wizard in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional writings. He appears in Unfinished Tales, and is mentioned in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Radagast the Brown
Tolkien character
Information
AliasesAiwendil
RaceMaiar
Book(s)The Hobbit 1937 (mentioned only)
The Fellowship of the Ring 1954 (mentioned only)
The Silmarillion 1977 (mentioned only)
Unfinished Tales 1980

LiteratureEdit

Unfinished Tales explains that Radagast, like the other Wizards, came from Valinor around the year 1000 of the Third Age of Middle-earth and was one of the Maiar. His original name was Aiwendil, meaning bird-friend in Tolkien's invented language of Quenya. The Vala Yavanna forced the wizard Saruman to accept Radagast as a companion, which, Tolkien says, may have been one of the reasons Saruman was contemptuous of him, to the point of scornfully calling him "simple" and "a fool".[1] However, he was an ally and confidant of Gandalf, who describes him in The Hobbit as his "cousin". He was also friends with the skin-changer Beorn.[2][3]

Radagast lived at Rhosgobel on the western eaves of Mirkwood, its name deriving from Sindarin rhosc gobel meaning "brown village".[1] Radagast had a strong affinity for—and relationship with—wild animals. It is said he spoke the many tongues of birds, and was a "master of shapes and changes of hue". Radagast is also described by Gandalf as "never a traveller, unless driven by great need", "a worthy Wizard", and "honest".[4]

In The Fellowship of the Ring, during the Council of Elrond, Gandalf tells of a previous encounter with Radagast. Radagast was unwittingly used by Saruman to lure Gandalf to his tower of Orthanc, where Gandalf was captured. Fortuitously, Radagast also helped rescue him by sending Gwaihir the Eagle to Orthanc with news of the movements of Sauron's forces. When Gwaihir saw that Gandalf was imprisoned on the top of the tower he carried him off to safety.[4]

The only other reference to Radagast in The Lord of the Rings is after the Council of Elrond when scouts are sent out. It is reported that Radagast is not at his home at Rhosgobel.[5]

In a letter, Tolkien wrote that Radagast gave up his mission as a Wizard by becoming too obsessed with animals and plants. He added that he did not believe that Radagast's failure was as great as Saruman's.[6] However, Christopher Tolkien notes in Unfinished Tales that the statement Radagast failed may not be entirely accurate considering that he was specifically chosen by Yavanna, and he may have been assigned to protect the flora and fauna.

Names and titlesEdit

According to the essay The Istari from the Unfinished Tales, the name Radagast means "tender of beasts" in Adûnaic, another of Tolkien's fictional languages. However, Christopher Tolkien says that his father intended to change this derivation and bring Radagast in line with the other wizard-names, Gandalf and Saruman, by associating it with the old language of the Men of the Vales of Anduin. No alternative meaning is provided with this new association; indeed, Tolkien stated that the name was "not now clearly interpretable". His title The Brown is simply a reference to his earth-brown robes; each of the wizards had a cloak of a different colour.[1]

In the real world, Radagast or Rodogast is extant as a variant of Radagaisus, the name of a Gothic warlord who led an invasion of Italy in 405. Radegast is also the name of a deity in Slavic mythology.

AdaptationsEdit

In filmEdit

 
Sylvester McCoy as Radagast in the Hobbit film series.

Radagast is not included in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

In Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the character (played by Sylvester McCoy[7]) is expanded far beyond the brief role in the book.[2] Radagast is the first wizard to visit Dol Guldur after he realizes that an evil power has infected the wood in which he lives. He discovers that a Necromancer (Sauron) has taken residence in the ruined fortress. In Dol Guldur he encounters the spirit of the Witch-king of Angmar, as well as the shadow of the Necromancer himself, and escapes with the Morgul blade taken from the Witch-king.

Radagast's means of transportation is a sled pulled by enormous rabbits, a concept entirely original to the movie. Radagast meets Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves en route to Erebor, tells them of his discovery in Dol Guldur. When Thorin's Company are attacked by Orcs riding Wargs, Radagast mounts his sled and provides a distraction.

Later, Saruman makes contemptuous remarks about Radagast during a meeting with Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel.

In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Radagast appears with Gandalf in a few scenes. The two wizards investigate an empty tomb, determining that the Nazgûl are once again awake and have been summoned. Gandalf bids Radagast to go and tell Galadriel of all they find, and that the White Council must make a pre-emptive move on Dol Guldur. A worried Radagast watches as Gandalf enters Dol Guldur. Inside the ruins, Gandalf confronts the Necromancer and finds that he is indeed Sauron, just as Radagast had thought.

In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Radagast arrives in Dol Guldur as the White Council battle Sauron and the Nazgûl, and takes the wounded Gandalf to his house. Gandalf decides to go to Erebor and tells Radagast to gather the birds and beasts; in recompense Radagast gives Gandalf his staff as Sauron shattered his prior one. Later when the eagles arrive to help defeat the Orcs at the Battle of the Five Armies, Radagast is riding one of the eagles.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Istari", ISBN 0-395-29917-9
  2. ^ a b Tolkien, J.R.R. (1937), The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937), Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), The Annotated Hobbit, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 2002), ISBN 0-618-13470-0
  4. ^ a b Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  5. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring: The Ring Goes South.
  6. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, # 156, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
  7. ^ "Sylvester McCoy is Radagast the Brown". Filmonic. 27 October 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.

External linksEdit