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How Old Is Gandalf From Lord Of The Rings?

Gandalf may have been in Middle-earth for 2,000 years by the time of “The Lord of the Rings,” but how does he get there? He isn’t born; he and the other Wizards arrive full-grown by boat on Middle-earth’s Western border.

The book “Unfinished Tales” says, “For they came from over the Sea out of the Uttermost West,” adding shortly afterward that the Elven leader Círdan the Shipwright (who is rumored to appear early in “The Rings of Power” Season 2) saw them arriving. While this is the first time Gandalf shows up as Gandalf, J.R.R. Tolkien explains that the Wizards are incarnate spirits, adding, “They came therefore in the shape of Men, though they were never young and aged only slowly.”

Before this point, Gandalf was one of the Ainur. “The Silmarillion” opens with: “There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought.” At the risk of oversimplifying Tolkien’s mythic creation story, Ilúvatar and the Ainur sing a song that is a musical vision of history before the One creates the world based on that song. From there, the book explains, “Then those of the Ainur who desired it arose and entered into the World at the beginning of Time.” Their leaders are called the Valar, and the rest are called the Maiar. One of those Maiar is named Olórin — the future Gandalf. In other words, Gandalf’s spirit is older than the nearly 55,000 solar years of Middle-earth history and even pre-dates time itself.

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