The word from the simple stem mbar was ambara

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. . . The word from the simple stem mbar- . . . was ambara ‘establishment’, Q. ambar ‘the world’, T. ambar , S. * amar (not found). This was to [the] Eldar more obviously related to m ̣ bar’ta than we might feel it to be, since ‘fate’ so far [as] they recognized it was conceived as a much more physi- cal obstacle to will. §4. They would not have denied that (say) a man was (may have been) “fated” to meet an enemy of his at a certain time and place, but they would have denied that he was “fated” then to speak to him in terms of hatred, or to slay him. “Will” at a certain grade must enter into many of the complex motions leading to a meeting of persons; but the Eldar held that only those efforts of “will” were “free” which were directed to a fully aware purpose . On a journey a man may turn aside, choosing this or that way—e.g. to avoid a marsh, or a steep hill—but this decision is mostly intuitive or half-conscious (as that of an irrational animal) and has only an immediate object of easing his journey. His setting-out may have been a free decision, to achieve some object,* but his actual course was largely under physical direction—and it might have led to/or missed a meeting of importance. It was this aspect of “chance” that was included in umbar . See L.R. III p. 360: “a chance-meeting as we say in Middle-earth.” That was said by Gandalf of his meeting with Thorin in Bree, which led to the visit to Bilbo. For this “chance,” not purposed or even thought of by either Thorin or Gandalf, made contact with Gandalf’s “will,” and his fixed purpose and designs for the protection of the NW frontiers against the power of Sauron. If Gandalf had been different in character, or if he had not seized the opportunity, the “chance” would, as it were, have failed to “go off ” (misfired). Gandalf was not “fated” to act as he did
186 J.R.R. Tolkien then. (Indeed his actions were most odd, idiosyncratic, and unexpectable: Gandalf was a powerful “free will” let loose, as it were, among the physi- cal “chances” of the world). 4 §5. *Thus if a man set out on a journey with the purpose of finding his enemy, and the purpose then of doing this or that (pardoning him / asking his pardon / cursing him / seeking to slay him): That purpose governs the whole process. It may be frustrated by “chance” (—in fact he never met him—) or it may be helped by chance (—in fact against likelihood he did meet him), but in the latter case if he did evil he could not [?throw] the blame on “chance”. §6. Umbar thus relates to the net-work of “chances” (largely physical) which is, or is not, used by rational persons with ‘free will.’ That aspect of things which we might include in Fate—the ‘determination’ that we each carry about with us in our given created character (which later acts and experience may modify but not fundamentally change) was not included in Umbar by the Eldar; who said that if it was in any way similar it was on a different ‘plane.’ But the ultimate problem of Free Will in its relation

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