- "Radagast the Brown! ... Radagast the Bird-tamer! Radagast the Simple! Radagast the Fool! Yet he had just the wit to play the part that I set him."
- ― Saruman, The Council of Elrond
Radagast the Brown was one of the Wizards, a good friend of Gandalf, and had a strong affinity for animals. He lived at Rhosgobel, on the western eaves of Mirkwood, near the Gladden Fields on the Great River.
Radagast, like the other Wizards, came from Valinor around the year 1000 of the Third Age and was one of the Maiar of Valie Yavanna. His original name was Aiwendil (pron. [aɪˈwendil]), meaning Bird Friend in Quenya. Yavanna forced Curumo to accept Radagast as a companion, which may have been one of the reasons Saruman was contemptuous of him.
The wizard's home was in Rhosgobel on the western borders of Mirkwood. He was a friend of Beorn as well as a friend to the forest's many creatures, especially birds whom he communicated with. Despite this, Gandalf was still more knowledgeable of the animals, and more respected by them than Radagast. Radagast spent most of his time with the wildlife instead of Men and Elves, whom he found more difficult to deal with. Radagast grew neglectful and easygoing, and he lacked courage, however he remained of good will.
In the summer of 3018 Radagast was unwittingly used by Saruman to lure Gandalf to Orthanc, sending him to Bree with a message for Gandalf. In this message Saruman asked Gandalf to come to Orthanc, where Saruman trapped and captured him. Luckily, Radagast didn't mean any harm to Gandalf, and wasn't aware of Saruman's plan. So Radagast also helped rescue the grey wizard by alerting the Eagles of Gandalf's journey there.
Radagast is without a doubt a mysterious character. While there is little doubt that his heart was in the right place, he did not possess that same selflessness that allowed Gandalf to fulfill the task set to him by the Valar, to aid the free people. Deigning to leave his wooded home, Radagast remained in Northern Mirkwood with the birds and the beasts and the trees.
So in the end, it seems that Radagast was among the four wizards who failed in their tasks to help fight against Sauron. He was not ambitious and cruel like Saruman, but there is no record of him contributing to the downfall of Sauron.
What became of Radagast the Brown in the Fourth Age is left to speculation. It is possible that he was allowed to return to Valinor, but this seems unlikely. Radagast may have left to wander Middle-earth, or he may have stayed with his birds and his beasts, content to while away the days in Mirkwood until he himself faded away and became part of the forest, the trees and the plants and the leaves.
- The Brown
- Bird Friend
- Tender of Beasts
- Radagast the Bird-tamer - a name mockingly given to Radagast by Saruman.
- Radagast the Simple - a name mockingly given to Radagast by Saruman.
- Radagast the Fool - a name mockingly given to Radagast by Saruman.
According to the essay "The Istari" from the Unfinished Tales, the name Radagast means "tender of beasts" in Adûnaic, the language of Númenor. However, in a later note Tolkien said that the name is in the language of the Men of the Vales of Anduin, and that its meaning is not interpretable.
The name Radagast may actually be Anglo-Saxon. The word gast means "ghost, spirit, angel." The element rad could be derived from rudu, meaning "ruddy, reddish". If this is the case, his name could be translated as "Ruddy Angel" or "Ruddy Spirit", in reference to his Maia nature and his cloak's color (brown, or perhaps ruddy brown). But this may be too much speculation.
Radagast (god) was a Slavic name, perhaps referring to a god from Slavic mythology and perhaps Tolkien drew it from there. See the link for the meaning of the name.
Portrayal in adaptations
- Donald Gee provided the voice of Radagast. He is however not the person who sends the Eagle to save Gandalf from Orthanc.
- The character Radagast and virtually all references to him were removed. He was originally to appear in a background scene, but this was removed because it was thought it would only confuse people.[source?] He later appeared on a Decipher Card, played by Weta's John Harding.
2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:
- Radagast is a non-playable character, who gives various quests. He resides at Ost Guruth and Agamaur, keeps in the Lone-lands.
- The Hobbit, Queer Lodgings
- The Fellowship of the Ring, The Council of Elrond
- Unfinished Tales, The Istari
- The Lost Road and Other Writings "The Etymologies," entries AIWE and (N)DIL
- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 156
|Valar||Lords|| Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · |
|Queens||Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa|
|Maiar||Arien · Eönwë · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Salmar · Tilion · Uinen|
|Wizards||Saruman · Gandalf · Radagast · Blue Wizards|
|Evil||Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs|
|Music · Valarin · Almaren · Valinor · Valmar · Second Music • italics indicates Aratar|