Template:Istari infobox 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. His original name was Aiwendil, meaning Bird Friend in Quenya. The Vala Yavanna forced Saruman to accept Radagast as a companion, which may have been one of the reasons Saruman was contemptuous of him.
Radagast was unwittingly used by Saruman to lure Gandalf to Orthanc, where Gandalf was captured. However, Radagast also unwittingly 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 Radagar was among the four wizards who failed in their tasks to help fight against Sauron. While he was not ambutious and cruel like Saruman, nor easily corruptable like Alatar and Pallando, he did not contribute to Sauron's downfall.
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 beloved birds and beasts, content to while away the days in Mirkwood until he himself withered away and became part of the forest he loved so much.
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." Since the Maiar are Tolkien's 'lesser angels', Radagast would mean simply "Ruddy Maia", perhaps in reference to his cloak's color (brown, or perhaps ruddy brown). But this may be too much speculation. See Radagast (god) for meaning of the name in Slavic languages from which Tolkien possibly drew the name.
|Saruman · Gandalf · Radagast · The Two Blue Wizards|
|Eönwë · Ilmarë · Ossë · Uinen · Salmar · Sauron · Melian · Arien · Tilion · Gothmog|
Curumo (Saruman) · Olórin (Gandalf) · Aiwendil (Radagast) · Alatar · Pallando · Durin's Bane