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Fabio Leone - Radagast the Brown.png
"Radagast the Brown" by Fabio Leone
Biographical Information
Other namesAiwendil[1]
Radagast the Brown[2]
Radagast the Bird-tamer[note 1][2]
Radagast the Simple[note 1][2]
Radagast the Fool[note 1][2]
AffiliationIstari (Wizards)
White Council
Physical Description
ClothingEarthen-brown robes[1]
GalleryImages of Radagast
"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."

Radagast the Brown, also known as Aiwendil, was one of the Wizards sent to Middle-earth to contest the will of Sauron. Originally a Maia of Yavanna, he had a strong affinity for animals. He dwelt, for a time, at Rhosgobel on the western eaves of Mirkwood, near the Gladden Fields on the Great River.[1][2]


[edit] History

Jef Murray - Mage of Rhosgobel

The Maia Aiwendil was an Ainu who existed before Time, and one of the spirits who descended to Arda in order to serve the Valar.[3] Aiwendil was a servant of the Valië Yavanna, the Queen of earth.[1]

After the Undying Lands were separated from Arda during the Downfall of Númenor, Manwë was still concerned for the fate of the peoples of Middle-earth. He summoned a council of the Valar and it was decided that they would send emissaries to Middle-earth. Aulë chose Curumo, Oromë chose Alatar, and Manwë chose Olórin. Yavanna subsequently begged Curumo to take Aiwendil with him.

In c. T.A. 1000, the Maiar arrived upon the shores of Middle-earth, having the form of old Men, whom the peoples called Wizards. Curumo arrived first and alone, and Aiwendil arrived at the same time as Olórin.[1]

[edit] Travels in Middle-earth

When the Wizards took their mission they roamed Middle-earth, but Radagast was never much of a traveller.[2] There is not much to be told about his early journeys, but by the late Third Age he eventually settled down and dwelt, for a time at least, at Rhosgobel somewhere between the Carrock and the Old Forest Road.[1] Situated on the western borders of Mirkwood, it can be assumed that the Wizard held watch against the Shadow of Dol Guldur that slowly engulfed the forest. It is likely that he became acquainted with the inhabitants of that region. Close to animals and birds, he was friends with the great eagles.[2] Although the neighboring Beorn was unsociable, he used to see him from time to time, and he considered Radagast "not bad" for a Wizard.[4]

In T.A. 2851 the White Council met once more and, after that, Saruman began to search the Gladden Fields for the One Ring.[5] Radagast decided to aid his search with birds and beasts who acted as spies hoping that Saruman's actions would help watch and hinder Sauron. Radagast did this in good faith, knowing nothing of Saruman's real ambitions to keep the Ring for himself.[6]

Angelo Montanini - Radagast
By the time of the War of the Ring Radagast did not dwell any more in Rhosgobel. In summer T.A. 3018 Saruman told Radagast that he was willing to help Gandalf, and sent the Brown Wizard to seek him out at once. Radagast did not know much of Eriador but sought for the Shire, knowing that he would find Gandalf nearby.[2]

Indeed, on Midsummer's Day, Radagast was sitting on the side of the Greenway with his horse near Bree when Gandalf found him on his way to the village. Radagast warned Gandalf that the Nazgûl were abroad, disguised as riders in black, and that they were seeking news of the Shire. He also gave him Saruman's invitation and agreed to help Gandalf by getting beasts and birds to send news to Orthanc. With that he rode away back towards Mirkwood.[2]

By sending Gandalf to Orthanc, Radagast unwittingly had him captured. Saruman's message proved to be a trap for Gandalf who was imprisoned in Orthanc, but still he did not believe that Radagast was also a part of Saruman's plans. Indeed, it was thanks to Radagast that Gandalf was able to escape from the pinnacle of Orthanc upon the wings of Gwaihir.[2]

Radagast's actions during and after the rest of the War are not recorded. After the Council of Elrond, many scouts were sent out from Rivendell to many different locations. Some passed over the Misty Mountains and eventually came to Rhosgobel, but they found that Radagast was not there.[7]

[edit] Characteristics

Radagast is, of course, a worthy wizard, a master of shapes and changes of hue; and he has much lore of herbs and beasts, and birds are especially his friends.

Little is known about Radagast apart from certain defining characteristics. Saruman was the chief of the Order of Wizards and Gandalf came next in the order; Radagast meanwhile held much less power and wisdom.[1]

As one of the Maiar of Yavanna, Radagast had a great interest in the kelvar and olvar of Middle-earth and was a friend to beasts and birds.[1][2] Gandalf, however, held greater knowledge of birds and beasts than Radagast, as well as greater respect received from them.[8]

Radagast displayed some qualities of innocence and naivety, making him an ideal accomplice of Saruman's plans, seen in providing his services to help the White examine the Gladden Fields.[6] Saruman in turn considered him simple and foolish.[2]

[edit] Etymology

[edit] Radagast

In a manuscript written by Tolkien in 1954, the name Radagast is said to mean "tender of beasts" in Adûnaic, the language of the Númenóreans.[1] 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.[9]

As stated by Hammond and Scull, several theories have appeared concerning the inspiration of the name Radagast.[10] One such theory has been proposed by Douglas A. Anderson, who notes the name Redigast in Slavic mythology.[11] John D. Rateliff suggests another source of inspiration in the Gothic chieftain Radagaisus, whose name (as noted by David Salo) is rendered Rhadagast in some works from the 18th and 19th century (e.g., King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon Version of Boethius' De Consolatione Philosophiae, translated by J.S. Cardale in 1829).[12]

The similarity to Old English rudugást meaning "red-brown spirit" has also been noted by fans.[13]

There is also a possibility that the old norse word ráðgast [to consult] could be part of the explanation.

[edit] Aiwendil

The name Aiwendil (pron. [aɪˈwendil]) is Quenya for "lover of birds".[14] It is obviously derived from aiwe ("(small) bird") and ndil ("devoted to").[10][15]

[edit] Names

It appears that in Valinor Radagast was known as "Aiwendil".[1]

As one of the wizards sent to Middle-earth, he was known as "Radagast the Brown". Saruman, when talking to Gandalf, mocked Radagast by calling him "Radagast the Bird-tamer", "Radagast the Simple", and "Radagast the Fool".[2]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

From the first drafts of The Hobbit, Bladorthin identifies Radagast as a fellow wizard and as his 'cousin'. John D. Rateliff notes that, at this stage in the development of Tolkien's legendarium there was no reason why a wizard could not have a cousin. Rateliff also suggests that it is likely that Tolkien considered explaining Gandalf's absence (following the departure of Thorin and Company from Beorn's house) by saying that he went to visit Radagast (who lived close by) to plan the attack on the Necromancer.[16]

Early in the process of writing The Lord of the Rings, it is clear that Tolkien envisaged some role for Radagast in the tale.[17] He eventually decided that he would use Radagast as the means of getting Gandalf to Isengard.[18]

Initially Gandalf describes Radagast as his 'cousin',[19] as he did in The Hobbit,[4] but in a subsequent draft he becomes his 'kinsman'.[20] In the final version Gandalf merely says that Radagast is 'one of my order'.[2]

Tolkien initially called him "Radagast the Grey", but in pencil he changed this to "Brown" and subsequently Saruman refers to him as "Radagast the Brown".[18]

When Tolkien finished writing the story up till Moria, he made notes on the future story development; therein he considered handing over Isengard to Radagast.[21]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

Radagast in adaptations
Radagast as a Mithril Miniature  
"Radagast the Brown with Sebastian" in The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game  

[edit] Films

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Radagast is entirely omitted. Without Radagast's involvement, Gandalf goes to Isengard of his own accord (because he wanted counsel from Saruman) and is able to escape from the pinnacle of Orthanc by speaking to a moth who sends for the help of the Eagles.

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Although Radagast is only briefly mentioned in The Hobbit, Radagast features in The Hobbit films and is played by Sylvester McCoy.[22] He is highly eccentric and somewhat absent-minded, and also uses a sled pulled by several large rabbits (which he refers to as 'Rhosgobel Rabbits') as his main means of transportation.
After discovering that a shadow has fallen on Greenwood the Great (having had to heal his hedgehog friend Sebastian because of its power), Radagast enters Dol Guldur and is attacked by the Witch-king. He finds that the fortress is occupied by a Necromancer and travels to inform Gandalf. He finds Thorin and Company just west of Rivendell and hands Gandalf a morgul blade. He draws a pack of Wargs and their Orc riders away on his rabbit-pulled sled so that Thorin and Company can flee in safety.

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

Radagast briefly appears, investigating the High Fells with Gandalf, and accompanying him to Dol Guldur. Gandalf then dispatches him to send news of what they've found to Galadriel, while Gandalf enters the fortress ruins alone.

2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

Radagast first appears when he comes in Dol Guldur during the attack by the White Council to take the weakened Gandalf to safety. After they escape, Gandalf requests a horse, takes Radagast's staff and also commands him to summon 'bird and beast' for the impending battle. He arrives with the Eagles late in the battle along with Beorn. They demolish the Orc forces and effectively help end the Battle of Five Armies.

[edit] Radio series

1981: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Ring:

Donald Gee provided the voice of Radagast. He is introduced much earlier than in the book because his meeting with Gandalf is given chronologically.

[edit] Games

1987-: Mithril Miniatures:

Radagast has been issued in a couple of different versions: figure LR3 "Radagast the Brown" is seen with a cat and an owl;[23] an older version of the figure portrays Radagast without beard and with a different bird.[24] There is also a "Radagast Mounted" (MS539), where Radagast (again without beard) is portrayed mounted on a horse.[25]

1988: J.R.R. Tolkien's War in Middle Earth:

Radagast is a non-playable character in this game.

2001-: The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game:

The hero figure Radagast the Brown, is a user of subtle magics, in contrast to the more overt kinds used by Gandalf and Saruman. However, he has some unique powers nonetheless.[26]

2011-2010: The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game:

A Decipher card was made by Weta, with Weta's John Harding posing as Radagast.[27]

2007-: The Lord of the Rings Online:

In the distant past Radagast, "Master of Shapes", had taught the ancestors of the Beornings the art of skin-changing. During his stay in Rhosgobel, Radagast had come across Gollum who was stealing and eating the babies of the Woodmen and banished him from the Vales of Anduin, causing Gollum to crawl inside the caverns of the Misty Mountains. In early T.A. 3018, Radagast, on his way to see Saruman, visits Grimbeorn and bids him to send one of his children with a message for Aragorn in Bree-land.
In the present, Radagast is first found in Ost Guruth, a small settlement of men in the Lone-lands north of the Great Road. He is friendly to the local people, the Eglain, and helps them to combat the rise of evil in the swamps of Agamaur.[28] After the War of the Ring, he tasks the player with ways of helping the living creatures around them. Radagast eventually settles back in Rhosgobel now that evil thatis departing the forest.

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North:

The characters Eradan, Farin and Andriel travel to Mirkwood in search of Radagast and arrive just in time to rescue him from the Spider Queen, Saenathra. He thanks them for the rescue and provides them with information about the Dragon Urgost.[29]

2012-: The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game:

Radagast, based on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, is a hero figurine in two different versions: the standard model "Radagast the Brown with Sebastian",[30] and a limited model sold with the box The Hobbit: Escape from Goblin Town.[31]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Saruman gave him this name to mock him.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari"
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Account of the Valar and Maiar According to the Lore of the Eldar"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 245
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari", note 4
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 240-1
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, p. 167
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit: One-volume Edition, pp. 278-8, 291
  13. "Radagast", Encyclopedia of Arda (accessed 24 October 2020)
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", pp. 348, 378 (entries AIWĒ- and NIL-, NDIL-)
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The Second Phase, "Medwed", "(vi) Radagast"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The Third Phase: XXII. New Uncertainties and New Projections", p. 379; J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The Story Continued: XXIII. In the House of Elrond", p. 397
  18. 18.0 18.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "VI. The Council of Elrond (1)", pp. 130-140
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "VI. The Council of Elrond (1)", p. 131
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "VII. The Council of Elrond (2)", p. 149
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XI. The Story Foreseen from Moria", p. 212
  22. Ian McKellen, "2 Elves and another wizard" dated 10 May 2011, Ian McKellen's website (accessed 23 December 2011)
  23. Mithril wizards Miniatures at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  24. Lord of the Rings (Mithril) at (accessed 8 October 2011; cf. Radgast (image))
  25. 32mm Fellowship Figures - MS539 Radagast Mounted at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  26. Radagast the Brown at Games-Workshop-com (accessed 8 October 2011)
  27. Kathy McCracken, "The Making of the Weta "Book Cards": Casting and Costuming" dated 22 July 2004, Internet Archive: Wayback Machine (accessed 30 June 2012)
  28. NPC: Radagast the Brown at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  29. Allies at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  30. "Radagast the Brown with Sebastian", (accessed 30 January 2013)
  31. "The Hobbit: Escape from Goblin Town - Limited Edition", (accessed 30 January 2013)