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Maia (Wizard)
"Radagast the Brown" by Fabio Leone
Biographical Information
Other namesAiwendil, Hrávandil (Q)
"the Brown"
AffiliationIstari (Wizards)
White Council
Physical Description
Hair color"short, curling, light brown hair on his chin"[1]
ClothingEarthen-brown robes[2]
GalleryImages of Radagast

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.

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.[2][3]


Mage of Rhosgobel by Jef Murray

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.[4] Aiwendil was a servant of the Valië Yavanna, the Queen of earth.[2]

After the Valar discovered the primeval Elves at Cuiviénen, Aiwendil was sent there with several other Maiar to guard the Elves from the forces of Melkor. He was known there by the name Hrávandil. It is unclear how long he remained or if he accompanied the Eldar on the Great Journey.[5]

After the defeat of Morgoth, the Valar grew concerned about the growing power of Sauron in Middle-earth. Manwë summoned a council of the Valar, and it was decided that they would send Maiar as emissaries to Middle-earth to aid the Free Peoples. Aulë chose Curumo (later Saruman), Oromë chose Alatar, and Manwë chose Olórin (later Gandalf). Yavanna subsequently begged Curumo to take Aiwendil with him, much to Curumo's displeasure.

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. In Middle-earth he was known as Radagast, and he was robed in brown.[2]

Travels in Middle-earth

When the Wizards took their mission they roamed Middle-earth, but Radagast was never much of a traveller.[3] 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.[2] 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.[3] Although the neighboring Beorn was unsociable, he used to see him from time to time, and he considered Radagast "not bad" for a Wizard.[6]

In T.A. 2851, the White Council met once more and, after that, Saruman began to search the Gladden Fields for the One Ring.[7] 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.[8]

Radagast by Angelo Montanini

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.[3]

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.[3]

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.[3]

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.[9]


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.[2]

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.[2][3]

Gandalf, however, held greater knowledge of birds and beasts than Radagast, as well as greater respect received from them.[10]

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.[8] Saruman in turn considered him simple and foolish.[3]


In a very late note written by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1972 the name is said to be derived from the Men of the Vales of Anduin and that its meaning is "not now clearly interpretable".[11]

In a manuscript written by Tolkien in 1954, the name Radagast is said to be "in the tongue of Númenor of old" and to mean "tender of beasts".[2] John D. Rateliff suggests that it is possible that Tolkien did not mean classical Adûnaic, but Westron, which was descended from Adûnaic.[12]

John D. Rateliff and Douglas A. Anderson suggest the name of 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) as a source of inspiration. They also suggest the name of the Slavic god Radegast (mentioned by the eleventh-century german historian Adam of Bremen's Gesta Hamburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum and nineteenth-century german writer Jacob Grimm in Teutonic Mythology) or Redigast.[12][13][14] John D. Rateliff also suggests that it may be an Old English name, which means "Spirit of the Road" and consistings of the components rad ("road") and gast ("spirit", "angel", "human being"). John D. Rateliff suggests that the name of the Gothic king is the most convincing source of inspiration, because of J.R.R. Tolkien's interest in the Gothic language and his knowledge of Gothic history.[12] Tom Shippey mentions that Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire stayed in Tolkien's mind and that Radagaisus is included in its index.[15]

The similarity to Old English rudugást meaning "red-brown spirit" has also been noted by fans.[16]

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

Other names

The name Aiwendil is Quenya for "Lover of Birds".[2]:401 It is obviously derived from aiwë ("a small bird") + -ndil ("devoted to").[14]

Another Quenya name was Hrávandil, used when he was sent to Cuiviénen with the other Guardians, which according to Carl Hostetter most likely means "Wild beast friend", from hravan ("wild beast") + -ndil ("friend").[17]

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".[3]

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.[18]

Early in the process of writing The Lord of the Rings, it is clear that Tolkien envisaged some role for Radagast in the tale.[19] He eventually decided that he would use Radagast as the means of getting Gandalf to Isengard.[20]

Initially Gandalf describes Radagast as his 'cousin',[21] as he did in The Hobbit,[6] but in a subsequent draft he becomes his 'kinsman'.[22] In the final version Gandalf merely says that Radagast is 'one of my order'.[3]

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".[20]

When Tolkien finished writing the story up till Moria, he made notes on the future story development; therein he considered Gandalf evicting Saruman from Insengard and handing it over to Radagast after the fall of Mordor.[23]

Portrayal in adaptations

Radagast in adaptations
Radagast as a Mithril Miniature
Radagast as a Mithril Miniature  
Radagast in J.R.R. Tolkien's War in Middle Earth
Radagast in The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game
Radagast in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game
Radagast in The Lord of the Rings Online
Radagast in The Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Radagast in The Hobbit (film series)
"Radagast the Brown with Sebastian" in The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game
"Radagast the Brown with Sebastian" in The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game  


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.[24] 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.

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.

2001: Pán prsteňov (2001-2003 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Radagast the Brown is provided by Vlado Černý. He appears briefly in a flashback scene, when Gandalf is recounting his meeting with Radagast, and his subsequent visit to Saruman, imprisonment and eventual escape from Orthanc.


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;[25] an older version of the figure portrays Radagast without beard and with a different bird.[26] There is also a "Radagast Mounted" (MS539), where Radagast (again without beard) is portrayed mounted on a horse.[27]

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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30] 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.[31]

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",[32] and a limited model sold with the box The Hobbit: Escape from Goblin Town.[33]

See also

External links


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Two. Body, Mind and Spirit: V. Beards", Footnotes, p. 187
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Account of the Valar and Maiar According to the Lore of the Eldar"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: XIII. Key Dates", p. 95
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  8. 8.0 8.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  10. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 245
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari", note 4
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit: One-volume Edition, pp. 278, 291
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, p. 167
  14. 14.0 14.1 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 240-241
  15. Tom Shippey, The Road to Middle-earth, Appendix A Tolkien's Sources: The True Tradition, 3rd edition, p. 396
  16. "Radagast", Encyclopedia of Arda (accessed 18 June 2024)
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: XIII. Key Dates", "Notes", p. 102, note 7
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The Second Phase, "Medwed", "(vi) Radagast"
  19. 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
  20. 20.0 20.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "VI. The Council of Elrond (1)", pp. 130-140
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "VI. The Council of Elrond (1)", p. 131
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "VII. The Council of Elrond (2)", p. 149
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XI. The Story Foreseen from Moria", p. 212
  24. Ian McKellen, "2 Elves and another wizard" dated 10 May 2011, Ian McKellen's website (accessed 23 December 2011)
  25. Mithril wizards Miniatures at Mithril.ie (accessed 8 October 2011)
  26. Lord of the Rings (Mithril) at TwilightTangents.com (accessed 8 October 2011; cf. Radgast (image))
  27. 32mm Fellowship Figures - MS539 Radagast Mounted at Mithril.ie (accessed 8 October 2011)
  28. Radagast the Brown at Games-Workshop-com (accessed 8 October 2011)
  29. Kathy McCracken, "The Making of the Weta "Book Cards": Casting and Costuming" dated 22 July 2004, Internet Archive: Wayback Machine (accessed 30 June 2012)
  30. NPC: Radagast the Brown at My.Lotro.com (accessed 8 October 2011)
  31. Allies at WarintheNorth.com (accessed 8 October 2011)
  32. "Radagast the Brown with Sebastian", Games-Workshop.com (accessed 30 January 2013)
  33. "The Hobbit: Escape from Goblin Town - Limited Edition", Games-Workshop.com (accessed 30 January 2013)
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