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Radagast arrived in Midle-earth in c.III 1000; Saruman named him 'Bird-tamer' on 10 July III 30181
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  • Updated 7 August 2016
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Saruman’s title for Radagast

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A title given in scorn by Saruman to his fellow Wizard Radagast, whose special province was the natural world and its creatures. Though meant to mock and belittle Radagast, the title was apt - Radagast had a special affinity for birds, and in the West his original name had been Aiwendil, 'friend of birds'. Indeed, Radagast's bird-taming skills would prove inconvenient for Saruman: it was Radagast who sent the Great Eagle Gwaihir to Isengard, enabling Gandalf to escape from Saruman's clutches, and the same Eagle later recovered Gandalf from the mountainside after his battle with the Balrog of Moria. From this perspective, Radagast the 'bird-tamer' was instrumental in the ultimate defeat of both Saruman and Sauron.



To our knowledge, Saruman used 'Bird-tamer' as an insult to Radagast during the War of the Ring, but its origins are perhaps far older than that. Before he came to Middle-earth, thousands of years before the War, the Maia who would become Radagast was known by the Elvish name Aiwendil, which translates as 'friend of birds'. Though the sense is not identical, it seems reasonable to assume that Saruman - who knew Radagast even in those ancient times - would have been influenced in his choice of name by that old Elvish term.

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