Aragorn, as I’ve already opined, is possibly the best orator at the Council of Elrond.  At any rate, he speaks with his own distinctive voice, the broadest array of rhetorical devices, and with some of the strangest grammatical constructions… constructions in which the grammar is driven along like a beast of burden for the meaning.  He is a skillful task-master of grammar, is Aragorn.  But I’ll get to that in a moment.

The most distinctive thing I’ve seen in Aragorn’s formal speeches at the Council is a curious feature that I’m calling “doubling,” but which goes by the more formal term “parallelism.”  Aragorn likes to state and restate his meanings in pairs.  Take one of the sentences in his speech to Boromir:

I have had a hard life and a long… I have crossed many mountains and many rivers, and trodden many plains, even into the far countries of Rhûn and Harad where the stars are strange.

“Many mountains” and “many rivers” are here parallel to each other, with the addition of “many plains.”  Rhûn and Harad form a convenient pair of foreign-country names.  And the opening phrase “a hard life and a long” emphasizes its own parallelism.  Think of the most usual way of expressing such a sentence:  “I have had a hard, long life.”  With two adjectives in a row, you don’t get a peculiar emphasis on either of them, and one is tempted to ignore the second adjective.  But if you change it to “I have had a hard and long life,” the two qualities are emphasized by the conjunction; and when you so separate them that you say “I have had a hard life and a long,” the unusual structure places an independent emphasis on both.

(I’m not entirely sure, but this structure may be an example of “hendiadys.”  Hendiadys is a device that creates a conjunction where there was only subordination beforehand: as in  “my darling and friend” for “my darling friend,” or “sound and fury” for “furious sound.”  Here, you might be able to say that “a hard life and a long” rescues the adjective “long” from a somewhat subordinate position as a second-seat to “hard” in describing “life”… but I don’t have official rhetorical confirmation of this.)

Now let’s take a look at Aragorn’s speech in defense of the Dúnedain, where he hits his rhetorical stride.  The thing about Aragorn’s rhetorical stride is that he gives it free reign only to draw it up short.  The sort of doubling we saw above occurs again and again, yet Aragorn punctuates it with extremely abbreviated and mostly ironic remarks.  Take the following example, from the description of the Rangers:

When dark things come from the houseless hills, or creep from sunless woods, they fly from us.  What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the Dúnedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?

Doublings everywhere—houseless hills and sunless woods, being asleep and going into the grave.  It’s a rolling plain of rhetoric.  But then comes the check, in eight words:

And yet less thanks have we than you.

Touché, Boromir of Gondor.  But Aragorn hardly pauses long enough for the effect to sink in, and goes immediately back to the doubling:

Travelers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names.  ‘Strider’ I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly.

The doublings again are obvious: travelers and countrymen, freezing hearts and ruining towns.  What comes next?  Seven words, this time:

Yet we would not have it otherwise.

Experiencing this kind of rhetoric is like watching a well-trained stallion.  There is an expansiveness in the gallop, and utmost control in the check.  It is Aragorn’s distinctive style of speech, and one which no other member of the Council deploys.  It is, I believe, the self-tempered voice of a King.

These are not the only tools Aragorn carries in his rhetorical knapsack, however.  The climax of his speech to Boromir is a pungent display of the device called “enumeratio.”  Remember that Aragorn had asked Boromir a question that Boromir had not answered.  Should the House of Elendil return to the land of Gondor?  Boromir had doubted and Bilbo had interrupted; and Aragorn had continued with a speech in defense of the Dúnedain.  But now he returns to the crucial point.  Aragorn abandons his expansive sentences and his Aragornian doubling.  His speech becomes staccato.  Using the device of “enumeratio”—a listing of considerations in concise, punctuated form—he crescendos to a climax:

But now the world is changing once again.  A new hour comes.  Isildur’s Bane is found.  Battle is at hand.  The Sword shall be reforged.  I will come to Minas Tirith.

Touché again, Boromir; and that is a promise.

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