An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor
David Wenham as Faramir
in the New Line Cinema film
Faramir by Anke-Katrin Eissmann
(See the full-size image)
Faramir, son of the Steward of Gondor, was a Man of great wisdom and nobility. His brother Boromir was a member of the Fellowship of the Ring. But while Boromir succumbed to the temptation of the One Ring and would have hindered the Ring-bearer, Faramir had the strength of character to utterly reject the Ring and to speed Frodo Baggins on his quest.
Faramir was born in 2983 of the Third Age. The next year, his father Denethor became the Steward of Gondor, ruling in the absence of a King. Denethor was proud and stern and he became even more cold and remote after the death of his wife Finduilas in 2988.
When his mother died, Faramir was only about five years old. His older brother Boromir looked out for Faramir, and Faramir looked up to Boromir. There was no rivalry between the brothers, though their father clearly favored Boromir. The brothers were similar in appearance, with dark hair and grey eyes, but they were different in temperament. Boromir was the bolder of the two and was accounted a great warrior, while Faramir had a gentler nature and an understanding of men's hearts. In Faramir it could be seen that the blood of Numenor ran true.
Faramir was interested in learning and lore and he read some of the ancient manuscripts in the archives of Minas Tirith. Gandalf the Grey came to Minas Tirith from time to time to search the archives for information about Isildur. Faramir learned much from Gandalf and he eventually guessed that Isildur had taken something from Sauron's hand after his defeat in the War of the Last Alliance. But Denethor distrusted Gandalf and he was not pleased that his youngest son became friends with the Wizard.
Faramir was also skilled at arms and was a leader of men. He became a Captain of Gondor and the commander of the Rangers of Ithilien who patrolled on the outskirts of Mordor. Faramir fought bravely to defend Gondor from the Enemy, yet he did not enjoy war for its own sake.
"War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Numenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise."In June of 3018, the Witch-king led a sudden assault from Mordor on Osgiliath. None could withstand the dreadful presence of the Lord of the Nazgul and the Men of Gondor retreated across the Anduin. Boromir and Faramir held the bridge until it was cast down behind them. The brothers swam to safety and the western shore was held against the Enemy.
The Two Towers: "The Window on the West," p. 280
The evening before the attack, Faramir's sleep was troubled by a dream in which a voice spoke:
Seek for the Sword that was broken:Faramir's dream returned several times and it came to Boromir as well. Together they went to Denethor to see if he could interpret the dream. Their father only told them that Imladris was Rivendell, the home of Elrond in the North. Faramir was eager to undertake the journey to Rivendell to seek counsel that could help Gondor, but Boromir insisted on going for he feared the trip would be dangerous.
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Council of Elrond," p. 259
Boromir left Minas Tirith on July 4, 3018. The next year on February 26, 3019, Faramir and Denethor heard the Great Horn borne by Boromir sounding from afar in the North. Three days later, Faramir was on guard duty on the western shore of Osgiliath. At midnight, he saw a boat floating down the Anduin and he waded out to it. In the boat lay the body of his brother Boromir, dead of many wounds. His sword was broken but the Great Horn was missing. Later the horn was found in two pieces floating in the river, but no news came to Gondor of Boromir's fate.
Faramir set out with his company of Rangers to ambush the Haradrim who were marching to Mordor. In Ithilien, Faramir and his men encountered Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee, two Halflings as had been mentioned in Faramir's dream. Faramir left Mablung and Damrod to guard the Hobbits while he led an assault on the Southrons.
When Faramir returned he questioned Frodo about his quest. Frodo told him that he had left Rivendell with eight companions including Aragorn, the heir of Isildur and King Elendil of old. The Rangers were amazed by this news, but Faramir said that proof would be required before Aragorn could claim the throne of Gondor.
Faramir was particularly interested in learning of Boromir's fate and Isildur's Bane, but Frodo could not tell what had befallen Boromir, and he would not speak of Isildur's Bane. Faramir guessed that Frodo bore something of great power and evil, but he told Frodo he had nothing to fear from him.
"But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo."Later, in the Rangers' secret refuge at Henneth Annun, Sam accidentally revealed that Frodo's burden was the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron. The Hobbits were afraid, but Faramir remained true to his vow and did not try to take the Ring from Frodo, for he had the wisdom to realize that such evil must be resisted.
The Two Towers: "The Window on the West," p. 280
Faramir was saddened to learn that Boromir had faced such a trial and he wished that he had gone to Rivendell in his brother's stead. He knew that his brother would have been tempted by something that he thought could bring victory and glory to Minas Tirith and to himself.
That night Gollum was discovered at the Forbidden Pool. Frodo begged Faramir to spare the creature's life. Although by law Gollum should have been slain for trespassing in the hidden refuge, Faramir agreed. He released Gollum into Frodo's custody, but he warned Frodo that the creature was treacherous and that Cirith Ungol where he was leading the Hobbits was home to a nameless fear.
As for Frodo and Sam, Faramir decided not to bring them before his father in Minas Tirith. Faramir knew that his life would be forfeit if he chose a course that did harm to Gondor, and yet he judged rightly that the Hobbits must be allowed to continue on their quest. He gave them provisions and walking sticks made of lebethron, and then he bade them farewell with the good will of all good men.
Faramir and his men left Henneth Annun a day later and went to Cair Andros, an island in the Anduin. That night darkness began to issue from Mordor and in the morning there was no dawn. Faramir sent his company south to strengthen Osgiliath and then he and three of his men set out on horseback for Minas Tirith. They were pursued by five Nazgul mounted on flying Fell Beasts. Faramir's men were unhorsed, but he mastered his steed and rode back to help them. Then Gandalf rode forth from Minas Tirith and shot a brilliant flash of white light at the Nazgul and they fled.
Entering Minas Tirith, Faramir was amazed to see another Halfling, Frodo's companion Pippin Took. Faramir reported to his father and told him of his encounter with Frodo and Sam. Denethor was angry that Faramir had not brought the Ring to him as he thought Boromir would have done, and he said that he wished his eldest and youngest sons' places had been reversed.
The next day, Denethor sent Faramir to command the troops guarding the river crossing at Osgiliath. Faramir disagreed with his father's strategy but he agreed to go.
"Then farewell!" said Faramir. "But if I should return, think better of me!"The Witch-king led a great host from Minas Morgul and won the river crossing. Faramir retreated with his forces to the Causeway Forts but they were outnumbered ten to one. Many of Faramir's men were slain or wounded. Faramir resolved to stay with them to the end in order to ensure and orderly retreat instead of a rout.
"That depends on the manner of your return," said Denethor.
The Return of the King: "The Siege of Gondor," p. 90
Soon the Rammas Echor encircling Minas Tirith was breached and the rearguard was attacked by Winged Nazgul. Faramir was struck by an arrow. Gandalf and Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth led a rally to the aid of Faramir's men. Imrahil carried his nephew Faramir back to Minas Tirith on his horse and told Denethor that his son had performed great deeds.
Denethor had Faramir brought to a chamber in the White Tower. It was believed that Faramir had been pierced by one of the Witch-king's poisoned darts. Denethor regretted that he had sent his son off without his blessing into needless peril. He sank deep into despair, for he had looked into his palantir and had been shown images by Sauron that caused him to believe that the Ring had been captured and that the end was near for Gondor.
As Sauron's forces laid siege to Minas Tirith and set fire to the lower level, Denethor commanded that a funeral pyre be built for him and his son. Though he was still alive, Faramir was carried to the House of the Stewards in the Silent Street where the dead were entombed.
Pippin ran to find help and alerted Beregond of the Tower Guard. Beregond prevented the servants bearing torches from lighting the pyre until Pippin returned with Gandalf. Faramir moaned and called out for his father as Gandalf lifted him off the pyre. Denethor drew a knife and tried to return his son to the pyre but Beregond stopped him. Then Denethor leapt onto the pyre and burned himself alive.
Faramir was taken to the Houses of Healing where Aragorn determined that his wound was not from the Witch-king's dart but from a Southron's arrow. Faramir's affliction was the result of weariness and grief at his father's behavior and most of all from his close contact with the Black Breath of the Nazgul, who had pursued him twice in the past week.
Aragorn revived Faramir with athelas. Although Faramir had told Frodo that Aragorn would need to prove his lineage, Faramir immediately recognized Aragorn as his King when he awoke.
Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. "My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?"Faramir remained in the Houses of Healing while Aragorn led the Host of the West to the Black Gate. One day as he walked in the gardens, Eowyn of Rohan came to him to ask that she be allowed to leave the Houses of Healing and ride into battle. He counselled Eowyn to heed advice of the Warden of the Houses of Healing, but he invited her to walk with him in the gardens where she could look eastward to Mordor if she wished. Faramir was moved with pity for Eowyn and her beauty pierced his heart.
The Return of the King: "The Houses of Healing," p. 142
"Then, Eowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer still; but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful. It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily; but it would ease my heart, if while the Sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew us back."From Merry Brandybuck, Faramir learned of Eowyn's grief; of her years wating upon the ailing King Theoden and her unrequited love for Aragorn. Faramir and Eowyn walked together in the gardens each day. On March 25, they stood at the wall looking toward Mordor. Faramir gave Eowyn a blue mantle with silver stars that had belonged to his mother. Then in the east they saw a great darkness that seemed about to engulf the world. It reminded Faramir of the Downfall of Numenor, of which he had often dreamed. But then he felt hope and joy and he kissed Eowyn's brow.
The Return of the King: "The Steward and the King," p. 238-39
And so they stood on the walls of the City of Gondor, and a great wind rose and blew, and their hair, raven and golden, streamed out mingling in the air. And the Shadow departed, and the Sun was unveiled, and light leaped forth; and the waters of Anduin shone like silver, and in all the houses of the City men sang for the joy that welled up in their hearts from what source they could not tell.But Eowyn remained unhappy for several days afterward. Faramir understood that Eowyn had admired Aragorn because of his greatness and that when Aragorn gave her only understanding and pity in return, she had desired a glorious death in battle. Faramir told Eowyn that though he too had once pitied her, he had come to love her and wished to marry her. Then Eowyn realized that she loved Faramir and he kissed her in full view of the people of Minas Tirith.
The Return of the King: "The Steward and the King," p. 241
Faramir took up the authority of the Steward and he began to prepare to transfer the rule of Gondor to the new King. On May 1, Faramir stood at the gate of the City to greet Aragorn. He knelt and offered him the white rod of the Steward in order to surrender his office, but Aragorn refused and said that Faramir and his heirs would remain the Stewards of Gondor. Then Faramir asked the people of Gondor if they accepted Aragorn as their King and they replied yea. Faramir brought out the Crown of Gondor and Aragorn was crowned King Elessar.
Faramir was made Prince of Ithilien, and Beregond became the captain of his guard, the White Company. In Ithilien, Faramir guarded and maintained the eastern marches of Gondor. His duties included clearing out the remaing outlaws and Orcs and cleansing the Morgul Vale of evil. As Prince of Ithilien, Faramir was the highest ranking noble in Gondor after the Prince of Dol Amroth, and together they were King Elessar's chief commanders. As Steward of Gondor, Faramir was the King's chief counsellor and he had authority when the King was abroad.
Faramir and Eowyn made their home in Emyn Arnen, a range of hills in Ithilien within sight of Minas Tirith. They had at least one son named Elboron. Faramir died in the year 83 of the Fourth Age (see note below). Elboron succeeded him as the Steward of Gondor and the second Prince of Ithilien.
Birth of Faramir.
Faramir's father Denethor becomes Steward of Gondor.
Death of Faramir's mother Finduilas.
June 19: Faramir dreams of Isildur's Bane.
June 20: Sauron attacks Osgiliath. Boromir and Faramir hold the bridge until it is destroyed, then swim to safety.
July 4: Boromir sets out from Minas Tirith to Rivendell.
February 26: Faramir and Denethor hear Boromir's horn in the distance. Unbeknownst to them, Boromir is killed.
February 29: Faramir sees Boromir's funeral boat.
March 1: Faramir and his men
set out for Ithilien to ambush the Southrons marching to Mordor.
March 7: Faramir encounters Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee in Ithilien. He learns that Frodo carries the One Ring but he does not try to take it.
March 8: Faramir bids farewell to the Hobbits.
March 9: Faramir leaves Henneth Annun for Cair Andros.
March 10: Faramir rides to Minas Tirith and is rescued from Nazgul by Gandalf. Faramir meets Pippin Took and reports to Denethor.
March 11: Denethor sends Faramir to Osgiliath to hold the river crossing.
March 12: Faramir retreats to the Causeway Forts.
March 13: The Pelennor Fields are overrun and Faramir is brought back to Minas Tirith gravely wounded.
March 15: Denethor tries to burn himself and Faramir alive but Faramir is rescued and taken to the Houses of Healing where Aragorn revives him.
March 20: Faramir meets Eowyn in the Houses of Healing.
March 25: Faramir and Eowyn witness the downfall of Sauron's realm from the walls of Minas Tirith.
May 1: Aragorn is crowned King Elessar and he bids Faramir to remain in the office of Steward.
August 10: King Eomer announces the engagement of his sister Eowyn to Faramir at King Theoden's funeral feast.
Marriage of Faramir and Eowyn.
Death of Faramir.
Note: This Fourth Age date is calculated according to the New Reckoning of Gondor. According to the reckoning used in the Shire, Faramir's date of death would be 82 F.A. The date 83 is given in The History of Middle-earth, vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 221 & 223 while the date 82 appears in Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, p. 319.
The meaning of Faramir is not certain. The element mir found in both Faramir and Boromir means "jewel, precious thing, treasure." It has been speculated that Faramir means "sufficient jewel" - from phar meaning "suffice" - in constrast with Boromir which means "faithful jewel." Thus might Denethor have shown his preference for his eldest son. The element far may also come from faras meaning "hunting."
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entries for MIR, PHAR, and SPAR
Faramir's military rank was Captain of Gondor.
The Two Towers: "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit," p. 265
Faramir became Steward of Gondor upon his father's death on March 15, 3019. After the coronation of King Elessar, Faramir retained his office.
The Return of the King: "The Steward and the King," p. 237, 242, 245
King Elessar made Faramir the first Prince of Ithilien and granted him Ithilien as his domain.
The Return of the King: "The Steward and the King," p. 247
Faramir also bore the title Lord of Emyn Arnen, the range of hills in Ithilien where he dwelled.
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The Realms in Exile," p. 319
Family tree of Faramir:
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "The Heirs of Elendil," p. 204-207, 221, 223
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Prologue: Note on the Shire Records," p. 24
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