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In the Lord of The Rings trilogy, does anyone know how old Gandalf is? I remember reading that Gandalf was much older than he looked. Do the books ever say how old he is ?

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Can you be more specific? Gandalf is a maia so he has existed since before the world, he aided in the creation of the world, actually, so are you asking how old is he or how long has he been in middle earth? – IamVeryCuriousIndeed Jun 9 '14 at 4:27… – Mooz Jun 9 '14 at 21:41
Older than the world, or even the universe. – Wad Cheber Aug 2 '15 at 6:43
up vote 45 down vote accepted

Gandalf is Maia (Spirit), created before the Years of the Lamps roughly 9,000+ years before arriving on Middle Earth. In Valinor he was known as Olórin. He was sent to Middle-Earth in human form around the year 1000 in the Third Age. That's more than 2000 years before the setting of The Lord of the Rings, to help the free peoples fight the evil of Sauron.

Gandalf walked Middle Earth for approximately 2,019 years, un-aging and appearing as a grey bearded human of about 60 years old or so. He was around long before Middle earth was created and before the Years of the Lamps. He, Saruman and Sauron are approximately the same age - give or take. It's difficult to pin down his true age because time had little relevance before the Lamps were set in place. 11,000 years old is a minimum figure. He's likely much older.

Timeline - Tolkien Gateway - Years of the Lamps

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I'd love to see how much he has stashed in his 401k. – helrich Jun 9 '14 at 13:40
Just a tiny nitpick: he is a Maia, this is a singular form. "Maiar" is plural. – Bobby Jun 9 '14 at 20:15
@TK-421 -He's referring to Gandalf's meager 2,000 years walking Middle Earth in 'human' form. Treebeard, also known as Fangorn, is much older than those 2,000 years but much younger than Olórin (Gandalf). – Morgan Jun 9 '14 at 20:54
@Morgan: "A Maiar" is grammatically incorrect, just like "a men" or "a humans." – jwodder Jun 10 '14 at 1:12
@TK-421 - Letter 153: "Treebeard is a character in my story, not me; and though he has a great memory and some earthy wisdom, he is not one of the Wise, and there is quite a lot he does not know or understand". – user8719 Jul 2 '14 at 21:17

Like Morgan said, Gandlaf is a Maia (spirit). That means he doesn't age like normal humans do. He existed before the creation of the world. Gandalf came to middle Earth in T.A. 1000 and left at T.A 3021, so you could say that he was 2000 years on Arda.

He also can't die. This is why when he died fighting the Balrog he came back to life (to fulfill his mission -- defeating Sauron). When his mission is complete, he won't die. He will continue to exist as an ethereal Maia.

Age (as we perceive it) doesn't exist for Gandalf.

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Didn't Illuvatar intervene directly to return Gandalf to Middle Earth after his mortal form perished with the Balrog? – TylerH Jun 9 '14 at 14:20
Die as we know it? Probably not, but his body in Middle Earth can be destroyed. As above it took an outside force to send him back to finish the job. – kleineg Jun 9 '14 at 15:29
@kleineg - actually yes; Letter 156: "Gandalf really 'died', and was changed..." – user8719 Jul 2 '14 at 21:20

If I'm thinking correctly, I don't remember if Gandalf says this in the books but in The Two Towers he mentions living 300 lives of men and still has no time when he heads to find Rohan's cavalry. So 30,000 years old? If you say the life of a man is 100 years each.

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Listen closely in TFotR - Bilbo gives us a rough time frame of around the 1390s:

"1296 - very good year. Almost as old as I am!"

I'm not exactly sure of the life expectancy then, but it wasn't anywhere near 100 (due to war or illness, take your pick) - I went with 45 in my calculations and got Gandalf's age at 13'500. That isn't too far off the mark of another user's 'at least 11'000' all things considered.

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The question is essentially unanswerable. Gandalf predates the creation of the world (Arda) and even the creation of the universe (Ëa). He existed before time did, and for the first few ages of his existence (probably most of his "life"), there was no way of keeping track of time.

This question makes as little sense to a Tolkien fan as the question "How old is god?" would to a devout Christian, Jew, or Muslim. In both cases, the age is literally so great that it cannot be quantified or measured in any meaningful sense.

The best we can do is to say 'He's so old that it is impossible to say say how old he is. He's so old that years weren't invented until he was already an "old man".' The only LotR characters who are about the same age as Gandalf are Sauron, Morgoth, and Eru Ilúvatar. In The Silmarillion, all the Ainur are roughly the same age as Gandalf. In a very real way, Gandalf is older than time itself. This is impressive, but not really unique in Tolkien's world. As I said, all the Ainur (we don't know how many of them there are, but it is probably in the dozens) are as old as Gandalf.

If you're asking how long he was in Middle-earth, the answer is "roughly 2,000 years".

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