Gandalf is a Maia, a sort of angel in human shape. Does that mean he needs to eat and drink and sleep like everyone else?

At the start of The Hobbit (book and movie) we see him eating and drinking with the dwarves. In The Two Towers (book and movie) we see him sleeping when Pippin steals the palantir from him. But these instances don't mean that he needs to eat/drink/sleep to survive.

Sauron and the balrog are Maia sent to earth too but somehow I don't see them requiring food/drink/rest.

Is there canon to support this either way?

  • 1
    Not really a demigod, which is essentially a "half-god". A better analogy, and one that's used quite often, is that he's more like an angel in physical form.
    – Omegacron
    Sep 4, 2015 at 19:02
  • @Omegacron this is true. Even the Valar were not "Gods" although men often mistakenly thought they were.
    – user46509
    Sep 4, 2015 at 20:14
  • 25
    Saw this in Hot Network Questions. Read "Garfield" instead of Gandalf. Was confused, thought about lasagna.
    – corsiKa
    Sep 4, 2015 at 20:46
  • At least you didn't ask whether he poops... Sep 5, 2015 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


Yes. When the Maia Olorin was sent as an emissary from the Valar, along with four others, he was bound to a mortal body and subject to the cares and dangers that entailed. Sauron was not limited in this way, although he had used up a lot of his native power in his attempts to dominate and due to the losses he had suffered.

This quote is from the chapter "The Istari" in Unfinished Tales, and sums it up.

For with the consent of Eru they sent members of their own high order, but clad in bodies as of Men, real and not feigned, but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth, able to hunger and thirst and be slain; though because of their noble spirits they did not die, and aged only by the cares and labours of many long years.

  • 18
    +1. I can practically hear Tolkien anticipating questions like this as he writes "real and not feigned."
    – Nerrolken
    Sep 4, 2015 at 18:47
  • 3
    Which in practice probably means that Gandalf could go an unnaturally long time without sleep or food, through shear force of his noble spirit, though he would suffer hunger and exhaustion thorough all of it.
    – Jonathon
    Sep 5, 2015 at 4:15
  • 1
    @JonathonWisnoski he does to. He allows the fellowship to sleep through in Moria for instance.
    – user46509
    Sep 5, 2015 at 5:49
  • 12
    So he really felt fear, loneliness, hunger, weariness and other aspects of human hardship when doing all this insane stuff by himself for hundreds of years, end on end. With this in mind it is hard to imagine a more badass character.
    – zxq9
    Sep 5, 2015 at 12:22
  • 8
    That's why four of the five fail their mission. It's a tough gig
    – user46509
    Sep 5, 2015 at 12:23

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