‘Here,’ said Elrond, turning to Gandalf, ‘is Boromir, a man from the South’.

Since Gandalf had visited Minas Tirith many times and was well-known to both Denethor and Faramir how was it that he didn't already know Boromir?

  • 51
    One does not simply know Boromir.
    – rickster
    Jan 6, 2019 at 6:58
  • 4
    @IanMacDonald But Gandalf was a close friend and mentor to Boromir's brother. Also, both Gandalf and Boromir are very famous – they're not common citizens.
    – TGar
    Jan 6, 2019 at 14:00
  • 4
    I think there is a faulty premise in the question, which is suggested by one of the answers. This quote doesn't imply anything about whether Gandalf knows Boromir - it only contains a suggestion of what Elrond believes Gandalf to know.
    – JBentley
    Jan 6, 2019 at 17:11
  • 1
    @TheMathemagician Perhaps, but then in that case it would be helpful to include the next line of dialogue in the question. As the question currently stands it is indeed possible that the next line does reveal the fact.
    – JBentley
    Jan 6, 2019 at 18:46
  • 2
    Aragorn was a trusted general and friend of Boromir's grandfather when Boromir was born and for a two years afterward, so it's quite possible Aragorn knew him as a small child. Not that this is actually related to your question.
    – Nolimon
    Jan 6, 2019 at 21:56

2 Answers 2


They certainly could have met

Boromir was born in 2978, Faramir in 2983 and Denethor became Steward of Gondor in 2984.

2978 Birth of Boromir son of Denethor II.


2983 Faramir son of Denethor born.


2984 Death of Ecthelion II. Denethor II becomes Steward of Gondor.

The Lord of the Rings Appendix B, Section 2: The Third Age
Page 1090 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Single Volume 50th Anniversary Edition)

Faramir tells Frodo that he met Gandalf when he was a child and that Gandalf had visited Minas Tirith.

I first saw him when I was a child, and he has been twice or thrice since then.’

‘The Grey Pilgrim?’ said Frodo. ‘Had he a name?’

‘Mithrandir we called him in elf-fashion,’ said Faramir, ‘and he was content. Many are my names in many countries, he said. Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Dwarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.’

The Lord of the Rings Book Four, Chapter 5: The Window on the West
Page 670 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Single Volume 50th Anniversary Edition)

We know that Gandalf's last visit to Minas Tirith before war breaks out is in 3017 when he finds Isildur's description of the Ring.

3017 Gollum is released from Mordor. He is taken by Aragorn in the Dead Marshes, and brought to Thranduil in Mirkwood. Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and reads the scroll of Isildur.

The Lord of the Rings Appendix B, Section 2: The Third Age

There is no mention of Boromir ever meeting Gandalf during these visits and it is always possible that Boromir was not in the city at these times.

There is nothing in The Council of Elrond to suggest that Gandalf and Boromir recognise each other. While they would certainly know the other's name, perhaps we should assume they had never met.

  • 9
    "it is always possible that Boromir was not in the city at these times." Particularly if Boromir is stationed at Osgiliath or Ithilien while Gandalf is visiting.
    – Lexible
    Jan 6, 2019 at 5:55
  • 4
    In addition Farimir is more interested in history, reading and the “softer” as his father would call them, subjects. He would be drawn to Gandalf and would be the kind of pupil Gandalf would have time for. Borimir was more Intrested in the martial arts, war fare, seigecraft etc and so wouldn’t have interest in rummaging around old libraries with an old man. I imagine Gandalf knew exactly who Borimir was and what kind of man he was, but, as was his way he kept his knowledge to himself. Later on in fellowship he mentions that Aragorn will not be well received by Borimir in the white city.
    – Richard C
    Jan 6, 2019 at 14:24

Gandalf likely at least knows of him, as the heir apparent to the Stewardship of Gondor. We see much later in RotK that Gandalf knows Denethor, so it stands to reason that he would also at least recognize his son by name. But all we really get here is that Elrond doesn't let on that he knows him:

‘Here,’ said Elrond, turning to Gandalf, ‘is Boromir, a man from the South. He arrived in the grey morning, and seeks for counsel. I have bidden him to be present, for here his questions will be answered.’

Apparently all that Boromir has wished to make known by this point is that he came from the South, so there's no reason for Elrond to assume that anyone else present should know him. Elrond may indeed know more - it's possible the two had conversed leading Elrond to invite him to this exclusive council - but he's letting Boromir share that information. It's also possible that Elrond is subtly hinting to Gandalf here to not "out" Boromir just yet. Boromir doesn't identify himself as Denethor's son, or even being from Gondor, until later in the conversation, but we don't then see any reaction from Gandalf or anyone else.

In other words, regardless of who knows what, everyone is tactfully allowing Boromir to decide how to introduce himself to mixed company.

  • 16
    I've always assumed that he must have asked his questions of Elrond beforehand (re interpreting the dreams he and Faramir had). Those questions, and his important role as the heir of Denethor, are presumably why Elrond invites him to the council. He wouldn't be inviting just any random stranger to listen to and take part in such sensitive discussions. Jan 6, 2019 at 7:17
  • 5
    @MichaelMacAskill "for here his questions will be answered" certainly implies Elrond already knows Boromir's question. Jan 6, 2019 at 17:55
  • 7
    Also, Elrond is speaking not just to Gandalf, but to the whole Council. Given the seriousness of the discussion, it's perhaps not surprising that Gandalf & Boromir don't immediately break into a discussion of old times, if indeed they were acquainted. (And IIRC there's little such discussion between Gandalf and other members of the Fellowship, some of whom he certainly had known before.)
    – jamesqf
    Jan 6, 2019 at 18:55
  • 4
    @leftaroundabout If Boromir had only said he came from the south at that point, maybe Elrond would have considered it polite to not reveal any more to the audience until Boromir did so himself.
    – JollyJoker
    Jan 7, 2019 at 8:59
  • 4
    @JollyJoker And the same is true of all the other complaints, really - it would be impolite for Gandalf to interrupt, and both Boromir and Gandalf would be well acquainted with the etiquette. Gandalf might wink at the hobbits in such a setting, but those are always shown to be more "fun loving" than the rest of the very serious civilizations in Middle Earth - Gandalf shows much respect for cultural traditions of both his hosts and fellows. Elrond doesn't reveal that Strider is the heir of Gondor either - Aragorn chose to present himself otherwise, and both Elrond and Gandalf respect that.
    – Luaan
    Jan 7, 2019 at 9:50

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