In the chapter 7 of book three in Lord of the Rings titled "Helm's Deep", the scout says the following.

‘It is very great,’ said the scout. ‘He that flies counts every foeman twice, yet I have spoken to stouthearted men, and I do not doubt that the main strength of the enemy is many times as great as all that we have here.

Who is "He that flies"? I also can't understand the meaning of the whole passage, so please explain it all.

  • 36
    "He who flies" is a way of describing someone who is fleeing a battle. It doesn't refer to a particular character.
    – user888379
    Jun 8, 2019 at 16:24
  • 7
    @user888379 "Flies" as in "fly you fools."
    – Misha R
    Jun 8, 2019 at 16:32
  • @Lorendiac, I guessed it might be Gandalf since the scout reported his being sighted before with Shadowfax. Anyways... I got my answer, thanks everyone!!
    – 3N4N
    Jun 9, 2019 at 13:14
  • 1
    Comments were getting way off-topic; this meta post continued the discussion, but TL;DR is this question is on-topic here.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 10, 2019 at 15:00
  • 4
    If you’re going to be pedantic there are 7 books in the “epic novel” that makes up The Lord of the Rings. However since that isn’t exactly common knowledge it makes much more sense to use the volume titles, in this case The Two Towers.
    – Edlothiad
    Jun 13, 2019 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


It means "the accounts of people who are scared enough to flee the battle are unreliable because they tend to overestimate the size of the enemy force, but I have spoken to brave men and they confirm our enemies are indeed numerous".

Here "fly" means to run away, the same as when Gandalf utters the famous "fly, you fools!".

  • 22
    There we have it: actually the famous Gandalf quote has always been misinterpreted! What he really meant there was, he'd suddenly come up with a much better plan of how they should go about destroying the ring. Too bad he didn't have time to explain anymore... Jun 9, 2019 at 17:35
  • 4
    @leftaroundabout, I'm guessing you're just joking around. But I wanted to express my opinion that that theory about flying over Mordor is not practical in Middle Earth at that time.
    – 3N4N
    Jun 10, 2019 at 4:01
  • 18
    @klaus You only say that because Mordor has who knows how many bowmen, siege machines, its own air force, an all-seeing air detection system and thick clouds of pollution that would choke an eagle in a few minutes. Frankly, with that kind of defeatist mind, we'd never had won WWI in four months of glorious infantry charges.
    – Eth
    Jun 10, 2019 at 13:16
  • 4
    @Eth Obviously, you're forgetting that you need to blindfold the eagle and have Aragorn distract Sauron in order to pull this off. "Well, that was incredibly easy." "Yes, it was." "Can you imagine if we had walked the entire way?"
    – reirab
    Jun 10, 2019 at 15:47
  • 3
    @Eth, well, I haven't even thought along those lines. I just thought that Eagles doesn't like to be bothered with other people's meddling. Even when Gwaihir rescued Gandalf from Orthanc, he only bore Gandalf to safety, not to the ends of the earth. They possess bigger, or similar, power than Gandalf, and given that the Ring can be destructive in the hand of a powerful being, it's not practical to involve a sovereign species of such great power. This was my line of thought. I didn't even think about the WWII war tactics and stuff, I'll leave that to you.
    – 3N4N
    Jun 11, 2019 at 5:19

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