Gandalf says this to Pippin:

He is not as other men of this time, Pippin, and whatever be his descent from father to son, by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true in him; as it does in his other son, Faramir, and yet did not in Boromir whom he loved best.

Why does Gandalf say so?

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    It's not saying that there's something wrong with Boromir, just that Faramir has inherited most of the characteristics of Westernesse from his father, and Boromir did not. I don't know to what extent Tolkien knew how genetics worked (up to the standards of the day), but it's pretty clear that children are not clones of just one parent, and that they take after both, to varying degrees. In this Faramir takes after his father and Boromir does not.
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 15:59
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    Boromir was a powerful charismatic leader, but Faramir was the wiser of the two, complete with the mystical foresight ability, which were all more Numenorean than just being big, charismatic and strong. Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 1:11
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    A simple test of character is this: Boromir desired the Ring, Faramir and Aragorn didn't. They win.
    – Righter
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 14:48
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    Do we apply that same test to Isildur? Dude was pretty ‘Numenor’, and had the same weakness Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


TL;DR – It’s not so much that Boromir is “un-Numenorean” compared to Denethor/Faramir, it’s more that Faramir, like Denethor, is a throwback to the Númenóreans from before the Akallabêth.

Boromir, is more representative of other Gondorian lords of their time

The sons of Denethor II, Boromir and Faramir, are descended through their father from the Steward of King Minardil, Húrin of Emyn Arnen.

A man of high Númenórean race. After his day, the kings had always chosen their stewards from among his descendents; and after the days of [King] Pelendur the Stewardship became hereditary from father to son or nearest kin.

--- Of Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion (The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Part IV)

Through their late mother, Finduilas of Dol Amroth, the brothers were descended from a long line of the Princes of Dol Amroth, who were somehow related to House of Elendil.

They were a family of the Faithful of Númenór before the Downfall and had settled in the land of Belfalas, between the mouth of Ringlo and GIlrain, with a stronghold upon the high promontory of Dol Amroth.

--- Note 39, Cirion and Eorl and the Freindship of Gondor and Rohan (Unfinished Tales)

So we see that these two brothers are descended from probably the two noblest families of Gondor. They could trace their lineage back thousands of years to Lords of the Númenóreans and the Three Houses of the Edain before that. The Dúnedain were far more different than say, Europeans and Aborigines of Australia and the Americas. As a reward for their fight against the forces of Morgoth during the First Age, they were taller, smarter, hardier, and far, far, longer lived than the men of Middle-Earth – and I’m talking about living centuries longer here. But Boromir and Faramir were born some three thousand years after the Akallabêth, and the Faithful’s escape to Middle-Earth. Over that time, the Dúnedain’s gifts had receded, although they were still more advanced than normal Men.

After the return of Eldacar, the blood of the kingly house and other houses of the Dúnedain became more mingled with that of lesser Men. … This mingling did not at first hasten the waning of the Dúnedain as had been feared; but the waning still proceeded little by little, as it had before. For no doubt it was due above all to Middle-Earth itself, and to the slow withdrawing of the gifts of the Númenóreans after the downfall of the Land of the Star.

--- Of Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion (The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Part IV)

Gandalf tells Peregin that Denethor and Faramir are, by some quirk of genetics, very much like those Númenóreans of old – skilled fighters, deep thinkers, noble spirits, but most importantly, foresighted. But though these gifts were bestowed upon both of them, they skipped Boromir – although he was a celebrated soldier and leader of men who had many gifts of his own, was a standard Númenórean nobleman of the last years of the Third Age.

I can’t speak to how well Tolkien understood the finer points of heritable traits, which were reasonably well understood during the 1940s, but he seemed to enjoy the symbolism of a good throwback, as there are other examples of characters being a throwback to earlier branches of their family tree. Best known to us is Aragorn, who is said to be almost a second coming of Isildur's first son, Elendur and he was in turn very strongly reminiscent of his grandfather, Elendil.

It is said that in later days those (such as Elrond) whose memories recalled [Elendur, son of Isildur] were struck by the great likeness to him of King Elessar, the victor in the War of the Ring … Elessar was according to the records of the Dúnedain the descendant in the thirty-eighth degree of Elendur’s brother Valandil.

--- The Disaster of the Gladden Fields (Unfinished Tales)

As usual when it comes to Tolkien, old is good. New isn't necessarily bad. It just isn't as good.

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