Why did Boromir travel alone?
#1
He was the Heir of Gondor! Armies must have been available. Yes, they were logistically not appropriate for the wilds west of Isengard - but if 9 was appropriate to accompany Frodo, why didn´t Gondor simply send Boromir with 10 or 20 men? Not Faramir of course - rank and file with some officers.
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#2
I'm sure Tolkien felt it made a better story. But for Boromir to make the journey by himself would also make him a more credible character as a great warrior and hero. And it also made him seem a little arrogant, a characteristic that cropped up a few times in the story.
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#3
Great question! Regardless of how mighty a Man Boromir was, it seems unlikely given the natural hazards and the potential danger of encountering agents if not soldiers of the Enemy he would have just gone alone! Denethor surely could spare twenty men or even one trusted companion, and would have insisted on sending some. Surely Boromir would have had a trusted squire or 'batman' at minimum who'd been his companion in the wars in Osgiliath and Ithilien, to do some of the work and as a 'backup' in case of real disaster. Boromir and the horse he'd borrowed in Rohan were parted at the dangerous ford at Tharbad, but both survived (Eómer told Aragorn much later they suspected ill-fate when the horse they'd lent Boromir returned without its rider). It could easily have been otherwise, tho, and even Sam was able to save Frodo as well as buck him up numerous times when they journeyed alone together.

From a story standpoint, however, bear in mind a companion, much less a company, following Boromir would have been awkward. Either they would have accompanied the Fellowship and potentially aided Boromir in filching the Ring, or if sent back to Gondor without him would have borne tales to Denethor if not Eómer or even Wormtongue as well.
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#4
I’m in agreement with bot Michael and Alvin. This is a classic case of my pet internal/external model of explanation. Internal to the story, there is simply no way that Boromir should have travelled alone. Frankly, by the internal logic of the story, he shouldn’t have gone at all. Gondor is facing an existential war against a vastly superior foe, and sends its top field general off on a one year envoy far from the front lines? Absurd.

External to the story, from the sub Creator’s perspective, though, not only did Boromir’s envoy make sense to the story, he almost had to travel alone (or at least lose his companions along the way a la Star Trek red shirts) for the reasons Alvin mentioned above.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#5
I find that the simplest answer to such questions is often the best.  In this case, Boromir simply didn't have enough 'miles' on his Capital of Gondor/Mastercard for him to be able to house any sort of entourage on his journey to Imladris.  Although as a Royal-class Rewards member he would have qualified for substantial discounts from Minas Tirith through Rohan, his card might not have been welcome at Isengard.

Luckily for him, it WAS recognized in Rivendell.  He was greatly in need by then, after his rental horse broke down in Tharbad and AAA had withdrawn its power from that area.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#6
(November 23rd, 2020, 09:43 AM)Bacchus Wrote: External to the story, ... not only did Boromir’s envoy make sense to the story, he almost had to travel alone (or at least lose his companions along the way a la Star Trek red shirts) ...

Barahir: "Now our women and children are fled to Hithlum, and we shall as outlaws contest this land with Morgoth. In token, therefore, let us put on these red shirts."
Beren (returning from the field) "Is there a red shirt for me, too?"
Barahir: "Ummm", (rummage, fumble) "Uh, son, it looks like we ran out of them!"


Túrin: "Now we are three against the Dragon, therefore let us don these shirts ere we set forth!"
Hunthor and Dorlas: "Looks good!"

Frodo: "She gave me a little bottle of water that glows"

Sam: "She gave me a box of gray dust to take home. And a rope."

Aragorn: "She gave me a new sheath for my sword, a green stone, and supplies for us all."

Merry and Pippin: "She gave us silver belts!"

Gimli: "She gave me three hairs from her head!"

Boromir: "She gave me a gold belt, and this spiffy red shirt with this strange device on the left breast"
Many Defeats & Many Fruitless Victories Memoirs Gateway
For I was talking aloud to myself...the old...choose the wisest person present to speak to...
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#7
Well played, Alvin. You as well, Mordomin
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#8
(November 23rd, 2020, 09:43 AM)Bacchus Wrote: I’m in agreement with bot Michael and Alvin. This is a classic case of my pet internal/external model of explanation. Internal to the story, there is simply no way that Boromir should have travelled alone. Frankly, by the internal logic of the story, he shouldn’t have gone at all.
  I have to strongly disagree here.  The internal logic for the Quest for Imladris was triggered by a dream that came to oft to Faramir, and once to Boromir (or so he claimed!).  The words of the dream were thus:

"Seek for the Sword that was broken: In Imladris it dwells; There shall be counsels taken Stronger than Morgul-spells. There shall be shown a token That Doom is near at hand, For Isildur’s Bane shall waken, And the Halfling forth shall stand."

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 246). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition. 

The words were not "Send someone you can spare to Rivendell".  The dream clearly meant for the recipient of the words to go.  The internal logic, I submit, is that either Faramir or Boromir (or since they both had the dream, both) must go.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#9
I’ll grant the dream argument up to a point. One of the two brothers should have gone. I maintain, however, that the decision to send Boromir over Faramir makes no sense to the internal context of the story. Boromir was Gondor’s field C-in-C, and his presence was desperately needed at the head of the armies. Yes, I know all about how Boromir demanded the errand and how Denethor trusted him more than Faramir. However, Boromir was better suited to retain command in the field, and Faramir was better suited as a diplomatic envoy, not to mention the fact that the dream came to him first and more often.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#10
(December 6th, 2020, 02:11 AM)Bacchus Wrote: I’ll grant the dream argument up to a point. One of the two brothers should have gone. I maintain, however, that the decision to send Boromir over Faramir makes no sense to the internal context of the story. Boromir was Gondor’s field C-in-C, and his presence was desperately needed at the head of the armies. Yes, I know all about how Boromir demanded the errand and how Denethor trusted him more than Faramir. However, Boromir was better suited to retain command in the field, and Faramir was better suited as a diplomatic envoy, not to mention the fact that the dream came to him first and more often.
I agree with everything you say regarding which brother, logically, taking into consideration the circumstances of the war and all else that you list, should have gone.  Everyone in the story agreed that Faramir should go - except Boromir.  Faramir says to Frodo and Sam (in "The Window on the West"): 

"I should have been chosen by my father and the elders, but he [Boromir] put himself forward, as being the older and the hardier (both true), and he would not be stayed."

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 671). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition. 

Boromir himself said much the same thing, to the Council of Elrond: 

"Therefore my brother [Faramir], seeing how desperate was our need, was eager to heed the dream and seek for Imladris; but since the way was full of doubt and danger, I took the journey upon myself. Loth was my father to give me leave, and long have I wandered by roads forgotten, seeking the house of Elrond, of which many had heard, but few knew where it lay.’"

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 246). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition. 

It makes me wonder how many previous times Boromir had over-ridden the will of his father and the elders.  Perhaps the nature of the character of Boromir is more of an 'external' consideration than internal.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#11
I am surprised either one send anywhere since they were valuable sons.
Don't insult the precious, my precious!:book:
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#12
(December 9th, 2020, 05:54 PM)badlands Wrote: I am surprised either one send anywhere since they were valuable sons.
I knew that you liked Bacchus better than me!  ROFL!  Just kidding, friend Badlands.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#13
(December 6th, 2020, 09:45 PM)Mordomin Wrote: It makes me wonder how many previous times Boromir had over-ridden the will of his father and the elders.  Perhaps the nature of the character of Boromir is more of an 'external' consideration than internal.

Interesting. I hadn’t thought of it from precisely that angle, but I think it makes a fair amount of sense. Had Denethor made the internally far more logical choice to send Faramir, it is highly unlikely (but not impossible) that Faramir would have attempted to take the Ring at Parth Galen. The Fellowship would not have broken in precisely the same manner as it ultimately did. Perhaps it would not have broken at all. Aragorn was clearly conflicted between his desire to go to MT and his perceived duty to guide Frodo in Gandalf’s absence. Had Boromir not driven Frodo to flee across the river, how would the Uruk-hai ambush have played out? Would Merry and Pippen have avoided capture and thus not ended up at Fangorn? Would Aragorn’s path have been markedly different, likely resulting in the fall of both Rohan and Minas Tirith?

Boromir’s overbearing personality and pride was the precise flaw exploited by the Ring. The external needs of the storyteller demanded that the Fellowship be broken and that each subset complete its own critical unforeseen tasks. Thus the decision of Boromir over Faramir (and Boromir’s specific character flaw) are best seen as driven by “external” logic.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#14
You know, there's one aspect of Boromir and his solo journey that maybe we haven't considered.  I think that this is more of an external logic.  It's that the story of the Lord of the Rings is of the genre of "High Fantasy".  In that genre, it is sometimes the case that the son of a mighty lord goes on an unlikely-seeming quest, despite the fact that it makes more sense for the son not be risked in such a way.  An example of this would be Beowulf (a tale which I'm pretty sure the Professor was familiar with, LOL).

I think that the idea of the son of a great lord can be found within the larger canon of Middle-earth as well.  I would like to point out one in particular, and suggest that his story is a strong influence on Boromir:  Isildur.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#15
There was a story internal explanation why Boromir should have travelled at all, and overcome objections. But even if Denethor yielded to his heir, he should have insisted on Boromir having a bodyguard/retinue. And Boromir did not have good arguments against that.
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#16
Yes, I’m aware that there is presented an internal explanation for Boromir to undertake the envoy, but I find it to be weak for the reasons I posted above.

Regarding a bodyguard, again there is little internal justification for a solo mission. However, from an external standpoint, the presence of a company of Gondorian men-at-arms at the Council would have been highly problematic. They would certainly have felt duty-bound to accompany Boromir with the Fellowship. The internal and external logic imperatives could possibly have been merged by having Boromir’s theoretical companions fall during the journey north.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#17
Aragorn traveled alone.

Gandalf traveled alone.

I don't think solo travel is that exceptional in Tolkien's fiction.
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#18
(December 16th, 2020, 11:16 AM)Michael Wrote: Aragorn traveled alone.

Gandalf traveled alone.

I don't think solo travel is that exceptional in Tolkien's fiction.

True. But those 2 were pretty exceptional, esp. Gandalf. Arguably Rangers of Arnor generally were better trained and equipped to go afield solo than even a heroic field marshal of the "Tarks". In any event the nature of Boromir's mission v. Aragorn's errantries, and of Gondor and the importance of Boromir to the defense of Gondor in the war already broken out, argues for Boromir having a contingent of companions pressed upon him by Denethor even if he didn't want them himself.
Many Defeats & Many Fruitless Victories Memoirs Gateway
For I was talking aloud to myself...the old...choose the wisest person present to speak to...
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#19
(December 16th, 2020, 11:16 AM)Michael Wrote: Aragorn traveled alone.

Gandalf traveled alone.

I don't think solo travel is that exceptional in Tolkien's fiction.

Neither of these comparisons strike me as particularly on point. I think we can dismiss Gandalf as a comparative point out of hand. He was an angelic being whose very mandate in Middle Earth precluded a traveling retinue. 

Aragorn is somewhat closer to a “fair” comparative point, but I think the specifics of the situations are dissimilar enough to dismiss him as well. He was the Chieftain of the northern Dunedain, yes, but how many were the Grey Company? 30 or so? Traveling alone was the only viable option, given all the tasks set before this exceedingly small band of men. Boromir, on the other hand was not only the Gondorian field marshal, but he was also the presumptive successor to Denethor’s Stewardship. Sending him on a solo journey through the wild was objectively stupid.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#20
(December 17th, 2020, 11:14 AM)Bacchus Wrote:
(December 16th, 2020, 11:16 AM)Michael Wrote: Aragorn traveled alone.

Neither of these comparisons strike me as particularly on point. I think we can dismiss Gandalf as a comparative point out of hand. He was an angelic being whose very mandate in Middle Earth precluded a traveling retinue. 
More to the point, Saruman as Lord of Isengard before his open break with Gandalf might have travelled with a retinue (for example, to expel Necromancer from Dol Guldur) but Gandalf chose not to acquire such a retinue.
(December 17th, 2020, 11:14 AM)Bacchus Wrote: Aragorn is somewhat closer to a “fair” comparative point, but I think the specifics of the situations are dissimilar enough to dismiss him as well. He was the Chieftain of the northern Dunedain, yes, but how many were the Grey Company? 30 or so? Traveling alone was the only viable option, given all the tasks set before this exceedingly small band of men.

Plausible but not the only viable option.
We know that when Halbarad´s 30 departed, all the ordinary patrols were dropped. Whoever Halbarad could not collect were also withdrawn, to guard Rivendell or Angle.
If the normal size of Ranger patrols combined was maybe 20, how were they deployed? 20 men travelling alone? Or 4...5 patrols of 4...5 men each?
The guard whom Riders met (and defeated) at Sarn Ford was several Rangers. What was Aragorn doing in Bree alone? Carrying a message? From who to who? Since north of Sarn Ford, Old Forest was an obstacle to travel, Bree would have warranted a patrol of a few Rangers if Sarn Ford did.
Oh, and the Bridge of Mitheitel would have been another logical place to patrol with several Rangers. Spot and react to suspicious strangers approaching the Angle...
Basically, where were Halbarad´s 30 deployed in late September, and why did Aragorn not manage to join any other patrols?
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