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Old 06-20-2015, 12:57 PM   #1
Mithadan
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Ring The effect of the Great Rings upon Men

A tip of the hat to posts by Belegorn, Faramir Jones and Inziladun at the end of the Longevity of Hobbits thread for inspiring this thread.

The Great Rings, the One and the Nine, greatly extend the lives of their Mannish wearers, perhaps indefinitely (and I am aware that an argument exists that the Nazgul did not wear the Nine any longer by the time of LoTR, but rather they were held by Sauron). I cannot include the effect of the Seven upon the Dwarves as there does not appear to be any discussion of this. The Nazgul "lived" thousands of years. Gollum lived for hundreds of years. Gollum's life was clearly linked to the Ring. Its death was his. If it had survived, might Gollum have lived indefinitely? We do not know.

However, death is the Gift of Eru to Men. Their feär seek beyond the boundaries of Arda. I recall from somewhere that the Gift could not be withheld even by the Valar. Yet the Great Rings seem to do so. Your thoughts?
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Old 06-20-2015, 01:24 PM   #2
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However, death is the Gift of Eru to Men. Their feär seek beyond the boundaries of Arda. I recall from somewhere that the Gift could not be withheld even by the Valar. Yet the Great Rings seem to do so. Your thoughts?
I recall that quote, too. Yet, we see Morgoth exerting power on Húrin when the latter is captured and imprisoned.
Húrin was placed atop Thangorodrim and, according to Unfinished Tales at least, was not allowed to move or die, until Morgoth chose to release him. I guess it might be argued that Morgoth was just bluffing there, but it does seem that Húrin's biological processes were arrested at that time, as he could hardly eat, drink, or, ahem, perform other organic functions while "bound" by Morgoth's power.

I think it could have been in the power of certain divine spirits to affect the longevity of mortals in that way, at least temporarily. I would think though that there would have to be a point that the fea of the victim would be so weakened and stretched as to be forced to depart, apart from the body's condition.
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Old 06-20-2015, 09:40 PM   #3
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It seems significant to me that even if their bodies' natural processes do not wear out and the bearers of Rings do not age, they can still be killed, as demonstrated by Eowyn killing the Witch-King.

This seems pretty comparable with the "immortality" of the Elves.
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Old 06-20-2015, 09:41 PM   #4
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I think it's also possible that the "withholding of death" is not permanent in these cases, but rather a temporary delay. I think of these ringbearers as not completely immortal, but rather infinitely stretched - part of their fea wanting to seek the gift, and the other part being held in place by some attachment, thereby stretching it (like butter spread too thin, as one of these lovely people described it ). One main aspect of this is that while death/biological processes are delayed, they are not stopped. It's almost like one life is stretched over the time of many, so that ageing slows down, but also the "intensity" of life weakens. Like you can only live so much, have only such a concentrated fea, that when life is stretched it can't be saturated across all it's length. Hurin's case is notably different from the others, but I want to point out right away that he went from Thangorodrim as an old man. Morgoth may have forced onto him a supernatural strength to survive without basic needs, but this was a physiological kind of interaction. Morgoth just kept his body in sufficient condition to hold his fea (which was still young enough not to die by itself... you know what I mean!); he did not interfere with the spirit. I don't know what would have happened had he not lifted his curse - and I'm not a great fan of the realm of the would-haves; I'll just stick to what there is. The ringbearers, on the other hand, are described more like their entire lives and fear are stretched, not just some survivalist ability. I think that's part of why tge ringwraiths aren't really alive - because part of their fear are already dead, and only the very remainder that is held by the hook holds on. Once the hook is removed, they would die. So it's like a very long but temporary delay of death.

Another thing is that if a Ring was given to a dying person, I don't think it would prevent their death - like Mithadan says. Once the Gift is given... well, only Beren came back, and even then only death can pay for life, as GOT fans would say. Instead, the Rings seem to stretch the middle part of life, such that the time for the gift does not arrive for a possibly infinite amount of time. And there is all the stretching again, where what should have been a more concentrated 1 year of life becomes a significantly more dilute larger number.

Hopefully I'm making sense with this. I'm trying to keep my thoughts apart, but the points are so intertwined that it's hard to keep them as separate ideas.
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Old 06-21-2015, 12:08 AM   #5
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It might be worth considering the case of the Men of Duharrow also. Evidently the shades of dead men could linger long after their time, although in this case I'm not sure how long the society of the living Men of Dunharrow persisted before they entirely died out and were replaced by the spectres of the dead.

It seems to me that it was beyond the power of the Ainur to force the souls and bodies of mortals to stay united indefinitely, but the effect of the Rings seems to have circumvented this (albeit with obvious and severe side effects) by instead indefinitely extending the period of time in which the body and soul existed.

ie even the Ainur did not have the power to cause a mortal to "grow or obtain more life" beyond their span, but in Eä it was possible to, if you'll pardon the horrible sci-fi-ish-ness of the term, "warp" time in such a way that it produced "counterfeit immortality" at the price of corruption and great suffering on the part of the subject. This seems to be a different thing to directly counteracting the Gift of Men.

This seems to have been the normal state of affairs in places like Valinor where, in a sense, time passed and yet did not pass.
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Old 06-21-2015, 05:15 AM   #6
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This seems to go in line with the overarching concept that no one, but Eru, can create.

Melkor desired the ability to do so, but found that he could only take Eru's creations and warp them: elves & orcs, eagles & fell beasts, ents & trolls. I get the impression that the immortality of the ringbearers is Sauron's (and Melkor's by proxy, I suppose) attempt at warping lifespans.
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Old 06-22-2015, 03:17 AM   #7
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This seems to go in line with the overarching concept that no one, but Eru, can create.

Melkor desired the ability to do so, but found that he could only take Eru's creations and warp them: elves & orcs, eagles & fell beasts, ents & trolls. I get the impression that the immortality of the ringbearers is Sauron's (and Melkor's by proxy, I suppose) attempt at warping lifespans.

I would say that the Rings were never intended for mortals. They were originally made to corrupt the Elves, and the life-stretching was probably tied to the Elves’ desire to preserve things. One has to remember that the Rings were not solely designed by Sauron. Elves such as Celebrimbor were also involved.

Once Sauron had taken back as many of the Rings as he could, only then did he consider the possible effect of such Rings on mortals...
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Old 06-22-2015, 07:47 AM   #8
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And exactly that idea of preservation was the original sin of the elve-smith. And in my interpretation it is exactly Saurons ability to grand that desire, that was the foundation of his success with the Elves of Eregion. Anyhow we can be sure that the means to do what the Elves wished were provided by Sauron at least in a big part.
All examples so fare discussed have a connection to the rebellion of Melkor (not to use the term ‘the dark side’): What Húrin suffered was done by Melkor himself, the Rings that brought about the Ringwraiths, Gollums and Bilbos prolonged lifespan were made at least with Sauron excessive help and the Man of Dunharrow were most probably cursed by Isildur while he was in possession of the One Ring. This connection does lead me to believe that probably the Valar/Maiar could do such thinks, but that they were forbidden by Ilúvatar. Then Melkor and his agents would do such deeds freely since they did not care about Ilúvatars rules.

Another point is the death of people affected by such means:
- We are told that Húrin could not die. But the curse is never put to the test, neither is Húrin long enough on Thangorrodrim to be in risk of dying of old age nor does anybody come there to harm him and we are explicably told in ‘Hùrins Wanderings’ that Morgoth cared for his physical well being.
- From the Ringwraiths we have one example. The Witch-king and his end on the Field of Pelennor. But in his letters Tolkien does tell us that he was not dead but reduced to impotence.
- Neither Gollum nor Bilbo die before the Ring is destroyed. But we have two earlier examples: Isildur being killed, after he had lost the Ring and Deagol being murdered while he still possessed it. We hear of neither of them coming back or being around as a ghost.
- The Man of Dunharrow are called dead, but for a men to die his féa has to leave Ea. That is clearly not the case with the Men of Dunharrow. In addition Legolas tells as that they were able to fight (that must mean affecting the physical world directly). That would mean they are in similar state as that of the Ringwariths: The flesh is invisible but still there.

It seems that the evidence given is very indifferent. In such a case speculation may go wild. Here is mine: Féa of Men as that of Elves were commanded by Mandos to the houses of the Dead once the body was not longer able to sustain the féa. Men were also able to (at least) postpone the call. See the example of Gorlim who cursed himself and in that way managed to warn Beren or in the case under discussion the Witch-king after the fight with Merry and Eowyn. We are told that Elves denying Mandos command were very vulnerable to the call of Melkor (or his agents, I would add). The same might be true for men. Thus Isildur and Deagol might have gone to Mandos since they were both not entirely corrupted while the Witch-king clearly slipped back to Sauron.

One farther point comes to mind: Did it make difference when the Rings were destroyed? Reading about the very long life of Samwise and his reported last journey one could mean that it did not.

Respectfuly
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Old 06-22-2015, 11:18 AM   #9
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Question

A number of good points have been raised in this thread, but I would like to return to the question I posed in my first post. Eru's gift to Man, that they may die and their feär (souls) can seek beyond the limits of Arda, is said to be beyond the powers even of the Valar to withhold. So how can Sauron, through the Rings, extend indefinitely the lifespan of Men?

One of the things I enjoy most about Tolkien is that his mythos is internally consistent. There are, even if they are speculative, solutions to resolve any apparent contradictions. My question above highlights an apparent contradiction. When I started this thread, I thought I had a potential solution. But yesterday I finished a re-read of Morgoth's Ring and I now wonder whether my solution is correct.

In one of the first discussions of the Ringwraiths in FoTR, Tolkien says that Sauron gave the Nine to Mortal Men "and so ensnared them. Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One, and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow." After Frodo was stabbed by the Morgul blade, Gandalf explains that if the blade reached his heart, Frodo "would have become like they are... You would have become a wraith under the dominion of the Dark Lord..." Gandalf also states that when Frodo wore the Ring, he was "half in the wraith-world."

To me, the implication is that the Great Rings eventually turn a Man into a naked spirit. The hroä (body) becomes separated from the feä and the body dies leaving only the spirit which, through the power of the Rings, can still manipulate and be partially present in the physical world. Gollum and Bilbo possessed the Ring for a long time. They were partway through this "conversion". So perhaps it is not a question of their life span being extended, but rather that they had undergone a fundamental change in their nature.

This is in keeping with Sauron's persona of the Necromancer. The feär of those who die or are slain are summoned to Mandos (at least the Elves and possibly Men also until they "move on"). A feä can resist the summons. This is considered an act of rebellion. There is also discussion of a "counter-summons" somewhere, through which Morgoth (and perhaps Sauron) sought to divert the feär for his own purposes.

So I thought I had a potential explanation. Not entirely satisfactory, perhaps, but an explanation.

Then I finished reading Morgoth's Ring. A large part of this volume, for those who have not read it, deals with philosophical discussions regarding the nature of Men and Elves, as well as a section called Myths Transformed" that includes Tolkien's experimental ideas about reforming the Silmarillion to better match up with the "real world". I found a few troubling things. First, Tolkien, later in his life (1950s) wrote that the lives of Men could not be extended and the gift of death could not be taken away even by the Valar. Hmmm. Explain the extended lifespan of the Dunedain? The effect of the Rings? Then he says that while the feär of the Elves can be unhoused and wander even in Middle Earth, the feär of Men cannot. This last causes major problems, not only for my theory above, but also it contradicts LoTR (the Dead of Dunharrow) and the published Silmarillion (the wraith of Gorlim how warns Beren of his betrayal).

This may be another "canon" issue. Inconsistent writings that weren't published can perhaps be disregarded as not part of Tolkien's final intentions. Still it is a bit troubling to me.

Thoughts?
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Old 06-22-2015, 12:44 PM   #10
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To me, the implication is that the Great Rings eventually turn a Man into a naked spirit. The hroä (body) becomes separated from the feä and the body dies leaving only the spirit which, through the power of the Rings, can still manipulate and be partially present in the physical world. Gollum and Bilbo possessed the Ring for a long time. They were partway through this "conversion". So perhaps it is not a question of their life span being extended, but rather that they had undergone a fundamental change in their nature.
The spirits even of the Nazgûl though were apparently still connected with physical bodies, and those bodies did occupy the world of the Seen as well as the Unseen. If that was not so, horses could not support them, nor could the "disguises" in the form of cloaks and hoods they wore in the Shire, have covered them.
As long as the Ringwraiths' spirits were subjugated to Sauron's, they had basically become extensions of his own fea, and thus would endure unless he reached a point he was too weak to maintain his hold.

That seems to make sense to me, anyway.
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Old 06-22-2015, 03:49 PM   #11
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The Ringwraiths did not have bodies. Per Gandalf, their cloaks are real and gave "shape to their nothingness." When the flood of the Bruinen washed them away and several lost their cloaks, Gandalf mentions that they would have to make their way back to Mordor empty and shapeless.
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Old 06-22-2015, 04:19 PM   #12
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The Ringwraiths did not have bodies. Per Gandalf, their cloaks are real and gave "shape to their nothingness." When the flood of the Bruinen washed them away and several lost their cloaks, Gandalf mentions that they would have to make their way back to Mordor empty and shapeless.
Gandalf could simply have been referring to the visible forms, imparted by the clothing. I still don't see how ordinary horses would support an insubstantial being.
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Old 06-22-2015, 06:59 PM   #13
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I think I side with Inziladun on this one... I have no reason to think that the Nazgul were telekinetic, so they must have had some way of interacting with their horses, swords, etc. They can also smell and see (though poorly) which require sensory organs. Additionally,

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Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee.
Incorporeal spirits don't have sinews. However, their bodies also seem to be insubstantial and barely held together, since as soon as Merry stabs him, the "mantle and hauberk were empty." So maybe a little bit of both?

Gandalf also supposes that Frodo might become "like a glass filled with a clear light," which also sounds like a visible and insubstantial but still physically real form.

It seems to me that the use of the Rings is extremely damaging to the hroa but it doesn't seem to me that it becomes wholly separated from the fea.

On the other hand, I'm not familiar with the later volumes of HoME or Tolkien's Letters, so everything Mithadan posted from those sources is new to me.
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Old 06-22-2015, 11:13 PM   #14
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On the matter of the effect of a Ring’ of Power on Dwarves, Tolkien himself speaks in “Appendix A”, III DURIN’S FOLK, page 1076 in current printings (emphasis mine):
The only power over them [the Dwarves] that the Rings wielded was to inflame them with a greed of gold and precious things, so that if they lacked them all other good things seemed profitless, and they were filled with wrath and desire for vengeance on all who deprived them. But they were made from their beginnings of a kind to resist most steadfastly domination. Though they could be slain or broken, they could not be reduced to shadows enslaved to another will; and for the same reason their lives were not affected by any Ring, to live either longer or shorter because of it.
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One of the things I enjoy most about Tolkien is that his mythos is internally consistent. There are, even if they are speculative, solutions to resolve any apparent contradictions.
Only if you are very picky about what you count as “solutions to resolve any apparent contradictions”, which is unfair.

The 50th anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings, also published in paperback, contains on pages xvi to xvii a “Note on the 50ᵗʰ Anniversary Edition” by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull on their fixing of various errors in the text. Most of the changes are minor typographical corrections(?). They have been very conservative in their editing and every change has been approved by Christopher Tolkien. They note on page xvii:
Most of the demonstrable errors noted by Christopher Tolkien in The History of Middle-earth also have been corrected, such as the distance from the Brandywine Bridge to the Ferry (ten miles rather than twenty) and the number of Merry’s ponies (five rather than six). But those inconsistencies of content, such as Gimli’s famous (and erroneous) statement in Book III, Chapter 7, ‘Till now I have hewn naught but wood since I have left Moria’, which would require rewriting to emend rather than simple correction, remain unchanged.
All the emendations are listed with short explanations in “Changes to the Editions of 2004–5” published on pages 783–912 of Hammond and Scull’s The Lord of the Rings: A Readers Companion.

There are other contradictions not fixed as requiring too much rewriting.

For example, in the chapter “The Shadow of the Past” Tolkien has Gandalf explain:
A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo. It may slip off treacherously, but its keeper never abandons it. At most he plays with the idea of handing it on to someone else’s care – and that only at an early stage, when it first begins to grip. But as far as I know Bilbo alone in history has ever gone beyond playing, and really done it. He needed all my help, too.
Yet we later learn that at that time Gandalf has been secretly bearing a Ring of Power for close to two thousand years, a Ring given him freely by Círdan its keeper. Either Tolkien intends Gandalf to be uniquely lying, has accidentally typed “A Ring of Power” instead of something like “One of Sauron’s Rings”, intends the reader to understand that Gandalf has made a slip of the tongue, or perhaps had not yet invented the idea that Gandalf was secretly bearing an Elvish Ring of Power freely given to him by Círdan its keeper.

I can bring up other contradictions within The Lord of the Rings and still more in The Hobbit and between The Lord of the Rings and the published Silmarillion if you wish.

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Old 06-23-2015, 12:25 PM   #15
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There are other contradictions not fixed as requiring too much rewriting.

For example, in the chapter “The Shadow of the Past” Tolkien has Gandalf explain:
A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo. It may slip off treacherously, but its keeper never abandons it. At most he plays with the idea of handing it on to someone else’s care – and that only at an early stage, when it first begins to grip. But as far as I know Bilbo alone in history has ever gone beyond playing, and really done it. He needed all my help, too.
Yet we later learn that at that time Gandalf has been secretly bearing a Ring of Power for close to two thousand years, a Ring given him freely by Círdan its keeper. Either Tolkien intends Gandalf to be uniquely lying, has accidentally typed “A Ring of Power” instead of something like “One of Sauron’s Rings”, intends the reader to understand that Gandalf has made a slip of the tongue, or perhaps had not yet invented the idea that Gandalf was secretly bearing an Elvish Ring of Power freely given to him by Círdan its keeper.

I can bring up other contradictions within The Lord of the Rings and still more in The Hobbit and between The Lord of the Rings and the published Silmarillion if you wish.
Gandalf does not offer a contradiction; he evidently offers everything Frodo needs to know about a Ring of Power, particularly the One he carries, without revealing where the 3 Elvish rings are.

Frodo will not know that Gandalf or Elrond hold Rings of Power until after the One Ring is destroyed (obviously, it has been predetermined that not even Frodo should have such information). Frodo will not know Galadriel has a Ring of Power until she herself reveals it to him in Lothlorien.

In any case, the three Elvish Rings of Power do not have the same issues as the Sauronic Rings of Power: the Elvish rings can be gifted freely and without resultant psychological/addictive problems, and they are held indefinitely by Elrond, Gandalf and Galadriel because, unlike the Sauronic Rings wanting to escape to their master (Sauron) and having the taint of the Dark Lord upon them, the Elvish Rings were created separately and for very different motives.

Obvious enough, to me at least.
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Old 06-23-2015, 04:13 PM   #16
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"... he [Gandalf] evidently offers everything Frodo needs to know about a Ring of Power, particularly the One he carries, without revealing where the 3 Elvish rings are."
I have argued similarly with respect to invisibility. Gandalf suggests to Frodo that the Great Rings confer invisibility, but in a letter Tolkien says that the Three (very arguably included among the "great" rings) do not confer invisibility. In other words, I have argued that the exception of the Three runs counter to what Gandalf wants Frodo to absorb about the Rings of Power -- since Frodo's ring does confer invisibility.

And I think it is natural enough in speech to leave out digressions that might only confuse, or do not illustrate the intended point at hand (especially if also a warning in some measure), even if what one is saying is technically "false" due to some silent exception.


I would say the same of Aragorn's Sauron comment. Since it is usually true that Sauron does not permit the name "Sauron" to be spoken, and since the point is made that the S-rune cannot be for Sauron, Aragorn need not speak to every possible exception (what about someone essentially speaking for Sauron as messenger, like the Mouth of Someone), unless he is merely spooning out information.

Although inconsistency with something in a letter is not, in my opinion, a true contradiction in any case, your post made me thing of the invisibility factor too, with respect to the Three.
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Old 06-23-2015, 04:20 PM   #17
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In any case, the three Elvish Rings of Power do not have the same issues as the Sauronic Rings of Power: the Elvish rings can be gifted freely and without resultant psychological/addictive problems, and they are held indefinitely by Elrond, Gandalf and Galadriel because, unlike the Sauronic Rings wanting to escape to their master (Sauron) and having the taint of the Dark Lord upon them, the Elvish Rings were created separately and for very different motives.
Agreed. Although the Three, being at least partially the product of Sauron's instruction, were subject to the One, they are clearly not in the same mold as the Seven and the Nine. The lack of invisibility of their wearers is a major indication of this.
I wouldn't think a mortal who had run across one of the Three would have been affected in the same way, either. The effect may have been similar to that seen by the Fellowship while in Lórien. They were not immortal, but for them biologically speaking, time slowed.

Back to the subject of the life-lengthening process of the other Rings, the fact that the Seven did not influence the Dwarven lifespan has always interested me. Because of their very nature they could not be turned to wraiths either. Did the Dwarven keepers become invisible while wearing their rings? I would think not, because the invisibility, life-lengthening, and wraith-potential all seem intertwined.
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Old 06-23-2015, 07:11 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Obvious enough, to me at least.
Not obvious to me at all.

My point is that if Tolkien had Gandalf used instead of “Ring of Power” some other phrase such as “One of Sauron’s Rings” there would be no contradiction. I never suggested that Gandalf should have revealed the current location of the Elven Rings. The idea is absurd.

Gandalf first uses the term “Rings of Power” to Frodo when he discusses the creation of Elven-rings by their Elven creators in Eregion, who created the lesser rings and then “the Great Rings, the Rings of Power”. Then he describes the Great Rings as perilous to mortals and seems to imagine each of these Great Rings or Rings of Power brings invisibility onto its bearer, which Tolkien denies in the Waldman letter written later.

Tolkien, as far as I recall, never uses “Rings of Power” to distinguish the Sauronic Rings from the three Elvish Rings, except possibly once in this chapter, which I accordingly would see as a contradiction.

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And I think it is natural enough in speech to leave out digressions that might only confuse, or do not illustrate the intended point at hand (especially if also a warning in some measure), even if what one is saying is technically "false" due to some silent exception.
I agree that Gandalf’s statement can be described as only technically false, if one wishes. Tolkien however portrays Gandalf as usually pedantic and sometime comically precise in his English.

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Did the Dwarven keepers become invisible while wearing their rings? I would think not, because the invisibility, life-lengthening, and wraith-potential all seem intertwined.
Tolkien only writes on this head in his note on the effect of the Rings on Dwarves: “Though they could be slain or broken, they could not be reduced to shadows enslaved to another will.” This statement permits Dwarves to be reduced to shadows not enslaved to another will but does not require it.
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:25 PM   #19
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Not obvious to me at all.

My point is that if Tolkien had Gandalf used instead of “Ring of Power” some other phrase such as “One of Sauron’s Rings” there would be no contradiction. I never suggested that Gandalf should have revealed the current location of the Elven Rings. The idea is absurd.
Gandalf is making a point. There is no contradiction unless you wish to split pedantic hairs -- which I realize you do in the most prolix and circumlocutious manner possible.

Gandalf wishes to impress something on Frodo without confusing the issue or saying, "Well, Frodo, this set does this, that set does that, but not always, and sometime it may be like this, and other times like that, and...oh, would you look at the time? We best be off on our quest."

He gave Frodo all the information he needed to know. He was specific. He did not cloud the issue. Frodo understood precisely what he was saying.

Everything further is useless gobbledygook.
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Old 06-24-2015, 09:17 PM   #20
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Gandalf is making a point. There is no contradiction unless you wish to split pedantic hairs -- which I realize you do in the most prolix and circumlocutious manner possible.
And I realize that you don’t wish to discuss this. The problem is that your lack of argument doesn’t solve the problem. Gandalf first introduces the term “A Ring of Power” in referring to the three Elvish Rings created by the Elven-smiths of Eregion. Then he says that no-one in history, as far as he is aware, before Bilbo, has ever given up a Ring of Power to another voluntarily.

Tolkien writes this. I am not going to accept blame from you for what Tolkien wrote. If this is gobbledygook, it is Tolkien’s gobbledygook. You seem to be angry because you cannot explain it satisfactorily. Insulting the messenger seems to be your only recourse, which tends to show that the messenger is right.

I do not wish to split pedantic hairs. Which pedantic hairs have I split invalidly? If I had done so, you would be able to show politely and clearly where I have misrepresented Tolkien, without insults.

Others have noticed this discrepancy.

Hammond and Scull in the The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, page 87, note:
55 (I:64). its keeper never abandons it. At most he plays with the idea of handing it on to someone else’s care and that only at an early stage, when it first begins to grip. But as far as I know Bilbo alone in history has ever gone beyond playing and really done it. – This is true of the One Ring, but not of all Rings of Power, of which Gandalf seems to be speaking generally. Celebrimbor gave away the Three Rings. Círdan gave his Ring to Gandalf, Gil-galad (when dying) gave his to Elrond, and Thrór gave his Ring to Thráin.
Galin notes quite rightly, that we are not expected to take this passage literally. It should be considered only technically inaccurate. But it is therefore at least technically inaccurate.

Tolkien represented The Lord of the Rings as based on Frodo’s writing which might possibly be in error in some cases. We should surely not expect that Frodo is to be considered to have recorded every conversation he records with perfect accuracy. Indeed Tolkien ascribes an error to Frodo as a footnote at the beginning of Appendix F:
¹ In Lórien at this period Sindarin was spoken, though with an ‘accent’, since most of its folk were of Silvan origin. This ‘accent’ and his own limited acquaintance with Sindarin misled Frodo (as is pointed out in The Thain’s Book by a commentator of Gondor). All the Elvish words cited in Book Two chs 6, 7, 8 are in fact Sindarin, and so are in fact Sindarin, and so are most of the names of places and persons. But Lórien, Caras Galadhon, Amroth, Nimrodel are probably of Silvan origin, adapted to Sindarin.
If you plan to show that Tolkien’s every word is perfect, there are many more passages besides the one from “The Shadow of the Past” that you need to fix up, most if not all of these errors being well known and frankly, unfixable except by rewriting.

Point out where I have posted anything on this passage that you consider unfair, and be detailed.
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Old 06-24-2015, 11:28 PM   #21
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Does Professor Tolkien ever specifically use the phrase "Rings of Power" to include the Three?

I suppose it's implied but we could just as easily argue that "Rings of Power" simply means "the Great Rings and the One Ring".

In fact a search of The Letters and The Lord of the Rings itself suggests to me that "Rings of Power" is mostly used to refer specifically to the Great Rings (particularly the Nine) and "the Ring of Power" (singular) is mostly used to refer specifically to the One Ring.

In the Tale of Years, Professor Tolkien distinguishes the forging of the "Rings of Power" from the forging of the "Three Rings".

Meanwhile in "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" in The Silmarillion the Three seem to be more included with the "Rings of Power": the Great Rings are described as "all the remaining Rings of Power", which is to say those Sauron found after Celebrimbor hid the Three.

So I would argue that it's simply not a very specific term. Sometimes it seems to encompass the Great Rings, sometimes it's the Great Rings and the One Ring, and sometimes it's the Great Rings, the One Ring and the Three Rings.

As a result, Gandalf isn't being completely accurate, but I'd argue that he isn't entirely wrong either. In any event it was forbidden to speak of the Three and not relevant in any case.
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Old 06-25-2015, 09:08 AM   #22
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I want to remark that the original question was not about Gandalf's accuracy or otherwise. No matter how well you want to research Gandalf's habits and other "inconsistencies", no matter how "good" your argument, it still doesn't get you closer to answering. You're not helping anyone that way, just aggravating people around you.
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Old 06-25-2015, 10:44 AM   #23
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Agreed. More discussion, less emotion, please.
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Old 06-25-2015, 10:56 AM   #24
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Ring An addition

Being very interested in this thread, I think it worthwhile to put in what Elrond said to Gloin about the Three Elven Rings at the Council held in Rivendell:

'The Three were not made by Sauron, nor did he ever touch them. But of them it is not permitted to speak. So much only in this hour of doubt I may now say. They are not idle. But they were not made as weapons of war or conquest: that is not their power. Those who made them did not desire strength or dominion or hoarded wealth, but understanding, making and healing, to preserve all things unstained. These things the Elves of Middle-earth have in some measure gained, though with sorrow. But all that has been wrought by those who wield the Three will turn to their undoing, and their minds and hearts will be revealed to Sauron, if he regains the One. It would be better if the Three had never been'. (LotR, Book 2, Chapter II)

This makes clear what has been discussed, by Morthoron, Inziladun and others, that the Three were a different sort of ring to the other Rings of Power.

I don't know what people think, but I've always got irritated with Elrond stating that it was 'not permited' to speak about the Three. My question has been in response, 'Not permitted by whom?' If Elrond had just said that it was dangerous to talk openly about those rings, it would have been understood by everyone present.
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Old 06-25-2015, 12:12 PM   #25
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I'd think probably Celebrimbor suggested that none speak of it after he had the 3 sent away. Galadriel also told Frodo the same thing, "it is not permitted to speak if it" [The Mirror of Galadriel].
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Old 06-25-2015, 02:25 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
Does Professor Tolkien ever specifically use the phrase "Rings of Power" to include the Three?
As already mentioned by me, Tolkien first has Gandalf use the term “Rings of Power” when explaining the creation of the Elven-rings by the Elven-smiths of Eregion. He makes Gandalf then say:
The lesser rings were but essays in the craft before it was full-grown, and to the Elven-smiths they were but trifles – yet still to my mind dangerous for mortals. But the Great Rings, the Rings of Power, they were perilous.
This implies, though does not prove, that Gandalf here uses “the Rings of Power” as a synonym for the Elven-rings. Gandalf could be conceived as jumping ahead to the Sauronic Rings in his explanation.

Thrór giving his Sauronic Ring freely to Thráin is a difficulty. Gandalf must be conceived of not to know that Thrór gave the Ring to Thráin freely. That is a possibility I admit, though it seems to me unlikely. But unlikely possibilities occur in real life. In “The Council of Elrond” Tolkien makes Gandalf say openly:
Thrór gave it [the Ring] to Thráin his son, but not Thráin to Thorin. It was taken with torment from Thráin in the dungeons of Dol Guldur.
In short, if Gandalf did not know that Thrór gave his Ring freely to his son Thráin, and if the term “Rings of Power” is used at times specifically for the Sauronic Rings as opposed to the Three Elven Rings, then Gandalf is telling the truth.

I would prefer an explanation with less hair-splitting, but that is the best explanation that I have heard.

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You're not helping anyone that way, just aggravating people around you.
My intent was not to open up a discussion on Gandalf’s statement in “The Shadow of the Past” but only to indicate that Tolkien had made far more errors than Mithadan believed and that this is well known and indicated in the prefix material in current editions of The Lord of the Rings and in Hammond and Scull’s The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion.

That one of the examples I chose, one noted by Hammond and Scull, raised such a fury in Morthoron with unsupported accusations of hairsplitting I did not expect. Honestly! I found Zigûr’s possible and admittedly dubious explanation calm and reasonable, as usual with him. Also, very hair-splitting.

I am very sorry you were aggravated by this sub-discussion. But no single individual poster is responsible for where a thread goes.

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I don't know what people think, but I've always got irritated with Elrond stating that it was 'not permitted' to speak about the Three. My question has been in response, 'Not permitted by whom?' If Elrond had just said that it was dangerous to talk openly about those rings, it would have been understood by everyone present.
I have always thought that Elrond was referring to agreements among ruling Elves: Círdan, Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn, and possibly a few others. Aragorn also at least knows that Galadriel was a ring-bearer, but this may be only from Frodo’s loose-lipped talk, and Frodo only knows, it is implied, because he sees Galadriel’s Ring on her hand. According to Tolkien’s essay “The Istari” Saruman also knows that Gandalf bears Narya. But in Tolkien’s essay “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”:
But the Red Ring remained hidden until the end, and none save Elrond and Galadriel and Círdan knew to whom it had been committed.
The real question it seems to me is why the identity of the bearers of the Elvish Rings is a secret at all. Originally they were held secretly and unused for fear of Sauron discovering them. But when Sauron was defeated at the end of the Second Age the secrecy remained.

The answer may be in “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” where it is written:
And Master Elrond foretold that this [the reforging of Narsil] would not be done until the Ruling Ring should be found again and Sauron should return.

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Old 06-25-2015, 03:55 PM   #27
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Ring Your comments

I was interested in what you said here, jallanite:

I have always thought that Elrond was referring to agreements among ruling Elves: Círdan, Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn, and possibly a few others.

I did think the same, although I think Elrond presented it badly. Well, 'even Homer nods'; and we later see Aragorn refuse to leave his sword before entering Meduseld, despite this being a perfectly reasonable request for the King to ask.

I liked what you said here:

The real question it seems to me is why the identity of the bearers of the Elvish Rings is a secret at all. Originally they were held secretly and unused for fear of Sauron discovering them. But when Sauron was defeated at the end of the Second Age the secrecy remained.

Ever since I first read LotR, I've thought that it would have been very easy for anyone, not just Sauron, to figure out who those bearers might be. They would have to be prominent Elves, with the ability to wield the rings properly; so a simple process of elimination would narrow down the group of possible candidates. Galadriel, when she spoke to Frodo, after the latter wondered how he was not able to use the powers of the One Ring, pointed out that if he tried to do, it would 'destroy' him. After reminding him that Gandalf said the rings 'give power according to the measure of each possessor', she said, 'Before you could use that power you would need to become far stronger, and train your will to the domination of others'.
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Old 06-25-2015, 05:49 PM   #28
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Ever since I first read LotR, I've thought that it would have been very easy for anyone, not just Sauron, to figure out who those bearers might be. They would have to be prominent Elves, with the ability to wield the rings properly; so a simple process of elimination would narrow down the group of possible candidates.
I think so as well. To quote myself from a while back (nearly 2 years ago in fact!),
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Logically speaking, there were only three places where the Three could be kept: Rivendell, Lórien and Mithlond - anywhere in which the Noldor still lingered. Sauron didn't know where the Shire was until Saruman told the Lord of the Nazgûl, which suggests to me that he had not necessarily spied out the West sufficiently to know, for instance, that Círdan no longer possessed one of the Three.
My point is that, according to Sauron's wisdom, to whom would the Three have logically been allocated? Lórien was the closest to both Moria and Dol Guldur, and resistant to assault, which implies a Ring being present at that location. If Sauron knew or at least suspected that Gil-Galad held some of the Rings prior to his death, I think it would make sense, by his logic, that he had passed the greatest of them, Vilya, to one of his subordinates - Elrond or Círdan. That leaves Narya and Nenya to be accounted for.
Despite the fact that he himself did not have a hand in creating them we could also imagine that Sauron was aware of the respective properties of the Three. Depending on the circumstances, this may have led him to at least be able to take an educated guess as to Nenya's location.
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This implies, though does not prove, that Gandalf here uses “the Rings of Power” as a synonym for the Elven-rings. Gandalf could be conceived as jumping ahead to the Sauronic Rings in his explanation.
Yes I think in this case it could conceivably be argued that when Gandalf says "the Great Rings, the Rings of Power" he is associating the term "Rings of Power" with the term "Great Rings", the Seven and the Nine, specifically.
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Thrór giving his Sauronic Ring freely to Thráin is a difficulty. Gandalf must be conceived of not to know that Thrór gave the Ring to Thráin freely. That is a possibility I admit, though it seems to me unlikely. But unlikely possibilities occur in real life. In “The Council of Elrond” Tolkien makes Gandalf say openly:
Thrór gave it [the Ring] to Thráin his son, but not Thráin to Thorin. It was taken with torment from Thráin in the dungeons of Dol Guldur.
In short, if Gandalf did not know that Thrór gave his Ring freely to his son Thráin, and if the term “Rings of Power” is used at times specifically for the Sauronic Rings as opposed to the Three Elven Rings, then Gandalf is telling the truth.
Perhaps Gandalf knew or assumed that, as a Dwarf, Thrór would be more resistant to some of the effects of the Ring, and thus more capable of passing it on to his son?
It could be argued that when Gandalf says to Frodo that no one ever gives up a Ring freely, he's specifically talking about Men (and, by extension, Hobbits).
I realise this is narrowing things down a lot but at the same time it does seem to suggest that he's giving Frodo the information which is most relevant to his particular situation.
It might be that Gandalf's situation is that of a teacher trying to introduce a complex point of lore to a student unfamiliar with the topic: not giving them extraneous, but more accurate, information, if he thinks it will confuse or distract the student.
Or, of course, it could just be Professor Tolkien making a mistake or not worrying about the readers themselves needing too much accuracy at that point.
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Old 06-25-2015, 07:20 PM   #29
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Perhaps Gandalf knew or assumed that, as a Dwarf, Thrór would be more resistant to some of the effects of the Ring, and thus more capable of passing it on to his son?
It could be argued that when Gandalf says to Frodo that no one ever gives up a Ring freely, he's specifically talking about Men (and, by extension, Hobbits).
I realise this is narrowing things down a lot but at the same time it does seem to suggest that he's giving Frodo the information which is most relevant to his particular situation.
Since it's clear that the Seven did not have the same effects on Dwarves as the Nine had on Men, I don't see any issue with the idea that the Dwarven Keepers were capable of freely passing on their rings.

That would not have been true of the One though. It was far more potent than any of the 19 others.
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Old 06-26-2015, 03:18 AM   #30
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There are many poeple that gave the rings away freely but are not metioned by Gandalf in his talk with Frodo:
The Mirdain hidding the rings might be siad not to give them away but store them in th ehope to regain them later.
Celeberimbor gave his three away but he might have been the source of the tabu to talk about them. The idea behind might have been to suggest to Sauron that they were also hidden away and not given to bearers.
Gil-Galad gave his two freely to Elrond and Cirdan but again that was secret know only to the bearers.
Sauron gave at least the Nine away to manish bears becoming the Nazgul and this at least was open knowledge and told by Gandalf in the same talk to Frodo. (So stricly speaking Gandalf was contradicting himself directly in this single talk with Frodo.)
Cirdan gave his Ring to Gandalf which again was a secret.
The dwarven bearers were also unknown to public, but it was assumed that they passed the rings to their heirs just before death. Balin a companion and close relative of Thrain did not know that Thror had passed the Ring to Thrain before he set out to Moria. Gandalf kept the knowlegde that Thrain had the Ring secret until the Council of Elrond.

I think it can be assumed that Gandalf by propose kept his knowledge about people giving their rings freely away hidden from Frodo. Some instances were especially tabu and other he kept so by his own design.

Respectfuly
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Old 06-26-2015, 07:23 AM   #31
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Ring Potency of the One Ring

You were right, Inziladun, when you pointed out that 'It was far more potent than any of the 19 others'. Gandalf made this clear to Frodo at a very early stage in 'The Shadow of the Past', when he said that Sauron 'made that Ring himself, it is his, and he let a great part of his own former power pass into it, so that he could rule all the others'.
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Old 06-26-2015, 09:08 AM   #32
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I think it can be assumed that Gandalf by propose kept his knowledge about people giving their rings freely away hidden from Frodo. Some instances were especially tabu and other he kept so by his own design.
Anything can be assumed. If you or anyone wishes to assume Gandalf was lying then no-one can stop you.

That also works.

I think it can also be assumed that Gandalf was a Martian if one wishes.

Similarly it can be assumed that Balrogs had wings or they did not, whatever the person assuming wishes to assume.

I am not trying to be offensive. I point out that Zigûr’s solution also involves assumptions.

Again, your solution and Zigûr’s solution both work, if one accepts your assumptions.

To continue this discussion go to the thread entitled Gandalf’s Possible Inaccuracy in the chapter “The Shadow of the Past”. Hopefully this will allow this current thread to continue without talking about Gandalf’s Possible Inaccuracy in the chapter “The Shadow of the Past”.

Sorry, Mithadan.

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Old 06-26-2015, 10:10 PM   #33
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Modifications to flesh and blood

Sauron, the perverter, violator, and who swelled with lust and greed, ever greater, with the more power he allured-subverted, held, incorporated, and violated.

My thoughts:

Secretly, as Annatar, quested to develop a violating version of life extension. Use of the Rings for Mortals meant the men enslaved were 'life syphons', incarnate. Their aura grew in Sauraon's image, and to behold them as Nazgul or hear them was a life-threatening event. Stolen life force. The fear felt around them was instinct governed by the predatory dimensions of human form. I see them as great 'energy sinks' drawing in Living Energy to transmit to master - swelling Sauron's filth, greed, lust and power as the Nazgul engorged on life.

They had a spiritually fortified flesh (albeit, by an 'un' flow, perhaps of Ea running in some variation and inverse). I recall reading somewhere the moment of transition as a Ring bearer of being 'naked' before Sauron as mortal sinew was blasted or stripped of natural form, and imbued with whatever metaphysical joo joo Sauron did.

The flesh could be hued - by Hobbit and Woman. Not sure why or what significance this implied about Sauronic violations.

I've imagined that using a Ring, pre transition, was about greed, sexual perversity, (I assume the so called Lords who had the rings attracted 'bad boi sex' and concubines and such ) And that greed - lust - the primary reinforcers were the reward as the man disowned love and care, by increment. The flesh fortified by increasing flow of metaphysical form of Sauronic Mind (he was a torturer, a sadist, a violator of life, a seducer and a slave lord, above all else).
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:32 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Agreed. Although the Three, being at least partially the product of Sauron's instruction, were subject to the One, they are clearly not in the same mold as the Seven and the Nine. The lack of invisibility of their wearers is a major indication of this.
I wouldn't think a mortal who had run across one of the Three would have been affected in the same way, either. The effect may have been similar to that seen by the Fellowship while in Lórien. They were not immortal, but for them biologically speaking, time slowed.

Back to the subject of the life-lengthening process of the other Rings, the fact that the Seven did not influence the Dwarven lifespan has always interested me. Because of their very nature they could not be turned to wraiths either. Did the Dwarven keepers become invisible while wearing their rings? I would think not, because the invisibility, life-lengthening, and wraith-potential all seem intertwined.
Tolkien in a discussion regarding the Rings of Power in general, states the following regarding the Three:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter 131 to Milton Waldman, 1951
The Elves of Eregion made Three supremely beautiful and powerful rings, almost solely of their own imagination, and directed to the preservation of beauty: they did not confer invisibility.
The emphasis above is mine. There are obvious differences in the Rings of Power themselves and how they effect the wearer, and even how they effect what race is wearing them. Dwarves, being the stuff of the earth and indomitable, did not vanish, and, based on genealogical charts, do not seem to have excessive longevity.

Mortal Men (and Hobbits), however, exhibit all the signs Gandalf warned about. Frodo had the One Ring, and the Nazgul were under the power of the Nine and wanted to kill Frodo. No other Rings (the Seven or the Three) mattered. So why would Gandalf confuse Frodo with provisos, quid pro quos, caveat emptors and various other Latin phrases that may or may not have anything to do with what Gandalf was talking about and what he needed to impress upon Frodo so that the Hobbit could achieve his mission?
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:03 AM   #35
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So why would Gandalf confuse Frodo with provisos, quid pro quos, caveat emptors and various other Latin phrases that may or may not have anything to do with what Gandalf was talking about and what he needed to impress upon Frodo so that the Hobbit could achieve his mission?
Precisely. Gandalf avoids lumping in the Three with the others because of their innate differences from the other Great Rings.

Also, in the later discussion at the Council of Elrond, Gandlaf notes of Gollum, that:

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'The power of the ring had lengthened his years far beyond their span; but that power only the Great Rings wield.'
Surely there he was not including the Three. Why would rings made by Elves for Elves have the power to extend the wearer's lifespan?
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Old 06-27-2015, 01:07 PM   #36
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Gandalf could simply have been referring to the visible forms, imparted by the clothing. I still don't see how ordinary horses would support an insubstantial being.
Because Tolkien indicates they do. Picture enchanted clothing which insubstantial wraiths may wear and which give solidity and weight to their wraith content, but not visibility.

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I think I side with Inziladun on this one... I have no reason to think that the Nazgul were telekinetic, so they must have had some way of interacting with their horses, swords, etc. They can also smell and see (though poorly) which require sensory organs.
When their robes are destroyed the Nazgûl naturally, having no support and being intangible, fall helplessly through the ground to the centre of the Earth. Or rather they would if they had no telekinetic ability. Therefore they must have had some telekinetic ability to float above the ground.

How any invisible being sees at all is a puzzle. How does its invisible eyeball lens focus in its invisible retina?

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Surely there he was not including the Three. Why would rings made by Elves for Elves have the power to extend the wearer's lifespan?
An answer from the Waldman letter:
The chief power (of all the rings alike) was the preservation or slowing of decay (i.e. change viewed as a regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired or loved, or its semblance – that is more or less an Elvish motive.
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Old 06-27-2015, 01:25 PM   #37
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I'm not buying it. The RW were invisible, not insubstantial. Or maybe the W-K at the Pelennor had a substantial invisible body wearing armor up to the neck, but no tangible head visible or invisible and he was holding the crown up with telekinesis?
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:11 PM   #38
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I'm not buying it. The RW were invisible, not insubstantial. Or maybe the W-K at the Pelennor had a substantial invisible body wearing armor up to the neck, but no tangible head visible or invisible and he was holding the crown up with telekinesis?
Gandalf says, “the black robes are real robes that they wear to give shape to their nothingness when they have dealings with the living.”

This to me strongly implies that without those robes the Nazgûl are unformed and shapeless, and insubstantial. The word nothingness indicates their insubstantialbility. See wraith for dictionary meanings, many of which suggest insubstantialbility.

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Old 06-27-2015, 07:09 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by jallanite View Post
Gandalf says, “the black robes are real robes that they wear to give shape to their nothingness when they have dealings with the living.”

This to me strongly implies that without hose robes the Nazgûl are unformed and shapeless, and insubstantial. The word nothingness indicates their insubstantialbility. See wraith for dictionary meanings, many of which suggest insubstantialbility.
Merry's sword cleaved the undead sinew as the blade pierced the flesh. As a Blade of the Westernesse

"Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives, knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about with spells for the bane of Mordor."

"But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee."

and

"So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will."

I've always thought their sinew was modified by exposure to Sauron's tools of eye of mind that strips part of life force away. They were neither living nor dead. Horses bore them. I assume they were not massless.

"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh will be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye".

Devoured and whatever left, replaced with Sauronic presence, power, or replacement form. Still of mass, I would have thought.

The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter.

The conclusions that appear to follow from the quotes:

1. Their bodies had mass.
2. They were invisible.
3. They were neither living nor dead

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Old 06-27-2015, 10:33 PM   #40
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....and

...cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

This seems to me a significant moment in the narrative commentary about the 'what' of a Nazgul. Something Sauron 'did' via the Rings --a spell-- that somehow --knit-- that vestige of formerly mortal flesh --to will of might of mind--. I wonder now: Tolkien often spoke of Mind holding the Body of Men to Life. Numenoreans could yield their life at old age--with and act of will, or cling until death ended their body. This 'will' facility was explicitly noted in other races, especially the Elves and Elven Mind fortifying body through 'the other world' (Glorfindel being in 'two worlds' at the confrontation of the Ringwraiths).

This implies Sauronic Mind/Will forged connection or extension of Maia Mind to form the variation on flesh that was a Nazgul. Sauronic Mind also destroyed "feasted" on mortal living flesh as the process of transformation occurred.

On another train of thought, the formidable size of the Witch King was noted by Tolkien. Mass this seemed to imply. The flesh was unseen by eye of sight of mortal mind. It could be seen by Elf and by eye of sight of mortal wearing The One. The reason for the invisibility, I would assume, was the same as implied by what Tolkien wrote of Frodo in Elrond's healing room. Some 'fading' of flesh after the Ringwraith attack. Elrond didn't put Frodo completely together again. Some transformation of his flesh had occurred.

The Rings of Power (the Nine made them Invisible when used) is what seems a reasonable conclusion to draw. And each use removes a little bit more of the mortal fibre as the Mind of the User strengthens in synchronisation with Sauraon's Might of Mind. Then at a critical threshold, Sauron rocks in very closely and blasts away the remaining capacity to reverse the process and enslaves.

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