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Old 06-26-2015, 06:58 PM   #1
jallanite
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Gandalf’s Possible Inaccuracy in the chapter “The Shadow of the Past”

In the thread “The Effect of the Great Ring”, I posted in part in response to a remark by Mithadan on errors in The Lord of the Rings. See the pertinent part of my post here:
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.
There was a large response to this post some positive and some negative. I was effectively accused of hijacking the thread, which was not my intent but was what mostly happened.

Since many Barrow-downers seemingly did and do wish to discuss this subject, it seemed to me the best thing was to open a separate thread on this subject, so that hopefully the original subject-matter of “The Effect of the Great Ring” may be continued without being affected by this sub-discussion.

Hammond and Scull’s original note appears on page 87 of the The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion:
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.
To follow the arguments that arose from this, read most of #15 to #32 in the thread: “The Effect of the Great Ring”.

Note that my own opinions have somewhat changed over the course of this discussion but I still see this as a contradiction, along with Hammond and Scull, if the words which Tolkien gives to Gandalf are taken fully literally. If we assume that Frodo is not supposed have been able to recall in exact detail what Gandalf said, we might imagine Gandalf’s words as something like: “A Ring of Power held by a mortal looks after itself, Frodo” instead of “A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo.”

I wish I had thought earlier of the possibility of starting a new thread, Hopefully this will allow “The Effect of the Great Ring” to continue without discussing Gandalf’s Possible Inaccuracy in the chapter “The Shadow of the Past”.

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Old 06-26-2015, 07:21 PM   #2
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I'm still of the mind that the Three are not ultimately comparable in most ways with Rings of Power as Gandalf meant in the context of his conversation with Frodo.

There, Gandalf was trying to explain how the (One) Ring came to Bilbo, then to Frodo. Certainly the Nine and the Seven, laden as they were with Sauron's power, would have done his will. That could hardly have been accomplished if their bearers had been able to throw them away or give them to another when they chose.

The Three were, of course, not actually made by Sauron, and he never touched them. Their powers were different from the rings he had more of a hand in making, and I really don't see why there need be any contradiction where the Three are concerned.
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:57 AM   #3
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I don't know. This seems it will need more looking into. What is known is that all the "Rings of Power" were forged based on some sort of design contrived by Sauron and that Sauron himself had a hand in the forging of the One and all the others, except the Three which Celebrimbor himself made. Even though Sauron had no hand in the forging of the Three it still had his imprint in design. I think therefore all of the other Rings, like the One, would have the same or similar effects on mortals, excluding the Dwarves. The Three, however, not so much but they were linked to the One based on their design so that they could all in some manner control the bearers through Sauron wielding the One. It may appear that Gandalf is contradicting himself, but he may not be, or he may be. As of now I do not think so. I think he is speaking in truth as concerning the One and all the "Rings of Power" in which Sauron had a direct hand in the making. Again with the Dwarves the design failed to implement to some degree.

"And all those rings that he governed he perverted, the more easily since he had a part in their making, and they were accursed, and they betrayed in the end all those that used them. The Dwarves indeed proved tough and hard to tame; they ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows." [Silmarillion; Of the Rings of Power and the third Age]

Thus I disagree with the Note of Hammand and Scull.
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Old 06-27-2015, 01:03 PM   #4
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If we assume that Frodo is not supposed have been able to recall in exact detail what Gandalf said, we might imagine Gandalf’s words as something like: “A Ring of Power held by a mortal looks after itself, Frodo” instead of “A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo.”
Except Dwarves are mortal as well.

I think really that the original supposition is correct: dormitat Homerus. Ch 2 was written long before Tolkien had considered where the story was going generally, much less in detai. I seriously doubt that at the time he had thought up (a) Thror passing his ring to Thrain, which appeared first in 'The Quest of Erebor' ca. 1954, or (b) Gandalf as a ringbearer, first realized on paper during the writing of the last chapter, and how he got it from Cirdan written even later in 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.'

Of course, we can ret-con to our taste, and I think Belegorn's post covers it pretty well.
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:48 PM   #5
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Except Dwarves are mortal as well.
Yes, technically, but Tolkien generally does not stress this as he does with Men and Hobbits. For example Tolkien has Gandalf say, “Nine he gave to mortal Men”, but earlier he says, “Seven the Dwarf-kings possessed”, not “Seven the mortal Dwarf-kings possessed” or “Seven the mortal Dwarves possessed”.

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Old 06-29-2015, 08:06 PM   #6
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Tolkien writes on page 59:
Yes, alas! through him [Gollum] the Enemy has learned that the One has been found again. He knows where Isildur fell. He knows where Gollum found this ring. He knows that it is a Great Ring, for it gave long life.
This implies that only the “Great Rings” give long life to a mortal, whether Man or Hobbit, not one of the lesser rings or some other ring-shaped charm. Earlier, on page 47, Gandalf refers to “the Great Rings, the Rings of Power”, as though they are synonyms for the same things. Now we are told that they alone give “long life”, for Gandalf makes the gift of “long life” evident proof that the Ring possessed by Sauron is one of the “Great Rings.”

But could Gollum’s Ring be one of the other nineteen “Great Rings” which also give long life? Gandalf indicates not. Tolkien makes Gandalf continue immediately following on the same page:
He [Sauron] knows that it is not one of the Three, for they have never been lost, and they endure no evil.
Also the Three, according the Waldman letter, “did not confer invisibility”. But Tolkien is not discussing such matters, only the ability of all the Great Rings and only the Great Rings to give long life.

Gandalf is made to continue:
He [Sauron] knows that it is not one of the Seven, or the Nine. for they are accounted for.
Gandalf has earlier explained on page 51:
Seven the Dwarf-kings possessed, but three he [Sauron] has recovered, and the others the dragons have consumed. Nine he gave to Mortal Men, proud and great, and so ensnared them.
So Gandalf now makes clear:
He [Sauron] knows that it [the Ring won from Gollum by Bilbo] is the One.
Yet Gandalf on page 55 declares of “A Ring of Power”, which is elsewhere in this chapter a synonym for “Great Ring”, has never in all history been freely given up by its keeper save when Bilbo gave up the Ring of Power he possessed to Frodo.

Hammond and Scull state:
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.
I have restated the problem more clearly as I see it.

Zigûr’s attempted answer seems to me to depend on Gandalf using “Rings of Power” to refer only to Sauronic rings, which I don’t see on further study. And he does not account for Thrór giving up his Ring to Thráin. See #21 in the thread “The Effect of the Great Ring”.

Findegil answer in the thread “The Effect of the Great Ring” seems to me to merely accept that Gandalf is lying, but for good reasons. This works, but seems to go against Gandalf’s truthfulness elsewhere. See #30 in the thread “The Effect of the Great Ring”.

Inziladun’s explanation does not fit with Gandalf’s own explanation of the powers of the Rings.

Morthoron’s attempt at explanation I do not understand at all. He asks:
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?
Gandalf doesn’t do this and no-one, certainly not me, thinks he should.

My own answer would be blamed by me for changing the text which many would call cheating. Very weak.

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Old 06-30-2015, 04:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by jallanite View Post
Zigûr’s attempted answer seems to me to depend on Gandalf using “Rings of Power” to refer only to Sauronic rings, which I don’t see on further study. And he does not account for Thrór giving up his Ring to Thráin. See #21 in the thread “The Effect of the Great Ring”.
Didn't I argue that Thrór was able to pass on his Ring because he was a Dwarf and not a Man?
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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?
Also I just argued that "Rings of Power" seems to be a vague term with no rigid definition, which seems to refer to different groupings of Rings from usage to usage. I wasn't trying to give a hard and fast answer and I don't think I can.
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Old 06-30-2015, 09:44 AM   #8
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Didn't I argue that Thrór was able to pass on his Ring because he was a Dwarf and not a Man?
That works if you don’t take Gandalf’s words literally. Gandalf says:
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.
Replace “keeper” with “mortal keeper”. But then someone will point out that Dwarves are mortal too.

For me the problem is the mainly the phrase “alone in history” which suggests any kind of being.

Quote:
Also I just argued that "Rings of Power" seems to be a vague term with no rigid definition, which seems to refer to different groupings of Rings from usage to usage. I wasn't trying to give a hard and fast answer and I don't think I can.
I would argue that “Rings of Power” refers to any of the “Great Rings” and therefore may be used when Sauronic rings alone are being discussed, something like the word colour which does not refer normally to any particular colour. But at the same time, if I say the sky was dark coloured today, I obviously don’t mean a dark red colour or a dark brown colour or even a dark green colour. I mean dark blue or cloudy.

But if I say “Ring of Power” with no context, I would be understood to mean any one of the 20 Great Rings, not only a Sauronic Great Ring. So when Gandalf says “A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo”, he should be understood to mean any of the Rings of Power, not specifically a Sauronic Great Ring.

I understood you were attempting to show that Ring of Power was possibly comparable to the word corn, which has different primary meanings in U.S. English and British English, that Gandalf might mean Sauronic Ring primarily by Ring of Power, at least on occasion. But my examination of the evidence does not bear this out. Possibly you might present evidence that I had not considered. Note I do not think it valid to interpret the crux passage as evidence. One could more legitimately interpret the crux passage as a slip of the tongue.

I am not challenging you or anyone to find a solution. I don’t believe there is one. You at least have made an attempt.
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Old 06-30-2015, 04:50 PM   #9
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For me the problem is the mainly the phrase “alone in history” which suggests any kind of being.
Perhaps Gandalf was hyperbolizing combined with a slip of the tongue.

Also, he may not have been thinking of Thrór giving his ring to Thráin during that conversation. Admittedly, the weak point of that argument is it would be hard for Gandalf to not be thinking of his own possession of a ring during that conversation.
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:20 AM   #10
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I don't see a huge problem there:

1. Gandalf isn't exactly an expert on Ringlore.

2. Círdan and Gil-galad giving away the Three isn't really a problem because the Three were most certainly not used by Galadriel, Gil-galad, Elrond, or Círdan during the Second Age. Thus they wouldn't have had any power over them.

3. Círdan may not have used Narya at all even during the Third Age - or else he might have had problems parting with it. But then, the impression we get is that Narya's main purpose was effecting its wearer's and other people psyches (perhaps originally conceived to fight the inevitable melancholy that would trouble the Eldar over the years?). Círdan most likely had no use of an artifact like that in Lindon where the Eldar usually only came when they were ready to leave Middle-earth anyway. Not to mention that he might have been smart enough to not use the ring even after Sauron had been seemingly defeated.

4. The Seven clearly didn't really work on the Dwarves. They apparently couldn't even prolong their lives or transform them into wraiths. Now, we know that Thrór passed his ring on the Thráin but Thráin did not pass it on to Thorin. Could be that Thrór was stronger than Thráin or that Thrór felt death approaching already or knew that going to Moria with one of the Seven in his possession was too great a risk. In any case, Durin's line must have passed on its ring quite a few times during the ages, and we have no reason to believe that the kings always took the ring from the corpses of their predecessors.
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Old 05-19-2016, 01:31 PM   #11
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Threadomancy here.

But since it's back from Mandos, I would approach this, as I tend to do, externally: the chapter "The Shadow of the Past" (originally "Ancient History") was one of the earliest written, and although subsequently emended Tolkien wasn't doing so with a fine-tooth comb; moreover, much of the history of the Great Rings (especially the Three) didn't arise until the Appendices, written well after the main narrative and, although Tolkien did attempt some revisions to square things up, this was done in a tearing hurry during the rush to publication 1954-55.

Besides, both Tolkien and his loremaster alter egos (Gandalf, Elrond and Faramir) tend to speak in sweeping generalities which aren't necessarily precise to three decimal places. Is Treebeard or Bombadil the "oldest living thing?" If Gandalf thought it important, he could have added a verbal footnote with all the fine print on Great Ring ownership.
"Ring use may be habit-forming. Gwaith-i-Mirdain Ltd disclaim all liability for damages direct or indirect associated with Ringbearing. All Rings non-transferable (except the Three Rings and/or if the bearer is an Elf, or in accordance with Subparagraph 17(g)(1) 'Dwarf-Lords and their Heirs.' Batteries not included."
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:32 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by jallanite View Post
Morthoron’s attempt at explanation I do not understand at all. He asks:
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?
Gandalf doesn’t do this and no-one, certainly not me, thinks he should.
At the risk of putting words into another poster's mouth: pretty sure he means Gandalf was giving Frodo a simplified version, leaving out unnecessary details- cf WCH's last post.

I believe this will do as an in-story explanation, if one is needed (though I am also inclined to agree it's really an oversight on the part of Tolkien).
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:23 PM   #13
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For my two bits on this – FWIW, that is –

I’m inclined to agree with a number of points:
  • Hammond and Scull’s assertion,
    Quote:
    …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.
  • “[T]he Three are not ultimately comparable in most ways with Rings of Power as Gandalf meant in the context of his conversation with Frodo.” (Inziladun).
  • “all the ‘Rings of Power’ were forged based on some sort of design contrived by Sauron and that Sauron himself had a hand in the forging of the One and all the others, except the Three which Celebrimbor himself made. Even though Sauron had no hand in the forging of the Three it still had his imprint in design. I think therefore all of the other Rings, like the One, would have the same or similar effects on mortals, excluding the Dwarves. The Three, however, not so much but they were linked to the One based on their design so that they could all in some manner control the bearers through Sauron wielding the One.” (Belegorn).

    That sounds remarkably like a “back door” or “Trojan” computer malware, doesn’t it?
    .
  • “Thrór was able to pass on his Ring because he was a Dwarf and not a Man” (Zigûr).
  • “Gandalf was hyperbolizing” (Kuruharan).

    C.f., in the 2005 edition of Reader’s Companion, for p 499 regarding Treebeard as “eldest”, Hammond and Scull quote “Christopher Tolkien’s comment that his father was given to ‘rhetorical superlatives’, such as ‘the oldest living thing’”.
    JRR Tolkien was indeed given to ‘rhetorical superlatives’; we should not be surprised if Gandalf was, too.
  • “Gandalf was giving Frodo a simplified version, leaving out unnecessary details” (Nerwen).
I’ll add a few other points, just to feed fuel to the fire.
  • The Dwarves claimed Celebrimbor gave the greatest of the Seven to his friend Durin III. Later the Elves doubted it; but I’ll bet it’s true. Celebrimbor knew he was in trouble and needed to hide the Rings: he wisely sent the Three out of Eregion altogether. Perhaps because he gave the best of the Seven to Durin, Sauron was inspired to give the other six to Dwarves as well; and then the Nine to Men, who proved easier to ensnare.
  • I think Gandalf was attempting to impress upon Frodo the power of a Great Ring, especially upon Mortals and in particular upon Hobbits: that Bilbo could give it up, albeit with a mighty big assist from Gandalf, who acted in this case as ἄγγελος, or angel, to overcome the power of the One Ring, something that perhaps Bilbo on his own could not do. In this regard, Tolkien wrote to Michael Straight, editor of New Republic in Letter 181,
    Quote:
    [Gandalf's] function as a “wizard” is an angelos or messenger from the Valar or Rulers: to assist the rational creatures of Middle-earth to resist Sauron, a power too great for them unaided.
    You are of course free to believe that Bilbo gave up the One Ring entirely upon his own or only with the assistance of Gandalf; I am inclined to believe it was only with the assistance of Gandalf. Frodo was later unable to give it up; Sam Gamgee did surrender it, willingly, to Frodo: but this was due in large part, I think, to his loyalty to Frodo, and to his simplicity of spirit: In that simplicity of spirit, he saw through the deceptions of the Ring when it tempted him to become “Samwise the Strong”, a test Boromir failed without ever wearing the Ring, a test with which Galadriel struggled even after millennia of contemplation and introspection.
  • The Rings were never meant for Mortals in the first place. The Noldor of Eregion were trying to hold back the effects of time. Mortals turned invisible when they wore the Rings; I argue there is no reason to believe Elves did, but every good reason to believe they did not.
    • Tolkien himself tells us the Seven did not render Dwarves invisible or give them longer lives.
    • The Three certainly did not convey invisibility: Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel were all visible, and we know Galadriel was wearing Nenya at the Mirror of Galadriel.
    • The Elves wanted to stop the process of fading, whereby their bodies (hröar) were consumed by their spirits (fëar). If the Noldor were trying to prevent fading, why in blue blazes would they invent a device to make them invisible? The two goals are contradictory, at cross-purposes with one another.
    • However, Sauron’s methods apparently entailed some sort of necromancy. (He was, after all, The Necromancer.) If the Noldor under Sauron’s tutelage used necromantic techniques to accomplish their goals, then the Rings were drawing on the power of the Unseen, but in a most unwholesome way (excepting the Three).

      Men, though, including Hobbits, might be easily overwhelmed, and instead of “tapping” into the power of the Unseen, move altogether into the Other Side, which they perceived as a wraith-world because they entered it by means of necromancy.
Gandalf must explain all this quickly and decisively to Frodo, keeping in mind that his goal from the start is to convince him, above all, do not put on the Ring. Bear in mind also that he cannot say, “O, by the way, I have Narya, one of the Three, and here are some Ring-bearer tips you should know…” No, no! he’s going to scare the pants off Frodo! A little after telling him, “It may slip off treacherously, but its keeper never abandons it,” Frodo blurts out, “O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do?” Frodo is panicked! “You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?” And Gandalf can not take the Ring: it’s too dangerous for him. We would say, Frodo doesn’t know how to “turn it on”: he isn’t powerful enough to use it; for Gandalf, it’s a deadly trap. Poor old Frodo has the Radioactive Potato.

Finally, Frodo says, “…I must keep the Ring and guard it, at least for the present, whatever it may do to me.” This is exactly what Gandalf wants! And the wizard replies, “Whatever it may do, it will be slow, slow to evil, if you keep it with that purpose.”

So he didn’t give Frodo all the details. All the better. Ever read a contract? An End User License Agreement? “The party of the first will accede to the party of the second, except at the aforementioned times and in those places enumerated in Addendum C-2…” Frodo didn’t need the details. He needed to know that he was, in effect, living with the nuclear football hanging around his neck, and it had a (fortunately slightly defective) homing device.
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Old 06-08-2016, 12:10 AM   #14
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Good thoughts.

I find this assertion of Hammond and Scull to be curious, however:
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Gil-galad (when dying) gave his to Elrond
Isn't this incorrect? In Unfinished Tales, in "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", it states of the first Council in the Second Age, after the War of the Elves and Sauron, that "At that time also Gil-galad gave Vilya, the Blue Ring, to Elrond". He appears to have given Vilya to Elrond when he was hale and hearty, well before they departed for Mordor - one thousand, seven hundred and thirty three years before the Battle of Dagorlad in fact, more than half the length of the entire Second Age.

In my head I generally imagined that Elrond left Vilya behind in Imladris when he accompanied Gil-galad to Mordor, and I similarly imagined that Círdan did the same with Narya. It seems like bringing any of the Three to Mordor, even (of course) unworn, would have been an incredibly stupid thing to do.
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Old 06-08-2016, 09:19 AM   #15
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Good thoughts.

I find this assertion of Hammond and Scull to be curious, however:

Isn't this incorrect? In Unfinished Tales, in "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", it states of the first Council in the Second Age, after the War of the Elves and Sauron, that "At that time also Gil-galad gave Vilya, the Blue Ring, to Elrond". He appears to have given Vilya to Elrond when he was hale and hearty, well before they departed for Mordor - one thousand, seven hundred and thirty three years before the Battle of Dagorlad in fact, more than half the length of the entire Second Age.

In my head I generally imagined that Elrond left Vilya behind in Imladris when he accompanied Gil-galad to Mordor, and I similarly imagined that Círdan did the same with Narya. It seems like bringing any of the Three to Mordor, even (of course) unworn, would have been an incredibly stupid thing to do.
I think there are conflicting accounts when exactly Gil-galad gave Vilya and Narya to Elrond and Círdan, respectively, but nothing suggests Elrond only received Vilya from a dying Gil-galad. But I don't recall right the exact discrepancy, but if I'm not mistaken then it is between 'Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn' and 'Of the Rings of Power'.

In fact, the assumption that Gil-galad (or Elrond, Círdan, and Galadriel - if she was with the army) would have taken any of the Three into Mordor during the war against Sauron doesn't make any sense. If they had lost the war or been captured Sauron could have gained possession of the Rings, not to mention that it is by no means certain that Sauron while wearing the One could not have detected or felt the presence of the Three this close by. Perhaps he might even have been able to read the minds of the guardians of the Three while they had them in their pockets.

After all, the One Ring also has an effect on Frodo even before he puts it on his finger for the first time (it slows his aging process just as it did with Bilbo before). Granted, the Three weren't made by Sauron, but they were still under the dominion of the One.

One assumes Gil-galad, Galadriel, Círdan, and Elrond hid the Three somewhere in their abodes and never took them out until Sauron was overthrown and the One taken from him. And even then it might have taken quite some time until Elrond and Galadriel finally gave into temptation and actually tested what they could achieve with Nenya and Vilya.
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Old 06-08-2016, 09:44 AM   #16
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The Rings were never meant for Mortals in the first place.
This begs the question of why did they make so many and who were the original intended recipients.
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Old 06-08-2016, 09:44 AM   #17
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The H&S reference is probably (I'm guessing) based on Appendix B:

"Gil-galad before he died gave his ring to Elrond; Cirdan later surrendered his to Mithrandir." The Tale of Years, The Third Age

Granted I would agree that "before he died" doesn't necessarily mean when dying, but in any case, as far as my canon goes, however one interprets this, it is author published description versus posthumously published description in Unfinished Tales.

Can't think of anything else at the moment, although from the Council of Elrond we know Elrond could have been present at Gil-galad's death (near enough).

Anyway, I'm just wondering too
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Old 06-08-2016, 09:53 AM   #18
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If they had lost the war or been captured Sauron could have gained possession of the Rings
My thoughts exactly. We can't imagine they brought them with them to use them, because at the time Sauron still had the One, so they couldn't use them. If any of them had, as you say, been captured, or if they had been killed and their body not recovered, Sauron would have gained one of the very things they had fought a bloody war earlier in the Age to keep from him.

In any event, I don't believe we ever hear of Gil-galad or Elendil having time to say or do anything as they died; I always got the impression both were killed very quickly, and we know that Gil-galad was burnt alive (I always imagine something like the way Harry "accidentally" kills Quirrel in Philosopher's Stone) by the hand of Sauron, so if he made any noise, he was probably screaming

Thus I personally see Vilya being left at Imladris, and Narya at Mithlond; given that they discussed similar ideas at the Council of Elrond we might imagine there being something like a backup plan, so that those who stayed behind would take the Rings over the Sea in the event that the Alliance lost the war.

As an aside, it strikes me as potentially (but not necessarily) inconsistent that Sauron's spirit was capable of carrying off the One during the drowning of Númenor, but could not do so from Mordor at the end of the Second Age. Why wasn't Isildur grabbing at it out of the air as it slipped off Sauron's severed finger and floated away into the East? Presumably Sauron could no longer achieve feats like this, having expended so much power in creating another body for himself after the last one was drowned.
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Old 06-08-2016, 10:09 AM   #19
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As an aside, it strikes me as potentially (but not necessarily) inconsistent that Sauron's spirit was capable of carrying off the One during the drowning of Númenor, but could not do so from Mordor at the end of the Second Age. Why wasn't Isildur grabbing at it out of the air as it slipped off Sauron's severed finger and floated away into the East? Presumably Sauron could no longer achieve feats like this, having expended so much power in creating another body for himself after the last one was drowned.
I don't find that inconsistent at all. I think you have provided a rational explanation.
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Old 06-08-2016, 10:28 AM   #20
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As an aside, it strikes me as potentially (but not necessarily) inconsistent that Sauron's spirit was capable of carrying off the One during the drowning of Númenor, but could not do so from Mordor at the end of the Second Age. Why wasn't Isildur grabbing at it out of the air as it slipped off Sauron's severed finger and floated away into the East? Presumably Sauron could no longer achieve feats like this, having expended so much power in creating another body for himself after the last one was drowned.
I see in those two examples a fundamental difference in what was happening to Sauron.

At Númenor, Sauron's physical form was unexpectedly destroyed by the force of the waters inundating the island. His fea was completely intact.

After fighting off Elendil and Gil-galad, and robbed of the Ring by Isildur, his hold not only on his corporeal body but also his very spirit was sudden;y weakened. The shock alone could have rendered him incapable of doing anything to regain the Ring.
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Old 06-08-2016, 11:28 AM   #21
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As an aside, it strikes me as potentially (but not necessarily) inconsistent that Sauron's spirit was capable of carrying off the One during the drowning of Númenor, but could not do so from Mordor at the end of the Second Age. Why wasn't Isildur grabbing at it out of the air as it slipped off Sauron's severed finger and floated away into the East? Presumably Sauron could no longer achieve feats like this, having expended so much power in creating another body for himself after the last one was drowned.
That is actually easily resolved. Sauron didn't take the One with him to Númenor in the first place. Both The Akallabêth and Of the Rings of Power tell us that Sauron took up the One again after he had returned to Barad-dûr. If he had brought the Ring with him in spirit form he would have had no need to take it up again unless we infer against the text that he put it down for some time, doing other spirit things in spirit form before beginning his work to restore his body.

There are two important reasons why Sauron might have deliberately chosen to keep the One hidden in Barad-dur, protected by the Nazgûl and his armies (who might not have known that the Ring was back there):

1. He wanted to appear humble and defeated in the eyes of Ar-Pharazôn. The One, as a Ring of Power, enhanced his power both in appearance (Sauron would appear more powerful etc. than he might actually be, just as Galadriel did when Nenya's light concentrated on her) and in actuality (however that worked exactly). But Sauron did not want to appear terrible and powerful, he wanted to win the trust of the King and Númenor and corrupt and ruin him.

2. He might have feared that the Númenóreans would actually take the Ring from him and use it against him. His armies were terrified by the might and splendor of Ar-Pharazôn, after all, and he was at the peak of his power and wearing the Ring at that time. One can but wonder what Pharazôn could have done or become had he taken the Ring from Sauron. And he could have done that, there is no doubt about that. Keep in mind that Sauron never feared that anybody would destroy the Ring, but it is never stated that he never feared to lose the Ring to a superior enemy and thus be usurped and replaced by a new Dark Lord who takes everything from him. He certainly might have feared that Ar-Pharazôn would attempt to do that.
Sauron leaving the instrument and symbol of his power and rule over Middle-earth - his crown if you will - back at Barad-dûr would also symbolize that he only temporarily abandoned his seat. He would come back eventually as he did. And the Nazgûl most certainly were completely under his thumb by then. They could not have taken the One for themselves in any case, and they would have guarded it against any mortal lieutenant of Sauron's who might have entertained such notions (had any such known that Sauron had left the Ring behind).
We also have to keep in mind that Númenóreans must have known about the existence of the Rings of Power. Three Nazgûl were Númenóreans after all, and if some of them were of the line of Elros (which is not unlikely in my opinion) then they would have known even more about them.

There is a letter (or a draft of a letter) in which Tolkien talks about Sauron's spirit bringing the One back from the abyss that took Númenor but you can see while reading that letter that he begins to wonder how that would have worked. My guess is the lines in The Akallabêth and Of the Rings of Power talking about him taking the One up again might have been inspired by such ideas.

Of course, if you want to insist that Sauron must have taken the Ring to Númenor then one could speculate that Sauron's body being destroyed by some natural disaster isn't *metaphysically* or *legally* the same as him being overthrown by living enemies (and there is some truth to that). Gil-galad/Elendil and subsequently Isildur had a certain right to the Ring because it was taken from him in combat, and that could indeed explain why Sauron's spirit was unable to snatch the Ring from his own body or out of Isildur's hand.

But then, being crushed by Ilúvatar himself (or by the Valar being granted greater power by Ilúvatar) should have had an even more devastating effect on Sauron so ... this is tricky.

Anyway, I'm firmly in the camp of those who believe that the Ring never was in Númenor in the first place.
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Old 06-08-2016, 11:43 AM   #22
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We also have to keep in mind that Númenóreans must have known about the existence of the Rings of Power. Three Nazgûl were Númenóreans after all, and if some of them were of the line of Elros (which is not unlikely in my opinion) then they would have known even more about them.
In Letter 211, however, Professor Tolkien does state that "I do not think Ar-Pharazôn knew anything about the One Ring. The Elves kept the matter of the Rings very secret, as long as they could. In any case Ar-Pharazôn was not in communication with them."
Of course this is the same letter in which Professor Tolkien states that Sauron had the Ring with him in Númenor, so I suppose, if you dismiss that idea, the idea that Pharazôn was ignorant of the Ring can be dismissed as well, but that borders upon dismissing too much in my opinion. In any event the Ring could have been easily hidden when he was taken prisoner, and would have looked like a piece of ordinary jewellery in any event.

I don't have a problem with Sauron having the Ring in Númenor but I do find the image of his spirit carrying it off back to Middle-earth with him rather silly.
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Old 06-08-2016, 12:15 PM   #23
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In Letter 211, however, Professor Tolkien does state that "I do not think Ar-Pharazôn knew anything about the One Ring. The Elves kept the matter of the Rings very secret, as long as they could. In any case Ar-Pharazôn was not in communication with them."
Of course this is the same letter in which Professor Tolkien states that Sauron had the Ring with him in Númenor, so I suppose, if you dismiss that idea, the idea that Pharazôn was ignorant of the Ring can be dismissed as well, but that borders upon dismissing too much in my opinion. In any event the Ring could have been easily hidden when he was taken prisoner, and would have looked like a piece of ordinary jewellery in any event.

I don't have a problem with Sauron having the Ring in Númenor but I do find the image of his spirit carrying it off back to Middle-earth with him rather silly.
Well, that image isn't sillier than the idea that spirit beings would live in a city made of stone (Valmar). Or that spirit people can be bound by physical chains (Angainor).

In any case, the letter is at least partially at odds with spirit Sauron taking up the ring again. Here is the quote from The Akallabêth:

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But Sauron was not of mortal flesh, and though he was robbed now of that shape in which he had wrought so great an evil, so that he could never again appear fair to the eyes of Men, yet his spirit arose out of the deep and passed as a shadow and a black wind over the sea, and came back to Middle-earth and to Mordor that was his home. There he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dûr, and dwelt there, dark and silent, until he wrought himself a new guise, an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure.
The context implies he didn't have the Ring with him when he returned from Númenor.

That's from Of the Rings of Power:

Quote:
Thus the Exiles of Númenor established their realms in Arnor and in Gondor; but ere many years had passed it became manifest that their enemy, Sauron, had also returned. He came in secret, as has been told, to his ancient kingdom of Mordor beyond the Ephel Dúath, the Mountains of Shadow, and that country marched with Gondor upon the east. There above the valley of Gorgoroth was built his fortress vast and strong, Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower; and there was a fiery mountain in that land that the Elves named Orod-ruin. Indeed for that reason Sauron had set there his dwelling long before, for he used the fire that welled there from the heart of the earth in his sorceries and in his forging; and in the midst of the Land of Mordor he had fashioned the Ruling Ring. There now he brooded in the dark, until he had wrought for himself a new shape; and it was terrible, for his fair semblance had departed for ever when he was cast into the abyss at the drowning of Númenor. He took up again the great Ring and clothed himself in power; and the malice of the Eye of Sauron few even of the great among Elves and Men could endure.
There is only a difference as to when Sauron took the Great Ring up again. Either still in spirit form or only after he made himself a body again. But both quotes actually imply he didn't wear the Ring in spirit or in bodily form before he took it up again.

I really think we can dismiss the letter in those cases.

Not to mention that the talk about the Elves being secretive about the Rings isn't very convincing, if you think about it. Not if Sauron truly did give three of the Nine to Númenóreans. The fact that Sauron had magical rings and once given them to various people must have been known. And Sauron wearing some ring in Númenor could easily have triggered the greed of the One. After all, that thing looked very tempting to many people and could be most likely not easily be disguised as just some jewelery. Not to mention that it isn't even clear whether Sauron could wear the Ring and not have this burning hand he had when he fought Gil-galad (or display some other visible feature or great power and might). I mean, the One Ring is one of the most powerful artifacts in those stories and I'd be very irritated if Tolkien himself actually thought anybody else beside Tom Bombadil could treat it like a trinket. And Sauron would have at least play the charade of it being insignificant.
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Old 06-08-2016, 12:51 PM   #24
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I think that perhaps the Nine and the One did have effect on the Númenórean population overall for many hundreds of years. In 1697 Sauron got the Rings of Power for the most part, but by the late 20th to the early 21st Centuries a shadow had fallen on Númenor. I think this was the shadow "in which may be the will of Morgoth was at work that still moved in the world." [Akallabêth] This perhaps started with some stray Númenóreans and a couple may have been given a Ring of Power at this time, working their influence on their bearers and those in their sphere of influence. After his capture I think Sauron put the One to heavy use in Númenor as it was his chief means to dominate others. He continued to stoke the fears perhaps stirred first by early infiltrators with the Nine (not all of the Nine of course) who were among the populace in Númenor. Melkor worship, human sacrifice, and not just of lesser Men, but of their own people, the Faithful, abandonment of any regard for the Valar, the attack on Valinor, et cetera. I believe in his letters Tolkien mentioned that it was not an altogether out there idea that Sauron could carry the Ring back from the destruction of Númenor without his body as he and his kind, as spirits, were involved in the shaping of Arda.
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Old 06-08-2016, 05:43 PM   #25
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In Letter 211, Tolkien wrote,
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Sauron was first defeated by a “miracle”: a direct action of God the Creator, changing the fashion of the world, when appealed to by Manwë… Though reduced to “a spirit of hatred borne on a dark wind”, I do not think one need boggle at this spirit carrying off the One Ring, upon which his power of dominating minds now largely depended.
You might ask why Sauron did not or could not do this after Elendil and Gil-galad killed him on the slopes of Orodruin, preventing Isildur from cutting off his finger and taking the One Ring.
In Letter 199, Tolkien wrote that the Ainur “often took the form and likeness” of Elves and Men, “especially after their appearance.”
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…Sauron appeared in this shape. It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was “real”, that is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It was then destructible like other physical organisms. But that … did not destroy the spirit, nor dismiss it from the world to which it was bound until the end. After the battle with Gil-galad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Númenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, which might be called the “will” or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination). The impossibility of re-building after the destruction of the Ring, is sufficiently clear “mythologically” in the present book.
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This begs the question of why did they make so many and who were the original intended recipients.
The smiths of Eregion made them for themselves.

The original population of Rivendell was made up of survivors of Sauron’s assault upon Eregion in the Second Age: Gil-galad sent an expeditionary force from Lindon under Elrond to bolster Eregion’s defenses until the Númenórean fleet arrived. Sauron’s armies swept into and to the west of Eregion, to block both any further assistance from Gil-galad and any retreat to him from Eregion. Elrond led the survivors to Imladris; the context as I recall it indicated that these were not very numerous.

Before the War between Sauron and the Elves, there were two sizable Noldorin polities. The greater and more numerous was Lindon, where there were also a large number of Sindar. The smaller was Eregion, where the Noldor established what we might call a “colony” outside the immediate control of Gil-galad. Depending upon which storyline you follow, its settlement might have been instigated by Galadriel, Celebrimbor, or both acting together. Though nominally under the suzerainty of Gil-galad as Noldorin High King, Eregion was essentially politically independent. After Gil-galad prevented Annatar (Sauron in disguise) from entering Lindon, Celebrimbor and the Mírdain (society of smiths) welcomed him in Eregion. When Galadriel, who was in Eregion, objected to the Mírdain’s welcome of Annatar, she was ostracized and left; she did not return to Lindon, but rather to Lothlórien, a kingdom of Silvan Elves ruled by Sindar.

Though it isn’t stated, it is very difficult to resist these conclusions
  • The Noldor were divided politically from the beginning. The Sindar said the Noldor returned to Middle-earth for more room to argue.
  • It sounds as if a lot of the surviving Fëanorians still in Middle-earth followed Celebrimbor and Galadriel to Eregion, where they exercised considerable political independence, including a close alliance with the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm.
  • Though smaller in population than Lindon, the Elves of Eregion were numerous, certainly many times the number of refugees who founded Rivendell. It had a city, Ost-in-Edhil, well-executed roads, and seems to have had numerous other settlements as well. It sounds as if the Tower of the Mírdain was a sort of guild hall, with most of the shops and smithies of its members throughout the city and country.
  • The appearance of Annatar further fractured Noldorin polity, with Galadriel splitting off and moving even further [west [sic]] east [hat tip Belegorn], over the Misty Mountains.

We aren’t given any indication how many Mírdain there were, but it seems they were rather numerous. Proud and self-willed, it isn’t difficult to see that they would all want Rings of various sorts, and of course these Rings should enable the Elves wielding them to shrug off or even forestall the effects of time, as well as enhance other skills or abilities the smiths found useful or desirable. Celebrimbor made the Three by himself; you may well ask for whom he made them, and why did he make three instead of only one? I cannot answer that, except that it permits Tolkien to tell a great story! You might also argue whether he alone made them, or other smiths assisted. But there is no reason for the proud Smiths of Eregion to craft rings for the use of Mortal Men or Dwarves, and there was no particular reason for them to stop making Great Rings until they bored of the effort. After all, they were Noldor, and it was Art. Useful Art, but Art. Why did they make so many? I don’t know, but I think you might as well as ask a famous painter why he continues to paint: He enjoys it. That’s what he does.

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Old 06-08-2016, 06:47 PM   #26
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]The appearance of Annatar further fractured Noldorin polity, with Galadriel splitting off and moving even further west, over the Misty Mountains.
That'd be East. Silvan Elves always under the rule of a Sinda or Noldo!
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:19 AM   #27
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The smiths of Eregion made them for themselves.
I had never given this aspect of the Rings much thought before.

What does this say about the inherent malign nature of the rings that when in the hands of Men and Dwarves they had such pronounced negative impacts, especially in the case of men?

Could the prolonging of life granted by the Nine in particular have something to do with the Elvish desire, and power put into the rings, to slow the effects of time?

Or were the negative aspects of the rings all rooted in the existence of the One Ring?
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Old 06-10-2016, 10:09 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Gothmog, LoB View Post
Not to mention that the talk about the Elves being secretive about the Rings isn't very convincing, if you think about it. Not if Sauron truly did give three of the Nine to Númenóreans. The fact that Sauron had magical rings and once given them to various people must have been known.
It's possible, but I can also imagine that the possessors of the Nine might have kept them fairly secret in order to not risk attracting the greed of others. I'm also not convinced how well Sauron's identity was known, such that people could realise the following people were actually the same person:
1. The person who had waged a great war against Eregion
2. The person who had set himself up as the 'King of Men' in Middle-earth, with his chief stronghold in Mordor
3. The person who had given Rings to Men and Dwarves (they might not have even known at the time that anyone other than them had Rings; we don't know the circumstances in which Sauron distributed them. Did he just show up one day or did he do it publicly?)
4. The Lieutenant of Morgoth who had suspiciously disappeared at the end of the First Age.

How long might it have taken for people to draw these connections? We as readers operate from the convenient position of reading at the end of the Third Age, when all of these puzzles had been figured out.
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Originally Posted by Alcuin View Post
But there is no reason for the proud Smiths of Eregion to craft rings for the use of Mortal Men or Dwarves, and there was no particular reason for them to stop making Great Rings until they bored of the effort. After all, they were Noldor, and it was Art. Useful Art, but Art. Why did they make so many? I don’t know, but I think you might as well as ask a famous painter why he continues to paint: He enjoys it. That’s what he does.
To the best of my knowledge, the Seven and the Nine were only delineated as such through the distribution of Sauron; the Elves never intended their use by Men or Dwarves at all. Perhaps they believed that sixteen Great Rings was a useful number for their plans of preserving and beautifying Middle-earth. That being said, I imagine they were probably convinced to produce this number of Rings by Sauron, who had probably already calculated how many Rings he would need to most effectively subjugate the world, and he told them some convenient lie for why sixteen was a good number. That being said, he reckoned without the Three, so perhaps before he seized the Great Rings the distribution plan was somewhat different, because presumably he would have needed to give a few of the Seven-and-Nine to Elves.
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Old 06-10-2016, 11:51 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
I had never given this aspect of the Rings much thought before.

What does this say about the inherent malign nature of the rings that when in the hands of Men and Dwarves they had such pronounced negative impacts, especially in the case of men?

Could the prolonging of life granted by the Nine in particular have something to do with the Elvish desire, and power put into the rings, to slow the effects of time?

Or were the negative aspects of the rings all rooted in the existence of the One Ring?
I think it was perhaps a mitigating of the fading effecting Elves that Felagund said was already apparent in the First Age that had such an effect on mortals. The Rings were meant to stay time, perhaps not only externally, I.e. Rivendell.

Rings = (1) Stay the fading where the spirit eats up the body, & (2) the effects of time in Middle-earth itself.
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Old 06-10-2016, 05:14 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Belegorn View Post
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
I had never given this aspect of the Rings much thought before.
I think it was perhaps a mitigating of the fading effecting Elves that Felagund said was already apparent in the First Age that had such an effect on mortals. The Rings were meant to stay time, perhaps not only externally, I.e. Rivendell.

Rings = (1) Stay the fading where the spirit eats up the body, & (2) the effects of time in Middle-earth itself.
That is exactly my position. It isn’t obvious from the readers’ point of view, is it? Only upon reflection does it become clear. As for staying time, I don’t that happens. When Sam wonders about the new moon as they leave Lórien, Legolas says, “time does not tarry ever, but change and growth is not in all things and places alike.” To which Aragorn adds that in Lórien, “time flowed swiftly by us, as for the Elves.” Tolkien called the Elves “embalmers”, a result of their desire to keep things as they are. The Rings, he says, were an attempt to achieve this, and by offering them the means to do it, Sauron ensnared them.

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Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
What does this say about the inherent malign nature of the rings that when in the hands of Men and Dwarves they had such pronounced negative impacts, especially in the case of men?
For Elves, I think most of what we regard as “negative effects” were very much like handling a machine – and I use that word in all its meaning – that was both very useful and very dangerous. I wouldn’t want to take on a remodeling or building project without a power saw. If a child had that power saw, I’d make haste to get it from him as fast as possible! Men just were not able to handle the effects, not even a Númenórean prince. Remember what Gandalf told Frodo:
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The lesser rings were only 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.
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Could the prolonging of life granted by the Nine in particular have something to do with the Elvish desire, and power put into the rings, to slow the effects of time?
Yes, that’s what I believe. I think it also slowed progress around them: once the Rings were rendered powerless, the Elves left for good, and Men began a long process of “’progress’, as it is called”, as Tolkien put it.
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Or were the negative aspects of the rings all rooted in the existence of the One Ring?
For the Three, the negative aspects were rooted in the existence of the One. For the Seven and Nine, I don’t know: Sauron had somehow “tainted” them.

One of the prime features of the One Ring was that it allowed Sauron to “eavesdrop” on the minds of the wearers of the other Great Rings. (I don’t think that was true for the lesser rings, but we never see any of those.) Men were completely overwhelmed by Sauron’s will, so that the Nazgûl could no longer resist it. Returning to Gandalf’s conversation with Frodo,
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A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness. And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the dark power that rules the Rings. Yes, sooner or later – later, if he is strong or well-meaning to begin with, but neither strength nor good purpose will last – sooner or later the dark power will devour him.
So even a good person will be overthrown. I don’t know if that’s inherent without Sauron’s invading the wearer’s mind, but Tolkien says the Nine were somehow “tainted” by him. I also think Gandalf had a specific person in mind: the Lord of the Nazgûl. In all probability he was a senior member of the House of Elros, probably a member of the Royal Council of Númenor, and quite possibly – likely, in my view – vice-regent in Umbar sometime after 1800 S.A. His counsels and influence can be clearly seen in the response of Tar-Atanamir to the embassy send by the Valar to his court. He and the other two Númenóreans were “the Shadow [that] fell on Númenor.”

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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
…the Seven and the Nine were only delineated as such through the distribution of Sauron; the Elves never intended their use by Men or Dwarves at all. Perhaps they believed that sixteen Great Rings was a useful number for their plans of preserving and beautifying Middle-earth.
Exactly.
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
…they were probably convinced to produce this number of Rings by Sauron, who had probably already calculated how many Rings he would need to most effectively subjugate the world, and he told them some convenient lie for why sixteen was a good number. That being said, he reckoned without the Three, so perhaps before he seized the Great Rings the distribution plan was somewhat different, because presumably he would have needed to give a few of the Seven-and-Nine to Elves.
I am unsure of this. I suspect Sauron only began giving them out to Dwarves and Men after Durin III received his from Celebrimbor. I believe the Rings of Power were an attempt by Sauron to rule the Eldar in Middle-earth by controlling their leaders. In the middle of the Second Age, there were still a lot of Eldar in Middle-earth. Gil-galad, Círdan, Elrond, Galadriel, Celeborn, and Celebrimbor were only a few of their leaders, though they were probably the greatest. All sixteen of the Great Rings Sauron tainted seem to have had some power of rulership, authority, wealth – all things that would have been useful to Sauron in subjugating the Elves. You may be absolutely correct, Zigûr, but I think corrupting Men was an afterthought, a fall-back position for Sauron when his original intention was thwarted by Tar-Minastir and the Númenóreans. The Rings only inflamed greed and pride in the Dwarves, helpful to Sauron’s machinations, but not sufficient for him to control them.

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Originally Posted by Gothmog, LoB View Post
[T]he talk about the Elves being secretive about the Rings isn't very convincing, if you think about it. Not if Sauron truly did give three of the Nine to Númenóreans. The fact that Sauron had magical rings and once given them to various people must have been known. And Sauron wearing some ring in Númenor could easily have triggered the greed of the One.
Tolkien tells us Ar-Pharazôn knew nothing of the One Ring. Perhaps Pharazôn simply did not recognize it for what it was; maybe he didn’t even see it: Sam never saw Galadriel’s Ring, and Frodo could see it only after his vision of Sauron in the Mirror. Though Zigûr has already cited the passage, I think it bears repeating,
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
In Letter 211, however, Professor Tolkien does state that "I do not think Ar-Pharazôn knew anything about the One Ring. The Elves kept the matter of the Rings very secret, as long as they could. In any case Ar-Pharazôn was not in communication with them."
That means that when the Númenórean expeditionary force arrive in 1700 S.A., Tar-Minastir’s fleet and soldiers did not know why Sauron was attacking Gil-galad: they only knew he was, and in honor of their ancient alliance with the Eldar of Beleriand, they fought beside their ancient friends and allies.

If you think about it, it makes perfectly good sense. How else could Sauron ensnare three Númenórean noblemen (for they were surely commanders in Middle-earth) with Great Rings? Had they known about the Rings, they’d have all suspected a trap when some rich, handsome, brilliant fellow in Middle-earth came bearing gifts, a mysterious salesmen with magic trinkets.

As for the One Ring’s arousing passion to seize it in Númenor, I suspect you have not thought through the position. The One Ring belonged to Sauron: it was his, and his alone. Its power of arousing jealously was part of its “programming”. Nor Sam, nor Merry, nor Pippin ever felt any urge to take the Ring from Frodo. Boromir did: but Boromir was useful to the Ring! He would have exposed its whereabouts to Sauron, who’d eventually have found him and relieved him of it – to Sauron’s advantage!; and moreover, Boromir was a much greater person than Frodo. Faramir was tempted, but resisted the temptation in humility and obedience to his position as Heir of the Steward rather than as a King. (If you remember, Frodo and Sam told Faramir that the Heir of Isildur was coming to Minas Tirith.) Aragorn, if he was tempted at all, resisted it, too.

But to some people, Frodo actually offered the Ring! He urged it upon Gandalf; he gave it to Bombadil without hesitation; he jumped up in alarm when Elrond revealed that Aragorn was Isildur’s Heir, and though he didn’t offer it outright, expected Aragorn to take it; and he offered it to Galadriel. All of these people were far greater persons in power and ability than Frodo. The Ring itself was looking for a powerful keeper. In the case of Sméagol’s murder of Déagol, perhaps Sméagol was the “greater” of the two; but in any case, he seems the more wicked: he did not hesitate to kill his friend.

A strong case can be made that the Dúnedain only found out about the Rings of Power when Sauron attacked the new Kingdom of Gondor at the end of the Second Age, and Elendil forged the Last Alliance with Gil-galad. Only then, I think, did the Númenóreans learn the truth, and even then, not all of it. If Ar-Pharazôn knew nothing of the One Ring, Tar-Minastir did not, either. Elendil had to ask, How it is possible that Sauron was not destroyed in the Ruin of Númenor, Maia though he was? Gil-galad, Elrond, and Círdan told Elendil and Isildur (and eventually Anárion) only in desperation so that their allies could finally understand what they were up against.

This brings us to the famous Ring-rhyme.
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Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
The Ring-rhyme is surely a rhyme of lore out of Arnor! That it was well-known among the Elves is how Gandalf described it to Frodo; but I don’t think the Elves needed a rhyme of lore to remember the details. Nor were these particular rhymes of lore widespread among the Dúnedain of Arnor. They were likely rhymes taught to the royal household and nobles so that “state secrets” were reliably transmitted from generation to generation. The palantíri, the subject of another rhyme of lore, were secret even before Elendil left Númenor: otherwise, Ar-Pharazôn would have seized them. As for the Ring-rhyme, it might have been well-known among the rulers of the Eldar, but it’s not likely IMO the Elves sitting in the trees in Rivendell teasing Bilbo and Dwarves knew it.

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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
I'm also not convinced how well Sauron's identity was known, such that people could realise the following people were actually the same person:
1. The person who had waged a great war against Eregion
2. The person who had set himself up as the 'King of Men' in Middle-earth, with his chief stronghold in Mordor
3. The person who had given Rings to Men and Dwarves (they might not have even known at the time that anyone other than them had Rings; we don't know the circumstances in which Sauron distributed them. Did he just show up one day or did he do it publicly?)
4. The Lieutenant of Morgoth who had suspiciously disappeared at the end of the First Age.
As soon as Sauron spoke the spell (the two lines embedded in the Ring-rhyme) and put on the One Ring, Celebrimbor and the other smiths “heard” the spell. I think at that point they knew who he was. Sauron never hid who he was in Mordor, and the Elves knew he was Morgoth’s lieutenant. The Elves and Númenóreans knew exactly who Sauron was after he completed the One Ring about 1600 S.A.

But think you are absolutely correct about the person who had given Rings to Men and Dwarves. For the Dwarves, Sauron probably cozened them first, in disguise (as he done as Annatar) offering them Rings that likely improved skills in their arts, the same skills the Noldor valued: smithying, stonework, and other crafts. Perhaps the fact that there were Seven Rings and Seven Houses of Dwarves, coupled with Celebrimbor’s giving the first of them to Durin, suggested this to Sauron. There do not seem to have been nine houses of Men, but he used the Nine to ensnare them. Some Men worshipped Sauron: they would take Rings from him in his own persona. The three Númenóreans must have met him wearing some other guise.
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Old 06-11-2016, 02:17 PM   #31
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@Zigûr & Alcuin:

I've just rechecked the context of letter #211, and it actually did lead to a revision of LotR on the whole O/A discrepancy that is discussed earlier.

Earlier Akallabêth versions do not include the lines about Sauron taking up the Great Ring, so it would make sense to assume Tolkien's thoughts on the whole questions raised there might also have affected his later rewriting of The Akallabêth.

After all, that letter was written in 1958.

Anyway, in universe Ar-Pharazôn might not have known about the One Ring but once Tolkien had decided that three Nazgûl were going to be powerful Númenóreans it would be very difficult to imagine the Kings of Númenor never getting information about the Rings of Power - or rather that Sauron was giving away such Rings.

I don't think Gil-galad and the Elves told Minastir and his people what exactly was going on but they must have known that some old servant of Morgoth's had returned, and so on.
And once the Númenóreans had established their permanent colonies further down south they would also have clashed with Sauron occasionally.

We don't know where the dwarves and men lived who received the Seven and Nine, so the tale about Sauron giving them away could easily have reached the ears of the Númenóreans. And the effects the Rings had on the three Númenóreans who became Nazgûl must have not escaped the others. Perhaps they didn't know what was going on, perhaps they never found out, but they would eventually have learned that Ring-wraiths existed in Middle-earth, and that should have enabled them to connect the dots.

Even if not, the question is whether Sauron would have known and risked losing the Ring to Ar-Pharazôn? I mean, the man could have searched him, could even have forced him to undress and hand him all valuables. Sauron's plan was based on winning the trust of the Númenóreans and he most certainly had to spring to quite a few hoops before he won the trust of the King.

And I simply find the idea that he would have taken the Ring with him under such circumstances very unlikely indeed. Especially in light of the quotes from the actual texts.
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:59 AM   #32
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Earlier Akallabêth versions do not include the lines about Sauron taking up the Great Ring, so it would make sense to assume Tolkien's thoughts on the whole questions raised there might also have affected his later rewriting of The Akallabêth.

After all, that letter was written in 1958.
Except that, as near as I can make out from the rather scattergun chapter on Akallabeth in HME XII, that line goes back to the first version of the work (under that title); at least there's no mention in the notes of the line being a later emendation, and versions A and B were in existence prior to 1958 (indeed prior to the publication of LR).

The late rewriting of Ak was chiefly concerned with the Gimilkhad/Pharazon/Miriel affair, an interesting parallel to the creation in the same time frame of the Finwe/Miriel/Indis business (note the repeated name).
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:07 PM   #33
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For the Three, the negative aspects were rooted in the existence of the One. For the Seven and Nine, I don’t know: Sauron had somehow “tainted” them.
If the existence of the One was enough to render the Rings harmful to the Elves, that would probably be enough to render the other Rings corrupt given the lesser spiritual strength of humans and dwarves.
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:21 PM   #34
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"... there he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dur..."

Some have argued that this need not mean Sauron had left the One behind in Middle-earth, citing one definition according to the Oxford English Dictionary...

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c. With special obj., implying a purpose of using in some way: as, to take up one's pen, to proceed or begin to write; to take up a book (i.e. with the purpose to read); to take up the (or one's) cross (see CROSS n. 4, 10): to take up ARMS, [etc.]
Perhaps if the emphasis is on "in Barad-dur" then the message might be that Sauron intends to rebuild a body and again mess with Eraidor and Rhovanion and so on, using his great ring, now that Numenor is no more.

Though Sauron had the One in Numenor as well... according to a letter anyway.

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Old 06-15-2016, 04:33 PM   #35
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Perhaps if the emphasis is on "in Barad-dur" then the message might be that Sauron intends to rebuild a body and again mess with Eraidor and Rhovanion and so on, using his great ring, now that Numenor is no more.

Though Sauron had the One in Numenor as well... according to a letter anyway.
Or, maybe even "ring" as in "fortress", a usage not unknown in the books. Not necessarily probable mind, but just another thought.
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:40 PM   #36
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No doubt the Númenóreans knew who and what kind of creature Sauron was; but it still must have come as quite a shock to them when he reformed a physical body (thanks in part to the Ring) following the ruin of Númenor. They probably thought he was “dead”, banished from the world.

Thinking on this, it’s easy to understand why Gil-galad and the Elves told Elendil and the Dúnedain for the first time about the Rings of Power. The Númenóreans had already encountered the Nazgûl in their wars against Sauron. (Cf. Appendix B for S.A. 2251: “… About this time the Nazgûl … first appear.”) Unaware of the Rings, they did not recognize these creatures for what they were, though they must have understood they were Men ruined in some way by Sauron. But in S.A. 3429, 129 years after the downfall of Númenor, when Sauron attacked, Elendil and his sons must have put some direct questions to Gil-galad and the Eldar: How could Sauron re-embody? the Dúnedain must have wondered. For the first time they received direct answers.

Perhaps an incident from the tale of Beren and Lúthien, when Lúthien threatened to have Huan the Hound strip Sauron of his form unless he yielded her Tol Sirion, explains some of his motivation for making the Ring. As long as the Ring existed, Sauron could not be permanently disembodied, nor his power scattered; but of course, once the Ring was destroyed, both of these impediments became permanent.

As an aside, I don’t think Ar-Pharazôn ever had any chance of taking the One Ring from Sauron. I don’t think could Ar-Pharazôn even see it – remember that neither Sam nor Frodo could see Galadriel’s ring until Frodo saw Sauron in the Mirror. Sauron’s servants were terrified of the Númenóreans and, despite their servile fear of Sauron, deserted him. Ar-Pharazôn took him hostage back to Númenor: this delighted Sauron: otherwise, he’d never have been able to get there. He had a rather overwhelming personality, and soon cozened Ar-Pharazôn.
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:59 PM   #37
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I don’t think could Ar-Pharazôn even see it – remember that neither Sam nor Frodo could see Galadriel’s ring until Frodo saw Sauron in the Mirror. Sauron’s servants were terrified of the Númenóreans and, despite their servile fear of Sauron, deserted him. Ar-Pharazôn took him hostage back to Númenor: this delighted Sauron: otherwise, he’d never have been able to get there. He had a rather overwhelming personality, and soon cozened Ar-Pharazôn.
I thought of this too, but Isildur had to have been able to see the Ring to have a reason to cut off Sauron's finger to seize it. That being said, if it was invisible, we might assume that it became visible again as his body died.
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"... there he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dur..."

Some have argued that this need not mean Sauron had left the One behind in Middle-earth
An interesting way of looking at it, especially considering Professor Tolkien's typical specificity of language; it is possible that if he meant "took up" to mean "put on", he would have said "put on".
There's also the simple fact that between bodies he could not "take up" the Ring in any sense, to wear it or wield it.
It's possible that late in his time in Númenor Sauron had had little current use for the Ring (almost as Gandalf tells us Gollum did after long centuries in his cave) and had not actively been "using" it.

It's difficult, in my opinion; perhaps he did not bring it with him to Númenor, but it seems to me that he would have been sore pressed to guarantee its safety if he left it behind, unless perhaps the Nazgûl took it with them when they (presumably) went into hiding after they (deliberately) abandoned Sauron at the coming of the Númenóreans. One assumes he could not have simply left it behind in Barad-dûr; we have no information that Ar-Pharazôn's men went to Mordor, let alone searched Sauron's tower, but if so much of Middle-earth fell under the sway of Númenor at that time it's hard to imagine they would have left their defeated enemy's "capital" alone.
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Old 06-16-2016, 05:59 AM   #38
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(...) I don’t think could Ar-Pharazôn even see it – remember that neither Sam nor Frodo could see Galadriel’s ring until Frodo saw Sauron in the Mirror.
I interpret this scene differently: Galadriel makes a gesture here with her hands (which arguably draws attention to them), and Earendil's light glanced upon her ring. Frodo did not suddenly see Nenya, but he gazed at the ring with awe "... for suddenly it seemed to him that he understood."

He understood. Later Sam says that he too saw something, the light, but he interpreted it to be a star through Galadriel's fingers. Sam did not understand, even though Galadriel had already said, aloud, that one of the Three is in Lorien, upon her finger. It might be that he literally didn't see Nenya, but if we take in Sam's experience with the mirror, he was arguably shaken and distracted: "Sam sat on the ground and put his head in his hands. "I wish I had never come here, and I don't want to see no more magic," he said and fell silent."

Sam actually says he doesn't want to "see no more magic", and after the Lady asks him about her Ring he appears to still be thinking about the gaffer and the Shire. Galadriel had said to Frodo: "And did you not see and recognize the ring upon my finger? Did you see my ring?" she asked turning to Sam." Frodo didn't just see a ring, he understood it was one of the Three. As Galadriel says, his sight had grown keener. Again I think Sam saw the same light but did not recognize or understand, his worry about the Shire and his gaffer still holding much of his attention.

Of course that's just my interpretation, but I also "see" no great reason for the Three to be invisible. So far
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Old 06-16-2016, 06:05 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
Frodo did not suddenly see Nenya, but he gazed at the ring with awe "... for suddenly it seemed to him that he understood."
For clarity, Frodo may have suddenly seen a ring upon Galadriel's finger at this point too, but in the sense of noticing it, due to her gesture and so on. In other words, Nenya wasn't necessarily invisible, but after he saw it he suddenly understood.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:40 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin View Post
For clarity, Frodo may have suddenly seen a ring upon Galadriel's finger at this point too, but in the sense of noticing it, due to her gesture and so on. In other words, Nenya wasn't necessarily invisible, but after he saw it he suddenly understood.
I don't recall Gandalf or Elrond ever being described with a noticeable ring. Elrond, I grant, was never described in great physical detail, however, Gandalf was. If the ring was visible either Gandalf didn't wear it on his finger or it was somehow shrouded...or Tolkien deliberately chose not to describe it.
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