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Old 05-24-2003, 06:16 PM   #28
The Saucepan Man
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Tolkien

Sophia's musings, which make complete sense to me, make me wonder whether there is a distinction to be made here between having the power to destroy Sauron utterly and merely being able to destroy him physically.

Once Aragorn revealed himself to Sauron, Sauron's great fear would have been that Aragorn, wielding the Ring, would lead a force against him, defeat his forces and destroy his physical manifestation, in the same way that Gil-Galad, Elendil, Isildur and co had done. In this scenario, he would hope that Aragorn would then be unable to destroy the Ring, just as Isildur had been unable to do, leaving the way open for him to corrupt Aragorn or his successors through their possession of the Ring since they would not have been able to master it. That would have represented a set-back for Sauron, but by no means a complete defeat.

The quote from the Letters that Legolas has given talks of Gandalf being the only one who might have been expected to "master" Sauron by using the Ring against him, ie destroy him utterly and supplant him as a new Dark (or should I say irritatingly Good [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]) Lord.

This is not inconsistent with Sauron's fear of Aragorn using the Ring against him. First, as I said above, a physical defeat would have represented a set-back to him, although not a complete defeat. He would have been forced to wait longer for domination of ME. But an even greater fear for him would have been that a victorious Aragorn, under the influence of Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel, might actually have been able to achieve what Isildur could not and destroy the Ring, thus guaranteeing permament victory over him.

So, yes, Gandalf was the only one who could have "mastered" Sauron using the Ring against him. But there were other scenarios, involving others using the Ring against him, which might have resulted in at least temporary, and quite possibly permament, defeat.

And one final thought. I do think that Saruman gets rather short shrift on this thread. He was, after all, a Maia, albeit a fallen one. I would expect him to have had more chance of using the Ring against Sauron than anyone else in the Third Age, with the exception of Gandalf. He certainly thought that he could. I do not think that he ever had any intention, ultimately, of sharing power with Sauron. And, while it seems that he would in fact have been unable to "master" Sauron using the Ring, he might have been able to inflict a physical defeat on him had things gone differently.

Ultimately, of course, assuming that he wouldn't have been able to master the Ring, he would have become Sauron's pawn in any event, since it would have subjugated him to Sauron's will. But Sauron would not necessarily have known this. So, I think that he would have been quite fearful of Saruman gaining the Ring and trying to use it against him.

[ May 24, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]
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