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Old 01-28-2022, 08:02 PM   #1
Boromir88
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Isildur

Quoting Huinesoron from the Amazon series movie thread, because it sparked some of my thoughts about Isildur (in the books)L

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huey
Isildur is weak.
This direct statement stirred me to think about Isildur's character, because I wouldn't have described him as a weak character before. I would describe when he claims the Ring after Sauron is defeated (by Gil-galad and Elendil), that is a moment of weakness, similar to how Boromir has a moment of weakness, but it never necessarily stood out to think Isildur is weak.

As Gandalf says about Boromir's test:

Quote:
"It was a sore trial for such a man: a warrior, and a lord of men." (The White Rider)
Boromir has a moment of weakness, as does Isildur. And Tolkien did make it a point that in the "trial" Faramir was the stronger brother, for refusing the lure of the Ring. However, I wouldn't take their moments of weakness as far as Peter Jackson does in the movies, when grumpy Elrond proclaims "Men are weak." There aren't many Faramirs or Aragorns.

Perhaps what points most in favor of Huey's statement is that Gil-galad and Elendil defeated Sauron (according to the Silmarillion):

Quote:
But at the last the siege was so strait that Sauron himself came forth; and he wrestled with Gil-galad and Elendil and they both were slain, and the sword of Elendil broke under him as he fell. But Sauron was also thrown down, and with the hilt-shard of Narsil Isildur cut the ruling ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own. ~Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Certainly in the Silmarillion it seems like it was Gil-galad and Elendil who wrestled and defeated Sauron, but Isildur proclaims to Elrond and Cirdan:

Quote:
"Was it not I who dealt the Enemy his death blow?"~ibid
Elrond says at the council that Isildur stood alone with Elendil in that combat with Sauron, and with Gil-galad stood him and Cirdan. So only three know the truth, and of those three, the mortal is dead.

Anyway, I have a gripe to pick with Huey, because it was always easier just to cast aside Peter Jackson's portrayal of Isildur more out of convenience, as a "weakness" that Aragorn had to overcome. As Aragorn says in the films, the same blood flows through him; "the same weakness." But now he's got me thinking that perhaps it wasn't a complete fabrication by Jackson to fit his narrative, that perhaps Isildur was weak.
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Old 01-29-2022, 04:47 AM   #2
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I haven't been back to the series thread, but I would just question whether anyone could have been capable of destroying the One at the moment when it could actually have been done.

The Ring had just left Sauron's hand; its power was at its zenith for that reason, and also because it was actually in Mordor.
Humble Frodo the Hobbit couldn't do it when he had the chance.

And it we're laying blame on Isildur for not destroying the One, why not look at the keepers of the Three? They knew the peril of keeping (not to mention using) their rings, yet took no steps to do away when Vilya, Nenya, and Narya.
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Old 01-29-2022, 06:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
The Ring had just left Sauron's hand; its power was at its zenith for that reason, and also because it was actually in Mordor.
Humble Frodo the Hobbit couldn't do it when he had the chance.

And it we're laying blame on Isildur for not destroying the One, why not look at the keepers of the Three? They knew the peril of keeping (not to mention using) their rings, yet took no steps to do away when Vilya, Nenya, and Narya.
That's always been my impressions of Isildur, as well, that is he is meant to play the part of a heroic figure, and making his "Fall" in claiming the Ring that much more meaningful.

What I mean is, you take a look at the snippet of him sneaking into Armenelos and saving the fruit of Nimloth, it shows to me Isildur is actually a strong (in terms of his will) character. He's listening to his grandfather tell the story of the White Tree to his father and brothers. Isildur decided on his own to sneak in and save it, he's not told to do this task by anyone else. Its his own will that makes this decision, and his success is said to win him "renown."

Fast forward to him claiming the Ring. I don't think proves Isildur was a weak character, quite the opposite. His "Fall" in succumbing to Sauron's weapon, actually has more impact on the story in Lord of the Rings. He is renowned for a heroic deed in Numenor, and even Isildur was corrupted by the power of Sauron. It only proves why Boromir's and Denethor's positions to want to use the Ring are complete folly. Isildur's bane isn't an orc arrow, it is the Ring, that even brought down the renowned hero who saved the White Tree!
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Old 01-29-2022, 10:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I would just question whether anyone could have been capable of destroying the One at the moment when it could actually have been done.
Elrond and Cirdan should have pushed him in. They would then not be dealing with the lure of the Ring themselves, they would have been killing Isildur in a manner that conveniently would have taken care of three thousand years worth of problems.
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Old 01-29-2022, 03:23 PM   #5
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Isildur is weak, and that's what makes him interesting.

(Oh yes, I'm doubling down.)

How you see Isildur depends on how much of his story you accept. If you just take what's in LotR, then he's a pretty straight archetype: he's a noble warrior-king who is immediately corrupted by the One Ring. For LotR, that's all he needs to be - an explanation for why the Ring still exists, and a warning/foreshadowing of Frodo's similar failure at the last.

But then you go back to the Silmarillion, and you learn about his rescue of the fruit of the White Tree, and his grievous injury. You see that he was a very strong character, a brave leader of men and commander of ships. You come to see his failure as a tragedy, a strong hero broken by what must be nigh-unbeatable power.

But there's more to him than that. If you go back to the incomplete Lost Road, you find Elendil's conversations with his son, who at this point goes by the name of Herendil. And Herendil... supports the king. He's proud of Numenor's might. He warns his father about the dangers of being an Elf-friend. He voices a pro-Sauron viewpoint!

If you accept that Herendil is a proto-Isildur (which I think is inarguable), and that Tolkien would have retained these aspects of him (which I do), then... he's weak. He's drawn astray by the lure of power and might.

But he becomes strong. Sneaking into the palace and retrieving the fruit is an act of strength, because it's not about power. It's about saving something that is beautiful and sacred, but in practical terms useless. It's not just Isildur being heroic - it's the former Herendil getting over his focus on physical power and accepting that the 'useless' can actually be more important.

And that casts his failure at Orodruin in a whole new light. He's not just a hero who fell - he's a man who did overcome his baser instincts... but was consumed by them again at the last. It means that the temptation offered by the Ring was precisely the thing he'd thought he had rejected, but found that in its purest form he couldn't.

And (lest you think I'm over-interpreting) this isn't just Isildur's failing - it is the failing of Numenorean men across their whole history.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erendis, Queen of Numenor
Anger they show only when they become aware, suddenly, that there are other wills in the world beside their own. Then they will be as ruthless as the seawind if anything dare to withstand them.
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Old 01-29-2022, 04:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Isildur is weak, and that's what makes him interesting.

(Oh yes, I'm doubling down.)
And that's alright, because perhaps the best thing (imo) about these stories is you can come to different conclusions about Isildur, or Frodo, or Denethor, and many other characters yet both conclusions would be true.

Quote:
But then you go back to the Silmarillion, and you learn about his rescue of the fruit of the White Tree, and his grievous injury. You see that he was a very strong character, a brave leader of men and commander of ships. You come to see his failure as a tragedy, a strong hero broken by what must be nigh-unbeatable power.
I rather think there is a comparison to be made between Boromir's story and Isildur's. There are some similarities, and some differences.

I would argue that The Council of Elrond Boromir is a very weak character. He is propped up as a renowned general and hero of Gondor during his time. Named after another warrior, the Ruling Steward Boromir. He is believed to be the stronger brother, but in "the test" Tolkien says that Farmir proved to be the stronger brother:

Quote:
It did not seem possible to Faramir that anyone in Gondor could rival Boromir, heir of Denethor, Captain of the White Tower, and of like mind was Boromir. Yet it proved otherwise at the test.~Appendix A: Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion
The Council of Elrond up to the Breaking of the Fellowship Boromir seems, frankly put, undeserving and a weak character. Sure he provides some much needed muscle to get the Fellowship through Caradhras, but he never sets eyes on the Ring, yet is still corrupted by it. Isildur took the Ring from Sauron's hand, and was a Ring-bearer.

Yet, in the end Boromir becomes a stronger character. Boromir's story ends "heroically." He admits to Aragorn he attempted to take the ring, takes personal responsibility ("I am sorry. I have paid."), and dies obeying a command from his "King;" to find the hobbits and protect them.

Quote:
"Poor Boromir! I could not see what happened to him. It was a sore trial for such a man: a warrior, and lord of men. Galadriel told me he was in peril. But he escaped in the end. I am glad. It was not in vain that the young hobbits came with us, if only for Boromir's sake."~The White Rider
I'm not convinced that I should factor in The Lost Road's "Herendil." I agree that this is certainly a proto-Isildur, but Tolkien tinkered with his characters and their stories frequently. The Treason of Isengard, Boromir is a traitor and rival to Aragorn in war. This Boromir peaks his head through in Faramir's comment that he's not surprised Boromir would treat Aragorn with honor, "yet they had not become rivals in war." The Lord of the Rings Boromir does not become Aragorn's rival. Having said that, I wouldn't go as far to say it's wrong for you to factor in the character Herendil as a proto-Isildur.

Back to Boromir for a moment...he accepts personal responsibility for his weakness, seeing the fate Faramir sees (if Faramir were to claim the Ring, but Faramir rejects that power). Boromir sees it too, not in time to save his life, but in time to save his honor and "escape in the end."

Isildur never sees this fate, and that is perhaps where I agree he is weak. He begins a strong and renowned hero for his deed in Numenor, but by succumbing to the Ring he dies in a dishonorable way, cowardly attempting to flee an ambush. Unfortunately for his sake, there are no young hobbits around to defend, and his "renowned deed" happened long ago.
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Old 01-30-2022, 10:46 AM   #7
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Double-posting for another thought has jumped into my mind, that in my opinion points to a character flaw (or weakness, if you prefer) within Isildur.

It's not that he refuses the council to destroy the Ring that makes him weak. I agree with Inzil that it seems hypocritical for someone like Elrond to tell Isildur to destroy the Ring, when he (and the other Elven ring-bearers) are unwilling to destroy theirs. One could argue though it's slightly different, because Sauron never corrupted the Elven rings and their bearers didn't use them to dominate/bulldoze the will of others. Still I've always believed the Elven Rings should not have been forged because where Galadriel was not fooled by Sauron, Celebrimbor was. Also I doubt it could have been known of Sauron's return, the counsel to Isildur seems to be based on the ground "everything that was made by Sauron should be unmade."

The weakness though, is he claims it as weregild (according to Elrond's account at his council):

Quote:
"This I will have as weregild for my father, and my brother," he said; and therefor whether we would or no, he took it to treasure it. But soon he was betrayed by it to his death; and so it is named in the North Isildur's Bane. Yet death maybe was better than what else might have befallen him."~The Council of Elrond
Claiming it as weregild, and taking it "to treasure it" is where Isildur errs and exposes his weakness. Weregild was in ancient law a method of compensation paid to an injured party (in the case of the death of a family member). Now Isildur takes the most valuable item as Sauron posesses, as payment for the death of his father and brother, which you could argue was a valid, and legal claim. However, to me it's a sign of Isildur's weakness, he's basically accepting payment (and payment in gold!) for his father and brother being killed in battle. In my opinion, by making the claim of weregild he placed a value on his father's and brother's life, when he took the payment and "treasured it," it's like he's accepting the injuries Sauron caused his family are paid back.
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Old 01-30-2022, 01:44 PM   #8
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Isildur exemplifies a recurring theme in Tolkien's mythos. He is a hero that fails the last test. Other examples are Frodo himself, Boromir, Denethor (whose entire line's sole duty was to preserve the kingdom for the return of the king), arguably Thorin and others. Of these listed, only Frodo survived his failure and suffered for it.

There are counter-examples as well; those who do not fail the last test. Galadriel, Faramir, Aragorn, arguably Sam, Elendil and others.

These two types of heroes are in stark contrast to one another. I do not know that "weak" is the right term for Isildur. As someone commented above, criticizing Isildur for failing to destroy the Ring is blaming him for being unable to do what may have been impossible. Frodo and Isildur couldn't do it and Gandalf was afraid to even try.
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Old 02-03-2022, 11:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
Isildur exemplifies a recurring theme in Tolkien's mythos. He is a hero that fails the last test.
Lending more weight to Aragorn's last words to Arwen.

Quote:
So it seems, But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring.
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Old 02-13-2022, 07:19 PM   #10
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I could look it up in Letters, if my copy was to hand, but Tolkien wrote (IIRC to Eileen Elgar) that NO one could destroy the ring at the Sammath Naur. It was beyond the strength of will of any, even a Gandalf. Frodo (and by extension Isildur) cannot be faulted for not doing the impossible.
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Old 02-14-2022, 03:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
I could look it up in Letters, if my copy was to hand, but Tolkien wrote (IIRC to Eileen Elgar) that NO one could destroy the ring at the Sammath Naur. It was beyond the strength of will of any, even a Gandalf. Frodo (and by extension Isildur) cannot be faulted for not doing the impossible.
It's in 246, which was the source of my earlier comment (though I also didn't have the book nearby).

Quote:
I do not think that Frodo's was a moral failure. At the last moment the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum--impossible, I should have said, for any one to resist, certainly after long possession, months of increasing torment, and when starved and exhausted.
Although Isildur's experience with the Ring was unquestionably brief when he had it in hand in Mordor, not a long struggle as with Frodo, we must recall that the temptation of the One increased with the innate power and pride of the wearer.
Gandalf recognized that when addressing Boromir's attempt to take the Ring from Frodo by force.

Despite Elrond's words in the Council about Isildur's "refusal" to destroy the Ring when he could, he says nothing about why he or Círdan didn't simply take it from Isildur. They were afraid to touch it themselves.
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Old 02-14-2022, 05:55 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
I could look it up in Letters, if my copy was to hand, but Tolkien wrote (IIRC to Eileen Elgar) that NO one could destroy the ring at the Sammath Naur. It was beyond the strength of will of any, even a Gandalf. Frodo (and by extension Isildur) cannot be faulted for not doing the impossible.
This isn't Isildur's weakness, though. His weakness comes before and after his failure to destroy the Ring.

Before:

Quote:
Originally Posted by FotR: The Council of Elrond
...and Isildur cut the Ring from his hand with the hilt-shard of his father's sword, and took it for his own.'

[...]

Isildur took it, as should not have been.
Why did he take it? Why did he pick it up? Elrond is convinced Isildur intended to claim the Ring even before he cut it from Sauron's (seemingly-dead?) hand; he had no thought of destroying it even before he took it. He looked at this weapon of the Enemy, which had brought nothing but woe and destruction on the world for two thousand years - and went "yes, I want that power for my own". That's the Numenorean weakness in a nutshell, and Isildur fell prey to it.

After:

It's been a long time since I've reread the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, and I'd forgotten exactly how weak Isildur is during it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UT: The Disaster of the Gladden Fields
"And we bear burdens of worth beyond all reckoning," said Elendur; for he was in his father's confidence.

The Orcs were now drawing near. Isildur turned to his esquire: "Ohtar," he said, "I give this now into your keeping;" and he delivered to him the great sheath and the shards of Narsil, Elendil's sword. "Save it from capture by all means that you can find, and at all costs; even at the cost of being held a coward who deserted me.
1) Knowing that he won't escape the trap he's fallen into, Isildur sends one of his "burdens of worth beyond all reckoning" off with his squire, telling him to protect it at all costs. But he doesn't even consider sending the Ring with him as well, though he knows full well what Elendur is actually referring to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UT: The Disaster of the Gladden Fields
"Alas, it is not, senya. I cannot use it. I dread the pain of touching it. And I have not yet found the strength to bend it to my will. It needs one greater than I now know myself to be. My pride has fallen. It should go to the Keepers of the Three."
2) Having kept the Ring, Isildur refuses to even attempt using it - because it would hurt to touch. He doesn't say 'I have not yet found the strength, but I will attempt it in this final plight' - just says 'no, it hurts too much'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UT: The Disaster of the Gladden Fields
"My King," said Elendur, "Ciryon is dead and Aratan is dying. Your last counsellor must advise nay command you, as you commanded Ohtar. Go! Take your burden, and at all costs bring it to the Keepers: even at the cost of abandoning your men and me!"

"King's son," said Isildur, "I knew that I must do so; but I feared the pain. Nor could I go without your leave. Forgive me, and my pride that has brought you to this doom." Elendur kissed him. "Go! Go now!" he said.
3) Having just admitted that he is prideful and unworthy, Isildur abandons his men. His father died facing Sauron hand-to-hand to protect his people; Isildur leaves his people (his eldest son!) to protect him. He could have given the Ring to Elendur, sending his heir away with the great burden and sacrificing himself to do so; instead he sacrificed his son to flee.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UT: The Disaster of the Gladden Fields
Isildur turned west, and drawing up the Ring that hung in a wallet from a fine chain about his neck, he set it upon his finger with a cry of pain, and was never seen again by any eye upon Middle-earth.
4) Having refused to attempt to use the Ring to save his men because it would hurt too much, Isildur is perfectly happy to accept that same pain when it lets him run away. Even once he has it on his finger, and "Men and Orcs gave way in fear", he makes no effort to turn it to the defence of his son and his men; he just flees.

In his final hours, Isildur shows two kinds of weakness. He refuses to even consider passing the Ring to another, even to preserve it from the Enemy or to save his son (who, incidentally, is lauded by the text in stronger terms than almost any of Tolkien's heroes); note that Bilbo passed this same test under no more pressure than Gandalf threatening to unfriend him. But he also shows himself as weak even by his own standards: he took the weapon of the Enemy, but in dire straits refused to use it - not because he feared it would turn to evil, but because he was too scared of the pain and too afraid for his life.

EDIT: Oh, and a third weakness: he lost hope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UT: The Disaster of the Gladden Fields
The tale mentions a young man who survived the slaughter: he was Elendur's esquire, named Estelmo, and was one of the last to fall, but was stunned by a club, and not slain, and was found alive under Elendur's body. He heard the words of Isildur and Elendur at their parting. There were rescuers who came on the scene too late, but in time to disturb the Orcs and prevent their mutilation of the bodies
Does anyone imagine the Orcs wouldn't have gone straight to mutilating the bodies? The rescuers (Woodsmen) must have come very shortly after the battle - and if Isildur had remained with his men, wearing the Elendilmir and wielding his great sword and authority, I think it very likely that they would still have been alive when the Woodsmen arrived to relieve them.

As the name of Elendur's esquire hints, what Isildur lost in his weakness was estel - that faith that the Powers of the world, whether in the West or Beyond, would give the heir of Elendil aid when he most needed it. They did - in the same "by good chance" sense that Tolkien employs repeatedly throughout LotR - but by that time Isildur had already given in, abandoned his duty, and fled "like a stag from the hounds".

(And yes, still: fascinatingly weak.)

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Old 02-14-2022, 09:11 AM   #13
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In his final hours, Isildur shows two kinds of weakness. He refuses to even consider passing the Ring to another, even to preserve it from the Enemy or to save his son
Consider however the observation made at the Ford of Bruinen: as soon as Frodo with the Ring took off, his companions were safe; the pursuers' target was the Ringbearer, no-one else. And although common orcs would hot have had the Nazguls' finely-tuned Ringdar, nonetheless T tells us in DGF that the attack occurred, and was as fierce as it was, because the Ring exerted some sort of pull on them, even though they did not recognize what it was. In other words, the best way for Isildur to have saved his men's lives was to leave them.

As for giving Narsil to his squire: if Isildur was contemplating E&E, he wasn't going to be lugging four feet of broken sword with him.
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Old 02-14-2022, 12:09 PM   #14
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. In other words, the best way for Isildur to have saved his men's lives was to leave them.
That isn't what he did, though. He ran for his life and left them in contact with the enemy, knowing their leader had abandoned them (and, per the specific statement that his son knew about the Ring, mostly they /didn't / know why he left).

Nor did the Orcs follow him - from DGF we know that he completely evaded pursuit, and was eventually just killed by random guards who were spooked by his sudden appearance.

hS
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Old 02-14-2022, 06:14 PM   #15
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]
Despite Elrond's words in the Council about Isildur's "refusal" to destroy the Ring when he could, he says nothing about why he or Círdan didn't simply take it from Isildur. They were afraid to touch it themselves.
I'm not sure I would classify Elrond and Cirdan's refusal to take it as they were themselves afraid to take it. According to Elrond, Isildur basically laid claim of it from the get go and would have it no other way:

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"This I will have as weregild for my father, and my brother," he said; and therefor whether we would or no, he took it to treasure it. But soon he was betrayed by it to his death; and so it is named in the North Isildur's Bane. Yet death maybe was better than what else might have befallen him."~The Council of Elrond
(Bolding my emphasis)

Claiming it as weregild is also something that Tolkien might frown upon. Isildur makes a legal claim (claiming compensation and Sauron's most valuable possession for the death of his father and brother). However, it might not be seen as the moral thing to do, because Isildur is accepting payment for the death of his father and brother. He's essentially placing a value on their lives, and by accepting the payment (in gold mind you) Isildur's saying Sauron's debt is paid.

It's like Denethor using the palantir, Tolkien writes that legally Denethor (by being in a position to rule Gondor until the King returns) could use the stone. And that "legal" authority to use the stone did grant some protection from Sauron, but I imagine Tolkien would still say it wasn't the "right" thing to do.
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Old 02-14-2022, 07:17 PM   #16
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I'm not sure I would classify Elrond and Cirdan's refusal to take it as they were themselves afraid to take it. According to Elrond, Isildur basically laid claim of it from the get go and would have it no other way
Yet, given the stakes, why not take it from him by force? The needs of the one (pun intended) do not outweigh the needs of the many.
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Old 02-14-2022, 09:20 PM   #17
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Yet, given the stakes, why not take it from him by force? The needs of the one (pun intended) do not outweigh the needs of the many.
First of all -

https://pasteboard.co/u7em8VhAKm2m.jpg

Because while I am sure images of Schwarzenegger Gollum have appeared somewhere, I am not sure that Spock Isildur Terminator did.


In an alternate universe:

- Is it dead?
- Terminated.
- Will this melt in there?
- Yes. Throw it in.
- Adios!
- And the chip.

...

- I have come. But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The chip is mine!

And that is how young Mr. Connor came to be the secret Lord of Skynet.



~~~


On a more serious topic now. Regardless of what Elrond and Cirdan's actual motivations were in the moment, whether it was wisdom or fear or ignorance which drove the decision, I think it is a good thing that neither tried to physically force Isildur to give up the Ring - or destroyed the Ring together with Isildur. That scenario would have been the exact picture that Sauron would relish seeing. One possibility goes thus: a selfless intention, for the greater good, logical, bound to work... because you are clearly the more wise and foresighted of this lot... and you can prevent the Doom of Arda or whatnot... at the price of your friend and ally... and any who disagree with your choice... but they are short-sighted emotional idealists, not everyone can be as wise and rational as you... And so ally turns on ally, friend turns on friend, blood gets spilled, someone defends someone else but no one agrees on what is right, the wrong people get killed, a civil war breaks loose, the Ring somehow escapes and rolls over to the Winchester to have a pint and wait for all this to blow over. And how about the other alternative, if the Ring gets pushed into the Cracks with or without Isildur from the first try? Everything goes smoothly and successfully, Elrond and Cirdan manage not to kill each other accidentally in the process, the Ring gets melted. It would be starting a new Age with coercion and force, and the idea that the end justifies the means - sort of resembles Feanor, don't you think? - sets a sour precedent, and creates perfect chance for the wheel of history to repeat itself. And the entirety of Tolkien's universe, its foundation and message, all start falling apart at the idea that such a deed could be considered a good moral start for the new Age. It would be killing the body because you failed to save the soul. It cannot be judged a good thing to do in the ideal sense. Moreover, even in the absence of the Ring, it is perpetuating the Ring's - Sauron's - Morgoth's - corruption, and therefore Sauron might not live on but his deeds would be thriving. And, I think, in a world that is more full of pathetic fallacy and prophecy than it is of cynicism, such a start to an Age would not justify itself for very long.
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Old 02-15-2022, 05:09 AM   #18
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Regardless of what Elrond and Cirdan's actual motivations were in the moment, whether it was wisdom or fear or ignorance which drove the decision, I think it is a good thing that neither tried to physically force Isildur to give up the Ring - or destroyed the Ring together with Isildur
Oh, I don't think that's what Elrond and Círdan should have done. I was just wondering about the possible thought processes going on at that critical moment.

I got a bit off-track there anyway.
What I was trying to get across was that Isilder's claiming the Ring for his own was not a moral weakness. It started to work on him immediately.

I seriously doubt Isildur thought of the One Ring as a "weregild" in any real sense: he simply was justifying his possession of it, just as Gollum long after seized upon the idea of the Ring as his "birthday present".

Gandalf says that Bilbo was the only one who ever gave up the Ring of his own accord, and even that was a very close thing.
The greater one is, the more easily the Ring takes hold. With the knowledge that three hobbits were Ring-bearers, and two-thirds could not summon the will the give it up, I cannot blame the King of Arnor and Gondor for being unable to resist it.
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Old 02-15-2022, 08:26 AM   #19
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Oh, I don't think that's what Elrond and Círdan should
Gandalf says that Bilbo was the only one who ever gave up the Ring of his own accord, and even that was a very close thing.
The greater one is, the more easily the Ring takes hold. With the knowledge that three hobbits were Ring-bearers, and two-thirds could not summon the will the give it up, I cannot blame the King of Arnor and Gondor for being unable to resist it.
2/3? Sam gave it up voluntarily. Gandalf didn't reference it because of course it hadn't yet happened. But Sam rather proves the larger point: his humility is proof against the Ring's temptation.
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Old 02-15-2022, 05:10 PM   #20
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2/3? Sam gave it up voluntarily. Gandalf didn't reference it because of course it hadn't yet happened. But Sam rather proves the larger point: his humility is proof against the Ring's temptation.
I left out Sam, because he was the only one who really knew what the Ring was when he took possession. He was forewarned, and thus more aware of the tricks it might play.
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Old 02-18-2022, 09:26 AM   #21
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Note that while only Bilbo and Sam voluntarily relinquished the Ring, neither was attempting to actually destroy it. This is an important distinction when evaluating Isildur and Frodo's inability to cast it into the fires on Mount Doom.
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Old 02-18-2022, 10:47 AM   #22
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Fair point. Which interacts with the where- the option to destroy was only available at the Sammath Naur, which Tolkien tells us is where the Ring was at the absolute maximum of its power, and where nobody could have resisted it. Sam I suppose gets more props here than Bilbo, because he was actually in Mordor (or on its fringe), and Tolkien spend a great deal of Book IV telling us how the Ring ever waxed as Frodo got closer- but then Sam hadn't had it for sixty years either.
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Old 02-25-2022, 07:13 AM   #23
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Another point is that while Bilbo and Sam "possessed" the Ring, neither "claimed" it, at least while having knowledge of what it was. Sam "borrowed" it but resisted the temptation to claim it. Bilbo considered the Ring to be his own, but without knowledge of what it was or its power, and even so had difficulty relinquishing it. Even Frodo did not "claim" the Ring until he stood at the Cracks of Doom. In contrast, Isildur had, at least, some idea of what it was and by considering it "weregild," actually claimed it. While this is a weakness on the part of Isildur, it may have played into his refusal to destroy it. Having claimed the Ring, it was beyond Isildur's power to destroy it.
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Old 06-20-2022, 10:02 AM   #24
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Sort of a necrobump, but-

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4) Having refused to attempt to use the Ring to save his men because it would hurt too much, Isildur is perfectly happy to accept that same pain when it lets him run away. Even once he has it on his finger, and "Men and Orcs gave way in fear", he makes no effort to turn it to the defence of his son and his men; he just flees.
I'm not sure I read it that way. It seems that there is a difference between invisibility- an automatic function of the Ring when donned by a Man (or Hobbit) - and not even an intentional design feature, because of course Sauron never anticipated anyone but himself ever wearing it. Anyway, put on Ring, disappear is NOT the same thing as actually "using" the Ring to exert Power. That is something neither of our hobbits, or Gollum, ever even tried, not having the strength or innate power to do so; and apparently Isildur, mighty a warrior as he was, could not either: in DGF he says explicitly that this is so when his son asked him to do it. It would have taken one of the Wise, or perhaps an Aragorn, actually to wield the thing.
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