Episode 178 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

On the vulnerability of the Ainur of Valinor to the Ring:
  • It’s possible that throwing the Ring into the sea could put Ossë at risk, as he has transgressed and fallen to temptation over power before, though he was forgiven in that earlier instance.
  • His penchant for violence is unusual for the later version of the Valar, though in earlier versions there were gods associated with violence and war, Meássë and Makar.
  • In the later version, this is closely occupied by Eonwë, and to a lesser extent, Tulkas.
  • Yavanna’s discontent over the vulnerability of her creatures may lead her to be open to the Ring, but while it gives power according to one’s stature, this may be limited to the Maiar and below.
  • The Ring can’t offer the Valar the power to do anything of which they aren’t already capable.
  • It’s possible that Fëanor at the height of his powers was a greater craftsman than Sauron turned out after his fall and at the beginning of the Ring project, given their flaws and his corruption.
  • However, the creation of Silmarils and the Rings are completely different in nature and function.
  • It’s not clear if Ossë was tempted by Melkor with power over the realm of Ulmo, or freedom from any restraints for this wrath, though the former was offered by Melkor, and briefly taken.
Yet oft in lies truth is hidden:
  • It seems that no one considers the impact on the creatures of the Sea if the Ring was cast in.
  • Note: It doesn’t seem necessary to be corporeal to make use of the power of the Ring, as Sauron was able to take it back up after losing his physical form in the downfall of Númenor.
  • By taking the opportunity to keep the Ring away from Sauron forever, they still believe that they could take down Sauron with force, as they did in the Last Alliance, though this in untrue.
  • The entire premise of the Ring project was that Sauron needed the Rings in order to overthrow the Elf lords, as he didn’t feel that he could overcome their power without this leverage.
  • This was a calculated risk for Sauron and required him to make himself vulnerable to do it.
  • Sauron also had great fear of the Numenoreans and was unable to withstand them in battle.
  • There are still members of the Last Alliance, both present at the Council and at large in Middle-earth, and though they’ve lost Elendil and Gil-galad, they have added members of the Wise.
  • Sauron still has great influence throughout the lands, so even his defeat, without destroying the Ring, would not remove the threat from his allies, and from Sauron himself in the future.
  • It’s only been 67 years since Sauron reoccupied Barad-dur, so from an elvish perspective, this is very recent, and therefore there’s still time to make a pre-emptive strike before Sauron is ready.
  • However, they are not fully aware that Sauron has been preparing this from behind the scenes for centuries, and therefore is much further along in his ability to make war than they suspect.
  • The appearance of the Nine may be a warning that Sauron is more ready, though that’s not obvious to them, but they in fact have less than a year before Sauron goes on the offensive.
  • Note: While Sauron eventually launches his attack early due to Aragorn’s appearance, he was already well into mustering his forces and allies and was not that far away from it anyway.
Not safe for ever:
  • Gandalf seems to start by making the argument of other creatures that might be affected by the ring in the Sea, which may be parallel to those under the earth, which Gandalf mentions later.
  • Also, past experience has shown that the Ring has a way of being found and in the Council has been tracked through a series of providential finders down to its current presence in Rivendell.
  • The Ring has been kept secret and safe by the contrivance of Providence through Déagol and Smeagol, as since Sauron and Saruman were both seeking it in the Gladden Fields.
  • This providence extends to having it hidden in the safe and unknown Shire far away to the West.
  • To attempt to continue to just keep it secret and safe seems to go against the purposes of this.
  • Had the intention of Providence intended the Ring to go to the Sea to be forever hidden, it would have done so, and this is why Saruman’s lie about this was believable for the Wise.
  • Also, the power to resist the Ring among the Elves is fading, hence Gandalf’s sense of urgency.
  • Having already thrown down Sauron and had him return to face weaker enemies now, this will only get worse as the ages pass, and therefore they cannot go through that cycle again.
  • It is in the nature of Middle-earth that this power is fading over time, as we see the changing and diminishing of the Elves over time operating even now and will only accelerate later.
  • Note: This will be most clearly expressed by Galadriel in her statement to Frodo. The diminishing was already happening, but the question is whether she would be able to go into the West and remain Galadriel or stay in Middle-earth and become a Dark Lady with the Ring, or an unhappy wandering elvish spirit without it, and that is answered after her temptation.
  • Note: While Tolkien was not influenced by the physics concept of entropy, he’d agree with it.
  • This decline can also be seen in the lessening of the forces available to resist the Dark Lords.
A final end of this menace:
  • By tracing the Ring’s unpredictable route to them, Gandalf is stating that this is not only their chance to make a final end, but to choose not to do so would be a dereliction of their duty.
  • While rejecting the hiding of the Ring as the logical conclusion of his argument, Gandalf also introduces the concept that that they attempt what is asked of them without any guarantees.
  • Therefore, their choice of what to do should not be governed by its likelihood of success, but rather their faith that they are doing what is right and what is being asked of them to do.
  • Gandalf seems to contradict himself by making a logical argument as to their present strength, and then telling them to reject this as a reason, but he is playing on the two distinctions of hope.
  • He is saying to them, in effect, to reject amdir in favor of estel in their decisions about the Ring.
  • Gandalf is not offering assurances in the face of appearances, but to hope without assurances.
  • Note: This distinction between amdir and estel will also play out in Sam’s decisions in Mordor. This is not to say that amdir is invalid, as it’s often a combination of both forms of hope operating in the various adventures and accomplishments in Middle-earth stories.
Flight to the Sea is now fraught with gravest peril:
  • Galdor is speaking as a representative of the Grey Havens, and from their perspective, and therefore his view is significantly narrower than Gandalf’s in geography, and about Elves.
  • He has shown a kind of provincialism before, being ignorant of much beyond his own lands.
  • While Sauron might assume that one of the Wise will take up the Ring in Rivendell, he may also think that the most likely other possibility is for them to take the Ring West away from him.
  • Sauron would probably not understand why the Valar wouldn’t take the Ring, being on the same path as Morgoth, and therefore out of tune with the Music and the ways of the Valar.
  • The danger that Erestor is pointing to in taking the Ring to Bombadil is not that they won’t make it in time, but that Sauron will eventually figure out where it is, with his network of spies.
  • If this is true, then he identifies the same danger is present in taking the Ring to the Sea.
  • What swifter steeds for the Nazgûl are Galdor talking about? How would Galdor know this?
  • If the fear is the march of the armies of Mordor, they have a space of time before that happens.
  • While Sauron would not be able to prevent the Ring going to the Sea, he would still pose the same danger once he starts moving his plans forward, since the power of the Ring is not ended.
  • Galdor would remember the march of Sauron’s armies into Eriador during the Second Age.
  • This doesn’t seem to be a statement of fear by Galdor, but an acknowledgement that sending the Ring to the Sea does not alleviate the threat of Sauron in Middle-earth, nor make a final end.
  • He must also protect the Havens, as they are the only hope for the Elves to reach the West, and not fade and diminish in Middle-earth unwillingly, and which Sauron can easily remove.
  • Galdor is saying, therefore, that neither plan for taking the Ring to the Havens is a real solution.