Episode 184 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Comment on the word order in “when will the day come of our revenge”:
  • While this may seem less natural than a different word order, the reversed subject-verb order for a normal question breaks the verb and helping verb phrase, making it unusual and stand out.
  • This may be a translation artifact from Khuzdul, emphasizing the strangeness of the Dwarves.
  • Perhaps the phrase “of our revenge” is implied in “the day”, which would be understood by Dwarves, but needs to be added here for the benefit of clarity for everyone else.
  • This emphasizes the word “day”, elevating it in importance above when that day will arrive. This may imply a longing for the vengeance or justice associated with that day, even without hope.
  • Note: Did the Dwarves have their day of revenge against Smaug? Perhaps not, since Smaug dies, but not at their hand. It also didn’t seem as though the slaying of the dragon was their final goal. Also, the dwarves in The Hobbit represent a transition point between their older representation in Tolkien’s earlier writings and what they would become during and after The Lord of the Rings.
But still there are the Three:
  • While Glóin makes an error, it is understandable given the amount of lore that has been shared, and he may be sharing what the Dwarves already believe about the Elves and their Rings.
  • Glóin is soliciting information here, but he’s already shared his own in hope that is returned.
  • Note: Glóin seemingly acts as a stand-in for the reader in asking the obvious questions about the Elf-rings and what their role is in the war if it isn’t to be used directly against Sauron.
  • It’s notable that Glóin moves from his long, eloquent sentences from earlier to shorter, more terse sentences as he approaches the Elves about the current disposition of their Rings.
  • It’s possible that this is related to his upset at the news about Thrain, but it might also be to make his questions pointed and clear, as everyone else in the Council has been candid.
  • Glóin assumes that the Elves can say where the Rings are, thought this turns out to be untrue.
  • While the Dwarves have had to come to terms with the fact that Sauron made their Rings, they still believe that the Rings belonged to them, and they assume the same about the Elves.
  • Note: In the Ring verse, it seems to place the Elven rings on a par with the Dwarf-rings, and therefore it might be natural for Glóin to make the same mistake. Also, there are no verbs in the Elven portion of the verse, so the nature of the making and giving of the Rings is mysterious.
The Three were not made by Sauron:

  • Are the Three Rings completely uncorrupted, as Elrond claims? The entire Rings of Power project was done in collaboration with Sauron, and therefore wicked in their conception.
  • While Sauron did not physically make or touch the Three Rings, his power did interact with them, which shows that they were susceptible to his influence after they were made.
  • In fact, since Celebrimbor is under the influence of Sauron as he made the Rings, they would have been made according to Sauron’s design, and therefore vulnerable to falling later.
  • Glóin has placed the Three Rings in the category of “less treacherous” rings, like the Dwarf-rings, but not free from treachery. This may be Dwarvish propaganda, or else Gloin’s own questioning.
  • Elrond seems to give this back with the mentioning of “hoarded wealth” through their rings.
In some measure gained, though with sorrow:
  • What sorrow is Elrond referring to? In prolonging their time in Middle-earth, the Elves would have had to face more sorrow than if they had departed for the Undying Lands.
  • Elrond also seems to imply that there is some sorrow inherent in their use of the Three Rings.
  • There is a sense of futility in preserving all things unstained that increases their sorrow in contrast with the rest of the world, and that they cannot extend this to the whole world.
  • Note: Are the Elf-rings hoarding bliss like the Dwarves are hoarding riches? It’s possible, as this is a motif that occurs many times in Middle-earth, as in the creation of Valinor as a separate land from the rest of the world, and in bringing the Elves to live there with them, apart from all else.
  • Elrond goes out of his way to characterize the nature of the Three Rings as basically positive, though all their purposes may be turned to evil, though the preservation is problematic.
  • Elrond seems to be leaning toward an idea that the preservation cannot go on indefinitely, and that in some measure this itself was a work of the Dark Lord through the making of the Three.
  • If the Elves believe that they can preserve things unstained, this is vain, as the world was already stained by Melkor long before, and they don’t posses the power to remove the stain from it.
  • While Sauron’s specific plans for the Elven Rings failed, due to Celebrimbor’s resistance, in the big picture he may have still tempted and partly corrupted them and their intentions in the end.
  • Of the Three, only Gandalf uses his Ring to help others, while the Elves keep and use them only for themselves and their people and their lands, which may account for their sorrow.
  • Even the bliss and preservation that they have gained may pain the Elves due to its means.
  • Elrond seems testy with Glóin in his response, which may point to sublimated guilt over this.
But of them it is not permitted to speak:
  • Who has forbidden Elrond to speak of the Three Rings? Who imposed this rule on them? It’s possible that this is simply an agreement among the Ring-bearers, and Elrond holds to it.
  • Note: It seems more important, considering what we now see about the Three Rings, what Círdan did in giving over his Ring of Power to Gandalf, who is the only one to use one properly. This is not necessarily down to Gandalf’s being a Maia and not an Elf, considering Saruman.
  • The threat of Sauron, if he retrieves the One, to the holders of the Three isn’t that all their Rings have done will be undone or destroyed, but that those things will be used against them.
  • This may mean that they will be used to corrupt the Ring-bearers through love of those things.
  • Celebrimbor foiled Sauron’s plans by taking off his Ring, but he’d not forged a connection with it in the way that Elrond and Galadriel would have done with their Rings over the long years.
  • This may give Sauron a way into their wills and minds even if they also take off their Rings.
  • It’s also possible that this would eventually extend to the physical realms they have built.
  • Note: Have the Elven Ring-bearers expended their own power through the Rings to gain the things that they have done? Probably not since Galadriel’s concerned with not diminishing.
  • Sauron could possibly twist the preservation of things unchanged to an evil preservation, along the lines of the undead, creating a shadow version of all that was wrought with the Rings.
  • Note: It doesn’t seem that making things leads to the same lessening of oneself among the Elves and Ainur, as the domination of other things done by Melkor, and later by Sauron.
  • While there is wisdom in maintaining the secrecy of the Elf-rings, Gloin’s revelation is not reciprocated, and therefore he needs to know the consequences of destroying it also.
  • This also means that trying to destroy the Ring increases the risks of the dire consequences Elrond described if that plan fails and Sauron took back the Ring, instead of keeping it from him.
When the One is gone, the Three will fail:
  • Though he doesn’t discuss the location of the Three Rings themselves, Elrond does reciprocate Gloin’s candor by revealing the consequences to the Elves if the One is destroyed.
  • Elrond reveals that this is a losing proposition either way through destroying the Ring from the Elves’ perspective, and that he has nothing to gain from it for himself or this people.
  • In doing this, any suspicions that Glóin and the Dwarves might hold that the Elves would merely then have a free hand to do whatever they wanted in the world are allayed, as it’s impossible.
  • Elrond acknowledges this notion, but confesses the very opposite, and yet remains resolved.
  • Glorfindel’s support strengthens Elrond’s position, as they can represent the Elves as a whole, as it seems that this is something that has been discussed among the Elves for a long time.
  • What is the experience for Elrond with having the One Ring in his house? Has he been tempted? It’s possible that it might be similar to Gandalf’s experience, feeling a shadow fall on his heart.
  • Glorfindel emphasizes that they don’t know what will happen, but even the chance that the Rings will fail is better than what would happen otherwise, and not just for the Elves.