Homework: Why would the Valar not receive the Ring, according to Elrond?


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There are several questions about Elrond’s response to Glorfindel’s suggestion that there are only two possibilities to deal with the Ring. To send it over the Sea, or to destroy it. (Later, two more possibilities will be suggested: to sink it in the Sea; or to wield it against Sauron.)

The first question is, why does Elrond say, “But Gandalf has revealed to us that we cannot destroy it by any craft that we here posses”? Gandalf has not revealed that to the Council. My suggestion is that Frodo actually revealed that second hand to the Council in his account, which was not detailed in the text. But still, I don’t think it was revealed by Gandalf.

The second question is, why does Elrond say, “They who dwell beyond the Sea would not receive it”? How the heck does Elrond know that ‘They who dwell beyond the Sea would not receive it’?

The third question is, why does no one question him about this? One would think that Glorfindel, who suggested this, and has been over the Sea would know more than Elrond, who has not. But, Elrond’s assertion seems to be taken as gospel by the Council. No one wonders how he knows this.

Glorfindel brings up another suggestion, “Then let us cast it into the deeps.” But no one suggests what seems to me an obvious possibility: “Let’s put it on a boat at the havens and send it to Valinor. If Elrond is right, and the Valar will not receive it, well then, chuck it into the Sea off Valinor. That is presumably outside Middle-earth, on the other end of the straight path. Sauron cannot get there. Maybe he will not be able to access any power from it at all. In which case it would be just as good as destroying it”?

However, that seemingly logical possibility is never mentioned. Elrond is never questioned. The Council just accepts that ‘it is up to us who still dwell here to deal with it’.

This brings up two questions:

What makes Elrond so certain that the Valar would not receive the Ring? (More certain than Glorfindel, who made the suggestion in the first place, and who might be assumed to know more about ‘those over the Sea’ than Elrond.)

Why does no one question Elrond?

Dealing with the second question first: It is easy to see why the Elves do not question Elrond. He is the authority here to them. It is easy to see why Gandalf does not question Elrond. They are in cahoots, and already have a plan in mind. It is harder to see why Gloin, or Boromir, or Sam (except that he is keeping a low profile since he was not even supposed to be there, and also would feel that ‘it is not his place’) would not raise a question along the lines of, “Why would they not receive it? I thought that was their job, to protect and defend the world, especially from evil from those who are not Children of Illuvatar?”

Of course, none of the Counsellors who might question Elrond know that Glorfindel has more knowledge of ‘across the Sea’ than Elrond. Also, we don’t know how much (if anything) those people know about ‘those across the Sea’ or their possible roles in Arda.

So, whether through ignorance, or acceptance, no one questions Elrond’s assertion.

Why does Elrond make the assertion? How does he know?

Well, let’s list the possibilities:

  • Elrond does not know that the Valar would not receive the Ring. He just says it to dismiss the idea, and further the plan that he and Gandalf have already decided on.
  • Elrond has had some sort of communication from the Valar (via dream or eagle?), “Don’t send the Ring to us. We will not receive it. It is up to you in Middle-earth to solve this problem.”
  • Elrond has no direct knowledge that the Valar will not receive the Ring, but he deduces or intuits that this is the case.
Are there any other possibilities?

Now, I don’t think we have any direct evidence to support any of the three possibilities. So, we are left to deduce, or speculate ourselves.

The first deduction is that we can combine possibilities 1 and 3. It is unlikely that Elrond would discard a possibly viable plan just because he and Gandalf had previously decided on a different plan. If Elrond and Gandalf have already decided that the best plan is to fix history, rectify the mistake of Isildur, and throw the Ring into Mt. Doom, then the only reason why they would have decided on such a very risky plan must be that they have had some sort of intuition that this is the best course of action. If they are right, then the Valar will also (presumably) have come to this conclusion, and will not receive the Ring. Thus both possibilities 1 and 3 rely on Elrond and Gandalf having come to the same intuition. (I don’t think that either Gandalf or Elrond have figured out yet that destroying the Ring will destroy Sauron and win the war. If they have figured this out, then they are being remarkably obtuse, and puzzlingly secretive, in not informing the rest of the Council.)

So, is Elrond operating on deduction or intuition, or has he had direct communication from the Valar? Well, if he had had direct communication from the Valar, then I think he would tell the Council (though everyone seems exceedingly reluctant to talk directly about the Valar, even obliquely referring to them as ‘They who dwell beyond the Sea’, so maybe not?)

So, let’s come to the hypothesis that Elrond’s assertion comes from deduction or intuition.

Is it deduction, or is it intuition?

Well, I don’t think it is deduction. If it were, then why not take the rest of the council step by step through the logic trail?

This is not my reading of the Council. Real explanations as to why sending the Ring to the Fire is the best course of action are very thin on the ground. Debate or discussion around other potentially viable options is quickly and decisively squelched by either Elrond or Gandalf.

If they had a clear path of deduction, they would explain it clearly. If they have only intuition, they cannot explain it clearly and logically, so they have to bring the Council to agreement through facilitation, chairmanship, and authority, rather than through logic and debate.

So, my hypothesis is that Elrond’s assertion about the Valar is based on intuition.

Now, what exactly that intuition is, and how it came to Elrond, and how he might try to describe it, I leave to others to tackle.
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Anthony Lawther

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There are a few small crumbs of evidence that are scattered in the text to support a logically informed, rather than purely intuitive conclusion.

1. Saruman, who has been studying the devices of the Enemy, has succumbed to evil even without access to the Ring.
2. Gandalf believes that he is susceptible to corruption by the Ring if he took possession of it.
‘No!’ cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. ‘With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.’ His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. ‘Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great, for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.’
3. If we allow ourselves to know the nature of the Wizards from other writings then we know that they are of the same kind as the Valar, though less powerful. Given that we have seen that the more powerful a being is, the more dreadful would be the consequences of them being corrupted by it, we (and Gandalf and Elrond) can imagine the dire peril that sending it into the West may pose. With the One Ring, Manwe might indeed come to understand Melkor and then side with him to detriment of all in Arda.
Even without the knowledge from other writings, we can see the trend of beings with greater power being more of a hazard with the One Ring.
The argument that sending it West over the Sea wouldn't render it safe opens the floor to speculative statements about the virtue of the Valar and no resolution, while a flat statement that they wouldn't take it leaves all of the mortals, and many of the Elves, in a position of ignorance from which they cannot argue.

Equally, if the Ring were sent into the West by a bearer with enough fortitude and trustworthiness to take it there without claiming it, they would be honour-bound to deliver it with a warning as to its nature, and refusal to take it is a reasonably predicted outcome.

As for Glorfindel being best placed to speak on behalf of the West, I humbly submit that Gandalf is better placed to do so, even with the limitations of his incarnation.

A possible explanation for the lack of challenge to Elrond's assertion might be that each listener engages their empathy and thinks to themselves 'I wouldn't take it if the roles were reversed'.

In short, I think that if the Valar refused to take the One Ring it would be for fear of being corrupted by it, with no remedy remaining other than direct intervention by Illuvatar.


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Hi Anthony,

You make some excellent points. Let me try to build on some of them.

1. We (the first time reader, and the Counsellors) have more evidence about the effect of the Ring on people than the two you mention. Bilbo had the Ring for quite a while and had worn it near continuously in the Halls of the Elven King, yet it was Bilbo who tried to stop a war with the help of the Arkenstone. The Ring does not seem to have corrupted Bilbo. No evidence that we have seen that Isildur was heading towards becoming a new Dark Lord when he held the Ring. Gollum was certainly evil. It is not clear how much of his Ring acquisition was recounted to the Council (none that we can see, but perhaps it was covered by Frodo? It is, however, certainly known to the first-time reader.) However, it is not very clear whether the Ring corrupted Smeagol, or whether he was corrupted already. Gandalf's refusal to take the Ring (assuming it was reported verbatim to the Council by Frodo) seems a very personal concern. Is there any reason to universalize it? Bombadil seems unaffected by the Ring, and Gandalf says that it has no power over him. Finally, Frodo, though he reports some strange interactions with the Ring, shows no signs of incipient corruption or Dark Lord inclinations.

From this evidence, could the first-time reader, or the Counsellors suspect the danger of the Ring corrupting anyone who bears it? It does not seem likely. Note that when Erestor suggests turning to Bombadil for help it is not because he thinks Tom immune to the corruption of the Ring, but that he thinks that Tom has power over the Ring.

2. The first-time reader knows very little about the Valar. Indeed, even the word 'Valar' is unknown. How much each of the Counsellors knows of the Valar is also unknown. Is there any reason to suspect that the Ring might corrupt the Valar? Well, there is no really good reason to believe that the Ring corrupts at this point. Plus, we don't know enough about the Valar to know if they are corruptible. From the little we do know (Elvish songs to Elbereth. References to the 'Elder King' in 'Earendil was a Mariner') there is no reason to suspect this. For all we know, the Valar can destroy the Ring, or hold it forever safe from Sauron. So, the thought that the Ring might corrupt the Valar is unlikely to occur to the first-time reader, nor to most of the Counsellors (though what Elrond, Gandalf, Glorfindel might have thought is unclear).

3. If the first-time reader, or the Counsellors are worried about a bearer of.the Ring being corrupted on the way to Valinor (and no reason to suppose that they would be worried about this), then why not suggest sending the Ring over the Sea carried by Tom? Of course, I'm not at all sure that Tom would agree to this. At least not without a guaranteed return ticket. "No way! Ho Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow. He won't get put in a boat to sail the starry billows!"

So, I am not sure that the first-time reader, or the Counsellors, have any awareness yet of the corruption dangers of the Ring. Neither am I certain about what they know or don't know of the Valar (well, I'm pretty sure of what the first-time reader knows - which is almost nothing, but not sure of what the Counsellors know).

Now, Elrond presumably does know about, or believe in, the corrupting power of the Ring. He is shortly going to make a lengthy comment on that subject (though he hasn't yet). How he has come to that knowledge or belief is unclear. One hypothesis is that he gathered it from some comment of Saruman's? (Saruman being the one who has studied the Ring, and Saruman being curiously referenced when Elrond does comment on the corrupting powers of the Ring - though it is not at all clear that the Ring corrupted Saruman. )

So, why does Elrond assert that 'Those who dwell over the Sea will not receive the Ring'? I don't think that the Counsellors or the first-time readers have evidence to answer this question. Now, those who have read the whole LOTR, and perhaps all the rest of the Legendarium, might have more evidence? But still, I think we will need to fall back on supposition and conjecture, probably of an Ardaesque theological nature, to come up with satisfactory possibilities?


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I don't think first-time readers have much in the way of direct--let's call it material--evidence, but they are likely to consider both Gandalf's previous and Elrond's current testimony to be highly credible. Elrond, we're told, is the greatest of lore-masters, and he's certainly dispensed with enough of it that a first-time reader's head would be swimming with ancientry and proper nouns galore.

My suspicion is that, having little/no evidence to counter, most first-time readers would simply think "Well, Elrond would know." The fact that no one pushes back would only reinforce this belief.

Of course you're right to note that--both within the text and as an author's tool--this can be used to lead (or even mislead) readers to desired conclusions, without, as it were, showing your work.

But then I also suspect there isn't much tangible work to show, and Elrond is mostly intuiting backwards. Something like: We have the Ring, and it has come down to us due to a string of remarkable events. If the Ring ought to have found its way to the Valar, or by 'chance' vanished, then that would have happened. That it has fallen into our hands means we have to do something with it. Wielding it is out. Therefore, we must destroy it.

He's listening to the music, basically. Or to put it another way: he realizes the kind of story they're in, and so what they should do.


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Hi Beech,

I agree with you that most first time readers would just push on through, without stopping to think, 'how does Elrond know'?

I also think you are on the right track around how Elrond is intuiting.

I do wonder why no one at the Council asks questions. And also, why Elrond is so confident in his intuition?


Active Member
I do wonder why no one at the Council asks questions. And also, why Elrond is so confident in his intuition?
On the first point, I think we should entertain the simplest answers: Most (as you point out) view Elrond as a infinitely credible, and don't know enough to begin to question him on the matter; those that might have adequate knowledge agree with his conclusion. I'd emphasize here that Glorfindel mentions sending the Ring over the Sea as an option, but I'd argue that he doesn't really suggest it as such, and he certainly doesn't follow up on Elrond's refutation. Perhaps you could add him to Elrond and Gandalf's cahooting; or maybe he's simply being thorough, and mentioning everything they could do, whether they ought to really entertain each option.

As for Elrond's confidence: it's hard to say, given our lack of PoV. We get none of his interiority. It may be that he isn't really all that confident, but knows time is a factor and that people will look to his example. But then again, it may be that he is, because he knows lore that we simply don't.

Matt DeForrest

Active Member
Here are my thoughts, now that I have caught up after falling asleep in class last night.

1) Most readers have no reason to question Elrond (We, I would argue, are a special case.). Elrond’s role is to know things and advise and his fame for this is so great that it eclipses his role — even in Gondor — in the downfall of Sauron during the Last Alliance. While the fight scene in Dol Goldur has potential issues, Elrond’s prowess is grounded in his prior actions.

2) I suspect Elrond’s belief the Valar would refuse is based on a combination of logic, intuition, and hope rather than a single thing. Logically, the Valar are not going to invite into Valinor a corrupting influence if they can avoid it — even if the rounding of the world permits the connection. Intuition would make him suspect that Gandalf‘s refusal hints that the Valar would refuse as well. Finally, I would suggest he hopes they would not because the downfall of one or more of the Valar would be tragic and he would hope the Valar are wise enough to avoid the possibility.

3) I’d be remiss to not stress/demonstrate the threat to the Valar from the One Ring. They are not incorruptible beings, as is seen by Sauron and Melkor And the Balrog(s) examples. The One Ring was made by one of their kind and the temptation it offers would appeal to most of them as much as it would an Elf or Man (Tukas, for example, might wonder if the One Ring would let him put the final smackdown on Sauron and Melkor.) Beings of their “power” wielding the One Ring would rightly terrify Elrond. As such, I suspect he would not even want to risk them saying “Sure! Send it on over. We’ll take care of it.”


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Hi Matt,

Good points.

It occurs to me that Elrond might not have previously been concerned about the Ring corrupting the Valar, as, as far as we know, none of the Ainur have ever flipped sides subsequent to the creation of Arda. However, the treason of Saruman might have shaken his faith, and he might be suddenly concerned about this possibility?

Of course, the reason why it is particularly noteworthy that no-one questions Elrond (or Gandalf) really, that there is no real in depth debate on the options for the Ring, that the logic of Gandalf and Elrond's statements is never clearly spelled out, is that this will contribute to Boromir's downfall.

Whether Boromir is devoted to Cartesian logic, whether he is less inclined to accept Gandalf and Elrond's pronouncements as gospel than the other Counsellors, whether for other reasons, the deliberations of the Council will not really convince Boromir that the risky plan is the best plan. I wonder if his lack of conviction arises during the Council, or whether it grows afterwards?

I wonder if Boromir would have been more on-board if there had been more open debate, more questions, and more explanations?


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Oh, Matt,

Another thought. Elrond does not say, "We should not send the Ring to the Valar (in case it would tempt and corrupt them)". He says "They would not receive it." It may be that he thinks that they would not receive it due to their own fear of corruption. However, if he is saying this because (as you suggest) he does not want to risk them accepting it, this would indicate a rather surprising (though perhaps justifiable) lack of trust in the Valar on the part of Elrond?

That is an interesting reading. However, I am more inclined to the hypothesis that Elrond intuits that sending the Ring to the Fire is the best approach, and intuits that the Valar would not receive the Ring because they agree.


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I think part of why they believe that the Ring is a Middle-earth issue and that those in the West would not receive it is simply because the Valar seem to have made it clear that that's how they operate. In the Silmarillion, the Valar start out very active in Middle-earth, and then they withdraw to Valinor before eventually inviting the Elves to live with them. Eventually, they seem to realize that this wasn't the best idea, and they don't do the same thing when Men arrive. However, rather than get more involved in Middle-earth, they get less (at least, directly and obviously). After Numenor's fall, when the world is reshaped, do the Valar directly interact again? The whole thing seems to lead up to the Valar deciding that it's best for the peoples of Middle-earth to work things out, with the Valar operating behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight. The Wise likely realize that, while the Ring is a big deal, it's not yet the sort of thing that would require direct, divine intervention; and therefore the Valar would not receive it.

It just occurred to me, but in a way, this parallels the discussion we were having last night about Sauron and Morgoth. Sauron is travelling down the same path as Morgoth; and as time goes on, he's slipping into much the same style. Could the Valar be doing something similar, but with Eru as their model? We know that Eru is not completely absent from Middle-earth, however he tends to work subtly and through the actions of others rather than getting directly involved (with a couple major exceptions). Perhaps the Valar are, over time, realizing that they need not be absent from Middle-earth, but that their role should be less direct than they sometimes made it in the old days.


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Hi JJ48,

I think you are describing what the Valar seem to be doing very well. I also like the hypothesis that why they are doing this might be modeling their withdrawing behavior oh their perception of Eru.

But, is that Eru's pattern? As far as I can remember, aren't there only 3 ways that Eru has intervened in Arda? He created it. He created the children. He sank Numenor and made the world round, removing Valinor from the Circle of Middle Earth. (Of course, he also constantly intervenes by sending in new spirits to inhabit the new born children.) Now, we have often suspected that he intervenes indirectly as Providence. But I don't think we can be sure of that. Is that Eru, or the Valar?

So, is a pattern of gradual withdrawal, or indirect intervention really modelling Eru? What, I wonder, is the Valar's concept of their role in Arda, and their role in regard to the fallen Ainur?

However, interesting as these metaphysical issues are, I think I am even more interested in looking at the curious progress of the Council of Elrond, and how the careful first-time reader, and the Counsellors might be perceiving it.

Corey was puzzled by Elrond's assertion that 'Those who dwell beyond the Sea' will not receive the Ring. And so am I. I have not found a good logical explanation for how Elrond could have made this statement, and I am not wildly happy with the mystical explanations.

Does it have something to do with Elrond's Ring? Does his Ring give him some sort of communication with, or insight into the Valar?

Here's an interesting observation about the Elven Ring bearers, which we have not come to yet, but we will. Are not the only three people who state that the One Ring corrupts, and that a bearer is likely to become corrupted, and, if powerful enough, become a new Dark Lord, Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel? The three Elvish Ring-bearers. I earlier suggested that there is no evidence from previous Ring-bearers that the One Ring necessarily corrupts. I suggested that Elrond might have got this concept from Saruman, but now I wonder. What evidence would Saruman have to reach this conclusion? So, here's another hypothesis: Does something about the Elvish Rings give insight into the nature of the One Ring? Would the One Ring necessarily corrupt all bearers? Or would it most likely corrupt Elvish Ring-bearers? "Rule them all!" But this command applies to the other Rings and their bearers, not to all and sundry?

After Elrond gives his speech (in the next few paragraphs) about how the Ring is dangerous. It corrupts the heart. "If any of the Wise should with this Ring overthrow the Lord of Mordor, using his own arts, he would set himself on Sauron's throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear."

I just imagine someone in the Council saying, "Are you exaggerating Elrond? I see Bilbo Baggins sitting right there, and he does not seem corrupted to me, nor dangerously inclined to become a new Dark Lord."

Of course, no one does.

But where does Elrond come up with these assertions? The more I think about it, the more I wonder if some aspect of the Elvish Rings is not involved?
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I'm very much in agreement with JJ48. Elrond is known for his understanding of both past and future. He seems to have an intuitive sense of the "flow" or direction of things, how the eddies of fate are helping push things in a certain direction. So in a sense, he does know that Fate is working towards something awesome ("Called, I say, though I have not called you..." as an example) and understands that trying to get around that fate by simply leaving it on the doorstep of Valinor doesn't jive with the way the song is supposed to go. Combine that intuition with knowledge of the history of the Valar, their early involvement in Middle Earth, mistakes made, and their increasing tendency over time to play an active but hidden role in its affairs, and I think it would be pretty logical for him to make his assertion. Even the fact that he has met the Istari, Mair sent by them in a weakened state and tasked with helping out but forbidden from taking too much direct action, would make it clear to him that the Valar see their role in this struggle as helpers and movers but non-combatants.
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I agree, RogerWilco,

That is currently my favorite hypothesis about how Elrond can make his statement. Through his intuitive sense of the flow. It is a bit mystical for my taste. But, my main question about this hypothesis is; Why don't the other Counsellors question these assertions more?

I also have had another thought, that perhaps Elrond's Elvish Ring has some role in his understanding ot the Valar, and understanding of the One Ring? See my post just above yours for more musings on that possibility.

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
I think we have all fallen into a rather natural assumption about who is referred to as 'Those who dwell beyond the Sea'.

It is true that the Valar dwell there, but so too do the Elves including almost every Elf that has ever died.
It is reasonable to believe that Celebrimbor had the opportunity to warn Elrond, and others, about some of the finer details of ring-lore before his death.
It is also possible that Celebrimbor stated that he would never accept the Enemy's ring without the opportunity to destroy it.

This would give Elrond a no-more-mystical than anything else in Middle-Earth explanation for knowing that 'they' would not take it in Valinor, if you feel the need for such an explanation.

An additional note on the corruption by the Ring: It seems that the effect of the corruption by the Ring can be limited if the bearer is either ignorant of the Ring's purpose for existence (Gollum and Bilbo), or chooses to actively oppose it (Frodo and Sam). It seems the former is more sustainable in the longer term, but is impossible to rely on once you know what you are dealing with; It would be thoroughly unethical to give it to some unsuspecting patsy even if the Enemy weren't searching for it, and so would be falling into the trap of using the Enemy's methods.

Ultimately, Gandalf's claims of the corrupting power of the Ring my be more personal than he claims, but with the Ring hidden it seems that it would only be a matter of time before one of the Wise goes full 'Saruman/Boromir' and believes that the strength it would give them would not overcome them.
My 0.01 GBP... As a reader I never thought to question Elrond on this. Could that be the simple answer? When one has found someone to be a truth telling thing, especially over something like 6,000 years, the Elves simply seem to trust his judgment on the matter. And I think for the elves present, it also squares with their own knowledge/lore. Given that Elrond's statement reads consistent with what we know about them (and what we know about them is exactly the lore that most of the Elves present would know about them), I would be more surprised to see an Elf object and demand that Elrond give an accounting of his reasoning. When one of the smartest guys you've ever known says something that makes sense and rings true, you aren't likely to argue the point. Also, there is an emissary of the Valar, Gandalf, sitting in the room with them who seems to concur. As for the mortals among the group, they wouldn't likely know enough of these matters to question it either.


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Hi RogerWilco.

I agree with you that the Elves are unlikely to question Elrond. Those who I think might perhaps question him are: Boromir, Gloin, Sam (mentally only, not verbally). The only other possibility is Glorfindel. He is a near peer of Elrond. Has actually lived in the Blessed Realms (whereas Elrond has not) but it is hard to discern Glorfindel's exact relationship with Elrond, as we do not have much evidence.

The mortals in the room don't know that much, but they are not stupid. Boromir (I think) is not convinced by the assertions of Gandalf and Elrond, but for some reason he does not question. Galdor is of the Havens, and less committed to Elrond than the Rivendell Elves. he does question Elrond initially, "The Wise may have good reason to believe that the halfling's trove is indeed the Great Ring of long debate, unlikely though that may seem to those who know less. But may we not hear the proofs?" But he is not as assiduous in his questioning later on.

This whole question about why do people not question Gandalf and Elrond's assertions brings up the issue of what is the point of this council?

Is it a fake Council? Have Gandalf and Elrond already decided on the course of action? Is the question, "What shall we do with the Ring?" just a charade?

Perhaps the entire Council is just set up to get Frodo to volunteer to take the Ring to Mordor? Does Gandalf sort of give the game away when he says that Bombadil might take the Ring 'if all the free people of the world begged him'? Isn't this what happens to Frodo at the end of the Council? Representatives of all the free people in the world are there, and though they don't exactly beg him to take the Ring to Mordor. They do all maintain an oppressive and expectant silence, until Frodo reluctantly agrees to bear the Ring.

So, is the Council entirely a fake, just to put pressure on Frodo?

Is there any real debate in the Council that is not quickly squelched by Gandalf or Elrond? Do Gandalf or Elrond ever really explain their assertions, or do they just rely on their authority to silence all questions?

If their entire strategy was to get Frodo to agree to bear the Ring to Mordor, they succeed. But, if they expected the Council to achieve real understanding, agreement and buy-in, they fail. At least in the case of Boromir.


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But, is that Eru's pattern? As far as I can remember, aren't there only 3 ways that Eru has intervened in Arda? He created it. He created the children. He sank Numenor and made the world round, removing Valinor from the Circle of Middle Earth. (Of course, he also constantly intervenes by sending in new spirits to inhabit the new born children.) Now, we have often suspected that he intervenes indirectly as Providence. But I don't think we can be sure of that. Is that Eru, or the Valar?
Why can't it be both? It seems to me that from the Ainulindalë, the Ainur sang the song but it was at Eru's direction.

However, interesting as these metaphysical issues are, I think I am even more interested in looking at the curious progress of the Council of Elrond, and how the careful first-time reader, and the Counsellors might be perceiving it.

Corey was puzzled by Elrond's assertion that 'Those who dwell beyond the Sea' will not receive the Ring. And so am I. I have not found a good logical explanation for how Elrond could have made this statement, and I am not wildly happy with the mystical explanations.
And I too think it's less mystical, and more philosophy or something akin to theology (valaology?).

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
Glorfindel is not Elrond's peer, as Elrond is the best remaining claimant for the title of High King of the Noldor, with the possible exception of Galadriel.
When the position became vacant Elrond declined it, and Galadriel didn't make a claim.

So, traditionally when a monarch holds a council they are the one to ask questions and make decisions.

Elrond is actually being quite egalitarian here, and I think it is because this affects matters outside his borders and requires concurrence from other realms that they may need to pass through. If the company arrives at a border and they appear as a coalition of the willing they become harder to rebuff than if it was simply a company of Rivendell Elves saying 'Watch your backs; coming through!'
I agree with the assertion made by @RogerWilco in the Elrond thread: When Elrond sums up, he appears to be just drawing his final conclusions, rather than delivering directions that he'd hammered out earlier with Gandalf.


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Hi Anthony,

The respective ranks of Elrond and Glorfindel are not very clear. True, that Elrond is the best remaining claimant for the title of High King of the Noldor. True also that Elrond, as a descendent of Luthien, in part descended from the Maiar. Also, Glorfindel seems to have a position in Elrond's household (does he, or is he just a guest?) which would put him in a subordinate position to Elrond.

On the other hand, Glorfindel has dwelt in the Blessed Realm, and Elrond has not. "Those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power." Gandalf calls him 'one of the mighty of the First-born. An Elf-lord of a house of princes,

So, I call him a 'near peer' of Elrond. In many ways, Elrond surely outranks Glorfindel. But, we see in other examples (Elwe for one) that having dwelt in the Blessed Realm is important, and adds rank to those who have over those who have not. So, I'm not sure how the 'rank' of Elrond and Glorfindel would have appeared to other Elves. It might well have varied in various circumstances or environments? In Rivendell? Sure, Elrond has the superior rank. When discussing the affairs of the Valar and the Blessed Realm? (Like, would it be a good idea to send the Ring to them.) There I am less sure.

In any event, Glorfindel is probably the closest to being a 'peer' of Elrond left in Middle Earth, with the possible exceptions of the Istari, Cirdan (as fellow Elvish Ring-bearer), and, of course, Galadriel, who has not only dwelt in the Blessed Realm, is also the wielder of an Elvish Ring, is "Noblest of all...of the royal house of Finrod, father of Felagund, lord of Nargothrond" (Appendix F), and, in relation to Elrond, holds the mighty power position of Mother-in-law.


Active Member
Given Glorfindel's import and first-hand knowledge, then, doesn't his lack of questioning lend credence to Elrond's assertion?

It's certainly possible to imagine other reasons he wouldn't offer debate, but I think the simplest is that he concludes "Ah, you're right, they wouldn't."

Of course that doesn't explicate how Elrond arrived at this knowledge (which is a very interesting question), but it does perhaps imply that the conclusion is obviously sound to the one present who might know best.
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