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

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
A small aside - disregarding for a moment whether the folks at the other end would accept the Ring.

The practicality of actually getting the Ring across the sea is dubious at best. I mean, right from step one, do they send Frodo (and Sam I suppose) on the boat, or do they violently strip him of the Ring and send it without him?

Would a boat carrying Frodo (and Sam), irrespective of the Ring being on board, even make it to the Blessed Realm at this point in their lives?

Would a boat carrying the Ring, which was stripped away from Frodo through violence, be able to complete it's journey without at least someone among the crew being overcome by desire to possess the Ring?

It feels untenable to even attempt the trip.

The alternate plane, the Orodruin plan, seems at least as difficult to pull off, but at least they have some assurance that if they mange the journey, the completion of the journey (Ring into Fire) will actually work. The sea-route has, at best, an uncertain chance of success at the other end.
 

Dave Heinitz

New Member
This is a wonderful treatment of the subject and in reading through it you seem to have hit on many of the ideas that came to my mind. I can think of only a few small points to add.

First, Elrond was present at the War of Wrath and saw the Ainur at war, Glorfindel, to our knowledge, was not there. Maybe he came over with the Vanyar and then went back, but if not, this could add to the reasons for Elrond’s apparent better understanding of Valar decision making in a crisis.

Second, regarding Ainur corruption, both Ossë and Saruman were Maiar definitively corrupted after the creation of Arda (unclear if Melkor started in on Sauron and the Balrogs before Arda), so it can happen. But it seems less likely that an artifact created by a lesser being (Sauron was the most powerful of the Maiar, but not one of the Valar) could corrupt a great being, nor would it’s unmaking be beyond their power. Could Aulë just throw it into one of his furnaces or hit it with his best mallet? To counter my own point, however, the Valar did have an issue with directly dealing with the Numenorians, and elves repeatedly defeated Balrogs (although they may have still been children of Melko at that point). So perhaps a lesser being in Arda can corrupt/defeat a greater?

Third, regarding the ‘take it to Valinor and try to drop it off’ option, if it was true that the Valar would not receive it, then it seems unlikely it would even make it down the straight road. Their will has thwarted undesired inroads to their land before (Voronwë).

Finally, regarding Elrond and Gandalf knowing Sauron would be destroyed, it’s possible they “hoped” that is what would happen when the Ring was destroyed, but did not “know” it would. And per the text I recall Gandalf only saying he was permanently crippled, not that he was completely destroyed.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Regarding the actual topic.

I think there are a couple things to consider.

First, regardless about your feelings about the real world and the existence of the supernatural therein, in Middle Earth "mystical" things are demonstrably real. Things of that ilk that I would dismiss out of hand in the real world, I accept whole-heartedly in Middle Earth.

Second, Elves have a connection to Middle Earth that humans in the real world and even Men in Middle Earth just do not. They have sources of information they can't explain in mortal terms. Magic, if you call it that (they certainly don't). It feels false and hand-wavey to say that Elrond knows something to be true just because he knows it to be true, but what would be a fallacy for a Man to say is not necessarily so for an Elf. The knowing isn't something to be quantified and explained in cause-effect terms. It just is. A very unsatisfying answer, but it's the only conclusion I can get to without ascribing deliberate falsehoods to characters that I don't think we are supposed to expect falsehoods from.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
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?
About the Ring's corrupting influence on Bilbo - when he wore it in the Hall of the Elven King, he had no idea what he had other than a very convenient magic ring that made him invisible, so he used it when being invisible was handy. He had had it for a very short time, even in mortal terms, had no idea of its power, and had not wielded it to dominate others. Gandalf later says that Sauron would suppose that one of the powers at the Council would have taken it to use, but would not have learned how to use its full power yet, so he would speed up his war plans. And Galadriel tells Frodo that he has not yet tried to use it to dominate others, nor to use it much at all since he learned what it was. The corrupting power of the Ring is strongest when tied to its conscious use. But over the decades Bilbo had it, it did have a corrupting influence on him, and even frightened Gandalf in the scene after the party. Desire for the Ring has an immediate corrupting influence, as we see in Smeagol's act of murder to get it, in Saruman's turning to evil from study of such things, and later see in Boromir. But the Ring itself needs time to work. It isn't a simple or straightforward process.

The first time reader (and the reader who has read it many times without going further into Tolkien's writings) and those at the Council learn what they know of the Ring from Gandalf and Elrond, and so will naturally consider them the authorities on its powers and history. The mortals there will know that something special and very ancient is in the West (though they will learn more about that later) but have no basis to believe anything about it other than what they are told. When Gandalf says that "they" would not take it, that ignorant reader might assume that this is because the peoples of Middle Earth should solve their own problems.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Excellent question Beech27.

Given Glorfindel's knowledge of the Blessed Realm, I doubt he would have suggested sending the Ring there unless he thought that would be acceptable to the Valar. Then, of course, Elrond says the Valar would not receive it. Glorfindel just accepts that and does not question it. What is going on here?

Option 1: Glorfindel just accepts that Elrond is the boss, and the chair of the meeting, and he is not going to question him?

Option 2: Glorfindel considers that somehow Elrond has better knowledge of what the Valar will and will not do than he does?

I am slightly inclined towards option 2, as I think that Glorfindel may be of sufficient status to question Elrond without seeming insubordinate or rude (no evidence really, just supposition).

On the other hand, how can Elrond (who has never met the Valar? (or at least, not in the Blessed Realm?)) have better knowledge of what they will and will not do than Glorfindel? Well, it might be that Glorfindel just mightily respects Elrond's intuition? However, does Glorfindel suspect (or know?) that Elrond's possession of one of the Three, confers some sort of connection or communication, or insight into the Valar?

Does Glorfindel even know that Elrond has one of the Three? I think so. Besides the fact that everyone must suspect this, we know from Gandalf, that Glorfindel, because he has dwelt in the Blessed Realm, has great power against the Seen and the Unseen. I don't think an invisible Ring will be invisible to him?
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.
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.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
About the Ring's corrupting influence on Bilbo - when he wore it in the Hall of the Elven King, he had no idea what he had other than a very convenient magic ring that made him invisible, so he used it when being invisible was handy. He had had it for a very short time, even in mortal terms, had no idea of its power, and had not wielded it to dominate others. Gandalf later says that Sauron would suppose that one of the powers at the Council would have taken it to use, but would not have learned how to use its full power yet, so he would speed up his war plans. And Galadriel tells Frodo that he has not yet tried to use it to dominate others, nor to use it much at all since he learned what it was. The corrupting power of the Ring is strongest when tied to its conscious use. But over the decades Bilbo had it, it did have a corrupting influence on him, and even frightened Gandalf in the scene after the party. Desire for the Ring has an immediate corrupting influence, as we see in Smeagol's act of murder to get it, in Saruman's turning to evil from study of such things, and later see in Boromir. But the Ring itself needs time to work. It isn't a simple or straightforward process.

The first time reader (and the reader who has read it many times without going further into Tolkien's writings) and those at the Council learn what they know of the Ring from Gandalf and Elrond, and so will naturally consider them the authorities on its powers and history. The mortals there will know that something special and very ancient is in the West (though they will learn more about that later) but have no basis to believe anything about it other than what they are told. When Gandalf says that "they" would not take it, that ignorant reader might assume that this is because the peoples of Middle Earth should solve their own problems.

Hi Rachel,

Two points:

First, Bilbo, despite being the Ring-bearer for many years, has not noticeably been corrupted towards evil, or towards becoming a new Dark Lord. Sure, the Ring has extended his life. It also it seems has made him increasingly possessive of it. But, whereas you say it did have a corrupting influence on him, I don't really see it. What frightens Gandalf, is that he suddenly wonders even more about what exactly is Bilbo's ring, since Bilbo's possessiveness seems alarming to him.

Second, those at the Council may or may not have heard Frodo recount Gandalf's refusal to take the Ring when Frodo offered it to him. We don't know if Frodo recounted that. If not, they have heard no-one speculate that the Ring corrupts its bearers. Even if Frodo did recount this, it seems personal to Gandalf (the way he says it) and not necessarily universal. And they also have heard the story of Bilbo, who does not seem to them to be corrupted to evil despite bearing the Ring for 61 years. They have heard the story of Frodo, who does not seem to them to be corrupted to evil despite bearing the Ring for 17 years. They have heard Elrond tell the tale of Isildur, and there is no evidence of him becoming an incipient Dark Lord after he took possession of the Ring. Those at the Council have no real reason to think that there is any real risk of Ring-bearers (other than Sauron, and perhaps Gandalf) becoming a danger to the world.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
A small aside - disregarding for a moment whether the folks at the other end would accept the Ring.

The practicality of actually getting the Ring across the sea is dubious at best. I mean, right from step one, do they send Frodo (and Sam I suppose) on the boat, or do they violently strip him of the Ring and send it without him?

Would a boat carrying Frodo (and Sam), irrespective of the Ring being on board, even make it to the Blessed Realm at this point in their lives?

Would a boat carrying the Ring, which was stripped away from Frodo through violence, be able to complete it's journey without at least someone among the crew being overcome by desire to possess the Ring?

It feels untenable to even attempt the trip.

The alternate plane, the Orodruin plan, seems at least as difficult to pull off, but at least they have some assurance that if they mange the journey, the completion of the journey (Ring into Fire) will actually work. The sea-route has, at best, an uncertain chance of success at the other end.
Well, amysrevenge, they might send Frodo. Who knows whether a boat carrying him would make it across the old straight path? A plan I like to think about is to send Bombadil on the boat as Ring-bearer. Though it could be very difficult to persuade him to do it? Or, they could recruit some meek and mild Elf, from Lorien or Rivendell, or Mirkwood, who was not used to dominating others and get them to carry the Ring. They would not have time to learn to wield it and become a new Dark Lord before the trip was over?
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
Perhaps it's the power the Ring gives that corrupts people and/or their actions to evil? Absolute power corrupts absolutely, after all, and what the Ring gives the bearer is great power. So a very powerful person who wields the Ring may begin with good purpose, but because the Ring is intrinsically evil, the action and eventually the actor become corrupt. Gandalf says the Ring would gain power over him through pity. Galadriel tells Sam that she would begin by setting things to rights, but it would not end there. They might use the power for good, but would become addicted to the power for its own sake. But I did not take corruption to mean turning good to evil, but rather an eating away, like corruption of the body after death. Bilbo and Frodo have both had part of their souls and minds eaten away by the end. Neither has the power to start with to become a Dark Lord.

So it seems to me that there are two ways the Ring can turn a good person evil, first, by the desire it awakens in some people (Boromir and Saruman, of course, but also Galadriel for a very long time before she passes the test); and secondly by use of its power to dominate, a kind of drunkenness with power. It would not corrupt an evil person in that way, just grant power according to the person's stature. Bilbo never sought dominion, and never knew the power of the Ring, but the Ring acted on him perniciously. I don't think Gandalf was frightened after Bilbo's party just because it made him wonder what the Ring was. I think he was worried about Bilbo personally, and I think he has tracked Bilbo's recovery, enlisting Elrond's help in that, after he had left the Ring; and also worried about Frodo personally and what could happen to him. While Gandalf goes about his research, he does worry about them, as he tells Frodo. That's why he begins his story to Frodo with the personal danger of the Ring rather than the danger to the world. The Ring gained control of their minds in different ways - remember, back in the Shire, in one of his bouts of illness, Frodo talks about everything being empty now. He wanted to, and suffered greatly to, destroy the Ring, but the world is at some level empty for him without it. Being who he is, he has grown greatly from his suffering, but cannot be truly healed, at least in Middle Earth.
 

Dave Heinitz

New Member
Rachel,
These are great points. I think we might want to dig a bit deeper into your "two ways the Ring can turn a good person evil." If we look at the Ring's ability to drive beings toward (or enhance their desire for) domination of others, that can likely be argued to be an inherently evil trait, implying the Ring is evil. However, if the Ring simply provides "great power" and we accept that power corrupts, then the Ring can corrupt simply because it grants power, but this would not imply that the Ring is inherently evil. If it did, then anything that grants power (physical strength, wisdom, knowledge, lordship, etc...) would be inherently evil, and the only good direction would be away from anything that grants power. The implications of this line of thinking seem counter to most of what is written by Tolkien (strong Tulkas isn't evil, wise Elrond isn't evil, lordly Aragorn isn't evil), so I think the Ring's "evilness" must lie in something other than purely it's ability to grant power.
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
Rachel,
These are great points. I think we might want to dig a bit deeper into your "two ways the Ring can turn a good person evil." If we look at the Ring's ability to drive beings toward (or enhance their desire for) domination of others, that can likely be argued to be an inherently evil trait, implying the Ring is evil. However, if the Ring simply provides "great power" and we accept that power corrupts, then the Ring can corrupt simply because it grants power, but this would not imply that the Ring is inherently evil. If it did, then anything that grants power (physical strength, wisdom, knowledge, lordship, etc...) would be inherently evil, and the only good direction would be away from anything that grants power. The implications of this line of thinking seem counter to most of what is written by Tolkien (strong Tulkas isn't evil, wise Elrond isn't evil, lordly Aragorn isn't evil), so I think the Ring's "evilness" must lie in something other than purely it's ability to grant power.
Looking at Gandalf and Galadriel's explanations as to how they would start with good intentions then fall, I think part of the point the text is driving at is that the ends don't justify the means. Not only is the Ring powerful, but it's the wrong type of power. The One Ring was made to find and dominate the other Rings and using that kind of power enough to fight Sauron would just turn the wielder into a new Sauron, essentially.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
Yes, I agree with JJ48, that the Ring was made to dominate the other Rings, and Sauron put a good deal of his own strength into it specifically for that purpose. The wielder would thus be using Sauron's own power as well as his/her own, and Sauron's purposes would become part of whatever was done.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Rachel,

On another of your points, yes Gandalf is worried about Bilbo. But is there any evidence that the Ring has corrupted Bilbo towards evil? Not that I can see. The Ring may be wraithifiying Bilbo (slowly - after all, Gollum was Ring-bearer for 478 years without becoming wraithified) and Gandalf might be worried about that and about Bilbo's health. Gandalf might also wonder if the Ring is corrupting Bilbo towards evil, but the Counsellors have just seen Bilbo tell his entire story, and they, and we, should be able to see for ourselves that there is no such evidence. What Gandalf does see, of course, and it does worry him, is that Bilbo is becoming unhealthily possessive of the Ring.

Also, you seem to think that the Ring corrupts Saruman and Boromir. I am not so sure. The Ring never comes anywhere close to Saruman. Of course, Saruman gets corrupted, but I think he does that to himself, not that the Ring does that to him.

Boromir is in closer proximity to the Ring, but once again, I don't think the Ring has any agency in his downfall. Sure, the idea of the Ring, the thought of the Ring as a weapon which might defeat Sauron and defend Gondor, his doubts that throwing the Ring in the Fire will succeed (especially once Gandalf - who after all did manage to sneak in and out of Sauron's stronghold once before - is gone), and the thought that even if the Ring does get destroyed in the Fire, Sauron will still be there with all his armies to smash Gondor (though he might have thought that the destruction of the Ring might break the Nazgul, or at least break their link with Sauron ('There will be counsels taken, stronger than Morgul spells'), which would help with the war), contribute to his downfall. But I doubt that the Ring itself played an active agency role in all that.

It does not take magical artifacts of the Enemy to corrupt the good guys in Tolkien's world. It is a fallen world. Arda is Arda marred. Although there is pure evil in Tolkien's Arda, in my opinion, there is no pure good. All are fallen. Gandalf, Elrond, Frodo, Saruman, Boromir even the Valar. All have their flaws, none are saints. The only possible exceptions are Tom Bombadil and Samwise Gamgee
 
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Rachel Port

Active Member
Does the ring have to use its own agency to corrupt others? Maybe instead of being psychopathic it is borderline, and can sit and be passive while all around it people go crazy, fights break out, etc. (I saw that happen more than once when I worked for years in a state mental hospital.)

But seriously, you keep moving the goalposts and changing definitions. I offered another way to look at what possession of the Ring did to Bilbo and Frodo, another kind of corruption. And really we don't know that the Ring can do anything other than make some people invisible (after all, if it doesn't make Bombadil invisible, there might be others as well) and make them live much longer than normal if they are mortal. Oh, and trigger great possessiveness in those who own it, and covetousness in those who don't. So far no one except Sauron has used it for anything else - not even Isildur.

And if the characters in LOTR were all good or all evil, nobody would be reading it after more than half a century.
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
I think that one thing more than any other has convinced Gandalf that the Ring must be destroyed: While ever it is known to exist it will be a temptation for those who seek more power than they have been given naturally.

Even if Sauron can be defeated without using the Ring, others could be harmed by the idea of it. The one thing the Ring has in common with the Silmarilli is that people will do terrible things to possess them.

It doesn’t take a huge leap from that thought to ‘they wouldn’t take it’
 

Kate Neville

Active Member
This has been a fascinating thread to read (along with the other homework thread).

As usual, I come at the question from two perspectives: first-time reader (a true mental exercise at my age), and student of the broader Legendarium.

I think we all agree that a first-time reader, especially one coming to the story on the heels of The Hobbit (as I did), would take Elrond's words as authoritative based on his position within Elvish society. He was the one who recognized the swords Glamdring and Orcrist and read the moon runes on Thorin's map. His reputation for wisdom and knowledge of lore brought Boromir on his long journey from Gondor. And as he tells Frodo, his "memory reaches back even to the Elder Days." For the first time reader, Elrond is someone who "thinks, and knows things." The fact that no one questions him confirms his status within the group. And so we, like they, accept his judgment.

Nevertheless, students of his other writings naturally feel it unlikely that Tolkien would be so cavalier with his words. We know that Elrond can say what he did about his memory because Tolkien did, indeed, create Elrond, First-Age-born son of Eärendil and Elwing, long before beginning The Lord of the Rings. So Tolkien must have had something in mind when he put those words in Elrond's mouth. But as I can find no written explanation, I fear curious readers must rely on inference based on what we do know -- in other words, we have to create our own head-canon.

Like many others, I do not like to rely too heavily on explanations based on intuition, dreams, or visions, unless such things are specifically mentioned (as when Gandalf says that he feels Gollum has a part to play for good or ill, or when Elrond says after Frodo volunteers "this task is appointed for you"). His statement about those who dwell in the West is different -- it just feels like Elrond has information that others do not.

So where would that information come from?

1. Not Glorfindel, as had he returned from the Valinor with the notice that "you're on your own now, guys" he wouldn't have suggested sending the Ring back.

2. Possibly one of the Istari. Although their origin was not generally known, Cirdan must have known where they came from, and one can safely assume that both Elrond and Galadriel were made privy to the information. Although Gandalf is said to have had more friendship with the Elves, it is also true that Saruman was the head of the Order. I can well imagine that he would have made formal visits to both Elrond and Galadriel, and let them know that Middle-earth could expect no other help from the West.

3. The third option is my own personal head-canon, and is an asterisk tale from the days following the War of Wrath. The Silmarillion tells us that Elrond chose to be counted with the Elves, whereas Elros chose to go with Men. Someone had to tell them to choose, and there had to have been a moment of choice. The Host of the Valar was not led by any of the Valar, but by Eönwë, the herald of Manwë. I have always imagined that Elrond and Elros came before him and were offered the choice which Manwë decreed for their parents. At the same time, when most of the Elves returned to Valinor, and Elros and the survivors of the Three Houses of Men went to Númenor, all who remained in Middle-earth were warned that the future of Middle-earth was entirely in their hands. That having put Morgoth out into the Void, the Valar would never again take an active role in the governance of Middle-earth. This is why, when the first war with Sauron began, the Elves appealed not to Valinor, but to Númenor.

Of course, Elrond might just have been listening to squirrel gossip.
 

MatthewW

New Member
Given Glorfindel's knowledge of the Blessed Realm, I doubt he would have suggested sending the Ring there unless he thought that would be acceptable to the Valar. Then, of course, Elrond says the Valar would not receive it. Glorfindel just accepts that and does not question it. What is going on here?

Option 1: Glorfindel just accepts that Elrond is the boss, and the chair of the meeting, and he is not going to question him?
Option 2: Glorfindel considers that somehow Elrond has better knowledge of what the Valar will and will not do than he does?

I am slightly inclined towards option 2, as I think that Glorfindel may be of sufficient status to question Elrond without seeming insubordinate or rude (no evidence really, just supposition).
(Finally caught up after 2+ years of listening, so finally joining in the current discussions! Yay!)

I don't think this is just an issue of who has the better knowledge of the Valar. Glorfindel does have more (direct) experience with them, and might even know more about them, but the question at hand is not just a matter of knowledge—it's a matter of wisdom. Glorfindel is renowned for many things, but not necessarily for his wisdom. Elrond, on the other hand, is renowned for his wisdom as a counsellor. This sort of question seems to be precisely in Elrond's wheelhouse, as it were.

Maybe Glorfindel is just throwing options out there, perhaps with an element of wishful thinking. Elrond's response is more in tune with How Things Work (i.e., the Music), and Glorfindel seems to recognize the right answer when he hears it, even if he couldn't identify it himself.

In fact, maybe that's the answer to the larger question of why no one questions Elrond here. Maybe they all recognize the right answer, even if they couldn't have thought of it themselves. Or at least, they recognize Elrond's wisdom/discernment in general, and feel (rightly) that he ought to be listened to on matters like this.

Another thought: Elrond saying that "they who dwell beyond the Sea would not receive it" is not the same as saying that they won't help. In fact, Elrond seems from the start to have recognized the hand of Providence at work in these events (everyone showing up without a summons, etc). He also knows about the Istari as the instruments of the Valar. So far, the Valar have been working by empowering and directing the inhabitants of Middle Earth. That could be the trend in the Music that Elrond is intuiting here, leading him to conclude that removing the Ring from Middle Earth altogether wouldn't be their style.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Good thoughts Kate and MatthewW,

One of the puzzling things about Elrond's pronouncement is how definitive it is. "They who dwell beyond the Sea would not receive it: for good or ill it belongs to Middle-earth; it is for us who still dwell here to deal with it."

If Elrond was intuiting this, would he not have been slightly more tentative?

If Elrond had had this direct from the Valar, would he not have said so?

Might he have got this insight from his Elvish Ring? He will soon say, of the Three, that they were for, "understanding, making, and healing, to preserve all things unstained." Where in Arda is the best example of these conditions? Valinor. Where did the Elvish Smiths of Eregion get the power to put these attributes into the Rings? Could they have tapped into Valinor somehow?

If Elrond's assertion came through an insight delivered through his Ring, through a connection between his Ring and Valinor, then might this not explain both how Elrond could be so definitive, and why he could not explain how he could be so definitive? "Of them (the Three) it is not permitted to speak." That is another statement that Elrond will shortly make?

What do you think about the hypothesis that Elrond's Ring was somehow involved in his knowledge that the Valar would not receive the One Ring?
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
What do you think about the hypothesis that Elrond's Ring was somehow involved in his knowledge that the Valar would not receive the One Ring?
I personally don't see any reason to connect the Three to Valinor, and the idea that they somehow "tapped into Valinor" sounds potentially problematic to me. Then again, I also don't see an issue with Elrond simply having studied enough about the Valar and their role in history to reason out the answer, either.
 

Kate Neville

Active Member
Good thoughts Kate and MatthewW,

One of the puzzling things about Elrond's pronouncement is how definitive it is. "They who dwell beyond the Sea would not receive it: for good or ill it belongs to Middle-earth; it is for us who still dwell here to deal with it."

If Elrond was intuiting this, would he not have been slightly more tentative?

If Elrond had had this direct from the Valar, would he not have said so?

Might he have got this insight from his Elvish Ring? He will soon say, of the Three, that they were for, "understanding, making, and healing, to preserve all things unstained." Where in Arda is the best example of these conditions? Valinor. Where did the Elvish Smiths of Eregion get the power to put these attributes into the Rings? Could they have tapped into Valinor somehow?

If Elrond's assertion came through an insight delivered through his Ring, through a connection between his Ring and Valinor, then might this not explain both how Elrond could be so definitive, and why he could not explain how he could be so definitive? "Of them (the Three) it is not permitted to speak." That is another statement that Elrond will shortly make?

What do you think about the hypothesis that Elrond's Ring was somehow involved in his knowledge that the Valar would not receive the One Ring?
I think there is something to 'intuit' there, Flammifer, which actually relates to my theory. All the Rings seem to have been made with the intention of making the wearers more able to affect the world in ways that were important to them, but I'll focus on the Elven Rings. As you quoted, the Elves desired to preserve, to understand, and to heal the world, and so their rings would amplify their natural ability to do so. It is the 'understanding' that is most relevant to this discussion.

I think you may be right that the holders of the Rings were more sensitive to what actions are and are not right for Middle-earth. Apparently both Elrond and (by his silence) Gandalf know (believe? feel?) that the Ring belongs to Middle-earth and should not, would not, could not be pawned off on the residents of Valinor. I still think that Elrond (and probably Galadriel) had some direct knowledge about how Valinor would and would not act in Middle-earth after the First Age.

You ask where Celebrimbor got the ability to put power into the Rings. From Sauron, AKA Annatar, a Maiar in the following of Aüle. (I expect there was singing involved, as I am put in mind of the battle of song between Sauron and Finrod in the Lay of Leithian, where singing produces a material effect, stripping the Elves of their disguises.) But I have never thought that any of the Rings added anything to a wearer that wasn't already there -- which may be why hobbits make excellent One-Ringbearers. But I digress, and will save this topic for 2026, when we get to the Mirror of Galadriel and Frodo asks Galadriel why he doesn't seem to be able to do anything with the Ring.
 
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