As if we have not mulled over Providence, Boethius and Tolkien enough, I want to underline something that was implied in Session 178 -- Seasoned Deliberations. It was mentioned that the Valar could have seen to it that the Ring actually did get sent down the River to the Sea, But they did not. In other words, if the Valar --presumably under the influence of Eru, could have Providentially sent the Ring either to oblivion in the Sea or safety among the Valar. But they did not. This then is the other side of Providence. Conventionally thought of as benevolent and protective, Providence should also be thought of as -- if not as hostile -- then as challenging. It is actually a side of the Will of God... Usually, as I say, thought of as its"nice" side, as opposed to the stern or even displeased, wrathful side. But by not "taking care" of the Ring Itself on behalf of the inhabitants of Middle-earth, it is demonstrating a relation to them that is neither benevolent at first glance, nor negative. As Prof Corey notes, Tolkien is always very circumspect about the role of Providence, merely hinting at its behind the scenes presence in comments about luck or happenstance, if mentioned at all -- rather than just being active in how the plot situations occur (the timing of the Elrond Council and its assemblage). What these comments (in the narrative, and in our comments) about the lingering presence of the Ring (on the one hand being kept out of sight vis a vis Sauron, but on the other, still un-disposed of) indicates that it is the Will of Eru (and thus of the Valar too) that it is the legacy of Middle-earth, and it is the business of its denizens to deal with it, successfully or not. In fact, it might be the deep reason why Middle-earth exists at all! This moral struggle is what will justify its existence or condemn it, if they fail through negligence or venality. Now, we are perilously close to the worst of crit-fic here, of course. Where does "Providence" within Arda end and Tolkien begin? But let's bracket that meta-textual issue out (the way Phenomenologists bracket out metaphysical issues in philosophy). Another way of stating what I am driving at here is: The cosmic Music of Eru et Ainur has a great theme... one development of that Great Theme is the creation, action, and response to the One Ring. The One Ring is the focal point that puts all that happens and all those that "happen" it into perspective. The whole picture is arranged around this one issue, one concrete thing. What defines the content is not the frame, but the frame is defined by the content... In the case of Middle-earth there is much left beyond the frame, only mentioned in passing and not explicitly imaged. To use another term, familiar to film goers, it is the Macguffin of the whole Tale. In once sense it is a bit arbitrary that it be a ring, but in another, somehow intrinsic. Or to use another term, that would appeal to chemists, it is the catalyst not only of the Tale, but of the calling into existence (directly or no) of Middle-earth and its entire historical path. OK, what is the point of all this? That I am trying to peel off the layers as to why the prime movers (Elrond, Gandalf et al) and we definitively sense that laying the Ring in the lap of the Valar is not a worthy option. They would simply refuse to take it and send it back. This is your baby, guys. Whether it would tempt them or not, is not the real point. You in effect brought it into being, even though Sauron is the proximate agent, Your gold is the material cause, that it is a ring is the formal cause, Sauron is the efficient cause... and -- this is most important -- the Three Elvish Rings are the Final Cause -- the teleological cause -- the reason why gold, ring and Sauron came together in it! (Everybody will of course see Aristotle lurking with a self-satisfied smirk in the background here.) The One Ring is, in its essence and being, an ELVISH problem! In a very real sense the Ring is indeed a counterpoint to the Silmarils -- another Elvish problem. (But very different as was [pointed out in the Sessopns).... However, the Three Rings are direct analogues to the Three Silmarils. Tolkien may have spread out his theme, like Eru, into three almost endless ages. But in fact, the three ages come crashing into collision via the three Rings and the three Silmarils. The Elves were not very nice (to use a favorite word of Smeagol) in dealing with the Silmarils which were not malicious in intent. But the Ring is. Are the Elves up to this task? Or are they a bit wiser and decide to leave it in better hands? Namely, that of frail, diminutive, unsuspecting Hobbits!! Pride was the Elves downfall in the First Age. And Men's in the Second. Will the humble and unassuming do better? But woven into that commission of the mission, have been and will be the tests of the Elves. Exemplified in Lady Galadriel. And the tests of Men -- as in Boromir and Aragorn, and most nobly of all, Faramir, In sum, fear to resist the Will of God. He knows of more alternatives to see to it that His Will is responded to than mere mortals, or mere everlasting Elves know.