What are the powers of the Ring?

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
So the Ring is like the continuum transfunctioner: It’s a mysterious and powerful device who’s mystery is only exceeded by its power
 
What I'm understanding from these discussions is that most of us want to understand the effects of the Ring, even if we don't want to know how it achieves those effects. Our problem comes from trying to project what the effects are in cases that we haven't observed, which is most of them, because the Ring is actually used so few times, and by so few people. That's when we need to understand how the Ring works, in order to be able to estimate its effects in situations Tolkien didn't write about.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Thank you for this summary. Like LyndonLeaves, I always enjoy it when you do this (whether I agree or not).

I never thought of it as his being able to recover his powers from the Ring, but that, wearing the Ring again, his remaining power and the power he put into the Ring would work together so he would operate at full power.
Hi Rachel,

I wanted to address something you wrote way back in the early days of this thread. Would Sauron's remaining power, and the power he put into the Ring 'work together' to make Sauron able to operate 'at full power'? Is there any reason to believe that Sauron would gain any power other than the power to dominate the Three, (or at least 'lay bare all their works'), if he recovered the One Ring?

I know that many people infer this, but here is some counter evidence. When Sauron went 'captive' to Numenor to achieve the greatest victory in his long and legendary career, he left the One Ring behind, in Middle-earth. (The participants in the Council, may or may not know this. It depends on whether Elrond covered it when 'he spoke of Numenor, its Glory and its Fall'. The first-time reader does not know this.)

Now, if Sauron was more powerful with the Ring, why on Earth would he have left it behind when he went to Numenor? I guess it might have been because he was no more powerful with the One Ring than without it, except when dealing with the other Rings. None of the other Rings were in Numenor. They were all back in Middle-earth. So, no point in taking the One Ring with him to Numenor. It gave him no advantage there.

Other than in dealings with the Three, is there any evidence anywhere that would support the supposition that Sauron would gain other powers if he recovered the One?
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
I'm no expert on Numenor, but I think of Sauron's career there as a seduction rather like the way he was able to seduce Celebrimbor and many others into confidence and knowledge sharing, which led ultimately to the creation of the One Ring. If we compare the two, Sauron's greatest victories don't depend on strength, but on this ability to seduce, to waken trust. But that is a power he has lost after his defeat by the Last Alliance, since he can no longer assume an attractive shape. So Sauron at this point must depend on force, and the Ring would augment his abilities there.

I would amend that earlier comment, since my own thinking about the Ring has become clearer during this discussion. I don't see the Ring as having powers, as if Sauron said, I have this many powers, I will put x percentage of them into the Ring." Rather, the creation itself weakened him. Think of how Gandalf, keeping the rear guard in Moria to give the others time to escape, tells the others that he had had to put forth such strength that he was spent, and when he first sees the Balrog clearly he says that once again. Or like some of the Wizards' strength is in their staves, so that breaking a Wizard's staff weakens that Wizard - in an early version of the battle on the Bridge of Khazad-dum, Gandalf's staff is broken, and of course there is the dramatic confrontation at Orthanc where Gandalf breaks Saruman's staff. So the loss of the Ring is more like this kind of weakening of his power made permanent by the loss of the Ring, the artifact on which he spent it.
 

Forodan

Member
Now, if Sauron was more powerful with the Ring, why on Earth would he have left it behind when he went to Numenor? I guess it might have been because he was no more powerful with the One Ring than without it, except when dealing with the other Rings. None of the other Rings were in Numenor. They were all back in Middle-earth. So, no point in taking the One Ring with him to Numenor. It gave him no advantage there.

Other than in dealings with the Three, is there any evidence anywhere that would support the supposition that Sauron would gain other powers if he recovered the One?
If it were simply a matter of the Ring not conferring advantages in the particular way he needed, it would still have made sense to bring it with him to keep it safe. It does contain a large proportion of his 'power' in some sense. But there is a very good 'positive' reason to leave the Ring behind when he goes to Numenor. He is pretending to be a captive. Now, if you are a captive how do you refuse to hand over some shining important looking Ring if the putative 'captor' wants to see it? Granted, it's unlikely the Ar-Pharazon could have comprehended what it was or how to use it, but nevertheless, the risk was there. He would then have to either refuse, and 'blow his cover' of pretending to submit, or hand it over. The possibility that the mark^H^H^H^H captor would want to get his grubby hands on it was a greater risk than leaving it behind in a huge fortress full of loyal (well, if 'fearful' is the same as loyal) servants. Certainly he would have 'private chambers' where no fawning lackey would dare to snoop around, and he could lock it in some sort of box/chest/vault to be extra sure.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
If it were simply a matter of the Ring not conferring advantages in the particular way he needed, it would still have made sense to bring it with him to keep it safe. It does contain a large proportion of his 'power' in some sense. But there is a very good 'positive' reason to leave the Ring behind when he goes to Numenor. He is pretending to be a captive. Now, if you are a captive how do you refuse to hand over some shining important looking Ring if the putative 'captor' wants to see it? Granted, it's unlikely the Ar-Pharazon could have comprehended what it was or how to use it, but nevertheless, the risk was there. He would then have to either refuse, and 'blow his cover' of pretending to submit, or hand it over. The possibility that the mark^H^H^H^H captor would want to get his grubby hands on it was a greater risk tnhan leaving it behind in a huge fortress full of loyal (well, if 'fearful' is the same as loyal) servants. Certainly he would have 'private chambers' where no fawning lackey would dare to snoop around, and he could lock it in some sort of box/chest/vault to be extra sure.
Hi Forodan,

You are right that one reason why Sauron might not have wanted to bring the Ring to Numenor, is that he wanted to keep it safe. All the more reason if it would give him no advantage in Numenor, but would back in Middle-earth, once he returned there. However, I would have thought that Sauron was perfectly capable of hiding the Ring from the Numenoreans if he wanted to, and, if it gave him an advantage in Numenor (by making him more powerful). Bilbo managed to hide the Ring from almost all and sundry for decades. If Bilbo could hide the Ring just by keeping it in his pocket, I see no reason why Sauron couldn't do the same, or better?

No, I do think Sauron thought the Ring was safer left in Middle-earth, but I don't think that would have convinced him to leave it there if he thought it would make him stronger in Numenor. I guess that the Ring did not add anything to Sauron's powers except in allowing him to dominate the other Rings. He traded part of his power to gain that advantage. Is there any evidence that he would gain any of those powers back if he regained the Ring?

Once he put those powers in the Ring, I think they were gone. Just like (as per 'Histories of Middle-earth'), Morgoth lost some of his own powers permanently from putting them into Orcs, dragons, Utumno, Thangorodrim, etc. etc. Of course, Morgoth got all those things in return for contributing some of his inherent power, and so did Sauron. He got the ability (more or less - since he seemed to mess up some of it) to dominate the other Rings.

Is there any evidence that Sauron would gain any other powers if he recovered the Ring?
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
Well, Bilbo kept the Ring hidden in his pocket in a place where nobody had any idea such things existed, and probably wouldn't have believed it if anyone had told them. People knew he had treasure from his adventure, and if they caught a glimpse of something in his pocket, it wouldn't have made an impression. But it was the Shire that kept the Ring hidden all those years, a place so out of the way, so far from wielding any power in the world, that those outside who knew about magic rings, who may have thought this particular one still existed and gone looking for it, never came close.
 

Forodan

Member
Hi Forodan,

You are right that one reason why Sauron might not have wanted to bring the Ring to Numenor, is that he wanted to keep it safe. All the more reason if it would give him no advantage in Numenor, but would back in Middle-earth, once he returned there. However, I would have thought that Sauron was perfectly capable of hiding the Ring from the Numenoreans if he wanted to, and, if it gave him an advantage in Numenor (by making him more powerful). Bilbo managed to hide the Ring from almost all and sundry for decades. If Bilbo could hide the Ring just by keeping it in his pocket, I see no reason why Sauron couldn't do the same, or better?

No, I do think Sauron thought the Ring was safer left in Middle-earth, but I don't think that would have convinced him to leave it there if he thought it would make him stronger in Numenor. I guess that the Ring did not add anything to Sauron's powers except in allowing him to dominate the other Rings. He traded part of his power to gain that advantage. Is there any evidence that he would gain any of those powers back if he regained the Ring?

Once he put those powers in the Ring, I think they were gone. Just like (as per 'Histories of Middle-earth'), Morgoth lost some of his own powers permanently from putting them into Orcs, dragons, Utumno, Thangorodrim, etc. etc. Of course, Morgoth got all those things in return for contributing some of his inherent power, and so did Sauron. He got the ability (more or less - since he seemed to mess up some of it) to dominate the other Rings.

Is there any evidence that Sauron would gain any other powers if he recovered the Ring?
Bilbo had an entire estate to live in, was not required to obey anyone else's orders, and only had to deal with 'other people' part of the time. Sauron as captive would have had to go where his 'captor' told him, live as his 'captor' told him, and hand over anything he was carrying if told to. At least if he wanted to keep up the appearance of being a captive. I think the risk of Ar-Pharazon noticing the Ring was non-trivial.

And no, I don't think he would have gained any 'powers' / abilities from recovering the One Ring other than the knowledge of what had been done with the other Rings, especially the Three, while he was ... indisposed? ... after being defeated.
 
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