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Old 07-16-2015, 09:11 AM   #81
William Cloud Hicklin
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A thought about "binding his unseen sinews to his will"....

Compare the passage, not many pages before, where Tolkien describes the effect of the mere presence of the Nazgul on men, the ultimate psychological weapon:

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...letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war, but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death.
One of my favorite passages, the voice of the Somme veteran who had witnessed shell-shock personally.

But it strikes me now that in an ironic way, the ancient smith of Arnor had managed to turn the tables, giving the Shriekers a taste of their own Black Breath, as it were.
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:49 AM   #82
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Pipe Also his son's shell-shock

Tolkien's second son Michael, who served in WW2, suffered from shell-shock as a result.
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Old 07-21-2015, 03:28 PM   #83
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Yes, but I don't think we're talking about exactly the same thing. Michael unquestionably suffered from what today we call PTSD- but that is, as it says, post-trauma. What Tolkien briefly described in the Siege of Gondor was something else, the paralysis of will that is the trauma, as it were, where naked fear overcomes all discipline, training or courage, the point where a man is said to "break." It happens and has happened on all battlefields in all ages, but under the shellstorms of the Western Front probably more than most.
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Old 01-26-2016, 09:53 PM   #84
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And I realize that you don’t wish to discuss this. The problem is that your lack of argument doesn’t solve the problem. Gandalf first introduces the term “A Ring of Power” in referring to the three Elvish Rings created by the Elven-smiths of Eregion. Then he says that no-one in history, as far as he is aware, before Bilbo, has ever given up a Ring of Power to another voluntarily.
I will simply add that Cirdan voluntarily and with great foresight surrendered a "Ring of Power" to Gandalf himself. And Gil-Galad entrusted Vilya, the most powerful of the three Elven rings, to Elrond. Those were both prior to Bilbo giving up the One Ring.

Next.
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Old 01-27-2016, 08:06 AM   #85
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I will simply add that Cirdan voluntarily and with great foresight surrendered a "Ring of Power" to Gandalf himself. And Gil-Galad entrusted Vilya, the most powerful of the three Elven rings, to Elrond. Those were both prior to Bilbo giving up the One Ring.

Next.
Heh, Gandalf was being cagey about that, since he had Narya in his pocket.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:50 AM   #86
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I will simply add that Cirdan voluntarily and with great foresight surrendered a "Ring of Power" to Gandalf himself. And Gil-Galad entrusted Vilya, the most powerful of the three Elven rings, to Elrond. Those were both prior to Bilbo giving up the One Ring.

Next.
I think often statements that sound complete and encompassing aren't meant to be taken as literal fact. You have Gandalf's statement about Bilbo giving up the Ring:

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'A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo. It may slip off treacherously, but its keeper never abandons it....But as far as I know Bilbo alone in history has ever gone beyond playing, and really done it.~The Shadow of the Past
its keeper never abandons it...and Bilbo alone in history I don't think are meant to be interpreted as absolute fact. Compare that to a statement about the Grey Company

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"He led the Company forth upon the journey of greatest haste and weariness that any among them had known... No other mortal men could have endured it, none but the Dunedain of the North, and with them Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas of the Elves.".~The Passing of the Grey Company
Elladan and Elrohir seem to be forgotten in this statement. They were indeed with the Grey Company and endured the Paths of the Dead. If we interpret this statement literally, than Elladan and Elrohir weren't there at all. I think sometimes with these absolute statements, Tolkien just went with what sounded better, or what flowed better on the page. And he wasn't really thinking about whether speaking in absolutes were literal fact.

"its keeper never abandons it" and "Bilbo alone in history" just flows better than "Bilbo, Cirdan, and Gil-galad, alone in history..." Similar to the Passing of the Grey Company "and with them Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas of the Elves," is more poetic than say..."and with them Gimli the Dwarf, and Legolas of the Elves, and the sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir." It's just my opinion to interpret these types of absolute statements as hyperbole, and what flows better on the page.
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Old 01-27-2016, 02:02 PM   #87
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its keeper never abandons it...and Bilbo alone in history I don't think are meant to be interpreted as absolute fact.
What about the Seven, which apparently were passed on from keeper to keeper voluntarily as a matter of course?

I think Gandalf was mainly talking about the One when he told that to Frodo. After all, that was the Ring with which they were mainly concerned at that time.
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Old 01-27-2016, 08:27 PM   #88
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What about the Seven, which apparently were passed on from keeper to keeper voluntarily as a matter of course?

I think Gandalf was mainly talking about the One when he told that to Frodo. After all, that was the Ring with which they were mainly concerned at that time.
Precisely my point when replying to a nitpicker picking nits with nary a nit to pick.

Gandalf expressed to Frodo exactly what he needed to know. He didn't at all refer to the separate powers of preservation evident in the three Elven Rings. He didn't mention them at all, because it was not Frodo's business - he must concentrate on the lures of the One in order to combat its effects. He needed to know that the Nine were drawn to the One like moths (albeit invisible moths) to a dark flame.

The Three were hidden and remained so until Galadriel revealed hers to Frodo. In any case when Gandalf refers to giving up a Ring of Power willingly, he was not talking about the Three, as they were given up quite readily by their previous possessors.

Technically speaking, the Seven Dwarven Rings were bequeathed from father to son as well, although maybe the sons had rip the rings from their fathers' cold, dead clutches.
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Old 01-28-2016, 07:32 AM   #89
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At least Thror gave his ring to Thrain bevor his death.

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Old 01-29-2016, 08:57 AM   #90
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Narya The Seven Rings

Morthoron and Findegil, you made some good contributions about the Seven Rings given to the Dwarf lords.

The only dwarf lord family we know of, who had one of those rings and its disposal being talked about, was the House of Durin. It was made clear that its head, Thror, before he went to Moria and was killed by Azog, gave his ring to his son and heir Thrain II; but Thrain did not in his turn give it to his son Thorin II, it being taken off him by Sauron after he had imprisoned and tortured him.

It is reasonable to assume that such rings were passed on by the head to his heir, usually his son, as a matter of course. Perhaps the heir had to take it from the body of the deceased lord, or perhaps it was passed on by the lord on his deathbed. What evidence we have suggests that, on at least one occasion, this passing on happened earlier, if the head felt that he would be killed and his body plundered by enemies.

The point about the Seven is that, unlike the Nine, Sauron was unable to control the Dwarf lords as he had the nine Men, eventually turning them into wraiths. As those rings, from his point of view, didn't 'work', he appeared to have decided either to destroy them, which happened with four, or to take them, which happened with three, the one he took off Thrain being the last.
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Old 04-16-2016, 04:12 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
I will simply add that Cirdan voluntarily and with great foresight surrendered a "Ring of Power" to Gandalf himself. And Gil-Galad entrusted Vilya, the most powerful of the three Elven rings, to Elrond. Those were both prior to Bilbo giving up the One Ring.

Next.
Hello there Orthoron_M it's great to see your post. I was only yesterday, pondering a question about the differences between the Powers of Preservation and their variation (or divergent powers) in the Nine and the Seven.

You have clarified a point I do not understand, about the relative power of the three. I appreciate that Elrond being 'kinda' the 'next king-ish' of Elves (after Gil Galad's death) should get the most powerful Ring. For Gil Galad was of Turgon's line*. So, in any case it's funny that the Kingship jumped to Ereinion rather that Elrond after Turgon's death. I don't get that, first of all, though it's an aside. Hence the *

But I do not see Imladris as more 'preserved' in the way that the Elves obsessed about a non-fading world and sun (I read somewhere that it's Morgoth's influence over the Sun that is implicated in The Fading of Middle Earth). In fact, 'Unfading was an obsession, and The Elessar II (or whatever was going on with that headache of a 'two Elessar' green stone thing), and Celebrimbor made a Green Stone for that purpose. They (Elves) were after a Power Conduit for a while - a bit like Helium 3 technology atm, and mining it from the moon's surface. (it's great to see you

Anyways, Laurlindorenan has a great Nett Area 'Preservation' Annexe and we seem to find the Lore of the Ring changing the very flow of time in Caras Caladhon. Recall, Frodo and co spent a month and time seemed "not to have passed at all", and the coincidence of the sickle moon upon leaving and all that. Clearly Tolkien was making us aware of something very significant about Galadriel's Realm that we don't see in Rivendell. In any case, how is it that Galadriel does this. More Elvish mojo in her? Thus, she must also have been pretty annoyed at getting Power Number Two, but showing off her realm to her poor, weaker cousin/relative in his titchy Rivendell.

Both prior points, lacking concision-Ivriniel (CI) do in any case, have some merit to the third point. About The Three.

We are told that the One was made after the Three. We are told that Sauron had to imbue much of his native power/essence into the One in order to get an 'Annexe'-Interdict effect to subsume influence of the Three. All that perversion of that Elvish Telepathy thing implicated in his megalomania in the 'being perceived' remotely by Sauron thing. This is interesting of itself as well, because it was a means to influence a race that shut him out (and Elvish Telepathy - what's that word for it?) was denied to Sauron ordinarily. He had torture or do something really base and barbaric and not very efficient to 'get information' ordinarily.

In any case - what Power went into the Three to allow them to be Great Rings, when we all know darned well that Sauron was 'lessened' (without his Ring) in power. What? Did Celebrimbor 'have that much' native power to imbue Elvish Rings? Sauron never touched them.


*grin warning*
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Old 04-17-2016, 01:56 PM   #92
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For Gil Galad was of Turgon's line*. So, in any case it's funny that the Kingship jumped to Ereinion rather that Elrond after Turgon's death. I don't get that, first of all, though it's an aside. Hence the *
Um, no: Turgon had only one child, Idril, and one male heir, Earendil.

Gil-galad's parentage is one of those areas of unfinished Tolkien uncertainy. T's original idea, explicily, was to make him (Inglor >) Finrod Felagund's son. But then he decided Felagund would remain single and childless, and it appears that after a brief flirtation with making him Fingon's son (which CT erroneously included in the 1977 edition) GG wound up Felagund's great-nephew, son of Orodreth son of Aegnor.

The final arrangement actually makes sense if we assume that the Noldor practiced Salic succession: the kingship could pass only in the male line. Fingolfin > Fingon > Turgon > Gil-Galad (Idril and Galadriel being disqualified, GG was the only surviving male-line heir of the House of Finwe). Note that even after GG's death, neither Elrond nor Galadriel ever claimed the crown.

What doesn't make sense is making GG Fingon's son; in that case why would the succession temporarily bypass him and go to his uncle?
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:33 PM   #93
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grin warning*
Hi William the grin was for deliberate misplacement on Gil Galad into the same lineage as Elrond to open up the Salic concept, by placing Gil Galad where (the) King (or) Queen should next originate from, (given) Turgon was High King. Because as I saw it also:

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What doesn't make sense is making GG Fingon's son; in that case why would the succession temporarily bypass him and go to his uncle?
You are right it doesn't.

Either way (doing away with Salic ideas in Elvendom, I'd have thought Elves would be less sexist. Tolkien was good with female heroes: Silmarien, Elwing, Melian, Galadriel, Luthien, Eowyn.....Rosie Cotton hahahah) Elrond as High King under Turgon (Turgon-Idril-->Elros-Elrond), or Gil Galad as a son of Turgon - succession without sexism looks like that. The bit you added that I didn't know was about the year = 1977 edition. Thank you

Gil Galad, the 'headache' High King, in much the same way Galadriel and Celeborn are (that history does my head in but I love it). I agree with you. He should be Angrod's* grandson, nephew of Orodreth.

*Grin warning
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Old 05-18-2016, 01:04 PM   #94
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I think we can safely say that neither Círdan nor Gil-galad ever used one of the Three during the Second Age. Therefore them giving away Narya and Vilya doesn't cause a huge problem.

We don't know whether a ring-bearer actually is such a person if he/she just has such a ring in her closet somewhere. Especially the Three should be free of any direct evil influence causing any person keeping them to also use them. Not to mention the knowledge of those keepers that putting them on and using them would soon put them under Sauron's control.

But Galadriel, Elrond, or Gandalf easily parting with Nenya, Vilya, or Narya at the very end of the Third Age - when all of those rings had been in use for 2000-3000 years - is actually very unlikely.

As to the general effectiveness of the Rings of Power on Men:

Well, their clearly weren't designed for Men. Sauron wanted to use them the Elves of Eregion, after all. They were all elven-rings. However, they worked pretty fine on men, too. One assumes that Men mostly used the Nine to enhance their powers - to excel at whatever they were best at or wanted to be best at - but in the end they would have used the inherent preservation power of the rings (which was the main feature of all Rings of Power) on themselves, to be able to remain *alive* even after their time was long over. If pretty much nothing of that butter remains on that bread you most likely look like your average Nazgûl.

In some cases the preservation thing might also have worked inadvertently, with Sauron actually slowly transforming the wearers of the Nine into his Nazgûl-slaves. One assumes none of them actually intended becoming what they eventually became.

The Valar (and at least Sauron via the Rings of Power) clearly had the power/ability to bend the rules in regard to the whole Gift of Men thing. Tolkien's speculations about a Man living in Aman suggests as much, as does Morgoth's ability to keep Húrin alive against his will. I guess one can imagine this as the powers of the Valar being able to block a door or build a dam. Eventually the water is going to break through but if you put a lot of effort into this whole thing it might take a while. A pretty long while, actually.

If somebody like Morgoth focused his entire might on keeping one Man alive forever it most likely could work. It would be living hell for that guy, of course, but it would work.

Whether the Ringwraiths actually still retain 'human flesh' as we would see it isn't clear. Whatever keeps them able to interact with physical reality after their many returns (they go into the shadow after the Ring is taken from Sauron's body) might actually be closer to the fake-flesh the Valar/Maiar used make themselves visible or simply the sort of spiritual power that enables the Valar/Maiar to interact with the physical reality while they don't have any bodies (in the old days they could do that pretty easily).

I'd also assume that none of the Ringwraiths actually ever 'physically died' (and then sort of returned from the dead like a ghost) but that these men were actually physically consumed by the power of their rings - at least on a certain level - because their rings could actually not properly do this life preservation thing their bearers wanted them to do on their bodies. Perhaps Morgoth could have created Rings of Power that could have allowed a man to keep his body and good looks for millennia but that would have been too much for Sauron - especially in light of the fact that the Rings of Power were never designed for Mortals.

To fully become a Ringwraith you most likely have to become the total slave of that Ring. Isildur or Samwise didn't carry the One for a long period of time. It also didn't break down Frodo yet (or rather: not until the very end) but Gollum had a pretty good chance to never die a natural death but becoming more and more consumed simply by his connection to the One Ring and his continued existence.

I'm also not inclined to believe that a Man in possession of Ring of Power who has not become fully enslaved or been transformed into a Ringwraith could ever become if he dies a sudden and unnatural death - especially not the type of death after which his corpse is stripped off the ring which is then used by a new bearer. A violent death should be a sufficient trauma to separate spirit and body and could thus also break whatever mental shackles the ring had already bound his bearer with. Or not. That is really hard to speculate on.
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Old 05-18-2016, 01:20 PM   #95
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The Valar (and at least Sauron via the Rings of Power) clearly had the power/ability to bend the rules in regard to the whole Gift of Men thing. Tolkien's speculations about a Man living in Aman suggests as much, as does Morgoth's ability to keep Húrin alive against his will. I guess one can imagine this as the powers of the Valar being able to block a door or build a dam. Eventually the water is going to break through but if you put a lot of effort into this whole thing it might take a while. A pretty long while, actually.
I've always seen the 'immortality' of the Nazgûl as being the result of their ultimate, total subjugation to Sauron's will. He had utterly 'swallowed' their innate spirits into his own fea; thus they were tied to him as long as he himself retained the power to physically exist in Middle-earth.

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Whether the Ringwraiths actually still retain 'human flesh' as we would see it isn't clear. Whatever keeps them able to interact with physical reality after their many returns (they go into the shadow after the Ring is taken from Sauron's body) might actually be closer to the fake-flesh the Valar/Maiar used make themselves visible or simply the sort of spiritual power that enables the Valar/Maiar to interact with the physical reality while they don't have any bodies (in the old days they could do that pretty easily).
I think they retained their original forms. I don't see why passing into the Hidden Realm, not actually dying, would have altered their bodies.
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Old 05-19-2016, 05:24 AM   #96
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@Inziladun:

I'd say there were absorbed by their own rings/the One Ring who then totally controlled and 'bound them'. In a sense they were thus also bound to Sauron but only through the One Ring. I think we can safely say that a new Dark Lord - say, Gandalf or Galadriel, using the One to topple Sauron - would then also have commanded the allegiance of the Nazgûl. Perhaps even before they had dealt with Sauron directly because they most certainly wouldn't have been able to attack or even oppose a powerful wielder of the One - regardless whether Sauron in Barad-dûr had still a body or was already reduced to a powerless spirit.

The question what the Hidden Realm actually is is actually quite intriguing. Are the Nazgûl truly invisible to anyone? I don't think so. The 'default setting' of the One seems to be to make a wearer invisible/draw him/her into the spirit world, and neither Gollum nor Bilbo or Frodo ever had the power/control to change that. What was the purpose of this?

One assume it had to do with Sauron's great desire to find the One after he had lost it, and on the spirit plane it would have been much easier for him to discover such a wearer, perhaps even more so while Sauron himself still lacked a body. After all, everything that was Sauron's or made/accomplished with the One Ring would have become the property of a usurping Dark Lord had he/she been successful at that.

We certainly do know that Sauron himself didn't get invisible to the eyes of men while wearing the Ring (else Elendil would have fought against an invisible man, and Isildur would have cut the Ring off an invisible corpse). Not to mention that wearing the Ring made Sauron appear much more powerful and terrible than he already looked under normal conditions.

We also know that the Nine could make the wearer invisible or make invisible things visible but in their cases, too, they wouldn't have used the 'invisibility feature' not all that often. They wanted to have power over their fellow men, after all. Sometimes they certainly also wanted to sneak around and uncover secrets like Gollum, but most of the time they certainly wanted to be seen as great and powerful people.

Now, the idea is that this invisibility/spirit world feature is only relevant when Men/Dwarves (and perhaps Sindar) wear those rings. The Noldor exist and see on both planes, so any Noldo smith from Eregion forging and later wearing one of the Nine or Seven wouldn't have been invisible to his peers the way Frodo and Bilbo was for theirs (proven by the way Glorfindel looks in Frodo's eyes when he sees him while wearing the One).

So the rings do just alter or add to or sharpen the perception of wearers who are naturally not able to see *everything*. But that is different, I think, from the status of the Nazgûl. They have been changed permanently, and might actually have become closer to 'lesser spirts' of eälar rank. After all, Tolkien's thoughts about the witch-kinig indicate that he wasn't really destroyed by Merry and Éowyn, suggesting that he could have returned eventually had the One Ring not been destroyed soon after.

The history of the Third Age (and the end of the Second) also suggest that the power of the Nazgûl is greatly intertwined with the power of Sauron himself. After he is defeated they 'go into the shadows'. And while Sauron hides in Dol Guldur for about a millennium or more they also seem to grow in power - at least the witch-king is. But when Sauron retreats into the East after Gandalf pays him a visit the Nazgûl suddenly become inactive again - despite the fact that they just recently conquered Minas Ithil and might have been able to press their advantage then and there and destroy Gondor just as the witch-king had destroyed Arthedain. Presumably Sauron's original plan was to do just that but he wasn't ready yet to face Gandalf and thus he had to postpone the entire plan.

We also know that Sauron took the Nine Rings back from the Nazgûl so his direct control/connection to them in the Third Age (after he had taken the rings back, at least) would have worked on the basis of transferring power and orders via the rings. I guess this was a more difficult process then using the One for the same kind of thing, but still effective enough.
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Old 05-19-2016, 01:45 PM   #97
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I think it's pretty clear that the Nazgul were permanently invisible, including their "original" clothing/armor etc (which Frodo could perceive on Weathertop and at the Ford); the black cloaks (donned of course after "fading" and Sauron's reclamation of their Rings) gave visibility to their forms which were unseen but not incorporeal.

(In an early, rejected draft for the scene at Maggot's house, T appears to be saying that if one put on the Ring and then picked up an object, that object would remain visible since it wasn't in the ringbearer's possession when he flipped the "engage invisibility" switch.)
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Old 05-20-2016, 03:18 AM   #98
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I think it's pretty clear that the Nazgul were permanently invisible, including their "original" clothing/armor etc (which Frodo could perceive on Weathertop and at the Ford); the black cloaks (donned of course after "fading" and Sauron's reclamation of their Rings) gave visibility to their forms which were unseen but not incorporeal.
I'm not sure we have to interpret Frodo's perceptions of the Nazgûl as 'the literal truth'. Granted, during the writing of 'The Lord of the Rings' Tolkien might perhaps envisioned the Ringwraiths as 'invisible men' but Frodo's perception could just as well be remnants of the self-images of the Nazgûl how they saw themselves or wanted to be seen by those who could perceive them as they were.

Sort of similar to the images and impression faded Elves whose bodies had been completely consumed would eventually be able to project to those mortals they would want to come into contact with. Such self-images of the Ringwraiths would, of course, also include clothes, crowns, and whatever else they thought had been important to them in life.

But this doesn't necessarily mean all that stuff was actually *there*.

It is quite clear that the Nazgûl could be harmed by conventional human weaponry but how exactly that worked is unclear. One guesses that part of that has to do with them continuing to interact with 'the physical world' but another great part have to to with the magic imbued in Merry's blade as well as the psychological aspect of the whole thing. The witch-king most likely did really think getting hit by a sword in the middle of his 'face' should get him killed. And thus it did. Or rather it greatly weakened him.
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Old 05-22-2016, 12:53 PM   #99
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I'm not sure we have to interpret Frodo's perceptions of the Nazgûl as 'the literal truth'. Granted, during the writing of 'The Lord of the Rings' Tolkien might perhaps envisioned the Ringwraiths as 'invisible men' but Frodo's perception could just as well be remnants of the self-images of the Nazgûl how they saw themselves or wanted to be seen by those who could perceive them as they were.

Sort of similar to the images and impression faded Elves whose bodies had been completely consumed would eventually be able to project to those mortals they would want to come into contact with. Such self-images of the Ringwraiths would, of course, also include clothes, crowns, and whatever else they thought had been important to them in life.

But this doesn't necessarily mean all that stuff was actually *there*.

It is quite clear that the Nazgûl could be harmed by conventional human weaponry but how exactly that worked is unclear. One guesses that part of that has to do with them continuing to interact with 'the physical world' but another great part have to to with the magic imbued in Merry's blade as well as the psychological aspect of the whole thing. The witch-king most likely did really think getting hit by a sword in the middle of his 'face' should get him killed. And thus it did. Or rather it greatly weakened him.
I am not sure the witch-king did think being hit by a normal blade would kill him.

I think we have to look back at weathertop to the reaction of the Nazgul when Frodo draws his blade. Two of the Nazgul actually stop and don't make a move for him. Only the Witch King has the courage to still go forward.

I am far from convinced that normal, weapons would harm the Nazgul anymore than they would harm a Balrog.
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Old 05-22-2016, 01:52 PM   #100
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I am far from convinced that normal, weapons would harm the Nazgul anymore than they would harm a Balrog.
I think it very likely Éowyn had an ordinary sword.
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Old 05-22-2016, 02:15 PM   #101
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I think it very likely Éowyn had an ordinary sword.
Yes, but the damage was done after Merry had already stabbed him with what appears to be a deadly blow.

But above all the timid and terrified Bearer had resisted him, had dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his enemies long ago for his destruction. Narrowly it had missed him. How he had come by it — save in the Barrows of Cardolan. Then he was in some way mightier than the B[arrow]-wight; and he called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgûl. He was then in league with the High Elves of the Havens.

Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife to Frodo (as was proved at the end), he withdrew and hid for a while, out of doubt and fear both of Aragorn and especially of Frodo. But fear of Sauron, and the forces of Sauron's will was the stronger.


Eowyn's blow may have sped up his death, but I believe it was only because of Merry's initial stab which in time would have proven fatal anyway. Much like had Elrond not healed Frodo the Witch King's stab would have proven fatal.
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Old 05-22-2016, 03:23 PM   #102
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I am not sure the witch-king did think being hit by a normal blade would kill him.

I think we have to look back at weathertop to the reaction of the Nazgul when Frodo draws his blade. Two of the Nazgul actually stop and don't make a move for him. Only the Witch King has the courage to still go forward.

I am far from convinced that normal, weapons would harm the Nazgul anymore than they would harm a Balrog.
Well, even Balrogs, Sauron, and Morgoth himself could be harmed by 'normal weapons' if we accept that Elvish (or dwarfish) weapons were also, in a sense, 'normal'.

They were, after all, made by the Eruhíni and not the Valar or Maiar.

Nobody would be claiming weapons like Ringil, Narsil, Aeglos, Glamdring, etc. are playing in the same league as Éowyn's steel, but they would, most likely, not be in the same categories as weapons/artifacts created by the Valar/Maiar.

But we don't really know what the strength of those special weapons was when they were used against a Balrog, Sauron, or a Nazgûl. The touch/words of the Nazgûl (and Sauron) could destroy steel but does this in itself prove that these creatures are also impervious to common steel?

We don't know that. I'm pretty sure Merry's Dúnadan blade dealt the Witch-king a terrible wound, but the killing blow came from Éowyn's sword - or rather the blow who destroy his shape/appearance until such time as Sauron would restore him/he would recover.

It is not just the letter footnote which suggests the Witch-king survived it is also the curious phrasing JRRT uses when he describes that the cry of the Witch-king would never be heard again in that age - which was essentially nearly over. If he had been completely destroyed at this point (or the authors of the Red Book had believed he was dead) then one would expect them to say something like 'his cry was never heard on this earth again'.
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Old 05-22-2016, 04:24 PM   #103
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Well, even Balrogs, Sauron, and Morgoth himself could be harmed by 'normal weapons' if we accept that Elvish (or dwarfish) weapons were also, in a sense, 'normal'.

They were, after all, made by the Eruhíni and not the Valar or Maiar.

Nobody would be claiming weapons like Ringil, Narsil, Aeglos, Glamdring, etc. are playing in the same league as Éowyn's steel, but they would, most likely, not be in the same categories as weapons/artifacts created by the Valar/Maiar.

But we don't really know what the strength of those special weapons was when they were used against a Balrog, Sauron, or a Nazgûl. The touch/words of the Nazgûl (and Sauron) could destroy steel but does this in itself prove that these creatures are also impervious to common steel?
I would say so. All those weapons you mentioned were forged in the first age. For comparison look at how Sting is able to slice through Shelob's web, but even the blade from the Barrow Downs can't. Another example is that a strong man like Boromir notches his blade striking a cave troll, but Frodo is able to pierce him with Sting.

I doubt Eowyn was wielding a sword even comparable to Boromir's and we see a big difference between his sword and Anduril or Sting.
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We don't know that. I'm pretty sure Merry's Dúnadan blade dealt the Witch-king a terrible wound, but the killing blow came from Éowyn's sword - or rather the blow who destroy his shape/appearance until such time as Sauron would restore him/he would recover.
I would agree with this in the same way, that if second Nazgul stabbed Frodo in the head, after the Witch King had already pierced him, then the second Nazgul would have delivered the killing blow. However, that does not mean Merry's blow would not eventually have left the Witch King impotent.

When we take into consideration his other letter, unfortunately I don't remember which one, where he says if at Weathertop Sam had given a glancing blow to a Nazgul they would have fallen down.

Just the appearance of these blades is enough to stop two Nazgul in their tracks.

Further we can't forget that Aragorn tells us that all blades that pierce the Witch King break. This implies the Witch King has been stabbed a few times before and it has been noted that the blades have vanished and not killed him.

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It is not just the letter footnote which suggests the Witch-king survived it is also the curious phrasing JRRT uses when he describes that the cry of the Witch-king would never be heard again in that age - which was essentially nearly over. If he had been completely destroyed at this point (or the authors of the Red Book had believed he was dead) then one would expect them to say something like 'his cry was never heard on this earth again'.
You have a point, but Tolkien could have been using biblical language. Being a devout Catholic he would be aware of the times the Bible used phrases like UNTIL, which implies that the something changes at a certain point, but it is not the case.

However, I agree with you there is an implication the Witch King might come back, but surely the destruction of the One would have ended any possibility of that.

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