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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
An even more cautious & vulnerable Sauron


Dec 4 2012, 8:43pm

Views: 1523
An even more cautious & vulnerable Sauron [In reply to] Can't Post

A great (and tricky) question! Some thoughts:
  • The main issue for me is whether Sauron would have been able to assume a new hr÷a if he was slain whilst incarnate in Middle-earth, if he hadn't forged the One Ring. The fact that he did rebuild a physical form after his 'death' during the Downfall of N˙menor, and again after he was overwhelmed by Gil-galad, Elendil and Isildur isn't conclusive in this regard. On both occasions he had the Ring (even when he was incorporeal after 'dying' in N˙menor). However, if we look back at Sauron in the First Age (ie. pre-Ring) there is the suggestion that 'death' would have been permanent - at least as far as his hr÷a was concerned. When Huan defeats Sauron in their fight on Tol-in-Gaurhoth, L˙thien states that if Sauron allowed himself to be killed, he would spend eternity "stripped of his raiment of flesh" and "everlastingly thy [Sauron's] naked self shall endure the torment of his [Morgoth's] scorn" (The Silmarillion, 'Of Beren & L˙thien'). Now whether this passage was meant to be conclusive on the durability of Maiar hr÷ar is open to debate, but it at least flags the possibility that a Sauron who hadn't forged the One Ring was vulnerable to permanent, physical destruction.
  • It's also worth checking out the 'Myths Transformed' chapter in Morgoth's Ring. There's an interesting passage on what happens when evil spirits (Sauron included) who have become 'earthbound' suffer physical death - "they would, of course, like Sauron, be 'damned': ie. reduced to impotence, infinitely recessive...". This aligns reasonably well with L˙thien's claim that Sauron would be "stripped of his raiment of flesh" forever, should Huan kill his hr÷a.
  • Taking this theory to its logical conclusion, the irony of the One Ring was that whilst Sauron was uniquely exposed to permanent destruction (ie. if someone happened to drop the Ring into Mount Doom), it was also the one artefact that enabled him to keep rebuilding his physical form - so much of his native power was vested in the Ring that killing Sauron's hr÷a wasn't enough to put him out of business.
  • If this theory holds, then it's possible to imagine that Sauron would have been even more cautious in the Second and Third Ages (assuming that he survived the former). I can't see him being quite so brave during the War of the Elves and Sauron, when he personally led his armies into Eriador. As it was, he only narrowly avoided being overtaken by the N˙menˇreans under Ciryatur, at the Battle of the Gwathlˇ.
  • Without the One Ring to concentrate his ability to dominate the will of others, Sauron's empire building may have been slower. That said, even without the One Ring, Sauron was able to gather up vestiges of Morgoth's servants (Orcs, trolls, corrupted Men), and to corrupt and dominate new peoples - most notably races of Men from the East and South. Much of this takes place before the forging of the Rings of Power (The Silmarillion, 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age'). Not that having the One Ring enabled him to command his armies to take on the N˙menˇreans in battle once Ar-Pharaz˘n turned up!
  • Which brings me to my final point on the topic of Sauron: it was probably inevitable that he would create the One Ring or an artefact with similar purpose. This was the only way that he'd have a decent shot at achieving his megalomaniacal goals in Middle-earth - by binding all the rulers of the Elves, Dwarves and Men to his own will, enslaved through their own Rings of Power. Obviously that didn't work out quite as planned, but as I said, it was his best shot.
  • And I agree with Otaku-sempai - the kings of Men etc who took the Nine Rings would have become wraiths, regardless of Sauron having forged the One Ring. The latter was only relevant for enslaving those undead beings, not for creating them in the first place. Mortals just weren't built for handling that kind of power.

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk

Subject User Time
What if Sauron had never made the One Ring? alienorchid Send a private message to alienorchid Nov 22 2012, 10:15am
    His power was in rapport with the ring ElendilTheShort Send a private message to ElendilTheShort Nov 23 2012, 11:00am
    Many variables here Faenoriel Send a private message to Faenoriel Nov 23 2012, 10:09pm
        Well, he would have had an extra finger... Morthoron Send a private message to Morthoron Nov 24 2012, 3:30am
        Not necessarily so... Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Nov 27 2012, 3:06pm
            The Three were never meant for war CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 5 2012, 9:03pm
                True, however... Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Dec 5 2012, 9:28pm
    He wanted elevorn Send a private message to elevorn Nov 26 2012, 5:11pm
    An even more cautious & vulnerable Sauron Felagund Send a private message to Felagund Dec 4 2012, 8:43pm
    A reply Plurmo Send a private message to Plurmo Dec 5 2012, 5:53pm
        An especulative reply Plurmo Send a private message to Plurmo Dec 5 2012, 6:02pm


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