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Identity of the Ringwraiths?
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erynion
Lorien

May 5 2013, 12:14pm

Post #1 of 27 (442 views)
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Identity of the Ringwraiths? Can't Post

Perhaps not such an epic thread as my previous one, but could anyone help me with those? I'm interested in what their relationship was with Sauron, of what kingdoms they were rulers, where they came from, what their names were, how old they were when they fell under his power... is any of that actually known? Of course there's the Witch-King of Angmar, who, I suppose, was king of Angmar. ;) But did he have a name, a date of birth, a wife, a son, and so on?


(This post was edited by erynion on May 5 2013, 12:15pm)


geordie
Tol Eressea

May 5 2013, 11:15pm

Post #2 of 27 (263 views)
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Tolkien didn't say. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Fredeghar Wayfarer
Lorien


May 6 2013, 5:33am

Post #3 of 27 (246 views)
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Most of that is unknown [In reply to] Can't Post

The only Ringwraith that Tolkien gives a name is Khamul, the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur. He's the wraith that famously asks for "Baggins" and chases the hobbits to Bucklebury Ferry. He was called Khamul the Black Easterling so we know he was from the East, possibly Rhun or Khand.

Three of the Nazgul were said to be lords of Numenor. The Witch-king might have been one of them since he was clearly of greater power and lineage but we don't know that for sure.

As for the others, we can only guess. They would have likely been from lands that were loyal to Sauron during the dark years of the Second Age. So that could be Rhun, Khand, Harad, Umbar, unknown Pre-Numenorean kingdoms, or from tribes of Hill-men.


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 6 2013, 5:47am

Post #4 of 27 (260 views)
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It's a real tribute to the credibility of Middle Earth [In reply to] Can't Post

...that folks ask such questions, in the comfortable expectation that there are answers. Tolkien did such a thorough job of building a world and its peoples that it's a shock to find that there are questions he really didn't want to answer.

But, on reflection, that's part of the fascination it holds... always the desire to know what's beyond the next range of hills. He articulated this himself, very well, but I'm afraid I can't find the quote right now.








geordie
Tol Eressea

May 6 2013, 7:38am

Post #5 of 27 (254 views)
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Were you thinking of Letter 247? [In reply to] Can't Post

'To go there is to destroy the magic, unless new unattainable vistas are revealed.'
.


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 6 2013, 7:59am

Post #6 of 27 (215 views)
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Exactly! Thank you, geordie!/ [In reply to] Can't Post

 








geordie
Tol Eressea

May 6 2013, 8:04am

Post #7 of 27 (210 views)
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My pleasure :-) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 6 2013, 9:09am

Post #8 of 27 (224 views)
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What of the "relationship with Sauron" part of the question? [In reply to] Can't Post

So, we dont know many names; but that was only part of the original question. What of their relationship with Sauron?

We know that they were Men who were given (or made?) rings of power. But the powers they thereby gained had a significant downside, in that they became slaves of Sauron.

So I imagine them as unwise participants in a Faustian bargain with Sauron.

Is there more detail than that to be had?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Frostbitten
The Shire


May 6 2013, 1:34pm

Post #9 of 27 (211 views)
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Anonymity [In reply to] Can't Post

  JRRT never gave a whole lot of iinformation on who the Nazgul were. Other than the Witch-king, and the inhabitants of Dol Guldur, we get almost nothing of their history.
They were each from Numenor or Gondor in their time, and the Witch-king was a conquerer/ruler of Angmar in the First Age. Their ages are unimportant because they were lengthened by the Rings until they literally became wraiths.
The Witch-king was supposedly the only Ringwraith who had direct orders from Sauron, being his closest asset, other than the Black Numenorean, the Lieutenant of the Black Gate, the Mouth of Sauron.

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement."


CuriousG
Valinor


May 6 2013, 2:12pm

Post #10 of 27 (215 views)
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Origins [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
But did he have a name, a date of birth, a wife, a son, and so on?

They definitely started out as ordinary Men who had names, families, etc. I think it's in Shadow of the Past that Gandalf tells Frodo that they were rulers (and some sorcerers?) that Sauron chose to give the rings to, then slowly but surely they were enslaved by him. That suggests that they weren't necessarily in his power to begin with, but were at least on speaking terms. By comparison, he gave the Seven to the Dwarvish houses, but the Dwarves had no formal relationship with him, so the human recipients didn't necessarily have one either, though it's reasonable to assume they had some affinity for him.

As a little detail, the Witch-King of Angmar was already a Nazgul when he created that kingdom. As a fabricated land, it probably wasn't his original home as a pre-wraith man, so it's not any help in figuring out where he started.

Anyway, great question.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 6 2013, 4:54pm

Post #11 of 27 (190 views)
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Nine and seven [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd not thought about it before, but I wonder why the dwarves who owned the 7 dwarf rings didn't turn into wraiths, unlike the 9 Men.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Brethil
Half-elven


May 6 2013, 5:06pm

Post #12 of 27 (185 views)
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I think they can't be turned [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I'd not thought about it before, but I wonder why the dwarves who owned the 7 dwarf rings didn't turn into wraiths, unlike the 9 Men.




It says (can't quote it) that Dwarves resist domination, and cannot be turned to shadow, although they can become greedy and fierce. I *think* their origins keep them from entering the spirit plane,

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Valinor


May 6 2013, 5:45pm

Post #13 of 27 (181 views)
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Yes, Dwarves were fundamentally immune [In reply to] Can't Post

and since the Seven didn't work, Sauron in a snit wanted them all back (that weren't melted/consumed by dragons). I suppose they were custom made for Dwarves, or he would have used them to ensare more Men. Can never have too many Nazgul.

I think the Seven were said to make Dwarves a little too crazy for wealth, but there was no chance of them turning Dwarves into wraiths.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 6 2013, 6:10pm

Post #14 of 27 (172 views)
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I always wondered if the Seven were 'custom' for Dwarves only [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
and since the Seven didn't work, Sauron in a snit wanted them all back (that weren't melted/consumed by dragons). I suppose they were custom made for Dwarves, or he would have used them to ensare more Men. Can never have too many Nazgul.

I think the Seven were said to make Dwarves a little too crazy for wealth, but there was no chance of them turning Dwarves into wraiths.




and if they would have any effect on Men...as you point out, if Sauron got annoyed and wanted them back or destroyed, they must not have had another use. Actually I guess merely helping Dwarf-lords get fantastically wealthy must have REALLY gotten sand in his shorts.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Valinor


May 6 2013, 6:35pm

Post #15 of 27 (196 views)
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To be fair to Sauron [In reply to] Can't Post

He lived long before the Jackson movies came out and didn't know that some day there would be millions of movie collectible rings. It made sense to be Ring of Power greedy back then.

Though do we actually know who's behind the movie collectibles? Is it Sauron? What if all those millions of rings people bought are turning them to wraiths even now? Oh, horrors, now I won't sleep tonight. Check your Nenya ring and make sure it doesn't turn your neighbors into Wargs.


Annael
Half-elven


May 6 2013, 7:24pm

Post #16 of 27 (155 views)
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the greed thing [In reply to] Can't Post

did end up destroying a whole lot more dwarves than just the ones who got the Rings, if you think about it . . . so perhaps that was the plan?

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Brethil
Half-elven


May 6 2013, 8:20pm

Post #17 of 27 (151 views)
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Oh dear CG... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
He lived long before the Jackson movies came out and didn't know that some day there would be millions of movie collectible rings. It made sense to be Ring of Power greedy back then.

Though do we actually know who's behind the movie collectibles? Is it Sauron? What if all those millions of rings people bought are turning them to wraiths even now? Oh, horrors, now I won't sleep tonight. Check your Nenya ring and make sure it doesn't turn your neighbors into Wargs.




That could explain my in-laws and my boss....(Have to look for that pesky Noruas trademark.)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Dis15
Bree

May 6 2013, 8:24pm

Post #18 of 27 (161 views)
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The appendices do talk about the Dwarfs and 7 rings ... [In reply to] Can't Post

Sauron built into their rings a greed and lust for gold to make it easier to repossess the rings and possess the owners although the rings "needed gold to beget gold." The dwarfs could not be turned, Sauron totally underestimated them. This made Sauron very, very angry. Thror had a ring, which went to Thrain, but Thrain ended up in the hands of the Necromancer who took possession of the ring, and was then able to break Thrain. No one knows how it finally ended for Thrain, but it probably was nothing good. As far as I know, Thrain was the only dwarf who had a ring taken from him and then was broken.

This may explain why the dwarfs became known for selfishness and greediness, They may have evolved differently if these rings were never given to them. It may also explain why the dark forces took over "their sacred halls" with such zeal and in such numbers, and why the bodies of dwarfs, esp. the kings, for desicrated so horribly.


elaen32
Gondor

May 6 2013, 8:29pm

Post #19 of 27 (144 views)
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I think the rings were custom made for each race [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember reading somewhere (unfortunately cannot remember exactly where), that the number of each type of ring were pre-determined in order to match with those numbers considered to have "mystical" properties in European culture, ie 3,7 and 9, so that to have, say 10 ring wraiths and 5 dwarf rings etc, would have reduced the "power" of the rings. I'm not expressing this very well, but that was the gist.
I like your later post about the "replica rigns" really being rings of power! It sounds rather like a Dr Who plotline!

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


Fredeghar Wayfarer
Lorien


May 6 2013, 9:19pm

Post #20 of 27 (147 views)
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I don't think that's accurate, Frostbitten [In reply to] Can't Post

The Nazgul probably weren't from Gondor, as that was founded late in the Second Age. I think they already had their rings and had become wraiths by that point. They could have been from the lands that would eventually become Gondor though, if that's what you meant.

Also, Angmar wasn't founded until the Third Age so the Witch-king wouldn't have been its ruler in the First. How would he still be around centuries later? The Rings of Power hadn't even been created yet in the First Age. I could possibly see the Witch-king as a lord of the Hill-men in the Mountains of Angmar in the Second Age (assuming he wasn't Numenorean). That could be why he chose that area as his kingdom after becoming a wraith. Again though, it's all just supposition since Tolkien didn't give us many details.


(This post was edited by Fredeghar Wayfarer on May 6 2013, 9:20pm)


Frostbitten
The Shire


May 7 2013, 3:32pm

Post #21 of 27 (112 views)
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Meh. Misunderstood. [In reply to] Can't Post

  The Numenorians were Men who lived to form Gondor, and the lands nearby and within, which was what I meant. Also, the Witch-king being the/a "ruler" of Angmar was in the tyrant sense, not literally a king or monarch.
He ended up being driven from those lands anyways by the armies from Fornost if I remember correctly, so no, he wasn't a ruler over Angmar. He was already a wraith by the time he sided with the Hill-men, whom made up a bunch of his forces before Angmar came to ruin.
It's very likely the Kings were from Numenor seeing as they were one of the most powerful/influential Mannish rulers of that Age, thus being a target for Sauron and his Rings.

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement."


Frostbitten
The Shire


May 7 2013, 3:35pm

Post #22 of 27 (126 views)
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Think like a Dark Lord [In reply to] Can't Post

Numenor was a well-known and strong kingdom of men, as said earlier, so it would be quite strategic of Sauron to aim his gifts (the Rings) at the more important Rulers, thus proving at least one of the Nazgul(most probably the Witch-king,) to be Numenorean Men.

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement."


Darkstone
Immortal


May 8 2013, 1:41pm

Post #23 of 27 (112 views)
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Here [In reply to] Can't Post

May 1910: The Nine Kings assembled at Buckingham Palace for the funeral of Edward VII (From left to right, back row: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece and Albert I Of Belgium. Front row: Alphonso XIII of Spain, George V of England, and Frederick VIII of Denmark.)





The Nine on horseback:



******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



sador
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 1:53pm

Post #24 of 27 (94 views)
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Brilliant - thank you! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Felagund
Lorien


May 11 2013, 5:19pm

Post #25 of 27 (75 views)
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custom made or simply the hand that was dealt by the Lord of the Rings? [In reply to] Can't Post

Not 100% sure that the lesser Rings of Power (the Nine and the Seven) were custom made for the two races who wore them - with the possible exception of what became known as the Ring of Thrór (more on the latter below).

The two main sources for the forging of the Rings of Power, The Silmarillion and the "History of Galadriel & Celeborn" (Unfinished Tales). In the former, Sauron seizes "all the remaining Rings of Power" (everything minus Vilya, Nenya & Narya) and then "He dealt them out to the other peoples of Middle-earth... Seven he gave to the Dwarves; but to Men he gave nine". Given the use of the lower case when 'nine' are mentioned (the reference to 'Seven' is at the start of a sentence, so the case is equivocal), this suggests that Sauron captured 16 Rings of Power and handed them out to whomever he thought would make the most useful slaves to his will. That these Rings of Power later became known as 'the Nine' and 'the Seven' might be no more than post hoc significance. That said, I wouldn't argue that the distribution was completely random. There were clearly seven Dwarf-lords, so it made sense for Sauron to peel off seven Rings of Power from his stash of 16, for the purpose of dominating the entire Dwarven race.

Now for the flies in the ointment! The Dwarves had a tradition that what became known as the 'Ring of Thrór' was a gift from the Gwaith-i-Mírdain alone, and not tampered with by Sauron. If that was the case, you could argue that at least one of seven Rings of Power wielded by the Dwarf-lords was 'custom made'. Further to this is material found in Unfinished Tales. There, CT reproduces a 'roughly composed' note of Sauron's sack of Eregion and the House of the Mírdain. During the sack "Sauron took the Nine Rings... but the Seven and the Three he could not find." Here the Rings of Power are specifically identified as capitalised sets and the implication is that they were custom made.

So it looks as if you could argue it both ways. I prefer the 'non-custom made' theory though. In support, I make the following points:

Regardless of whether there was a One Ring to pervert the use of the other Rings of Power, presumably mortals were never cut out to wield them (ie. Dwarves & Men). When handing out the 16 Rings, Sauron specifically plays on the mortal races' desire for "secret power beyond the measure of their kind" (The Sil, "Of the Rings of Power..."), essentially dangling forbidden fruit before them. Why would Celebrimbor and the Gwaith-i-Mírdain forge Rings of Power specifically for mortals (Seven for the Dwarves and Nine for Men, no less), if they had even an inkling of the havoc this would cause - Men turning into wraiths and Dwarves going gold-crazy? Hubris on the part of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain? Possibly (they had that in spades) but consider this: what Men did Celebrimbor have in mind if he did indeed forge Nine Rings of Power specifically for that race? As far as we know, Eregion had no dealings with other realms other than Moria, Lindon and Lórien - no hint of relations with Men. The Númenóreans were on Gil-galad's radar but probably only a far-off story to the inhabitants of inland Eregion. The Men of Eriador weren't organised into any realms to speak of, and were in awe or simply afraid of the Elves.

Anyway, that's enough hair-splitting for me for one day!

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

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