What did Sauron think Aragorn thought he was doing?

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Steuard Jensen

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Feb 28, 2013, 9:48:16 AM2/28/13
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Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor
and a hunt for your Ring that has recently resurfaced. You have just
met an unexpected challenge from an upstart heir of Isildur who
somehow managed to turn the tide of battle at Minas Tirith when your
victory there seemed all but certain. It seems very likely that this
"Aragorn" has claimed your Ring and is using it (or planning to use
it) to challenge you. In fact, he is now leading a significant but
still laughably small army to *attack* the gates of your realm.

Clearly, Aragorn's plan must be to use the Ring to make this assault
something other than a suicide mission. He must expect to ______ ___
______ _ ______ ___ ________ _______ [...]. Therefore, your best
response is to gather as many of your own troops as possible in Udun
in order to repel his assault: Orcs, Men, Trolls, and the rest, with
the surviving Nazgul circling overhead to sew despair in your enemies.
By doing this, you will be able to crush his tiny force and recover
the Ring for yourself!


So my question is, what exactly is supposed to fill in those blanks?
In Sauron's mind, Aragorn clearly didn't expect his army's small size
to be a death sentence. Thus, "Aragorn" must have expected that he
could use the Ring to neutralize the disparity in numbers. Was "his"
expectation that he could inspire his paltry few troops to superhuman
prowess in battle? That seems unlikely against such overwhelming odds.
Did "he" expect that he could paralyze Sauron's armies into inaction,
or even turn them to his own side? The why would Sauron sending even
more troops into range help? Did "he" plan to shoot fireballs or cause
earthquakes or something? But there's no evidence for anything like
that. What other possibilities am I overlooking? Also, we know from
Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to assault a declared
Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this conflict at all?

I have my guesses about all of that, but I'm interested in hearing
others' thoughts. But let's take this a step further. Once the Black
Gate opened and battle was joined, it was inevitably a "normal" battle
with no Ring influence. At what point (if ever) would Sauron become
suspicious that the Ring wasn't there to be used at all? If Sauron
thought that Aragorn had already used the Ring to influence the
outcome at Minas Tirith (*Did* he? I have some memory that they
guessed so), what could it mean that there were *no* hints of Ring
influence at the Morannon? (One would think that the Nazgul at least
would have known if the Ring was being used, or even if it were
present. Why didn't they tell Sauron, "Hey: the Ring's not here at
all!")

And imagine that Frodo had been one day farther from Orodruin when the
battle occurred. Isn't there a concern that Sauron would catch on to
the real plan once it became clear that the battle honestly had been a
suicidal feint? "What the heck could they have been hoping to distract
me fro.... Oh!"

Steuard Jensen

John W Kennedy

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Feb 28, 2013, 11:24:58 AM2/28/13
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Ah, but /that/ is answered time and time again in the book. Sauron is
literally incapable of taking that intellectual leap until his nose is
rubbed in it when Frodo stands at the brink and dons the Ring. (The
recent Presidential election in the US is something of an object lesson
in the same principle.)

--
John W Kennedy
"But now is a new thing which is very old--
that the rich make themselves richer and not poorer,
which is the true Gospel, for the poor's sake."
-- Charles Williams. "Judgement at Chelmsford"

CookieM

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Feb 28, 2013, 12:46:54 PM2/28/13
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Take into consideration that the *tale* of the Ring was written to
resemble the ancient Arthurian legends of Holy Grail and old
Celt-Anglo-Saxon fairy-tales and poems. The most important thing in such
tales was keeping in anxiety and fear/horror etc. LOTR has all these
features except one: logic. But it is not Greek tragedy or criminal
story where everything is taken seriously. It's a fairy tale in which
everything might happen (for instance sudden intervention of Valars on
request of Gandalf, so Sauron had to think about that also) in which
feelings are of greater value than mind and logic. Why? Because it is
all that *tale* is about: heart is in the center, the rest is just a
background.

Geza Giedke

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Feb 28, 2013, 1:38:58 PM2/28/13
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since we do not know the powers of the Ruling Ring, we have to guess
those in addition to the reasoning of Sauron.

In my opinion, the most likely reasoning is that Sauron would fill in
your blanks by a combination of overconfidence and underestamtion of the
strength of Mordor on the one hand, plus a worst case idea on the powers
of the Ring.

Gandalf indicates that Sauron may think Aragorn is now capable of
commanding the weather, he has proven capable to appear out of nowhere
with a powerful army to vanquish the Corsairs and he may be able to use
the power of teh Ring to control some of Sauron's armies. But I presume
the more armies you want to control, the harder (isn't is said in some
of the HoME books, that Morgoth lost much of his strength by trying to
dominate Arda, orcs, dragons, etc?) and therefore striking with
overwhelming force may negate the power of the Ring.

hence I would complete your sentence as:

"He must expect to be able to assault my gates and defeat me in open
battle - what an overconfident twerp! One little victory and he thinks
he is somebody? Maybe he thinks I have used all my power against him and
has no clue that I still have many armies at my call. Maybe he thinks
the Ruling Ring allows him to wrest control of my armies from me - but I
will show him. Neither will he be able to wield the full power of the
Ring yet nor can he imagine how hard it is to control 100000 Trolls,
Orcs, Variags, and Haradrim. I'll crush him and finally get all that is
mine back!"

> Also, we know from
> Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to assault a declared
> Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this conflict at all?

hm, even if they can't assault the Ringlord, they can strike fear in the
hearts of his allies and thereby make him vulnerable. Moreover, they are
the most capable to obtain/return the Ring to its rightful master.

> I have my guesses about all of that, but I'm interested in hearing
> others' thoughts. But let's take this a step further. Once the Black
> Gate opened and battle was joined, it was inevitably a "normal" battle
> with no Ring influence.
> At what point (if ever) would Sauron become
> suspicious that the Ring wasn't there to be used at all?

I think he would become suspicious once he wins and does not find the
Ring, especially if ll bis shots are accounted for

> If Sauron
> thought that Aragorn had already used the Ring to influence the
> outcome at Minas Tirith (*Did* he? I have some memory that they
> guessed so),

Gandalf suggests that Sauron might attribute the change in weather and
the death of the chief Nazgul to the Ring; if he knew about the Army of
the Dead he might have seen that also a sign of the Ring at work (Gimli
emphasizes that Aragorn held everything together "by the strength of his
will" - certainly weaker characters would have needed a Ring to achieve
the same control).

> what could it mean that there were *no* hints of Ring
> influence at the Morannon? (One would think that the Nazgul at least
> would have known if the Ring was being used, or even if it were
> present. Why didn't they tell Sauron, "Hey: the Ring's not here at
> all!")

yes, i find this bothersome, too, unless the Ring of Power would also
allow the wearer to hide that it is being used.

> And imagine that Frodo had been one day farther from Orodruin when the
> battle occurred. Isn't there a concern that Sauron would catch on to
> the real plan once it became clear that the battle honestly had been a
> suicidal feint? "What the heck could they have been hoping to distract
> me fro.... Oh!"

in my opinion, even from a purely macchiavellian point of view he should
have considered that idea: as things stood at the end of the Third Age,
Sauron was by far the most powerful player, with no rational hope for
even an Alliance of All Free People to overthrow him. Hence any would-be
ruler of ME would first have to destroy/defeat Sauron - and after that
setting himself (or herself) up as the new Lord among the remaining
players would be much easier than defeating Sauron.

So unless Sauron has perfect trust in the addictive power of the Ring,
he should have considered destroying it as the almost natural first step
in defeating him - even if he could not imagine that the other side
intended to have "noone in his place".

regards
Geza


--
Now come ye all,
who have courage and hope! My call harken
to flight, to freedom in far places!
Lays of Beleriand

Mike Sullivan

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Feb 28, 2013, 2:18:17 PM2/28/13
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On Feb 28, 6:48 am, Steuard Jensen <steu...@slimy.com> wrote:
> Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor
> and a hunt for your Ring that has recently resurfaced. You have just
> met an unexpected challenge from an upstart heir of Isildur who
> somehow managed to turn the tide of battle at Minas Tirith when your
> victory there seemed all but certain. It seems very likely that this
> "Aragorn" has claimed your Ring and is using it (or planning to use
> it) to challenge you. In fact, he is now leading a significant but
> still laughably small army to *attack* the gates of your realm.
>
> Clearly, Aragorn's plan must be to use the Ring to make this assault
> something other than a suicide mission. He must expect to ______ ___
> ______ _ ______ ___ ________ _______ [...]. Therefore, your best
> response is to gather as many of your own troops as possible in Udun
> in order to repel his assault: Orcs, Men, Trolls, and the rest, with
> the surviving Nazgul circling overhead to sew despair in your enemies.
> By doing this, you will be able to crush his tiny force and recover
> the Ring for yourself!

he must expect to "crush the assault mercilessly and quickly before
the new ring lord learns to wield his new weapon more effectively,
or before another more capable ring lord seizes it (Gandalf,
Galadriel, etc)."

I don't have my books here, but I recall it clear in the discussions
in Cormallen that Sauron likely was dealing with fear (in his
measure),
grave doubt, and his typical misunderstanding of men. He can't be
sure exactly what happened at Pelargir, but it can be accounted
for as 'ring-like', where suddenly an army that he was moving to
the field suddenly becomes an army of his opponent.

If Aragorn was of the sort of Boromir or Denethor, the stroke
at Morannon would make sense to Sauron as a stroke of folly
(as pointed out by Gandalf), a new ring bearer with an extreme
case of overconfidence.

A constant theme of the ME history has been the inability
of the Eldar and Maia to understand men. Constantly in the
stories, men are surprising the first-born, or the more powerful
at times. Great humility is accepted largely to be weakness by the
powerful in ME both good and evil, yet the success of Gandalf's
plan, the ascension of Aragorn, and of course the Hobbits' success
in the ring's destruction were accomplished because of the
measures of humility in each.

Even Galadriel's rehabilitation at the mirror was accomplished
by humility rather than pride.

Because Sauron never did understand humility and its'
strength, he knew that a rookie ring-lord would likely make
massive errors while he learned what he could/couldn't
do with the ring. Sauron would figure that such an
improbable victory at the Pelennor Fields would give
such a man a greater hunger and an arrogance that
far outstripped his abilities. Certainly he would have learned
that in his seduction of the Nazgul centuries previously.
Aragorn did all he could to confirm this, going so far
as to dismiss and daunt the lowly "Mouth".

While the Nazgul couldn't directly challenge
the ring lord, they could inspire courage in the Mordor
minions, undo the courage of the ring-lord's legion,
and be there to pick up the pieces if the ring-lord falls
in the confusion of battle.

Another aspect of explanation for Sauron's thinking
is that in all his actions from his return to Barad-dur,
action and haste has been far more important than
patience. Everything he'd done was to move quickly
to gain initiative on the West, to close the areas of
search, to track down the ring, and then to crush
his opponents quickly before they had time to arm
themselves, gather allies, etc.

From Gandalf's standpoint, he saw Sauron's stroke
at Gondor as pre-mature, Aragorn revealed himself,
a strange power eliminated Saruman, etc. Of course
he stated it was a near disaster, but Sauron was not
able to bring his full force to bear on Minas Tirith.

From Sauron's standpoint, unequipped for humility,
he was unable to see the failure at Gladden Fields as
striking too soon, he likely believed his forces didn't
strike quick enough. Had he begun a day or two sooner,
Minas Tirith would have stood as a defensive bastion
against the arrival of the straw heads from the west and
from Isildur's heir from the south, and his forces
wouldn't have been caught in the open.

So he hastened, rather than chastened.

I've always been intrigued at the parallel between the way
Sauron prosecuted his war and Hitler prosecuted his.
I don't know enough about the history of the writing, and
when key concepts were formed. 'nuther topic tho.

Noel Q. von Schneiffel

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Feb 28, 2013, 2:59:53 PM2/28/13
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On 28 Feb., 15:48, Steuard Jensen <steu...@slimy.com> wrote:
> Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor
> and a hunt for your Ring that has recently resurfaced. You have just
> met an unexpected challenge from an upstart heir of Isildur who
> somehow managed to turn the tide of battle at Minas Tirith when your
> victory there seemed all but certain. It seems very likely that this
> "Aragorn" has claimed your Ring and is using it (or planning to use
> it) to challenge you. In fact, he is now leading a significant but
> still laughably small army to *attack* the gates of your realm.
>
> Clearly, Aragorn's plan must be to use the Ring to make this assault
> something other than a suicide mission. He must expect to ______ ___
> ______ _ ______ ___ ________ _______ [...]. Therefore, your best
> response is to gather as many of your own troops as possible in Udun
> in order to repel his assault: Orcs, Men, Trolls, and the rest, with
> the surviving Nazgul circling overhead to sew despair in your enemies.
> By doing this, you will be able to crush his tiny force and recover
> the Ring for yourself!

I am pretty sure Sauron does not believe that Aragorn has the Ring. He
is absolutely convinced that *Gandalf* has the Ring. Realistically,
Gandalf is the only one of his foes who could have mastered the Ring
so quickly. Sauron believes that Gandalf is controlling Aragorn with
the Ring and luring him into a suicide mission, to get rid of him as a
rival to the throne of Middle-earth. So Gandalf would throw Aragorn
and his Gondorian forces against Mordor, weakening both sides, and
then escape with an eagle back to the Shire. There he had an army of
fearsome Halfling warriors on stand-by, which could overrun the now
emptied and leaderless Gondor. Then Gandalf would be ready for a
serious war on Mordor.

So Sauron sent in as many troops as possible, in the faint hope that
they were numerous enough to not only kill Aragorn, but also intercept
Gandalf on his way out. Sending the Nazgûl makes perfect sense for
this task.

Noel
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Steuard Jensen

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Feb 28, 2013, 9:20:23 PM2/28/13
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In message <512f980e$0$1209$6578...@news.neostrada.pl>, CookieM
<to...@do.not.spam> wrote:
> Take into consideration that the *tale* of the Ring was written to
> resemble the ancient Arthurian legends of Holy Grail and old
> Celt-Anglo-Saxon fairy-tales and poems. The most important thing in such
> tales was keeping in anxiety and fear/horror etc. LOTR has all these
> features except one: logic.

I've got to disagree with you on this one. LotR certainly does fall
short of perfect consistency at times, but not all that often (and I'm
not at all convinced this is one of them). Tolkien wrote at length in
"On Fairy Stories" about the importance of creating "the inner
consistency of reality" in fiction, and his efforts to achieve that
goal are often quite evident from the drafts in HoMe. (His decision to
discard "The Problem of Ros" because its premise was inconsistent with
a name that he'd overlooked comes to mind as one clear example; heck,
writing that essay in the first place was another. That's all
regarding linguistics, of course, but I think his devotion to an
internally consistent story went far beyond that.)

Steuard Jensen

Steuard Jensen

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Feb 28, 2013, 10:05:21 PM2/28/13
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In message <ap9mi8...@mid.individual.net>, Geza Giedke
<joe...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Steuard Jensen schrieb am 02/28/2013 03:48 PM:
>> Clearly, Aragorn's plan must be to use the Ring to make this assault
>> something other than a suicide mission. He must expect to ______ ___
>> ______ _ ______ ___ ________ _______ [...]. Therefore, your best
>> response is to gather as many of your own troops as possible in Udun
>> in order to repel his assault
[...]
>> So my question is, what exactly is supposed to fill in those blanks?

> since we do not know the powers of the Ruling Ring, we have to guess
> those in addition to the reasoning of Sauron.

Ah, excellent, you've spotted part of my underlying motivation in
asking this question. :) We have *so* little evidence for what all the
Ring was capable of! I figure that puzzling out what Sauron was
expecting could give us insight from a new angle. (New to me, anyway.)

> Gandalf indicates that Sauron may think Aragorn is now capable of
> commanding the weather,

Good point! I'd forgotten that one.

> he has proven capable to appear out of nowhere with a powerful army
> to vanquish the Corsairs

That's an interesting question of its own: *did* Sauron know how
Aragorn defeated the Corsairs? On the one hand, that had to have come
as one heck of a surprise: I can't imagine that Sauron had spotted
Aragorn and the Dead in their high speed last minute interception
rush. And from the sound of it, the battle ended quite quickly after
Aragorn's ghostly army arrived: it's entirely possible that Sauron's
attention was elsewhere when Aragorn struck, and that he "tuned back
in" only after the Dead had been put to rest at last. (On the other
hand, it would be reasonable to think that Sauron was keeping track of
that battle, since it was a significant piece of his strategy against
Minas Tirith.)

> But I presume the more armies you want to control, the harder (isn't
> is said in some of the HoME books, that Morgoth lost much of his
> strength by trying to dominate Arda, orcs, dragons, etc?) and
> therefore striking with overwhelming force may negate the power of
> the Ring.

Your guess here is quite close to my own: that (at least when first
mastering the Ring) it would be difficult for Aragorn to directly
control truly vast numbers of enemy soldiers, so Sauron decided to
apply absolutely overwhelming force. Even if the first few waves
turned around to fight for Aragorn, later waves would keep coming and
coming until they were overwhelmed and Aragorn's personal strength ran
out. I haven't been able to think of a compelling alternate theory.

I'm not sure that I'm on board with the Morgoth analogy in this case,
though. I feel like that was a "spending" of personal strength and
will of a very different order: not just temporarily dominating other
beings, but investing their very matter with corruption. But now that
I think of it, there may be references to another layer of that
"dilution of strength" that matches what you're describing, too. I
should look back through MR sometime.

>> Also, we know from Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to
>> assault a declared Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this
>> conflict at all?

> hm, even if they can't assault the Ringlord, they can strike fear in
> the hearts of his allies and thereby make him vulnerable.

Sure, but I'm not certain that they would be easily able to keep doing
that if the Ringlord directly ordered them to stop. (Or to reverse
their targeting! What exactly was it that made Gondor's armies quail
in fear from the Nazgul while Sauron's were emboldened instead?)

> Moreover, they are the most capable to obtain/return the Ring to its
> rightful master.

That sounds *very* plausible to me.

>> what could it mean that there were *no* hints of Ring influence at
>> the Morannon? (One would think that the Nazgul at least would have
>> known if the Ring was being used, or even if it were present. Why
>> didn't they tell Sauron, "Hey: the Ring's not here at all!")

> yes, i find this bothersome, too, unless the Ring of Power would
> also allow the wearer to hide that it is being used.

Perhaps the idea is that the fully "mastered" Ring would be less
"detectable" than it was when simply carried? Huh... I'd want more
evidence of that, I think. I've never entirely understood how the
Nazgul were able to search for the Ring in the Shire in the first
place, to be honest. (I wrote up some ideas on that topic a while
back, which you can find at this link if you're interested:
http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RingSense.txt )

> So unless Sauron has perfect trust in the addictive power of the Ring,

Interestingly, in the end that trust proved to be entirely justified.
As Tolkien wrote (in Letters, I think), Frodo was pretty much the
*ideal* Ringbearer in that regard: just barely enough strength of will
to resist the Ring all the way to Mount Doom, and just little enough
that he wasn't corrupted until he got there. And yet even Frodo failed
at the last, and the Ring proved to be absolutely irresistible once it
reached Mount Doom. Sauron's downfall was instead due to his failure
to install proper safety railings in the Sammath Naur. ;)

Steuard Jensen

solar penguin

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Mar 1, 2013, 7:33:19 AM3/1/13
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Steuard Jensen wrote:

> Also, we know from
> Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to assault a declared
> Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this conflict at all?
>

This is probably a stupid question, but what makes "a declared
ringlord," as opposed to someone who just happens to be in possession
of the ring? Do you have to look a Nazgul face-to-fa... uh, face-to-
space and literally declare "I'm a ringlord"?

Or is it just a matter of actually using the ring? And if so, then
how did they manage to attack Frodo at Weathertop?

John W Kennedy

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Mar 1, 2013, 11:58:50 AM3/1/13
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"Black Magic is a matter of symbolism and intent." -- Randall Garrett
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Paul S. Person

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Mar 1, 2013, 1:22:54 PM3/1/13
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On Fri, 1 Mar 2013 04:33:19 -0800 (PST), solar penguin
<solar....@gmail.com> wrote:

>Steuard Jensen wrote:
>
>> Also, we know from
>> Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to assault a declared
>> Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this conflict at all?
>>
>
>This is probably a stupid question, but what makes "a declared
>ringlord," as opposed to someone who just happens to be in possession
>of the ring? Do you have to look a Nazgul face-to-fa... uh, face-to-
>space and literally declare "I'm a ringlord"?

I think the difference is one of intent: at the end, Frodo intended to
use the Ring, and not just for becoming invisible.

>Or is it just a matter of actually using the ring? And if so, then
>how did they manage to attack Frodo at Weathertop?

Frodo put it on to hide, but that (apparently) is not the same as
using it the way a ringlord would use it.

Interestingly, when Frodo defied the Riders at the Ford of the Bruinen
(I hope I got that name right, it's been a while since I read the
book), he held them back, at least for a moment (well, if I remember
correctly, he did, anyway). Perhaps, for that moment, he was using the
Ring as a ringlord would, and so the Nazgul were unable to assault
him, even though he didn't have it on.

Of course, the moment passed, they Nazgul entered the river -- and
were swept away. So maybe they just paused because they were afraid of
the water.
--
"Nature must be explained in
her own terms through
the experience of our senses."

JimboCat

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Mar 1, 2013, 1:25:25 PM3/1/13
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On Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:48:16 AM UTC-5, Steuard wrote:
> Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor . . .

I generally agree with most of the posts so far, particularly Geza Giedke and Mike Sullivan. But let's take a closer look at Sauron's military career so far:

Defeated by Luthien; fortress destroyed; sent back to Angband in disgrace.
Defeated in the War of Wrath; taken prisoner (escapes).
Defeated by Ar-Pharazôn (without battle); taken prisoner to Numenor.
Defeated by the Last Alliance; ring taken from him.

Every one of these defeats was unlooked-for: Sauron had no prior expectation of any possibility of defeat in any of these cases. Why should he fear it from this upstart Aragorn? Do you think he's actually /learned/ anything? I suspect he's "projecting" - having been overconfident so many times himself, he concludes that Aragorn is acting out of overconfidence.

He didn't really care whether Aragorn had the ring (except for the possibility of taking it back): he was going to do some whuppin', and to make sure of it, he called out all his armies.

I think that's the extent of Sauron's thinking. To fill in your blanks: "He [Aragorn] must expect to win, somehow, but he is sadly deluded and I'll crush him like a bug!"

Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
--
"When all you have is cats, everything looks like a laser pointer..." [Dave DeLaney]

Steve Morrison

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Mar 1, 2013, 3:33:21 PM3/1/13
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JimboCat wrote:

> I generally agree with most of the posts so far, particularly Geza Giedke and Mike Sullivan. But let's take a closer look at Sauron's military career so far:
>
> Defeated by Luthien; fortress destroyed; sent back to Angband in disgrace.
> Defeated in the War of Wrath; taken prisoner (escapes).
> Defeated by Ar-Pharaz�n (without battle); taken prisoner to Numenor.
> Defeated by the Last Alliance; ring taken from him.

Defeated by Ciryatur in the War of the Elves and Sauron, after he
had successfully overrun most of Eriador.

Steuard Jensen

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Mar 1, 2013, 3:57:01 PM3/1/13
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In message
<14911964-1775-46e6...@y9g2000vbb.googlegroups.com>,
solar penguin <solar....@gmail.com> wrote:
> Steuard Jensen wrote:
>> Also, we know from Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to
>> assault a declared Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this
>> conflict at all?

> This is probably a stupid question, but what makes "a declared
> ringlord," as opposed to someone who just happens to be in possession
> of the ring?

That's a good question. The clearest answer comes in Letter #246:

[The Ringwraiths were] in no way deceived as to the real lordship
of the Ring. The wearer would not be invisible to them, but the
reverse; and the more vulnerable to their weapons. But the
situation was now different to that under Weathertop, where Frodo
acted merely in fear and wished only to use (in vain) the Ring's
subsidiary power of conferring invisibility. He had grown since
then. Would they have been immunie from its power if he claimed it
as an instrument of command and domination?

Not wholly. I do not think they could have attacked him with
violence, nor laid hold upon him or taken him captive; they would
have obeyed or feigned to obey any minor commands of his that did
not interfere with their errand - laid upon them by Sauron, who
still through their nine rings (which he held) had primary control
of their wills. [...]

[Frodo's] will was much stronger than it had been, but so far it
had been exercised in resisting not using the Ring and with the
object of destroying it. He needed time, much time, before he could
control the Ring or (which in such a case is the same) before it
could control him; before his will and arrogance could grow to a
stature in which he could dominate other major hostile wills.

It goes on at substantially greater length, and it's quite worth
reading in this connection. (In fact, I think that the seeds of full
answers to most of my original questions are present in the parts that
I've quoted above.)

Steuard Jensen

Steuard Jensen

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Mar 1, 2013, 3:59:33 PM3/1/13
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In message <afc02f14-4b0f-4b9e...@googlegroups.com>,
JimboCat <10313...@compuserve.com> wrote:
> On Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:48:16 AM UTC-5, Steuard wrote:
>> Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor . . .

> I think that's the extent of Sauron's thinking. To fill in your
> blanks: "He [Aragorn] must expect to win, somehow, but he is sadly
> deluded and I'll crush him like a bug!"

You know, this actually makes a lot of sense.

Steuard Jensen

Mike Sullivan

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Mar 1, 2013, 4:50:42 PM3/1/13
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On Mar 1, 10:25 am, JimboCat <103134.3...@compuserve.com> wrote:
> On Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:48:16 AM UTC-5, Steuard wrote:
> > Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor . . .
>
> I generally agree with most of the posts so far, particularly Geza Giedke and Mike Sullivan. But let's take a closer look at Sauron's military career so far:
>
> Defeated by Luthien; fortress destroyed; sent back to Angband in disgrace.
> Defeated in the War of Wrath; taken prisoner (escapes).
> Defeated by Ar-Pharazôn (without battle); taken prisoner to Numenor.
> Defeated by the Last Alliance; ring taken from him.

Interesting, when you line them all up, I have to ask who was really
fighting "the long defeat"? Was is the Noldor, or Sauron? :^)

Bill O'Meally

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Mar 1, 2013, 6:23:00 PM3/1/13
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On 2013-02-28 14:48:16 +0000, Steuard Jensen said:

> Therefore, your best
> response is to gather as many of your own troops as possible in Udun
> in order to repel his assault: Orcs, Men, Trolls, and the rest, with
> the surviving Nazgul circling overhead to sew despair in your enemies.

The question arises, would a Ringwraith even know the art of
embroidery? Would they use a basketweave or half-cross stitches?
--
Bill O'Meally

John W Kennedy

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Mar 1, 2013, 11:30:48 PM3/1/13
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From the viewpoint of the Noldor, each was a Pyrrhic victory. Each time
they defeated Sauron, they were themselves diminished. Their remaining
time in Middle Earth had grown shorter, and the journey back to Aman,
longed for and yet also feared, had approached more closely; so, too,
the end of Eä itself, and that ultimate and unknown fate that had long
before made Elros choose Mannish mortality over Elvish interminability.

--
John W Kennedy
"I want everybody to be smart. As smart as they can be. A world of
ignorant people is too dangerous to live in."
-- Garson Kanin. "Born Yesterday"

Stan Brown

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Mar 2, 2013, 8:56:38 AM3/2/13
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On Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:48:16 +0000 (UTC), Steuard Jensen wrote:
> Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor
> and a hunt for your Ring that has recently resurfaced. You have just
> met an unexpected challenge from an upstart heir of Isildur who
> somehow managed to turn the tide of battle at Minas Tirith

<nitpick>
Not quite "just met" -- Aragorn challenged Sauron via Palantír after
the battle of Isengard.
</nitpick>

> So my question is, what exactly is supposed to fill in those
> blanks? In Sauron's mind, Aragorn clearly didn't expect his army's
> small size to be a death sentence. Thus, "Aragorn" [i.e., Sauron's
> mental image of Aragorn] must have expected that he could use the
> Ring to neutralize the disparity in numbers.

Interesting speculation, Steuard -- and nice to hear from you again!

I think that's probably what Sauron thought, _if_ he thought.
Remember that Sauron's mental processes were not normal. He was
frantic to recover the Ring before someone else claimed it, and that
led him to do stupid things. Think of his warning Pippin that a
Nazgûl was on the way, thus giving Saruman time to hatch a plan of
his own. (Sauron must surely have had suspicions of Saruman's
loyalty, if for no other reason that Sauron was already a traitor to
the White Council.)

> Was "his"
> expectation that he could inspire his paltry few troops to superhuman
> prowess in battle? That seems unlikely against such overwhelming odds.
> Did "he" expect that he could paralyze Sauron's armies into inaction,
> or even turn them to his own side? The why would Sauron sending even
> more troops into range help?

Remember when Ar-Pharazôn's troops conquered Sauron? Sauron had the
Ring, with over a thousand years of practice in using it, but Ar-P's
army was so splendid that Sauron's own servants deserted him. I
imagine Sauron was counting on overawing Aragorn's troops, both
through a greater numerical advantage (relatively) and through
Aragorn's own inexperience with the Ring.

> Also, we know from Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to
> assault a declared Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this
> conflict at all?

You're referring to Letter 246, I imagine. In that scenario, Frodo
claims the Ring, Sauron sends the Nazgûl, and they hail Frodo as Lord
but distract him while they block up the entrance to the Sammath
Naur. With no further danger of the Ring's destruction, the
immediate crisis is past, and Sauron comes and cows Frodo into giving
up the Ring.

I don't think Aragorn (or "Aragorn") knew that, not having read
/Letters/, :-) but I'm sure Sauron did. The Nazgûl were loyal to
Sauron personally, not to the One Ring, because he still had their
Nine Rings. So Sauron would have sent them to distract Aragorn, just
in case Aragorn's troops didn't desert him.

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://mysite.verizon.net/aznirb/mtr/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm

Stan Brown

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Mar 2, 2013, 9:04:09 AM3/2/13
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On Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:48:16 +0000 (UTC), Steuard Jensen wrote:
> Once the Black
> Gate opened and battle was joined, it was inevitably a "normal" battle
> with no Ring influence. At what point (if ever) would Sauron become
> suspicious that the Ring wasn't there to be used at all? If Sauron
> thought that Aragorn had already used the Ring to influence the
> outcome at Minas Tirith (*Did* he? I have some memory that they
> guessed so), ...

One problem I have, when I look too closely at the story, is that I
don't have any clear idea of what the Ring could do! We know it
could cloud the minds of people who touched it or even were near it
for extended periods. We know that it let its wearer see and control
the thoughts of the wearers of the other Rings. But what _powers_
exactly did it have?

It's almost like the Ring was what Hitchcock would call a McGuffin --
the whole story turns on possessing it, but it's not actually
important on its own.

> And imagine that Frodo had been one day farther from Orodruin when the
> battle occurred. Isn't there a concern that Sauron would catch on to
> the real plan once it became clear that the battle honestly had been a
> suicidal feint? "What the heck could they have been hoping to distract
> me fro.... Oh!"

I don't suppose we can allow that Gandalf sent Eagles to check out
Frodo's position and advised Aragorn to pace his march accordingly.
:-) Did the re-embodied Gandalf the White have some way to perceive
things at a distance, or did perhaps one of the Valar speak to him in
a dream?

This does feel like a fairly gaping plot hole. I can't really accept
that Gandalf and Aragorn would start a suicidal battle just on the
off chance that it _might_ give Frodo time to reach the Sammath Naur
undetected.

Geza Giedke

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Mar 2, 2013, 9:08:08 AM3/2/13
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this sounds quite plausible, especially given the perspective we have
(of the side of Sauron's enemies). We do not see Sauron making any
really clever or surprising move. But there are in my opinion a few
reasons to believe that Sauron was more subtle than this: Sometimes, he
showed that

* he knew when to cut his losses (as against Huan/Luthien)
* he knew that using seduction might do a job that could not be achieved
using force (against Celebrimbor and Ar-Pharazon)
* he could bide his time (as in Dol Goldur before the War of the Ring)
until he feels strong enough (meaning that he must perceive to be
vulnerable before)

Moreover, according to Gandalf (usually the most reliable source on
these matters, next to Letters) he "weighs all thing to a nicety in the
scales of his malice" - which I take to mean that he carefully took into
account the strengths of his enemies and not brashly neglected them.
Also, iirc, Gandalf suggest that he fears (rather than laughs at) the
Ring in the hand of an opponent - which explains his hasty attack on
Minas Tirith after Aragorn's challenge.

Stan Brown

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Mar 2, 2013, 9:10:53 AM3/2/13
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On Fri, 1 Mar 2013 19:09:01 +0100, Raven wrote:
> *If* the destruction of the Ring would at any time have meant the
> immediate diminishment of Sauron into impotence, and *if* Sauron was for a
> while uncertain if the Ring had been destroyed, then it is clear that Sauron
> did not know everything about the Ring.

I don't think Sauron was _ever_ uncertain whether the Ring had been
destroyed. Gandalf tells us (and Tolkien, too, in Letters IIRC) that
Sauron simply could not conceive that anyone coming into possession
of the Ring would do anything but claim it and try to become Lord.

It wasn't till the moment Frodo was standing at the brink of the
Sammath Naur that Sauron had any idea that the Ring-bearer was
heading n that direction. And even then, it was when Frodo put on
the Ring, not when Gollum dropped into the file with it, that Sauron
knew he had a problem. He sent the Nazgūl to cozen Frodo until
Sauron could come himself, not to stop the Ring's destruction.

Julian Bradfield

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Mar 2, 2013, 9:15:08 AM3/2/13
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On 2013-03-02, Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> I don't think Sauron was _ever_ uncertain whether the Ring had been
> destroyed. Gandalf tells us (and Tolkien, too, in Letters IIRC) that
> Sauron simply could not conceive that anyone coming into possession
> of the Ring would do anything but claim it and try to become Lord.

When talking to Frodo in Hobbiton, Gandalf says:
He believed that the One had perished; that the Elves had destroyed
it, as should have been done. But he knows now that it has /not/
perished, that it has been found. So he is seeking it, seeking it, and
all his thought is bent on it. It is his great hope and our great fear.'

Geza Giedke

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Mar 2, 2013, 9:34:48 AM3/2/13
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Steuard Jensen schrieb am 03/01/2013 04:05 AM:
> In message <ap9mi8...@mid.individual.net>, Geza Giedke
> <joe...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Steuard Jensen schrieb am 02/28/2013 03:48 PM:
>>> Clearly, Aragorn's plan must be to use the Ring to make this assault
>>> something other than a suicide mission. He must expect to ______ ___
>>> ______ _ ______ ___ ________ _______ [...]. Therefore, your best
>>> response is to gather as many of your own troops as possible in Udun
>>> in order to repel his assault
> [...]
>>> So my question is, what exactly is supposed to fill in those blanks?

[..]

>> he has proven capable to appear out of nowhere with a powerful army
>> to vanquish the Corsairs
>
> That's an interesting question of its own: *did* Sauron know how
> Aragorn defeated the Corsairs? On the one hand, that had to have come
> as one heck of a surprise: I can't imagine that Sauron had spotted
> Aragorn and the Dead in their high speed last minute interception
> rush. And from the sound of it, the battle ended quite quickly after
> Aragorn's ghostly army arrived: it's entirely possible that Sauron's
> attention was elsewhere when Aragorn struck, and that he "tuned back
> in" only after the Dead had been put to rest at last. (On the other
> hand, it would be reasonable to think that Sauron was keeping track of
> that battle, since it was a significant piece of his strategy against
> Minas Tirith.)

i do not think he knew *how*, but he knew that they were defeated and to
him that must have been a big surprise, since all indications are that
without the Dead there would have been (at best) a long slow fight
between the coastland armies and the corsairs.

>> But I presume the more armies you want to control, the harder (isn't
>> is said in some of the HoME books, that Morgoth lost much of his
>> strength by trying to dominate Arda, orcs, dragons, etc?) and
>> therefore striking with overwhelming force may negate the power of
>> the Ring.
>
> Your guess here is quite close to my own: that (at least when first
> mastering the Ring) it would be difficult for Aragorn to directly
> control truly vast numbers of enemy soldiers, so Sauron decided to
> apply absolutely overwhelming force. Even if the first few waves
> turned around to fight for Aragorn, later waves would keep coming and
> coming until they were overwhelmed and Aragorn's personal strength ran
> out. I haven't been able to think of a compelling alternate theory.
>
> I'm not sure that I'm on board with the Morgoth analogy in this case,
> though. I feel like that was a "spending" of personal strength and
> will of a very different order: not just temporarily dominating other
> beings, but investing their very matter with corruption. But now that
> I think of it, there may be references to another layer of that
> "dilution of strength" that matches what you're describing, too. I
> should look back through MR sometime.

i have to try and find the passage I was thinking of; but I seem to
recall that both Morgoth's attempts to subdue Arda itself and to
dominate creatures like Orcs cost him and contributed to his weakening.
but I may well be mistaken

>>> Also, we know from Letters that the Nazgul would be unable to
>>> assault a declared Ringlord, so why did Sauron send them into this
>>> conflict at all?
>
>> hm, even if they can't assault the Ringlord, they can strike fear in
>> the hearts of his allies and thereby make him vulnerable.
>
> Sure, but I'm not certain that they would be easily able to keep doing
> that if the Ringlord directly ordered them to stop. (Or to reverse
> their targeting!

good point; would Sauron be helped by the fact that he "held" the Nine
Rings? would Aragorn have to win a battle of wills with Sauron to obtain
control over the Nine Rings and then command the Ringwraiths or would
the Ruling Ring give him a "backdoor" to directly control the Nazgul no
matter what Sauron/the keeper of the Nine Rings did?

> What exactly was it that made Gondor's armies quail
> in fear from the Nazgul while Sauron's were emboldened instead?)

two different kinds of terror: the effect of the Nazgul on their own
troops is that they're terrified of the consequences of not obeying
orders; on the enemy troops it seems more like despair:

>>> what could it mean that there were *no* hints of Ring influence at
>>> the Morannon? (One would think that the Nazgul at least would have
>>> known if the Ring was being used, or even if it were present. Why
>>> didn't they tell Sauron, "Hey: the Ring's not here at all!")
>
>> yes, i find this bothersome, too, unless the Ring of Power would
>> also allow the wearer to hide that it is being used.
>
> Perhaps the idea is that the fully "mastered" Ring would be less
> "detectable" than it was when simply carried? Huh... I'd want more
> evidence of that, I think. I've never entirely understood how the
> Nazgul were able to search for the Ring in the Shire in the first
> place, to be honest. (I wrote up some ideas on that topic a while
> back, which you can find at this link if you're interested:
> http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RingSense.txt )

nice model for Ring sensing; I think there must also be a finite
probability of "dark counts" (i.e. for a "sensing event" even if there's
no Ring present) otherwise I don't understand why the search for the
Ring was not much more intense after the events at Minas Morgul and at
the Tower of Cirith Ungol. (Being sure that the Ring was somewhere close
to Morgul should have lead to more then sending a few Orcs up to the
Tower.)

I doubt that "cloaking" was part of the powers of the Ring - after all
the very first thing that happened when i was used is that the wearer
was detected and his intentions revealed

>> So unless Sauron has perfect trust in the addictive power of the Ring,
>
> Interestingly, in the end that trust proved to be entirely justified.
> As Tolkien wrote (in Letters, I think), Frodo was pretty much the
> *ideal* Ringbearer in that regard: just barely enough strength of will
> to resist the Ring all the way to Mount Doom, and just little enough
> that he wasn't corrupted until he got there. And yet even Frodo failed
> at the last, and the Ring proved to be absolutely irresistible once it
> reached Mount Doom. Sauron's downfall was instead due to his failure
> to install proper safety railings in the Sammath Naur. ;)

;-)

indeed, but the power was not strong enough in the sense needed here: it
did allow some (actually, almost the whole Council of Elrond, plus
Bombadil, Galadriel, Faramir) to forego the Ring and actually aid in its
destruction - so Sauron should have allowed for the attempt.

(I don't think he simply relied on the fact that any such attempt would
fail since the bearer would be incapable of destroying the Ring in the
end: a big Elven Warrior could have accompanied Frodo to throw *him and
the Ring* into the fire if he refused to do so himself...)

Geza Giedke

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Mar 2, 2013, 10:28:27 AM3/2/13
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i did not recall that quote and was guessing that Sauron might have
considered the Ring being irretrievably lost ("rolled into the sea", maybe)

but as it is it seems that Sauron knows a good deal less about the Ring
than Elrond and Gandalf do. This surprises me (at least in Elrond's
case) but if is correct and Sauron did not know that destroying the Ring
was a danger to him many pieces of the story (the lack of guard at
Orodruin, the rather restrained intensity of the hunt for the Ring)
become much more plausible.

so would the state of Sauron after the actual destruction of the Ring
(as a mere shadow of malice) be indistinguishable (for him and at least
at first) from the state after being robbed of the Ring by Isildur?
would he spend the 4th Age trying to take shape again and wondering why
he did not get anywhere?

Steuard Jensen

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Mar 2, 2013, 10:34:05 AM3/2/13
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In message <MPG.2b9bcf25b...@news.individual.net>, Stan
Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> On Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:48:16 +0000 (UTC), Steuard Jensen wrote:
>> Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor
>> and a hunt for your Ring that has recently resurfaced. You have just
>> met an unexpected challenge from an upstart heir of Isildur who
>> somehow managed to turn the tide of battle at Minas Tirith

><nitpick>
> Not quite "just met" -- Aragorn challenged Sauron via Palantír after
> the battle of Isengard.
></nitpick>

We're within a period of what, two weeks here? Three? I'm willing to
call that "just met".

> Interesting speculation, Steuard -- and nice to hear from you again!

I'm glad to have something interesting to post (and a bit of spare
time to do it: it's now the tail end of my spring break).

> Remember when Ar-Pharazôn's troops conquered Sauron? Sauron had the
> Ring, with over a thousand years of practice in using it, but Ar-P's
> army was so splendid that Sauron's own servants deserted him. I
> imagine Sauron was counting on overawing Aragorn's troops, both
> through a greater numerical advantage (relatively) and through
> Aragorn's own inexperience with the Ring.

Good point!
Steuard Jensen

Geza Giedke

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Mar 2, 2013, 10:56:00 AM3/2/13
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we know that he could contact Frodo (and Sam) telepathically (at Amon
Hen, and later to spur them to a last effort at Mt Doom) and that he
could gather some information telepathically (e.g. of the events at
Parth Galen).

While he says in Fangorn that Frodo is out of reach for him now, that
may have to do with distance and effort spent.

> This does feel like a fairly gaping plot hole. I can't really accept
> that Gandalf and Aragorn would start a suicidal battle just on the
> off chance that it _might_ give Frodo time to reach the Sammath Naur
> undetected.

of course that is how Gandalf advertises his plan in the war council,
and nobody objects. But based on the assumption that this is the last
chance to have any positive effect in the war (either Frodo succeeds
nevertheless or -much more likely- Sauron gets the Ring) it does not
seem irrational to make such an effort.

I think Gandalf must have some knowledge of Frodo's whereabouts:
Gandalf knew when Frodo left Faramir, he may have an estimate of how
fast they would proceed if unhindered - which they almost did. Some time
was lost at the Orc tower - less than a day, some more by losing the way
in the Morgai, and a bit more, possibly, by taking the detour with the
orc army - but all in all I think Gandalf can't have expected them to
reach Orodruin earlier.
The above estimates plus some (possibly rough) telepathical information
gathering and the knowledge about limited supplies of Frodo and within
Mordor, may have led Gandalf to the conclusion that there was only a
very short time (1-2 weeks) after the Battle of the Pelennor until the
Quest would either have succeeded or surely failed.

Steuard Jensen

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Mar 2, 2013, 10:58:12 AM3/2/13
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In message <MPG.2b9bd0e43...@news.individual.net>, Stan
Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> On Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:48:16 +0000 (UTC), Steuard Jensen wrote:
> One problem I have, when I look too closely at the story, is that I
> don't have any clear idea of what the Ring could do!

Absolutely agreed. That's part of why this range of questions caught
my interest, in fact: as I commented elsewhere, it strikes me that
trying to figure out what *Sauron* feared the Ring could do might be a
new angle to attack this issue.

> It's almost like the Ring was what Hitchcock would call a McGuffin
> -- the whole story turns on possessing it, but it's not actually
> important on its own.

I wouldn't go quite that far. After all, even without its greatest
powers ever being shown in the book, its lesser or "accidental" ones
often play a *crucial* role in the plot. I'm not just talking about
invisibility here, but also the desire that it seemed to spark in
everyone near it. (I pretty strongly believe that there was something
beyond a natural human desire for power affecting those near the Ring:
not just Frodo, but the rest of the Company as well. I'd like to think
that Boromir could have held out against a purely internal temptation,
for instance.)

>> And imagine that Frodo had been one day farther from Orodruin when the
>> battle occurred.

> I don't suppose we can allow that Gandalf sent Eagles to check out
> Frodo's position and advised Aragorn to pace his march accordingly.
> :-) Did the re-embodied Gandalf the White have some way to perceive
> things at a distance, or did perhaps one of the Valar speak to him
> in a dream?

Well, I've guessed that the call that Frodo and Sam hear on the slopes
of Mount Doom telling them "Now, now or it will be too late!" was
Gandalf making a last-minute attempt to avoid missing the boat by a
mere hour or two. It's hard to imagine that Gandalf would know where
exactly they were the whole time, though, and guessing at their pace
while traveling through Mordor would have been awfully difficult
(given how much it actually varied, and for such a wide range of
reasons). Honestly, you'd almost think that Gandalf would have been
better served to send an earlier message like "You'd better get there
in three days or less, or your friends will all be dead." (Hmm. Maybe
that would be a little harsh.)

> This does feel like a fairly gaping plot hole. I can't really accept
> that Gandalf and Aragorn would start a suicidal battle just on the
> off chance that it _might_ give Frodo time to reach the Sammath Naur
> undetected.

Yeah, that's bugged me for quite some time. You'd think that Aragorn
could have presented nearly as tempting of a target by taking his dear
sweet time marching toward the Black Gate. Make a big production of
recapturing Osgiliath, for instance, complete with self-aggrandizing
celebrations. Stage a grand festival taunting Sauron at the
crossroads to Minas Morgul (well... maybe that would have drawn
Sauron's armies the wrong direction). Celebrate every minor historical
site in Ithilien that they "liberated". Wait for the troops sent to
Cair Andros to send back word of their victory there. There were
clearly limits: the whole point was to make Sauron feel an imminent
threat, and to make him empty Mordor toward Udun as quickly as
possible (and without giving him *too* much time to think). But every
day that they could stall would be one more day for Frodo, and one
less chance that they'd throw thousands of lives away for nothing (and
possibly give away the game in the process).

Steuard Jensen

John W Kennedy

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Mar 2, 2013, 11:40:47 AM3/2/13
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On 2013-03-02 14:04:09 +0000, Stan Brown said:

> On Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:48:16 +0000 (UTC), Steuard Jensen wrote:
>> Once the Black
>> Gate opened and battle was joined, it was inevitably a "normal" battle
>> with no Ring influence. At what point (if ever) would Sauron become
>> suspicious that the Ring wasn't there to be used at all? If Sauron
>> thought that Aragorn had already used the Ring to influence the
>> outcome at Minas Tirith (*Did* he? I have some memory that they
>> guessed so), ...
>
> One problem I have, when I look too closely at the story, is that I
> don't have any clear idea of what the Ring could do! We know it
> could cloud the minds of people who touched it or even were near it
> for extended periods. We know that it let its wearer see and control
> the thoughts of the wearers of the other Rings. But what _powers_
> exactly did it have?
>
> It's almost like the Ring was what Hitchcock would call a McGuffin --
> the whole story turns on possessing it, but it's not actually
> important on its own.

It appears that, apart from incidental powers like invisibility and
enslaving other rings, it's mainly an artifact granting about +30
Charisma.

--
John W Kennedy
"Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is light."
-- Tom Stoppard. "Night and Day"

Bill O'Meally

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Mar 2, 2013, 1:08:16 PM3/2/13
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On 2013-03-02 15:28:27 +0000, Geza Giedke said:

> so would the state of Sauron after the actual destruction of the Ring
> (as a mere shadow of malice) be indistinguishable (for him and at least
> at first) from the state after being robbed of the Ring by Isildur?
> would he spend the 4th Age trying to take shape again and wondering why
> he did not get anywhere?

Doubtless his loss of the Ring in the Last Alliance hindered his
ability to take shape again, as opposed to his destruction in the
Akallabêth where he kept the Ring. However, Sauron also appears to be
progressively weakened with each of his "deaths". At the siege of
Barad-dûr, Sauron was "thrown down" in his battle with Gil-galad and
Elendil. In the context of the description of the battle, it seems
clear that Tolkien means he was mortally wounded. Isildur's cutting the
Ring from his finger was basically the final straw. It was like putting
a pillow over the face of someone in a coma.

It took, what, a year for him to take shape again after the drowning of
Númenór? However, he was somewhat diminished in that he could no longer
assume a fair form. Then after the Last Alliance it took a *thousand*
years. Certainly the loss of the Ring with this death played into the
time span, but I suspect even with the Ring it would have taken well
over a year this time. Even without possessing the ring, Sauron was in
rapport with it. The fact that the Ring was not destroyed allowed
Sauron to eventually take shape again.

I always found it curious that Gandalf told Frodo that Sauron had
thought the Elves had destroyed the Ring. First of all, how would he
know this? Secondly, wouldn't Sauron's ability to take shape again have
made him exclaim, "Hey, I'm physical again. I guess they *didn't*
destroy it!".

To actually answer your question (:-)), I suspect that at least
initially Sauron's state after his death during the Last Alliance would
be indistinguishable from his state after the destruction of the Ring.
But I can't help thinking that Sauron as Shadow of Malice would know
whether the Ring had been destroyed or not, allowing him to plot his
next rise (or not).

--
Bill O'Meally

Thomas Koenig

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Mar 2, 2013, 3:28:41 PM3/2/13
to
Geza Giedke <joe...@gmail.com> schrieb:

> but as it is it seems that Sauron knows a good deal less about the Ring
> than Elrond and Gandalf do. This surprises me (at least in Elrond's
> case) but if is correct and Sauron did not know that destroying the Ring
> was a danger to him many pieces of the story (the lack of guard at
> Orodruin, the rather restrained intensity of the hunt for the Ring)
> become much more plausible.

I don't think anybody else knew at the time either. IIRC, at the
Council of Elrond, this was not mentioned at all. The aim there
was to deny Sauron a weapon, and to make sure the wielders of the
Three did not fall under the domination of the One.

Gandalf only knew that Sauron would fall when the Ring would be
destroyed when returning as Gandalf the White. I don't think
Frodo knew until after the Ring's destruction.

Michael Ikeda

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Mar 2, 2013, 4:33:33 PM3/2/13
to
Thomas Koenig <tko...@netcologne.de> wrote in
news:kgtndp$fem$1...@newsreader4.netcologne.de:
There is close to an outright statement that the Wise think that
the destruction of the Ring would deal a permanently fatal blow to
Sauron's power.

From "The Council of Elrond".

(Gloin has just asked what would happen to the Three Rings if the
One Ring was destroyed and Elrond has responded that there are
different opinions but his belief is that the Three will fail.)

Glorfindel then adds "Yet all the Elves are willing to endure this
chance, if by it the power of Sauron may be broken and the fear of
his dominion be taken away forever."


T.M. Sommers

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Mar 2, 2013, 10:17:18 PM3/2/13
to
On 2/28/2013 10:05 PM, Steuard Jensen wrote:
> In message <ap9mi8...@mid.individual.net>, Geza Giedke
> <joe...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> But I presume the more armies you want to control, the harder (isn't
>> is said in some of the HoME books, that Morgoth lost much of his
>> strength by trying to dominate Arda, orcs, dragons, etc?) and
>> therefore striking with overwhelming force may negate the power of
>> the Ring.
>
> Your guess here is quite close to my own: that (at least when first
> mastering the Ring) it would be difficult for Aragorn to directly
> control truly vast numbers of enemy soldiers, so Sauron decided to
> apply absolutely overwhelming force.

Nobody can control vast numbers of soldiers directly. "Vast numbers"
being a dozen or more. That is why real armies are organized
hierarchically. The technical term is "span of command", and things
start breaking down if you try to control more than about 5 or so others
directly.

But since armies are organized hierarchically, to control an army you
only have to control the commander, not the individual soldiers. This
applies even to ancient or medieval armies, which had less structure
than modern armies, but did have some structure.

Tolkien's army experience would have taught him this at first hand.

--
T.M. Sommers -- ab2sb

Stan Brown

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Mar 3, 2013, 1:37:58 AM3/3/13
to
You're right, and I had forgotten that quote. I was thinking of this
one from III 5 "The White Rider":

"Indeed he is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly
appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to
cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him
down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his
mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet
entered into his darkest dream."

Stan Brown

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Mar 3, 2013, 1:38:58 AM3/3/13
to
On Sat, 2 Mar 2013 14:15:08 +0000 (UTC), Julian Bradfield wrote:
>
You're right, and I had forgotten that quote. I was thinking of this
one from III 5 "The White Rider":

"Indeed he is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly
appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to
cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him
down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his
mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet
entered into his darkest dream."

"Go not to the text, for it will say both yea and nay."

No One in Particular

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Mar 3, 2013, 10:57:26 AM3/3/13
to
Perhaps it was the same power, masquerading as "chance", that allowed Bilbo
to find the ring in the first place. That power, again under the guise of
coincidence, brings Aragorn to the Morannon on the same day as Frodo arrives
as Orodruin. If it had played out any other way, the war might have been
lost.

The Army of Gondor still had to march, full willing, into the jaws of death
for it to work. Frodo still had to use every ounce of strength he
possessed, which was not sufficient, but we all know how that played out.

But the timing seems really beyond any individual's control, even Gandalf,
that was present that day.

Brian

Michael Graf

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Mar 3, 2013, 1:46:45 PM3/3/13
to
Hi there!

Am 01.03.2013 19:22, schrieb Paul S. Person:
> On Fri, 1 Mar 2013 04:33:19 -0800 (PST), solar penguin

> Interestingly, when Frodo defied the Riders at the Ford of the Bruinen
> (I hope I got that name right, it's been a while since I read the
> book), he held them back, at least for a moment (well, if I remember
> correctly, he did, anyway). Perhaps, for that moment, he was using the
> Ring as a ringlord would, and so the Nazgul were unable to assault
> him, even though he didn't have it on.

I don't think so, as he didn't wield it, for from all what we know you
have to wear the ring to do so. But the ring seems to have an imminent
power (even if not worn), as can be seen e.g. from the way the orcs
beheld Sam (Cirith Ungol). Maybe this power "impressed" the wraiths.


Geza Giedke

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Mar 3, 2013, 2:20:23 PM3/3/13
to
while I agree that Frodo was not holding the Ringwraiths back at the
Ford with the power of the Ring (I thought their reaction was surprise
at his strength and courage to still defy them), I always thought that
some of the power of the Ring *could* be tapped even when not worn:

* Galadriel says that Frodo perceived her thoughts better than many
others (and that was one of the main powers the Ring would give to
Sauron: to "lay bare" the thought of the other Ring users)

* I thought that in two (or three) confrontations with Gollum, Frodo
taps (or is helped by) the power of the Ring: probably already in the
marshes, then when he threatens Gollum at the Morannon (that he should
not let the thought of getting the Ring back grow in his mind), and
finally on Mt Doom.

Michael Graf

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Mar 3, 2013, 4:07:13 PM3/3/13
to
Hi!

Am 03.03.2013 20:20, schrieb Geza Giedke:

> while I agree that Frodo was not holding the Ringwraiths back at the
> Ford with the power of the Ring (I thought their reaction was surprise
> at his strength and courage to still defy them), I always thought that
> some of the power of the Ring *could* be tapped even when not worn:
>
> * Galadriel says that Frodo perceived her thoughts better than many
> others (and that was one of the main powers the Ring would give to
> Sauron: to "lay bare" the thought of the other Ring users)
>
> * I thought that in two (or three) confrontations with Gollum, Frodo
> taps (or is helped by) the power of the Ring: probably already in the
> marshes, then when he threatens Gollum at the Morannon (that he should
> not let the thought of getting the Ring back grow in his mind), and
> finally on Mt Doom.

The question is if it's Frodo wielding the ring or the ring wielding
Frodo. :-)
I think the ring way in some way enhances perception (thus Frodo was
able to see the normally hidden ring of Galadriel)
But it's a fact (or at least I can't remember anything like it) that
Frodo wasn't able to intentionally use the ring besides getting
invisible....which seems to be a basic feature of the ring (switching to
the "other world" would be a better description than "becoming invisible")

And anyway: if it wouldn't be necessary to wear such a thing of power on
your finger, Sauron and the Elves could have made a collar instead of a
ring. ;-)

And I still wonder how powerful the Nomenorians had been as they had
been able even to subdue a Sauron wielding his ring.

Bye

Michael

Stan Brown

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Mar 3, 2013, 4:09:07 PM3/3/13
to
On Sun, 03 Mar 2013 20:20:23 +0100, Geza Giedke wrote:
> I always thought that some of the power of the Ring *could* be
> tapped even when not worn:

> * Galadriel says that Frodo perceived her thoughts better than many
> others (and that was one of the main powers the Ring would give to
> Sauron: to "lay bare" the thought of the other Ring users)
>

"as Ring-bearer AND AS ONE THAT HAS BORNE IT ON FINGER and seen that
which is hidden, your sight is grown keener." (emphasis added)

Steuard Jensen

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Mar 12, 2013, 1:45:12 AM3/12/13
to
In message <kgufbl$g79$1...@news.albasani.net>, T.M. Sommers
<tmsom...@gmail.com> wrote:
> But since armies are organized hierarchically, to control an army you
> only have to control the commander, not the individual soldiers.

Well, within limits, right? I mean, if Sauron somehow subverted Prince
Imrahil and made him order his knights to attack their cousins in the
unit from Pelargir beside them, I doubt they'd jump straight to it
with no questions asked! And yet that's the sort of control that (say)
Aragorn would need to exert over Sauron's armies to have any hope of
victory at the Black Gate.

Steuard Jensen

Stan Brown

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Mar 13, 2013, 6:02:46 AM3/13/13
to
Well, within limits. :-)

It's easier to get an army of slaves to turn against their former
master than to get an army of free men to turn against their
comrades.

I don't think more than a very few of Sauron's troops felt actual
loyalty to him, the way that say Patton's troops did. Maybe I'm
reading too much into the Orcs' conversations that are recorded in
LotR, but I get the impression that all of them, except the very top
level, operated out of fear of torture more than any general
commitment to the cause.

Julian Bradfield

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Mar 13, 2013, 6:15:18 AM3/13/13
to
On 2013-03-13, Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> I don't think more than a very few of Sauron's troops felt actual
> loyalty to him, the way that say Patton's troops did. Maybe I'm
> reading too much into the Orcs' conversations that are recorded in
> LotR, but I get the impression that all of them, except the very top
> level, operated out of fear of torture more than any general
> commitment to the cause.

I don't know. I suppose Shagrat counts as top-level, but the "big
slave-driving devil" in Mordor, was surely a company commander at
best, and he seemed to be enjoying his job.
How many soldiers in any war are actually committed to the cause? Even
in the second world war, where there was a cause other than pure
land-grabbing, many ordinary Allied soldiers were basically fighting
because they were required to. (Read Spike Milligan's autobiography
for a cynical and amusing take on being a WW2 soldier.)
A similar degree of cynicism is found, much more understandably, among
WW1 soldiers on both sides, isn't it? It's not just the war poets who
were cynical.
I don't know - I'm no expert on WW history, but that's the impression
I've gained.

Raven

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Mar 13, 2013, 11:21:47 AM3/13/13
to
"Julian Bradfield" <j...@inf.ed.ac.uk> skrev i meddelelsen
news:slrnkk0kn...@coffee.inf.ed.ac.uk...

> On 2013-03-13, Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>> I don't think more than a very few of Sauron's troops felt actual
>> loyalty to him, the way that say Patton's troops did. Maybe I'm
>> reading too much into the Orcs' conversations that are recorded in
>> LotR, but I get the impression that all of them, except the very top
>> level, operated out of fear of torture more than any general
>> commitment to the cause.

> I don't know. I suppose Shagrat counts as top-level, but the "big
> slave-driving devil" in Mordor, was surely a company commander at
> best, and he seemed to be enjoying his job.

He was enjoying his job of bossing his underlings around. It doesn't
follow that he enjoyed being Sauron's underling or felt loyalty to him. He
was an orc, enjoying such suffering as he could inflict. As for Shagrat and
Gorbag, it seems clear to me that they feared and despised Sauron and the
Nazg�l. They obeyed partly out of fear of punishment, partly because they
feared Sauron's enemies more than they feared Sauron.

Corb.

Stan Brown

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Mar 13, 2013, 7:25:48 PM3/13/13
to
On Wed, 13 Mar 2013 16:21:47 +0100, Raven wrote:
>
> "Julian Bradfield" <j...@inf.ed.ac.uk> skrev i meddelelsen
> news:slrnkk0kn...@coffee.inf.ed.ac.uk...
>
> > On 2013-03-13, Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>
> >> I don't think more than a very few of Sauron's troops felt actual
> >> loyalty to him, the way that say Patton's troops did. Maybe I'm
> >> reading too much into the Orcs' conversations that are recorded in
> >> LotR, but I get the impression that all of them, except the very top
> >> level, operated out of fear of torture more than any general
> >> commitment to the cause.
>
> > I don't know. I suppose Shagrat counts as top-level, but the "big
> > slave-driving devil" in Mordor, was surely a company commander at
> > best, and he seemed to be enjoying his job.
>
> He was enjoying his job of bossing his underlings around. It doesn't
> follow that he enjoyed being Sauron's underling or felt loyalty to him. He
> was an orc, enjoying such suffering as he could inflict. As for Shagrat and
> Gorbag, it seems clear to me that they feared and despised Sauron and the
> Nazgūl. They obeyed partly out of fear of punishment, partly because they
> feared Sauron's enemies more than they feared Sauron.

Raven, you expressed my thought as well as I could have done myself.
So let me expand on it. :-)

At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, consider the Nazis or Stalin-
era Russia. No one was truly secure except the top man -- not even
him, actually, because of the threat of assassination. But the
second-tier people compensated by terrorizing the third-tier people,
who terrorized the fourth-tier people, and so on down the line.

I know Tolkien didn't write an allegory, but in a way Mordor really
was analogous to Hitler's Reich. There was a top guy who made all
the decisions, and the rest were his slaves, terrified even of
questioning his orders. The Nazgūl and maybe the Mouth were the
second tier, I think, comparable to Himmler, Gobbels, and that crew.
They were terrified of the Leader, but they also worshipped him.
Shagrat, Gorbag, Ugluk, and Grishnakh would be much further down, say
comparable to platoon or company commanders. Saruman would be akin
to Mussolini, a nominally allied dictator who in fact found he had
less and less freedom of action as time went on, until his own people
finally killed him.

Again, I should emphasize that I don't think Tolkien was trying to
create such a correspondence. But it's not hard to imagine a
totalitarian state -- consider /1984/ and /The Screwtape Letters/ for
just two. And then we have, as Tolkien said, "applicability" even if
not allegory.

andy.co...@googlemail.com

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Mar 21, 2013, 4:40:03 AM3/21/13
to
On Mar 2, 3:58 pm, Steuard Jensen <steu...@slimy.com> wrote:
> In message <MPG.2b9bd0e4308e867098d...@news.individual.net>, Stan
>
> Brown <the_stan_br...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

> > This does feel like a fairly gaping plot hole. I can't really accept
> > that Gandalf and Aragorn would start a suicidal battle just on the
> > off chance that it _might_ give Frodo time to reach the Sammath Naur
> > undetected.
>
> Yeah, that's bugged me for quite some time. You'd think that Aragorn
> could have presented nearly as tempting of a target by taking his dear
> sweet time marching toward the Black Gate. Make a big production of
> recapturing Osgiliath, for instance, complete with self-aggrandizing
> celebrations. Stage a grand festival taunting Sauron at the
> crossroads to Minas Morgul (well... maybe that would have drawn
> Sauron's armies the wrong direction). Celebrate every minor historical
> site in Ithilien that they "liberated". Wait for the troops sent to
> Cair Andros to send back word of their victory there. There were
> clearly limits: the whole point was to make Sauron feel an imminent
> threat, and to make him empty Mordor toward Udun as quickly as
> possible (and without giving him *too* much time to think). But every
> day that they could stall would be one more day for Frodo, and one
> less chance that they'd throw thousands of lives away for nothing (and
> possibly give away the game in the process).
>

Yeah, but that's the theme of the books and one that Gandalf, in
particular, had a conscious will about: It was IMPOSSIBLE for them to
defeat Sauron. It didn't matter how great their cunning, how well-
laid their plans - without assistance from "God" (Fate/chance/etc),
they were going to lose.
So then we recast their actions. Gandalf for one, knows the score.
Aragorn and the wisest of the leaders of the Free have a dim,
intuitive perception of it. They will "make a heap of all their
winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss" (as Kipling would
say), signifying that they intend to fight and sacrifice to the limits
of possibility, whilst acknowledging that they are dependant on
'help'.
Given that - that they were willing to sacrifice themselves for
freedom and the light, without dragging their feet, dawdling, and
hoping that Frodo would actually find the impossible possible and
relying on that as a plan - given that, the conditions for Eru to
intervene by the use of a small thumb on the cosmic scales of
probability and happenstance were met. It just so happened that Frodo
reached the destination of his quest at the right moment. It just so
happened that the mercy he had shown came back at the right moment and
in such a way that the Ring was destroyed _accidentally_, when its
deliberate destruction was actively and completely impossible (the
mooted suggestion that a big Elf warrior could just chuck Frodo into
the flames Ring and all would doubtless fail - the warrior would
instead seize the Ring from Frodo for his own use). And it just so
happened because the Allies submitted to the will of "Fate" (or God,
or Eru, or whatever you want to call it).

Put in context that Gandalf, Elrond and the Wise _knew_ that it was
impossible to deliberately destroy the Ring and that Boromir's stance
that it was simply sending the Ring back to Sauron was correct (he
just didn't see the subtle desperation), the fact that they were
relying on the fact that only divine intervention at the right moment
could save them - they were simply setting up the conditions where
such divine intervention would be the most possible and symbolise
their submission to its will. This move was simply an extension of
that. It relied on divine intervention to save the day.

Stan Brown

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Mar 21, 2013, 7:03:41 AM3/21/13
to
On Thu, 21 Mar 2013 01:40:03 -0700 (PDT), Andy.Cooke.1973
@googlemail.com wrote:
> They will "make a heap of all their
> winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss" (as Kipling would
> say)
>

Actually, that's sound advice. If you're going to gamble, your
chances of an overall profit get worse with every additional bet you
make, so your best strategy is to risk everything on one bet.

Of course "best" is relative here -- you're still more likely to lose
than win. But your chance of winning one $10,000 bet is much, much
better than your chance of winning a majority of 100 $100 bets.

Example: bet "red" in roulette. Chance of winning your only bet:
47.4%. Chance of winning 51 or more of 100 bets: 26.5%. (These are
based on the US wheel of 38 slots.)

Mike Sullivan

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Mar 21, 2013, 6:28:42 PM3/21/13
to
On Mar 21, 1:40 am, "Andy.Cooke.1...@googlemail.com" <andy.cooke.
1...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> On Mar 2, 3:58 pm, Steuard Jensen <steu...@slimy.com> wrote:

snip

>
> Put in context that Gandalf, Elrond and the Wise _knew_ that it was
> impossible to deliberately destroy the Ring and that Boromir's stance
> that it was simply sending the Ring back to Sauron was correct (he
> just didn't see the subtle desperation), the fact that they were
> relying on the fact that only divine intervention at the right moment
> could save them - they were simply setting up the conditions where
> such divine intervention would be the most possible and symbolise
> their submission to its will.  This move was simply an extension of
> that.  It relied on divine intervention to save the day.

This is why I believe the scene at the Crack to be so
well written. It's not clear what caused the normally
nimble footed Gollum to slip into the fire after seizing
the ring. Clearly he was in position to seize the ring
because of the pity shown him by many in the West,
even while all had just cause to kill him.

Gandalf and Elrond claimed that the deed could be
accomplished by the weak more readily than by the
strong.

I believe it to be Smeagol's last influence, even if it
was inserting a hesitation or a doubt into Gollum
(who ultimately was stronger than Smeagol).

If Eru caused that bit of slip, why not just crush
Sauron and be done with it as he had sent the Valar
to crush Morgoth and as he had crushed
Numenor?

If, ultimately, the deed was done by Divine Intervention,
where then is the triumph of humility?



gort

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Apr 14, 2013, 1:18:11 PM4/14/13
to
On Feb 28, 7:48 am, Steuard Jensen <steu...@slimy.com> wrote:
> Consider: You are Sauron, in the early stages of a war against Gondor
> and a hunt for your Ring that has recently resurfaced. You have just
> met an unexpected challenge from an upstart heir of Isildur who
> somehow managed to turn the tide of battle at Minas Tirith when your
> victory there seemed all but certain. It seems very likely that this
> "Aragorn" has claimed your Ring and is using it (or planning to use
> it) to challenge you. In fact, he is now leading a significant but
> still laughably small army to *attack* the gates of your realm.
>
> Clearly, Aragorn's plan must be to use the Ring to make this assault
> something other than a suicide mission. He must expect to ______ ___
> ______ _ ______ ___ ________ _______ [...].

Steal my army.

> Therefore, your best
> response is to gather as many of your own troops as possible in Udun
> in order to repel his assault: Orcs, Men, Trolls, and the rest, with
> the surviving Nazgul circling overhead to sew despair in your enemies.

A small force can be bribed, and a legion can be bribed with
a chance to rain destruction down on its enemies. The men hate
the orcs and the orcs hate each other. Use the Nazgul to track
down any defectors. Buy more dog food.


Igenlode Wordsmith

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Apr 29, 2013, 9:56:14 PM4/29/13
to
"Andy.Co...@googlemail.com" <andy.co...@googlemail.com> wrote in message <225b9262-bbf8-40da...@h14g2000vbe.googlegroups.com>

> On Mar 2, 3:58�pm, Steuard Jensen <steu...@slimy.com> wrote:
> > In message <MPG.2b9bd0e4308e867098d...@news.individual.net>, Stan
> >
> > Brown <the_stan_br...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>
> > > This does feel like a fairly gaping plot hole. I can't really accept
> > > that Gandalf and Aragorn would start a suicidal battle just on the
> > > off chance that it _might_ give Frodo time to reach the Sammath Naur
> > > undetected.
> >
> > Yeah, that's bugged me for quite some time. You'd think that Aragorn
> > could have presented nearly as tempting of a target by taking his dear
> > sweet time marching toward the Black Gate.

Yes, I always disliked that feature of the plot -- if Tolkien had
written all the action in straight chronological order I can't help
feeling that the problem would have been overwhelmingly obvious :-)

It would certainly have been a lot less arbitrary for Aragorn to spin
his 'distraction' out for as long as possible, instead of just
*happening* to launch his one and only attack at the precise moment when
it actually came in useful -- half an hour or so either way and the Ring
would surely have fallen into Sauron's hands after all... in addition to
every one of Aragorn's company getting massacred!

[snip]


> Put in context that Gandalf, Elrond and the Wise _knew_ that it was
> impossible to deliberately destroy the Ring and that Boromir's stance
> that it was simply sending the Ring back to Sauron was correct (he
> just didn't see the subtle desperation), the fact that they were
> relying on the fact that only divine intervention at the right moment
> could save them - they were simply setting up the conditions where
> such divine intervention would be the most possible and symbolise
> their submission to its will.

So they were going for a last desperate million-to-one chance... and
stacking the odds as far as possible against themselves to make
absolutely sure it couldn't be, say, a 999,943-to-one chance? ;-)

--
Igenlode Visit the Ivory Tower http://ivory.vlexofree.com/Tower/

We live in a culture in which being well-spoken is considered
proof of insincerity.

Steve Morrison

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Apr 30, 2013, 12:09:03 AM4/30/13
to
Igenlode Wordsmith wrote:

> So they were going for a last desperate million-to-one chance... and
> stacking the odds as far as possible against themselves to make
> absolutely sure it couldn't be, say, a 999,943-to-one chance? ;-)

Well, million-to-one chances *do* come off nine times out of ten...

tenworld

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Apr 30, 2013, 11:37:01 AM4/30/13
to
On Monday, April 29, 2013 9:09:03 PM UTC-7, Steve Morrison wrote:
> Igenlode Wordsmith wrote:
>
>
>
> > So they were going for a last desperate million-to-one chance...

I think that one of the underlying themes is that events are being guided by the higher power, so A&G might have been subtly influenced to start that battle at that time. And Gandalf might actually have known more than he let on, maybe was even prevented from letting on what he knew was happening. Having one of the rings he must have felt something from the One Ring being close to the end.

Mike Sullivan

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Apr 30, 2013, 2:36:01 PM4/30/13
to
On Apr 29, 6:56 pm, Igenlode Wordsmith <Use-Author-Supplied-Address-
Header@[127.1]> wrote:
> "Andy.Cooke.1...@googlemail.com" <andy.cooke.1...@googlemail.com> wrote in message <225b9262-bbf8-40da-92c5-9776ae7e8...@h14g2000vbe.googlegroups.com>
> > On Mar 2, 3:58 pm, Steuard Jensen <steu...@slimy.com> wrote:
> > > In message <MPG.2b9bd0e4308e867098d...@news.individual.net>, Stan
>
> > > Brown <the_stan_br...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>
> > > > This does feel like a fairly gaping plot hole. I can't really accept
> > > > that Gandalf and Aragorn would start a suicidal battle just on the
> > > > off chance that it _might_ give Frodo time to reach the Sammath Naur
> > > > undetected.
>
> > > Yeah, that's bugged me for quite some time. You'd think that Aragorn
> > > could have presented nearly as tempting of a target by taking his dear
> > > sweet time marching toward the Black Gate.
>
> Yes, I always disliked that feature of the plot -- if Tolkien had
> written all the action in straight chronological order I can't help
> feeling that the problem would have been overwhelmingly obvious :-)
>
> It would certainly have been a lot less arbitrary for Aragorn to spin
> his 'distraction' out for as long as possible, instead of just
> *happening* to launch his one and only attack at the precise moment when
> it actually came in useful -- half an hour or so either way and the Ring
> would surely have fallen into Sauron's hands after all... in addition to
> every one of Aragorn's company getting massacred!

But the integral part of the ruse was to make it
appear that Aragorn has the Ring and is being
hasty and unwise in it's use, exactly what Sauron
would hope would happen.

If the idea is to get Sauron to empty Mordor so
as to give Frodo the best chance possible.
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