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Discussing: What would happen to Sauron?

What would happen to Sauron?

What would happen to Sauron if one of the Wise were to claim and conquer the One Ring?

We have some ideas of what would happen to the one who claimed the Ring and could sucsessfully claim and conquer its power; he or she would set him-/herself up as new Dark Lord and soon would be corrupted. But, what woud happen to Sauron in the process?

I believe I've read a quote from HoME about that, once, at a website, that had Gandalf speaking about what would happen to Sauron if the Ring was claimed by one of the Wise strong enough to bend it to his will; but unfortunately, I cannot find that quote anymore, nor does it seem to be in one of the few HoME volumes I own. Did I dream that quote? Or does Tolkien ever says somewhere else what would happen?

I need that knowledge urgently for a story I am writing.

Help, please?



Re: What would happen to Sauron?

What would happen to Sauron if one of the Wise were to claim and conquer the One Ring?

Bother!  I just read this in the last week, while doing research for something else...but I'm afraid I can't remember where either, at least not at the moment.  But I believe the gist was that even the Wise couldn't wrest it from Sauron, not even Gandalf, because Sauron put so much of himself in the Ring.

Sorry, but that's the best I can do for now.





Re: What would happen to Sauron?

>>Bother! I just read this in the last week, while doing research for something else...but I'm afraid I can't remember where either, at least not at the moment. But I believe the gist was that even the Wise couldn't wrest it from Sauron, not even Gandalf, because Sauron put so much of himself in the Ring.

Yes, I think that's the gist of it. I believe it's in Letters - I just read that bit, too, but I don't have the book at hand right now. I was researching the Three, so that's probably a good place to start in the index.



Re: What would happen to Sauron?

If no one could wrest the Ring from Sauron, how did Isildur get his hands on it? Is this yet another of the Professor's plot holes?




Re: What would happen to Sauron?

If no one could wrest the Ring from Sauron, how did Isildur get his hands on it?

The hard way?  For both him and Sauron?  ROTFLMAO

Seriously, I think the original question is what would be the fate/disposition of Sauron should someone like Gandalf have been unwise enough to attempt to take control of the Ring and use it for his own ends.  Would Sauron have gone 'poof?'  Become like one of the Ringwraiths?  Or would he have stayed as he was and sent his minions immediately to overcome the usurper and recover the Ring?  Would these minions have continued to be loyal to Sauron, or would they follow the orders of the new 'owner?'

All of this is open to debate and would make a very interesting story, unless Tolkien made a definitive statement about this somewhere in his vast writings.



Re: What would happen to Sauron?

Quotes from The Letters of JRRT:

 131 To Milton Waldman

But to achieve this he (Sauron) had been obliged to let a great part of his own inherent power (a frequent and very significant motive in myth and fairy-story) pass into the One Ring. While he wore it, his power on earth was actually enhanced. But even if he did not wear it, that power existed and was in 'rapport' with himself: he was not 'diminished'. Unless some other seized it and became possessed of it. If that happened, the new possessor could (if sufficiently strong and heroic by nature) challenge Sauron, become master of all that he had learned or done since the making of the One Ring, and so overthrow him and usurp his place. This was the essential weakness he had introduced into his situation in his effort (largely unsuccessful) to enslave the Elves, and in his desire to establish a control over the minds and wills of his servants. There was another weakness: if the One Ring was actually unmade, annihilated, then its power would be dissolved, Sauron's own being would be diminished to vanishing point, and he would be reduced to a shadow, a mere memory of malicious will. But that he never contemplated nor feared. The Ring was unbreakable by any smithcraft less than his own. It was indissoluble in any fire, save the undying subterranean fire where it was made – and that was unapproachable, in Mordor. Also so great was the Ring's power of lust, that anyone who used it became mastered by it; it was beyond the strength of any will (even his own) to injure it, cast it away, or neglect it. So he thought. It was in any case on his finger. 

 200 From a letter to Major R. Bowen 25 June 1957

It was thus that Sauron appeared in this shape. It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It was then destructible like other physical organisms. But that of course did not destroy the spirit, nor dismiss it from the world to which it was bound until the end. After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Númenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, which might be called the 'will' or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination). The impossibility of re-building after the destruction of the Ring, is sufficiently clear 'mythologically' in the present book. 

 211 To Rhona Beare

Sauron was first defeated by a 'miracle': a direct action of God the Creator, changing the fashion of the world, when appealed to by Manwë: see III p. 317. Though reduced to 'a spirit of hatred borne on a dark wind', I do not think one need boggle at this spirit carrying off the One Ring, upon which his power of dominating minds now largely depended. That Sauron was not himself destroyed in the anger of the One is not my fault: the problem of evil, and its apparent toleration, is a permanent one for all who concern themselves with our world. The indestructibility of spirits with free wills, even by the Creator of them, is also an inevitable feature, if one either believes in their existence, or feigns it in a story.
Sauron was, of course, 'confounded' by the disaster, and diminished (having expended enormous energy in the corruption of Númenor). He needed time for his own bodily rehabilitation, and for gaining control over his former subjects. He was attacked by Gil-galad and Elendil before his new domination was fully established.

  246 From a letter to Mrs Eileen Elgar (drafts) September 1963

I think that an effect of his (Gollum's) partial regeneration by love would have been a clearer vision when he claimed the Ring. He would have perceived the evil of Sauron, and suddenly realized that he could not use the Ring and had not the strength or stature to keep it in Sauron's despite: the only way to keep it and hurt Sauron was to destroy it and himself together – and in a flash he may have seen that this would also be the greatest service to Frodo. Frodo in the tale actually takes the Ring and claims it, and certainly he too would have had a clear vision – but he was not given any time: he was immediately attacked by Gollum. When Sauron was aware of the seizure of the Ring his one hope was in its power: that the claimant would be unable to relinquish it until Sauron had time to deal with him. Frodo too would then probably, if not attacked, have had to take the same way: cast himself with the Ring into the abyss. If not he would of course have completely failed.

It is an interesting problem: how Sauron would have acted or the claimant have resisted. Sauron sent at once the Ringwraiths. They were naturally fully instructed, and 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 immune 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. That errand was to remove Frodo from the Crack. Once he lost the power or opportunity to destroy the Ring, the end could not be in doubt – saving help from outside, which was hardly even remotely possible.

Frodo had become a considerable person, but of a special kind: in spiritual enlargement rather than in increase of physical or mental power; his 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. Even so for a long time his acts and commands would still have to seem 'good' to him, to be for the benefit of others beside himself.


But if he (Fordo) preserved some sanity and partly understood the significance of it, so that he refused now to go with them to Barad-dûr, they would simply have waited. Until Sauron himself came. In any case a confrontation of Frodo and Sauron would soon have taken place, if the Ring was intact. Its result was inevitable. Frodo would have been utterly overthrown: crushed to dust, or preserved in torment as a gibbering slave. Sauron would not have feared the Ring! It was his own and under his will. Even from afar he had an effect upon it, to make it work for its return to himself. In his actual presence none but very few of equal stature could have hoped to withhold it from him. Of 'mortals' no one, not even Aragorn.


Confrontation of Sauron alone, unaided, self to self was not contemplated. One can imagine the scene in which Gandalf, say, was placed in such a position. It would be a delicate balance. On one side the true allegiance of the Ring to Sauron; on the other superior strength because Sauron was not actually in possession, and perhaps also because he was weakened by long corruption and expenditure of will in dominating inferiors. If Gandalf proved the victor, the result would have been for Sauron the same as the destruction of the Ring; for him it would have been destroyed, taken from him for ever. But the Ring and all its works would have endured. It would have been the master in the end.
Gandalf as Ring-Lord would have been far worse than Sauron. He would have remained 'righteous', but self-righteous. He would have continued to rule and order things for 'good', and the benefit of his subjects according to his wisdom (which was and would have remained great).




Re: What would happen to Sauron?

Thank you, Gwynnid! That is the information I was looking for, especially this one:

If Gandalf proved the victor, the result would have been for Sauron the same as the destruction of the Ring; for him it would have been destroyed, taken from him for ever.

So, if one of the Wise - or one strong enough to conquer the Ring and bend it to his or her will - would indeed have successfully claimed the Ring, Sauron would indeed (to quote Jael) "go poof" - he would have lost his power, and the susbstantial part of himself. We can assume that the described effect to Sauron would have also been possible with at least Galadriel caiming the Ring (who was thinking about that, after all) and maybe Elrond; and there is a passage in LOTR (The Last Debate) where Legolas speaks of what terrible ruler Aragorn would have become in the strength of his will if he had taken the Ring for himself.

From the quote above, we may doubt if Aragorn would have truly been capable to make the Ring his own the same way as one of the Wise could have done, but then again, maybe he would have. It seems that the Professor was not really decided on this point.

But of course, the new Ringlord would have become a tyrant, and what evil had been done with the One Ring - and in essence, even the malice of Sauron himself - would have survived in the new master!

Let me add that I finally found the quote I was looking for again (Google is *great*!), on a website about the History of Middle Earth that has excerpts:
The History of Middle Earth

It is an excerpt of the draft for the chapter "The Last Debate", in vol. 8 of HoME (War of the Ring) and goes like this:
"‘But if we should find the Ring and wield it, how would it give us victory?’, asked Imrahil.

‘It would not do so all in a day’, answered Gandalf. ‘But were it to come to the hand of some one of power or royalty, as say the Lord Aragorn, or the Steward of this City, or Elrond of Imladrist, or even to me, then he being the Ringlord would wax ever in power and the desire of power ; and all minds he would cow or dominate so that they would blindly do his will. And he could not be slain. More : the deepest secrets of the mind and heart of Sauron would become plain to him, so that the Dark Lord could do nothing unforeseen . The Ringlord would suck the very power and thought from him, so that all would forsake his allegiance and follow the Ringlord, and they would serve him and worship him as a God. And so Sauron would be overthrown utterly and fade into oblivion ; but behold, there would be Sauron still....but upon the other side, a tyrant brooking no freedom, shrinking from no deed of evil to hold his sway and to widen it.

‘And worse’, said Aragorn. ‘For all that is left of the ancient power and wisdom of the West he would also have broken and corrupted’."

So, here, Sauron does not go "poof" at once, it takes more time, but the effect is, in esence, the same.

I think, though, that for the story I have planned, I'll follow the above quoted - faster - version in the Letters.

Thank you for all your help, guys, you are great!




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