Why were the Rings of Power Made, and what were their Powers?
From: Erik Tracy
The reason is tied to the regret the Elves had for the passage of time. The Elves were
immortal and were fated to live as long as Middle-earth lasted. As such, the earth changed with
the passage of time, and the Elves saw many things that were fair become destroyed and lost by
the hurts of evil. Sauron, as tempter, awoke a desire in the hearts of Elves to heal the hurts
of the earth and create a paradise on this side of the sea to compare to Valinor - and
to be its rulers; whereas in Valinor they were only subjects and below the Valar. The Rings of
Power were primarily made to slow the passage of time and preserve their creations of beauty.
Yet they had other powers as well.
Tolkien provides a revealing insight on to the nature of the Rings and their powers in one of
"The chief power (of all the rings alike) was the prevention or slowing of decay (i.e. 'change'
viewed as a regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired or loved, or its semblance -
this is more or less an Elvish motive. But also they enhanced the natural powers of a possessor
- thus approaching 'magic', a motive easily corruptible into evil, a lust for domination. And
finally they had other powers, more directly derived from Sauron... such as rendering invisible
the material body, and making things of the invisible world visible."
The Rings were not made as instruments of war or domination; they could not create lightning
bolts or hail storms. Yet, they conferred powers commensurate with that of the user; a Great
Ring in the hands of a weak and lesser person could not work effects to the extent of the wise
or great. Notice Galadriel's words to Frodo in Lothlórien:
[The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #131]
"Did not Gandalf tell you that the rings give power according to the measure of each possessor?
Before you could use that power you would need to become far stronger, and to train your will to
the domination of others."
The Elves used the Three Rings to create "islands of timeless beauty" and guard them against the
passage of time and evil. Their use can be seen at work at various points:
[The Fellowship of the Ring]
Elrond used the power of his ring, Vilya, to cause the flood of the river Bruinen when the
Nazgûl tried to capture Frodo.
But the use of the Elven Rings was possible only after Sauron was defeated in the Second Age
and his Ring taken and assumed lost. If Sauron regained the One, then all the works of the Elves
and the use of their Rings would be subject to the evil will of Sauron.
Galadriel used the power of her ring, Nenya, to keep a guard on Lothlórien so that none
could enter without her leave.
Gandalf used the power of his ring, Narya, to kindle the hearts and spirits of the enemies of
Sauron to do great deeds.
On this page you can find everything about the Rings of Power.
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