Celebrimbor and the Rings of Power

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Celebrimbor and the Rings of Power   

The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Library would like to contribute the following information on "Celebrimbor and the Rings of Power" illustrating the greater story and context of his importance. This information is also found at

Celebrimbor and the Rings of Power    

In the year 1200 of the SecondAge, Sauron took a fair guise in which he was named Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and attempted to beguile the Elves of Middle-earth. In Eregion, along the western edge of the MistyMountains, his service was accepted. A group of secretive Noldorin smiths called the Gwaith-i-Mírdain had formed in Eregion, whose chief city was Ost-in-Edhil. These Elves learned greatly from the disguised Sauron (originally a Maia of Aulë, the Great Smith).

The Gwaith-i-Mírdain soon came to great power, seizing control of Eregion and growing to their highest levels of skill. Around the year 1500 of the SecondAge, the Elves began the forging of the Rings of Power with the aid and instruction of Sauron. The Elves made many Rings, but at first they were merely lessons in the craft, lesser rings with neither great power nor peril. But the Greater Rings were both, powerful and perilous.

Sixteen GreatRings the Elves made with the aid of Sauron: the Seven and the Nine, originally made for the Elves, but later stolen by Sauron who gave Seven to Dwarves and Nine to Men. Yet in 1590 of the SecondAge, the ThreeRings were forged by Celebrimbor alone. Celebrimbor was the son of Curufin, and thus the grandson of Fëanor, the greatest jewel-smith of all the Elves and maker of the Silmarilli. The ThreeRings were never touched by Sauron.

All of the Elven Rings were made with the motive of and central power of "prevention or slowing of decay (i.e. change viewed as a regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired or loved, or its semblance" (Letters #131). This was primarily a good motive, yet it was still a desire for power over things, and thus not entirely pure. The Rings also increased the power of the bearers "thus approaching magic, a motive easily corruptible into evil, a lust for domination" (Letter 131). Finally, the Elves' motives came largely from a desire, embraced by Sauron in his guile, to create a version of the Undying Lands on Middle-earth. This "was really a veiled attack on the gods, an incitement to try and make a separate independent paradise" (Letters #131), where they would still have the nobility and power only achievable in Middle-earth. The Sixteen also bestowed powers of invisibility, entering the wraith world unseen by men, derived from Sauron.

The Three were made with slightly different powers "directed to the preservation of beauty" (Letters #131). They were given the names Narya, Nenya, and Vilya: the Rings of Fire, Water, and Air. They were used to heal the damages of evil and to prevent change and passage of time. And where the Three were used, they created "enchanted enclaves of peace where Time seems to stand still and decay is restrained, a semblance of the bliss of the True West" (Letters #131).

In the year 1600, Sauron forged the OneRing, the RulingRing, in the fires at the heart of Orodruin (Mt. Doom). He poured into the Ring much of his own power and malice, and by externalizing his power, his power was enhanced while he wore the Ring, yet not diminished if the Ring was taken. But if the Ring was destroyed, which he never contemplated as possible, both because he wore the Ring and because the Ring was irresistible, as he saw it, he would be utterly vanquished and never able to rise again. Furthermore, he made the One Ring so that he could rule the other Rings and the minds of those who wore them. This included the Three, because although they were made by Celebrimbor alone, they were still the products of Sauron's instruction, and thus were subject to the One.

When Sauron first put on the OneRing, the Elves perceived his designs and took off their Rings. Celebrimbor sought the aid of Galadriel (after the Mírdain had seized control of Eregion from her), and she counseled him to keep the ThreeRings hidden. At that time he gave to Galadriel the Ring Nenya, and sent Vilya and Narya to Gil-galad in Lindon. Gil-galad gave Narya to Círdan (either immediately or just before the LastAlliance) and then Vilya to Elrond at the time Rivendell was built as a refuge (about 1697 of the SecondAge).

However, Sauron became angered as they ruined his plan, so he attacked Eregion with a great force. Elven defenses under Elrond and Celeborn came to Eregion's aid, but Sauron could not be stopped at the time. He entered the House of the Mírdain, tortured Celebrimbor to find the location of the Rings. Sauron was able to seize the Seven and the Nine, as well as the lesser rings, but of the Three Celebrimbor would reveal nothing, even to his death, because they were his prized creation. However, Sauron correctly guessed that they would be with Galadriel and Gil-galad. Sauron turned his attack on Elrond's forces, and would have destroyed them had not the Dwarves of Moria assailed him from behind. Sauron, though, continued to attack Eriador, until he was finally forced to return to Mordor by Gil-galad's defenses at the GreyHavens and the arrival of a vast Númenorian armada under Tar-Minister? in 1700 of the SecondAge.

Sauron, thus, could not obtain the Three, but the Rings he had stolen back he dispersed again: Seven to the Dwarves and Nine to Men. The Seven did not have a great effect on the Dwarves, for they could not be made into wraiths (so that the Rings' powers of invisibility and longevity did not affect them), nor could they be easily enslaved to another's will, as Sauron desired. The only effect the Rings had on the Dwarves was to increase their greed and production of gold, which did end up aiding Sauron, as they became wrathful and reckless in hunt for treasure.

Men had always been most subject to the deceits of the Enemy, so Sauron completely corrupted and enslaved those that used the Nine. Men often used their Rings to enter the wraith world and become invisible, and they became great warriors and kings (though certainly not all were kings, nor were they kings of Númenor). They gathered power and wealth; however, the Rings led to their downfall. As they used the Rings, they did not age, a gift of false immortality from the Enemy, and they stretched and faded until they were but shadows utterly enslaved to Sauron. They became the Ringwraiths, the Nazgûl, Sauron's greatest servants.

There is one last Ring that must be covered: Narya, one of the Three, the Ring of Fire. When the Istari, or Wizards, arrived in Middle-earth in the ThirdAge, Círdan gave Narya to Gandalf, seeing him as the greatest and wisest, saying: "This is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill" (The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"). Narya had been idle with Círdan at the Havens, but Gandalf would use it, indeed, to effect many great deeds in the ThirdAge. Like all of the Three, it prevented weariness, but Gandalf followed Círdan's words, becoming "the kindler" and inspiring people to do valiant deeds. Thus, his importance, although often unnoticeable, was supreme. Bilbo and Frodo undertaking their quests, Théoden's rise against Saruman and Sauron, and Aragorn's return as King, (which specifically is reminiscent of returning to the "valour of old"), all might have been accomplished partly through Gandalf and Narya's inspiration.

Contributed by: The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Library


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