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Thread: Week 14 - Ringwraiths/Barrow-wights/Mouth of Sauron

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Ringwraiths/Nazgul:From JRR Tolkien Letters:

Letter # 246

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 [note: referring to Frodo in Mount Doom] 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 command 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.

Letter # 210

Their [Black Riders] peril is almost entirely due to the unreasoning fear which they inspire (like ghosts). They have no great physical power against the fearless; but what they have, and the fear that they inspire is enormously increased in darkness. The Witch-king, their leader, is more powerful in all ways than the others; but he must not be raised to the stature of Vol III.
There put in command by Sauron, he is given an added demonic force. But even in the Battle of Pelennor, the darkness had only just broken.

Unfinished Tales: The Hunt for the Ring

At length he [Sauron] resolved that no others would serve him in this case but his mightiest servants, the Ringwraiths, who had no will but his own, being each utterly subservient to the ring that had enslaved him, which Sauron held.
Now few could withstand even one of these fell creatures an (as Sauron deemed) none could withstand them when gathered together under their terrible captain, the Lord of Morgul.

The Lord of Morgul therefore led his companions over Anduin, unclad and unmounted, and invisible ot eyes, and yet a terror to all liveing things that they passed near. It was, maybe, on the first day of July that they went forth. They passed slowly and in stealth, through Anorien, and over the Entwase, and so into the Wold, and rumour of darkness and a dread of men knew not what went before them. They reached the west-shores of Anduin a little north of Sarn Gebir, as they had trysted; and there received horses and rainment that were secretly ferried over the river.This was (it is thought) about the seventeenth of July. Then they passed northward seeking for the Shire, the land of the Halflings

[Edited on 11/1/2003 by Rednell]
From 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil':
Dark came under Hill. Tom, he lit a candle;
upstairs creaking went, turned the door-handle.
'Hoo, Tom Bombadil! Look what night has brought you!
I'm here behind the door. Now at last I've caught you!
You'd forgotten Barrow-wight dwelling in the old mound
up there on hill-top with the ring of stones round.
He's got loose again. Under earth he'll take you.
Poor Tom Bombadil, pale and cold he'll make you!'

'Go out! Shut the door, and never come back after!
Take away gleaming eyes, take your hollow laughter!
Go back to grassy mound, on your stony pillow
lay down your bony head, like Old Man Willow,
like young Goldberry, and Badger-folk in burrow!
Go back to buried gold and forgotten sorrow!'

Out fled Barrow-wight through the window leaping,
through the yard, over wall like a shadow sweeping,
up hill wailing went back to leaning stone-rings,
back under lonely mound, rattling his bone-rings

From Fellowship of the Ring: Fog on the Barrow-downs
Then he told them that these blades were forged many long years ago by Men of Westerness: they were foes of the Dark Lord, but they were overcome by the evil king of Carn Dum in the land of Angmar.

From Fellowship of the Ring: Appendix A/The North Kingdom and the Dunedain

It was at this time that an end came of the Dunedain of Cardolan, and evil spirits out of Angmar and Rhudaur entered into the deserted mounds and dwelt there.
It is said that the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad, as the Barrowdowns were called of old, are very ancient, and that many were built in the days of the old world of the First Age by the forefathers of the Edain, before they crossed the Blue Mountains into Beleriand, of which Lindon is all that now remains. Those hills were therefore revered by the Dunedain after their return; and there many of their lords and kings were buried. [Some say that the mound in which the Ring-Bearer was imprisoned had been the grave of the last prince of Cardolan, who fell in the war of 1409.]

[Edited on 11/1/2003 by Rednell]

[Edited on 11/1/2003 by Grondmaster]

[Edited on 11/1/2003 by Rednell]

[Edited on 11/1/2003 by Rednell]
Mouth of Sauron:
The Return of the King: The Black Gate Opens.

At its head there rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame. The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dur he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself has forgotten it, and he said: 'I am the Mouth of Sauron." But is is told tht he was a renegade, who came of the race of those that are named the Black Numenoreans; for they established their dwellings in Middle-earth during the years of Sauron's domination, and they worshipped him, being enamoured of evil knowledge.

Letter #131
A new religion, and worship of the Dark, with its temple under Sauron arises. The Faithful are persecuted and sarificed. The Numenoreans carry their evil also to Middle-earth, and there become cruel and wicked lords of necromancy, slaying and tormenting men; and the old legends are overlaid with dark tales of horror.

[Edited on 11/1/2003 by Rednell]

[Edited on 11/1/2003 by Rednell]
The log from the class discussion in Bilbos-study:

Shall we begin?
Yes please
We will start with the Ringwraiths, then go onto the
barrow wights then the mouth of Sauron.
Undead, terrifying, cold, sinister
Val is telepathic
getting used to things
When do we first see the Ringwraiths in LOTR
Coming into the Shire
Their purpose?
Disguised as black riders
finding the ring
They are searching for the Ring
To find the Ring
and the Ring bearer
hunting the ring
who do they serve?
baggins & shire
How does Sauron control the Nazgul?
the nine rings
One ring to rule them all
9 rings
He holds their Nine Rings
They once owned the nine rings of mortal man
What has become of them?
The nazgul or the rings?
* Ghan-buri-Ghan has joined #bilbos-study
they are tied together
they were corupted by their greed, sorta
hullo Ghan
welcome Grondmaster
Hi I'm late sorry
welcome Ghan-buri-Ghan
They became wraiths at the end of their natural
lives when the power of the rings would not let them die
What is a wraith?
Nell: us first two letters
After he lost his own ring, Sauron reclaimed theirs
to better control them
* MellSnow is now known as mellieeating
I was too quick with the enter, Grondmaster
very good Val
Where did their powerful black horses come from?
specially chosen for their colour
or the Southrons?
How did they get them from Rohan?
The Rohans
The Rohirrim paid them in tribute for something
Sauron deceived the horse masters then bred the black
horses to be the cruel bearers of the Nazgol
Although they said they held no alligance either way
Maybe it happened long ago when Rohan was overrun
* littleirena has quit IRC (Quit: Leaving)
Was it not said that the horses neded special
training to bear such unearthly riders?
They did not know the purpose or they would never have
given the black steeds to Sauron.
They did know where they were going though
No they didn't
Ghan-buri-Ghan, yes I did read that as well
Ah, they just sold them to an itinerant horse trader
Like elves corrupted into orcs, some parallel there
i think.
good point. Only the horses would not have had the free
will in the first place.
good one Ghan-buri-Ghan
* Sam has joined #Bilbos-Study
Similar hoses to begin with. The elven horses did
not fear the Nazgul either
Hey Sam!
Welcome Sam
Hi Sam
That makes sense, as normal horses go span near the
Black Riders
that is true they did not val
I thought the Black Riders used horses from Rohan
yes they do sam
This would probably be due to the training they received
in Mordor
This brings us back to Nell's question: What is a
the spirit of the kings that bore the 9 rings
i imagine it's some kinda ghost..
and these were probably offspring from the original
Rohan horses, bred to accept the Nazgul
So did I Remi
A ghost would indicate a death first. These men did not die
A wraith is a ghost or apperition according to
Oxford dictionary
They are neither living or dead.
thus "some kind of"..
undead corrupt spirits evil
Indeed but it is something that has an appearance
in one world but exists in two worlds
good definition
These are undead spirits tied to the rings
I didn't think wraiths had to be evil
thought the Ringwraiths were of course
Why would the Nazgul be Sauron's most powerful servants?
I think they live partly in the Void too
Yes, I like your definition Ghan
Because they can be totally trusted by him
The power of the Ring drives them
That is a very interesting point, Val
I got the impression that the Void was only reachable by Ainur
because of the rings that he holds have primary hold
on their wills
Melkor was bannished to the void, was he not?
i always thought his most powerful servants was the balrogs??
The balrogs were Melkor's servants
Yes, but Balrogs were before the Nazgul were made
I think they were too powerful for Sauron to control
Agree mellie. But what will of their own do they
have when they are enslaved to the rings
ok, i see ur point val
Balrogs are maiar of the same order as Sauron
none Ghan-buri-Ghan
that is why they were trusted
I did not know that Ghan, I suppose that would explain a lot
lord of the balrogs was Morgoth's son and he became
the 2nd in command of the Nazgul
Yes, mellie. And one critic has pointed out that
wraiths are "form without content" -- an apparition of power that
is borrowed from elsewhere
The new evil is less powerful than the old; just as is
the case between the new and old Elves and the new and old men
I like that Grondmaster
Where did you find that Mellie
good point Grondmaster
Agree Grondy
lost tales 1
The world is slowly losing its magic
Ghan, I like that quote, what do you think 'elsewhere' means?
The Void, the Ethereal etc
from the Valar?
true grondmaster, i just assumed sauron being morgoths "2nd
in command" he'd take over control of all his servants too
the spirit world, maybe
The suggestion was that Tolkien's vision of evil
power was that it is handed down from a leader to his followers --
all power id derived from some leader
Yes that is true Ghan
but is it truely handed down or is control still in the
completely in the hands of the leader?
that is true Ghan
I think that it is in the hands of the leader
Does Sauron still serve Morgoth, or does he do it
for his own ends?
loaned, but controled
but one ofthe ways Sauron tricked his followers was by making
them think they were in control
It seems that the followers partake of the evil,
ilke the Mouth of Sauron
Good point sam
Thats one way of doing it sam
Morgoth is gone, Sauron serves his own ends
Good question, Val. I think Saron has his own ends as
Morgoth has been banished to the void
I suppose the question would be, how gone is Morgoth being in
the Void? Can he still control his servents from there
i think not sam
I don't think so, Sam
I think not also
I think you are probably right, but perhaps his memory and his
spirit are still in the hearts of his followers
But maybe Sauron's goals are still the same
But Sauron has placed his confidence in the power of the
one Ring
i agree val, sauron just continues where morgoth left
The same structures are repeated on ever-finer
levels -- all evil is a reflection of Morgoth's betrayal but on a
lessser scale. And it is not needed for Morgoth to will it into
In order to control all the other Rings
Yes Ghan, I agree
true, Ghan-buri-Ghan
The Original Sin
Very similar, Grondy
Is Sauron then more evil?
just a different world
than whom, Rednell?
I believe he was said to be crueler
to achieve his ends?
Sauron defied the Valar but Morgoth defied Eru
i think so nell, as melkor wasn't created evil to begin with
(i think)
I think he was equal in power as Morgoth used to be, but not
That is a good point Ghan
Melkor was just another of Eru's personalities as
were all of the Valar and Maiar
entropy probably effect evil too
of course.
then they both defied Eru, Sauron being a maiar
what is entropy please? (sorry)
Entropy is the natural trend of the universe to
The opposite is enthalpy -- the trend to greater
Thus it is easy to draw an analogy between evil and
but may not fit the current discussion
Who is the leader of the Nazgul?
The Witchking of Angmar
which-king of Angmar
I get it, thanks Ghan
the witch-king of Anmar
Did he have powers before becoming a wraith?
the Lord of the Nazgul
He was a sorcerer (not a wizard like the Istari)
He may have been a sorceror
Yes or he wouldn't have been given a ring?
I always thought he was a powerful king
wasn't all wraiths kings of men?
Yes Remi I think so
They were powerful lords, but whether they were true
kings ?
* Littleirena has joined #bilbos-study
i gotta go play in the snow, sorry to leave so soon
Hi Littleirena
* mellieeating is now known as MellieSnow
OK mellie take care
We don't get snow often
Kings and Lords seem to be used interchangeably often in
Tolkien's books.
Ok Mellie, hope you enjoyed yourself
That is true
The lord of some city may have been known locally as
a king
is it still the wraiths?
one High king many Lords who were Little Kings
yes that was my understanding of it
* Remi has quit IRC (Connection reset by peer)
How do the Nazgul appear to Frodo when he puts on the ring?
Their ghostlike form
as spirits
white personna
Is this more frightening than as they appeared on
horseback in the shire?
good word
not sure
More disturbing as he has entered their world
i think so
we are seeing their more true nature
I like that Valedhelgwath
and they look sorta like sceletons
yes Val I agree
Clothing with emptiness inside is scary but Frodo
sees them in their full power
like emptiness without clothing
right, Gahn
well said
* Remi has joined #Bilbos-Study
like he sees them in their after-form
This is the first time they can see that the Nazgul can
indeed injure them with a physical force using the morgul knives.
hullo Remi wb
hi, computer not cooperative
wb Remi. that is true Nell, before they were only phantoms
But that is a spiritual injury, they also weild
normal swords to effect physical harm, Nell
I don't think they ever doubted that the Nazgul
could harm them though
What makes the wound from teh Morgul knife more terrifying
than that of a normal blade?
yes, you're probably right
It turnes the injured person into a wraith
who wore armor, carried swords, and rode big black
Turning into a wraith would undoubtedly be a fate worse
than death.
Thats the fate the barroe wights chose though
because it is undeath
In both Gollum and denethor are other examples of
the old adage that power corrupts, as does the power of all the
rings except the elven ones
who brought (so to speak) the Barrow Wights to the Barrow
Undead yearn for the life they have lost, and only
feel the cold of the grave
it does not fit Eru's plan for Men
Only because the Elven Rings were hidden from Sauron.
Yes Nell
The witchking and spirits from Angmar
* Littleirena has quit IRC (Quit: Leaving)
Were the wights not evil spirits that just seized
on martal remains?
That is an interesting idea Ghan
The wights were dead Edain and Numenorian lords into
which evil spirits from Angmar entered and took control of them
Yes Ghan, that's what the Witch-king and the spirits
did at the Barrows
It was their fear of death anf their longing to
remain with their possessions that would have made this easier
Yes Note that Angmar was responsible for the
destruction of Nandor as Saruman or Sauron could have been for
Gondor. Which shows why he became the chief nazgul maybe
It wass wars with Angmar which destroyed Arnor as a
fighting force
That is a good point Ghan
Yes sorry I meant Arnor
Yes it is a good point Ghan
I especially enjoyed the strength of Tom Bombadil in vanquishing the wight
The main weapon of a wight would be fear...as Tom was fearless, they had no hold on him
yes I like what you said about fear Val
what are the barrow wights?
my apologies
the teachers back!
So what was your next question teacher?
he he! Big Smile Smilie
I think wights and wraiths are very similar but the
greater power of the wraiths comes from the Ring
tom told the Hobbits to pass the barrows on the west, why
is that?
so is it a place or smethhing?
West is closer to valinor?
The Barrows are the burial places of the Kings and the
that would be my guess Ghan
The barrowdowns were ancient burial sites in which
evil spirits had come
* Littleirena has quit IRC (Quit: Leaving)
greater sunlight before dark?
yes Ghan-buri-Ghan
Did Tom have a plan if they did get into trouble?
he learned them a song to sing, and he would come
Yah, you betcha, he gave Frodo the song
I think Tom knew that trouble would probably come
-- the foresight of the wise
By water, wood, and hill, by the reed and the willow. By
fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us.
You'd have thought he'd have gone with them in that
because they had to go there to get the blades so
Merry could save Eowyn
Do you think there is any significance to his choice of
They are all aspects of the Valar
All things created by the Valar, Nell?
Toms songs usually involve reeds and willows because of
yes, by all that is created
that is exactly what I was thinking, Ghan-buri-Ghan
And sam's point is good -- with the power of Ulmo
in all the world's waters
I think Tom went with them, but was hiding in the
fire of Aule
wood Yavanna
Sun and Moon Iluvatar.
sun and moon of whosis
I never thought of Manwe, Ghan-buri-Ghan
The sun and moon were the creation of all of the
I thought so too Grondmaster (about Tom hiding in the
he does seem to do that a lot
I was thinking of creation and the failing of the sun and
the fall of the moon.
I can't remember who made the sun and moon but was
it not the Valar?
Toms song contrasts the song of the Barrow wights.
They were made from the fruits of the two trees,
placed in globes created by Aule, blessed by Manwe and placed in
the sky by Varda
Yes a mirror image of the wights singing about
death is Tom's song of life
i thought varda made sun & moon, or was is just the stars?
I like that Ghan
Val is right I think
yes Val you are right
Nienna had a part too, making the trees grow the
fruits after they had died
tnx val
second page of chaper 11 of the Silmarillion
It was a task they all combined to create to show a
united front against Melkor
Yavanna sang her green song and Nienna wept tears of
endurance beyond hope and from the cahrred reuins came a singel
golden fruit and a singel silver flower.
Varda lifted them into teh heavens
It is Maiar of Orome and lorien who guide them
And two maiar drive them across the heavens
So Tom's song invoked the Valar for power
he called upon goodness
When the Hobbits are overcome by the barrow-wights, Frodo
is the only one who gains consciousness and thus saves the 4 of
them. Do you think it is the influence of a higher power that
ensures this and that tom is close by to hear the song?
Words of Power...it did the trick
It may be the power of the ring
good point, Valedhelgwath
I think Tom could hear the song anywhere but may
have planned to be close by.
could be, I don't think it was just Tolkien's
imagination Smile Smilie
or just hobbits resiliance
In a way he is par to them...given time potentially
their lord
But would the Witch king not be able to get the ring from
the barrow wights?
Yes, I think the Ring gives Frodo power according
to his stature
So you think it is the Ring's means of self preservation?
I meant it was having the ring which gave him
strength, rather the ring influencing things
yes I agree
ok, that makes more sense to me.
If seen as a conscious player, the Ring only wants
to get back to Sauron -- not be held in a barrow
that is a good point, Ghan-buri-Ghan
the ring is what made Frod regain conciousness
And the wights were tied pretty closely to their
Note that Gollum kept it hidden from its master for
so perhaps it was the power of the Ring that woke up
Frodo, but the power of the Valar who brought Tom to the rescue.
and the Nazgul might not have been able to find the
Ring in the Barrows
yes I would agree with that Nell
right Nell
The nazgul might have had a job retrieving it from a
wight that was wielding it
Of course, this begs the question of who Tom really
is (not tonight's topic)
even the witch-king, Valedhelgwath
We are now going to quickly move onto the mouth of Sauron
He'd not have a lot of power over a wight, they draw
their energy from the same source really. A wight would show him
no fear
I think a wight would have just kept it in his
hoard, as would a dragon
was the Mouth of Sauron a wraith?
What was the difference between the mouth of Sauron and
the Nazgul?
not wielded it
A lich I think
The Mouth is not dead
The mouth of was still alive
MoS is a living mortal
He has prolonged his life somehow
yes. Was he as powerful as the Nazgul?
I see
More so in some respects and less in others
In a different way, probably
how so?
He had his own will
No, just an instrument of Sauron , whence the name
he was not bound by any Rings
He is controlled only by greed
Do you not think he feared Sauron?
It was said that he had even forgotten his own
name, so much a servant was he
Very much I'd imagine
good point Ghan-buri-Ghan
oh yes
He'd seen what Sauron had done to the Wraiths
* GailH has joined #bilbos-study
probably greed was his original motivator, but it became a
case of be careful what you wish for.
he probably both feared and looked up to sauron
Welcome Gail
hi Gail
Note that sauron draws many martals to his cause
using different ploys
He was a powerful sorceror too
Do we know what race of Men he is from?
Numenor, I think
How did he become a sorceror?
trying to prolong his life
he learned from sauron i think
He learned from sauron whom he worshipped
He was some sort of Dark Priest
the one place religion shows up in Tolkien's world
He learned how to prolong his life and entered
service when Barad dur was fist built
yes Grondmaster, I noticed that
He learned great sorcery and much of the mind of
Interesting that it would be the black arts.
* Remi has quit IRC (Connection reset by peer)
Notice that the Valar approach the elves as
teachers whereas the bad guys approach men as gods
I think he was one of the priests on Numenor when
Sauron was living there
What would happen if Gandalf, Aragorn and party had
accepted the terms set before them by him?
Hey, that is right
Ghan-buri-Ghan: I did not take note of the before, but it
is a very good point
* Remi has joined #Bilbos-Study
Just realised that
Ghan that is a good point
Ghan-buri-Ghan: that is why we have these discussions.
So MoS was thousands of years old -- I didn't know
He was at the height of his power in SA 3320
If they had accepted the terms it would have been the
beginning of the end
In what way, Grondmaster?
they would have surrendered their inititive
exactly and they would have become slaves.
no longer could they plot unknown
That is why he had forgotten his name, because his
mind had learned dozens of lifetimes of knowledge but could only
retain one
Sauron would have won without a battle
How did MoS react when Galdalf called him "one of his
[Sauron's] slaves"
Yes Val
He didn't see himself as being a slave
He saw himself as being a lietenant
precisely, this really upset him.
* MellieSnow is now known as Mellie
He grew angry
He'd been promiced Western Middle Earth (in place of
But, in fact do you see him as a slave of Sauron's?
and fearfull (as Grondy quickly scans the page)
or a faithful soldier who will come into his reward for
services rendered?
No doubt Sauron had helped prolong his life with
some price]
I do -- but with complicity in his master' evils
it also says he's fear overgrew his anger
ups, sorry grondy. didn's see ur post until now
I think he just realized they might be telling the
If he was a Black Numenorean, then he was willingly
his fear was directed to the steadfastness of Aragorn's
company, wasn't it.
I think he saw that he had just failed in fulfilling his
For the first time he probably had doubts of
Sauron's power
And maybe the power of gandalf -- a maiar like his
yes, Ghan-buri-Ghan, I believe he was willing corrupted.
yes Ghan that is what I thought
Sauron had fallen once before in front of his own
That is a very good point, Valedhelgwath
he saw that the company wass not going to be cowed
into submission like most of his previous advesaries had been
By now they should all be ransacking Minas Tirith,
instead they are stood outside Sauron's front door
* GailH has left #bilbos-study
Things were not going to plan, and they still did
not have the ring
and no idea where it was
I think they would guess it was right in front of
both sauron and MoS probably thought aragorn or gandalf had
the ring
but at that point they had Frodo in Cirith Ungol
and the Lord of the Nazgul had been destroyed
How else had they defeated the army at Pelinnor?
so perhaps they thought that the Elven warrior who was his
companion had the Ring
no, they may have thought they had the wrong hobbit.
By then, they'd lost the hobbit and had never found
his elven companion
besides why would a hobbit take The Ring in to Mordor?
The point is though is that things were definitely not
going according to plan and MoS was getting nervous.
and MoS saw pippin in their company..
The naked hobbit, Valedhelgwath
good point Remi
Good remi
But they had not found the ring on him, only his
mithril shirt
And that pddeling small army wasn't afraid of his
great one
I don't think they knew how close they had come to
finding the ring
But would MoS know that Sauron wanted the Hobbit that
carries the Ring? Would he have more detailed information than
that given to the Orcs?
I am sure that sauron's strategy depended on
assuming the Ring was with teh army
The only question being how powerful the one who
uses it
if he trusted MoS so much he'd probably tell him
Sauron allowed himself to depend on the Palantir and was
deceived by it.
Gandalf's was meant that that was the case
He was in charge of the armies in Barad dur...it
would have been him that determined a lot of the strategies
When the Ring is cast into the cracks of Mt Doom,
it says that sauron then realised his folly
He knew it even before then
They would not conceive the idea that their enemy
would seek to destroy such a powerful weapon
yes, questions which strategy was his folly?
question is*
With Frodo, they thought they had captured a spy...
They thought the ring was with aragorn
right Val
Here ends this week's discussion.
Good class everyone, especially Rednell
Good one -- thanks to all
Good one Nell
Next week we will discuss Balrogs, wargs and the Watchers

[Edited on 16/1/2003 by Rednell]
Another great class Nell! Thanks, I enjoyed it very much. Big Smile Smilie