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Musicimprovedme began this thread with the following post.

I searched this area of the boards and NO BILBO???

I have always wondered why Bilbo's experience with the Ring didn't arouse the Black Riders or the Eye of Sauron...or even the intuition of Saruman.

I mean, he had it for 60 years without drawing attention to himself except in the Shire. And can we assume that the Ring with only 60 years on Bilbo had only the effect of wearing him out, stretching him "like butter over too much bread"?

Some people suggest that if Bilbo had continued to use the Ring he would have turned out like Gollum did, but that since he had it for less time, and since he first used the Ring in a gesture of pity, the Ring didn't have the chance to fully possess him.

Thoughts, either personal conclusions you have drawn or reference to the book where this is explained?

Peredhil replied

The reason Bilbo had the ring for so long without being noticed was that Sauron didn't know the ring still existed until sometime around the party at Bag End - I forget exactly when.
As for your second point, I think that it was Sauron's torture and being without the ring (when Bilbo had it) that really did the damage to Smeagol. He was torn apart by his overwhelming desire to possess the ring for 60 years.
I agree with Peredhil on that one. The Ring was safe in Bilbos care. But he put it on to often. Bilbo felt stretched because he used the ring for fun. It also says that eventually, if you use the Ring to the point when you dont take it off, you become invisible yourself.
if you use the Ring to the point when you dont take it off, you become invisible yourself.
That would probably be true, but it would be the same sort of invisibility that the Ringwraiths enjoyed. The ring did not so much make a person invisible, as placing them in a kind of Ethereal Plane which bordered the Plane on which Middle Earth existed.

That is why Frodo was able to see the true forms of the Nazgul when wearing the ring on Weathertop. By putting it on he had entered their plane.

Wearing the ring too much would stretch a person's life, eventually turning them into a Wraith (just as the nine rings given to Men had done to them). Once a wraith, that person would then be living in the wraith world (Ethereal Plane, whatever you like to call it) and thus invisible to people in the normal world.
Good enough answers but WHY didn't the Ring wake up anyone's awareness just by its use? I thought that when Frodo wore it, it immediately became some sort of radar for the Black Riders to find it...and if the Riders were under Sauron's control, I would assume that Sauron had a way of knowing where the Ring is as long as it was active.
Saruman's ignorance I can understand somewhat. On one hand, he is a wizard and has some power to see things that others cannot see, on the other hand, he confers with others to get the big picture.
I was also under the impression that using the ring would attract the Black Riders.

Sauron was not aware that the ring was not destroyed until Gollum was captured in Mordor in the year 3017.

This still does not explain WHY the Ring didnt wake up anyones awareness - I guess the Ring can't call your awareness without you already being aware the ring still exists.
At the time that Bilbo had the ring, Sauron thought that it was gone forever, so he wasn't actively looking for it which is why Bilbo was able to go on using it happily without being discovered.
The reason why the ring acts as a 'radar' for the dark powers when Frodo uses it is because now it is the only thing on Sauron's mind.
He is seeking it, all his thought is bent on it.

Also the Ringwraiths weren't out looking for the ring, they were busy in Minas Morgul perparing for the rise in power of their dark lord.
AND over time Sauron is growing in power making him more perceptive of the ring by the time that Frodo has it.
Also the Ringwraiths weren't out looking for the ring, they were busy in Minas Morgul perparing for the rise in power of their dark lord.
AND over time Sauron is growing in power making him more perceptive of the ring by the time that Frodo has it.

Correct, Arwen, the Wraiths were Sauron's nursemaids so to speak, at his bidding, both helping him recover his strength and doing his errands that he cannot do without a body. So is it fair to say that if Sauron's goal was something OTHER than the Ring, that his Wraiths would have been looking for something else or involved in some other task?

A related question is: do the Wraiths go finding the Ring FOR Sauron, or does Sauron point them in the right direction and say Sic'em? Who would have had a better idea where the Ring is located? Is Sauron using the seeing stones to know?

[Edited on 24/2/2003 by musicimprovedme]
Sauron knew roughly where thw ring was after Bilbo brought it back to the Shire, so he told the Nazgul where to go. They, however, could sense the ring when they got near it. If they could have, they would have taken the ring for themselves (and no doubt fought each other for it), but they were just too scared of Sauron.
Sauron probably had no need for the Palantiri when locating the ring, because he had the Eye of Mordor, a more powerful seeing tool.
Thanks for your responses everyone, I think I get it more now, that had been a huge gap in the story for me, and I was just PRAYING that the answer was not..."well the Ring woke up when Frodo got it so that Tolkien could write LOTR!"

Anyway, this thread is for Bilbo and so even if I'm going off this Ring matter, I will stay on the Bilbo topic.

I love ol' Bilbo. He was wildly entertaining in the Hobbit...running around without his handkerchief! and answering the door for dwarf after dwarf and showing them all resentful hospitality...I LOVE first chapter of the Hobbit! He is cordial, treated people well and I think he was treated in kind by others. I thought it was especially poignant in the story when Bilbo was at the Council of Elrond and started on and on about who would take the Ring...that he knew what they were all thinking etc but he couldn't do it after all he had a book to finish etc...and he started to go off the deep end about it like a fruity old man. Boromir tried to laugh but when he saw the rest of the Council defer to him in quiet respect he stopped short. Tolkien's use of the other characters to show that Bilbo was more than just a fruity old man but had indeed earned his stripes among these people was nothing short of brilliant. It showed me that he had proven both his strengths and weaknesses to his friends and was welcome to be himself...they showed him pity, sure, because they all understood that the Ring had just worn him out (as much as anyone was going to let it) but Bilbo was also respected as a beloved friend and an honorable hobbit...whose obligation to the Quest was understandably and unquestionably OVER.

Maybe a large difference (certainly not the only one) between Gollum and Bilbo is just that...Bilbo had FRIENDS to intervene when the Ring was starting to show its effects on Bilbo wayyy before they conquered him...and those people saw that Bilbo was worth saving from all that. Gollum, on the other hand, was cast out by his family and left to his own devices with it to find himself a cave.

EDITING NOW: I found that passage, it's only two sentences and three lines of my copy of LOTR but it taught me roughly half of everything I needed to know about Bilbo, and I think it's worth quoting.

Boromir looked in surprise at Bilbo, but the laughter died on his lips when he saw that all the others regarded the old hobbit with grave respect. Only Gloin smiled, but his smile came from old memories.

This passage is from FOTR The Council of Elrond, toward the end of the chapter. It is nestled in between Bilbo's outburst and Gandalf's reassurance that Bilbo is indeed off the hook...and I just love it.

Another huge sweet spot in my heart and lesson in hobbitry...is from the movie...and it's completely visual and personal for me, (probably wouldn't be as charming if they had done even a different take on the same scene). When Gandalf first sees Bilbo at the door before his birthday party, he stands back as if taking in the whole Bilbo, with his pipe in his mouth and cocks his head slightly with a twinkle in his eye and says so fondly... "Bil...bo...Baggins..." as if that's all that needs to be said! I just think that is so sweet. It's cool how Tolkien and in this case PJ used others' regard for Bilbo to show us what kind of guy he is.

[Edited on 25/2/2003 by musicimprovedme]

see? I'm not a complete PJ hater.

[Edited on 25/2/2003 by musicimprovedme]
Also, I think that eventhough the ring is a tool of evil, it is still a tool. And the intentions of the user color the result of using the tool. Gollum used the ring to kill and steal, Bilbo used it to avoid conflict, even with Smaug.I think Bilbo was "streched, spread thin" because of the battle between his good will and the ring's ultimate purposes. Gollum never complained of being "thin or wasted", he had little quarrel with the ring's intentions. Smoke Smilie
That's really interesting, I would say it's true enough that the Ring can to some degree be used to accomplish what the user wants from it...for a while, at least. I tend to agree that Bilbo had a stronger will to withstand the Ring's influences, which helps define his use of it. So do you think that Gollum just let the Ring have its way with him rather than being snared by the Ring before he knew it?

From FOTR/Shadows of the Past:
Gandalf sighed. "Alas! there is little hope of that for him. Yet not no hope. No, not though he possessed the Ring so long, almost as far back as he can remember. For it was long since he had worn it much: in the black darkness it was seldom needed. Certainly he has never 'faded'. He is thin and tough, still. But the thing was eating up his mind, of course, and the torment has become almost unbearable.

It could make no futher use of him: he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again.

I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.

The murder of Deagol haunted Gollum, and he had made up a defense repeating it to his "precious" over and over again, as he gnawed bones in the dark, until he almost believed it.

Pity? It was pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.

In reading these passages from FOTR, I think Bilbo had been protected (to an extent) from the power of the Ring by another power (perhaps Valar, perhaps, Eru, himself). I believe Bilbo showed his worthiness by taking pity on Gollum and it was the 'good' in Bilbo that protected him. Gollum started his ownership of the Ring by committing a senseless and evil act. I don't think there was a conscience decision on the part of Gollum to allow the Ring to have its way anymore than it was a conscience decision on the part of Bilbo to not allow the Ring to have its way.
Maybe I take for granted the protection and positive influences some people get in life. But I still feel that the ring, being only a part evil, can be influenced: note, not changed; just as it influence others. I feel wierd and somewhat like I'm treading into Boromir territory here. What happens when the intrinsic nature of "good" (possibly the hobbits, but more probably Tom Bombadill)meet the intrinsic nature of evil? Wel,l we all see that it takes one to know one at the end. Does that mean that evil will loose because its an enemy to itself? The ring cannot be altered. All the other characters can. It is this unyielding nature of the ring that snaps it in the storm. We all know the story of the suple plant surviving the storm, and the stiff plant breaking in the wind. Maybe it's not so much about good vs. evil. Matbe the whole point is to show the advantage of "flexibility" over stubborness. To me, Bilbo because he let go of the ring, Gandalf, for facing Moria and the Balrog, and Sam for leaving home. represent flexibility extrodinare. Everyone met w/ change in the end, But I think these three started their journey closer to their fears than all the others, bad guys included. And that recognition and resolution upfront makes those characters stand out to me. Smoke Smilie
That was a really wonderful post Elemuel! What I find so beautiful about LotR is that while it is a dark world, shadowed by evils very real to us, it also shows that we can overcome these evils simply by using our minds and hearts. I never really thought about flexability as an element in the story, but now that you mention it, I completely agree. This seems to echo the Norse theory, Ragnarok where the heroes die, but remain heroes because they kept their belief in right and were accepting to fate.