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Rings of Power

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The Rings of Power or Great Rings were twenty Rings of Power. The Elves of Eregion made nineteen of the Rings of Power (and many other lesser rings) with knowledge obtained from Sauron, and several of them with Sauron aiding the creation. Sauron forged the twentieth Great Ring, called the One Ring or the Ruling Ring, secretly in the fires of Mount Doom.

A verse that summarizes the Great Rings and their ownership is an important part of the lore of Middle-earth. It translates as follows:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.


The Creation of the Rings of Power

Celebrimbor forges the Rings of Power

Around Second Age 1200, Sauron started to corrupt the Elves[1]. The Gwaith-i-Mírdain of Eregion were mostly Noldor and wished to have the same joys in Middle-earth as the Elves who had returned to Valinor[2]. Sauron did not manage to approach Gil-galad and Elrond but he had better luck with the Elven-smiths of Eregion to whom he presented under the alias of Annatar, an emissary from the Valar..

The Elves started to make the Rings with knowledge gained from Annatar. The Rings were of various kinds: the lesser rings were only essays in the craft before it was full-grown. In approximately S.A. 1500 the Seven and Nine were created, in Eregion[1]. When Sauron departed, Celebrimbor went on to forge the Three Rings, finishing around S.A. 1590, using the knowledge he had gained from Sauron but without his involvement.

Sauron then created The One Ring around S.A. 1600, alone, in the heart of Mount Doom. Sauron created it to rule over all the other rings, and he put a great part of his power into the One. The Elves, upon creation of the One, heard Sauron speak the spell, and realized they had been betrayed[3]. They defied Sauron and then he attempted to claim the Rings to distribute them to other people; though the Elves fought valiantly in the War of the Elves and Sauron, he took Nine Rings and other lesser works of them; but he could not find the rest. Then Celebrimbor was put to torment, and he revealed about the Seven of them[4].

Sauron then distributed them to Lords who trusted him, Men who became powerful sorcerers and Kings; and Dwarves who grew greedier and augmented their treasures.

The Twenty Rings

  • The Three Rings of the Elves were forged by Celebrimbor alone, and were never touched by Sauron. However, their forging involved some of the arts taught by "Annatar" thus they too were bound to the One Ring to some extent. They were named Narya the Ring of Fire, Nenya the Ring of Water and Vilya the Ring of Air; they remained hidden from Sauron.
  • Sauron gave the Seven Rings to the Dwarf-kings, although according to Dwarvish tradition the Elves gave one of them to Durin III. The Dwarves used their Rings to establish their treasure hoards, but Sauron was unable to force the Dwarven bearers to submit. It is believed that the dwarves natural hardiness, and the fact that it was only the more powerful dwarf lords who possessed them, made them resistant to Sauron's control, yet allowed them to accumulate treasure. The final ring to leave the possession of the dwarves occurred when Thráin II was captured.
  • The Nine Rings for mortal men were those divided amongst those evil-hearted men who saw their abilities increase, and became sorcerers and Kings among Men. They gained longevity but then faded away to become the Nazgûl, the Ringwraiths, dominated under Sauron's will.
  • The One Ring, secretly forged by Sauron in the heart of Mount Doom, had the power to dominate all nineteen other rings. His domain over the other rings was incomplete, but he placed a large amount of his own power into it at its forging; a necessity that later led to his downfall at Frodo Baggins' hands.

The Power Of The Rings

The Rings of Power all had certain abilities, shared amongst them; the only different ones were the three. The chief power of all the rings was the prevention or slowing of decay, the preservation of what is desired or loved. Men (including Hobbits) would see their lifespan increase.

They also enhanced the natural powers of the wearer thus approaching ‘magic’ (a motive easily corrupted into evil) and increased lust for domination. They also shifted the wearer to the Unseen, rendering the material body invisible and making to the wearer able to see the Unseen[5][6]. Eventually the wearer would fade and eventually turn into a wraith under Sauron's domination.[7].

The Dwarves however were immune to most of those effects, other than they increased their lust for gold which provided occasion for quarrels among themselves. They used their rings to increase their treasure troves; the treasure hoards of these dwarves drew the mightiest of dragons and opponents.[2]

The Three did not do as the other rings. They do not make one invisible (though they themselves can be made so[8]), and their benefits are largely secondary to the main effect the Elves achieved - that of stasis. A wearer of one of the Rings of Three gains the power to heal and preserve, in many different ways, whatever they control. Galadriel's and Elrond's Rings, allowed them to fend off Sauron and protect and preserve Lothlorien and Rivendell. Narya also has the power to inspire hope and courage in those around the bearer.

The One

  • Control - Control, over the other rings and in a limited sense the bearers was gained by whomever controlled the power caged inside the One Ring.
  • Power - In its forging, to give it the ability of control, it was necessary for Sauron to allow a fatal amount of his power into the One Ring. Any bearer could use this power, though it would take time, determination, skill, and knowledge to do so.
  • Invisibility - As is seen many times the One confers invisibility upon the wearer.
  • Translation- An ability to understand other creatures.

The Final Disposition of the Rings of Power

Dragons destroyed four of the Seven Rings, and after Sauron's return he recaptured the remaining three (the last from Thráin II. At the end of the War of the Ring, they were presumably buried in the ruins of Barad-dûr.

The Nine he took back from his Ringwraiths, and they were still in his possession at the time of his fall. These, too, probably lie in the ruins of Barad-dûr.

The Three were hidden from him, and their bearers eventually took them to Aman.

The One was destroyed in the Crack of Doom. With its destruction, the remainder of the Seven, the Nine, and the Three Elven rings all became powerless.


The Rings were the background story as fleshed out by Tolkien, out of the Ring that appeared in The Hobbit. The lore of the Rings (especially the One) are often compared to the "Ring of the Nibelungs" although Tolkien denounced any direct inspiration.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Appendix B
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
  3. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Council of Elrond
  4. Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn
  5. Letter 131
  6. Letter 152
  7. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Shadow of the Past
  8. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Mirror of Galadriel

External links

 Rings of Power 
The One Ring
Three Rings
(Narya · Nenya · Vilya)
Seven Rings
(Ring of Thrór)
Nine Rings