Since the Ring was only able to be controlled by Sauron, why would he be afraid of someone else wielding it? Everyone, even the most powerful beings, admitted they couldn't use it.

Yes, this question is more about Sauron's reaction. Another question said that Sauron was terribly afraid and I just didn't get the feeling that he was. But if he was why was he?

  • 4
    The accepted answer on the linked question claims that gigawatt's assumption is correct - nobody could really use the Ring but Sauron. This question is asking a further question - given that nobody else can really use the Ring, why is Sauron worried at all? It might diminish him, but he still has ME hugely outnumbered. How then is it a duplicate?
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 17:27
  • 3
    @Shamshiel: Sauron is worried that someone will "dominate the Ring and break Sauron's hold over it." The Ring is one of his major weaknesses. As for your view that even when diminished he "still has ME hugely outnumbered," the Tolkien letter quoted in the linked question's answers suggests that he would be vulnerable to attack in this state.
    – wyvern
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 9:27
  • 2
    @sumelic: Yes; I personally think the linked answer should be ignored, because it is wrong: anyone who gets the Ring does gain substantial powers and can be a serious threat to Sauron. But that's not the conclusion that the linked answer comes to, and it's not the assumption this question is based on. Given the premise - the Ring doesn't give you power, just imaginations of power - and Sauron outnumbers the West militarily by an enormous margin, with Gandalf believing his victory is inevitable even without the Ring, why is Sauron worried?
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 18:16
  • 2
    @Shamshiel: even the accepted answer says that while claiming the Ring doesn't make the claimant stronger, it would make Sauron weaker. Gandalf thinks Sauron's victory is inevitable during the events of the Trilogy, during which Sauron doesn't "have" the Ring but he retains much of his power because nobody else tries to deny him his power by claiming the Ring. " But even if he did not wear it, that power existed and was in 'rapport' with himself: he was not 'diminished'. Unless some other seized it and became possessed of it."
    – wyvern
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 18:29
  • 2
    @sumelic: Sure, but it's unclear how that helps much against Sauron's vast, incredible military superiority. In his first hasty strike, described as only a "finger" on the Black Hand, he came close to annihilating the only Western kingdoms with any military strength, except Lothlorien. Nevertheless, it is clear that the OP, like me, read the linked question and did not see anything he could construe as an answer to this question. His question presupposes the linked question and answer.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


Because contrary to your assumption, the Ring could be used by other people

As said many times throughout The Lord of the Rings, and in Tolkien's letters, Sauron was afraid that his enemies would use the Ring against him, usurp him, and take his place as ruler. Not everyone would have the necessary will power to master the Ring, but some, like Gandalf and Aragorn definitely could. The main reason the Wise did not do this is because doing so would corrupt whoever used the Ring, and you would just replace one dark lord with another dark lord.

‘But I have so little of any of these things! You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?’
‘No!’ cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. ‘With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.’ His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. ‘Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great, for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.’
The Lord of the Rings - Book I - Chapter 2 - "The Shadow of the Past"

In the forward to the second edition, Tolkien even presents us with a hypothetical scenario where the Ring was used against Sauron, and he tells us the outcome.

The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion. If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the Ring would have been seized and used against Sauron; he would not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-dûr would not have been destroyed but occupied. Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth. In that conflict both sides would have held hobbits in hatred and contempt: they would not long have survived even as slaves.
The Lord of the Rings - "Foreword to the Second Edition"

  • I would be skeptical about Aragorn being able to do it. Just because Sauron was worried about that potential when Aragorn revealed himself as Isildur's heir, does not necessarily mean he actually could have done it. Sauron mostly suspected that because he could not imagine another reason for Aragorn to reveal himself like that. I recall a different quote from Tolkien that suggesting Gandalf would have been most likely to succeed and MAYBE Elf-Lords like Galadriel or Elrond but probably not anyone else. Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 14:10
  • @suchiuomizu - I interpreted his ability to wrest the palantir away from Sauron as showing that he had the necessary will power, but I guess you're right about it not being a given. However Tolkien clearly felt that at least one of the "good guys" was able to do it, and I think he's a decent bet.
    – ibid
    Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 14:56
  • Galadriel also goes on in this vein when Frodo offers the Ring to her.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 15:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.