And I will choose you companions to go with you, as far as they will or fortune allows. The number must be few, since your hope is in speed and secrecy.

[emphasis mine]

Does the use of the word secrecy mean to imply that the quest to destroy the ring is / should be a secret?

  • 4
    Denethor knew the Ring had been found, but not what anyone was doing with it. Sauron spent the entire book looking for the Ring, and didn't realize what they were doing with it until the end. The entire point of the assault on Mordor was to distract Sauron until the Ring could be destroyed. There is a large body of evidence in the source material to suggest this. Jun 29, 2017 at 18:48
  • 5
    Yes.. The quote itself answers that. What, you think they sent a letter to Mordor saying Hey Dark Lord, so we found this golden ring that can make you invisible and we think it's your Ring of power and we're going to destroy it at Mount Doom. Come and catch us!
    – Voronwé
    Jun 29, 2017 at 21:59
  • Related: Was the Council of Elrond a secret council?
    – Möoz
    Jun 29, 2017 at 23:42
  • Mooz,related but not a duplicate. Because this one talks about the mission Jun 30, 2017 at 17:01
  • Bear in mind that in a medieval world with no mass communication the concept of "secret" wasn't quite the same as it would be in our modern world. There was no mass communication and the fastest method of sending a message was by horse rider. Sauron had various spies, but no way to string together small clues from lots of different ones. Jul 1, 2017 at 11:53

2 Answers 2


It was a "secret" mission.

The whole mission was meant to be a 'secret' for Saruman, Sauron and anyone else whom they could not trust.

They didn't want Sauron learning of their mission.

'Had I a host of Elves in armour of the Elder Days, it would avail little, save to arouse the power of Mordor.'

From the last line, Elrond clearly states that he didn't want Sauron learning of their journey.

'If that is so, it will be some time before they can begin the hunt again. Of course the Enemy has other servants, but they will have to journey all the way to the borders of Rivendell before they can pick up our trail. And if we are careful that will be hard to find.'

The Company took little gear of war, for their hope was in secrecy not in battle.

They didn't want Saruman learning of their mission either.

'Things have changed since you came north, Boromir,' answered Gandalf. 'Did you not hear what I told you of Saruman? With him I may have business of my own ere all is over. But the Ring must not come near Isengard, if that can by any means be prevented. The Gap of Rohan is closed to us while we go with the Bearer.'

Saruman, undoubtedly, would have attacked the Fellowship sooner if he had known. After his crebain came back to tell him of their journey, he immediately mustered his Wargs to assail the Fellowship.

They didn't willingly tell Denethor of the mission.

'Do not tell him more than you need, and leave quiet the matter of Frodo's errand. I will deal with that in due time.'

Denethor only came to knew of the mission through Faramir.

They accidentally told Faramir of the mission.

'... and it's my opinion that in Lorien he first saw clearly what I guessed sooner: what he wanted. From the moment he first saw it he wanted the Enemy's Ring!'

Faramir's shrewd guessing also helped.

Overall, when secrecy failed and their mission was revealed to both Sauron and Saruman, their primary concern was to protect Frodo and the Ring. What about Galadriel?

Galadriel knew of it through the messages sent by Elrond.

'Your quest is known to us,' said Galadriel, looking at Frodo. 'But we will not here speak of it more openly.

  • Did sauron and saruman know that frodo had the ring? And he has a mission to destroy it. Jul 1, 2017 at 4:32
  • You can't say Sauron found out about the mission, he had no idea what they were doing. Knowing that someone has the Ring is completely different than knowing what they're doing with it. Jul 1, 2017 at 5:13
  • @LegolasDraco No and uncertain for the Mission part. Both yes for knowledge of the ownership of the Ring. Saruman perceived their intentions after his crebain came back to report to on them. Sauron knew that they had the Ring, but had no idea they were going to destroy It. He thought they were going to use it against him.
    – Voronwé
    Jul 1, 2017 at 6:00

Less so the intention of the mission (as we see that there are many folk at the Council of Elrond that do not take the journey, and along the way the company does impart their goal to others as need be [Faramir, Eomer, etc..])

Primarily, the safety of the ring during the journey, as well as the ring-bearer and his company are the goals of keeping things as secret as possible.

The quote is from the chapter "The Ring Goes South" and both Elrond and Gandalf make it clear that stealth is key:

Elrond says:

"...the number must be few, since your hope is in speed and secrecy"

Later, in the same chapter he states:

"You should fear the many eyes of the servants of Sauron. I do not doubt that news of the discomfiture of the Riders has already reached him, and he will be filled with wrath. Soon now his spies on foot and wing will be abroad in the northern lands. Even of the sky you must beware as you go on your way"

Later in the same chapter, Boromir sounds his horn and Elrond states:

Slow should you be to wind that horn again...

To which Boromir replies his understanding that they will be taking safeguards to stay hidden on the journey (but he doesn't care right now):

Maybe...though thereafter we may walk in the shadows, I will not go forth as a thief in the night

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