In this question, we've learned about the difficulty for Elrond and/or Círdan to do anything amounting to taking the ring from Isildur, once the latter decided it was his loot. It seems they tried to convince Isildur to destroy the ring, acknowledging him to be the de jure owner of the object.

But how was it established that it was legal or natural for Isildur to become the new owner of the ring? Did not Elendil and Gil-Galad jointly incapacitate Sauron in duel? Did not Isildur simply step forth to an unconscious Sauron and cut the ring from his finger. Perhaps Isildur was just lucky to stand closer to the spot of the duel than Elrond & Círdan, thus allowing him to make that cut.

In his written account, Isildur seems to 'blow up' the importance of his cutting the ring from Sauron's hand (" Was it not I that dealt the Enemy his death-blow?") and he adds that he lost his father and his brothers in the war and would keep the ring as a 'weregild'.

Of course, the elvish party in the war also suffered many casualties (although Gil-Galad, Oropher,... were not directly related to either Elrond or Círdan, the latter may have loved Gil-Galad or other deceased members of the last alliance in the same way as Isildur loved his kin). If Elrond and Círdan had such a high stake in getting the ring destroyed: why did they not challenge Isildur's legal right to own the ring?

2 side-notes:

1) I don't think that Isildur's claim and decision to keep the ring was a heat-of-the-moment event or decision. It is said in various places that the armies of the last alliance stayed in Mordor for some longer time to attempt to dismantle Barad-Dûr and Sauron's realm at large. I can imagine the Númenorean and elvish parties therefore remained in contact for some time after Sauron's fall and Isildur had plenty opportunity to reconsider/repent and there must have been sufficient time to raise questions of legality (and the elves may have urged him to?)

2) The "Disaster of the Gladden Fields" chapter of the Unfinished Tales suggests that, if Isildur would not have been ambushed in the Gladden fields, he would have gone to Rivendell to surrender the ring to "the Keepers of the three":

"It needs one greater than I now know myself to be. My pride has fallen. It should go to the Keepers of the Three." (Isildur to Elendur)

(He attributes his change of mind not to any legal matters though. He rather states that "...I cannot use it. I dread the pain of touching it"). That chapter is however conceived by Tolkien as Gondorian in-universe-lore originating from eye-witness accounts of the Gladden fields disaster. One can imagine that the story was modified over the course of the Third and Fourth age to give an account where Isildur's conduct and thought is whitewashed.

  • So you think that the best plan (after defeating Sauron) should have been to have another war with the Elves?
    – Valorum
    Aug 20 '18 at 16:28
  • I know you've linked the question in your question, but it still seems very dupey indeed.
    – Valorum
    Aug 20 '18 at 16:30
  • I disagree. Also, I don't understand your first comment. Aug 20 '18 at 16:31
  • 2
    Challenging him to the possession would be tantamount to asking him to duel for it.
    – Valorum
    Aug 20 '18 at 16:32
  • 3
    Despite the fact that there may be more secondary material on LOTR and its world than material that was intended to be published by the author, I'm not sure there's anything that digs as deep as would be necessary into the laws surrounding the claiming of recompense (or even booty) from a foe defeated by a force consisting of both elves and humans. And, if the intent of the other party would be to destroy the item involved, one might say that the person who wanted to keep it intact would have the strongest claim; the other party doesn't actually want it to keep, after all.
    – RDFozz
    Aug 20 '18 at 17:37

The Elves already tried to talk Isildur out of taking the ring, and he didn't listen to them. Quoting from the question you linked to:

But Isildur would not listen to our counsel.

”This I will have as weregild for my father, and my brother,” he said; and therefore whether we would or no, he took it to treasure it.

Isildur isn't up for debate on this subject, he doesn't ask if the Elves want to take the ring or share it or anything, he just takes the ring for himself regardless of what the Elves want.

At that point, what can you do? What authority can you go to when you disagree with a king? No one had the power to tell Isildur he was wrong, except maybe the Valar or Eru himself, and none of them were hanging out in Middle-earth at that time.

Plus, note how things went down between Deagol and Smeagol a few centuries later. Even when they had a court they could've gone to to see who got to keep the ring, they never made it there. Smeagol killed his best friend and took the Ring for himself.

  • 2
    But Isildur is of noble Numénorean descent. Should we not assume he is much more cultured, knowledgeable and wel-mannered than the Stoors. Though the taking of the ring ensnares him, it is very implausible he would suddenly turn into some unreasonable, deaf tyrant in the blink of an eye. He must have answered Elrond's council with pseudo-reasonable-sounding answers Aug 20 '18 at 17:37
  • 6
    @ThibautDemaerel And so he did -- he claimed it as weregild. A higher claim (in that sort of society) would be difficult to imagine.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 20 '18 at 17:52
  • 8
    Isildur is the one who claimed it by cutting Sauron's finger off and taking the ring. As long as no one had a stronger claim than Isildur's, and Isildur wasn't being greedy with other things, that would pretty much settle it. Isildur was the rightful king of the Numenoreans, and trying to deprive him of something he took and had a good right to (despite how bad an idea it was) could develop into a major diplomatic issue. Aug 20 '18 at 18:01
  • 4
    One of the very first effects of the ring is to make its owner reluctant to give it up. Deagol refused to give it as a birthday present mere minutes after finding it. My memory is that even Bilbo was reluctant to give up the ring very soon after he first acquired it. Aug 20 '18 at 21:34
  • 2
    @Thibaur Demaerel They could be indebted as Gil-Galad sworn alliance with them and rendered great assistance after Sauron attacked Gondor, but previously in the second millenia of the Second Age, it were the Numenoreans who repeatedly saved Lindon and Eriador from the Enemy. So Isildur could easily have claimed that they were quit.
    – b.Lorenz
    Aug 21 '18 at 17:48

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