In the Two Towers, when hiding outside Minas Morgul while the Lord of the Nazgul is passing, Frodo has these thoughts:

He knew that the Ring would only betray him, and that he had not, even if he put it on, the power to face the Morgul-King - not yet.

This seems a very carefully worded line and the last two words "not yet" imply to me that Frodo in some way is anticipating a time when he may have the power to challenge Sauron or the Lord of the Nazgul. What are other peoples thoughts about this particular thought of Frodo? Is this simply madness caused by bearing the ring, or does he indeed believe and intend to challenge Sauron at some stage? Is this ever touched upon in other middle earth literature?

  • 7
    Isn't that passage referring to the Witch King when it says "the Morgul-King"? (since that was who was passing, not Sauron) So he is only considering if he has the power to take on the Nazgul at that point.
    – JK.
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 22:12
  • @JK Yes, it's the Witch King in that passage. However, I believe Frodo would have eventually challenged Sauron himself. See dlanod's answer.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 23:38

3 Answers 3


Frodo does indeed challenge Sauron for control of the Ring, at Mount Doom:

'I have come,' he said. 'But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!'

The "not yet" is, I believe, a harbinger of this. The Ring's influence on Frodo is obvious and growing as they first get closer to Mordor and then after they enter and proceed to the Crack of Doom. We see this in his seizing of the Ring back off Sam after Sam rescues him, and in the effort it takes to drag himself across Mordor.

Galadriel told Frodo what would happen should he attempt to take the Ring for his own and use it to its full powers:

'I would ask one thing before we go,' said Frodo, 'a thing which I often meant to ask Gandalf in Rivendell. I am permitted to wear the One Ring: why cannot I see all the others and know the thoughts of those that wear them? '

'You have not tried,' she said. 'Only thrice have you set the Ring upon your finger since you knew what you possessed. Do not try! It would destroy you. Did not Gandalf tell you that the rings give power according to the measure of each possessor? Before you could use that power you would need to become far stronger, and to train your will to the domination of others.

i.e. he would be destroyed (presumably mentally rather than physically) and that he needed to become far stronger. Neither of these were true before Frodo's claim in Mount Doom, so we can only assume that it was due to the Ring's influence - it wasn't his rational mind, but rather the Ring trying desperately not to be thrown to its destruction.


Truly wielding the One Ring Frodo would control all the Nazgul not just the Witch-King however a young Hobbit, unused to command and dominating others, would simply not be able to exploit the Ring's powers.

It's quite conceivable that if, say, Denethor had obtained the Ring he could have commanded the Nazgul temporarily until he were overcome by the evil of it.


Is this simply madness caused by bearing the ring, or does he indeed believe and intend to challenge Sauron at some stage?

Yes to both, actually. Letter 246 confirms:

It was part of the essential deceit of the Ring to fill minds with imaginations of supreme power.

So it was a form of "madness" which the Ring brought on him, and this "madness" would cause him to truly believe that he could claim the Ring and genuinely challenge Sauron.

However the same letter also notes:

In any case a confrontation of Frodo and Sauron would soon have taken place, if the Ring was intact. Its result was inevitable. Frodo would have been utterly overthrown: crushed to dust, or preserved in torment as a gibbering slave. Sauron would not have feared the Ring! It was his own and under his will.

So "deceit" it was indeed!

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