In LOTR "The siege of Gondor" Denethor learns that the ring is going over Cirith Ungol. Later he uses the Palantir to communicate with Sauron: What did Denethor do in the secret room? We also know that the Palantiri could be used for " looking the other way with voyeuristic intent" to quote wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palant%C3%ADr

So is it possible that Sauron could have learned from Denethor that the ring was on its way over Cirith Ungol and into Mordor?

  • 6
    I never got the impression he intended to communicate with Sauron, rather he used the Palantir to gather information, and that process was subject to manipulation. Although no doubt Sauron could get useful information from seeing what Denethor was interested in ("traffic analysis"), I don't believe it was any more than that.
    – John C
    Apr 27, 2013 at 11:55

2 Answers 2


Possible, but unlikely. Don't forget that Denethor is, like Aragorn, both personally powerful and [as the Steward] the rightful user of the Stone: Sauron could manipulate him by showing images likely to depress him, like the Black Fleet coming up the river, but was unlikely to be able to directly compel him to reveal secrets.

Plus, of course, to extract information from someone you need to know that there is at least information to be extracted; Sauron had no idea of the very existence of the plan.

  • 15
    +1. Unlike Saruman, who officially went over to Sauron's side, Denethor was still opposed to Sauron, and thought he was looking for information to defeat him. The link was one directional, with Sauron feeding him lies and half-truths, not interrogating him. Apr 27, 2013 at 11:12
  • Also, if Sauron had known or even suspected the Ring was in Cirith Ungol, he would have immediately sent the Nazgul to look for it. He didn't do so. Jul 3, 2017 at 10:25

@Daniel Roseman After reading Unfinished Tales, I think you are even more correct. From the Essay on the Palantir, appendix item 21:

Looking one at the other the would change "thought" - not their full or true thought, of their intentions, but "silent speech", the thoughts they wished to transmit (already formalized in linguistic form in their minds or actually spoken aloud), which would be received by their respondents and of course immediately transformed into "speech", and only reportable as such.

This starts to make sense. As you say Denethor was pretty powerful, and his rightful ownership to the palantiri made his use of the palantiri more 'uncorruptable'. The exact passage says,

Denethor remained steadfast in his rejection Sauron, but was made to believe that his victory was inevitable, and so fell into despair. The reasons for this difference were doubt that in the first place Denethor was a man of great strength of will, and maintained the integrity of his personality until the final blow of the (apparently) mortal wound of his only surviving son. He was proud, but this was by no means merely personal: he loved Gondor and its people, and deemed himself appointed by destiny to lead them in this desperate time. And in the second place the Anor-stone was his by right, and nothing but expediency was against his use of it in his grave anxieties.

Plus, if Denethor was corruptable and could have his mind read, then certainly Pippin would have had his mind read too when he touched the palantir. We know that this didn't happen and Sauron had no idea of the true mission of the Fellowship and thought Pippin was the ring bearer.

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