Reputed to be intimately familiar with every last item within his hoard, Smaug instantly noticed the theft of a relatively inconsequential cup by Bilbo Baggins. Had he been able to defeat the barrel riding burglar, would Smaug have known what he had and be able to lay claim Sauron's One Ring?

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    What would the effect be if Smaug had eaten Bilbo and swallowed the ring?
    – Morgan
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:09
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    @Morgan - Would Smaug have turned invisible? Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:17
  • 5
    Prep for colonoscopy?
    – Morgan
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:52
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    @MichaelEdenfield Unlikely. At the Council of Elrond in Rivendell it's explicitly stated that the One Ring couldn't be destroyed by dragon fire. Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 15:39
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    @MatemáticosChibchas "It has been said that dragon-fire could melt and consume the Rings of Power, but there is not now any dragon left on earth in which the old fire is hot enough; nor was there ever any dragon, not even Ancalagon the Black, who could have harmed the One Ring, the Ruling Ring, for that was made by Sauron himself." That's actually earlier in the book than I remembered, it's before Frodo has even left the Shire, when Gandalf first proves that the ring is indeed the One Ring. Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 10:05

6 Answers 6


Probably not. Dragons are a lesser order of creatures, and since Sauron is both a Maia and master of the Ring, in any contest between Smaug and Sauron, Sauron would have prevailed.

Gandalf's primary concern when organizing the Quest of Erebor was:

The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect.

(RotK, Appendix A, Durin's folk)

Smaug is therefore clearly subservient to Sauron.

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    Saruman was subservient to Sauron but was pretty confident he could claim the ring (though probably not without eventually succumbing to Sauron's will). Conversely, Galadriel also seemed to think she could have mastered the ring but she wasn't a maia. I don't think being subservient to Sauron, or not being a maia, is grounds enough to say you can't wield the ring in some fashion.
    – jono
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:06
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    Thinking you could wield the ring and actually being able to do so are two different things. In the end, Sauron is master of the Ring so I find it difficult to imagine anyone - even one of the Istari - being able to keep it from him if he wanted to take it off them.
    – user8719
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:12
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    @m01 Well if that's the case the answer is simply "No, because he isn't Sauron" :)
    – jono
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:42
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    Granted "lay claim" is vague but a couple of hobbits kept the ring from Sauron and used it for quite some time.
    – DQdlM
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:57
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    @mh01 - The Council of the Wise suggests sending Frodo to destroy the ring precisely because Sauron would expect and be fearful that one of them would take the ring and seek to cast him down. This is all over the place--in the discussion at Rivendell, Galadriel's admission that she would essentially take Sauron's place, Saruman's eagerness to have the ring himself (and he was among the wisest of the wise when he formulated that desire originally), Sauron's rapid stroke at Aragorn with a mighty army explained as him thinking that Aragorn had the ring and was overconfident etc. etc..
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 18:20

Smaug probably would not have known exactly what he had because

(1) There is no indication any part of his body was small enough to actually wear the Ring, and

(2) Even Gandalf, surely more learned in ring-lore than Smaug, had trouble identifying it from afar.

Thus while he may have been inordinately attached to it--the desire for the Ring works from afar--even if Smaug knew all the relevant details of the Rings of Power, he probably wouldn't have guessed one would land in his lap from the exploits of a bumbling burglar. And as he would have prized it, he likely would not have breathed fire on it (as that would destroy an ordinary gold ring) and thereby revealed the writing.

So it's possible, but relatively unlikely.

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    Re (1): it is stated that the ring seems to expand or contract to allow it to fit whoever is in possession of it. Who knows if it would be able to expand enough to fit one of Smaug's talon's though.
    – JohnB
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 18:41
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    @John - I'm aware, but I am skeptical that Smaug would try or that it would work.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 20:13
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    Not a bad answer, but I think it ignores the sort of consciousness (for lack of a better word) the Ring has, seeing as it betrayed Isildur, departed Gollum, expands or contracts for individuals, tempts people, etc. Smaug may not have been extra curious about the Ring, but could the Ring have manipulated Smaug?
    – FoxMan2099
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 15:47
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    @FoxMan2099 - It certainly would have manipulated Smaug. That doesn't mean that Smaug would know what he had (beyond that it was a ring, and was magical).
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 18:13

Very tricky one if smaug had swallowed it he would of become very dangerous indeed I can't see anyone being able to get near smaug to get the ring he would of laid waste to everything the only thing I can see is with sauron being in mist form he could gone inside smaug to get the ring

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    If Smaug swallowed the ring, then he might indeed have laid waste to everything, but only until he laid waste himself about 24 hours after the swallowing. Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 16:31
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    @PaulD.Waite can you support your claim that dragons' digestive systems work on a 24-hour cycle? JK JK
    – FoxMan2099
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 15:49
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    @FoxMan2099: not without research that I am, to be honest, not willing to undertake myself. Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 15:53
  • @FoxMan2099 well done
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 23:22

The ring is somewhat sentient. He also wants to reunite with Sauron, we could say that he's able to instigate more or less anger or desire on different targets.

If he ends on the hands of a powerful being (such as Gandalf, Saruman or, on a lesser scale, Galadriel or Smaug) it would be more difficult to him to reunite with Sauron. Being attached to lesser beings (humans, hobbits, orcs...) would be easier to attract them to Sauron, eventually it would be easier to make them to be tracked and hunted by Ring wraths or even by regular orc army.

I think that the ring hides itself from beings that could be difficult to overpower and is more comfortable being ported by "lesser beings". He just underestimated hobbit's lack of ambition.


Well totally agree with that. I never thought about the ring avoiding powerful beings and seeking for average bearers, but now it makes all the sense; remember in the Fellowship, when Gandalf asks from the ring to Frodo and it is said in the book about not only Frodo's, but also the ring's reluctance to pass to the wizard's hand? Now, no matter what poor readers says, Sauron is not the only one who could control the ring. He is the main one and for sure the one the ring wishes for, but the list of potential masters is pretty big. Saruman, Gandalf, Galadriel, I bet any of the Eldar or Istari or some sort of immortal/supernatural being (as Smaug, the stupendous or the Balrog or, why not, The Watcher in the Water, depending on its real nature, never clarified) would be able to reclaim it with great chances of overwhelming Sauron (that is stated by Elrond himself). On the other hand men like Aragorn, Isildur, Boromir; they would be able to extract power from the ring for a while, to control it a bit... but after some time, long or short, fall under its corrupt influence and yield it to Barad Dur.

  • 1
    This seems like speculation. Can you back this up?
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 16:34
  • Well that what I said in a dobius point "I bet". But on the consitent afirmations: 1-) "It felt suddenly very heavy, as either it or Frodo himself was in some way reluctant for Gandalf to touch it." 2-) On the affirmation of people that are able to control the ring; you will find evidence about Saruman on Pags 348-349; Gandalf on pags 80-81; Galadriel pags 475-476 of TFOTR; in the pocket edition of Harper Colins; the one that is based on the 50th birthday edition of 2004. There is another ref on Saruman in pags 648-649 of TTT, same pocket edition;
    – Brunachos
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 1:23
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    And obvious implications on Aragorn in TROTK (his using of the Palantir precipitating the strike of Mordor, for instance). There is some speculation of the characters of the books themselves, for instance, when it is stated by Gandalf that Saruman is afraid that Theoden might have found the ring in the spoils of the Uruk-slaughter. So, we simply can't guess what Samaug could do with the ring. As a hint I daresay it would enhance his powers, as Gandalf Says "It gives powers according to the stature".
    – Brunachos
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 1:45
  • Think: Smeagol was a murder. So the ring made him an enhanced murder, now, what would Smaug become? I think: A living and unstoppable weapon of mass destruction. And anyone could argue that The Dragon was not power lust so he held no interest in the ring. But he was interested in wealth and could use it to seek more; he would burn Thranduil kingdom to pillage his halls; he would melt Dol Guldur like wax to scavenge any gold that could be in there... and who knows; he could start considering an abandoned Barad-Dur would fit him much better (and larger) than any stupid mountain...
    – Brunachos
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 1:51
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    P.S Oh, on The Watcher in The Water; Gandalf says somewhere a few moments after the closing of the gates of moria that he was wondering why the creature took Frodo and no one else. So, it was because it sensed the ring? To do what with it, then? Deliver to Sauron? Use it? Burry it in the submarine caves beyond reach? Who knows...
    – Brunachos
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 1:55

Actually, the list of potential ring masters is small, Sauron or Gandalf. Source: Tolkien himself, in a letter to a fan written sometime after the LOTR was released. Tolkien basically stated that the only being in Middle Earth Sauron would not be able to take the ring from was Gandalf. He then went on to scribble something about Gandalf becoming a jerk while wearing the ring.

  • Can you provide a link or reference or something? That's interested but just hearsay until a reference is provided (and I believe you, don't get me wrong, but I think you see the dilemma that we can't take this answer and use it elsewhere without citing something specific).
    – FoxMan2099
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 15:51

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