Why did Sauron let Gollum live?

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by BalrogRingDestroyer, Jul 22, 2018.

  1. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    Of all the mistakes Sauron made, letting Gollum go alive was probably his WORST, well, other than him agreeing to join Melkor and not seeking pardon after Melkor's fall.

    It was a HUGE risk to let Gollum go free after him being interrogated. What if someone was able to figure out where he'd been and get the information that Sauron was after the Ring? If Gollum HAD been killed, the Nazgul could have been in the Shire before Gandalf and Frodo had enough information to figure out that Bilbo's Ring was the One Ring and that they needed to get out of the Shire and go and try and destroy the Ring.

    The only thing I can think of is that Sauron thought that maybe he could get Gollum to cause mayhem and that if anyone on the good side did encounter Gollum, they'd just kill him on the spot before they could get anything out of him.


    If Gandalf letting Gollum get away nearly proved to be the West's ruin, Sauron letting Gollum go free DID become Mordor's ruin.
     
  2. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    I can agree that from Sauron's point of view releasing Gollum was a serious mistake.

    In the Unfinished Tales, we learn something about his motivation to do so:

    Gollum was captured in Mordor in the year 3017 and taken to Barad-dûr, and there questioned and tormented. When he had learned what he could from him, Sauron released him and sent him forth again. He did not trust Gollum, for he divined something indomitable in him, which could not be overcome, even by the Shadow of Fear, except by destroying him. But Sauron perceived the depth of Gollum’s malice towards those that had ‘robbed’ him, and guessing that he would go in search of them to avenge himself, Sauron hoped that his spies would thus be led to the Ring.
    Gollum, however, was before long captured by Aragorn, and taken to Northern Mirkwood; and though he was followed, he could not be rescued before he was in safe keeping.

    He regretted that soon enough, indeed:

    Now Sauron learning of the capture of Gollum by the chiefs of his enemies was in great haste and fear. Yet all his ordinary spies and emissaries could bring him no tidings. And this was due largely both to the vigilance of the Dúnedain and to the treachery of Saruman, whose own servants either waylaid or misled the servants of Sauron. Of this Sauron became aware, but his arm was not yet long enough to reach Saruman in Isengard.
     

  3. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    So Aragorn stopped Gollum from leading Sauron right to the Shire?


    Ug, considering how much Gollum was a pain in the butt to both sides, it would seem that Eru must have directly intervened to keep one side or the other from killing him.
     
  4. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    BTW - whilst on the subject of Sauron releasing Gollum...

    Ultimately indomitable he was, except by death, as Sauron guessed, both from his halfling nature, and from a cause which Sauron did not fully comprehend, being himself consumed by lust for the Ring.

    Any ideas what that "cause" might refer to?
     

  5. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    Other than Eru, I'm not sure.
     
  6. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Perhaps Tolkien gives us the answer in the sentence itself. Tolkien tells us the cause is incomprehensible to Sauron, "being himself (also) consumed by lust for the Ring." (My addition)

    To extrapolate this out it makes sense to bridge the two. Sauron cannot make the connection between his own response to the power of the Ring and that of Gollum's because he himself is blinded by his own lust to regain the One Ring.

    What is closest to us is often hidden by our nearness to it and our own inability to discern something in ourselves that is odious if perceived in another, especially if the other is deemed inferior and untrustworthy.

    Sauron's spirit has so far proven to be indomitable to total annihilation because of his inherent evilness and the fact that the Ring yet survives. Gollum also persists owing to his own evilness and because his survival as well depends on the existence of the ring. He admits this to Sam on the slopes of Mount Doom:

    "Don't kill us,' he wept. 'Don't hurt us with nassty cruel steel! Let us live, yes, live just a little longer. Lost, lost! We're lost. And when Precious goes we'll die, yes, die into the dust.' He clawed up the ashes of the path with his long fleshless fingers. 'Dusst!' he hissed.”
    RotK - Mount Doom


    Gollum's fate is tied to the Ring as is Sauron's. JRRT does not elaborate more on this that I know of so the dying Gollum alludes to may be that he is 500+ years old and ringless but I read the immediacy of his own foreseen doom owing to the straightaway destruction of the Ring.

    Afterall, his lust for the Ring has already caused Gollum to act in very un-Gollum like ways. It compelled him to leave his murky caverns under the Misty Mtns. in so doing setting aside his great fear and distrust of the Sun and Moon,

    "...he saw far above the tops of the Misty Mountains, out of which the stream came. And he thought suddenly: 'It would be cool and shady under those mountains.' ...”
    FotR -The Shadow of the Past


    and,

    "He lifted his head again, blinked at the moon, and quickly shut his eyes. `We hate it,' he hissed. `Nassty, nassty shivery light it is - sss - it spies on us, precious - it hurts our eyes.'"
    TTT - The Taming of Sméagol


    As well, he was willing to return to the place he feared and hated most in ME, Mordor and Sauron whom he hated in order to get back the Ring.

    The wearer's addiction to the One Ring was complete. The wearer never abandoned the Ring, the Ring abandoned the wearer in order to find its way back to Sauron. The wearer would do anything to re-possess the ring even place themselves in the paths of their own destruction. The One Ring is like a drug.

    So it is likely the cause which eludes Sauron is Gollum's own insatiable lust of the One Ring and his hatred of those whom he sees robbing him of it. And so the only thing that can cease Gollum's restless desire for the Ring is the same as Sauron's, death.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
  7. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    Very good, Lady Ithilethiel, you beat me to it! :)

    Sauron's "lust for the Ring" was something he apparently considered to be limited to himself, as its creator, not realizing that it would have that effect on others as well. After all, his greatest fear was that someone of power would recover it, and use it to defeat him. I see no evidence that he took its deleterious effects on them into consideration at all.

    Gollum was kept alive by his overwhelming attachment to, and desire for, the Ring; that, and his long possession of it. He clearly understood that its destruction would mean his own.
     
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  8. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    All good points, but don't answer the "why" of the OP.

    Just randomly letting someone go strikes me as completely out of character for Sauron.
    The only reason I could think of, even before having read what Tolkien said, quoted by Merroe, was exactly what Tolkien said.
    In hopes Gollum would lead him to the ring. Gollum's stealth put him in a much better position to sniff it out, no pun intended.

    Gollum had no other purpose in life beyond finding The Ring. He had no distractions from that purpose.
     
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  9. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    Quite agreed, Barliman!

    One more "aspect"... I often wondered what gain Gollum had hoped for, by setting out and go so far and to such uninviting a place like Mordor.

    His motivation to go there looks poorly explained to me. LotR (discussions Gandalf-Frodo) learns us:

    ‘Yes, to Mordor,’ said Gandalf. ‘Alas! Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons. [...] And sooner or later as he lurked and pried on the borders he would be caught, and taken – for examination.'

    Did he expect to find the Ring there? Impossible: he knew it was a hobbit who had taken it!

    I understand the functional importance of his journey to Mordor for properly feeding the global story line. The reasons given for him to go there (of all places!) was elaborated poorly (in my view at least).

    Thoughts most welcome... ;)
     
  10. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    Well, it seems "The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons" explains it if you consider Gollum had the ring for almost 500 years

    Looking at the time line:
    TA 2463 - Smeagol murders Deagol and takes the ring
    2939 Bilbo finds the ring
    2941 -2951 - Sauron leaves Dol Guldor and returns to Mordor and openly declares himself
    3001 - Frodo inherits The Ring
    3008 - 3009 Gollum is captured at the border of Mordor
    3018 - Frodo leaves the Shire for Rivendell

    So if Sauron started bending his will to gather wicked things to Mordor in 2951 Bilbo only had had the ring for 62 years, plus he wasn't evil. He especially didn't acquire the ring through murder.
    Frodo had it for 17 years before he heads to Mordor himself, again not being evil and having inherited the ring.

    So, at least in my mind, Gollum having the ring for so long, being so intertwined with the ring (and thus Sauron to some degree), and acquiring it through and using it for evil, I can see him being drawn there even when he wanted to find Baggins. I suppose it's even possible he thought the Baggins trail was leading him to Mordor, but I doubt it. More likely it was just a Sauron induced compulsion he couldn't overcome.

    Yet neither Bilbo nor Frodo were drawn there because they were polar opposites of Smeagol-Gollum, only using the ring to avoid the Sackville-Bagginses. And what's more noble than that? :p

    That's my tuppence.
     
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  11. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    Well answered and most appreciated: I love reading you, Barliman, Squint-eyed Southerner and Ithilethiel!

    On the subject of Sauron's "lust for the Ring"... When Sauron had them all in his pincer in the Morannon (or at least he thought so) he formulated draconian military requirements. Illogically to me is why he did not require to have his Ring back.

    I suppose that he assumed that a great character (Aragorn, perhaps) would make use of it and since he expected this military confrontation to become a complete success he would recover it anyway. In the event that his conditions were agreed though, he would still not have his Ring back.

    My dears, those Rings... I'm wearing the One already since 1981 and my wife is just telling me to wash those dishes and I do so,:confused: fully subdued!:( Reminds me of Gandalf saying:

    The lesser rings were [...] but trifles – yet still to my mind dangerous for mortals. :D:p;)

    Got to go now...:(
     
  12. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Lol. Thank you for the compliment Merroe. I as well enjoy and appreciate your excellent posts. Not only for their wisdom and clear statement of facts/opinions but also for your superb sense of humor :cool:
     
  13. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    One more date:

    2944: Gollum leaves the Mountains and begins his search for the 'thief' of the Ring.

    That's a gap of over sixty years between leaving the Mountains and being captured by Mordor. What was he doing?

    Knowing only that the "thief" was a hobbit, he undoubtedly first went south to the only place he was familiar with inhabited by hobbits, his old home in the area around the Gladden Fields. In the centuries since he left, it had been greatly reduced or deserted, so he followed the River back north, eventually reaching Esgaroth. There, lurking and spying, he soon learned that the Shire was not in the Vales of Anduin, but far to the west, over the Mountains, so he turned west himself. But for some reason, rather than crossing the River, he entered Mirkwood, apparently working his way south (if stealing babies out of cradles could be called "working"). There, he heard of

    '. . .the new Shadow in the South, and its hatred of the West. There were his fine new friends, who would help him in his revenge!'.

    So much for Gollum's reasons for going to Mordor. As for letting him go, Merroe's quotes give the explanation: Sauron set his spies to follow him, in hopes he would lead them to the Shire, Bilbo, and the Ring, which he had, despite the torture, managed to mislead Sauron into believing were nearby, rather than far away, out of reach of his spies.

    Edit: Merroe's and Ithilethiel's posts appeared while I was typing, so mine is a non sequitur to theirs, but I left it unchanged.

    It's the Internet. :)

    I have to say I don't understand the reasoning here. How would killing Gollum have allowed the Nazgul to find the Shire sooner?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2018
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  14. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "so much for....
     
  15. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    I mean "that's why". :)
     
  16. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "so much for...."
    I meant, are you saying Gollum chose to go, saying to himself, "Sssss, that's where there will be new friends who will help Smeagol kill Baggineses and get my precioussss! Yes, my precioussss, gollummm"?

    I took it as Gandalf saying that when he got captured Gollum thought he made friends with someone who'd help him get revenge on Biblo.
    Though that doesn't really fit with the apparent torture he endured. Doesn't seem like even Gollum would then make friends with his torturer. Then again, he was so twisted who knows.
    Or maybe even sort of a sarcastic addition to Gandalf's tale.

    Have you seen anything elsewhere that would make you think it was one or the other?
    What makes me think the latter is the immediately preceding line,
    "The Ring of the Enemy would leave it's mark, too, leave him open to the summons."
    So it certainly seems like Gandalf said he was "called" to Mordor.
     
  17. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    That too. But the sequence, as related by Gandalf, gives me the impression that he heard of the Enemy of the West, thought he could find help there in his quest, went there, then -- oops! That was a mistake!
     
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  18. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    Darn Tolkien!! Writing ambiguous lines! Always playing trickses.
     
  19. Daerndir

    Daerndir New Member

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    So you could say: the ring binds you to its own fate. Even its master depended on it and it lead Gollum to his death as well. Frodo and Bilbo were probably pretty close to that if not taken to Valinor.
     

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