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Could the Nine control their invisibility before they became wraiths?

Could the Nine control their invisibility before they became Wraiths?

  • Yes. It would appear so.

    Votes: 21 84.0%
  • No. I don't see it.

    Votes: 4 16.0%

  • Total voters
    25

Greenwood

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The Nazgul are Wringwraiths, invisible in the real world. But they were once men before the Nine Rings ensnared them and eventually turned them into invisible wraiths. Did the Nine Rings always make them invisibile when they wore the Rings or was invisibility at first under their control?

Tolkien says in The Silmarillion:

Men proved easier to ensnare. Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old. They obtained glory and great wealth, yet it turned to their undoing. They had, as it seemed, unending life, yet life became unendurable to them. They could walk, if they would, unseen by all eyes in this world beneath the sun, and they could see things in worlds invisible to mortal men; but too often they beheld only the phantoms and delusions of Sauron. And one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom of the ring that they bore and under the domination of the One, which was Sauron's. And they became for ever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered, into the realm of shadows. The Nazgul were they, the Ringwraiths, the Enemy's most terrible servants; darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death. [emphasis added]
A clear statement that the wearers of the Nine Rings could choose whether to be invisible. This is fully in keeping with Gandalf's statement to Frodo in The Shadow of the Past:

"A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does mot die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness. And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye if the dark power that rules the Rings. Yes, sooner or later - later, if he is strong or well-meaning to begin with, but neither strength nor good purpose will last - sooner or later the dark power will devour him." [emphasis added]
Another statement apparently indicating voluntary control.

So did the Nine initially have control or not?
 
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Turgon

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Judging by your quotes, Greenwood, I would say that they could - If Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo, etc, could become invisible at will (albeit with the one ring), then I see no reason why beings of greater (seemingly, though this could be debated) native power could not do the same with their lesser rings. Especially as Tolkien seems to be stating that this invisibity was an inherent power of the nine rings.
 

Lantarion

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But Turgon, the question is concerning the possibility of invisibility for the Ringwraiths before they each got one of their Nine Rings. I think that they could. Perhaps they were descendants of great lords of Númenór, of kings in Beleriand, or of Beren and Lúthien. It seems a bit far-fetched, I think; but I still think it si possible, judging from the strong evidense provided. (Well done, Greenwood!) :)
 

Unicef

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Originally posted by Pontifex
But Turgon, the question is concerning the possibility of invisibility for the Ringwraiths before they each got one of their Nine Rings. I think that they could. Perhaps they were descendants of great lords of Númenór, of kings in Beleriand, or of Beren and Lúthien. It seems a bit far-fetched, I think; but I still think it si possible, judging from the strong evidense provided. (Well done, Greenwood!) :)
I don't think Greenwood was describing the Nazgul before they got their rings, but after they had received their rings, while they were still men and still had a modicum of freewill and control Before they became wraiths and slaves to Sauron's will. I'm sure Greenwood will make it more clear. I do think, judging by the paragraphs posted above that they could control visibilty/invisibilty. However each time they "chose" to use their rings they became more and more ensared by Sauron.
 

Greenwood

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Unicef

You are correct in your interpretation of what I meant. Sometime ago during a discussion someone (I apologize for not remembering who)quoted Gandalf's statement from LOTR and wondered what it meant. I came across the paragraph in the chapter on the Third Age in The Silmarillion and it seemed to me to clear up any ambiguity in Gandalf's statement.
 
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Greenwood

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Since the question of the Rings and invisibility was just brought up I thought I would bump this old thread forward.
 

Flame of Udûn

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Neither of those quotes prove that they could remain visible while wearing the rings. They could simply have been donning them when they wished to be unseen.
 

Flammifer

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This seems to all boil down to the question of whether or not the Nine wore their Rings all the time. If the Nine didn't originally wear their Rings for every moment, then I don't think that you are correct, Greenwood, in stating that they could become visible even while they wore their Rings. But if they did wear their Rings all the time, even before they became Wraiths, then obviously you are correct Greenwood!
 

Greenwood

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Flammifer said:
This seems to all boil down to the question of whether or not the Nine wore their Rings all the time. If the Nine didn't originally wear their Rings for every moment, then I don't think that you are correct, Greenwood, in stating that they could become visible even while they wore their Rings. But if they did wear their Rings all the time, even before they became Wraiths, then obviously you are correct Greenwood!
Well, I did say I was asking what people thought.
 

Lantarion

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What a dumb answer I gave back in the day.. :p Sorry 'bout that.

First of all; did the Nazgûl wear their Rings in the Third Age? I have had the conception that Sauron held the Nine instead of the Ringwraiths themselves.. But it makes much more sense if the Wraiths themselves wore them.

And I believe that it was only due to the fact that all of the Nine were under the governance of the One that the Nazgûl were able to shift between the Seen and Unseen worlds (which is in essense what 'becoming invisible' is in Arda). We see that everybody who wears the Ring who is not of great power themselves (Gollum, Frodo, Bilbo, Sam) becomes invisible; but when those of great power (Bombadil, Sauron) wear it, they are not rendered invisible.

As I have stated elsewhere, I believe that the invisibility caused by the One Ring is only a side-effect, which does not occur when the Ring is worn by its 'target audience', i.e. Ainur of great power (don't read into that too much, I'm not siggesting that Tom is an Ainu ;)).
The true purpose of the Ring was to enhance the power of he who wielded it; Sauron poured his power into it, and because of the magics he cast on the Ring prior to that, his powers were amplified when he wore it. And Gandalf also remarks that he would become extremely powerful, but would eventually turn to evil. (This evil nature I believe is because a part of Sauron's restless an evil fëa is within the Ring itself).

But the Nine were not created by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain to give Men the power of invisibility! I don't know what the true, original purpose of the Nine was (perhaps to instill a greater spirit into the wielders therefore amplifying their inner characteristics?), but I am certain that it was not malevolent in any way.
The way I see it, only due to Sauron's sullying/tampering of the Nine was it possible for the Úlairi to render themselves invisible while wearing them. Sauron must have, in some way, added a small part of his remaining fëa into the Nine, and therefore the Nine worked sort of like miniature One Rings: they had the same side-effect on non-Anuric beings wearing them, and the adding of fëa would also explain why the Ringwraiths' lives were linked to Saurons, but not vice versa.
 

Greenwood

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Lantarion said:
We see that everybody who wears the Ring who is not of great power themselves (Gollum, Frodo, Bilbo, Sam) becomes invisible; but when those of great power (Bombadil, Sauron) wear it, they are not rendered invisible.
Actually, when Gandalf talks about the invisibility issue to Frodo in "Shadow of the Past" it is clear he is referring to all the "Great Rings", not just the One; also he specifically says the invisibility thing is a power the rings have with mortals. (When I get a chance I will go back and edit my first post in this thread to expand the FOTR quote to its entirety.[Done - Greenwood]) So, all the "Great Rings" had the power to make mortals invisible. The question is, given what is said in The Sil and FOTR, could this power be controlled. It seems to me that the statements imply voluntary control over this power, at least at first, but I started this thread to initiate thought and discussion.
 
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Lantarion

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Well does it render my thoughts you just quoted incorrect? :)

But if you have any evidence that any other Ring of Power except the Nine produced invisibility for the wearer, please share it when you find it. :)
Otherwise my theory of Sauron's meddling being the reason behind stands uncorrected. ;)
 

Gothmog

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From the Letters of JRR Tolkien.

Letter 131
But at Eregion great work began – and the Elves came their nearest to falling to 'magic' and machinery. With the aid of Sauron's lore they made Rings of Power ('power' is an ominous and sinister word in all these tales, except as applied to the gods).
The chief power (of all the rings alike) was the prevention or slowing of decay (i.e. 'change' viewed as a regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired or loved, or its semblance – this is more or less an Elvish motive. But also they enhanced the natural powers of a possessor – thus approaching 'magic', a motive easily corruptible into evil, a lust for domination. And finally they had other powers, more directly derived from Sauron ('the Necromancer': so he is called as he casts a fleeting shadow and presage on the pages of The Hobbit): such as rendering invisible the material body, and making things of the invisible world visible.
The Elves of Eregion made Three supremely beautiful and powerful rings, almost solely of their own imagination, and directed to the preservation of beauty: they did not confer invisibility. But secretly in the subterranean Fire, in his own Black Land, Sauron made One Ring, the Ruling Ring that contained the powers of all the others, and controlled them, so that its wearer could see the thoughts of all those that used the lesser rings, could govern all that they did, and in the end could utterly enslave them. He reckoned, however, without the wisdom and subtle perceptions of the Elves. The moment he assumed the One, they were aware of it, and of his secret purpose, and were afraid. They hid the Three Rings, so that not even Sauron ever discovered where they were and they remained unsullied. The others they tried to destroy.
So not all the Great Rings confered invisibility and those that did (the Seven and the Nine) did so only because of Sauron. This does not answer the question as to "could the Nine Men control this invisibility before becoming Wraiths" But gives some further infomation on how the Great Rings were able to confer the power they did.
 

Dáin Ironfoot I

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Very interesting... invisible Dwarves. But I assume that the wraith-effect did little to their hardy bodies, and thus spurred the only familiarity between Sauron and the Dwarves, greed. Sauron, being an Aulendil (servant of Aule- I think its how its spelled) once, shared that same desire to create beautiful things, but after his corruption his lust for beauty transformed into a desire to defile or create his own life. The dwarves shared the same inherent quality of greed, being creatures of Aule, and since their bodies could not be altered (much to Sauron's dismay, I am sure) they ended up serving their purpose of destroying the dwarves anyway- through greed and lust for gold.

I think that made sense... basically the Nine were invisibility-granters and shared Sauron's power in a sense, making the Nazgul servile to his will. The Seven however could not be conquered through the wratih process or made servile to his will, so I think Sauron infused them with some sort of mad lust. If he did not infuse them with the lust, instead thinking he could turn them into some wierd dwarf-wraiths, then I am sure he was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful side effects! :D
 

Greenwood

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Lantarion said:
Well does it render my thoughts you just quoted incorrect? :)

But if you have any evidence that any other Ring of Power except the Nine produced invisibility for the wearer, please share it when you find it. :)
Otherwise my theory of Sauron's meddling being the reason behind stands uncorrected. ;)
I have no great problem with your thoughts as to how the Rings caused invisibility (for mortals). I don't see, however, that they have a direct bearing on the question of whether invisibility could be controlled (at least at first). The knowledge on how to control it might even have been imparted by Sauron when he gave out the Rings to the Nine (pure speculation on my part).
 

Lantarion

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Whoo I was right, thanks Gothmog. :D

Greenwood, yes sorry I digressed a little.. I believe that as the Nine were (apparently) the only Ring of Power able to confer invisibility, because of Sauron's magic in them, and the only ones to wear the Nine were Sauron's most trusted and effective servants, I should think that they were in full control of their invisibility before they became wraiths. They probably could have shifted from Seen into Unseen at will, but after they did it too much they megan to remain completely in the Unseen, thus no longer being able to fully control their invisibility. Indeed by the Third Age I think that the Nazgûl were almost completely existant in the Unseen world, and only had their ethereal physcial forms because of Sauron's touch on them and need for their physical natures.
And because the one Ring conferred invisibility, and "made thing of the invisible world visible", that is the reason why Frodo was able to see the forms of the Nazgûl and the Eye of Sauron*.

*Major, unrelated point: I believe that Sauron's 'Eye', or his ethereal form, existed only in the Unseen world; but because of his remaining power Sauron was able to monitor activities in the Seen world as well.
 

Greenwood

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Lantarion,

I do not know if there is a definitive answer to the question of this thread. For years I just assumed that if you put on one of the Great Rings it made you invisible with no control on the part of the wearer. Then a couple of years ago I started thinking about the implications of Gandalf's explanation to Frodo and saw there might be more to it. When I found the Silmarillion quote, I thought, well maybe I was wrong all those years. I tossed this thread out there to get other readers thinking and get other thoughts. Discussion about how invisibility worked in Tolkien's world seem to me a perfectly valid side issue to the main question.
 

Lantarion

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Ah, well good. :) Your words before, "I have no great problem with your thoughts as to how the Rings caused invisibility (for mortals). I don't see, however, that they have a direct bearing on the question of whether invisibility could be controlled (at least at first) ", seemed to me like you thought I was not sticking completely to the point. But I'm glad I was. :D

'Other thoughts', yes.. Not a lot of them around are there.. ;) :D
 

Dáin Ironfoot I

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I believe that as the Nine were (apparently) the only Ring of Power able to confer invisibility, because of Sauron's magic in them
Why does everyone forget about the dwarves? The seven were infused with Sauron's craft as well... but to what extent? I had a post about this earlier and I was wondering what people thought about it.
 

Greenwood

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Dáin Ironfoot I said:
Why does everyone forget about the dwarves? The seven were infused with Sauron's craft as well... but to what extent? I had a post about this earlier and I was wondering what people thought about it.
I will have to dig around to find the quote, but I seem to remember Tolkien saying somewhere (either in The Sil or his letters) that the only effect the Rings had on the dwarves was to enflame their greed for wealth.
 

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