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How was Sauron vanquished at the end of the second age?

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Ged

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It is clear that after his forces had been largely destroyed, and the armies of the Last Alliance had besieged Barad-Dur for seven years, Sauron at the end came out of his fortress and fought with Elendil and Gil-Galad in single combat. This follows a long tradition, for example Fingolfin challenging Morgoth at the end of Dagor Bragollach, or in a later age Earnur challenging the Lord of the Nazgul. But in this contest Sauron was eventually vanquished - his body was destroyed and the Ring of Power was taken from him - such that he could not take form again for "many long years".

But what really took place on that fateful day?

Did Sauron fight Elendil and Gil-Galad together? Or did they fight him one after the other? If so, who would have fought him first?

We know that Gil-Galad wore the greatest of the three rings Vilya, and wielded the spear Aeglos. Elendil wielded the sword Narsil. Did Sauron wield the great mace Grond?

It is known that neither Elendil nor Gil-Galad actually struck the killing blow:

"This I will have as weregild for my father's death, and my brother's. Was it not I that dealt the enemy his death blow?"
Isildur quoted in The Silmarillion, "Of the rings of power and the third age".

So Isildur not only cut the ring from Sauron's finger, but "dealt him his death blow".

What evidence is there for what really happened?
 
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Harad

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Ged:
There are many posts on this subject in:

http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2567&pagenumber=4

The Silmarillion is more detailed, e.g. it describes a 7-year siege at Barad-dur and may not be entirely consistent with the simple narrative by Elrond in the CoE.

An argument developed as to whether Isildur chopped the Ring off a comatose Sauron, or as in the movies, chopped the Ring off at the climactic part of the battle, finally disabling and dispersing Sauron. IMO not only is the latter choice cinematically superior, but it is also consistent with Elrond's narrative.
 

Eonwe

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two comments concerning Gil-galad:

1) I think somewhere is a quote that he gave Elrond the Ring at the outset of the War. So I don't think he had it when he fought Sauron, if I can find that quote...
2) It says also that Gil-galad was killed by the heat of Sauron's body. I think part of the LoTR quote from Isildur on the scroll that Gandalf read "it was hot as a glede"

**IMO** Elrond's short description of the battle is somewhat at odds with the Sil description. He says Sauron was overthrown, and Isildur cut the Ring off. Frankly there is not much evidence either way however, and I can't stand behind much in words except for overthrown. The Sil shows definitively that Isildur had the "death blow" part of the battle. What I always imagined was Gil-galad melting from the heat of Sauron, Elendil falling onto his own sword (perhaps from a blow from Sauron) but attacks from both of them causing Sauron to fall onto the slopes of Orodruin incapacitated. I base incapacitated on the fact that Isildur cuts off the ring with the "shards" of Narsil and that the Sil and LoTR both say one finger only was cut from Sauron. So Sauron's hand is stabbed while he is down by the hilt-shards and the Ring comes off, and then Sauron goes poof. If Isildur (or Elrond of Cirdan) hadn't cut the Ring off, he would come back...

IMO only. I also think that some change of mind must have come over JRRT between 1954 and the writing of the Rings of Power chapter in the Sil, because I think the Sil gives much more weight to Isildur's chop (note that Elrond leaves out "was it not I that dealt the enemy his deathblow?". again IMO.

There is some basis for a Maia's power that is hard to fathom here. For instance, see Gandalf saying he is weary when about to fight the Balrog. Note that Sauron is able to ladeedaa go to Numenor with no (obvious) change in his power without the Ring, but at the end of the Third Age he can't live without it, and at the end of the second age it causes him to wander in the wilderness for 1000 years. Some power level that Maia has when attacked matters over what happens I guess. This is similar to Morgoth's lack of power at the end of the War of Wrath, versus his fight with Fingolfin, versus his fight with Tulkas (the more ancient, the stronger he seems).
 

Ged

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Eonwe said:
I think somewhere is a quote that he gave Elrond the Ring at the outset of the War. So I don't think he had it when he fought Sauron, if I can find that quote...
Gil-Galad carried Vilya, but did he use it against Sauron? Let's look for the quotes....

Eonwe said:
It says also that Gil-galad was killed by the heat of Sauron's body.
My question is not how they died, but how did it all happen? Did Elendil and Gil-Galad fight Sauron together?

Eonwe said:
**IMO** Elrond's short description of the battle is somewhat at odds with the Sil description.
That may be right, but when you use the words "causing Sauron to fall onto the slopes of Orodruin incapacitated" can this be right? The "fight" surely took place just outside Barad-Dur, which must be something like 20 miles from Orodruin.

Re the changes in JRRT's thinking between 1954 and writing the Rings of Power... In the LoTR transcript Elrond is only describing things as he saw them. In the Silmarillion we apparently get a direct description of events. Or maybe not... ?

Eonwe said:
There is some basis for a Maia's power that is hard to fathom here.
I agree. This was really the interest I had with this question. How can non-Maias challenge in open combat such a being?
 
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Dhôn-Buri-Dhôn

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Eonwe, I don't think Elrond could have been using the Ring during this battle, because Sauron still had the One. When the One was forged, the Elves figured out what he was up to and hid their rings. They weren't used again until the One was lost after Isildur's swim in the Anduin; even then, they were used cautiously and secretly to preserve Imladris and Lorien, and to aid Gandalf in his work.

And Sauron was able to survive, re-form, and do his nasty business in Numenor because the One Ring was lost, but not destroyed. When Gollum took a header into Pele, the Ring was unmade, and so Sauron lost all the power he'd invested in the Ring and could never rematerialize.

Of course, Tolkien is a bit hazy on the details and mechanisms of all this. I guess it's just... magic.
 

Eonwe

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I think that its pretty clear Elendil and Gil-galad fought together. At least there is no evidence they fought separately and there is evidence they fought together.

The Sil says the battle was fought on the slopes of Orodruin. Of course LoTR CoE leaves this out.

I didn't say Elrond used the Ring (the Elven Rings didn't have offensive power anyway, Vilya was a Ring of Air I guess, but its main power was to preserve like the other Elven Rings), I just said that at the beginning of the war, Gil-galad gave the ring to Elrond.

But think about it.

Sauron without Ring in Numenor, no problem (he defies the lightning of the Valar on top of the temple to Melkor, etc), loses his body and still gets back to Mordor.

Sauron without the Ring after the Siege of the Last Alliance -- he's gone for 1000 years. What's the difference from above? (my take is the battle with Elendil and Gil-galad took some out of him, along with any power he put into other things in the second age).

Sauron without the Ring at the end of the Third Age -- he's gone forever. This makes more sense since the Ring was unmade. But still, with this guy's track record you never know. Sauron=Energizer Bunny?

As far as non-Maia challenging Maia -- it almost always results in the death of the non-Maia (Gil-galad, Ecthelion, Glorfindel, Gandalf the Grey, Fingon, Finrod, except Luthien!), and if the Maia is "vanquished" or "overthrown" they sometimes come back (where are all the Balrogs that were killed?).

I can only guess, but perhaps Gil-galad and Elendil were the best to fight him, thought that even if they died others would continue to battle Sauron (true), and both had a score to settle with him (Gil-galad the battle of Eregion and Elendil the loss of Numenor).
 

Tar-Elenion

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Eonwe wrote:
I also think that some change of mind must have come over JRRT between 1954 and the writing of the Rings of Power chapter in the Sil, because I think the Sil gives much more weight to Isildur's chop (note that Elrond leaves out "was it not I that dealt the enemy his deathblow?". again IMO.
Ged wrote:
Re the changes in JRRT's thinking between 1954 and writing the Rings of Power... In the LoTR transcript Elrond is only describing things as he saw them. In the Silmarillion we apparently get a direct description of events. Or maybe not... ?
'Rings of Power' was written in the 40's (JRRT was 'distressed' in 1948 at not being able to find the manuscript).


Eonwe said:
I think somewhere is a quote that he gave Elrond the Ring at the outset of the War. So I don't think he had it when he fought Sauron, if I can find that quote...
Ged said:
Gil-Galad carried Vilya, but did he use it against Sauron? Let's look for the quotes....
"At this time the first Council was held, and it was there determined that an Elvish stronghold in the east of Eriador should be maintained at Imladris rather than in Eregion. At that time also Gilgalad gave Vilya, the Blue Ring, to Elrond, and appointed him to be his vice-regent in Eriador...", UT, 'History of Galadriel and Celeborn'.
The 'time' referred to is Second Age ca.1703 (Just after the War of Elves and Sauron). The Last Alliance was 1700 years in the Future.

Eonwe wrote:
Sauron without Ring in Numenor, no problem (he defies the lightning of the Valar on top of the temple to Melkor, etc), loses his body and still gets back to Mordor
"Sauron's personal surrender was voluntary and cunning: he got free transport to Numenor! He naturally had the One Ring, and so very soon dominated the minds and wills of most of the Numenoreans."
JRRT writing in Letter 211
 
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Harad

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I am not sure what other material there is besides LOTR and the Sil. LOTR has only the short Elrond description. The Sil has:

...Sauron himself came forth; and he wrestled with Gil-galad and Elendil. and they both were slain, and the sword of Elendil broke under him as he fell. But Sauron also was thrown down, and with the hilt-shard of Narsil Isildur cut the Ruling Ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own.
No mention of Elven Rings or the weapons of any of the participants of this ultimate battle except Narsil (Aeglos is mentioned earlier). No mention of Gil-galad being killed by anything except wrestling. No mention of Gil-galad and Elendil wrestling separately but it could have been a tag team. No mention of whether a finger or a hand was cut off. Unless there's more material in even obscurer, and less finished, references, that's all there is to go on.

LOTR:
I was the herald of Gil-galad and marched with his host. I was at the Battle of Dagorlad before the Black Gate of Mordor, where we had the mastery: for the Spear of Gil-galad and the Sword of Elendil, Aiglos and Narsil, none could withstand. I beheld the last combat on the slopes of Orodruin, where Gil-galad died, and Elendil fell, and Narsil broke beneath him; but Sauron himself was overthrown, and Isildur cut the Ring from his hand with the hilt-shard of his father's sword, and took it for his own.
Again no mention of finger or hand being cut off. There are quotes and concepts mentioned in the other posts that must be in other sources, but those sources are not revealed.
 

Grond

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I have combed through UT, and all of the HoMe and there is nothing else of interest on this subject. It makes it clear that there were five people at the battle representing Elves and Men. They were Elrond, Cirdan and Gil-galad for the Elves; and Elendil and Isildur for Men. It is unclear if Sauron was attended at this last struggle. In the early drafts the author crafts the descriptions almost as one would in a duel, with Gil-gald failing and Elendil rushing to his aid with both of them dying while dealing Sauron a stunning blow. It again states that Isildur then cuts the Ring off Sauron's hand with the hilt shard of Narsil. It should also be noted that the build up concerning this battle is so different from that which made it into the book that none of it should be considered reliable.

The only other place that may shed some insight into this final battle are his letters.... which I am beginning to read right now. :)
 
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Harad

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Originally posted by Grond
It makes it clear that there were five people at the battle representing Elves and Men. They were Elrond, Cirdan and Gil-galad for the Elves; and Elendil and Isildur for Men. It is unclear if Sauron was attended at this last struggle. In the early drafts the author crafts the descriptions almost as one would in a duel, with Gil-gald failing and Elendil rushing to his aid with both of them dying while dealing Sauron a stunning blow. It again states that Isildur then cuts the Ring off Sauron's hand with the hilt shard of Narsil.
What is the source of these early drafts, i.e. volume or chapter number?
 

Beleg Strongbow

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Originally posted by Grond
I have combed through UT, and all of the HoMe and there is nothing else of interest on this subject. It makes it clear that there were five people at the battle representing Elves and Men. They were Elrond, Cirdan and Gil-galad for the Elves; and Elendil and Isildur for Men. It is unclear if Sauron was attended at this last struggle. In the early drafts the author crafts the descriptions almost as one would in a duel, with Gil-gald failing and Elendil rushing to his aid with both of them dying while dealing Sauron a stunning blow. It again states that Isildur then cuts the Ring off Sauron's hand with the hilt shard of Narsil. It should also be noted that the build up concerning this battle is so different from that which made it into the book that none of it should be considered reliable.



You sure have the full tolkien set Grond

The only other place that may shed some insight into this final battle are his letters.... which I am beginning to read right now. :)
:D :D :cool: ;) :) :)
 

Grond

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Harad, scratch the "make it clear" part of my statement. I have been digging again and cannot find the quote that I "thought" I saw before. There are multiple writings of the Last Alliance in The Lost Road and several references in The Shadow of the Past and The Treason of Isengard. I will continue to try and find the quote I thought I saw in The Lost Road but I may be looking for something that is not there. I haven't finished searching the letters and will get back with more tomorrow.
 
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Eonwe

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You are all missing some other information in LoTR (see if you can find it!) There are at least 2 other places describing Sauron being "overthrown (And or Then) Isildur cuts the Ring off Sauron's hand" OTHER than CoE.

Also Gil-galad was killed by the heat of Sauron's body, as told in Isildur's writing on the scroll at Minas Tirith that Gandalf reads at the CoE.

If only I had my books handy :) I will put the other quotes in LoTR up tonight.
 

Eonwe

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Originally posted by Tar-Elenion


"Sauron's personal surrender was voluntary and cunning: he got free transport to Numenor! He naturally had the One Ring, and so very soon dominated the minds and wills of most of the Numenoreans."
JRRT writing in Letter 211
THANK YOU Tar-Elenion! :D I always thought he took the Ring. That makes my life so much easier (my pants feel less tight!) Someone on this forum said that he did not take the Ring with him. There must be a quote somewhere that was cited...

Thanks for the Vilya quote too!
 
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Harad

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- But in that time also he made this scroll, - said Gandalf; - and that is not remembered in Gondor, it would seem. For this scroll concerns the Ring, and thus wrote Isildur therein:

The Great Ring shall go now to be an heirloom of the North Kingdom; but records of it shall be left in Gondor, where also dwell the heirs of Elendil, lest a time come when the memory of these great matters shall grow dim.

- And after these words Isildur described the Ring, such as he found it.

It was hot when I first took it, hot as a glede, and my hand was scorched, so that I doubt if ever again I shall be free of the pain of it. Yet even as I write it is cooled, and it seemeth to shrink, though it loseth neither its beauty nor its shape. Already the writing upon it, which at first was as clear as red flame, fadeth and is now only barely to be read. It is fashioned in an elven-script of Eregion, for they have no letters in Mordor for
such subtle work; but the language is unknown to me. I deem it to be a tongue of the Black Land, since it is foul and uncouth. What evil it saith I do not know; but I trace here a copy of it, lest it fade beyond recall. The Ring misseth, maybe, the heat of Sauron's hand, which was black and yet burned like fire, and so Gil-galad was destroyed; and maybe were the gold made hot again, the writing would be refreshed. But for my part I
will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.
Here is the other quote from CoE. Again less here than advertised. Gil-galad was destroyed by what? Heat of Sauron's hand? Fire? Nothing here about cutting off a finger or a hand.
 

Grond

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Harad, I guess I'm not understanding the contention currently in the thread. I have no problem with the movie portraying Isildur cutting off a hand, a finger or fingers. My problem was with the portrayal of Isildur in combat. The books, all of them by implication, seem to indicate that it was only Elendil and Gil-galad that battled Sauron. Cirdan, Elrond and Isildur were there as their heralds. I will again review the HoMe because in one of the quotes (never used in the actual works brought forward) spoke of it as a "duel" or as a "contest between Gil-galad and Elendil on the one side and Sauron on the other." Something to that effect. I am again not trying to make up quotes and will completely retract this opinion if I find nothing to substantiate the assertion.

I would like to know what is your opinion of the last battle on the slopes of Orodruin as portrayed in the book. We all know your opinion on the movie. It should be noted that on the One Ring website, well before the release of the movie, the battle scene was discussed and the portrayal (which probably lays on the cutting room floor) was much more accurate to the book. (That is per that website.) So as Harad has suggested, it may be that we see a battle much closer to what us purists imagined occurred when the DVD is released with an additional 40 or so minutes of drama. :)
 
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Harad

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I am not sure what the issue is in this thread. I think it is a request for more information, if it exists, on the details of the last battle of the Last Alliance. None have appeared except a rehash of what has been posted many times before. I my own self plead guilty to "rehashing."

A strict reading of the text in LOTR says that Gil-galad and Elendil were slain at the penultimate part of the battle. Then things get murky because Sauron was "overthrown" or "thrown down," but he STILL HAD THE RING.

At that point there are two possible interpretations: Isildur came ambling over and sliced off the Ring (with hand or finger), a simple act that any schoolchild could have performed on a comatose Sauron, or, a more heroic act as pictured in the movie. If JRRT meant the former (not a certainty), he might have been pleased to see the latter in the movie, IMO. JRRT was not against textual improvements, as you all know.
 

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Harad,
My purpose in raising this thread was simply a desire to discuss a question which has always intrigued me. I realise there is all too little documentary evidence, but do admire you guys for turning up virtually all the relevant written evidence within the space of about a day!

Beyond the writings, all else is of course speculation or interpretation. But personally I like speculation, as long as it is made plain that that is what it is.

Harad said:
At that point there are two possible interpretations: Isildur came ambling over and sliced off the Ring (with hand or finger), a simple act that any schoolchild could have performed on a comatose Sauron, or, a more heroic act as pictured in the movie. If JRRT meant the former (not a certainty), he might have been pleased to see the latter in the movie, IMO. JRRT was not against textual improvements, as you all know.
I got the impression, from the quote "death blow" in my first posting, that Isildur did a little more than just put Sauron out of his misery. Sauron may have been incapacitated in some way, but the quote implies he had not received a "mortal" wound at that point. Isildur struck the blow that "killed" Sauron - unless you take this to mean simply cutting of his finger and taking away the ring. But this in itself would not have vanquished Sauron - he survived and indeed re-formed himself in the TA without the ring, so taking it off him would not have killed him. (One area where I feel the movie did stray.) No, Isildur struck a physical wound on Sauron IMO, and brought an end to his physical being. What was the name of Isildur's sword?

Eonwe:
I agree that Gil-galad had already given the ring Vilya to Elrond long before the Last Alliance. However, this does raise the intriguing question that Elrond must then have carried the ring at that battle (he is not likely to have left it in anybody's safe keeping). Did he try to use it? Was Sauron aware of it? I know these questions probably cannot be answered.

Eonwe:
I also accept you are right about the final combat occuring on the slopes of Mount Orodruin. But again this raises another question: Sauron would have come forth from Barad-Dur to face Elendil and Gil-galad, why then did his "death" occur twenty or so miles away? Is this evidence that Sauron at some point fled from Elendil and Gil-galad? What other reason could there be for this seeming discrepency?

Grond:
What is written does only mention five at the last combat (Elendil, Gil-galad, Elrond, Isildur, and Cirdan). I suggest that Elendil and Isildur too would have had their squires accompany them. Ohtar (Isildur's squire) recovered the shards of Narsil.

Harad:
Your "tag-team" reference had me chuckling for about an hour!
 
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Harad

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from Ged:
But this in itself would not have vanquished Sauron - he survived and indeed re-formed himself in the TA without the ring, so taking it off him would not have killed him. (One area where I feel the movie did stray.)
more from the SIl:
..Sauron himself came forth; and he wrestled with Gil-galad and Elendil. and they both were slain, and the sword of Elendil broke under him as he fell. But Sauron also was thrown down, and with the hilt-shard of Narsil Isildur cut the Ruling Ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own. Then Sauron was for that time vanquished, and he forsook his body...
So is the movie fair in depicting that Sauron "forsook" his body when Ilsidur forcibly removed the Ring? I think so.

We can speculate what the BOOK meant. Perhaps, thru long Ring use, Sauron reached the stage where removing the Ring, certainly forcibly removing the Ring, led to a systemic shock of this magnitude.
 
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