Who Would History Say Destroyed The Ring?

It occurs to me, that unless Samwise actually told everyone what happened – because you can’t imagine that Frodo told anyone what actually happened – that everyone has to assume that Sam actually destroyed the ring, or killed Gollum while Gollum had the ring, because of Frodo’s telltale missing finger. samwiseBecause by the time they reached Mt. Doom, Sam had everything: Sting, the phial of Galadriel, and all the equipment. No one would have asked Frodo about it either, you don’t ask a surviving vet about how he lost a limb, but knowing Frodo and knowing Sam, and knowing how Frodo saved Gollum at the pool from Faramir, and knowing how viciously Sam defended Frodo, it would be a non sequitur to assume Sam killed Gollum after he bit Frodo’s finger. What do you think J.R.R. Tolkien fans?

14 thoughts on “Who Would History Say Destroyed The Ring?

  1. Interesting question. Considering the way that history tends to get distorted, I suspect that most inhabitants of Middle Earth wouldn’t read about Frodo and Sam in their history books at all.

    The defeat of Sauron would be credited to Aragorn and the armies of Gondor, with the assistance of Rohan. The ring would be a footnote known only to scholars, and even they would see it more in terms of the politics of the Council and the defection of Saruman.

    The actions of two small people from some small backwater would be lost to history outside of the Shire, and never spoken of directly even there.

    1. Could be. But they seemed to keep pretty good records in Gondor, and I doubt Aragorn would let the history be written down with himself as the hero of the “War of the Ring” with the Hobbits left out entirely.

      1. Perhaps. But I think being forgotten is what Frodo would want. (Sam would want him remembered as a hero, but he’d also respect Frodo’s wishes.) Frodo is still a hobbit, after all, and hobbits view adventure and heroics as rather shameful. (Bullroarer Took, who fought against goblins in the war is remembered as the black sheep of the Shire.)

        I would think that the hobbits would rather be forgotten by history and the world of men in general. Yes, Bilbo wrote a book about his travels to the Misty Mountain, but I think he would be horrified at the idea of anyone outside of his immediate family ever reading it.

        I can see Sackville-Baggins children in days to come being warned against ever leaving the Shire or doing anything unexpected or unusual with the grim specter of Bilbo and Frodo, who went off to see the world and nothing good came of it.

        And I think that’s a good thing. Frodo made his journey not because he wanted adventure, but because he wanted a world in which no one had to have an adventure. The Shire is a plain, simple place, the home of plain, simple people, who want nothing from the world outside of their borders but to be left in peace.

      2. But Aragorn would have been in charge of the “history” – being in Gondor. As King of the West, he’d make sure it was accurate (I don’t think he’d change it just to make Frodo more comfortable, after all Aragorn didn’t want to be king). And he’d know, from his own heritage, how important history is to keep and learn from.

        As for the Sackville-Baggins, the scourging of the shire left them pretty non-existant. Sam would have been the holder of the history in the Shire, and no doubt, the Gamgee children would have wanted to be as influential (or at least as worthy) as the Baggins from Bag End, in which they lived.

        But the History of MIddle Earth wouldn’t have been left in the Shire. Gandalf didn’t look for the history in the Shire, he looked for it in Gondor, so that’s why I think in Gondor, the history would have been kept of the War–and because Aragorn is King (not just a king, but a scholar, a bard, a healer as the Celtic tradition), he would have, in my opinion, wanted the history as clear and accurate as possible. And if he left the details of Frodo/Sam/Gollum at Mt. Doom ambiguous, people would have filled it in. They would have remembered Frodo NINEFINGERS and they could have probably figured out that if he’s missing a ring finger…

  2. Hobbits play a larger role in middle earth’s history than you would think. Even though they were very well disguised from the world for several thousands of years, their actions have not gone unnoticed after the war of the ring. Gandalf mentions hobbits consistently and this quote in particular demonstrates how they would be remembered “A most unquenchable hobbit! All wizards should have a hobbit or two in their care—to teach them the meaning of the world, and to correct them.” I would hope that hobbits would be remembered, they represent the idea that anyone, big or small, can change the world.

    1. I do think they’d be remembered because of who was left behind in Gondor. Two of Gandalf’s best students: Aragorn and Faramir. I don’t think either of them would have let the hobbits be forgotten by men.

      1. A part of me does feel that the hobbits would not want to be remembered and glorified for their involvement with the ring. Even with Bilbo’s stories about Smaug, they are only interpreted as folklore by hobbits. I would not be surprised if the story of the ring was only remembered as a mythical tale that Frodo and Sam played a role in. This is an interesting way to look at the future of middle-earth. Do you think hobbits would be relied upon future heroic adventures?

  3. Hey! I just discovered your blog though a Zemanta link to a LOTR post I’m finishing up tomorrow. I actually looked at the layers of historical historical information that went into constructing the narrative a few months ago because I was trying to figure out who the narrator is. What I did was pretend Middle Earth was real and evaluate the finished novel, as published, as a historical source. Here’s an excerpt from the post I wrote about it that has some bearing on your question, with aplologies for the length. (I blog about Tolkien often, and I’m a bit of a nerd about it.)

    We’d need to really dig into Tolkien’s drafts to be more specific than this, but here is how I understand the narrative history of LOTR.

    1. Bilbo writes original version of The Hobbit as a memoir.

    2. Bilbo later writes down a lot of material related to the War of the Ring, much of it while the war is going on.

    3. After the defeat of Sauron, Bilbo gives Frodo the book. Frodo organizes it and adds a lot of material of his own, but the poems and things that are obviously translated from the Elvish or taken from deep lore are Bilbo’s.

    4. When Frodo sails into the West, he entrusts the book to Samwise, who makes further alterations and eventually leaves it in the possession of his daughter Elanor.

    5. That is the the last we see of the original book, and it is not preserved.

    6. Copies are made before the original is lost, the first at the behest of King Elessar (Aragorn). It is annotated and corrected (this is where most of the info in the appendices come from). Faramir writes the tale of Aragorn and Arwen that tells their endings. At some point, the descendants of Merry and Pippin have it copied and archived at the Great Smials.

    7. And this is important – from there it survives, in the original languages, to Tolkien’s day. He translates it somehow. So, Middle Earth is not in some alternate universe. It’s a story of things that happened on Earth in prehistoric times.

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