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Topic: The Eye of Sauron

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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The Eye of Sauron

I am wishing to discuss about the Eye of Sauron.


Most think it is litterally an 'Eye' atop Barad-dur, The Dark tower wreathed in Flame. From here he can see all that is in Middle-earth, except those parts which are beyond his power to see (Lorien and Rivendell for example).


To confirm this theory we have the following quotes:


"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 of the dark power that rules the Rings."
LOTR, FOTR


"So terrible was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry out or to withdraw his gaze. The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing."
LOTR, FOTR


 


"Yes,' she said, divining his thought, `it is not permitted to speak of it, and Elrond could not do so. But it cannot be hidden from the Ring-bearer, and one who has seen the Eye."
LOTR, FOTR



However I know also that anoter theory is that the Eye is a metephor, used to describe Sauron's gaze from his Palantir in the Dark tower.


The only quote I can find that truly supports this however is the following:


 


In fact with every step towards the gates of Mordor Frodo felt the Ring on its chain about his neck grow more burdensome. He was now beginning to feel it as an actual weight dragging him earthwards. But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself. It was that more than the drag of the Ring that made him cower and stoop as he walked. The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable.
LOTR, FOTR


 


Would anyone like to put there input here and perhaps add more quotes tfor confirmation of this.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Well, firstly, I do not believe that the Eye is only a metaphor, nor that it is only a reference to the palantir.
The Eye is a reference to Sauron's gaze; from the Window of the Eye, fro the high place in Barad-dur, he was able to see at great distances.
The powers of the Eye of Mordor seem very similar to those of the palantíri. There are other indications of a connection between the two. For example, when Aragorn used a palantír to reveal himself to Sauron:

'...the Eye turned inward, pondering tidings of doubt and danger: a bright sword a stern and kingly face it saw...' (The Return of the King VI 2, The Land of Shadow).

So, it is clear that the power of the Eye was somehow connected to the Ithil-stone in Sauron's power, but whether the stone granted him the power of the Eye, or merely enhanced his own natural powers, is unknown.
I would also like to add that the idea people have about the eye has been very much influenced by the films, and the way they represented it.

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I think that the quote MoS supplied is clear enough. The Eye may have been referred to metaphorically many times, but it is clear that the physical manifestation did indeed exist atop Baradur.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Well I would not say the quotes I provided were conclusive. I think will should wait to here if anyone can shed more quotes on this to prove it beyond doubt.

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Black Numenorean - Rank 3
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i'm not sure. i think it could be Saurons will made real.

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Could you elaborate on that Jammi?

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Black Numenorean - Rank 3
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Well, the eye that Frdo sees is, i believe, Saurons will made physically real.

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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I would be interested to here Galin's view on this subject. Perhaps some obscure quote he can come up with.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Maybe...

'... for in their corruption they [Orcs] had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be;...'
Myths Transformed

Of wait, 'his' refers to Morgoth.

Sorry

Ok, how about (sometimes) a vision? a representation or manifestation of a searching will. I don't see why it need be physical (and this was surely not Sauron's incarnate form in any case). Maybe with Sauron, somehow an actual Eye could be seen in certain circumstances, appearing as a potent vision outside the mind of the beholder.

Or something

-- Edited by Galin at 03:39, 2007-02-07

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Hmmm...This quote makes me wonder:

"So terrible was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry out or to withdraw his gaze. The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing."
LOTR, FOTR

JRR is giving a phisical description of the Eye itself. If the Eye of Sauron was merely Sauron will gazing into a palantir and looking out then how could there be a phisical description of it?



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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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But could one not use the same description to describe a vision of the mind, or a vision that seemed to be outside the mind of the beholder?

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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That is true Galin but then that would not explain this quote:

"Yes,' she said, divining his thought, `it is not permitted to speak of it, and Elrond could not do so. But it cannot be hidden from the Ring-bearer, and one who has seen the Eye."
LOTR, FOTR

Clearly there IS someting that CAN be seen by anyone. Perhaps Frodo having the Ring enabled him a farsight shot to see the Eye when he put the Ring on.


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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I don't see the problem though. It can be seen in certain circumstances (as I said above). Here, Frodo had just seen the Eye in the mirror, and Galadriel suggests she has seen this image too. 'I know what it was that you last saw,' she said; 'for that is also in my mind.' Then a bit later she says what you already quoted, and Frodo is now not the only person who has seen it, apparently. 

Tolkien notes that in the Third Age Sauron took a long time to rebuild his body; basically he took a long time to incarnate himself again. He is not an Eye, and I can't think of any instance in The Lord of the Rings where one need conclude the Eye is an actual physical, touchable thing.

Galin



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I don't think anyone is suggesting that Sauron WAS an Eye. We know that in the Third Age Sauron had a phisical body indeed, which he bagan making in Dol Guldur.
However that does not mean that there was no Eye. Perhaps Sauron made an Eye atop Barad-Dur but controlled it using his Palantir. Thus the Eye moved wherever Sauron was gazing to in the Palantir. This would then support both arguments. Or perhaps the Eye of Sauron was something wholly seperate from Sauron and moved according to Sauron's instruction..

-- Edited by mouth of sauron at 10:58, 2007-02-10

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Well maybe :)

But anyway I think my interpretation covers all the references in The Lord of the Rings and don't see any text in the book that necessarily contradicts it. Multiple persons can see the same vision at one time, for example, (visions of the Blessed Virgin come to mind) but that doesn't mean the thing seen was incarnate, or touchable, for the duration that it appeared on a hillside or wherever (an example where something seemed to be outside the mind of the beholder).

Galin

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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There way I see it Galin there is only one quote supporting your theory. Thats the one where Frodo and Sam think there was some kind of Will searching for them in Mordor from a window in the Dark Tower.

Why do all the Orcs carry a Red Eye on the shields and things? They can't have all seen visions.


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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Bilbo Baggins posted: There way I see it Galin there is only one quote supporting your theory. Thats the one where Frodo and Sam think there was some kind of Will searching for them in Mordor from a window in the Dark Tower.

I didn't say all references supported a single interpretation but rather that the idea of the Eye not necessarily being a physical object (outside of Sauron's actual eyes of course) fits with all the citations -- keeping in mind, with respect to it being a 'vision' I said 'sometimes' and 'in certain circumstances' in my post ('Maybe with Sauron, somehow an actual Eye could be seen in certain circumstances, appearing as a potent vision outside the mind of the beholder').

Bilbo Baggins posted: 'Why do all the Orcs carry a Red Eye on the shields and things? They can't have all seen visions.'

Well that's the symbol used, just as the White Hand is used for Saruman. I'm not suggesting the Orcs painted the Eye on something because they saw some vision somewhere (the example of the Virgin was simply to generally note that visions could even be seen by more than one person at a time, if such an idea were in question that is)

In the Lord of the Rings Reader's Companion by Hammond And Scull the authors quote a piece published in Beyond Bree when the chapter The Mirror of Galadriel is reached (and the part about the Eye in the Mirror of course). The essay goes into earlier works relating in some way to the matter of the Eye, and part of it reads...

'I believe that the Eye of Sauron is the image of the will of Sauron the Maia. It is not only used visually as the emblem of Sauron's authority and arrogance, but also metaphorically as the verbal expression of the sense of the presence or projection of Sauron's will.' Donald O'brien 'The Eye of Sauron', Beyond Bree June 1992


In any case, I'm not saying 'I know' or my opinion is the only correct version. Someone in the thread asked for my interpretation, and as far as my original post, I didn't really have time to look at each reference and go over them all in detail, and posted accordingly. 

I agree my latest response to Mouth of Sauron was a bit vague there however (after reading it again).

Galin



-- Edited by Galin at 22:19, 2007-02-13

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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I believe this is one of those occasions where it matters less what the quotes say than as how you interpret them. Such is the same with the 'Did Balrogs have wings and could they fly?' notion.

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Tom Bombadil
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" You know of what I speak. An eye, lidless, wreathed in flame."
Saruman

From the highest tower of Barad-dûr, Sauron kept an unceasing watch on the lands and kingdoms of Middle-earth. The 'Eye of Sauron' is a reference to his unsleeping vigilance. In the book it was described as a sort of red light from an upper window. It was destroyed when the One Ring was melted in the fires of Mount Doom


-- Edited by ArwenLegolas at 06:57, 2007-04-01

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I think the 'eye' is his never ceacing will to find the ring, his longing to be reunited with his ring...

I shall explain...

when you lose something of importance to you, you would start to search for it...

Well, he has lost this object of, great, importance and his spirit is continually beckoning for it, calling it's name...

Tolkien just uses an 'eye' to show his never-ending search for this ring.

:)  ;P 

~Prince of Mirkwood

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The Lidless Eye
Sauron was represented by the Lidless Eye, which was his emblem. The Eye of Sauron was rimmed with red fire and the pupil was as black as a bottomless void. The Eye was ever-watchful and far-seeing.

Sauron was not actually a disembodied eye; rather, the Eye was a manifestation of his power. Sauron had a physical form in the Third Age. Tolkien wrote in Letter #246: "The form he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic."

Also referred to as the Great Eye, the Red Eye, the Eye of Barad-dur, the Eye of Mordor, the Evil Eye, and simply the Eye. 
  

From The Thain's Book



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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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So the Eye is not Sauron but is a phisical extension of his will or the Palantir on barad-dur. This seems to work for both theories.

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Men of Numenor - Rank 1
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Its is clear Tolkein intended there to be no literal Eye. it is a meatophore for the ceaseless watch of Saroun thought the Plantir.

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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But how, as I stated, can you have a phisical description of a meterphorical thing?

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Men of Numenor - Rank 1
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Well Bilbo its is not a physcial description, it is a metahore for his Sarouns, gazing watch, it never saids theres a big red eye on top of bara dur.

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Well there are 2 descritions:

"You know of what I speak. An eye, lidless, wreathed in flame."

"The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing."


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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I don't see the problem here.

Frodo saw a vision in Galadriel's mirror for example. The vision is described -- which description does not necessarily mean one now has a physically incarnate eye here, of course --  and the image seen in the mirror can also serve as a metaphor for Sauron's searching will.

If a shaman describes a vision of an eagle, silver-winged, bursting into flame as it soared overhead... it's still a vision. It was not there as a physically incarnate thing (despite that it might seem so to the person having the vision and attempting to describe it); and could be a metaphor for something. 

The only incarnate eye of Sauron that necessarily exists could be found in his actual head, as he had incarnated himself in the form of a Man in the Third Age.

-- Edited by Galin at 13:52, 2007-07-10

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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But if Galadriel says 'The one who has seen the Eye' surely this means there is an Eye for people to see? Or if she saw the Eye in the mirror as well then how come, if its just a metephor for Sauron's will, it appears the same for everyone?

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Even a 'consistent vision' is no more than that.

A vision of a silver-winged eagle could appear in a similar way in a tale: a shaman sees it and interprets it as a symbol for something. Later in the tale the hero sees it, and finds that the interpretation is true (for whater reason). If a silver-winged eagle shows up in the (imagined) tale and appears to be a physical entity -- it catches fish, the hero holds it, feeds it, one can feel the wind as it flaps its wings, or whatever--  that is one thing. 

And if the eagle consistently appears as a vision, a symbol for something else, then it is not necessarily physically incarnate, despite that it could be seen by more than one person at different times, even many people at the same time perhaps.

-- Edited by Galin at 18:00, 2007-07-13

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I never thought that the eye was anything more than a metaphor until I saw the movies and saw that was how they'd thought to represent Sauron. In fact I was unsure of where they were coming from at first - most of the references to the Eye to me seem to be vague and metaphorical.

I can buy into the theory that the Eye existed and was a physical manifestation of Sauron's power - even an extension of himself, and that perhaps he could even use the Eye itself to gaze all over Middle-earth and keep his watch. I do not, however, think that the Eye was Sauron himself. I think it's relatively clear to me from the Tolkien letter mentioned by Erasmus that Sauron had a physical form in the Third Age. Even if he didn't, I'd find it strange that he had the power to present himself in a physical form and chose to be a disembodied eye, instead of a body that could be mobile and do things.

But as Glorfindel said, I think that this is just one of those issues that is open to interpretation and is nearly impossible to conclusively prove one stance or the other using any text resource. If someone believes, because of the movies, that Sauron was nothing more than a disembodied fiery eye on top of a tower, it doesn't really affect their enjoyment of the story that much. After all, he never shows his physical form anywhere in LOTR, and there is little mention of any Orcs or other beings having direct contact with him. I think that Tolkien did this intentionally to cement the idea that Sauron was physically and emotionally removed from the rest of the characters in the story, thus adding credibility to everyone's fear of him. In the book he seems omniscient and ethereal - nothing regarding his physical existence or needs are mentioned. Orders from him are always heard about second hand - never Sauron speaking to the person to whom they were given. Unlike Morgoth, it's very rare to hear him speak to someone in his own words. He's simply a source of overwhelming fear and cruelty who is obeyed without question. Therefore the representation of him as a fiery eye is a good one - but like most everything else about Sauron, shrouded in questions and secrecy. I would say we know less about Sauron and the nature of his "power" than almost any other Tolkien character.

As for the Eye being on Orc shields - all it would take is an order from Sauron to get them put on every shield. I don't know whether the Eye actually existed on Barud-dur or not, but I think that regardless of its existence, it was not Sauron incarnate and he existed in another form separate from the identity of the Eye.


-- Edited by The Secret Fire at 16:33, 2007-07-14

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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That was a very good post TheSecretFire!

I agree that its unlikely that Sauron WAS the eye. We know he had a phisical body in the Third Age wrought in Dol Guldur. And also an Eye could not receive and carry a Ring. However I think its possible that Sauron perhaps wrought some kind of Red Eye atop Barad-dur that perhaps was in some way controlled when Sauron looked into the Palantir. Thus it would fit both arguments.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Here's the fuller quote of the letter mentioned (in addition to Gollum's comment about Sauron's hand), and some others from letters about the incarnate Sauron of the Third Age...

'In the contest with the Palantír Aragorn was the rightful owner. Also the contest took place at a distance, and in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when actually physically present. Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a Man of more than average stature, but not gigantic. In his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power (as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding figure of great strength of body and supremely royal demeanour and countenance.' JRRT
Sauron must be the incarnated 'great spirit' referred to here, but since he is at a distance during this struggle (in he Third Age) Aragorn also has this advantage. Another letter...

'I note your remarks about Sauron. He was always de-bodied when vanquished.' JRRT 1957, and eventually...

' ... It was thus that Sauron appeared in this shape. It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It was then destructible like other physical organisms. But that of course did not destroy the spirit, nor dismiss it from the world to which it was bound until the end. After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Númenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, that might be called the 'will' or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination). The impossibility of re-building after the destruction of the Ring, is sufficiently clear 'mythologically' in the present book.' JRRT
Note the impossibility of 're-building' after the 'destruction of the Ring', not after having lost possession, for example.

'But they were still living on the borders of Myth -- or rather this story exhibits 'myth' passing into History or the Dominion of Men; for of course the Shadow will rise again in a sense (as is clearly foretold by Gandalf), but never again (unless it be before the great End) will an evil daemon be incarnate as a physical enemy; he will direct Men and all the complications of half-evils, ... ' JRRT Letters
Also

'After which the Third Age began, a Twilight Age, a Medium Aevum, the first of the broken and change world; the last of the lingering dominion of visible fully incarnate Elves, and the last also in which Evil assumes a single dominant incarnate shape.' JRRT Letters

Just for interest on the issue of Sauron's form anyway.

-- Edited by Galin at 01:23, 2007-07-16

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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I though you 'bought' the theory that Sauron was a phisical incarnation in Barad-dur Galin? Or did you edit it out of your post becuase you now change your mind? biggrin.gif

I think we can all agree that Sauron had a PHISICAL body in the mid to late Third Age. Apart from the existing quotes saying so we have Gandalf saying:

'Dangerous!' cried Gandalf. 'And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord. TTT

Obviously there must be a dangerous Dark Lord in Barad-dur for Gimli to be brought before. Otherwise the quote would make no sense.

Whether or no an Eye exists atop Barad-dur, sperate from Sauron or as mos suggested made by him and thus uses the Red Eye as a simbol I don't know. But we also have this:

"There he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dûr, and dwelt there, dark and silent, until he wrought himself a new guise, an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure. The Silmarillion

This also seems to indicate the existance of an Eye.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Glorfindel1235 wrote: I though you 'bought' the theory that Sauron was a phisical incarnation in Barad-dur Galin? Or did you edit it out of your post becuase you now change your mind? biggrin.gif

But I do buy that.

Indeed the purpose of my last post was to collect some quotes to support that Sauron was physical in the Third Age. I've not changed my mind about that, and actually think the case is quite strong really.

Glorfindel1235 wrote: 'Whether or no an Eye exists atop Barad-dur, sperate from Sauron or as mos suggested made by him and thus uses the Red Eye as a simbol I don't know. But we also have this: 'There he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dûr, and dwelt there, dark and silent, until he wrought himself a new guise, an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure.' The Silmarillion This also seems to indicate the existance of an Eye.

This quote concerns Sauron rebuilding his body before the Last Alliance. To my mind the new guise is surely his new body, as we know he wrought one in any case -- a body significantly 'new' in that he could no longer appear fair.

Was the Eye an actual 'fleshy' burning thing that could be touched, created by the Dark Lord to exist independently of himself? In the Third Age Sauron took many years to construct a new body for himself, and I personally don't see the need for the Eye to exist in such a physical state. 

No, unless something new from Tolkien might surface to this...

I don't buy this physical eye smile


-- Edited by Galin at 18:33, 2007-07-16

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Another quote:

"They are strong: battalions of Orcs of the Eye, and countless companies of Men of a new sort that we have not met before."

It doesn't make much sense to have 'Battalions of Orcs of The Eye' if all the eye is a the will of Sauron gazing into the Palantir. It makes more sense if the Eye is something phisical, an entity in which battalions of Orcs could be servants of.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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mouth of sauron wrote: 'Another quote: "They are strong: battalions of Orcs of the Eye, and countless companies of Men of a new sort that we have not met before." It doesn't make much sense to have 'Battalions of Orcs of The Eye' if all the eye is a the will of Sauron gazing into the Palantir...'


But that's not all the Eye is. It is also the emblem or badge of Sauron and thus it makes perfect sense to refer to his Orcs in this way. You used the word 'servants' in the rest of your post...

'We are servants of the old Uthwit and the White Hand' Uglúk, The Uruk-hai, The Treason of Isengard

Servants of the White Hand (or *Orcs of the White Hand) in no way need mean there is a physical, disembodied hand crawling aroud Orthanc of course.  'Battalions of Orcs of the Eye' is merely a way to distinguish that these Orcs are servants of Mordor.




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Depends on which way you look at it. At least with the Eye there is a phisical description of one. The 'White Hand' has no phisical description.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Posts: 562
Date: Jul 17, 2007

Regarding 'physical description' in general: a silver winged eagle bursting into red flame. Ok, real eagle or not? Is this a 'physical description'? Without context one cannot certainly tell if the eagle is a flesh and blood creature or not -- as one can use the same exact words for either a vision in a mirror or an actual physical creature.

Anyway, back to The Lord of the Rings, the point is that Orcs of the Eye or Orcs of the White Hand both make perfect sense in the context of these respective badges. The comparison merely helps illustrate the point. 



-- Edited by Galin at 19:47, 2007-07-17

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Date: Jul 18, 2007
I agree that the White hand is no more than a sybolic phrase for Saruman. However like mouth of sauron said the White hand is never portrayed as anything else but a symbolic phrase. The Eye, whilst it could also be a phrase and nothing more does have a description unlike the White Hand:

"The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing."

Not quite sure where you are going with your example. If a silver winged eagle burst into red flame then it cannot be a real eagle...I am confused.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Date: Jul 18, 2007
Yes that's a description of a vision in a mirror. But I think 'physical description' puts the cart before the horse in a sense -- meaning it's not a given that there is a real physical disembodied eye behind this description. One can use the same words to describe a vision, hallucination or whatever.

Bilbo Baggins wrote: Not quite sure where you are going with your example. If a silver winged eagle burst into red flame then it cannot be a real eagle...I am confused.

A disembodied fiery eye can be real but not my flaming eagle?  smile

OK someone sees 'a great white eagle framed by dark clouds, with a strong curved beak golden as the sun; its keen eyes watchful and intent.' Real eagle or not? hard to say without context, though one might guess 'real' because there's nothing very unusual here; but this only illustrates that the same description can be used to describe something physically incarnate, or a vision. 

About Orcs of the Eye: if one doesn't agree with my reading that's fine of course, but this quote makes perfect sense if no eye exists as a physical entity. As with the '... warriors of the Mole' (early fall of Gondolin), or any similar example involving an emblem or badge distinguishing a house or group (or whatever), the simple meaning is clear enough. These are only examples to help illustrate Orcs of the Eye basically meaning 'Orcs of Mordor, Orcs who serve Sauron (and wear his badge)'.

There's also a description of an Eye in the mirror too, but that need not change this interpretation, especially considering that the mirror description is not necessarily that of a physical entity.  


-- Edited by Galin at 03:12, 2007-07-19

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