Suite101: Shhh! It's a Secret Ring! - Who knew about the Rings of Power at the end of the Third Age?
Here is a brief excerpt from his Suite101 article:
I get asked a lot of questions about Tolkien's world, and sometimes I just file the really interesting ones away for future reference. But the other day someone asked me something I don't believe I've ever come across before. Who knew about the Rings? A very astute reader pointed out to me that Boromir recognized the Ring immediately, Faramir figured out there was a Ring which concerned Gandalf, Denethor seemed to know all about it...when it comes right down to it, everyone who comes into contact with Frodo seems to know about "the precious Ring" (as Bombadil called it).
If I may borrow from one of the comparisons Tolkien so detested, it's almost equivalent to every gas station attendant along Route 66 asking J. Robert Oppenheimer if they can have a look at Fat Man and Little Boy as he is driving to Los Alamos. Sauron's Ring was supposed to be a big secret, yet so many people whom Frodo encountered seemed to know about it. Gildor Inglorion figured out what was going on (and how he knew Frodo was "bearing a great burden without guidance", as Glorfindel put it, is never explained anywhere).
How would it come about that so many people should know something about the One Ring at the end of the Third Age, especially considering that it had been lost to the knowledge of those who were most concerned with it for three thousand years?
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