Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent Fourteen: Ring out for Christmas

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

J R R Tolkein


Elves of course are wise. So do we have three wise elf kings?

Anyway, we have 1 Ring, 3 for Elves, 7 for Dwarves and 9 for Men, giving us a sequence of 1, 3, 7, 9... and a total of 20.

I'm not a serious mathematician[1] but the usual methods for determining the rules for a sequence don't give us any obvious answers[2]. 1, 2, 3, 4... fine. 1, 3, 5, 7... good. 1, 2, 3, 5... I'm on board with. 1, 1, 2, 3... or 1, 1, 2, 4... and perhaps 1, 3, 9, 27... great. But 1, 3, 7, 9...? And a total of 20? There's no significance there. What is Sauron playing at?

Now Sauron, being evil, might have set up this sequence deliberately to annoy and distract the numerologists of Middle Earth[3]. But that's not the kind of evil he is; he intends to rule Middle Earth, not smash it; Lawful Evil rather than Chaotic Evil; Darth Vader rather than Cthulu. Surely there's a logical sequence. Aren't there any more rings to find?

On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Found them! That makes 25, a square number. It doesn't get any more Lawful Evil than that.

(Link here)

While I'm at it, we must never forget the most important event ever to occur on 25 December; the day the Fellowship left Rivendell to find their destinies.


[1] Although I have impersonated one in a school, and been paid for it.
[2] Page of mathematical scrawlings left out.
[3] Also, not having any more of the Black Speech than is inscribed on The Ring, it's quite possible he chose the numbers to make the poem scan. Never underestimate the influence of rhyme and rhythm on the plot of songs and poems.

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