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Dates
Completed c.II 1590. Passed into the West with Elrond 29 September III 3021
Origins
Made by Celebrimbor and the Mírdain of Eregion
Race
Pronunciation
vi'lya
Meaning
Probably 'airy (ring)'1
Other Names

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  • Updated 6 September 2009
  • This entry is complete
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The Three Rings of the Elves

One of the Three Rings of the Elves, made out of the influence of Sauron, Vilya was described as a golden ring set with a brilliant blue sapphire. For this reason it was also known as the Blue Ring and the Ring of Sapphire, and it was also named the Ring of Air. Vilya was said to the have been the greatest of the Three Rings.2

Soon after the making of the Three Rings in Eregion in about II 1590, Celebrimbor and his Jewel-smiths became aware that Sauron had forged a Ruling Ring to subjugate all those who bore Rings of Power, including the Three Rings. On the advice of Galadriel, both Vilya and its companion Narya were sent north from Eregion at this time to hide them from Sauron (the third Ring, Nenya, was concealed by Galadriel herself). There they were kept safe by Gil-galad, as Sauron ravaged Eriador and laid waste Eregion, claiming the surviving Rings of Power for himself.

A little over a century after the making of the Three Rings, with war still at its height, it was decided that the Elves needed to establish a new refuge and stronghold in eastern Eriador to replace lost Eregion. Elrond was chosen to found this new outpost, and Gil-galad granted him the Ring Vilya as he set out to create Rivendell.3

Sauron was defeated soon afterwards by the Númenóreans and driven back into Mordor, so that Elrond was able to keep Vilya safe in Rivendell throughout the remaining centuries of the Second Age, and the long years of the Third. After Sauron's fall, he used the Ring to hold back time, and it was said that the ancient stars still shone over his valley. In the War of the Ring at the end of the Third Age, Sauron's Ruling Ring was destroyed, and with it each of the Three Rings lost their power. Soon afterwards Elrond set out across the Great Sea into the West, carrying his Ring with him, and so Vilya - as well as the other two Rings of the Elves - left Middle-earth forever.


Notes

1

Elvish cosmology includes various layers of 'airs'; an Outer region that enfolded the World, an Upper region that was the province of the stars, and a Lower region, nearest the Earth. The root vil- in 'Vilya' properly refers only to this third, lower region.

2

Confusingly, though Vilya is unequivocally called the mightiest of the Three Rings, Nenya the White Ring is elsewhere (in The History of Galadriel and Celeborn in Unfinished Tales) called the chief of the Three. This appears to be a contradiction, but it can be seen as implying that Nenya held some kind of authority over the other two Rings (perhaps something like the authority of the Ruling Ring) while Vilya was the Ring containing the most natural power.

3

Gil-galad's actions in granting Vilya to Elrond are difficult to explain. Celebrimbor had sent Vilya and Narya north hoping to keep them safe and secret, far out of Sauron's hands, but Gil-galad chose to send one of the Rings back into an Eriador now overrun by the Dark Lord's forces. This dangerous action might have been more explicable if Elrond could have made use of Vilya in the war, but he could not; Sauron still wore the One Ring, so any attempt to draw on the Blue Ring's power was unthinkable.

The only apparent explanation for Gil-galad's choice seems to be that it was founded in either foresight or hope. If he was looking forward to a time when Sauron's authority over the Rings would be lost, then his granting of Vilya to Elrond makes becomes a little more understandable. Nearly two thousand years later, after the War of the Last Alliance and the loss of the One Ring, Gil-galad's hope was fulfilled, and Elrond was able to tap Vilya's power to make Rivendell a haven and a place of peace among the troubles of Middle-earth.

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