The question of where Tolkien found his inspiration for the One Ring has occupied fans and scholars alike for decades, and many rings real, fictional or legendary have been proposed. My paper takes a fresh look at the evidence and provides an overview of possible sources of inspiration from contemporary literature and archaeology. My research suggests that there was not one single source of inspiration but rather three rings that served as models, each of which contributed an important element to Tolkien’s concept of his One Ring. These models are: The Ring of Gyges, the Ring of Charlemagne, and Wagner’s Ring. The last of these is of central importance since Tolkien seems to have developed his One Ring in opposition to and as a critical ‘re-write’ of Wagner’s Ring of Power.


This is a (final) revised version of the paper submitted before. All the (by now only minor) points mentioned by the reviewers have been addressed.



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