«Both Rings were round

and there the resemblance ceases»,

wrote J.R.R. Tolkien

about the rings in his epic

The Lord of the Rings 

and Richard Wagner’s opera cycle

The Ring of the Nibelung.

Or did he?

The answer

is not as straightforward

as many Tolkien fans believe,

whether they agree with the statement

or consider it misguided.

Nor is the statement itself

as transparently defensive

as some Wagner buffs suggest.