silmarillion project

Tolkien Finale Projects (be like--)
  • Student 1: I'm going to present over feminism and the role of women in Tolkien's literature :)
  • Student 2: I want to discuss how Tolkien's personal experiences in war were shadowed through his written works
  • Student 3: I'm going to do an in depth study how hobbits influence in the Third Age confess the decline of elves and the rise of man
  • Student 4: I'll be expressing the importance of art and the role poetry, song and verse throughout the legendarium
  • Student 5: I am going to debate concepts of the fading as well as how Tolkien was inspired by folklore and mythos throughout our primary world
  • Me: Yeah I'll be talking about Morgoth and Sauron and explain why they're both kinda assholes

Silmarillion Chapter 8: Of The Darkening of Valinor

But now on the mountain-top dark Ungoliant lay; and she made a ladder of woven ropes and cast it down, and Melkor climbed upon it and came to that high place, and stood beside her, looking down upon the Guarded Realm.

…Then Melkor laughed aloud, and leapt swiftly, and leapt swiftly down the western slopes; and Ungoliant was at his side, and her darkness covered them.

A lot of the supernatural monsters in Tolkien’s mythology are deliberately left vague. In general, this is to leave it up to the imagination, but in the case of Ungoliant, I think it’s more interesting to depict her as a spider-shaped void than a detailed monster. She is, after all, more of an elemental, the embodiment of hunger. Similar to what I’ve done with the Valar, I think Ungoliant’s form is more of a vague facade she wears to interact with the world.

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“Silmarillion Chapter 4: Of Thingol and Melian”

“Then an enchantment fell on him, and he stood still still; and afar off beyond the voices of the lómelindi he heard the voice of Melian, and it filled all his heart with wonder and desire. He forgot utterly all his people and the purposes of his mind, and following the birds under the shadow of the trees he passed deep into Nan Elmoth and was lost. But he came at last to a glade open to the stars, and there Melian stood; and out of the darkness he looked at her, and the light of Aman was in her face.”

Thingol and Melian are the High King and Queen of Beleriand, and functionally all of Middle-Earth in their day.  Melian is a Maia, the race of spirits that include Sauron.  Tolkien gives very little description of her, so I decided to keep a slightly otherworldly appearance, with horns like a faun or forest spirit. She’s actually much wiser than her husband and much more joyful, so I wanted to make sure that imagery held.

Thingol is the King of the Sindar, the “Grey Elves” who stayed in Middle-Earth (though Thingol himself made the journey to Aman once).  As the tallest of the Men and Elves and one of the mightiest in battle, I wanted to keep his form larger and imposing.  Older Elves can grow beards, and I’ve decided that any male Elf who was among the first to awaken (this includes Thingol) will be sporting a beard.

 Previous Silmarillion entries:

  1. Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur
  2. Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar
  3. The Monsters of Middle-Earth
  4. The Free Peoples of the First Age
  5. Silmarillion Chapter 1 - Of the Beginning of Days
  6. Silmarillion Chapter 2 - Of Aulë and Yavanna
  7. Silmarillion Chapter 3 - Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
Thesis on Morgoth and Sauron and their roles as Dark Lords (Part 1/4)

For my Tolkien project, I decided I was going to explore the dynamics of Morgoth and Sauron and see if I could make an estimate as to whether or not one was more effective as dark lord than the other. I did this in regard as I would not be able to debate whether or not one was more powerful (seeing as the Valar are higher beings then the Maiar, and seeing that Melkor was the eldest, he of course is indisputably stronger than Sauron).

However, just because you’re more powerful doesn’t always mean you’re more effective. We see this all throughout history in examples where generals themselves might not be very capable in battle but are able to gain mastery by being clever strategist. Therefore that inspired me to research if one could argue whether or not Morgoth or Sauron came closer to accomplishing their goal—dominion over Middle Earth (or Beleriand).

I did this by looking at a few key characteristics—longevity of rule (but more importantly, what was achieved), servants (those who served under them and attributed to their victories), their primary enemies (or the state of those they fought against), as well as their defeat (and what caused the finale fall). Then I concluded with their legacy and the impact they have throughout the legendarium.

 

General Disclaimer

  • I am not at all an expert, just a very passionate individual in Tolkien’s lore. Therefore some of what is stated throughout this essay may be based upon faulted research and weighed heavily by personal interpretation and opinion. So please do keep such in mind. Most of the information here was found within The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Unfinished Tales, as well as Tolkien Gateway and Wikipedia.

 

Longevity of rule

  • Important note to make here. Just because you are in power for a long majority of time doesn’t necessarily mean you used that time wisely. I’m sure most of us are very familiar with procrastination. Therefore I did not look simply at length of ‘reign’, but more so the accomplishments (and losses) experienced throughout the span of their rule.

 

Morgoth

Approximately 590 years (Years of the Sun)

  • Melkor is incredibly hard to estimate the exact length of time he was in power. This is because the majority of the Valian Years are left without date. The first primary experience of time is with the Years of the Trees, but even then how time is recorded will be drastically different when the Valar raise the sun and the moon
  • Therefore it is often argued as to whether or not the First Age is the longest or shortest of ages. If you try to make an assumption over the span of the Valian Years and couple it with the First Age, you are left with it being nearly 50,000 years in length. However, if you are to attribute the First Age with the rising of the sun to the defeat of Morgoth, it is around 590 years.
  • I took liberties here and for the sake of sanity, decided to account the beginning of Morgoth’s dominion in Beleriand being with the awakening of man and therefore the rising of the sun, equaling more so to the 590 years it would take until he is defeated. However, anyone can argue that his reign could be anywhere between 50,000 to 590 years, give or take a few.

Sauron

Approximately 6,462 years (Second to Third Age)

  • Sauron is easier to calculate in terms of authority than Melkor, seeing as recorded dates were more of a thing when he was around. However, it is still slightly difficult, as Sauron’s reign tended to act like that of a heartbeat; having its occasional rises and falls. Therefore to give one total of years in power is a little vaguer, seeing as he came and went throughout the second and third ages.
  • However, he was still present in Middle Earth for around 6,462 years (from the start of the second age to his eventual fall in the third age). Therefore that is the timeline I am going to associate with his rule. You could deduct 500 years, seeing as it wasn’t until S.A. 500 he began to rise in might in Middle Earth following the end of the First Age. You could also deduct years from the duration of his defeat in the Battle of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men as well as the time spent as being the Necromancer in The Hobbit.
  • But as I did so with Morgoth, I decided to take some liberties and simply to go with the start of the Second Age to his fall in the Third, seeing as he was still a threat for 6,462 years. However, this to can be reasonably debated and argued.

 

Accomplishments and Losses

  • Like stated, longevity doesn’t accredit to a successful reign. Therefore it is important to understand what each individual did in the time that they were given. However, it is also important to note: Just because you accomplished a lot, didn’t mean these accomplishments had long lasting effects or were of any significance in the long run. Losses themselves may even outweigh what was accomplished in terms of being effective or attributing to the finale victory.

 

Morgoth

Major Accomplishments

  • Destruction of Arda (V.Y. Unknown): Known also as the First War. Melkor assaults his brethren and disrupts the ordered symmetry they seek to build within Arda, causing cataclysmic events and shaping much of the geography
  • Destruction of the Two Lamps (Y.L. 3450): Melkor destroys the two lamps, ending the Spring of Arda
  • Destruction of the Two Trees (Y.T. 4995): Known also as the ‘Darkening of Valinor’ Manwe hosts a festival in Valimar to heal the feud of the Noldor. Melkor and Ungoliant destroy the Two Trees.
  • Capturing of the Silmarils (Y.T. 4995): Morgoth assaults and kills High King Finwe and steals the Silmarils. Feanor becomes High King and his sons swear an oath against Melkor and he is renamed Morgoth. The Noldor depart from Valinor, and the First Kinslaying occurs with the slaughtering of the Teleri and the sieging of their ships
  • Doom of Mandos (Y.T. 4996): Noldor are banished from Valinor and face great doom
  • Fall of Man (F.A. 60-c. 200): Morgoth is absent from Angband, after discovering Men. Persuaded by Melkor, Men stop worshiping Eru and turn to evil but some revolt. According to legend, Men now lose the gift to die at will as the result of divine punishment, and are doomed to lead short-life spans at the end of which death takes them by force.
  • Curse of the House of Hador  (F.A. 472-500): Morgoth chained Húrin to a chair on the slopes of Thangorodrim for not revealing the location of Gondolin, and from there– through Morgoth’s sorcery– he could watch the tragedies that would befall his family and the curse destroy his children, Nienor and Túrin.
  • Fall of Gondolin (F.A. 510): Gondolin, the Great Hidden City of Turgon and the Noldor, was betrayed by Maeglin and sacked by Morgoth’s forces. Resulted in the deaths of Turgon and the Lords Glorfindel and Echelion, but the defeat of Gothmog as well. Tuor and Idril escape.

Conclusion

  • Many of Morgoth’s accomplishments were ineffective in the longevity of Middle Earth. While Morgoth became close to victory after the Fall of Gondolin, much of what he achieved was often worked around.
  • When Melkor raised Arda, the Valar rebuilt it, when the lamps were destroyed, the Valar built the Trees, when the trees were destroyed, the Valar raised the sun and the moon. When the silmarils were stolen, only Feanor and his sons rallied an oath against him and such resulted in their own doom.
  • Morgoth’s curse and the fall of Hador had little impact in Morgoth’s overall goal of conquest. It was very much an issue of personal spite and achieved only the demise of one household.
  • However, the Fall of Man and Gondolin could very well be considered long lasting achievements. Men wouldn’t be restored until Numenor, and even then only a selected were given the longevity of lives. Gondolin allowed for Morgoth to draw close to a finale victory and was, in all terms; a success.
  • Therefore, only two of his eight achievements supported his overall goal.

 

Major Losses

  • Intimidation of Tulkas (Y.L. 1500): Tulkas arrives, the last of the Valar to descend into Arda. Melkor flees from him and hides in the halls of Ea
  • Siege of Utumno (Y.T. 4590): The Valar march to war against Melkor on behalf of the Elves and lay siege to Utumno in 4592. Known as the War of the Powers
  • Chaining of Angainor (Y.T. 4599-900): Melkor is captured, and bound in the great chain Angainor, Utumno is destroyed. Melkor is taken to Valinor in chains and sentenced to serve a term in the Halls of Mandos for three ages and then later freed from his sentence by Manwe.
  • Betrayal of Ungoliant (Y.T. 4995?): Melkor withheld the Silmarils in his right hand, having desired them too greatly to allow the Great Spider to devour them. In response, an enraged Ungoliant wrapped Melkor in her webs, and poised to devour him as punishment for his perceived betrayal. Having grown far larger and stronger than before by absorbing the light of the Two Trees, the Gloomweaver would have killed Melkor had not his cry of desperation been heard by his Balrogs, who took flight and saved their master
  • Siege of Angband (F.A. 60-455): Battle of Dagor Aglareb, the Noldor defeat Morgoth’s forces and start the Siege of Angband. Known also as the “Long Peace” it lasted hundreds of years in the early expanse of the First Age when the Noldor sieged the fortress of Morgoth. It was a time of plentitude, peace and happiness for Elves and Men and was when the Noldor reached the peak of their power. However the siege was not complete and Morgoth was able to send out forces through secret passages from the towers of Thangorodrim.
  • Battle of Fingolfin (F.A. 456): Fingolfin challenges Morgoth to single combat and is slain but cripples Morgoth in response for the remainder of the First Age.
  • Quest of the Silmarils (F.A. 466): Beren and Luthien come to Angband and achieve the Quest of the Silmaril by gaining a silmaril from Morgoth’s iron crown. They return to Doriath but Carcharoth ravages the land.
  • Slaying of Glaurung (F.A. 499): The first worm of Morgoth is slain by Túrin though later results in the death of he and his sister Nienor.
  • War of Wrath (545-587): will be discussed in The Finale Defeat (stay tuned for section 4)

 

Sauron

Major Accomplishments

  • Lieutenant of Angband (Y.T. 4599): Destruction of Utumno. Sauron escapes capture and remains in Angband, breeding orcs and trolls for Melkor
  • Corruption of Tol-in-Gaurhoth (F.A. 455-465): Finrod’s fortress of Minas Tirith is taken by the forces of Sauron; Tol Sirion is renamed Tol-in-Gaurhoth, “Isle of Werewolves”. Beren sets out for the Quest of the Silmaril. Receives the aid of Finrod Felagund. Here they are imprisoned in Tol-In-Gaurhoth following the duel or duelet of Finrod and Sauron. Finrod is slain by a werewolf but Beren is rescued by Luthien.
  • Creating the Rings of Power (S.A. 1200-1600): Sauron seduces and deceives the Noldor in Eregion in the guise of Annatar but Gil-Galad and Galadriel mistrust him. The Noldor under Celebrimbor are instructed by Sauron, and begin forging the Rings of Power. Sauron forges the One-Ring in secret and completes the building of his fortress Barad-dur. Celebrimbor begins fighting Sauron
  • Fall of Eregion (S.A. 1697): Eregion destroyed ending one of the last great elven strongholds in Middle Earth and Celebrimbor is slain, thus ending the line of Feanor. The doors of Moria are shut and Elrond establishes Rivendell in secret.
  • Fall of Númenor (S.A. 3255-3319): Ar-Pharazorn the Golden weds his first cousin Miriel, and seizes the throne of Numenor. Ar-Pharazorn sails to Middle Earth and takes Sauron captive. Sauron is taken prisoner to Numenor but begins corrupting the Numenoreans and becomes court advisor to Ar-Pharazorn. Sauron establishes himself as High Priest of Melkor, the Faithful are openly persecuted and sacrificed to Morgoth. Ar-Pharazorn sets foot on Aman.
  • Atheism in Númenor (S.A. 3300): Sauron convinces the Numenoreans that Eru was a lie created by the Valar to keep the children of Arda complicit. Melkor was then the giver of freedom, for he wished to empower man and not chain them as the Valar desire. Atheism = a disbelief in Eru as the Valar were not true ‘gods’
  • Recovery of the One-Ring (S.A. 3320): Gondor founded, Sauron returns to Mordor.

Conclusion

  • Sauron’s accomplishments were dramatically more long lasting within the longevity of Middle Earth then that of Morgoth.
  • The creating of the Rings of Power would continue to cause numerous incidents of greed, war and temptation, lasting well into the Third Age until his finale defeat. Those that wore the rings were bound to them and twisted into creatures called Ringwraiths, whose fates would forever be depended upon them. Those that possessed the One-Ring would find themselves becoming mad on its power and some even had to take leave to Valinor in a hopes to recover from its taint
  • Eregion was considered one of the last great elven kingdoms in Middle Earth, alike to the glory of those in the First Age. Upon its fall, nothing of similar power would be created by the elves in Middle Earth beyond those of pocket realms held by lords and ladies.
  • Much of the same, Numenor was considered to be the greatest kingdom of man and nothing in its likeness would be found in Middle Earth again. Upon its fall, Valinor was removed from the earth and Arda itself became round and foreign.
  • Lastly the recovery of the One-Ring allowed for Sauron to grow in malice and might once more, and he would return twice again to lay siege to Middle Earth.
  • Therefore five of his seven accomplishments attributed to his succession towards domination and the former two allowed for Sauron to gain much needed experience before allowing his aggression to stretch outward.

 

Major Losses

  • Humiliation of Huan (F.A. 465): Sauron takes the guise of a great wolf and attempts to overpower the hound Huan. However, he is gravely wounded and his forms stripped of him and he flees in the disguise of a bat and is not seen for the remainder of the First Age. This allows for Beren and Luthien to succeed in the Quest of the Silmarils (see Melkor’s Losses)
  • Rejection of Eönwë (F.A. 590?): After the War of Wrath, Sauron adopted a fair form and repented of his evil deeds in fear of the Valar. Eonwe then ordered Sauron to return to Valinor to receive judgement by Manwe. Sauron was not willing to suffer such humiliation and fled and hid himself in Middle Earth.
  • Forging of the Three Rings (S.A. 1590- T.A. 3021): Celebrimbor forges the Three Rings in secret. Would later be possessed by Elrond, Cirdan/Gandalf, and Galadriel. Known also as Narya (Ring of Fire), Nenya (Ring ofWater) and Vilya (Ring of Air)– preserved the beauty of Elven lands and would ward off Sauron’s power and influence throughout his return in the Third Age.
  • Minastir’s Navy (S.A.1700): Tar-Minastir (11th King of Numenor) sends a great navy to Lindon. Sauron is defeated and his forces retreat from the coasts of Middle Earth.
  • Fruit of Nimloth (S.A. 3280): The White Tree of Gondor is said to be tied into the fates of men and should it be burned or destroyed, their empires shall fall. Isildur steals a fruit from Nimloth, the white tree is burn in Sauron’s temple thereafter. Later given to Aragorn and replanted in the Third Age following Sauron’s defeat.
  • Drowning of Númenor (S.A. 3319): Ar-Pharazorn sets foot on Aman; the World is Changed. Aman and Tol Eressea are removed from Arda. Numenor is drowned and the world is made round. Elendil and his sons arrive on the shores of middle earth. Sauron is removed of his fair form.
  • the Last Alliance of Elves and Men (S.A. 3441): Elendil and Gil-Galad face Sauron in hand to hand combat. But they perish, though Isildur takes the shards of his father’s sword Narsil and cuts the One-Ring from Sauron’s finger. Sauron’s physical form is destroyed and Barad-dur is razed to the ground. Many elves depart to Valinor thereafter.
  • The Fellowship of the Ring (T.A. 3018-19): will be discussed in The Finale Defeat (stay tuned for section 4)

 

Overall Conclusion

  • This is not at all a professional essay and therefore it may be founded upon faulted information and heavily weighed by personal opinion. However, in concerns of longevity of rule but more importantly, of accomplishments; Sauron succeeded more towards his goal of dominating Middle Earth and the free people found within. His achievements possessed greater impacts in the longevity of Middle Earth. For more on Sauron in the Third Age, please wait for section 4 which will discuss The Finale Defeat.
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Silmarillion Chapter 7: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

For Fëanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought, or it may be that some shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom that drew near; and he wondered how the light of the Trees, the glory of the Blessed Realm, might be preserved imperishable. Then he began a long secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils.

Here is the beginning of the end for the peaceful days of the Elves. Never before nor after would anything as beautiful or tragic as the Silmarils ever be created again. Not an easy thing to illustrate, so I kept it pretty abstract.

On the topic of Fëanor’s appearance: the Noldor are only described as being more muscular than other Elves, and having darker hair and features. Additionally, we know the Noldor resemble the human House of Bëor, who are described as having brown, “swarthy” skin and dark features. Tolkien’s characters are often all portrayed as white Anglo-Saxon, but in reality this frequently conflicts with his ethnic descriptions.

Noldor Warriors - On the right is a generic soldier, while on the left is another illustration of Galadriel. While best known for her more regal role in Lord of the Rings, in this era, Galadriel is militant and ambitious, ready to defy the Valar and claim a kingdom of her own in Middle-Earth.

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“Silmarillion Chapter 5: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië”

“But the memory of Middle-Earth under the stars remained in the hearts of the Noldor, and the abode in the Calacirya, and in the hills and valleys within the sound of the western sea”

Above is a painting of the Tirion, which became the capital city of the Noldor. It faces the gap of Calacirya, which is the only opening in the mountain range where the light of the Two Trees (a divine source of illumination) can pass through. I’ve also incorporated this image into the clothing and banners of the Noldor Elves. The black eye markings are used to mimic the dirt marks the Noldor get while working their furnaces, as they are very proud of their crafting and metalworking.

The House of Finwë From left to right:

  1. Indis - Finwë’s second wife. She is not actually Noldor, but a Vanyar Elf.
  2. Finwë - High King of the Noldor.
  3. Míriel - Finwë’s first wife who died after giving birth to her only son, Fëanor.
  4. Fingolfin - Indis and Finwë’s son, and a significant hero in the Silmarillion.
  5. Fëanor - Finwë’s eldest son, mightiest of the Noldor and creator of the Silmarils.
Finwë and Indis had another son, Finarfin, who was the father of two particularly noteworthy children:
  1. Finrod - Among the wisest of the Noldor, Finrod was the first High Elf to encounter humans, and was quick to befriend and defend their kind.
  2. Galadriel - Eager and ambitious, Galadriel is one of the leaders of the brewing Noldor rebellion.
Along with the Noldor, there are also the Teleri and Vanyar, who are notably less restless.
  1. Olwë - Younger brother of Thingol and king of the Teleri, Elves more concerned with shipbuilding and the exploring the sea.
  2. Ingwë - King of the Vanyar and High King of all Elves, Ingwë and his people are best known for their art, and since they never cause any trouble, they rarely appear in the Silmarillion.

 Previous Silmarillion entries:

  1. Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur
  2. Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar
  3. The Monsters of Middle-Earth
  4. The Free Peoples of the First Age
  5. Silmarillion Chapter 1 - Of the Beginning of Days
  6. Silmarillion Chapter 2 - Of Aulë and Yavanna
  7. Silmarillion Chapter 3 - Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
  8. Silmarillion Chapter 4 - Of Thingol and Melian
Silmarillion Project Help

As some of you well know, this semester I am attending a lecture class called the ‘Life and Works of J.R.R. Tolkien’. As expected, we have a finale project at the end of the semester in which we are supposed to present. Such must of course relate in some mannerism to Tolkien’s life or his works.

For myself, I have decided to discuss the dynamics between Morgoth and Sauron, primarily their roles as Dark Lords. The presentation within itself is to explore the differences between their approach and ultimately strive to answer the question– could it be argued that one is more dangerous than the other?

As some of you know, an often disputed conversation is a quote found within the Silmarillion when Sauron is first introduced stating; “–and was only less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself.” It is obvious from a logical approach, Sauron cannot be more powerful (or even equal) to the authority of Melkor, as being a maiar; he is physically weaker to that of a Valar, especially one that is ‘mightiest among the Ainur

However, as directed in the Silmarillion; “In all the deeds of Melkor the Morgoth upon Arda, in his vast works and in he deceits of his cunning, Sauron had a part–” Sauron’s influence in Melkor’s dominance over Arda cannot be disputed or discredited. But as we are evidently shown throughout the legendarium, Sauron was no master of war. Where as Morgoth could easily designate with brute force, his servant had to turn towards charm and manipulation for gain.

Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to discuss the basis of Chaotic Evil vs Lawful Evil. Such is where I would love to have your thoughts and/or opinnions upon this topic for I do not believe there is an honest answer here. 

Some may believe that Sauron came closer to achieving the conquering of Middle Earth in the 6,000 years he reigned from the Second to Third Age then Melkor managed to accomplish in the 50,000 years that was the First Age. However, an argument could be poised that Sauron faced a lesser competition, with the glory of the elves fading and the Valar retreating from this world. After all, Morgoth did manage to hold superiority for 50,000 years. 

But what do you all think? Is the brutality of Morgoth more deserving of the accreditation of a Dark Lord or do you believe in the slyness of Sauron proved a much more deadly advisory? Feel free to comment on this post or even reblog with your ideas or simply share to help spread the word! After all, asking yourself who’d be worse to deal with is a lot left up to opinion then an honest answer and because of that– I need opinions for this presentation!

- Ardie

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Part 3 of my Noldor crown project - Maedhros! Undergoing the most stressful impromptu coronation of all time, probably. 

My thought here was that Feanor’s crown got damaged under the circumstances of his death, and so had to be polished up and reworked just a little by Curufin. So if it looks like basically the same crown… yeah.

Finwe - Feanor - Maedhros - Fingolfin - Fingon - Gil Galad

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Art Feature Fridays! Featuring the art of @phobso. There’s too much wonderful work by this artist that it was extremely difficult to narrow it down. I decided on sharing Phob’s design work for the Demonslayer comic. The costumes are just stunning!

Be sure to check out this artist’s Silmarillion project at @melkorwashere as well for more gorgeous narrative art.

“Silmarillion Chapter 6: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor”

“…and therefore in a while he was given leave to go freely about the land, and it seemed to Manwë that the evil of Melkor was cured. For Manwë was free from evil and could not comprehend it, and he knew that in the beginning, in the thought of Ilúvatar, Melkor had been even as he; and he did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever.”

 Previous Silmarillion entries:

  1. Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur
  2. Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar
  3. The Monsters of Middle-Earth
  4. The Free Peoples of the First Age
  5. Silmarillion Chapter 1 - Of the Beginning of Days
  6. Silmarillion Chapter 2 - Of Aulë and Yavanna
  7. Silmarillion Chapter 3 - Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
  8. Silmarillion Chapter 4 - Of Thingol and Melian
  9. Silmarillion Chapter 6 - Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië
Thesis on Morgoth and Sauron and their roles as Dark Lords (Part 2/4)

For my Tolkien project, I decided I was going to explore the dynamics of Morgoth and Sauron and see if I could make an estimate as to whether or not one was more effective as dark lord than the other. I did this in regard as I would not be able to debate whether or not one was more powerful (seeing as the Valar are higher beings then the Maiar, and seeing that Melkor was the eldest, he of course is indisputably stronger than Sauron).

However, just because you’re more powerful doesn’t always mean you’re more effective. We see this all throughout history in examples where generals themselves might not be very capable in battle but are able to gain mastery by being clever strategist. Therefore that inspired me to research if one could argue whether or not Morgoth or Sauron came closer to accomplishing their dominion over Middle Earth (or Beleriand).

I did this by looking at a few key characteristics– longevity of rule (but more importantly, what was achieved), servants (those who served under them and attributed to their victories), their primary enemies (or the state of those they fought against), as well as their defeat (and what caused the finale fall). Then I concluded with their legacy and the impact they have throughout the legendarium.


Servants 

  • Armies are what win wars and it’s important to employ those who will help you and not hurt you under your command. What is also important is your relationship with said army and servants. Those who desire your victory will work harder to accomplish it. Those who are merely doing so in order to survive do not possess the same initiative.

General Disclaimer

  • I am not at all an expert, just a very passionate individual in Tolkien’s lore. Therefore some of what is stated throughout this essay may be based upon faulted research and weighed heavily by personal interpretation and opinion. So please do keep such in mind. Most of the information here was found within The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Unfinished Tales, as well as Tolkien Gateway and Wikipedia.


Morgoth

Major Servants (* most of these summaries taken from the Tolkien Gateway)

  • Sauron: The greatest and most trusted servant of Morgoth before and during the First Age. Originally a Maia of Aulë named “Mairon”, he was ensnared by Melkor and as “Gorthaur” he became Morgoth’s lieutenant in his Wars of Beleriand. He demonstrated the ability to take the form of a wolf, a serpent, and a vampire.

  • Glaurung: First of the dragons and one of the foremost lieutenants of Morgoth during the First Age– possessed a unique power to charm and ensare his prey and said to be the mightiest of dragons.

  • Ancalagon: Greatest of the winged Dragons of Morgoth. Morgoth unleashed the winged dragons, with Ancalagon at their van. Ancalagon drove back the forces of the Valar, but was stopped by Eärendil.
  • Gothmog: High-captain of Angband, one of the chief servants of Morgoth with a rank equal to that of Sauron. One of the Maiar that followed Melkor to exile, and because of either his brilliant mind or because of his ability to assume an immensely powerful physical form, he was made the Lord of Balrogs.
  • Carcharoth: Bred from the foul breed of Draugluin, the first Werewolf, and fed with elvish and mannish flesh by Morgoth himself. He was the greatest, most powerful wolf to ever live. Carcharoth was set as a guard on the Gates of Angband, and later he mortally wounded both Huan, the Hound of Valinor, and Beren



Minor Servants

  • Dragons: Also known as the Great Worms; they were evil creatures seen mostly in the northern Middle-earth. Greedy, cunning, seductive and malicious, a creation by Morgoth out of fire and sorcery sometime in the First Age. Included species such as fire-drakes and cold-drakes.
  • Balrogs: Balrogath (“Balrog-kind”) were Maiar corrupted by Morgoth during the creation of Arda, who cloaked themselves in shadow and flame and carried whips and swords. Famed Balrogs include Gothmog, slain by Ecthelion, and Durin’s Bane, slain by Olórin (Gandalf).
  • Draugluin: The first werewolf. Bred from wolves and inhabited with an evil spirit sent by Morgoth himself, Draugluin was the sire of all Werewolves of Beleriand, and dwelled with his master Sauron in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the former watchtower of Finrod Felagund. He was slain by Huan during the Quest for the Silmaril, though informed Sauron that Huan was present. Beren and Lúthien used his pelt to sneak into Angband
  • Giants, Goblins, Trolls: Twisted creatures, created by Morgoth.
  • Orcs: Orcs were the footsoldiers of evil overlords - Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman. Made in the mockery of elves sometime during the Great Darkness.
  • Ungoliant (and her children): Ungoliant was an evil spirit in a form that greatly resembled a massive Spider. Ungoliant’s origins are shrouded in mystery. It is thought that she may have been one of the Maiar, or a lesser spirit, whom Melkor corrupted long ago, but she is not listed among the Ainur. It is also said that she came from the darkness above the skies of Arda, leading some to believe that she may be an incarnation of darkness or emptiness itself.
  • Maeglin: Maeglin was an Elf, the son of Eöl the Dark Elf and Aredhel daughter of Fingolfin. He lived in the First Age of Middle-earth and was a lord of Gondolin, chief of the House of the Mole. Morgoth promised both Gondolin and Idril in return for the location of the hidden city, thus luring Maeglin into the greatest treachery done in the Elder Days. He gave him a token that would allegedly keep him safe from the sack.


Conclusion

  • If one thing could be noted is that Morgoth had a decent understanding of hierarchy. He expressed a remarkable ability within the Silmarillion to gain trust in those around him– something in which could be his greatest ability besides strength.

  • It could easily be said that Morgoth possessed greater servants than Sauron; seeing as many were of his own creations. He had the Balrogs under his authority, as well as dragons and being of unknown origins. He wasn’t suffering in terms of followers and it could even be said that he was a decent lord in terms of servitude.
  • While man suffered under his lash, the orcs were seen as masters in their own right. Maeglin was offered Gondolin upon it’s surrender and the hand of the woman he loved. Gothmog led armies; Glaurung, Ancalagon, and Carchathor were given life. Morgoth didn’t make empty promises– perhaps they weren’t always honest, but he was able to give individuals a purpose.
  • He didn’t abuse what trust was granted to him once he had what he desired and therefore possessed a rather impressive relationship with those who followed him. While some, such as Ungoliant, would come to betray him– such were few and far between, unlike Sauron whose servants often had their own ideas..


Sauron
Major Servants

  • Nazgûl: Known as the Nine Riders or Black Riders, were Sauron’s “most terrible servants” in Middle-earth. Sometime during the Second, Sauron gave nine Rings of Power to powerful mortal Men. It is said that three of the Nine were lords of Númenor corrupted by Sauron, and one was a king among the Easterlings
  • One-Ring: An artifact created by Sauron in the Second Age for the purpose of ruling over the Free peoples of Middle-earth, mainly the Elves. It was also known as the Ruling Ring, Great Ring of Power and Isildur’s Bane because it caused the death of Isildur.
  • Thuringwethil: Vampire servant of Sauron during the First Age. She was Sauron’s messenger, but was caught in the battle between her master, Lúthien and Huan at Tol-in-Gaurhoth (“Isle of Werewolves”). She was slain either by the Hound of Valinor or in the collapse of Minas Tirith. Lúthien later used her cloak to sneak into Angband during the Quest for the Silmaril. Because of Thuringwethil’s ability to change forms, she may have been a Maia
  • Witch-king: The Witch-king of Angmar was the chief of the Nazgûl, King of Angmar and Sauron’s great captain in his wars. A wraith, the Witch-king of Angmar was nearly indestructible, a terrifying warrior, and a cunning strategist.

  • Mouth of Sauron: Sauron’s servant and representative at the end of the Third Age. He had the title Lieutenant of Barad-dûr, since he was so strongly devoted to the Dark Lord. The Mouth of Sauron was one of the Black Númenóreans.
  • Saurman: Saruman the White was the first of the order of Wizards (or Istari) who came to Middle-earth as Emissaries of the Valar in the Third Age. He was the leader of the White Council. In Sindarin his name was Curunír, which meant “Man of Skill”. It soon became clear that Saruman desired to possess the One Ring himself.
  • Shelob: A great spider-like creature akin to those of Nan Dungortheb in Beleriand, the last offspring of the demonic Ungoliant. Shelob fed off with all living things, such as Elves and Men, but as these became scarce in the area, she fed upon orcs. Sauron would sometimes send her captured prisoners for whom he had no further use and amuse himself watching how she played with her prey.


Minor Servants

  • Ar-Pharazôn: Ar-Pharazôn the Golden was the twenty-fifth and last King of Númenor. He was the son of Gimilkhâd, who was the younger brother of the twenty-fourth King, Tar-Palantir. Ar-Pharazôn’s willful rule, and his great pride, led directly to the world-changing Downfall of Númenor and the founding of the realms in exile of Arnor and Gondor.
  • Fellbeasts: Winged creatures with beak and claws, similar to birds but much larger than any other flying beast. They were used as winged mounts of the Nazgûl
  • Giants, Goblins, Trolls: Twisted creatures, created by Morgoth.
  • Orcs: Orcs were the footsoldiers of evil overlords - Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman. Made in the mockery of elves sometime during the Great Darkness.
  • Smeagle/Golum: was a creature who bore the One Ring. He lived in the Misty Mountains for most of his life. In T.A. 2941, he lost the Ring to Bilbo Baggins. For the rest of his life he sought to recover his "precious”. Eventually he would come to seize the Ring from Frodo in Sammath Naur. In his euphoria he died and destroyed the Ring after falling into the cracks of Mount Doom.
  • Werewolves: Wolves, inhabited by dreadful spirits, they were created (or a least corrupted from some other form) by Sauron, who was their master, and who took the shape of a great wolf himself at least once.
  • Wargs: An evil breed of demonic wolves, suggesting that they were inhabited by evil spirits. The origin of the breed is unknown - perhaps they were among the creatures bred by Morgoth in the Elder Days. In any case, Gandalf listed the Wargs among Sauron’s servants in the late Third Age.
  • Vampire Bats: Vampires were mysterious bat-like creatures in the service of Morgoth and of Sauron. The only vampire whose name is recorded in the annals of Arda is Sauron’s servant Thuringwethil, but Sauron himself took the form of a vampire on at least one occasion, to flee Huan.
  • Flies: Tiresome, flying insects.


Conclusion

  • For an individual who was as persuasive and charismatic as he, it was almost more so beneficial to be an enemy of Sauron than among his servants, to which he arguably held a weak relationship with.
  • The orcs within the Lord of the Rings constantly confess to fearing him and seem almost bitter of their existence– often being fed to Shelob; who she herself remarked that Sauron believed her to be nothing more then a pet, in which he was gravely mistaken.
  • Saurman and Golum both expressed a willingness to betray Sauron as soon as they were able and the Nazgûl, his chief servants, were only obeying on the account that their fates were doomed to the One Ring.
  • Even Ar-Pharazôn humored Sauron in a mere attempt for immortality and therefore many trusted little in the Dark Lord himself.
  • One could then argue is that Sauron’s greatest servant was the One Ring, which in reality, was him. Which– if one were familiar with the characteristic of Sauron, would be of no surprise that he trusted himself first and foremost.
  • Therefore Sauron was ignorant in the needs and desires of those in servitude to him and perhaps that was why he favored the more animalistic creatures in his service. Something to which couldn’t and wouldn’t doubt him.


Overall Conclusion

  • Both possessed a various assortment of powerful individuals under their authority. However, Morgoth expressed a more natural ability to lead and keep those beneath his authority, sedated. Sauron was perfect at manipulating those around him, but could not establish a relationship as seemed almost natural to Morgoth. Besides, Morgoth even had the undying loyalty of Sauron, who trusted himself most of all. If he could seduce a maiar such as he, then that speaks levels to Morgoth’s influence in those who listened.

So we picked up reading LotR again a couple weeks ago and forged through Book Four, and I have had another Revelation.

We got to the part where Frodo and Sam are using the Phial to repel Shelob, and we stopped for a bit, so that my mom, since she knows the Silmarillion now, could think out loud and confirm some stuff – mostly, you know – the Phial -> Earendil’s star -> light of the Silmaril (tales never really end, etc.). So she had a moment. I pointed out for extra effect that the light of the Silmarils was direct from the Two Trees, the original and untainted symbol of goodness and light in Arda, and so one – and then I had to stop, and have a moment.

Because who destroyed the Two Trees?

Ungoliant. Ungoliant did. And then she went away and bred and had Shelob, or Shelob’s ancestors, among others. And the light of the Two Trees that she’d destroyed lived on only in the Silmarils, until Earendil’s was the last, and unreachable, mounted on Vingilot in the heavens. And that remnant of the light of the Trees came down and fell on Galadriel’s mirror and she bottled it and gave it to Frodo and he carried it all the way to Torech Ungol where he used it to repel Ungoliant’s scion.

Like, is that not mind-blowing and moving and I don’t know, EVERYTHING? I want to be articulate about it, but I’ve been struck speechless by wonder, and I’m also trying really hard not to blow the whole thing, because I’m a total child and despite the wonder I’m having to fight really hard not to make a really immature joke about UNGOLIANT VS. TELPERION: ROUND TWO or something.

My intro for my Tolkien Project
  • Me: I don't know how many of you have watched Four Weddings on TLC
  • Me: But basically you just get four brides to rate each other's weddings
  • Me: and that's what we'll be doing today
  • Me: But instead of rating weddings
  • Me: We'll be rating Dark Lords
  • Me: and by Dark Lords I mean Melkor and Sauron
  • Me: and instead of venues
  • Me: we'll just see how much crap each one started