Guide to The Lord of the Rings/Characters/Morgoth
Melkor was the most powerful of the Ainur, but turned to darkness and became Morgoth, the definitive antagonist of Arda from whom all evil in the world of Middle-earth ultimately stems. Sauron, one of the Maiar of Aulë, betrayed his kind and became Morgoth's principal lieutenant.
Morgoth was the principal agent of evil in The Silmarillion, and his influence lingered in the world even after he was cast from the world into the outer void.
The name[edit | edit source]
Melkor was not called "Morgoth" until he destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor, murdered Finwë, the High King of the Noldor Elves, and stole the Silmarils in the First Age. The darker name was then bestowed by Fëanor, son of Finwë; and the Elves called him thereafter by that name alone. The name Morgoth is Sindarin (one of Tolkien's invented languages) and means "Dark Enemy", "Black Foe", or "Black Foe of the World".:194, 294 Bauglir is also Sindarin, meaning "Tyrant" or "Oppressor". Fëanor actually named him in Quenya (another of Tolkien's languages), Moriñgotto:194 or Moriñgotho,:294 and this was later translated into Sindarin as Morgoth.
"Morgoth Bauglir" is thus an epithet. His name in Ainulindalë (the creation myth of Middle-earth and first section of The Silmarillion) is Melkor, which means "He Who Arises In Might" in Quenya. This too is an epithet since he, like all the Ainur, had another true name in Valarin (in the legendarium, the language of the Ainur before the beginning of Time), but this name was not recorded. The Sindarin equivalent of Melkor was Belegûr, but it was never used; instead a deliberately similar name Belegurth, meaning "Great Death", was employed.:358 In earlier versions of Tolkien's legendarium the form of his name was Melko simply meaning "Mighty One".
Like Sauron, he had a host of other titles: Lord of the Dark, the Dark Power of the North and Great Enemy. The Edain called him the Dark King and the Dark Power; the Númenóreans corrupted by Sauron called him the Lord of All and the Giver of Freedom. He was called "Master of Lies" by Amlach of the House of Hador.
Appearance and characteristics[edit | edit source]
Melkor could initially take any shape, but was feared as "...as a mountain that wades in the sea and has its head above the clouds and is clad in ice and crowned with smoke and fire; and the light of the eyes of Melkor was like a flame that withers with heat and pierces with a deadly cold".
Melkor's powers were originally immense—greater than those of any other single Ainu, and in later essays greater than every Valar combined. He shared a part of the powers of every other Vala, but unlike them used it for domination of the whole of Arda. To accomplish this Morgoth dispersed his being throughout Arda, tainting its very fabric; and only Aman was free of it. His person thus became ever more diminished and restricted.
Pity was beyond Morgoth's understanding, as was courage. As he alone of the Valar bound himself to a physical (and therefore vulnerable) body, he alone of the Valar knew fear.
Powers and abilities[edit | edit source]
Melkor was one of the strongest of the creatures in Lord of the Rings.
Even while incredibly weakened he could massive firestorms, huge craters, and curse his foes to sorrow and death. He was far above any of the Balrogs, such as Durin's Bane.
He casually tanked energy from the Silmarils, which had the energy of the Two Trees within them. This means they contain the energy of all the stars (As Teleperion's dew made the stars), 1/3 each.
At his prime he could spill enormous oceans and destroy mountain ranges, mountain ranges in world where mountains like Thangorodrim’s exist, with physical might alone. He could also take on the 14 other Valar , each of which could shape countless stars at once.
Followers[edit | edit source]
Because Morgoth was the most powerful being in Arda, many "flocked to his banner". Morgoth's chief servants were Maiar he corrupted or monsters he created: Sauron, later the Dark Lord of Mordor and his chief servant; the Balrogs, including Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs and High-Captain of Angband; Glaurung, the Father of Dragons; Ancalagon "the Black", greatest of the Winged Dragons; Carcharoth, the mightiest wolf that ever lived; Draugluin, Sire of Werewolves; and Thuringwethil, Sauron's vampire messenger.
Etymology[edit | edit source]
Other names[edit | edit source]
The name Morgoth, which he was called by Fëanor at Valmar after Melkor stole the Silmarils, meant "Dark Enemy", even though it was Black Foe of the World that Feanor named him out loud. It was also used by lore masters and the Wise when discussing Melkor's latter state of being, when he became "ever more bound to the earth", having dissipated his power, and becoming in consequence "the Morgoth." He was also known as Melkor Bauglir when he returned to Angband towards the beginning of the First Age. Bauglir meant "the Constrainer".
His Old English name is Manfréa Bolgen, from the Old English words man ("evil, wickedness"), fréa ("lord"), and bolgen ("wrathful").
Titles[edit | edit source]
He was the world's first Dark Lord. Melkor was also known for giving himself titles and referred to himself as King of the World and the Elder King. After his defeat, his most powerful servant Sauron called him Lord of All and Giver of Freedom and Lord of the Dark as a way of getting the corrupted Númenóreans to worship him.
Earlier names[edit | edit source]
In the books The Book of Lost Tales and The Book of Lost Tales 2, Tolkien called him Melko, Belcha (from the Quenya velka "flame"),The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 1: The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part IUlban(d) ("monster") Melegor, and Meleko.<ref>The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 9: Sauron Defeated, Part Three: The Drowning of Anadûnê, (i) The third version of The Fall of Númenor
Material in The Lost Road and Other Writings refers to him as Melko, Alkar, and Mardello'.The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 5: The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part One: "The Fall of Númenor and the Lost Road