- This article is for Denethor II; for other uses see Denethor (disambiguation)
- "Abandon your posts! Flee, flee for your lives!"
- —Denethor after seeing the Mordor invasion force
- "I will not bow to this Ranger from the North, last of a ragged house long bereft of lordship!"
"Authority is not given you to deny the Return of the King, Steward!"
"The rule of Gondor is mine, and no other's!"
- —Denethor and Gandalf the White
Denethor was the third child and eldest son of Ecthelion II. In TA 2976, he married Finduilas of Dol Amroth (TA 2950 - TA 2988), daughter of Prince Adrahil II of Dol Amroth. She gave birth to two sons: Boromir (b. TA 2978 - February 26, 3019) and Faramir (b. TA 2983 - FO 82).
Denethor secretly used a Palantíri to probe Sauron's strength, and he used it at the top of the White tower in his secret chamber, above the Throneroom. The effort aged him quickly, and the knowledge of Sauron's overwhelming force exacerbated the depression that had taken root at the time of the death of his wife, Finduilas, in TA 2988. Sauron used the Palantír to drive him mad with despair. He retained, however, an air of nobility and power. The death of Boromir, his eldest son and favorite, and the siege and apparent doom of the capital city drove Denethor further along the path to madness. Following this, he became estranged from Faramir. Shockingly, Faramir still upheld his father's wishes.
His actions, however, did not immediately proclaim his insanity. The Osgiliath mission was not obviously suicidal, as the city had not yet been overrun. The Warning beacons of Gondor had indeed been lit, although Denethor expected little help, because of the fatalistic mindset that he had at that time of sorrow.
Denethor committed suicide on March 15, 3019, having ordered his men to erect a pyre for him and Faramir in the Hallows of Minas Tirith. He threw a torch onto the pyre, then broke the white rod of his office over his knee and cast it into the flames, symbolizing the end of his stewardship and the end of the rule of the Stewards. He laid himself down on the table and so perished, clasping the Palantíri in his hands. His attempt to take the grievously injured and apparently dying Faramir with him was thwarted by the timely intervention of Peregrin Took with the aid of Beregond, a guard of the City, and ultimately, by Gandalf the White.
The Stewardship passed to Faramir, who remained in the Houses of Healing for a time, although the command of the city fell to the Prince of Dol Amroth during the remainder of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
In Peter Jackson's movie trilogy, Denethor was played by John Noble and serves as the minor antagonist in the movie. Denethor appears totally irrational, already completely overwhelmed by grief for Boromir's death. He sends his remaining son and a cavalry unit on a suicide mission to attack enemy-captured Osgiliath and refuses to light the beacons of Gondor to call for the aid of Rohan. Shortly before the initial Siege of Gondor commences, Denethor views the huge armies of Mordor outside his walls, and in a fit of panic, orders all the soldiers at Minas Tirith to flee their posts. It was then that Gandalf the White struck Denethor with his staff several times, knocking the crazed Steward unconscious, and then taking control of the city’s defenses himself. The demise of Denethor is also changed--later, as Faramir is placed on a funeral pyre and Denethor is about to torch him, Gandalf and Pippin burst in and rescue Faramir in the nick of time. An enraged Denethor then attacks Pippin for interrupting his ritual, but Gandalf saves him by using his horse, Shadowfax, to knock Denethor into the pyre. At this point, the Steward looks at Faramir one last time, coming to his original state of mind, and realizes in his last moments what he would have done to his last remaining son. Seconds later, the fire engulfs Denethor and he runs out of the hallows, totally consumed by flames, before leaping off the top end of the rock prow of Minas Tirith during the siege, plunging to his death down many high levels of the city.
The Palantír of Minas Tirith, which allowed Sauron to drive Denethor mad in the first place, was never shown in the movie, although it was hinted at in the Extended Edition. Also, the Palantír that Aragorn used in the extended edition could be the Palantír of Minas Tirith or the palantir that was picked up by Pippin and then given to Gandalf shortly after the death of saruman, though neither explanation can be confirmed. It is also said that from the moment Denethor died with the palantir in hand, that all that could be seen with the palantir is a pair of burning hands. It is suggested however, that if a person had a strong enough will, that they could see more than just burning hands, however, this cannot be confirmed.
Denethor appears in the Gameboy Advance version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game) in Gandalf's path. He is encountered once when the player first reaches Minas Tirith, and appears later as a boss for Gandalf. He is completely invulnerable to damage, but the players goal is to prevent him from fully lighting Faramir's pyre. As a boss his abilities include knocking down the player with a torch, throwing torches, and summoning Gondorian soldiers.
|Ruling Stewards of Gondor|
Mardil Voronwë | Eradan | Herion | Belegorn | Húrin I | Túrin I | Hador | Barahir | Dior | Denethor I | Boromir | Cirion | Hallas | Húrin II | Belecthor I | Orodreth | Ecthelion I | Egalmoth | Beren | Beregond | Belecthor II | Thorondir | Túrin II | Turgon | Ecthelion II | Denethor II