The Great Spiders, also known as the Spawn of Ungoliant, were a race of oversized and sentient arachnids that lived in Middle-earth, particularly in dark and perilous places affected by the power of the Shadow.
The Great Spiders could speak to one another, though only those imbued with the power of (or derived from) the Ainur could understand them. Like Orcs and Goblins, Great Spiders were known to detest light, yet they thirsted for it and sought to devour it. Great Spiders comprise three separate known species.
Giant Spiders were a sentient race of Great Spiders that lived in Middle-earth. They lived in the South of Middle-earth in the First Age, but by the Third Age they had spread to other areas. They were descended from the spider-creatures of the Ered Gorgoroth. Giant Spiders infested the great forest of Greenwood the Great after the shadow of Sauron fell upon it and it became known as Mirkwood.
The Umaiar spiders, a subspecies of Umaiar (and by extension a sub-subspecies of Maiar), which included Ungoliant. There are those Maiar who took the form of giant spiders upon joining Morgoth. Apart from Ungoliant (who died by devouring herself), the fate of this race is unknown.
Spawn of UngoliantEdit
The Spawn of Ungoliant are the third race of Great Spiders. This race was spawned by Ungoliant after she fled to the South. She mated with and devoured the mortal giant spiders who lived there. Because they were half Umaiar, these spiders were immortal; they were bigger, stronger and smarter than their mortal kin.
The first Dark Lord, Melkor, used Ungoliant to help him destroy the Two Trees of Valinor and steal the Silmarils. Ungoliant, who had an insatiable desire to devour light, asked for the Silmarils to be given to her. Melkor refused and she attempted to kill him. Ungoliant was subsequently driven off by Melkor's Balrogs, and she ultimately wandered across Middle-earth, consuming anything that gave off light, such as gemstones; and often mated with other large spiders. Her offspring were a great bane on the world in later years. She was described as surrounded by "an aura of darkness". Her fate is unknown, but it is said that, always hungry, Ungoliant ended by devouring herself.
The Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, and his thirteen Dwarf companions encountered giant spiders in Mirkwood forest on their Quest to the Lonely Mountain. Only Bilbo's magic ring and an Elven blade (Sting) allowed them to escape being eaten.
Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee encountered Ungoliant's daughter, Shelob, in her lair as they were trying to enter Mordor during their quest to destroy the One Ring. Frodo was ambushed by the spider twice, and was paralyzed by her poison on the second encounter. Sam used Sting to attack Shelob and wounded her, forcing her to flee the scene. It is unknown whether she died from her wounds.
Influence of spiders in Tolkien's lifeEdit
Contrary to popular belief, the reason that Tolkien featured spiders so prominently in his stories was not because he was bitten by a tarantula when he was young, but rather because his son was afraid of them. Because of his son's arachnophobia, they are portrayed negatively, always appearing as antagonists.
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
- The capture of Frodo by Shelob and her battle with Sam are depicted in the film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
- Giant spiders appear briefly in the first Hobbit film, where they are seen attacking Radagast's home in Rhosgobel, only to retreat back into the forest, seemingly repelled by his magic. Radagast later tells Gandalf that they came from Dol Guldur.
- In The Desolation of Smaug, the spiders capture the Dwarves in Mirkwood. As in the book, the spiders are capable of speech that Bilbo can understand when he is wearing the One Ring. They were voiced by Brian Sergent and Peter Vere-Jones in the film.
- Giant spiders appear in many Lord of the Rings video games, including The Return of the King
- In The Battle for Middle-earth II and its expansion pack, Spiderlings are a unit that can be trained by the Goblins faction; Shelob also appears as a hero for the Goblins. The Goblins have a "spiderling lair" fortress extension that spawns smaller spiders which attack nearby enemies.
- For The Hobbit video game three spiders were invented named Wicked, Wild, and Wrath. These three spiders are the queens of the Spiders of Mirkwood and are three of the bosses of the Flies And Spiders level.
- The Lord of the Rings: War in the North features a giant spider named Saenathra, who took Radagast captive, and must be defeated to free him. Like the Mirkwood spiders from the Hobbit, she has the ability to speak.
LEGO: The Lord of the RingsEdit
The Lord of the Rings Minecraft modEdit
Translations around the WorldEdit
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Bengali||বড় মাকড়সা ?|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||巨形蜘蛛|
|Irish Gaelic||Damháin alla mór|
|Korean||큰 거미 ?|
|Malayalam||ഗ്രേറ്റ് ചിലന്തികളുടെ ?|
|Marathi||ग्रेट कोळी ?|
|Persian||عنکبوت بزرگ ?|
|Serbian||Велики Пауци (Cyrillic) Veliki Pauci (Latinised)|
|Slovak||Veľké Pavúky ?|
Races of the Creatures of Arda
Servants of the Shadow:
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter VIII: "Of the Darkening of Valinor"
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IX: "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
- ↑ The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: "Flies and Spiders"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IX: "Shelob's Lair"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter X: "The Choices of Master Samwise"