- "He was as tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship. "
- — J.R.R. Tolkien on Legolas (Book of Lost Tales 2, p. 333)
Legolas was a Sindarin Elf of the Woodland Realm who became a part of the Fellowship of the Ring. Legolas, son of the King Thranduil of Mirkwood, is a Prince of the Woodland Realm, and also a messenger, and a master Bowman. With his keen eyesight, sensitive hearing, and excellent bowmanship, Legolas was a valuable resource to the other eight of the Fellowship. His age is never stated by Tolkien but is estimated by some to be between 500 and 3000 years old. In the movies and the books Legolas becomes great friends with the dwarf Gimli, who is also a member of the Fellowship of the Ring .
It is not known whether Legolas was the only son of Thranduil , and whether he was the heir to his father's crown.
"Legolas Greenleaf, long under tree, In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea! If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore, Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more." Galadriel's message to Legolas (The Two Towers, Chapter 5)
In the book at the Council of Elrond, where he came as a messenger from his father to discuss the escape of Gollum. During the meeting held by the elf lord Elrond, Legolas volunteered to become one of the members of the Fellowship that set out to destroy the One Ring.
Within the Fellowship, Legolas and the dwarf, Gimli, clashed because of the ancient quarrel between Elves and Dwarves after the destruction of Doriath, and also because Legolas' father Thranduil once imprisoned Gimli's father, Glóin, (during Bilbo's Quest to the Lonely Mountain). They became friends, however, when they entered Lothlórien and Gimli greeted the Lady of the Golden Wood with gentle words. In the Battle of the Hornburg, he and Gimli engaged in Orc-slaying contests with Gimli winning by one, though Legolas was not jealous stating "You have passed my score by one but I do not grudge you the game, so glad am I to see you on your legs". In the movie adaptations the same contest was also carried out in the Battle of Pelennor Fields. The contest apparently counted the number of kills only, with no extra points being gained for killing larger or more dangerous foes, as at Pelennor Fields Legolas single-handedly brought down a Mumakil, and Gimli, begrudging such a ridiculous feat, states that "that still only counts as one."
After the destruction of the One Ring and of Sauron, the two went off travelling together to Helm's Deep, visiting the Glittering Caves, and then later travelled through Fangorn Forest as he and Gimli had agreed. Eventually, Legolas came to Ithilien with some of his people, with his father's leave, to live out his remaining time in Middle-earth helping to restore the devastated forests of that war-ravaged land. After the death of King Elessar, Legolas left Middle-earth to go over the Sea, and Legolas' strong friendship with Gimli prompted him to invite Gimli to go to the Undying Lands; making him the first and only Dwarf to do so.
Character and Personality
Although he lived among them and in their culture, Legolas was not one of the Silvan Elves. As a son of the Elven-king Thranduil, who had originally come from Doriath, Legolas was actually a Sindarin Elf. This is complicated by the fact that a small minority of Sindarin Elves ruled the predominantly Silvan Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood, a minority to which Legolas belonged. The Sindarin minority in that realm, who should have been more nobler and wiser than the Silvan Elves, can be seen as having "gone native" at the end of the First Age: after Morgoth was defeated and all of the grand Elf-kingdoms of Beleriand were destroyed, they can be seen as going back to "a simpler time" in their culture.
Like all elves, Legolas has a great respect and appreciation for nature. While in Fangorn Forest he longed to return once more in order to explore its wonders more thoroughly. He is kind, and cares greatly for his friends, even Gimli the Dwarf, which was a rarity for Elves and Dwarves to express a liking for one another. Due to his age however, he is somewhat egotistical and thinks of those around him, adults in technicality, as children (all except for Gandalf).
In the Extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Legolas is shown to hold his liquor very well. Eomer challenged Legolas and Gimli to a drinking game, to which he won, when Gimli fainted and collapsed after drinking too much ale.
The name Legolas is a Silvan dialect form of pure Sindarin Laegolas, Greenleaf. It consists of the Sindarin words laeg, green; and golas, a collection of leaves, foliage (being a prefixed collective form of las(s), leaf). The Quenya form (mentioned in the Book of Lost Tales in the context of another character of that name) is Laiqualassë.
There might, however, be a certain meaning to his name: laeg is a very rare, archaic word for red, which is normally replaced by calen (cf. Calenhad, mutated Parth Galen and plural Pinnath Gelin) and is otherwise almost only preserved in Laegrim, Laegel(d)rim (Sindarin form of Quenya Laiquendi), the Green Elves of the First Age. It may be that Thranduil named his son Legolas to at least in part refer to this people, who were remote kin and ancestors of the later Silvan Elves, the people Thranduil ruled and to whom - very likely - Thranduil's wife belonged...
Elven bow and long knife
Legolas carries two weapons with him on his journey with the Fellowship. He sports a slender bow of Mirkwood which he aims with deadly precision. He prefers to pierce his enemies from afar, but he also carries "at his belt a long white knife" (The Fellowship of the Ring, p314). In Lothlorien he was given a bow of the Galadhrim , stouter than those of the fashion of Mirkwood. Nevertheless he adopts his new bow and makes deadly use of it in the remainder of the War of the Ring. This bow had a draw weight of about 150 pounds. It could reputedly send an arrow with deadly force for over 400 yards. The bow was over six feet tall, and was made from a single piece of Mallorn heartwood. Its string had a single strand of Galadriel 's hair entwined with it to help speed the arrow along even faster. Legolas' skill with the bow is revered, even as good as that of Beleg Cúthalion.
In the movie adaptation he wields a Rohirric sword at the Battle of Helm's Deep, presumably because his daggers would not be very effective from horseback. He also carries two knives across his back, instead of a single knife in his belt.
Tolkien does not specifically give Legolas' age but many have used what details Tolkien does give to hazard a guess. It's safe to say that, most likely, Legolas was born after Oropher, his grandfather, moved his people across the Misty Mountains, since in the book, he referred to the Noldor elves as a "strange race". That would mean he's at most 999 years old which places his birthdate in the latter part of the Second Age, at the earliest. Legolas is never mentioned in any account of the War of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, so most assume he was born in the Third Age, after Isildur took the Ring of Power. Legolas has never been to Lórien before he travels there with the Fellowship. Therefore, we can assume that he was not with his grandfather's people when they left Lórien for Northern Mirkwood. Before the Shadow of Dol Guldur fell on Mirkwood in T.A. 1000, Legolas' people spent time amongst their Lórien neighbors. But when the Shadow fell, they "retreated before it as it spread ever northward, until at last Thranduil established his realm in the north-east of the forest and delved there a fortress and great halls underground. So, we can safely assume that Legolas' birthdate was after T.A. 1000, when the Kingdom of Northern Mirkwood was created. This would make him younger than any other elf character in the series, including Arwen. In the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Legolas refers to his travelling companions many times as "children". Yet when he arrives at Fangorn, he claims to feel young compared to the forest. Legolas says, "It is old, very old. So old that almost I feel young again, as I have not felt since I journeyed with you children."
Appearance in the Books and Films
In the books
In the Movies
Legolas on film and other media
In the 'official movie guide' for The Lord of the Rings, a birthdate for Legolas is set to TA 87. This would make him 2931 years old at the time of the War of the Ring. This date for Legolas' birth was made up by the movie writers, as in the books there are no known dates concerning Legolas before TA 3018. His age is never specified by Tolkien, but he is believed by most to have been born during the Third Age.
Due to a technical mishap involving Orlando Bloom's contact lenses, in the films Legolas' eye colour sometimes changes between brown and blue.Peter Jackson also filmed, but never used, footage of Legolas in his new home.
Previous film Adaptations
Legolas has also been portrayed by Anthony Daniels in the 1978 Ralph Bakshi animated version of The Lord of the Rings. He is omitted from the Rankin and Bass animated adaptation of The Return of the King.
Legolas was voiced by Frank Duncan in the The Lord of the Rings (1956 radio series), by John Vickery in the The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series), and by David Collings in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation.
Legolas appears as a hero in The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth and The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II.
Legolas appears as a hero in Lord of the Rings: Conquest, in the Xbox 360 version there is a specific achievement called "That still only counts as one", which is earned by using a scout or warrior to kill an Oliphaunt single handedly, just like Legolas did in the third of Peter Jackson's movies and is named after what Gimli said to him immediately afterwards.
In The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Legolas is voiced by voice actor Crispin Freeman
Legolas of Gondolin
The name Legolas Greenleaf first appeared in The Fall of Gondolin, one of the "Lost Tales". The character is mentioned only once and is unrelated to the character discussed above. Because Tolkien had reused the name in the Lord Of The Rings, this Legolas was not included in the published Silmarillion.
The Legolas of Gondolin, who Tolkien would have likely renamed, has a different etymology. His name (Laiqalassë in its pure form) comes from the primitive Quenya (Quenya) words laica, green, and lassë, leaf. The names are very similar, but the characters were different: Legolas of Gondolin was a Ñoldorin exile, head of the House of the Tree.
- But the others, led by one Legolas Greenleaf of the house of the Tree, who knew all that plain by day or by dark, and was night-sighted, made much speed over the vale for all their weariness, and halted only after a great march.
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