Melkor, also known as Melko or Morgoth Bauglir is an Ainur; a divine character of the same order and nature as the Valar. In the histories of Middle-earth, Morgoth plays the role of the great enemy of all that is good. Sauron, a better-known Tolkien character, is but a servant to the true 'Dark Lord', Melkor/Morgoth. (Quenya Tengwar: IPA: ) was once the mightiest of the Ainur. During the Song of Creation his strange thoughts produced Discord, and he fell through shame, then pride, then desire of domination into a lust of destruction. He became the first Dark Lord, who was named Morgoth Bauglir in Beleriand and Middle-earth. Not satisfied with the marring he had brought in the Discord, he proceeded to infect it with decay, as well as spreading a purely material empire upon the earth. He corrupted many peoples, among them the Ñoldor of Eldamar, leading to their revolt and The War of the Great Jewels. He then corrupted the hearts of Men with lies and deceitful gifts, until some worshipped him, and all had a seed of darkness within them which he often used. When The Host of Valinor finally defeated him at the end of the War of Wrath, Melkor was chained, bound and thrust through the Door of Night into the Void.
Yet the Darkness that he had begun in the Ainulindalë continued on through his most devoted lieutenant Sauron, who continued to wage war on the Free Peoples of the world for thousands of years and was not defeated until March 25, 3019 some 6500 years later. Melkor is prophesied to return during the end of days and be finally defeated in Dagor Dagorath (Final Battle)
Melkor's legacies survived in the fabric of the earth and are seeded in the hearts and minds of men, the inheritors of the world.
Melkor was in the beginning an Ainu created by Eru in the Timeless Halls. Manwë is said to be brother to him, yet Melkor was immeasureably greater than all of the Ainur combined, Melkor was gifted with the greatest power and knowledge and had a share in all of the gifts given to his fellow Ainur by Eru.
Desiring to create things of his own and knowing of but not understanding the Flame Imperishable, Melkor often went forth into the Great Void outside of the Timeless Halls in search of this flame. His quest was in vain; he found not the Flame Imperishable for it lies with Eru alone. Melkor grew ever more impatient of the unclear designs of Eru, and was often alone and apart from his fellow Ainur. It was during this lonesome period that Melkor began to have ideas and thoughts of his own that were not in accordance with his fellow Ainur.
When the Ainur sung the Great Music before Eru, some of these thoughts he wove into his music, and straightaway Discord arose around him. Some of those nearby attuned their music to his, until two musics were warring before the Throne. Then Eru introduced first a Second and then a Third Theme into the music; Melkor succeeded in holding back the Second theme, but the Third wove his own notes into its' sombre pattern; for it was the theme of Men. When Eru brought the Music to an end, he rebuked Melkor, praising his strength but telling him that all he did redounded only to the glory of Eru. And Melkor was ashamed, and resented it; for he thought his Discord an improvement. Thus when the Music was made incarnate as Arda, it was already flawed through the Discord, and immoderate heat and great cold stalked it.
Before the Two Trees
When the Valar entered into Arda and began to shape the unwrought matter, Melkor saw the Field of Arda and claimed it for his own, striving against the Valar. He took shape in tremendous majesty like a burning mountain of ice with piercing eyes that withered, and when they raised mountains Melkor cast them down, and when they delved valleys Melkor raised them up; yet still the Earth was fashioned slowly and made firm. Then Tulkas came, and from his laughter Melkor fled, and he hated Tulkas ever after.
Seducing many spirits, as well as many he had sung beside in the Discord, Melkor entered once again into Arda. The Valar had built for themselves the lovely isle of Almaren in the midst of Middle-earth, between the Lamps. Then Melkor delved a mighty fortress at the very northmost part of the World, where the beams of the Lamps were dim, and he named it Utumno. To defend it he raised the Iron Mountains (Ered Engrin) in the far north of Beleriand. Decay arose in the North, and the Valar knew that he was there, but before they could come Melkor issued forth, and overthrew the pillars, spilling the Great Lamps. In the thunderous uproar the Valar were too busied with restraining the tumults to give him chase; but Melkor was afraid, for the voices of the Gods were terrible in their rage.
So when the Valar had built Valinor, Melkor built his second, lesser fortress of Angband in the west, as a defense from the West should they attack. Angband was delved into the Iron Mountains, and was given to Sauron to command. While the Valar were unsure where the Children of Ilúvatar would awake, they were reluctant to wage war against Melkor, fearing the clash of powers might result in massive collateral damage. that Melkor discovered the Elves first, captured many of them, and transformed them by torture and other foul craft into orcs.
Before the Sun and MoonWhen it was discovered by the Vala Oromë where the elves were, the Valar took immediate action against Melkor. Both Angband and Utumno were razed, and Melkor brought back in chains. However, many of Melkor's servants (including Sauron and the Balrogs) were not found, since in their haste the Valar did not wholly destroy Utumno, nor enter all the pits of Angband.
During the War of the Powers, Melkor's armies were destroyed piecemeal, while he directed operations from afar, for already he was grown weaker; though he knew it not yet. When he saw the Valar winning, in haste he retreated into Utumno and shut the great doors in the Valar's face. Then they smote them open and fought their way down, until at last they stood in the bottommost chamber where Melkor waited, and both Manwe and Melkor were astounded. For Manwë had expected to find Melkor too powerful to overcome, and now he perceived Melkor, having put power into his slaves, was weaker. Melkor also perceiving this was dismayed. Then Tulkas and Aule fought him, and Tulkas smote Melkor in the teeth, and Melkor leaped upon Manwë with a great flail, but Manwe gently blew on it and bent the thongs aside. Then Tulkas cast Melkor down, and straight Aule wrapped him thirty times in the Chain Angainor. He was cast into Mandos for three Ages of the world, ere his cause could be tried or he sue for pardon; for the Valar did not comprehend yet the true depth of his fall.
When the Ages were over, Melkor was brought before Manwë, Lord of the Valar, and feigned to be repentant and abashed. And Manwe, who was above all things merciful, did not understand evil, and ordered him released. Nevertheless Tulkas and Ulmo were not fooled, and watched him closely.
But not closely enough. Melkor whispered in the ears of the Noldor, until a shadow fell upon them, upon Feanor most, and Melkor saw the Silmarils of Feanor and lusted for them; but Fëanor shut him from his house, calling him "jailcrow of Mandos". Still Fëanor believed Melkor's lies, and when he drew sword on his brother and was tried by the Valar, all was laid bare, and Melkor was expelled from Valinor.
But the Valar did not find him when they hunted for him. For he cast off his raiment of form and passed unseen to the south, where lay famishing Ungoliant (the first Giant Spider of Middle-earth). He held out two gems he had stolen, and they shone like green eyes in the gloom, and Ungoliant ate them, and grew stronger. Weaving her webs, rope by rope, she and Melkor mounted the heights of the Mountains, until brooding they looked down upon the light of Valinor. It was a time of festival when they came, and in the cloak of Unlight woven by Ungoliant they came unseen to the feet of the Trees.
There Melkor thrust his spear into them, and Ungoliant drank them, and Melkor cast down the Valar's thrones and sped to the house of Fëanor. Ungoliant caught him up (which he was loath) and they broke into Fëanor's house, slaying his father and stealing the Silmarils. Then they fled to the North, and the Valar gave chase; but the Darkness of Ungoliant bewildered them, and the Two Thieves crossed the Grinding Ice unmolested and entered Middle-earth.
Now they drew nigh to Angband, and there Melkor hoped to become stronger, for Ungoliant was become greater than he by the drinking of so much light, but she knew this, and stayed him.
"I did not vow to give thee the world. I am its' lord." he said. Then she demanded everything he held. He opened one hand grudgingly, and gave her gems; but she demanded he give with both hands as he had vowed. In his other hand Melkor held the Silmarils, which burned him through their casket, but he denied her them.
"Nay! These things shalt thou not see, nor touch. I name them unto myself for ever."
Then she cast strangling thongs about him and began to crush him to death, and he uttered a great cry that shattered hills and roused the Balrogs from slumber. With winged thunder they came to his aid, and gave Ungoliant chase; but Melkor called them back, for he was in pain, and thus Ungoliant escaped. With their whips of flame they shore the webs asunder, and he began to rebuild Angband.
When Fëanor found his father was slain, he named him Morgoth, meaning Dark Enemy in Sindarin. The name Melkor was never spoken again. Occasionally people referred to him as Belegurth, The Great Death, a perversion of Belegur, the Sindarin form of Melkor.
First Age of the Sun
Another war began, The War of the Great Jewels, in which the Noldor waged a long and ultimately hopeless war against Morgoth for the recovery of the Silmarils. This war lasted through the whole of the First Age of the Sun. Finally, in the War of Wrath, Angband was destroyed and, though Morgoth tried to call up more and more beasts of the shadows to aid him, he was eventually defeated by the mighty Host of Valinor. He was then bound as he was before, cast through Door of Night, and sent into the Void by the Valar.
His actions during this period are discussed under the article Morgoth Baugilar.
In later writings of Tolkien's, it becomes apparent that Melkor was not merely bound, but unhoused, after his final capture, being "beheaded" and thus "killed", that is, the body to which he had become so bound was destroyed, after which execution his spirit, still bound with the enchanted chain Angainor, was cast out through the Doors of Night. His "will" is spoken of as an active force in the world, tempting and urging in thought, and sometimes in phantom manifestation; and it is foretold that at the end of the world, his old strength will come back to him, that he will overcome the guard upon the Door, and reenter Arda. This will initiate the Final Battle and the Day of Doom, the Dagor Dagorath.
Early accounts of this battle have him being slain by Túrin Turambar who will run his black sword Gurthang, ' Iron of Death,' through him. This however does not appear in later versions of the Silmarillion; and indeed is inconsistent with the above late conception, unless Melkor re-incarnates himself after entering Arda, as he already has been slain by the Valar like a common criminal.
The Cursing of Húrin
Morgoth is also well known for the imprisonment of Húrin of the House of Hador during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (Battle of Unnumbered Tears). In the last hours of the battle Húrin and his kin defended Turgon, for he was the last heir to the throne of Gondolin and of Fingolfin after his brother, Fingon, fell in battle. Turgon narrowly escaped the clutches of the host of orcs due to the valor of Húrin and Huor and their men.
Unfortunately, all but Húrin fell after the onslaught of Morgoth's forces. After slaying 70 trolls, Húrin was bound by Gothmog with his flaming whip and, thus, sent him to Angband. There, after a nightmare of chained torment in Thangorodrim's chambers, Húrin still defied Morgoth Bauglir and refused to tell him where Gondolin lay. Thus, Morgoth sent Húrin to the top of Haudh-en-Nirnaeth and cast a mighty curse on Húrin and his family:
Behold! The Shadow of my thought shall lie upon them wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world.
Then continuing his curse, roared:
But all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. Wherever they go, evil shall arise. Wherever they speak, their words shall bring ill counsel. Whatsoever they do shall turn against them. They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death.
And so Húrin stayed was chained atop Thangorodrim, forever watching his homelands fall under the shadow of Morgoth until he releases him. Túrin, who was valiant and powerful, nearly escaped the curse, as feared by Morgoth, but could not leave it. He and his sister perished. Thus, the curse of Morgoth on the Children of Húrin was fulfilled.
(More is said in The Children of Hurin )
Initially, Melkor could take on any form he chose. The Ainur took on forms reflective of their moods. Melkor, in his arrogance, malice and desire to be bigger and better than all his brethren, took on a form recorded as
- "...a mountain that wades in the sea, and has its head above the clouds, and is clad with ice and crowned with smoke and fire, and the light of the eyes of Melkor was like a flame that whithers with heat and pierces with a deadly cold."
- —The Silmarillion: Ainulindalë pg. 22
It is said that out of all the Valar Melkor is most like Aulë for his craftmanship.
Originally the brightest, most beautiful, most powerful Ainu, he fell through jealousy, pride and hatred of others, into Darkness. When he built Utumno he took on a form shaped roughly manlike but great in size, "a dark Lord, tall and terrible." This form was chained by the Valar. When he walked in Valinor he wore a much fairer form, so noble and lofty and benevolent not even the Elves (save only Feanor and Galadriel) are recorded as seeing through it to the malice underneath. This he cast off to escape unclad from the hunt of the Valar, and when he faced Ungoliant he put back on the form of the tyrant of Utumno. In that form he remained ever after. As he spent his might and poured out his power into the very fabric of matter, as well as into all his creations, he grew more stooped and less majestic, and his hands were burned black from the touch of the Silmarils. His eyes shone with a daunting light.
There is some dispute over Morgoth's size. The Silmarillion states:
- "He stood over the king as a tower...and...cast a shadow over him like a storm cloud."
- —The Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin pg. 153
As Elves typically reached about six feet tall, or close to seven feet for the Nolder, (Men were of similar height to Elves, however, Numenoreans averaged seven feet and Elendil was said to be nearly eight)... Morgoth must have stood at least twice this length, and with the shadow he robed himself in he may well have seemed taller. In most artistic renderings Morgoth is depicted as towering over other beings, most notably elves (Fingolfin in particular) of the FA.
- "Morgoth set his foot upon his neck, and the weight of it was like a fallen hill."
- —The Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin pg. 154
This again implies a huge size. It may be wondered how Fingolfin stayed alive so long; but Elves were possessed of a strength and agility many times greater than a human (save exceptional ones like Turin), and Fingolfin could probably leap to great heights.
In The Fellowship of the Ring film introduction, Sauron is portrayed with the description Tolkien used for Morgoth.
After capture during the War of Wrath, Melkor was taken to Valinor and held in judgement for his crimes. For his punishment he was cast into the Void, still wearing the Chain Angainor, where he thus lost all physical form. He currently exists purely as an evil, formless spirit.
It is said, however, that in the last days the watch on the Walls of Night will grow weary, and Melkor will overpower them and re-enter the World, and initiate the Dagor Dagorath (Battle of Sudden Flame). This can only come about if his strength leaks out of matter and back into him.
|Ainur of Arda|
|Ainulindalë (Music of the Ainur)|
|Lords of the Valar:||Manwë | Aulë | Oromë | Irmo (Lórien) | Námo (Mandos) | Tulkas | Ulmo|
|Queens of the Valar (The Valier):|| |
Varda | Yavanna | Vána | Estë | Vairë | Nessa | Nienna
|Lord of the Valar (The Enemy):|| |
Morgoth (a.k.a. Melkor)
Eönwë | Ilmarë | Ossë | Uinen | Salmar | Melian | Arien | Tilion | Curumo (Saruman) | Olórin (Gandalf) | Aiwendil (Radagast) | Alatar (Morinehtar) | Pallando (Rómestámo)
|Maiar (Enemies):||Sauron | Gothmog | Durin's Bane | Ungoliant | Curumo (Saruman)|