- "My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail is a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!"
One of the last great dragons of Middle-earth, Smaug, a winged fire-breathing drake, rose to prominence by laying waste to the town of Dale and capturing the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) with all of its treasure. These events occurred some 150 years before the events of The Hobbit, and Smaug was already centuries old at the time.
His invasion of Erebor and his possession of the Lonely Mountain made him extremely wealthy, since the Lonely Mountain was once home of Dwarves and still held much of their treasure. Smaug lived there for many years, until he was slain during the events of The Hobbit.
- "Revenge! Revenge! The King under the Mountain is dead and where are his kin that dare seek revenge? Girion Lord of Dale is dead, and I have eaten his people like wolf among sheep. And where are his sons' sons that dare approach me? I kill where I wish and none dare resist."
The chronologies of the Westlands tell of how, in the twenty-eighth century of the Third Age, the mightiest Dragon of the Age came from the north to the great kingdom of the Dwarves in Erebor, the Lonely Mountain. The Fire-drake called Smaug the Golden was vast and bat-winged and a fearsome bane to Dwarves and Men. With consuming Dragon-flame, Smaug ruined the city of the Men of Dale and broke the door and wall of the Lonely Mountain. The Dwarves then fled or were slain and Smaug took the riches of the mountain and the town: Gold and Gemstones, Mithril and Silver, elf gems and pearls, the many faceted crystals of emerald, sapphire and diamond, as well as the Arkenstone.
For two centuries, Smaug ruled the Lonely Mountain uncontested, laying waste to the lands around the mountain, so that the blasted domain of the Dragon of Erebor became known as the Desolation of Smaug. Yet in the year TA 2941, a company of 14 adventurers led by the heir of the former Dwarf-kingdom, Thorin Oakenshield, entered Smaug's mountain by a secret door. One of the party, Hobbit 'burglar' Bilbo Baggins, approached the Fire-drake by stealth and was surprised to find that Smaug was larger than he had expected. Smaug was armored, as all of his race, with scales of impenetrable iron, but, in wariness, he protected his soft underbelly from assault: as he lay sprawled upon the wealth of his hoard he allowed diamonds and hard gemstones to imbed in his belly, armoring his only weakness.
During a confrontation with the Dragon, Baggins noticed one missing scale on the monster's left breast, nearest his heart. With this invaluable information, he escaped the Mountain and, while discussing Smaug's weakness with the Dwarves, he was overheard by a friendly bird (a thrush), who carried the secret to Bard the Bowman in nearby Esgaroth (Laketown).
The burgling of the Hobbit aroused Smaug and he came out in fiery wrath and loosed his flame upon the land. In vengeance, he went to the town built on the Long Lake (Laketown), and devastated it. In the midst of the wreck, Bard the Bowman, heir to the throne of Dale, did his best to rally the defenders. Bard, guided by his knowledge of Smaug's secret weakness, shot a black arrow into the beast's chest. Screaming in fury and pain, Smaug fell, crashing into the flaming ruins of Laketown.
After Smaug's death, Thorin and Company claimed the treasure as theirs by birthright. This created a conflict with Bard and the Elvish king Thranduil of Mirkwood, each of whom wanted a portion of the gold as reimbursement for all the damage Smaug had caused their kingdoms over the years. Thorin refused to share the treasure and, as a result, they both declared war on him.
It is said that a vast fortune in gemstones lay with Smaug's rotting carcass amongst the pilings of old Laketown, but few had the courage to dive for them in later years. With no Dragon to contend with, the survivors of the town rebuilt on dry land next to the lake.
Being a fully-grown dragon, Smaug was massive and powerful. His physical strength was great enough to crush stone with ease, as seen by his attack on Erebor. He was able to fly thanks to his large wings, and had the ability to breath gouts of searing hot flame from his mouth. Some comments in The Hobbit imply that his entire body was imbued with fire, as he was seen to glow in the darkness of the Lonely Mountain's depths, and his usual paths were said to have been "smoothed and slimed" (i.e. melted) by his passage.
Like many dragons of Middle-earth, Smaug's monstrous appearance also belied keen senses and a dangerously sharp mind. He had an enclyclopedic knowledge of his treasure hoard, immediately registering the theft of a single cup after Bilbo made his first visit to his lair. When the hobbit returned a second time, Smaug was already expecting him by feigning sleep, and immediately declared that he could sense the thief even if he could not see him. Although Bilbo was clever enough not to fall for Smaug's attempts to trick him into revealing his exact position, the dragon used the resulting conversation to plant doubts in Bilbo's mind, correctly guessing that the "burglar" had allied himself with dwarves and the men of Lake Town and asking if Bilbo had ever considered the logistical difficulties of getting his share of Smaug's treasure back to his home.
Defensively, Smaug's reddish-gold scales rendered him nigh-impervious, but his underbelly was relatively soft and vulnerable. To compensate for this, Smaug took to sleeping upon the gathered treasure of the Lonely Mountain, allowing bits of gold and jewels to embed themselves in his body. This "diamond waistcoat" was intended to cover Smaug's only physical weak spot, but when Bilbo Baggins confronted the dragon in his lair, he discovered a bare patch on the left side of his chest. Bard was told this by an ancient thrush that overheard Bilbo relating this information to the dwarves, enabling him to defeat Smaug by shooting his Black Arrow into the bare patch.
Smaug is portrayed as being arrogant, and greedy, having an unquenchable desire for gold, and not caring who gets in his way for more. He appears to possess a rather sardonic sense of humor, mocking Bilbo darkly while they are talking. Smaug seems to dislike Dwarves, or at least thinks little of them, which is seen when he openly defiles their territory, and makes unfavorable comments about Thror.
The most distinguishing characteristic of the dragon (aside from his greed), is his arrogance. Smaug thinks very highly of himself, loudly boasting his superiority. This proves to be his downfall, as he was not able to recognize his own weaknesses.
Despite these dark characteristics, Smaug is not pure evil, so much as he is just greedy. While he does ruthlessly destroy, after claiming Erebor for himself, he was apparently content to allow the rest of Middle Earth to go about its business so long as he is not disturbed.
Smaug could not have destroyed the One Ring (the ring Bilbo was carrying). In the later Lord of the Rings, Gandalf stated that no dragon, not even Ancalagon The Black, was powerful enough to destroy the One Ring.
Portrayal in AdaptationsEdit
Smaug has very brief appearances in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, during the opening prologue and the ending, but only fleeting glimpses of the dragon's silhouette or parts of his body - the tip of his tail, or one eye - can be seen; he is never fully visible.
Director Peter Jackson has stated that in his 2013 film adaption, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Smaug will be created through the use of motion capture performance, performed and voiced by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who will also be providing the voice of The Necromancer.
Behind the ScenesEdit
In the books, the name Smaug is presented as a translation of the "original Dalish" Trâgu, and is related to Sméagol/Trahald. According to Tolkien, the name Smaug is "the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole" (Letter No. 31); others have noted that it has echoes of "smoke" and "smog", though this connection is illusory at best, since in Tolkien's phonology, the "au" phoneme is pronounced like the "ou" phoneme in sound or house. Therefore names such as Sauron or Smaug are pronounced like Sow-ron or sm-ow-g.
According to Michael Noer, writing for Forbes Magazine, Smaug is the wealthiest fictional character, with a treasure having a calculated valuation of over 62 billion dollars. 
|Dragons of Middle-earth|
|Ancalagon | Glaurung | Scatha | Smaug | Gostir|
- ↑ Michael Noer, How Much is a Dragon Worth, Revisited, Forbes.com, Business section (23 April 2012).