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Sting

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Sting with scabbard
Sting
Background Information
Other Names
Manufacturer Elves
Made
Usage
Owners Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins
Appearances
Books The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings
Films The Hobbit films
The Lord of the Rings films
"I will give you a name...and I shall call you Sting."
Bilbo Baggins[1]

Sting was an Elven dagger made in Gondolin during the First Age. After wielding it during the Quest for Erebor, Bilbo Baggins had it engraved with the Sindarin text, Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im. Translated into English, it reads, "Maegnas is my name, I am the spider's bane." The Appendix of The Silmarillion defines the element maeg in Sindarin as meaning "sharp" or "piercing". During the Third Age, it was wielded by Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins.

HistoryEdit

Sting2

Sting, as seen in the Peter Jackson films

Sting was an ancient Elvish blade made by weapon-smiths in Gondolin. When Orcs or goblins were within an undetermined radius of it, the blade glowed blue, alerting the wielder and others who could see it to their presence. It had been lost during the Fall of Gondolin, the same battle in which Turgon fell and Glamdring was taken. It appeared as a curved blade with a silver loop or spiral design on it, later runes were added to it by Bilbo after his adventures. These runes seem to have been made by the Elves as they are in Sindarin.

The blade was carried by Bilbo in The Hobbit after Bilbo found it in a Troll-hoard. Sting was found alongside Glamdring and Orcrist. Though just a dagger by the standard of elves, it made a perfect short sword for a Hobbit, although it was still rather small, as Bilbo initially chose to wear it "inside his breeches"[2] and was still able to travel and even run without any apparent inconvenience.

Just before his nephew embarked on his quest to Mordor from Rivendell, Bilbo gave Sting to Frodo. Sam then took the weapon from his (seemingly dead) master and used it to good effect against Shelob on the borders of Mordor. After the defeat of Sauron at the end of the Third Age, Frodo entrusted Sting to Sam and it became an heirloom of the Gamgee family.

Gollum, who disliked anything made by the Elves, was afraid of Sting. This fear aided Bilbo when he confronted Gollum in a cave at the base of the Misty Mountains in The Hobbit . It also helped Frodo and Sam subdue Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Orcs also had an instinctive fear of these weapons and hated any who carried them.
As is fitting for a blade of Gondolin, Sting could easily cut through the webs of the offspring of Ungoliant, including the evil Shelob and the spiders of Mirkwood. Bilbo had named the weapon Sting after he had "stung" many of them with it. In The Hobbit when Bilbo wears the One Ring, and defends himself against a spider, he names the blade "Sting". The narrator describes the spider's lack of acquaintance with creatures with such stings, and evidently this was also Bilbo's presumption in naming it as such. Similarly In Peter Jackson's adaptation, the spider when attacked is heard saying "It stings, it stings" after being stabbed by Bilbo; this provides the viewer with a reason for the name "Sting" without the use of a narrator. Sting was like Glamdring and Orcrist in that "being the work of Elvish smiths in the Elder Days these swords shone with a cold light, if any Orcs were near at hand."[3] But only Sting was definitively described as glowing blue, or glittering with blue flame at its edges.[4]

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

Lord of the Rings film trilogyEdit

Glowingsting2

"The blade glows blue when Orcs are close."

In Peter Jackson's adaptations, Gandalf uncovers the blade on the floor of the cave as he was about to leave and gives it to Bilbo, who is waiting outside. Sting is depicted as vaguely leaf-shaped, with gently curving edges,(much like a Greek xiphos), such as Tolkien described in his book. In The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, engraved on the blade are Sindarin letters that read phonetically, "Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im". Translated they read, "Sting is my name; I am the spider's bane". According to the appendix of The Silmarillion, the element maeg in Sindarin means 'sharp' or 'piercing', and the Etymologies section in The Lost Road and Other Writings gives the meaning of the element nass as 'point', so "Maegnas" is literally translated as "sharp-point".
Bilboholdingsting

Bilbo holding Sting for the first time after its discovery in the troll's cave.

In the books there is no mention that Bilbo had the blade inscribed, and the inscription is not present in the The Hobbit adaptation, but after Bilbo named the blade Sting he could have had it inscribed by the elves during the story of The Hobbit or after, or the elves could have inscribed it for him after he returned to live in Rivendell. This seems likely since the engraving is in Sindarin and the elves obviously would have had the best experience in reshaping a blade such as Sting.

Despite both Glamdring and Orcrist both being elvish blades of similar make, Sting is the only blade shown to glow blue in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. 

Translations around the WorldEdit

Foreign Language Translated name
Portuguese (Brazil) Ferroada
Portuguese (Portugal) Ferrão
Polish Żądło
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Dardo
Italian Pungolo
French Dard
German Stich
Greek Kentri (Κεντρί)
Chinese (Hong Kong) 刺針

Appearances in the Books and FilmsEdit

In the booksEdit

In the filmsEdit

GalleryEdit

FR Desolation - Bilbo
Bilbo and Sting in a French The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug poster
Bilbo BOT5A Poster 2
Bilbo and Sting in a The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies poster
Frodo.sting
Frodo holding Sting
Sting
Sting
Hobbit the desolation of smaug bilbo-XL-banner1-610x298
Bilbo and Sting in Mirkwood
011712-hobbit-mirkwood-still
Bilbo holding Sting in the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Glowingsting1
Sting glowing in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Sting-Official

ReferencesEdit

  1. The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: "Flies And Spiders"
  2. The Hobbit, Chapter V: "Riddles in the Dark"
  3. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter IV: "A Journey in the Dark"
  4. Glamdring was "bright as blue flame" in the midst of a Goblin (Orc) horde, but the color of its light was always described as white, and Orcrist, being the same type of blade, was probably similar in this as well.

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