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Ungoliant

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Melkor-and-Ungoliant
Melkor and Ungoliant destroying the Two Trees.

Ungoliant

Biographical information

Other names
Spirit of Evil, Spider of Night
Titles
Date of birth
Before the creation of Arda
Year ascended to the throne
Date of death
Possibly devoured herself at some undetermined time in the First Age, though true fate remains unknown
Realms ruled
Spouse
Unknown
Weapon

Physical description

Race
Unknown
Culture
Giant Spiders of Middle-Earth)
Gender
Female
Height
Unknown, but certainly enormous
Hair color
Eye color
Possibly black or red
Actor
Voice
Character

Ungoliant (Sindarin IPA: [uŋˈɡoljant]) was a primordial being in the shape of a gigantic spider. She was initially an ally of Melkor in Aman, and for a short time in Middle-earth as well. She is the mother of Shelob, and therefore the oldest, and first, of the Spiders of Mirkwood.

BiographyEdit

OriginsEdit

Ungoliant and the Two Trees

Ungoliant and the Two Trees.

Who, what, or where, Ungoliant came from is not clear, and the Eldar and perhaps not even the Valar are sure. It is said by some that she came from the Darkness itself that lies about Arda and was once an ally of Melkor when he looked down upon the world with envy. Later, she changed her allegiance from him to herself, desiring only to be a mistress of her own insatiable craving to devour all light, to feed her everlasting emptiness.

Early yearsEdit

When Melkor was defeated and imprisoned by the Lords of the West after the fall of the Lamps, Ungoliant escaped the attacks of the Valar and the hunters of Oromë and fled to the southern part of Aman. There, in a ravine south of the mountain Hyamentir, she established her dark abode and took the physical form of a monstrous spider, and here sucked up all the light she could find. After every feeding, she spun forth dark nets of gloom that strangled any light from entering her lair of darkness. Yet she hungered for more of it, for though she hated light, she craved it as well.[1]

Alliance with MelkorEdit

When Melkor came to her, he offered her the light of the Two Trees if she would help him in his evil plans. Cloaked in her Unlight, Ungoliant and Melkor came to Ezellohar, where she drained the Trees of their sap, poisoned them, and drank the Wells of Varda dry. The Unlight and Ungoliant stymied the pursuit of Oromë and Tulkas and Melkor escaped to Middle-earth.[1]

Ungoliant and Melkor by rubendevela

Ungoliant demands the Silmarils from Melkor byRubendevela

When they arrived in Lammoth in Middle-earth, Ungoliant demanded the gems that Melkor had stolen from Formenos. She devoured them, and grew to an awesome monstrous size dark and terrible to behold. She knew that Melkor was withholding the Silmarils and became enraged demanding that he give her the Silmarils as he had promised.

And even though the Silmarils were burning and torturing him, his greed and malice as the Dark Lord Morgoth would not allow him to let them go. He refused to give them up to Ungoliant.

With appalling rage at his refusal, Ungoliant unleashed a storm of fearsome black webbing that came unseen through the inky void of the Unlight surrounding her and she ensnared Morgoth helplessly in a constricting stranglehold that he could never escape.

Struck with utter terror and despair for the first time in his existence, the Dark Lord was able to bring forth a single great Cry with what he truly believed would be his last breath. A screaming shout that echoed out to the four wind directions of the world and penetrated to the very bowels of his "Iron Prison," the greatly feared and dreadful Citadel of Angband where it was heard by his servants of Shadow and Flame, the Balrogs.

Then, the Balrogs of Angband were awakened to their master's call, gushed forth from the dark vaults of Angband like a blast furnace of fire and shadow. Driven by an ancient grievance they had to settle with Ungoliant, and desperate to rescue their Dark Lord, they flew like fiery bolts of lightning to Lammoth where Morgoth was held fast in Ungoliant's shadowy web.

What the Balrog saw when they emerged in Lammoth was astounding. They beheld their Dark Lord, trying with all his might to fend off with the last strength of his being the black web of Unlight.

And behind him a gigantic cloud of the Unlight was imbued with a spidery aberration blacker than the blackest void, desperately trying to reel Morgoth into its clutches.

With fiery wrath the Balrogs struck like flaming bolts with their Balrog whips, whose fires had been forged in the living flame of the everlasting furnaces of Udûn far away in the unending realms beyond Arda, giving them a power greater than any earthly flame.

The Balrogs' whips ripped through the air, sounding like crashing thunder and sheared through the thick black webs of the Unlight with avenging hate, slashing them to shreds, and freeing the Dark Lord from a gruesome fate.

The branded black webbing howled with its own mournful cry. It was a sound never before heard in the world and thereafter never heard again. The suddenly sundered taut lines of the black webbing of the Unlight lashed furiously back into the shroud of darkness and viciously struck Ungoliant full on like the whistling blow of a great hammer, knocking her end-over-end, legs thrashing at the searing pain.

Reeling from the shock of the attack and her defeat, and shielded by the shroud of darkness that had always served her so well, Ungoliant fled the terrible wrath of the Balrogs, dragging the tatters of her black webs of gloom behind her

Ungoliant's attack upon Morgoth left an echoing scream ever after on the land that gave the area the name Lammoth, and it is said to this day that when one screams in that place, the voice of the Dark Lord echoes back from the surrounding hills.[2]

Final Years and LegacyEdit

Driven off by the Balrogs, Ungoliant fled to Nan Dungortheb, where she bred with the Great Spiders that dwelt there, increasing the terror and power of her kind altogether. The creatures that later infested the area were her surviving offspring and descendants[2], including her infamous daughter, Shelob, who dwelt from the Second and Third Ages onwards on the borders of Mordor, as her last surviving child.[3] It is said that Ungoliant ultimately perished at her own hands when, in her growing and eternal hunger, she finally devoured herself. [2]

EtymologyEdit

Her Quenya name was Ungweliantë (IPA: [uŋʷˌɡʷeliˈante]). "Ungol" was the Sindarin of 'spider', and "-iant" meant "old". And so being the first of her kind, she was named "Old Spider".

In pure Sindarin Ungoliant is translated as"Ungol" Sindarin for "spider"and "-iant" is Sindarin for "dark" which in pure Sindarin means "Dark Spider."

Wirilomë, meaning 'Gloom-weaver', was another Sindarin name for Ungoliant in The Book of Lost Tales, part 2.[4]

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

Ungoliant was mentioned in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when Radagast tells Gandalf about his encounter with the Great Spiders residing in Mirkwood, deducing that they are "some kind of spawn of Ungoliant".

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter VIII: "Of the Darkening of Valinor"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IX: "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
  3. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IX: "Shelob's Lair"
  4. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 2: The Book of Lost Tales Part Two

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