Ungoliant (Sindarin IPA: [uŋˈɡoljant] - "Dark Spider") 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 spider of the south, maybe even the first spider.
Who, what, or where Ungoliant came from is not clear; the Eldar and perhaps not even the Valar are certain. 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.
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; although she hated light, she craved it as well.
Alliance with MelkorEdit
Eventually, Melkor sought her out in order to exact his revenge against the Valar and the Elves. He came to her, and told her of his plans. Though she was tempted greatly by Melkor's plan for her to drink the light of the Two Trees of Valinor, she feared the power of the Valar and was hesitant to accompany him. To mollify her, Melkor offered to sate her hunger with whatever she wished if she would aid him in his vengeance. She agreed, and they came shortly thereafter to Ezellohar, where she drained the Trees of their sap, poisoned them, and drank the Wells of Varda dry. The Unlight produced by Ungoliant stymied the pursuit of Oromë and Tulkas, and Melkor escaped to Middle-earth with her. However, her consumption of power of the Trees and the Wells caused her to swell to a size and shape so vast and hideous that even Melkor began to grow afraid.
When they arrived in Lammoth in Middle-earth, Melkor, now Morgoth, hoped to escape to the ruins of Angband where the remnants of his forces awaited him. Suspecting that he intended to leave his promise to her unfulfilled, Ungoliant demanded the gems that Morgoth had stolen from Formenos before they could reach Angband. She devoured them, and grew to an even more monstrous size. She then demanded that Morgoth surrender to her the Silmarils. However, Morgoth refused, and she attacked him in response. Weaving her dark webs, she attempted to enmesh him in net and take the Silmarils by force. Morgoth gave out a terrible cry of pain as she attacked, which was heard by the Balrogs hibernating under the ruins of Angband. They awoke and immediately rushed to the aid of their Lord, tearing apart Ungoliant's webbing with their fiery whips and forcing her to break off her attack. She fled, and the Balrogs prepared to pursue and destroy her, but they were checked by Morgoth, who ordered them to return with him to Angband.
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.
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. The creatures that later infested the area were her surviving offspring and descendants, including her infamous daughter, Shelob, who dwelt from the Second and Third Ages onwards on the borders of Mordor, as her last surviving child. It is said that Ungoliant ultimately perished at her own hands when, in her growing and eternal hunger, she finally devoured herself.
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
The Hobbit film trilogyEdit
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".
Translations around the WorldEdit
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 1: The Book of Lost Tales Part One, VI: "The Theft of Melko and the Darkening of Valinor"
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 10: Morgoth's Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, The First Phase, "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter VIII: "Of the Darkening of Valinor"
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IX: "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IX: "Shelob's Lair"
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 5: The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies"
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 2: The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, V: "The Tale of Eärendel"
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 1: The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I