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Cirith Ungol

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The name Cirith Ungol refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Cirith Ungol (disambiguation).
Cirith Ungol
Pass
Rob Alexander - Cirith Ungol.jpg
"Cirith Ungol" by Rob Alexander
General Information
PronunciationS, [ˈkiriθ ˈuŋɡol]
LocationEphel Dúath
TypePass
People and History
InhabitantsMen, Orcs, Shelob
EventsQuest of the Ring
GalleryImages of Cirith Ungol

Cirith Ungol was a pass through the Ephel Dúath that led into Mordor.

Contents

[edit] Appearance

The pass was located in a cleft on the slope of the mountain on the left side of the Morgul Vale above the Morgul Pass. It could be reached by climbing the Stairs of Cirith Ungol at the beginning of the Morgul Vale,[1] passing through a tunnel,[2] and taking a long flight of broad, shallow steps to the cleft[3] with the crown of the pass after which the road turned left and plunged steeply down to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.[4]

The pass of Cirith Ungol was probably named after the giant spider Shelob, who dwelt there.[5] It was also referred to as the "high pass".[6][7][3]

[edit] History

[edit] Before the War of the Ring

The pass was first called Cirith Dúath ("Shadow Cleft"). This name was used during the War of the Last Alliance, when Isildur sent his sons Aratan and Ciryon to Minas Ithil to prevent the forces of Sauron from escaping through the pass.[8] After the War of the Last Alliance, the Men of Gondor built a tower at the eastern end of Cirith Dúath as an eastern outpost of the defences of Ithilien to keep enemies in Mordor. This tower was later called the Tower of Cirith Ungol.[4]

[edit] War of the Ring

During the War of the Ring, in March T.A. 3019, Gollum led Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee up the Stairs of Cirith Ungol,[1] into Shelob's lair.[2]

[edit] Etymology

Cirith Ungol is Sindarin for "Cleft of the Spider", composed of cirith and ungol.[9]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

In earlier drafts Cirith Ungol was called Kirith Ungol and was guarded by Minas Morgul instead of the Tower of Cirith Ungol. It was first the main pass into Mordor or a cleft near the main pass and was located where Cirith Gorgor is located in the final version.[10][11][12] Later it became a high pass that was first on the south side[13] and finally on the north side of the Morgul vale.[14]

[edit] Drawing

J.R.R. Tolkien made a drawing that shows the top of the stairs of Cirith Ungol, the entrance to the tunnel with the pass of Cirith Ungol after the exit from the tunnel and the topmost turret of the Tower of Cirith Ungol behind a mountain peak with another broader pass on the right side of the pass of Cirith Ungol and a mountain ridge between the pass of Cirith Ungol and the other broader pass.[15]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Choices of Master Samwise"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Index", "Cirith Ungol [Pass of the Spider]"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Black Gate is Closed"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Forbidden Pool"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Notes", note 11
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 767
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Two: The Ring Goes East", "II. The Passage of the Marshes", p. 104 and p. 106
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Two: The Ring Goes East", "III. The Black Gate is Closed", p. 124
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XV. The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "Maps IIIA and III", p. 309 and p. 310
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Two: The Ring Goes East", "VI. The Forbidden Pool", p. 173
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Two: The Ring Goes East", "VIII. Kirith Ungol", p. 186
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien, picture 28. Shelob's Lair