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Denethor

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(For other characters see Denethor (disambiguation))

Daniel Govar - Denethor.jpg
Denethor (II)
Gondorian
Biographical Information
PositionRuling Steward
BirthT.A. 2930
RuleT.A. 2984-T.A. 3019
DeathMarch 15, T.A. 3019, aged 89 years
Family
ParentageEcthelion II
SpouseFinduilas of Dol Amroth
ChildrenBoromir, Faramir
Physical Description
GenderMale

Denethor II (Third Age 2930 – March 15, 3019, aged 89 years) is the twenty-sixth and last Ruling Steward of Gondor. He succeeded his father Ecthelion II at his death in Third Age 2984.


In 2976 he married Finduilas of Dol Amroth, daughter of Prince Adrahil of Dol Amroth. She gave birth to two sons: Boromir and Faramir.

Denethor is described as noble and powerful in the books, even to the equivelent of Gandalf. However, it is quickly apparent that he is not so.

He doted upon his eldest son, Boromir, while Faramir, his second son, could never please his father nor be seen as Boromir's equal.

Although Denethor ruled Minas Tirith and Gondor reasonably well, he did not hold the same charisma and power of the Kings, the power that had made Gondor great. Under his watch, Gondor began to fade, until by the time of the seige of Minas Tirith, the city was almost literally at the mercy of Gondor.

Denethor's health deteriorated more rapidly when he looked into the Palantir, foolishly beleiving that he had the strength to resist Sauron's wil and use the anceint artifact to his advantage. He did not. Sauron spoke to him through the Palantir, showing him vast armies at his command in Mordor, and whispering words of malice and despair to the ailing steward.

When Boromir was slain by Uruk arrows protecting Merry and Pippin, the effect combined with that of the Palantir reduced the man to a pathetic state. He became paranoid and power hungry, resisting the idea that the hier of Elendil had returned, which would rob him of much of his stewardly power. When Gandalf came to Minas Tirith on the eve of war, it was clear that Denethor's feeble hold on sanity was slipping away, and the kingdom was suffering for it.

When Osgiliath was taken by Mordor, Denethor ordered Faramir in a suicidal attempt to retake the city. It was here that he showed his greatest grief-enduced cruelty, telling his son that he wished his and Boromir's places had been exchanged, and that he had died while Boromir survived.

Nevertheless, Faramir obeyed his lord's command and rode to retake Osgiliath. Although the attempt was more succesful then was expected, Faramir was hit by a dart flying from one the Nazgul. Wounded, sick, and barely alive, he was brought back to the White City.

At the sight of his son, Denethor lost grip on himself, shutting himself away in the citadel and abandoning his city that he had been so eager to rule.

Denethor committed suicide immediatly thereafter, abanding all hope. He threw a torch onto the pyre prepared for him and Faramir. He took the white rod of his office and broke it on his knee, casting it into the flames, symbolizing the end of his stewardship and the end of the rule of the Stewards. He laid himself down on the table and so perished, clasping the palantír in his hands. The Stewardship passed to Faramir, who remained in the Houses of Healing for a time, although the command of the city fell to the Prince of Dol Amroth during the remainder of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

In the film adaptation, when Faramir is brought into the throne room, seemingly dead, Pippin attempts to stop Denethor away from cremating his son, who he is sure is still alive. After Denethor knocks Pippin away, he falls onto the fire, and, in flames, runs out of the throne room and off the highest ledge of Minas Tirith, killing himself.

Portrayal in Adaptations

In the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Return of the King, William Conrad is the voice of Denethor.

In Peter Jackson's movie trilogy, Denethor was played by John Noble. In Peter Jackson's The Return of the King, Denethor appears completely irrational; he sends his remaining son on a suicidal mission to enemy-captured Osgiliath and refuses to light the warning beacons of Gondor to call for the aid of Rohan. In the book, the danger of his madness is that it seems to follow a certain logic; Sauron does have vastly superior forces, all of which he has surely shown to the Steward in the palantír. His actions, however, do not immediately proclaim his insanity; the Osgiliath mission is less obviously suicidal, as the city has not yet been overrun, and the warning beacons have indeed been lit, although Denethor expects little help.

See Also

Preceded by:
Ecthelion II
26th Ruling Steward of Gondor
III 2984 – 3019
Followed by:
Faramir
(titular only)
Ruling Stewards of Gondor
Mardil Voronwë · Eradan · Herion · Belegorn · Húrin I · Túrin I · Hador · Barahir · Dior · Denethor I · Boromir · Cirion · Hallas · Húrin II · Belecthor I · Orodreth · Ecthelion I · Egalmoth · Beren · Beregond · Belecthor II · Thorondir · Túrin II · Turgon · Ecthelion II · Denethor II · Faramir