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There was a sinister side to the spiders of Middle-earth that entered it with the monstrous [[Ungoliant]] in the years before the [[First Age]]. A gigantic creature of spider-shape, it was she who destroyed the [[Two Trees of Valinor|Two Trees]] of [[Valinor]] by sucking the light out of them, and escaped with [[Morgoth|Melkor]] into the lands of Middle-earth. Though Ungoliant disappeared into the far south, she left the northern lands infested with her offspring. During the First Age, the mountains of the [[Ered Gorgoroth]] were infested with these monsters, and became a place of dread.
 
There was a sinister side to the spiders of Middle-earth that entered it with the monstrous [[Ungoliant]] in the years before the [[First Age]]. A gigantic creature of spider-shape, it was she who destroyed the [[Two Trees of Valinor|Two Trees]] of [[Valinor]] by sucking the light out of them, and escaped with [[Morgoth|Melkor]] into the lands of Middle-earth. Though Ungoliant disappeared into the far south, she left the northern lands infested with her offspring. During the First Age, the mountains of the [[Ered Gorgoroth]] were infested with these monsters, and became a place of dread.
  
The most infamous of Ungoliant's children lived far to the south and east of the Ered Gorgoroth, on the borders of the land of [[Mordor]]. This was [[Shelob]], who haunted a network of tunnels watching the pass of [[Cirith Ungol]], making a living on hapless [[Orcs]] and anyone else who happened to come down the passage. She had offspring of her own, smaller than she but with a cruel intelligence, that spread throughout the [[Ephel Dúath]] and north into [[Mirkwood]]. The [[Sauron|return of evil]] seems to have emboldened the spiders' hungry tendencies. It was creatures like these that [[Bilbo Baggins]] encountered in ''[[The Hobbit]]'', and after fighting them he gave his sword its name [[Sting]].
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The most infamous of Ungoliant's children lived far to the south and east of the Ered Gorgoroth, on the borders of the land of [[Mordor]]. This was [[Shelob]], who haunted a network of tunnels watching the pass of [[Cirith Ungol]], making a living on the hapless [[Orcs]] of [[Sauron]] and anyone else who happened to come down the passage. She had offspring of her own, smaller than she but with a cruel intelligence, that spread throughout the [[Ephel Dúath]] and north into [[Mirkwood]]. It was creatures like these that [[Bilbo Baggins]] encountered in ''[[The Hobbit]]'', and after fighting them he gave his sword its name [[Sting]].
  
 
Tolkien says of Shelob, "Most '''like''' a spider she was," [emphasis added], and the offspring of Ungoliant differed from normal spiders in respects beyond their enormous size.  Bilbo sees the Mirkwood spiders' eyes as "Insect eyes,"<ref>{{H|8}}</ref> and Shelob's eyes are "clustered" and "many-windowed", with "a thousand facets", like insects' compound eyes.<ref>{{TT|IV9}}</ref>  However, normal spiders do not have compound eyes.  Tolkien may not have been over-concerned with the difference between spiders and insects, as in the same chapter of ''The Hobbit'' he refers to spiders as "hunting and spinning insects". Another difference is that when spiders grow, they moult their skins, but Shelob's hide was "ever thickened from within with layer on layer of evil growth."<ref name=Rateliff>John Rateliff. 2007. ''The History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins'', volume 1.  Harper-Collins, p. 322</ref>
 
Tolkien says of Shelob, "Most '''like''' a spider she was," [emphasis added], and the offspring of Ungoliant differed from normal spiders in respects beyond their enormous size.  Bilbo sees the Mirkwood spiders' eyes as "Insect eyes,"<ref>{{H|8}}</ref> and Shelob's eyes are "clustered" and "many-windowed", with "a thousand facets", like insects' compound eyes.<ref>{{TT|IV9}}</ref>  However, normal spiders do not have compound eyes.  Tolkien may not have been over-concerned with the difference between spiders and insects, as in the same chapter of ''The Hobbit'' he refers to spiders as "hunting and spinning insects". Another difference is that when spiders grow, they moult their skins, but Shelob's hide was "ever thickened from within with layer on layer of evil growth."<ref name=Rateliff>John Rateliff. 2007. ''The History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins'', volume 1.  Harper-Collins, p. 322</ref>
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'''2017: ''[[Middle-earth: Shadow of War]]'':'''
 
'''2017: ''[[Middle-earth: Shadow of War]]'':'''
:[[Shelob]] is an integral part of the plot of the action game. She is seen in her typical spider form in the game, as well as a humanoid form, which is a first for the character. She temporarily takes possession of [[Celebrimbor]]'s ring during the game's tutorial section in the city of [[Minas Ithil]]. This game does not take place Legendarium canon, and [[Shelob]] has never been confirmed in any publication to be able to take any other form. According to the developers, they meant for her to be a Maia like Ungoliant, though the latter has never been established to be one of the Ainur. Lesser spiders of her brood can be used in the game as distraction to orcs.
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:[[Shelob]] is an integral part of the plot of the action game. She is seen in her typical spider form in the game, as well as a human form, which is a first for the character. She temporarily takes possession of [[Celebrimbor]]'s ring during the game's tutorial section in the city of [[Minas Ithil]]. This game does not take place Legendarium canon, and [[Shelob]] has never been confirmed in any publication to be able to take human form. Lesser spiders can be used in the game as distraction to orcs.
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
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[[Category:Spiders]]
 
[[Category:Spiders]]
 
[[Category:Other races]]
 
[[Category:Other races]]
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[[Category:Evil]]
 
[[Category:Servants of Sauron]]
 
[[Category:Servants of Sauron]]
 
[[Category:Servants of Melkor]]
 
[[Category:Servants of Melkor]]
 
[[de:Spinnen]]
 
[[de:Spinnen]]
 
[[fi:Hämähäkit]]
 
[[fi:Hämähäkit]]

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