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Spiders

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{{race
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{{race infobox
|image= [[File:Ted Nasmith - The Spiders of Mirkwood.jpg|250px]]
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| name=Spiders
|name=Spiders
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| image=[[File:John Howe - Spiders of Mirkwood.jpg|250px]]
|dominions=[[Mirkwood]]
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| caption="Spiders of Mirkwood" by [[John Howe]]
|languages=
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| pronun=
|height=Various
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| othernames=
|length=
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| origin=
|skincolor=Black or Grey
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| location=[[Mirkwood]], [[Torech Ungol]], [[Nan Dungortheb]], [[Avathar]]
|haircolor=
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| affiliation=
|feathers=
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| rivalry=
|distinctions=Spiders in form
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| language=[[Westron]]
|lifespan=Unknown
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| people=
|members=[[Shelob]]?
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| members=[[Ungoliant]], [[Shelob]]
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| lifespan=
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| distinctions=
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| height=
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| hair=
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| skin=Black or grey
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| clothing=
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| weapons=
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| gallery=spiders
 
}}
 
}}
 
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The '''Spiders''' were eight-legged creatures that captured their prey in intricate webs. Many spiders of [[Middle-earth]] reached a colossal size.
'''Spiders''' were small eight-legged creatures, known for capturing their prey in intricate webs. Many spiders of [[Middle-earth]] were known to reach a colossal size.
+
  
 
==History==
 
==History==
  
There was a more 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]], and escaped with [[Morgoth|Melkor]] into the lands of Middle-earth. Though Ungoliant herself 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.
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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.
  
The most famous of Ungoliant's children, though, 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]], eking a living on the hapless [[Orcs]] of [[Sauron]]. She had offspring of her own, too, 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 through fighting them that his sword acquired its name [[Sting]].
+
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]].
 +
 
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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 molt 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>
 +
 
 +
Shelob is consistently described as "stinging" and having a "sting".
 +
<ref>{{TT|IV9}}</ref><ref>{{TT|IV10}}</ref><ref>{{RK|VI9}}</ref> That has been taken to mean a sting like that of some insects, which normal spiders do not have.<ref name=Rateliff/>  However, in the quotation from "Letter 163" in the "Inspiration" section below, Tolkien used the verb "sting" in the rare sense of a spider's bite.  Thus all his references to Shelob's stinging may mean biting.
  
 
==Names==
 
==Names==
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==Inspiration==
 
==Inspiration==
* A common myth is that Tolkien was bitten by a spider when he was young and this fueled his hatred for the species in his works, this is proven inaccurate through the below quotes:
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Tolkien was bitten by a tarantula when he was a small boy in South Africa. Many writers have suggested that the incident underlies the horrifying and deadly giant spiders in ''[[The Silmarillion]]'', ''[[The Hobbit]]'', and ''[[The Lord of the Rings]]''.<ref name=Horne>Mark Horne.  2011.  ''J. R. R. Tolkien''.  Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 2</ref><ref>{{webcite|author=Emily Asher-Perrin
{{quote|...when Ronald [Tolkien] was beginning to walk, he stumbled on a tarantula. It bit him, and he ran in terror across the garden until the nurse snatched him up and sucked out the poison. When he grew up he could remember a hot day and running in fear through long, dead grass, '''but the memory of the tarantula itself faded, and he said that the incident left him with no especial dislike of spiders.'''|''[[J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography]]''}}
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|articleurl=https://www.tor.com/2016/11/04/we-can-probably-blame-the-tarantula-that-bit-j-r-r-tolkien-for-most-giant-spiders-in-fantasy|articlename=We Can Probably Blame the Tarantula that Bit J. R. R. Tolkien for Most of the Spiders in Fantasy|dated=Nov. 4, 2016|website=Tor.com|accessed=March 22, 2016}}</ref>
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Tolkien saw no reason to accept that explanation, and he specifically said that his purpose in putting spiders into ''The Hobbit'' was to scare his son Michael, who had a fear of them. But some commentators have avoided committing themselves to saying the analysis must be false,<ref name=Horne/><ref>Deborah Webster Rogers; Ivor I. Rogers. 1980. ''J. R. R. Tolkien''. "Tolkien had been bitten by a tarantula in South Africa, and Michael had a horror of spiders, as do many people; so the author could be drawing on either personal or public feeling in his portrayal of arachnids."</ref> as seen also in the quotation from Humphrey Carpenter's biography below, and Tolkien did not commit himself either.
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 +
{{quote|...when Ronald [Tolkien] was beginning to walk, he stumbled on a tarantula. It bit him, and he ran in terror across the garden until the nurse snatched him up and sucked out the poison. When he grew up he could remember a hot day and running in fear through long, dead grass, '''but the memory of the tarantula itself faded, and he said that the incident left him with no especial dislike of spiders.''' Nevertheless, he wrote more than once of monstrous spiders with venomous bites.|''[[J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography]]''}}
  
 
{{quote|I knew that the way [for Frodo, Sam, and Gollum] was guarded by a Spider. And if that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been told; and '''I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge to kill them.''' I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!|{{L|163}}}}
 
{{quote|I knew that the way [for Frodo, Sam, and Gollum] was guarded by a Spider. And if that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been told; and '''I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge to kill them.''' I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!|{{L|163}}}}
  
* Regarding the spiders in ''[[The Hobbit]]'':
+
Regarding the spiders in ''[[The Hobbit]]'':
 
{{quote|I put in the spiders largely because this was, you remember, primarily written for my children (at least I had them in mind), and one of my sons [Michael] in particular dislikes spiders with a great intensity. I did it to thoroughly frighten him and it did!|From an interview of [[J.R.R. Tolkien]] on January 15, 1957 by Ruth Harshaw for the "Carnival of Books" radio show. (According to ''[[The Annotated Hobbit]]'')}}
 
{{quote|I put in the spiders largely because this was, you remember, primarily written for my children (at least I had them in mind), and one of my sons [Michael] in particular dislikes spiders with a great intensity. I did it to thoroughly frighten him and it did!|From an interview of [[J.R.R. Tolkien]] on January 15, 1957 by Ruth Harshaw for the "Carnival of Books" radio show. (According to ''[[The Annotated Hobbit]]'')}}
  
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==Portrayal in adaptations==
 
==Portrayal in adaptations==
 +
 +
'''1982: [[The Hobbit (1982 video game)|''The Hobbit (1982 text adventure game)'']]'''
 +
 +
:In the text adventure game, spiders don't make any explicit appearance, although you will see "Pale Bulbous Eyes" as you and your party travel along the [[Old Forest Road]]. If you stay on the road for too long, something will leap down from the trees and kill you.
 +
 +
'''2003: ''[[The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King]]'':'''
 +
:''See [[Shelob#Portrayal in adaptations|Shelob: Portrayal in adaptations]]''
 +
 
'''2007: ''[[The Lord of the Rings Online]]'':'''
 
'''2007: ''[[The Lord of the Rings Online]]'':'''
 
:Non-player (NPC, computer controlled) spiders are found in a number of areas of Middle-earth. Players can play a spider in the Player-versus-Player (PvP) area of the [[Ettenmoors]] once the player reaches level ten. Spiders in ''The Lord of the Rings Online'' have the ability to root and spit poison from a distance.
 
:Non-player (NPC, computer controlled) spiders are found in a number of areas of Middle-earth. Players can play a spider in the Player-versus-Player (PvP) area of the [[Ettenmoors]] once the player reaches level ten. Spiders in ''The Lord of the Rings Online'' have the ability to root and spit poison from a distance.
  
 
:The appearance of spiders vary from zone to zone for NPC spiders and from rank to rank for player controlled spiders. They all look like very large spiders from the size of a cat up to the size of a large elephant.
 
:The appearance of spiders vary from zone to zone for NPC spiders and from rank to rank for player controlled spiders. They all look like very large spiders from the size of a cat up to the size of a large elephant.
 +
 +
'''2012-4: [[The Hobbit (film series)|''The Hobbit'' film series]]:'''
 +
:The spiders of Mirkwood are portrayed in the first two films, ''An Unexpected Journey'' and ''The Desolation of Smaug''. In the former, they attack [[Radagast]]'s dwelling in [[Rhosgobel]], but are driven away by him. Radagast discovers that they came from the ruins of [[Dol Guldur]], and deduces that they are descendants of [[Ungoliant]]. In the latter film, their role is faithful to their portrayal in the novel. As in the book, they are capable of speech (although Bilbo is only capable of understanding them while wearing the [[One Ring|Ring]]). When one of the spiders screams about how Bilbo's Elvish blade "stings" it, it is then that Bilbo decides to give his weapon a name.
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
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[[Category:Spiders]]
 
[[Category:Spiders]]
 
[[Category:Other races]]
 
[[Category:Other races]]
[[Category:Characters in The Hobbit]]
 
 
[[Category:Evil]]
 
[[Category:Evil]]
 
[[de:Spinnen]]
 
[[de:Spinnen]]

Latest revision as of 15:44, 24 March 2018

"The wise will stay here and hope to rebuild our town..." — Master of Lake-town
This article needs to be rewritten to comply with Tolkien Gateway's higher standards...
Spiders
Race
John Howe - Spiders of Mirkwood.jpg
"Spiders of Mirkwood" by John Howe
General Information
LocationsMirkwood, Torech Ungol, Nan Dungortheb, Avathar
LanguagesWestron
MembersUngoliant, Shelob
Physical Description
Skin colorBlack or grey
GalleryImages of spiders

The Spiders were eight-legged creatures that captured their prey in intricate webs. Many spiders of Middle-earth reached a colossal size.

Contents

[edit] History

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 by sucking the light out of them, and escaped with 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 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,"[1] and Shelob's eyes are "clustered" and "many-windowed", with "a thousand facets", like insects' compound eyes.[2] 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 molt their skins, but Shelob's hide was "ever thickened from within with layer on layer of evil growth."[3]

Shelob is consistently described as "stinging" and having a "sting". [4][5][6] That has been taken to mean a sting like that of some insects, which normal spiders do not have.[3] However, in the quotation from "Letter 163" in the "Inspiration" section below, Tolkien used the verb "sting" in the rare sense of a spider's bite. Thus all his references to Shelob's stinging may mean biting.

[edit] Names

In Sindarin, the word for "spider" is ungol.[7] It is found in such names as Torech Ungol, Ungoliant, and Cirith Ungol.

In Gnomish, one of Tolkien's early conceptions of an Elven language, the word for "spider" is cing or cingwin (a struck out word was gung). A deleted Qenya word for "spider" was ung-we.[8]

[edit] Inspiration

Tolkien was bitten by a tarantula when he was a small boy in South Africa. Many writers have suggested that the incident underlies the horrifying and deadly giant spiders in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings.[9][10] Tolkien saw no reason to accept that explanation, and he specifically said that his purpose in putting spiders into The Hobbit was to scare his son Michael, who had a fear of them. But some commentators have avoided committing themselves to saying the analysis must be false,[9][11] as seen also in the quotation from Humphrey Carpenter's biography below, and Tolkien did not commit himself either.

"...when Ronald [Tolkien] was beginning to walk, he stumbled on a tarantula. It bit him, and he ran in terror across the garden until the nurse snatched him up and sucked out the poison. When he grew up he could remember a hot day and running in fear through long, dead grass, but the memory of the tarantula itself faded, and he said that the incident left him with no especial dislike of spiders. Nevertheless, he wrote more than once of monstrous spiders with venomous bites."
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
"I knew that the way [for Frodo, Sam, and Gollum] was guarded by a Spider. And if that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been told; and I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!"
J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 163, (dated 7 June 1955)

Regarding the spiders in The Hobbit:

"I put in the spiders largely because this was, you remember, primarily written for my children (at least I had them in mind), and one of my sons [Michael] in particular dislikes spiders with a great intensity. I did it to thoroughly frighten him and it did!"
― From an interview of J.R.R. Tolkien on January 15, 1957 by Ruth Harshaw for the "Carnival of Books" radio show. (According to The Annotated Hobbit)
"Throughout his life, Tolkien’s son Michael had what he called “a deep-rooted abhorrence of spiders.”"
The Annotated Hobbit

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

1982: The Hobbit (1982 text adventure game)

In the text adventure game, spiders don't make any explicit appearance, although you will see "Pale Bulbous Eyes" as you and your party travel along the Old Forest Road. If you stay on the road for too long, something will leap down from the trees and kill you.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

See Shelob: Portrayal in adaptations

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Non-player (NPC, computer controlled) spiders are found in a number of areas of Middle-earth. Players can play a spider in the Player-versus-Player (PvP) area of the Ettenmoors once the player reaches level ten. Spiders in The Lord of the Rings Online have the ability to root and spit poison from a distance.
The appearance of spiders vary from zone to zone for NPC spiders and from rank to rank for player controlled spiders. They all look like very large spiders from the size of a cat up to the size of a large elephant.

2012-4: The Hobbit film series:

The spiders of Mirkwood are portrayed in the first two films, An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. In the former, they attack Radagast's dwelling in Rhosgobel, but are driven away by him. Radagast discovers that they came from the ruins of Dol Guldur, and deduces that they are descendants of Ungoliant. In the latter film, their role is faithful to their portrayal in the novel. As in the book, they are capable of speech (although Bilbo is only capable of understanding them while wearing the Ring). When one of the spiders screams about how Bilbo's Elvish blade "stings" it, it is then that Bilbo decides to give his weapon a name.

[edit] See also

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Rateliff. 2007. The History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins, volume 1. Harper-Collins, p. 322
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Choices of Master Samwise"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Grey Havens"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 490
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 26, 43
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mark Horne. 2011. J. R. R. Tolkien. Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 2
  10. Emily Asher-Perrin, "We Can Probably Blame the Tarantula that Bit J. R. R. Tolkien for Most of the Spiders in Fantasy" dated 4 November 2016, Tor.com (accessed 22 March 2016)
  11. Deborah Webster Rogers; Ivor I. Rogers. 1980. J. R. R. Tolkien. "Tolkien had been bitten by a tarantula in South Africa, and Michael had a horror of spiders, as do many people; so the author could be drawing on either personal or public feeling in his portrayal of arachnids."