Tolkien Gateway


Is there proof for the statement These categories could mix and match in any way (a dragon with no legs but with wings that could breathe fire, a wingless legless dragon that could not breathe fire, a four-legged, winged fire-breathing dragon like Smaug, etc.)? Just asking, 'cause I've never heard/read that before.

Good question, I have never heard of that myself, I'm pretty sure the author is referring to maybe MERP or something not considered canon. But just in case I've simply commented out the statement pending futher investigation. Thanks for the head up. --Hyarion 10:56, 9 February 2006 (EST)


[edit] Sourceless

I think the "taxonomy" section is particularly dubious. AFAIK Tolkien was pretty loose in how he described the few dragons he mentions, and never set down an coherent system. Maybe, as with the comment above, this scheme comes from an adaptation. —AulĂ« the Smith (Tk·Cb) 11:51, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

[edit] Other Versions of the Legendarium

An interesting detail about dragons is present in The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two. There is a legend among men that says whoever tastes a heart of a dragon and withstands its poisonous blood can understand every language in existence even those of birds and beasts. In addition to that, they would be able to hear the whispers of the Valar and of Morgoth. I have never heard of that before until I read it and I think it could be a part of this article under Other Versions of the Legendarium. --Sandy 11:44, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Well spotted! It would definitely be a good addition to that section in the article.--Morgan 11:59, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

[edit] Lhamthanc

I was wondering if the name "Lhamthanc" (from "The Lost Road", Etymologies) refers to an actual dragon with that name, or is it just a description of dragons (or serpents) in general. Or, alternatively, a description of an already existing dragon.

If not, should we make a separate article about that particular dragon/serpent/whatever it is.

Admittedly, there isn't much evidence one way or the other, but still, I'd like to hear other people's take on the issue. --IvarTheBoneless

Here's the summary of the article on Lhamthanc on Ardapedia: "Lhamthanc ('fork tongue') is mentioned, next to Gostir , in the The Etymologies as a "snake name" and probably denotes a dragon. Otherwise Lhamthanc is not mentioned in any other known story." --IvarTheBoneless

[edit] weird

How Possibly Dragons do NOT have Languages of their owns ??? , It's Like If English People Use French Language Instead of their own Language ! , That Can't be correct . Unsigned comment by (talk • contribs).

The only language I'm aware of that Tolkien explicitly ascribes to any Dragon is the Common Speech:
In some ways it was not too difficult. In Bilbo's time there was a language very widely used all over the West (the Western parts of the Great Lands of those days). It was a sort of lingua-franca, made up of all sorts of languages, but the Elvish language (of the North West) for the most part. It was called the Western language or Common Speech; and in Bilbo's time had already passed eastward over the Misty Mountains and reached Lake Town, and Beorn, and even Smaug (dragons were ready linguists in all ages). ...If hobbits ever had any special language of their own, they had given it up. They spoke the Common Speech only and every day (unless they learned other languages, which was very seldom).
—Peoples of Middle-earth pp. 72-73
There's nothing saying that dragons didn't have a secret language of their own, but nothing that says they did, either. All we know is that Tolkien regarded dragons as a group to have been "ready linguists in all ages." Being that they were born of Morgoth, one would assume their native tongue is the native language of Angband, whatever that is, but we know Glaurung and Smaug at least were readily able to converse with Men and Hobbits in their own terms. --Mord 04:04, 12 December 2020 (UTC)

[edit] Dragons assumedly allies/servants of Sauron

In The Silmarillion it is said of Sauron in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age: "and he gathered under his government all the evil things of the days of Morgoth that remained on earth or beneath it" (this is mentioned in the Dark Years article on this site as well). The Dragons are some of the last followers of Morgoth left in Middle-earth together with orcs, wolf-king, trolls etc. The word "all" seems even more emphasized by "on earth or beneath it" and I don't think it's only expressiveness of language for the sake of it (although perhaps it is and J.R.R. Tolkien - and Christopher when editing - thought "all" sounded better than to explicitly mention which creatures, which though maybe not untrue I don't think it's the case).

Saying that Gandalf fearing the potential of Sauron using Smaug has nothing to do with the topic of whether Dragons worked with Sauron or not is oversimplified if a bit narrow-minded: why would Gandalf even consider this an option if Sauron had never allied with (or even suborned) a Dragon? (it's only logical it had happened at some point). And the fact that his return stirs Dragons as well seems to imply a connection between the Enemy and these beasts, however latent that connection is. And I honestly don't think you have any linguistic interpretation of "all" to discern to say it means something else. If you have any valid points to suggest I'm wrong and consider the contrary that Gandalf's wisdom was just extra carefulness then let's discuss it here so we can finish with this topic and turn back to other maybe more pressing stuff. --LordoftheEarth 16:16, 31 May 2021 (UTC)

That quote of The Silmarillion cannot be taken so literally: Durin's Bane is an example that not all of Morgoth's creatures were gathered under Sauron, be they "on earth or beneath it". If Sauron had counted with dragons in the War of the Elves and Sauron or the War of the Last Alliance, we would get some mention of it (maybe there is and we are missing it), as they would have suppoused a huge militar enemy. I disagree with your interpretation of Gandalf's words: there was an actual danger in an alliance between Sauron and Smaug (which I think it is worth mentioning), but that does not indicate there had been dragons under Sauron's service in the past. I think it is also worth of study why there is no mention of any dragon during the Second Age. In the last concept of Tolkien, after the War of Wrath only two Dragons survived (WJ:346): I assume that they were hidden beneath the earth for a whole age, forgotten by everybody and breeding happily until their offspring began appearing in the Third Age. --LorenzoCB 16:51, 31 May 2021 (UTC)