Black serpent

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Black serpent device by User:LorenzoCB.
"Southward beyond the road lay the main force of the Haradrim, and there their horsemen were gathered about the standard of their chieftain. [...] Then he was filled with a red wrath and shouted aloud, and displaying his standard, black serpent upon scarlet, he came against the white horse and the green with great press of men; and the drawing of the scimitars of the Southrons was like a glitter of stars."
The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"

The black serpent was an emblem of a "black serpent upon scarlet" that was depicted on the standard of a chieftain of the Haradrim during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

During the battle, the horsemen of the main force of the Haradrim gathered around the black serpent standard as their chieftain spotted the banner of King Théoden of Rohan, noticing few riders around it. The chieftain displayed the black serpent and led his men against the Rohirrim. However, Théoden gathered his men and charged as well, throwing down the chieftain with his spear before spurring to the standard. With his sword, Théoden hewed down the staff and the bearer of the standard, causing the black serpent to founder as the Haradrim fled.[1]

After being mortally wounded, Théoden claimed to Merry before his death on the field that he was satisfied, for he had felled the black serpent.[1]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In an early manuscript entitled with the name Fall of Théoden in the Battle of Osgiliath, the black serpent is never described, being referred to only as "the standard of the Haradoth", later changed to Haradhoth. Théoden also never hewed the standard nor did he fight any chieftain.[2]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

Dernhelm warns Théoden of the coming of the chieftain. He kills the chieftain, but is killed by the Witch-king almost immediately after.

2001-2010: Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game:

Suladân is the name of the chieftain for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game based on The Lord of the Rings (film series). He is one of the Mûmak-riders.[3]

2022: The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War:

The Black Serpent is the name of one of the evil faction commanders in the Lord of the Rings: Rise to War strategy game based on The Lord of the Rings (film series). He is specifically skilled in battling other evil faction commanders due to his High Alert ability. He is based on the Mûmakil rider and chieftain of the Haradrim forces in the Battle of Pelennor Fields in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The Black Serpent counters Théoden's charge at the battle by sounding the bone-chilling and signature Haradrim war horn while mounted from the most painted Mûmakil.