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This article is about the Vala. For the dwelling, see Halls of Mandos.
"Namo Mandos" by Elena Kukanova
Biographical Information
Other namesNámo (Q)
Bannos (S)
Badhron (S)
TitlesThe Judge
The Just
PositionRuler of the Dead
LocationThe Halls of Mandos
LanguageValarin, Quenya
SiblingsIrmo and Nienna
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Mandos

He is the keeper of the Houses of the Dead, and the summoner of the spirits of the slain. He forgets nothing; and he knows all things that shall be, save only those that lie still in the freedom of Ilúvatar. He is the Doomsman of the Valar.

Mandos was the Doomsman of the Valar who pronounced judgement in matters of fate. He was the keeper of the slain in his Halls in the west of Valinor.

His actual, less common name was Námo. He was the "elder brother" of the Vala Irmo (also called Lórien). He is one of the Aratar. Together, Mandos and Irmo are called the Fëanturi (Q: "Masters of Spirits"). Their sister is Nienna. Vairë the Weaver is his wife.


He keeps the Halls of Mandos where he summons the spirits of the slain. For this he is also known as "Mandos" after his dwelling place.[1]

Mandos knows and remembers nearly all things that were and shall be. He serves as the Doomsman of the Valar, he pronounces his judgements at the bidding of Manwë. However only Ilúvatar knows with full certainty what the full doom of Arda will be, and he will not reveal it all, even to Mandos or Manwë.[1] Mandos and Manwë have always been allied since their entering into , and together they understand most clearly the Vision of Ilúvatar more than any of the other Valar.

Mandos is said to be the grimmest of the Valar. However, this in no way implies that Mandos is dark or evil. His grimness is wholly part of his nature, coming (one must assume) from that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he came. Neither is Mandos willful or malevolent in declaring the fates of Arda.


During one of the early councils of the Valar, the Powers worried that the Elves would come in darkness. Manwë bid Mandos to speak, and he revealed that the age of the Children of Ilúvatar approached and it was the doom of the Elves to wake under the stars and revere Varda. This prompted Varda to prepare new stars for the Awakening of the Elves.[2]

After Melkor was overthrown in the Battle of the Powers, the Valar debated on whether to summon the Elves to Aman. Though some such as Ulmo felt the Elves should be left to dwell in Middle-earth, the Valar decided to summon the Elves. At this, Mandos broke his silence with the words "So it is doomed".[2]

When the unrest of the Noldor began and Fëanor drew sword upon Fingolfin, Mandos was present at the council when Fëanor was interrogated for his actions. Though it was revealed that Melkor had sown the seed of dissent, Mandos would not allow Fëanor's haughty actions to go unpunished. Therefore he banished Fëanor from Tirion for 12 years, only allowing him to return if one should release him. At which point, Fingolfin offered to do so.

But after Melkor slew the Trees of Valinor and stole the Silmarils, Fëanor was overcome with rage and led the Noldor in rebellion against the Valar. Driven by their Oath, Fëanor's host carried out the Kinslaying at Alqualondë in the lands of Araman north of Valinor. For this act Mandos, or one of his servants, pronounced the Doom of Mandos, a warning if they continued in their rebellion. This caused Finarfin to repent and return to Eldamar.[3] The curse of Mandos remained upon all the Noldor, tied to the Oath of Fëanor and thwarting the Noldor in all the Wars of Beleriand.

Ted Nasmith - Lúthien's Lament Before Mandos

When Beren and Lúthien died, she sang a song of such extraordinary power and beauty that it moved even the implacable heart of Mandos. Deeming that this matter was beyond him, yet unable to reverse the fates, Mandos sought the counsel of Manwë. In turn, Manwë gave him the response from Ilúvatar. Mandos returned to Lúthien and gave her a choice; to remain in Valinor forever and forget all her griefs, or to return with Beren to Middle-earth as a mortal. Luthien chose the latter, forsaking her immortality. So Beren was returned to a second life and Lúthien was granted a unique fate, to become mortal and return to Middle-earth with him.

After, when Eärendil set foot in Aman and begged the Valar for the forgiveness of the Noldor and help in their war with Morgoth, he was the one who demanded he be executed for no mortal should set foot in Aman and live. But Ulmo spoke against him, asking whether he was the son of Tuor of the Edain or Idril of the Noldor. Mandos responded that in either case, since the Noldor are still under the ban, he should not live. Regardless of that, Manwë answered his prayer and commanded the Host of the Valar be assembled and wage war on Morgoth. Considering Eärendil's doom, along with Elwing's, his wife, he offered them and their children a choice: whether to be counted among Elves or Men.[4] After the War of Wrath, the exiled Noldor were forgiven and the Curse of Mandos was ended.


Námo (pron. [ˈnaːmo]) in Quenya means "Judge" or "Ordainer",[5] from root NAM.

Mandos ([ˈmandos]) is a Quenya name meaning "Castle of Custody".[6] It derived from the early Elvish Mandostŏ.[7]

In the previous Etymologies, Mandos was translated as "Imprisoner, Binder", derived from root MBAD. Note that here, Mando was envisioned as the actual name of the Vala proper (not his realm). In that conception, the form Mand-os (from Mand-osse) is a "lengthened" form meaning "Dread Imprisoner".[8] The Noldorin names for Mandos were Bannos ("Dread Imprisoner"") and Badhor/Badhron ("judge").[9]

In Eriol's Old English translations, Mandos is referred as Nefrea "Corpse-ruler" and neoaerna hlaford "master of the houses of the dead".[10]



Other versions of the legendarium

Christopher Tolkien notes that in the early version of the Legendarium Mandos does exclaim prophecies, but he doesn't function as the "Doomsman of the Valar" as in the later Silmarillion.[11] His wife was Fui Nienna and he had a hound named Gorgumoth.

In the Qenya Lexicon the Vala in Qenya was called Ve or Vefantur Mandos. In the Gnomish Lexicon his Gnomish names are Bannoth Gwi, Gwi-fanthor and Gwivannoth. His personal name(s) Ve/Gwi are said to derive from a primitive root VEHE, but no meaning or translation are given.[12]

Mandos is the Qenya name of the region and their Halls, also known as Ve after him. The Gnomish form Bannoth also refers to the Vala and the region of the souls, but also improperly his Halls (properly Gwi or Ingwi).[12]

An epithet of Mandos was Morimando ("Dark Mando"), being the dark counterpart of Manwë Kalamando ("Light Mando"). Tolkien notes that in those epithets, the element man loses its sense as "doom, prison", and is understood as the root referring to "holiness" (root MAN in Manwe).[13]


Mandos is comparable to gods of the dead of real world mythologies, like Hades or Hel. The instance of Lúthien singing to him in order to release her beloved, is reminiscent of similar ancient tales, such as Orpheus singing to Hades to release Eurydice, or Hermod who asks Hel to release Baldur.[14] (The story of Orpheus has been retold in English literature as Sir Orfeo).

Another similarity shared between Mandos and the two mythological figures, is that they bear the name of their realms. Mandos in the early writings had a hound, Gorgumoth, while Hades was guarded by the monstrous dog Cerberus and Hel by the dog or wolf Garmr.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Valar"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Flight of the Noldor"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenya Noun Structure", in Parma Eldalamberon XXI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Patrick H. Wynne and Arden R. Smith), p. 85
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Four. Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth: Glossary", p. 350
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, "From Quendi and Eldar, Appendix D" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 39, July 1998, p. 6
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "MBAD-"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies — Part One" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter and Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 45, November 2003, p. 33
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: Appendix 1: Fragments of a translation of The Quenta Noldorinwa into Old English, made by Ælfwine or Eriol; together with Old English equivalents of Elvish names"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "III. The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor": "Notes and Commentary"
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry MBAD
  14. Dawn Felagund, "Námo Mandos", Silmarillion Writers Guild (accessed 12 June 2024)
Valar Lords Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · Melkor
Valier Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
Maiar Arien · Blue Wizards · Eönwë · Gandalf · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Radagast · Salmar · Saruman · Tilion · Uinen
Úmaiar Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs
Concepts and locations Almaren · Aratar (indicated in italics) · Creation of the Ainur · Fana · Máhanaxar · Ainulindalë · Order of Wizards (indicated in bold) · Second Music of the Ainur · Timeless Halls · Valarin · Valinor · Valimar