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The name Ecthelion refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Ecthelion (disambiguation).
"Ecthelion" by Anna Lee
Biographical Information
TitlesLord of the Fountains
PositionWarden of the Great Gate
LocationAnfauglith, Fen of Serech, Gate of Steel, Tumladen, and Gondolin
LanguageQuenya, Sindarin
DeathF.A. 510
Place of the Fountain, Gondolin
Notable forSlaying Gothmog
HouseHouse of the Fountain
Physical Description
ClothingSilver-spiked helmet, silver garb
GalleryImages of Ecthelion

And high and noble as was Elemmakil, greater and more lordly was Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountains, at that time Warden of the Great Gate. All in silver was he clad, and upon his shining helm there was set a spike of steel pointed with a diamond; and as his esquire took his shield it shimmered as if it were bedewed with drops of rain, that were indeed a thousand studs of crystal.

Ecthelion was an Elf-lord of Gondolin, leader of the People of the Fountain and slayer of Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. He was also at one point the Warden of the Great Gate of Gondolin. Ecthelion had the most beautiful voice and greatest musical talent with the flute of all the people of Gondolin.


Glorfindel and Ecthelion by Turner Mohan

In the year F.A. 472, Ecthelion fought alongside Turgon in the battle Nirnaeth Arnoediad, leading a wing of Gondolin's forces. Upon the defeat of the Noldor, he defended a flank as Turgon retreated.[1] Surviving the disastrous battle, Ecthelion returned towards the Hidden City where he next appeared as Warden of the Great Gate.

Twenty-three years after Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Tuor and Voronwë traveled towards the Hidden City. After being led by Elemmakil through the Seven Gates, Ecthelion appeared before them. He is portrayed as great and lordly, all clad in silver and having a bright glance. Upon his helm there was a spike with a diamond point, and he bore a shield which shimmered as "a thousand studs of crystal". At first denying passage for Tuor, he allows it after the latter shows the arms of Vinyamar and mentions Ulmo, saying that the Lord of the Fountains should not oppose the Lord of the Waters.[2]

In the year F.A. 510, Morgoth attacked the city. Ecthelion battled there against Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs in the Place of the Fountain, where they slew each other.[3] The battle was well detailed in The Fall of Gondolin, and long remembered by the elves.


With the development of the Elvish languages, the name Ecthelion had its own evolution.

The early Gnomish conception meant "Lord of the Fountains",[4] from ecthel ("issue of water, spring").[5] Its Qenya cognate was Ektelion.[6]

In the Noldorin stage of the name, it is composed from ehtë ("spear") and thela ("point" of spear).[7] Put together they could be translated as "Spear-point" or "Spear-head".

The Sindarin version should have been Ægthelion, derived from aeg ("sharp") + thel ("intent, resolve") + -on (masculine suffix). However, Tolkien wrote that the early Ecthelion sounded good and it had already been used in publication (with the name of two ruling stewards in The Lord of the Rings), so he let it as an archaic form of the proper Sindarin name.[8]:318-9 Ægthelion can be translated as "One with Sharp Will".[9]

Other versions of the legendarium

The Book of Lost Tales

The most detailed text about Ecthelion and his deeds during the Fall of Gondolin is the chapter "The Fall of Gondolin", in The Book of Lost Tales. There it is told that he is the lord of the house of the Fountain, one of the twelve houses of the Gondothlim. Its people found delight in diamonds and the silver of their arrays was most beautiful to the sight.[10]:173

Death of Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountain by Mysilvergreen

During the siege of the city, Ecthelion led his folk into battle accompanied by the music of their flutes, and great were the damages caused to the enemy by their long, bright swords.[10]:173 He and his forces made their entrance from the South part of the city, after previously being held in reserve. So terrible was his voice when commanding the drawing of the swords and the killings which followed, that his name became a terror among the enemy and a war-cry to the Eldar. Valiantly fighting side by side with Tuor and his house of the Wing, they drove away the orcs until the gate was almost regained. It is said that Ecthelion and his house of the Fountain slew more orcs than had ever been slain, in all the battles of elves and orcs combined. Ecthelion killed three Balrogs and his sword did "hurt to their fire". However, dragons reinforced Melko's army. Outnumbered, they had to retreat. When doing so, Ecthelion's left arm was wounded and his shield fell to earth. Tuor carried him away as they joined the remaining leaders in the Square of the King.[10]:180-2

In that place the great Fountain of the King stood and Ecthelion regained his strength by drinking from it. As seven dragons lead the enemy's forces towards the Square, the remaining army of Gondolin began retreat. All but Ecthelion, who remained near the fountain in a stand which was remembered as the most valiant "in all the songs or in any tale". There Gothmog lord of Balrogs beated down Egalmoth, but Ecthelion came inbetween despite being pale as steel. During the duel, Ecthelion was wounded in the hand and lost his sword. Gothmog then was about to deliver a blow with his whip when Ecthelion jumped and drove the spike of his helmet into Gothmog's body. Twining his legs with the enemy's, both fell into the Fountain of the King. Gothmog died there with Ecthelion, sank because of his steel armor.[10]:183-4

Later, during the escape of the Exiles of Gondolin, the young Eärendel asked about him, saying that he wished Ecthelion were there, "to play to me on his flute, or make me willow whistles! Perchance has he gone on ahead?" After he was informed of Ecthelion's death he "wept bitterly" and said that he cared no more to see the streets of Gondolin.[10]:191

Aredhel's escort

While composing the chapter about Maeglin, Tolkien considered Ecthelion, Glorfindel and Egalmoth as the escort of Aredhel when she left the Hidden City in his way to visit Fingon.[8]:318 However, in the published Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien did not mention any of the escorts of Aredhel, based on a note in which his father discuss about the motives of Celegorm and Curufin of not sending any message to Gondolin about Aredhel. Tolkien decided that it was necessary not to name the most eminent and bravest chieftains as Aredhel's escort, as they would have seek for her beyond the Bridge of Esgalduin.[8]:328


Realm of Gondolin
Ondolindë · Hidden City · City of Seven Names
Outside locations Amon Gwared · Anghabar · Echoriad (Crissaegrim · Eithel Nínui · Fingolfin's cairn) · Seven Gates of Gondolin (Gate of Wood · Gate of Stone · Gate of Bronze · Gate of Writhen Iron · Gate of Silver · Gate of Gold · Gate of Steel) · Orfalch Echor · Tumladen
Inside locations Alley of Roses · Arch of Inwë · Caragdûr · Fountains of the South · Gar Ainion · Great Market · Lesser Market · Idril's secret way · Place of the Fountain · Place of the Well · Road of Arches · Road of Pomps · Tower of the King · Way of Running Waters
Objects Anguirel · Axe of Tuor · Crown of the Hidden Kingdom · Elfstone · Glamdring · Glingal and Belthil · Orcrist · Sting
Houses House of the King · House of the Wing · House of the Mole · House of the Swallow · House of the Heavenly Arch · House of the Pillar · House of the Tower of Snow · House of the Tree · House of the Golden Flower · House of the Fountain · House of the Harp · House of the Hammer of Wrath
People Aranwë · Aredhel · Dark Guard · Duilin · Eärendil · Ecthelion · Egalmoth · Elemmakil · Elenwë · Enerdhil · Eöl · Exiles of Gondolin · Galdor · Glorfindel · Huor · Húrin · Hendor · Idril · Legolas · Maeglin · Meleth · Pengolodh · Penlod · Rog · Salgant · Tuor · Turgon · Ulmo · Voronwë · Warden of the Great Gate
Events Fall of Gondolin · Gates of Summer · Nirnaeth Arnoediad · Ulmo's warning · Wanderings of Húrin
Main texts Lost Tale of The Fall of Gondolin (1916-20) · The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin (c. 1920) · Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin (1950) · Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin (1977) · The Fall of Gondolin (2018)
Twelve houses of the Gondothlim
King (leader: Turgon) · Wing (Tuor) · Mole (Meglin) · Swallow (Duilin) · Heavenly Arch (Egalmoth) · Pillar (Penlod) · Tower of Snow (Penlod) · Tree (Galdor) · Golden Flower (Glorfindel) · Fountain (Ecthelion) · Harp (Salgant) · Hammer of Wrath (Rog)