|"The Death of Glaurung" by John Howe|
|Titles||The Father of Dragons|
The Great Worm
Dragon-King of Nargothrond
|Hoard||Treasure of Finrod Felagund|
|Appeared||First emerged in F.A. 260 |
|Death||F.A. 499 |
|Slain by||Túrin Turambar|
|Gallery||Images of Glaurung|
- "Here not long since was the Great Worm of Angband, most fell of all the creatures of the Enemy!"
- ― Voronwë in Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin
Glaurung was the first of the dragons and one of the foremost lieutenants of Morgoth during the First Age. He had four legs, and a fiery breath, but no wings and could not fly. He was sentient and could talk and understand speech.
Exactly when Glaurung was created is not known, but he first emerged from Angband in F.A. 260, during the Siege of Angband. Although he was still young according to the long life of Dragons, and not grown to his full strength, his initial assault pushed the Noldor from Ard-galen, which he took and defiled, to Dorthonion and the Ered Wethrin.
This victory was short-lived, however, and Glaurung was forced back to Angband when Fingon rode against him with a company of mounted archers. Morgoth was not pleased that Glaurung had revealed himself while still immature, and did not allow any more forays from Angband for some two hundred years.
Two major battles
The siege of Angband was broken in F.A. 455 in the Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame. Glaurung, now grown to his full might, led the largest army of balrogs and orcs yet assembled against the leaguer of the Noldor and overthrew it. He then pressed against the people of Fëanor and, defeating a contingent of their riders upon the plain of Lothlann and forcing Maglor's Gap, burned all the land between the arms of Gelion.
The counter-attack came in F.A. 472, when the Union of Maedhros marched in force against Angband in the decisive battle of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Unnumbered Tears. Glaurung and his brood entered the battle in the early hours of the third morning, when Morgoth loosed his last strength against the combined forces of Fingon, Turgon and Maedhros:
The strength and terror of the Great Worm were now great indeed, and Elves and Men withered before him; and he came between the hosts of Maedhros and Fingon and swept them apart.
—Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
But the Dwarves of Belegost with their great war masks withstood him. Surrounded and hewed at by their axes, Glaurung was driven into a rage and slew Azaghâl the Lord of Belegost. But with his last stroke the Dwarf-lord dealt Glaurung a grievous wound to the belly and the dragon and his brood fled back to Angband, leaving the final victory over the Union to Gothmog and his balrogs.
Destruction of Nargothrond
In autumn of F.A. 495, Glaurung led an army of Orcs against Nargothrond. He passed over Anfauglith and first assailed the north Vales of Sirion, then coming south laid waste to Eithel Ivrin and Talath Dirnen. His advance was checked by the Mormegil, Túrin Turambar, who led the forces of Nargothrond out to meet Glaurung in the Battle of Tumhalad. The Elves were utterly defeated; King Orodreth was slain, and although Túrin attempted to rally the survivors to a last defence of Nargothrond itself, Glaurung came there first. The dragon passed swiftly over the bridge over Narog and destroyed the Doors of Felagund.
As Glaurung's orcs were sacking the city, Túrin arrived and cut his way to the captives. As he did so Glaurung emerged from the doors and put him under his spell. Túrin was transfixed by the gaze of dragon as the captives, among them Finduilas, were led away. Then Glaurung spoke to Túrin and convinced him not to go after Finduilas but to return to Dor-lómin and rescue his mother Morwen and sister Nienor (when in fact they had already fled to Doriath). After weaving the first strand of his plot to bring doom to the children of Húrin, who Morgoth had cursed, he drove away his orcs and made his abode in Nargothrond, casting down the bridge and, in true dragon fashion, laying down to sleep on the great hoard he had plundered.
The following year, F.A. 496, Glaurung's slumber was disturbed. Hearing of the fall of Nargothrond a small party from Doriath, including Morwen and Nienor, was sent to seek tidings, especially of the fate of Túrin. His keen sight quickly detected them and, as they approached his dwelling, he issued forth into the Narog and created a steam and reek that scattered the spies in confusion. Glaurung then crept swiftly towards Amon Ethir where he met Nienor, alone, and placed her under the same spell he had her brother Túrin. But this time rather than subtle deceits he used his power to completely obliterate Niënor's memory and left her to wander in the wild.
For the next several years Glaurung ruled as the 'dragon-king' of what was once the Realm of Nargothrond, gathering many Orcs to him. Meanwhile, Nienor escaped from Mablung's care and wandered into Brethil. There she was found by Túrin, now living amongst the Halethrim, who named her Níniel. Not knowing that they were brother and sister (Túrin having never met his sister and Níniel ignorant of her true identity), the two fell in love and were married. In F.A. 498 Glaurung began to send his orcs against Brethil, and thereby forced Túrin to reveal himself. The next summer he came there himself, but was caught by an ambush before he could reach the Halethrim's dwellings at Ephel Brandir: Túrin lay in wait in the gorge of Cabed-en-Aras, and as Glaurung attempted to leap over it he was dealt a mortal blow by Gurthang, Túrin's black sword.
However even as he lay dying on the banks of Teiglin, the Deceiver completed the doom he had woven for the children of Húrin. Túrin was rendered unconscious by Glaurung's noxious blood and Níniel, coming upon the scene, thought him dead. With his last breath the dragon revealed his plot, and as he died his spells were undone, so Nienor Níniel regained her memory. In despair she leapt to her death into Cabed-en-Aras, and when Túrin awoke and also learned the truth from Brandir, he cast himself upon his own sword.
Exactly what this brood consisted of and, by extension, what Tolkien intended Glaurung's relationship to the rest of the dragons is unclear. The titles "Father of the Dragons" and "first of the urulóki" are also ambiguous in terms of whether Glaurung is a progenitor or simply the first to be created. His 'brood' could be all subsequent dragons, just one 'subspecies', or simply his immediate children. Certainly there is a case to be made that Ancalagon and the winged-dragons were a separate creation of Morgoth's, based on this passage:
[Morgoth] loosed upon his foes the last desperate assault that he had prepared, and out of the pits of Angband there issued the winged dragons, that had not before been seen
—Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
On the other hand, the only two named winged-dragons (Ancalagon and Smaug) were also urulóki: they breathed fire. There are no other dragons explicitly stated to be like Glaurung, both fire-breathing but not flying, making it difficult to argue from Tolkien's published works that he intended Glaurung's brood to constitute a discrete lineage. In the end all that can be gleaned of how Tolkien conceived of the 'taxonomy' of dragons comes from isolated references to different types like urulóki, cold-drake and long-worms, so the problem likely does not have a (canonical) answer.
The name Glaurung is in Sindarin. According to Eldamo, the first element of the name is glaur ("gold"), but the meaning of the second element is unclear. However, there it is still glossed as "Gold-worm".
As the first and greatest of the dragons of Morgoth, Glaurung was sometimes referred to as the Great Worm, the Worm of Morgoth, the Great Worm of Angband and the Gold-worm of Angband. He bore the epithet the Golden. He was also described as the Father of Dragons, though whether this implies he actually sired the rest of his kind is uncertain.
Other versions of the legendarium
Throughout early versions of the legendarium, Glaurung was known by different names: Glórund (the c. 1916-19 Lost Tales) > Glórung (the 1926 'Sketch of the Mythology') > Glómund (the 1930 Quenta Noldorinwa; the Lay of Leithian) > Glaurung (the c. 1951 'Grey Annals'; the published The Silmarillion).
The name Angruin was at one time proposed as an alternative name for Glaurung by Tolkien, however, it was ultimately rejected. It is in Sindarin, and consists of the elements ang ("iron") and ruin ("fiery red"). It is glossed as "Iron Fire".
Portrayal in adaptations
- Glaurung was described and given role-playing statistics in the supplements Creatures of Middle-earth and Creatures of Middle-earth (2nd edition). His name was given the Quenya translation "Golden Gloom". Furthermore, Glaurung was conceived to have bred the cold-drakes Scatha and Ando-anca (whose names were suggested to be revised to Skadi and Skell).
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §260
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §145–148
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §217
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §275
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "The Fall of Nargothrond"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §304–308
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "The Journey of Morwen and Niënor to Nargothrond"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "The Coming of Glaurung"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "Niënor in Brethil"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §319
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §321
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "The Death of Glaurung"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "The Death of Túrin"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
- Paul Strack, "S. Glaurung m.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 2 April 2022)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", p. 37
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Narn i Hîn Húrin (The Tale of the Children of Húrin)", p. 75
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "II. The Earliest 'Silmarillion': Commentary on the 'Sketch of the Mythology'" ([Section] 13)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag End, Chapter XII "Conversations with Smaug": (i) Tolkien's Dragons
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part II", entries "Laurundo", "Undolaurë"
- Helge Fauskanger, Quettaparma Quenyallo, entries "Laurundo" and "Undolaurë" (accessed 13 February 2020)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 183
- Paul Strack, "S. Angruin m.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 2 April 2022)
- Ruth Sochard Pitt, Jeff O'Hare, Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1994), Creatures of Middle-earth (2nd edition) (#2012), p. 111
- Chris Seeman (1998), "Dragons of the North", in Other Hands Issue 23
|Glaurung · Gostir · Ancalagon · Scatha · Smaug|