Mithril

From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the precious metal of J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. For the the real-world producers of metal mintiatures, see Mithril Miniatures.
Mithril by John Howe
" Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of mithril did not tarnish or grow dim."
Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark"

Mithril was a precious metal[1] highly prized for its strength, light weight, and malleability. The Elves called this substance mithril, but the Dwarves had their own, secret name for it. It was also known as Moria-silver or true-silver (though unlike silver, over time it did not tarnish or grow dim) and desired by all races.[2].

History[edit]

Mithril was found in the Misty Mountains, in lodes leading north from the underground dwarven city of Moria towards Caradhras and down to darkness.[2] It was also found on the island of Númenor[3] and probably in Aman as well.[4]

The sole mithril-vein of the Misty Mountains made the Longbeards of Moria wealthy.[2] Some Noldor settled in Eregion near the West-gate of Moria, because they had heard that mithril had been found[5] and desired to use it in their crafts. Thanks to trade with the Dwarves of Moria, the Elves created objects of mithril, perhaps the most notable being Nenya, one of the Three Elven Rings of Power.[6] The Noldor of Eregion also made an alloy out of mithril called ithildin ("star moon"),[2] which was visible only by starlight or moonlight. This was used by the elven mastersmith Celebrimbor for the inlaid decorative designs and writings on the Doors of Durin on the West-gate of Moria.[7]

Expensive by Lída Holubová

King Tar-Telemmaitë of Númenor received his name, which means silver-handed,[8] because he loved silver and always commanded his servants to search for mithril.[9]

After the Downfall of Númenor and the removal of physical Aman from the world near the end of the Second Age, the mines of Moria were the only source of Mithril in the world. Mithril was worth ten times its weight in gold when it could still be mined by the Dwarves.[2]

Over time, the Dwarves of Moria continued to delve deep into the darkness below Caradhras and in T.A. 1980[10] they released a Balrog from the Elder Days. The Balrog destroyed the kingdom[11] and caused the mining of mithril to stop when the surviving Dwarves[11] fled in T.A. 1981,[12] after which mithril became priceless. The Orcs that inhabited Moria after the release of the Balrog did not dare to delve for mithril and gave all the mithril that the dwarves had already mined as tribute to Sauron, who desired it.[2]

After Gimli became Lord of the Glittering Caves, he and his Dwarves forged great gates of mithril and steel to replace the Great Gate of Minas Tirith which was broken by the Witch-king of Angmar.[13]

Other mithril creations[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The name mithril consists of the two Sindarin words mith ("grey, light grey") + ril ("brilliance").[18]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South", p. 277
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark", p. 317
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Notes", note 31
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings", Song of Eärendil, p. 236
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", p. 1082
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Grey Havens" p. 1028
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark", p. 304
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index, entry Tar-Telemmaitë
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor", XV Tar-Telemmaitë
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1980, p. 1089
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk", fourth paragraph, p. 954
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1981, p. 1089
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk", p. 986
  14. 14.0 14.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", The sources of the legend of Isildur's death, fourth pargraph
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith", p. 753
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Not at Home"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields", p. 847
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), entry mithril, p. 47