Ravens were large black birds, associated with ill news of death, and were known for their harsh voices.
The intelligent ravens of Ravenhill near Erebor, could live to a great age and some could even speak Westron and were friendly with the Dwarves of Erebor. Carc had been one of these, and his son Roäc was the leader of the ravens of Erebor around T.A. 2941, when Thorin and Company reclaimed the mountain from Smaug.
When Peregrin Took became one of the Guards of the Citadel, his new garments included a "high-crowned helm with small raven-wings on either side".
It has been suggested that J.R.R. Tolkien's use of ravens is reminiscent of Odin's two messenger-ravens Huginn and Muninn of the Norse mythology, appearing in the Edda. See also: Roäc: Inspiration
In The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, the lord of the ravens is Rerir, grandson of Ódin. Ravens are further associated with the coming of death.
Portrayal in adaptations
1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:
- Ravens, level 4 birds, are enchanted and intelligent, friends of the Free Peoples. They are reputedly the messengers of the Vala Mandos, and are able to speak many Mannish and Elvish tongues.
2002-5: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game:
- "Ravens of the North" are "creatures of especially powerful magic", being able to understand Westron and having extraordinarily long lives.
2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:
- Many ravens are seen returning to the Lonely Mountain after Smaug is slain. One is later seen setting out for the Iron Hills, and then returning just as Dáin Ironfoot's army arrives. It is possible this raven could be serving the role of Roäc, but it is never confirmed. Despite the fact that real-life ravens can mimic human speech, they do not speak at all, as with all other birds in Peter Jackson's Middle-earth films.
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian: Canto II (Gorlim's betrayal and Beren's revenge)", p. 161 (§119)
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, pp. 164-165, 341
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Voice of Saruman"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Siege of Gondor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, p. 315
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, p. 72
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, pp. 275, 285
- ↑ Ruth Sochard Pitt, Jeff O'Hare, Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. (1994), Creatures of Middle-earth (2nd edition) (#2012), pp. 26, 132
- ↑ Scott Bennie, Mike Mearls, Steve Miller, Aaron Rosenberg, Chris Seeman, Owen Seyler, and George Strayton (2003), Fell Beasts and Wondrous Magic, p. 58