New Tolkien Thread - Origin of Dragons?

Since we lost all of our recent Tolkien threads (damn hackers - grrrr!) and the Cafe is currently Tolkeinless, I thought I’d fix this porblem by asking my fellow Dopers what their theory is regarding the origin of Dragons. In the Silmarillion, it states that they were creations of Morgoth. Did he create them by corrupting another intelligent race, in the manner of Orcs (and if so, WHAT race?), or are they separate creations? If they are separate creations (presumably derived from some animal), how are they able to function once Morgoth is cast into the void? Certainly Glaurung and Smaug seem both intelligent AND capable of independent action, which would appear to imply the presence of a soul of sorts. Ideas, anyone?


Well, since Melkor can’t Create with a capital C, and the dragons do act as independent agents (so they’re not just automata like the dwarves originally were), we must conclude that they were a corruption of some Creation of Iluvitar. The fact that they were intelligent isn’t any significant barrier here: There are a number of intelligent beasts (aside from the Four (or Five) Free Peoples) in Middle Earth: See the Great Eagles and the Wargs, for instance, or the companions of Beorn. Presumably, there was originally a species of intelligent reptilian creatures, all of whom were enslaved and corrupted by Melkor, so there are no current living representatives other than the Dragons themselves.

No Silmarillion handy, but IIRC:

  • Melkor “created” them by corrupting existing reptilian animals

  • I don’t believe they were actually “intelligent” creatures per se – I think Tolkien states that the dragon’s bodies are actually possessed by an evil spirit. I seem to recall something along the lines of “…and then the evil spirit that dwelt in his body spoke…” or something when Glaurung (?), father of dragons, was tormenting that guy who wound up falling in love with his own sister (can’t remember his name…). I think there’s a similar implication (possessed by a demon) with the head evil wolf that winds up swallowing the silmaril.

Sorry for the total lack of cites/correct names.

Of course, if all of the intelligent evil animals are actually just demon-possessed, then how do you explain the GOOD intelligent animals (Huan the dog, the eagles, etc.)?

My take on it is that there were really lots and lots of lesser Ainur, many of whom entered Arda, and many of whom were corrupted by Morgoth. Some lucky one who was faithful to Iluvatar got to be Huan, some others ended up as Carcharoth or Ancalagon the Black.

And that’s Turin and Niniel/Nienor you were thinking of, toadspittle.

I don’t know about that, Qadgop… The description of how Morgoth raised Carcharoth seems pretty consistent with how one would raise an animal wolf-pup to be a killer. Of course, Carcharoth wasn’t particularly any more intelligent than a normal wolf, either (or at least, there’s no indication if he was). Demonic possession might work for dragons, but that still leaves us with intelligent wargs, which bred as do any living thing, and which showed no particular powers beyond what might be expected of intelligent wolves. Given that we’ve already got intelligent beasts, I’m going to stick with the notion that some of those beasts happened to be reptilian.

And toadspittle? I like your style… You don’t remember the name of one of the greatest human heros in the history of Middle-Earth, but you remember the dog :slight_smile:

As authoritative as I consider Doc Qadgop to be on all matters Tolkien, the best researched and documented treatise is available for free on the web and is entitled The Encyclopaedia of Arda

It states that the origins of dragons are unknown. :eek:

I have nothing to back this up, but I suspect that the dragons were a corruption of the Great Eagles.

I respectfully disagree, DPWhite. The encyclopedia of Arda is a wonderful resource, but I would not call it “the best researched and documented treatise”. It still has gaping holes in it, and contains only a tiny fragment of the information derived from the 12 volume HOME (the History of Middle Earth, edited by CJRT) series. It doesn’t mention the names of any dwarvish families besides the Longbeards (omitting Firebeards, Broadbeams, etc.) and doesn’t even list Fingolfin’s wife’s name! In short, it is a magnificent start, but is still very, very incomplete.

The best researched and documented treatise is, IMHO, the HOME series itself.

And Chronos I suspect you’re right about Carcharoth.

I don’t think so. The flightless dragons came first. Morgoth didn’t learn to make flying dragons until very late in the game–I think they debut in the final battle, don’t they, and nearly turn the tide?