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Old 01-01-2010, 08:43 PM   #1
Dakęsîntrah
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Silmaril Ungoliant

I prefer her earlier name of Múru - "Primeval Night" (The Lost Road) over her other names of Gwerlum, Wiriómë or Ungweliantë.

Her terrifying aspect ranks near the top of Middle Earth terrors in my mind. However, her primal power was so great, I cannot but admire her.

So, recently, I had begun my own little quest on the Internet in the hopes of possibly finding images of her so as to satisfy the lust for her in my mind's eye.

However, I am afraid to say hardly any images really do any justice to how I had perceived her.

John Howe's drawing is the one I liked the best, but it is pretty mediocre to what I envision.

First of all, why must Morgoth always be depicted as this blundering fool with full plate armour on?

Secondly, and most importantly, why must Ungoliant be portrayed undersized?

Being Primal Night and being able to suck whole light out of the atmosphere, blocking out the sun and the moon and the titanic trees of Valinor - I see her in this light as this immense shadowy figure, towering up to the heavens, as big as a mountain, her legs stretching for miles, mayhaps. I would envision Melkor's stature paling in comparison to this titan.

Here is John Howe's depiction. I respect Howe's talent and creativity, but I do not believe he did any justice to the Dark Spider.

http://angel.cs.msu.su/~salnikov/gil..._two_trees.jpg

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Old 01-03-2010, 10:58 AM   #2
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Firstly, great topic, I was first expecting something about her origins etc., but a discussion on how she was represented in drawings is very original.

Secondly, about Melkor, I find his portrayal here quite fitting. We do know that:

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he put on again the form that he had worn as the tyrant of Utumno: a dark Lord, tall and terrible. In that form he remained ever after.
We do know that he in battle he wore black armour, so that fits. Perhaps we should have Grond instead of a sword here and should look a bit more terrible, but otherwise I find him ok. Also, perhaps no helmet were in order, rather just some iron crown, since we know that Thorondor was capable of hurting him with his talons.

Ungoliant couldn't have been that huge, since it was only after drinking the sap of the trees that she able to overpower Melkor and since she was forced to flee by the arrival of the balrogs. Were she as big as a mountain, I doubt that she would have cared about their whips.
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Old 01-03-2010, 11:45 AM   #3
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Sting

Thanks for the response!

I think you're quite right, I will then have to adjust my perception of Ungoliant when I go to read the Silmarillion for the 20th time

Good point about Morgoth. It would be cool to see him with Grond in the depictions, but didn't Tolkien describe him as wielding a spear, at least during the time Ungoliant went to suck the sap out of the Tree and drain the Well dry?

What do you think would be an accurate depiction of Morgoth in a drawing? I know there are quite a few depictions of him, but most of them are ones of him fighting Fingolfin.

In stature and girth, was Melkor a bit of a giant compared to Men or Elves? Was he like Sauron who stood head and shoulders above the rest as seen in PJs Fellowship Prologue?

I had always wanted to imagine Melkor as this attractive being such as like the Elves, at least at the time he dueled Fingolfin.

Any thoughts?
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Old 01-03-2010, 11:54 AM   #4
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Secondly, about Melkor, I find his portrayal here quite fitting. We do know that he in battle he wore black armour, so that fits.
No, it does not fit in the least. He wasn't in battle against an army who had weapons of steel, he was in Valinor. Metal armour would not have even existed then because there were had been to that time no organized martial battles. There would have been no logic to Melkor's wearing armour of any kind unless it was the armour of Darkness itself (as indeed it was), nor to his having a sword: he stabbed the trees with a black spear.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:37 PM   #5
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No, it does not fit in the least. He wasn't in battle against an army who had weapons of steel, he was in Valinor. Metal armour would not have even existed then because there were had been to that time no organized martial battles. There would have been no logic to Melkor's wearing armour of any kind unless it was the armour of Darkness itself (as indeed it was), nor to his having a sword: he stabbed the trees with a black spear.
I believe that metal armours actually did exist at that time. Melkor spoke to the Eldar of weapons long before the slaying of the trees. I can't recall that armours were mentioned in Valinor but swords and shields certainly were, and I don't find it hard to believe that the crafty and paranoid Noldor also made some plate armour for themselves in secret, in addition to their weapons. The fact that the Exiles made mincemeat of Morgoth's Orcs at their first encounter suggests that they were both well trained and well equipped when they marched to Middle Earth.

Besides, Morgoth definitely knew of plate armours as he was one of the Ainur who had envisioned the unfolding of Arda in the Great Music and knew of many things yet to come to pass. He would have paid close attention to the war part of the story too, being the main instigator behind that particular theme in the Music.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:43 PM   #6
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No, it does not fit in the least. He wasn't in battle against an army who had weapons of steel, he was in Valinor. Metal armour would not have even existed then because there were had been to that time no organized martial battles. There would have been no logic to Melkor's wearing armour of any kind unless it was the armour of Darkness itself (as indeed it was), nor to his having a sword: he stabbed the trees with a black spear.
Fëanor and the Noldor had swords and helmets before the poisoning of the Trees. For that reason I see no issue with Melkor wearing metal armour. A spear would have been more appropriate though, I think.
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Last edited by Inziladun; 01-03-2010 at 12:48 PM. Reason: x/d with Skip, who had similar thoughts
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Old 01-03-2010, 02:05 PM   #7
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Oh yes, indeed a spear would have been much more appropriate, my bad.
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Old 01-03-2010, 02:21 PM   #8
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I've no problem with the armour - Morgoth could easily have created it as part of his fana, and as the attack on the Trees was an overt act of war against the Valar, it's not quite unfitting.
The apparent sword on Howe's painting puzzled me too, until I realized that it's actually meant to be a (somewhat shortish) spear - if you look closely, the blade is to the right, either partially obscured by Telperion or piercing its bark, and what looks like a hilt is rather a crossguard for parrying.
As for Ungoliant, I find Howe's representation acceptable, but I'd have preferred something more shadowy - a mass of darkness with disturbing suggestions of crawling legs and clusters of eyes. Monsters are always much more frightening if their precise anatomy is hinted at rather than shown in detail - cf Lovecraft's Cthulhu, who is an unnerving presence as long as he's offscreen but turns into a surrealistic pizza frutti di mare when his appearance is actually described.
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:33 PM   #9
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The apparent sword on Howe's painting puzzled me too, until I realized that it's actually meant to be a (somewhat shortish) spear - if you look closely, the blade is to the right, either partially obscured by Telperion or piercing its bark, and what looks like a hilt is rather a crossguard for parrying.
I didn't notice the tree on the far right, nor did I realise spears could have guards like that near the point. Speaking of points, it looks like ol' Melkor needs to sharpen that thing, if it's a spear.
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:58 PM   #10
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I didn't notice the tree on the far right, nor did I realise spears could have guards like that near the point. Speaking of points, it looks like ol' Melkor needs to sharpen that thing, if it's a spear.
Several medieval types of spear had that kind of thing; some even had additional blades protruding at an angle below the main blade, approaching the form of a trident (see here and here).
Speaking of points, as I said, the tip of the blade is either hidden behind Telperion's bole or stuck in the bark; but I agree Mr Howe's treatment of this point is more than a little awkward, and you have to look twice to see what he meant.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:08 PM   #11
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Dark-Eye Múru, the "Primeval Night"

Y'all have to wonder if Ungoliant could have destroyed the Girdle of Melian and Melian's physical form itself had not the Balrogs whiplashed her. We are told in the Silmarillion that she was stayed by the might of Melian, but then this was AFTER she got her eight-legged, gluttonous a$$ beaten by the Balrogs. If She was able to subdue Melkor (thanks to the powerful Trees' sap she drunk dry), I don't see why she couldn't single-handedly destroy Doriath, which was guarded by one Maia. Remember Tulkas and the rest of the Valar were entagled in her darkness during their pursuit, and the horn of Orome faltered. Great is her might, this Ungoliant.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:17 AM   #12
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We are told in the Silmarillion that she was stayed by the might of Melian, but then this was AFTER she got her eight-legged, gluttonous a$$ beaten by the Balrogs. If She was able to subdue Melkor (thanks to the powerful Trees' sap she drunk dry), I don't see why she couldn't single-handedly destroy Doriath, which was guarded by one Maia. Remember Tulkas and the rest of the Valar were entagled in her darkness during their pursuit, and the horn of Orome faltered. Great is her might, this Ungoliant.
Well, we are only told that the balrogs pursued her, not that they actually fought her. Since she approached Doriath quite soon after that, her power was pretty much intact, yet still no match for Melian.
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