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Kent Burles - Ossë.png
"Ossë" by Kent Burles
Biographical Information
Other namesYssion, Gaerys
AffiliationUlmo, formerly Melkor
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Ossë

Ossë (Q, pron. [ˈosːe]) was a Maia of the Sea associated with Ulmo.



Ossë is a vassal of Ulmo, but he loves the winds and prefers the coasts and isles to the deeps of his master. There is some darkness and violence in his spirit, presumably after his seduction by Melkor, and still enjoys raging in storms despite the will of Ulmo. He is friend to mariners, but they don't trust his wild urges. Only his spouse, Uinen can restrain them.[1]


In the early days of Arda, Ossë turned to Melkor for a time, but Uinen brought him back to the loyalty of Ulmo. However, Ossë's wild and wilful nature was still evident despite remaining loyal to Ulmo.[1]

Ossë was a friend of the Lindar who lingered by the shores of Belegaer on their way to the West. Not wishing to part with his friends, he persuaded some to remain there, at the Falas and the Bay of Balar. These afterwards became known as Falathrim. The mariners respected Ossë as much as the Valar.[2]

After the Valar pronounced the Doom of the Noldor, Ossë helped guard the shores of Beleriand to keep the ships of the Noldor from reaching Valinor. His storms had a part in wrecking all the ships that they sent, and only one Elf from among their crews survived, by the will of Ulmo: Voronwë.[3]

In the Second Age he rose the island of Elenna (Numenor) from the depths of the Sea.[4]


At least two explanations exist for the name Ossë. In The Etymologies, it is understood as the Qenya word osse ("terror"), deriving from the root GOS ("dread").[5] A later note pertaining to the name instead suggests it is a name of non-Elvish origin, deriving from Valarin Oš(o)šai ("spuming, foaming").[6] The same later note mentions that Ossë's Sindarin names were Yssion and Gaerys.[7][6]

In Eriol's Old English translations, Osse is referred to as Saefrea "Sea-ruler".[8] However, this reflects his status as a Vala (Fréa) in the earlier Legendarium.



Other versions of the legendarium

In older versions of The Silmarillion as well as the Annals of Aman, Ossë and his spouse Uinen were Valar in their own right, and often opposed the will of Ulmo.

Osse was also the name of a Tengwa similar to Roman c, which apparently had the value o.[9] However elsewhere, this letter is named Elwe and has the value of e. In the Mode of Beleriand this letter instead has the value a.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Maiar"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 359
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar", p. 400
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", gaer
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: Appendix 1: Fragments of a translation of The Quenta Noldorinwa into Old English, made by Ælfwine or Eriol; together with Old English equivalents of Elvish names"
  9. Vinyar Tengwar, Number 45, November 2003 p.15