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Ancalagon

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Ancalagon
Dragon
Daniel Pilla - Ancalagon vs Earendil.jpg
"Ancalagon vs Earendil" by Daniel Pilla
Biographical Information
TitlesThe Black
AffiliationMorgoth
Deathc. F.A. 587
War of Wrath
Slain byEärendil
Physical Description
TypeUrulókë
LegsYes
WingedYes
ColourBlack
GalleryImages of Ancalagon

Ancalagon the Black was the greatest of Morgoth's Dragons, and the mightiest winged fire-dragon ever existed.

History

During the War of Wrath, the Valar waged their final war on Morgoth. Their victory was at hand, with most of the Dark Lord's Balrogs and other troops destroyed.[1] But in the year 587,[2] Morgoth unleashed the winged dragons, which he had been hiding in Angband. Ancalagon was among them, and their attack drove back the forces of the Host of the Valar, as they came with thunderbolts and fire storms.[1]

But Eärendil came, shining with white flame, and about Vingilot were gathered all the great birds of heaven and Thorondor was their captain, and there was battle in the air all the day and through a dark night of doubt. Before the rising of the sun Eärendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin.
Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"

By the late Third Age, Gandalf mentioned Ancalagon, noting that not even his fire could harm the One Ring.[3]

Etymology

Ancalagon is a Sindarin name. It is not properly glossed, but it contains anc ("jaws") + root alak- ("rushing").[4]

In the Noldorin phase of the Elvish language it is glossed as "Biting-storm", from anc ("jaw, row of teeth") + alagos ("storm of wind").[5]

In Eriol's Old English translations, Ancalagon is referred as Anddraca ("Enemy-dragon").[6]

Other versions of the legendarium

The first apparition of Ancalagon in Tolkien's legendarium was in the Quenta Noldorinwa (1930s), which gives a version even more summarized of the War of Wrath than what is given above, although the story does not differ from later versions.[7] Tolkien never fully completed the Quenta Silmarillion, so the information about Ancalagon was never developed, and although he revised the text of the War of Wrath, they were very brief expansions, made in the Quenta Silmarillion of 1937,[8] and in The Later Quenta Silmarillion of 1951.[9] This last version was the main text used by Christopher Tolkien for his edition of The Silmarillion.[10]

The only mention of Ancalagon in later texts is in a note about the language of the Haladin, written in Tolkien's last years:

The language of the Folk of Haleth was not used, for they had perished and would not rise again. Nor would their tongue be heard again, unless the prophecy of Andreth the Wise-woman should prove true, that Túrin in the Last Battle should return from the Dead, and before he left the Circles of the World for ever should challege the Great Dragon of Morgoth, Ancalagon the Black, and deal him the death-stroke.[11]

Christopher Tolkien explains that this prophecy is in line with the different versions of the End of the World prophecies, as his father always used the term "Last Battle" to the apocalyptic event. However, he notices that the own text later uses this term for the battle happening at the end of the Elder Days, despite that in all previous texts it was Eärendil who destroys Ancalagon in the War of Wrath.[11]

Inspiration

Christopher explains that Túrin slaying Ancalagon in Andreth's prophecy resembles Sigurd killing Miðgarðsormr in the Völuspá, especially in the retelling his father made in the New Lay of the Völsungs.[12]

In popular culture

Two animals are named after Ancalagon: Ancalagon, a Cambrian priapulid by Simon Conway Morris in 1977, and Ankalagon by Leigh Van Valen in 1980, a Paleocene mesonychid mammal.[13]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Three. The Wanderings of Húrin and Other Writings not forming part of the Quenta Silmarillion: V. The Tale of Years", p. 346
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entries alqua, anc
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries "ÁLAK-", "ÁNAK-", "NAK-"
  6. 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", p. 209
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: §18 in the Q II version", p. 160
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", The Conclusion of the Quenta Silmarillion, §18, p. 329
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: The Last Chapters of the Quenta Silmarillion", pp. 246-247
  10. Douglas Charles Kane, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion, 24. "Of the Voyage of Eärendil", p. 234
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XII. The Problem of Ros", pp. 374-375, note 17
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien; Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, "Commentary on Völsungskviða en nýja", "Upphaf", pp.?
  13. Chris Isaak, "Names from Fictional Characters", Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature


Named Dragons
Glaurung · Gostir · Ancalagon · Scatha · Smaug