Tolkien Gateway


"I should say there were little bears, large bears, ordinary bears, and gigantic big bears, all dancing outside from dark to nearly dawn."
Gandalf in The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"

Bears were large and ferocious animals, notorious for their love of honey.[1]


[edit] History

There were bears in the Second Age, in Númenor, and were either of black or brown variety. Like all the animals in the isle, they were friendly, although they did not like to be disturbed. They lived in mountains or rocky areas, far from humans, but often came to visit houses and were given honey. Specifically, the black bears had "bear-dances", which they performed for the delight of Men, and sometimes Men instructed and improved them in their dances. The most famous one was the Great Bear-dance, performed annually.[2]

Bears lived in the Misty Mountains for some time, though by the late Third Age, their number had diminished. Gandalf told Bilbo that giants had taken up their homes in that mountain range. One of the alleged origins of Beorn, the skin changer, was that he had descended from them.[3]

[edit] Etymology

Early Noldorin had two words for bear: brôg and megli, with the variation meglivorn ("Black bear").[4] In Sindarin, only the word graw is attested.[5] A Quenya word for "bear" is given as morco, sharing a Root with brôg.[4] A variant Quenya name for "bear" is given as morokō (and mor(o)kē, "she-bear").[6]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

In the earliest outlines of The Fall of Gondolin, Tuor was clad in the skins of bears.[7] The sinews of bears were also used to make bowstring[8] and harp strings.[7]

[edit] Other fiction

Bears play a significantly bigger role in other stories, most notably Mr. Bliss and The Father Christmas Letters.

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

Beorn appears only in the shape of a black bear.[11]

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

Bears appear as wildlife in the map "Mirkwood".[12]

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Bears are found in many places of Middle-earth and range in size of large dog to the size of a small elephant. They are typically not aggressive, but will fight if the player threatens them. Players that are lore-masters are able to use a bear as a combat pet.

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Beorn appears in the form a of brown bear, both in the second and the third film.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Treebeard"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", p. 335
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries "MOROK", LIS-
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, p. 12, note 3
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenya Noun Structure", in Parma Eldalamberon XXI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Patrick H. Wynne and Arden R. Smith), p. 82
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "The Lay of the Children of Húrin", line 1073 (page 47)
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Mr. Bliss, page 13
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien (ed.), Letters from Father Christmas
  11. The Hobbit (2003 video game), "The Clouds Burst"
  12. The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, "Mirkwood"