Tolkien’s orcs and goblins. What are they? Where do they come from? What is their nature? Where do they go? Do they even really have personalities or a will of their own?
These are just a few of the questions we’ll be asking in Hall of Fire this Saturday at 6pm EDT.
“[Orc] occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds). Orc is the hobbits’ form of the name given at that time to these creatures.” Tolkien’s preface to The Hobbit.
Tolkien’s orcs and goblins
Tolkien actually derived the term from an Old English word, believing it to refer to a kind of evil spirit or demon. Orcnéas, possibly meaning “evil spirits of the dead”, appears twice in Beowulf.
Does this give us some hint as to what they really are?
Early orc origins proposed they arose through the sorcery of Morgoth from “subterranean heat and slime”, and their hearts were stones like granite.
This ultimately proved unsatisfactory within a greater tale where only Eru truly has the power to originate life ex nihilo.
Tolkien toyed with many possibilities but never seems to have firmly resolved the origins of Orcs. The Silmarillion purports that Orcs were corrupted Elves; Unfinished Tales hints some may have been bred from the Druedain. The later volumes of HOME consider a number of origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, minor Maiar (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even animals infused with Morgoth’s will.
What do you think? And do the way Tolkien portrays them in The Lord of the Rings through characters such as Ugluk, Grishnakh, Gorbag and Shagrat provide any insight? Join us this Saturday August 15 at 6pm EDT in #thehalloffire on irc.theonering.net as we look at Tolkien’s orcs and goblins.
Saturday August 15: Tolkien’s Orcs and goblins
Saturday August 22: The Hobbit: Chapter 15: The Gathering of the Clouds
Saturday August 29: Gildor Inglorien
Time zone conversions
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6.00pm EDT (New York)
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