Born First Age. Died Second Age in the War of the Last Alliance that ended the Second Age.


by Varda-(Valar)
Sept. 6, 2003

    Oropher was the father of Thranduil and grandfather of Legolas. He was king of the Silvan Elves in Greenwood the Great, and slain in the War of the Last Alliance.
    Oropher was of Sindarin origin, ruling the Silvans. Oropher had come among the Silvan Elves with only a handful of Sindar, soon merging with them in language, taking names of Silvan type. They did so on purpose, having come from the ruin of Doriath. These Sindar had no desire to be merged with the other Sindar of Beleriand, as they were dominated by the Noldorin Exiles "for whom the folk of Doriath had no great love". They wished to return to the simple life of the Elves as it was before the invitation of the Valar, which they felt the Silvans had. In an apparent contradiction due to the unfinished nature of the stories, possibly due to a part still existing unwritten in the mind of Tolkien dealing with the disastrous aftermath of the War of the Last Alliance, the Silvan tongue ceased to be used in the kingdom of Thranduil.
    Elves migrated from the south, the kin and neighbors of the Elves of Lorien.  They made their home in Greenwood the Great, east of the River Anduin.
    In the Second Age, their king, Oropher, had withdrawn northward beyond the Gladden Fields. He did so to be free of the power and encroachments of the Dwarves of Moria, which had become the greatest mansion of Dwarves in history. Oropher also resented the intrusions of Celeborn and Galadriel into Lorien. Still, visiting and trade was continuous between Oropher's people and their kin across the river until the War of the Last Alliance.

    Another note tells more. In the notes to "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", before the War of the Last Alliance, Oropher as king of the Silvan Elves east of the Anduin River was disturbed by rumors of Sauron's power rising. They left the ancient home at Amon Lanc across the river from their kin in Lorien, moving north three times. At the end of the Second Age, they lived in the western glens of the Emyn Duir (Dark Mountains, only after Sauron's presence were they called Emyn-nu-Fuin, the Mountains of Mirkwood). These were high hills in the north-east of the forest. His people were numerous, ranging as far west as the Anduin, north of the ancient Dwarf-road (Old Forest Road in The Hobbit)..
    Oropher knew the Silvan elves wished to keep out of the affairs of all others: Noldor, Sindar, Dwarves, Men, or Orcs. Yet Oropher had the wisdom to know Saruon would not leave them in peace and had to be overcome.  So he assembled a great army of his numerous people, joining with the lesser army of Malgalad of Lorien (also known as Amdir, father of Amroth) to enter the War of the Last Alliance.
    Oropher led this host of Silvan Elves, a group hardy and valiant, yet ill-equipped with armor or weapons when compared with the Eldar of the West. Also, they were too independent to place themselves under the command of Gil-galad who was supposed to be supreme commander. For these reasons, their losses were terrible, more than should have been even in such a war.
    In the battle of Dagorlad, Malgalad of Lorien and over half his followers were cut off from the main host and killed when driven into the Dead Marshes. Their faces were some of those seen by Frodo, Sam, and Gollum during the War of the Ring.
    Oropher, heading his finest warriors, did not wait for Gil-galad's signal, but charged towards Mordor without the rest of the forces. Oropher died in that assault, but his son Thranduil survived.
    Barely a third of the army was therefore left for Thranduil to lead home, a year before Isildur's march.
    After this experience, Thranduil afterwards had the fear that Mordor would rise again, even though it seemed broken. Humans spread out around his stronghold, growing in power, and the wild men of the East were restless, their minds still filled with the evil from the time in which they had worshipped Sauron. Thranduil and his people therefore were ready to retreat when the Shadow of Sauron fell on the Greenwood as the Necromancer, no doubt saving many lives. Not until then was the forest called Mirkwood.
    After the War of the Ring, Thranduil and Celeborn renamed Mirkwood Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of Greenleaves.

Reference: Unfinished Tales: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" Appendix B "The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves"