Tolkien Encyclopedia > Non-humanoid intelligences > Dragons > Smaug
Smaug article by Eru-(Valar)
Smaug article by Varda-(Valar)
Images of Smaug
Smaug the Golden was one of the greatest Dragons to
escape the downfall
Morgoth's realm at the end of the First Age. As with many of his
kind, and as a legacy of Morgoth himself, Smaug loved wealth and
When he learned of the Dwarven hoard at Erebor in
immediately left his home in the Grey Mountains and assailed the
Taken by surprise, the people of King Thror were either slaughtered or
off eastward to the Iron Hills. Subsequently, Smaug descended
and burned the town to the ground, driving off any survivors to Lake
For two hundred years, Smaug held the Lonely Mountain and rested upon
piled wealth of Thror's people, occasionally venturing forth to
the surrounding lands, and extending his influence as far as the Long
and Long Marshes.
In T.A. 2941 Thorin Oakenshield led a company
with Bilbo Baggins to Erebor to challenge the Dragon. Bilbo distracted
Smaug and learned of his one weak spot, which proved invaluable when
issued forth to destroy Thorin's company and Esgaroth, the town which
harboured them. As Smaug began to destroy the settlement, Bard
heir to the throne of the ruined town of Dale, shot and killed the
ending his reign of terror over the region.
Pronouncing Smaug's name and why that way?
Origin of the disagreement with Thorin's company.
The clearing away of Smaug.
How does one say "Smaug"?
AU is pronounced like ow in owl.
G is pronounced like g in get.
Reference: Silmarillion "Note on Pronunciation" near the back.
S is pronounced like so, geese, but not like a z or sh.
AU in Quenya and Sindarin is a dipthong (pronounced in one syllable and
therefore has no diacritical mark), although in Sindarin the use of au
at the end of a word is often spelled aw instead, although it was
common in Feanorian spellings. Elven uses falling dipthongs (except for
Third Age Quenyan iu), meaning they are stressed on the first element
and made of simple vowels run together. Au or aw at the end of a word
would be pronounced like loud or how, not like laud or haw.
G is pronounced like g in give, get, and gild.
Reference (not quote): Return of the King, Appendix E
Therefore the sound of the name would be S-m-ow-g.
Why use Elvish to understand the pronunciation of Smaug?
By the Third Age, the letters and scripts were of elvish origin. The
Tengwar of Feanor (based on the Tengwar of Rumil) was in use wherever
Common Speech was used. The Cirth, made in Beleriand by the Sindar for
incising names and memorials on stone, was made into a richer and more
ordered alphabet by Daeron of Doriath and remained in use by elves of
Eregion, from whom the dwarves picked it up for their own alphabet and
speech, working the runes into a cursive of their own, although many
were proficient with the Tengwar of Feanor. Therefore Thorin and
company would have easily understood the Tengwar of Feanor, like any
human or elf (or hobbit).
Reference: Return of the King, Appendix E
Origin of the disagreement with Thorin Oakenshield's Company
The history of the anger that developed between Smaug and Thorin below is mostly from RotK: Appendix A, in my words to shorten it and keep it relevant to Smaug.
Some dates come from the RotK App. B timeline.
In the middle of the Third Age, Durin VI was king in Moria. At that
time the Shadow of the Forest began to grow in power in Mirkwood,
although none realized then that it was Sauron. He stirred up all evil
things and in the process awakened the Balrog. As the dwarves dug
deeply for mithril, they accidentally set the Balrog free, "a
thing of terror that, flying from Thangorodrim, had lain hidden at the
foundation of the earth since the coming of the Host of the West: a
Balrog of Morgoth." Durin VI was slain by it in 1980, and his son, Náin I, the year after. The people were destroyed or fled far away.
The timeline adds that at this time in 1980, the Witch-king arrived in
Mordor and gathered the rest of the Nine. Therefore they were not yet
with Sauron in Mirkwood.
Most of the dwarves fled into the North. Thráin I, son of
Náin I, settled near the eastern edge of Mirkwood in Erebor,
called the Lonely Mountain, and became King Under the Mountain in 1999.
There he found the great jewel Arkenstone, Heart of the Mountain.
In 2063, Gandalf went to Dol Guldur and Sauron retreated to the East
and the Watchful Peace began. The Nazgul did not venture past Minas
In 2210, Thráin I's son Thorin I, left Erebor and went to the
Grey Mountains in the far North where most of Durin's folk were
gathering, a place little explored and rich, where Dáin I, son
of Náin II, ruled. The Watchful Peace ended in 2460 and Sauron
returned with greater strength to Dol Guldur. In the wastes beyond the
Grey Mountains were dragons that after many years became strong again
and multiplied, and made war on the dwarves and stole their works until
in 2589, Dáin I and his second son, Frór, were killed "at the door of his hall by a great cold-drake". For this reason, most of Durin's Folk left the Grey Mountains. Grór, Dáin I's son took many with him to the Iron Hills. But Dáin's heir, Thrór, went to Erebor with Borin his father's brother (uncle) and the rest of the people. Thrór returned the Arkenstone to the Great Hall of Thráin.
Thrór and his people prospered and became
wealthy. They had the friendship of the neighboring Men, for the
dwarves made things of wonder and beauty, and weapons and armour of
great worth. Thrór and his people also
traded heavily with their relatives in the Iron Hills. So the Northmen
between Celduin (River Running) and Carnen (Redwater) in their new
strength drove off all enemies from the East, and the dwarves prospered
in happiness and they gained fame.
To the ears of the dragons came the rumours of great wealth. Smaug the
Golden was the greatest of these dragons and in 2770, without warning,
he attacked Erebor with his flame.In a short time the realm was
destroyed. The town of Dale near Erebor was ruined and abandoned; Smaug
lay on a bed of gold in the Great Hall of Thrór in Erebor.
But many of Thrór's kin escaped, and he
came out by a secret door with his son Thráin II. They wandered
towards the South, homeless with their family and followers. Among them
were Thráin II's children: Thorin (later known as Oakenshield),
Frerin, and Dis (mother of Fili and Kili who were born in the Ered
Luin). More of the folk escaped unknown to them but went to the Iron
Thrór became old, poor, and desperate,
"tired of poverty and the scorn of Men", and decided on a mad plan.
Before going, he gave Thráin II the only treasure he still had,
the last of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves. It needed gold to make
gold, and they had none. Thrór also gave
the vengeance on Smaug to Thráin II and his sons, as he could
not accomplish it himself. The Ring, awakened by the rising power of
Sauron, may have also been pushing Thrór into his rash decision. For he traveled with his friend Nár back to Moria.
When the two dwarves reached Moria in 2790, they found the Gate open. Nár sensed a trap and asked Thrór not to enter and did not go within but hid. Thrór,
however, entered proudly as heir of Moria. Nár remained
faithfully in the woods near the Gate hiding for many days, until a
horn sounded to call him to be a messenger, and the body of Thrór was thrown out, the head nearby. The slayer of Thrór had carved his name on the forehead for Nár to read and in order to claim Thrór's
kingship over Moria for himself, but would not let the head or body be
taken. Instead the orcs cut it up and threw it to the crows.They
insultingly gave Nár a few nearly worthless coins in a sack. The
name of Azog was burned into the memory of dwarves from that time.
Nár returned back the whole way alone with the news to
Thráin II, Thrór's son. After seven
days of speaking no word, Thráin sent out messengers and
assembled the dwarves from everywhere. In 2793 the War of the Orcs and
Dwarves began. The dwarves attacked every place of the orcs and
destroyed them until in 2799 they came to the Gate of Moria, in the
vale of Azanulbizar, or Nanduhirion in Elvish, on a dark day in winter.
There the orcs had gathered on the slopes and issued out from the Gate
of Moria and the Battle of Azanulbizar was fierce and terrible on both
sides. Thráin's son Frerin fell, and his kinsman Fundin, and
many others; both Thráin and Thorin were wounded. Thorin's
shield was broken, so he used an oak branch as both shield and club,
fighting also with his axe, and gained the name of Thorin Oakenshield.
Among those who fought were Glóin (Gimli's father) and Balin (future Lord of Moria). Yet Azog did not come out.
Then the mailed warriors of the Iron Hills arrived with Grór's
son, Náin, breaking through to the very Gate, and called out
Azog. He came, with his warriors, and they fought. Náin fell and
Azog looked up to find his armies and guard had been wiped out while he
was pre-occupied. Náin's son, Dáin Ironfoot, killed Azog,
in a great feat for so young a dwarf. But he saw inside Moria and his
face went grey with fear, for he had discovered the Balrog. No dwarf
would enter Khazad-dûm,
Moria, for that reason. The sack of puny coins was shoved into the
mouth of the head of Azog and the head put up on a pike. The dwarves
could not be buried in stone as was their custom, so they burned the
dead, normally considered a bad thing but, after that battle, dwarves
would proudly say of an ancestor that he was a "burned dwarf".
Since the Balrog held Moria, Thráin II, now blind in one eye and
lame in one leg, gave Thorin Oakenshield the choice to beg the others
for bread or go to the anvil; he chose the anvil. They took their
following including Balin and Gloin and returned to Dunland, then
continued on to Eriador and made a home in the Ered Luin beyond the
Lune. They had iron in plenty and slowly increased their fortunes, but
did not have gold to feed the Ring to make more gold. The location of
the Ring was kept secret and many dwarves believed it was lost with Thrór
within Moria, but Thráin II still held it. A dwarf could not be
reduced to shadows enslaved to another's will, for they were made from
the beginning to resist domination, but they could have their desire of
gold and precious things increased. So in 2841 Thráin II,
without telling or risking his son Thorin, took Balin, Dwalin, and a
few others and went to Erebor to attempt to reclaim it and their
The dwarven Ring may have brought Thráin II to the attention of
Sauron's emissaries as his party traveled. They were shadowed by evil
birds, pursued by wolves, and waylaid by orcs. A black rain forced them
under the eaves of Mirkwood for shelter. In the morning Thráin
was gone and could not be found even after his companions searched for
many days. They retunred to Thorin, now ninety-five years of age,
unaware that Thráin was alive, but captured. Thrain was taken to
the pits of Dol Guldur, tormented, and his Ring taken. When he was at
last found by Gandalf in 2850, it was too late to save his life, but he
managed to give Gandalf a key and map. At this time Gandalf also learns
that the lord of Dol Guldur is indeed Sauron and that he is looking for
the One Ring and Isildur's Heir, thus the interest that the presence of
the powerful Dwarven Ring, first of the Dwarven Rings made, brought
down on Thráin II.
Thorin believed his father dead and became a hopeless Heir of Durin. He
remained in Eriador and labored and traded. The wandering folk of Durin
heard of his dwelling and joined him there. The halls became fair and
they had a good store of goods, but kept longing for Erebor. After some
years of this, Thorin wanted very much to equip armies and re-take
Erebor from Smaug, but the armies were scattered and his people few.
In 2890, Bilbo was born and in 2931, Aragorn was born, both completely unknown and without interest to Thorin Oakenshield..
Then in came a "chance meeting" of Thorin with Gandalf in Bree.
Thorin was returning home from a journey and staying in Bree for that
one night. Gandalf was tired and returning to the Shire for a rest
after twenty years away, although planning to pass through Thorin's
Halls on the way. Gandalf knew Sauron had returned and that Rivendell
was in danger of attack. While it is not mentioned why, we know
Rivendell is the home of one the Three Great Elven Rings and a smaller
place to attack than Lothlorien. Gandalf is concerned because when
Sauron attacks from the East to regain Angmar and the northern mountain
passes, only a few dwarves in the Iron Hills are present to give
resistance and the desolation of the Dragon, also called the Desolation
of Smaug, lies beyond the dwarves. Gandalf feared that Sauron "might
use the Dragon with terrible effect". But he was at a loss for how to
kill Smaug. The two traveled together to Thorin's Halls, and then
onwards to the Shire, having picked up companions for their venture.
The Clearing Away of Smaug
In 2941 the party meets Bilbo in the Shire and, with their new burglar,
events progress at amazing speed. Their entire adventure is completed
within that same year. On the way, Bilbo discovers the One Ring unknown
even to Gandalf and becomes its caretaker while the Wise hunt in every
direction except towards him, until its previous owner who is trying to
track the One Ring is eventually forced to tell Sauron who he is
hunting and that he lives in the Shire. Gandalf is pulled away from the
group to meet with the White Council, where Saruman now agrees to
attack Dol Guldur in order to prevent Sauron from searching the River
for the Ring, and Sauron leaves Dol Guldur and goes to where the Nine
have prepared the much greater fortress of Mordor for him.
The greater part of the continuation of Smaug's historical role in the
movements of the One Ring and the fate of the world to come is carried
on in The Red Book of Westmarch, also called The Red Book of the Periannath, There and Back Again, and The Hobbit.
Thorin's Company was unaware of these events and keep on traveling,
unknowingly carrying the One Ring with them towards Erebor. There they
found Smaug well settled in Erebor, the Lonely Mountain. At a loss,
they send in their Gandalf-approved burglar to scout the place and
maybe collect treasure. They plan to split the entire hoard between
them and promise Bilbo an equal part. The little group realizes
uncomfortably that they really have no chance against the dragon,
especially without their powerful wizard. But Bilbo crept inside and
stole one cup from the huge hoard, hoping the dragon wouldn't notice
and that he could appease the dwarves with it. Smaug became furious at
the theft and, unable to use his green and scarlet fires to kill Bilbo
and party from inside the tunnel, he flew outside the Gate to attack.
The ponies were lost, but the party escaped into the tunnel. Smaug
rested and set a trap. Bilbo went back to try to find a weak spot in
Smaug, something to help them since without their ponies they were
stuck. Just in time, Bilbo realized the dragon wasn't really asleep and
backed up where he couldn't be cooked. Bilbo engaged Smaug in a Riddle
Game, both sides hoping to learn from it. Smaug nearly caught Bilbo
with a dragon-spell, making him want to come out of hiding and tell all
the truth. Smaug had smelled that he was dealing with dwarves when he
ate the six ponies, but thought most of the plunder would be going back
to the Lake-men as the riddles suggeted they were behind it in his
mind. Bilbo flattered Smaug into showing off his diamond covering over
his chest and spotted for certain what he had glimpsed before, a bare
patch on the left. Ready to tell this to the dwarves, Bilbo made the
mistake of making fun of Smaug and was singed on his run back through
the tunnels. A thrush listened to Bilbo's tale and he spotted it, but
Thorin said that the Men here had the trick of understanding thrushes.
Bilbo pushed the dwarves to hide in the tunnel and close the door at
night, fortunately, because Smaug flew quietly to where he guessed them
to be to kill them; in his rage at not finding them, Smaug blasted and
tore the area, which forced the dwarves to remain trapped inside. Part
of Smaug's anger might have been at himself for becoming lazy
inside the mountain, rather than keeping the pilfering humans from
growing up again nearby.
From Bilbo's riddles and the campsite with ponies, Smaug thought the
humans had been behind or helped the thievery from him. He left the
hard to find dwarf party and flew out to attack the human
village. Meanwhile the party crept into the mountain, unsure whether or
not Smaug had returned. They let Bilbo go ahead as the burglar to scout
alone, and he found and pocketed the Arkenstone that gave light; the
dwarves had told him he could pick anything for his part and this was
what he wanted, but he suspected the dwarves would not be pleased at
this choice and kept it hidden in his pocket. They finally came out
after he fussed at them and then the dragon-gold desire hit them and
they would not be restrained from going through the treasure. They put
on armour and Thorin gave Bilbo a small mail shirt of mithril
made for a young elf-prince long ago, a belt of silver and pearl, and a
helm studded with white gems. They all covered their bright armour with
their old hooded cloaks. Thorin knew his way around well and they moved
to a place they felt might be safe from the dragon; their traveling
from the time Smaug left taking two days.
Smaug had left the dwarves to attack the Lake-town which he knew by its
old name of Esgaroth. He burned and wrecked it, but a band of archers
remained in place to fight, led by Bard, descendent of Girion, Lord of
Dale, and being of Dale blood, understood the news the Thrush told him,
and shot his arrow into the breach in Smaug's armor. The dragon's cry
felled trees and split stone. Smaug fell onto the town, breaking and
sinking it and his body went into the water below. Birds all about the
area became very excited and passed the news everywhere.
After the death of Smaug, much confusion occurred. The humans found
themselves preferring Bard's leadership to their old Master of
Lake-town, who deflected their blame towards the dwarves. The humans,
who had lost so much, had their thoughts turn to the gold in the
mountain where the dwarves had surely died leaving it unclaimed. Also
part of the treasure had been stolen from them by Smaug. Bard sent a
messenger to Thranduil, the Elvenking of Mirkwood, asking for aid. The
elves were already on the way only three days out, as they had come in
response to the many birds that liked them and because of messages from
their own people. The news of Smaug's death had already reached Beorn
and even the goblins who were still angry over the death of the Great
Goblin. The Elvenking had pity when he heard the request from Bard and
turned aside to give aid.
The thrush went to Thorin and company and tried to talk to them but
they could not understand. They said they could understand ravens that
had long taken messages to the people of Thror. The thrush understood
the dwarves and brought the 153-year old raven Roäc, whom even
Bilbo could understand. He let them know that Smaug was dead and that
elves and men were gathering to collect the gold, and that carrion
crows flew with the Elvenking hoping for battles. He warned them not to
trust the Master of the Lake-men but to trust Bard the dragon-slayer.
The raven wanted peace between man and dwarf again but it would cost
gold. Thorin considered those others as wanting to thieve dwarven
treasure of his people and refused, but did ask that a message asking
for help be sent to his nearest fellows in the Iron Hills led by his
cousin Dain and that the birds keep watch. They then took the days
given them by the warning to fortify the gate, all other entrances
having been blocked by the dragon.
The humans and elves went together and were surprised to find Thorin
and company alive and considering themselves sole owners of Smaug's
hoard. The humans and elves tried to negotiate for part of the treasure
as recompense for the destruction of their town, but the dwarves saw
them coming in an armed group and felt it was more of a threat to take
the treasure they considered rightfully theirs. Also the dragon gold
had a power of its own to inflame greed, of which plenty was already
starting to appear.
Bilbo presented the Arkenstone to the leaders of the army at the gate,
hoping to calm things. To his surprise, Gandalf was there and
The men and elves took the Arkenstone to show Thorin to ransom a share
of the treasure. Bilbo told the dwarves to consider the Arkenstone his
share, but it was no ordinary thing that he had taken and they were not
mollified and only Gandalf prevented Thorin from harming Bilbo. Dain's
army was coming close and Thorin was hoping by war to get out of the
ransom and take back the Arkenstone. Bard and his people refused to
allow Dain's people free access to the Mountain until the ransom was
paid. More dwarves would be coming later as well, and Thorin surely
would not give in if he had so much help and so much food brought. The
Elvenking did not want to start a war over gold and Bard hesitated, but
the dwarves started to attack.
War started to break out, but then they saw armies of goblins coming
with bats above and Wild Wolves to ride with Wargs in their train, led
by Bolg son of Azog, the same Azog that Dain had killed in Moria. Dain
joined the humans and elves; all fought the orcs and were in
difficulty, when Thorin led the charge of his company out against the
goblins. All the dwarves and many Lake-men followed Thorin in the
excitement. With their heavy mail and being fresh, Thorin's Company
made a great inroad clearing the valley. But there were too many on the
flanks and the dwarves were cut off and surrounded. Bilbo and Gandalf
stood by the Elvenking for the last fight. Then the Eagles came, for
they had seen the muster of the goblins and had collected their own
numbers, yet still the goblins outnumbered them all. Fili and Kili died
defending Thorin. Beorn came in bear-form and took the injured Thorin
from the battlefield, then returned and scattered the bodyguard and
killed Bolg. Mop up began immediately afterward of the leaderless
goblins killing three-fourths of the popultion and leaving the area
peaceful long for years. Thorin died of his many spear-wounds and was
buried deep under the Mountain, and Bard placed the Arkenstone on his
chest. The Elvenking laid Orcrist with Thorin, the sword that had been
taken from him in the forest. The ten left of Thorin's Company joined
Dain, now King Under the Mountain. Since the Arkenstone lay with
Thorin, the ransom of one-fourteenth was paid to Bard, and Bard gave
Bilbo gold and silver, but Bilbo would take only what his pony could
handle: two small chests. Bard gave emeralds to the Elvenking. The
elves, Gandalf, and Beorn escorted Bilbo safely to the woods, and then
Bilbo went around them to the Grey Mountains with Beorn, but Bilbo
first gave the Elvenking a necklace of silver and pearls to pay for
food he had pilfered in Thranduil's Halls.
Thus was the danger of Smaug removed, and in the process was the goblin
threat stopped, and the Wargs run away from the woods, and the
Necromancer Sauron driven from Mirkwood. Thanks to this, when the
fighters returned from the War of the Ring they still had countries and
homes waiting for them and a queen would be placed in Gondor.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Appendix A, Appendix E
Images of Smaug:
by lawyers. "Conversation with Smaug". Smaug on his hoard, Bilbo on his
mission and talking with him. Artist JRR Tolkien. Rolozo Tolkien.
"Smaug in a rampage". Artist Per Sjogren. Rolozo Tolkien page
Image : Removed
by lawyers. "Death of Smaug". Artist
JRR Tolkien. Rolozo Tolkien page.
: "Smaug". Artist Luglio, 1998. The 1998 Italian Tolkien calendar.
Rolozo Tolkien page.
: "Smaug". Artist Mariani, Tolkien Italian calendar 1987. Rolozo
"Hobbit_Smaug". Artist Alexandra Koskinen. Rolozo Tolkien page