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Smaug index

Smaug article by Eru-(Valar)
Smaug article by Varda-(Valar)
Images of Smaug


by Eru-(Valar)
Dec. 3, 2002

    Smaug the Golden was one of the greatest Dragons to escape the downfall of Morgoth's realm at the end of the First Age.  As with many of his ancient kind, and as a legacy of Morgoth himself, Smaug loved wealth and dominating others. 
    When he learned of the Dwarven hoard at Erebor in T.A. 2770, he immediately left his home in the Grey Mountains and assailed the Dwarves.  Taken by surprise, the people of King Thror were either slaughtered or driven off eastward to the Iron Hills.  Subsequently, Smaug descended upon Dale and burned the town to the ground, driving off any survivors to Lake Town.  For two hundred years, Smaug held the Lonely Mountain and rested upon the piled wealth of Thror's people, occasionally venturing forth to devastate the surrounding lands, and extending his influence as far as the Long Lake and Long Marshes. 
    In T.A. 2941 Thorin Oakenshield led a company of Dwarves with Bilbo Baggins to Erebor to challenge the Dragon. Bilbo distracted Smaug and learned of his one weak spot, which proved invaluable when Smaug issued forth to destroy Thorin's company and Esgaroth, the town which had harboured them.  As Smaug began to destroy the settlement, Bard the Bowman, heir to the throne of the ruined town of Dale, shot and killed the Dragon, ending his reign of terror over the region.


by Varda-(Valar)
October 3, 2012
Written for the 15th Anniversary of the Valar Guild

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 Morgul.

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 Hills.

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 fortune.

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 congratulated him.

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 Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Appendix A, Appendix E

Images of Smaug: 
Image : Removed by lawyers. "Conversation with Smaug". Smaug on his hoard, Bilbo on his spying mission and talking with him. Artist JRR Tolkien. Rolozo Tolkien.
Image: "Smaug in a rampage". Artist Per Sjogren. Rolozo Tolkien page 
Image : Removed by lawyers. "Death of Smaug". Artist JRR Tolkien. Rolozo Tolkien page.
Image : "Smaug". Artist Luglio, 1998. The 1998 Italian Tolkien calendar. Rolozo Tolkien page.
Image : "Smaug". Artist Mariani, Tolkien Italian calendar 1987. Rolozo Tolkien page
Image: "Hobbit_Smaug". Artist Alexandra Koskinen. Rolozo Tolkien page