play a notable role in the works of Tolkien. The party of Bilbo and
Thorin is perpetually harassed by wargs allied with goblins in The
Hobbit, where warg-riders are also mentioned to appear in the final
Battle of Five Armies. There are the wolves that attack the Fellowship
of the Ring between Caradhras and Moria (The Fellowship of the Ring,
Questions have often been asked about the nature of wolves and the
relations between the examples mentioned above. Wolves should be categorized
Wolves are predators, and hostile to other animals and mankind. Yet they
are not evil. They can be aggressive, especially when wintery conditions make
them hungry. Under this category should for instance the fell wolves of winter be mentioned who invaded the Shire in 2911. Hungry, mean and aggressive yes.
But not evil or unnatural.
Wolves can be trained by Orcs and Goblins to fight at their side. But higher
spirits as e.g. Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman have both the ability and
inclination to actually corrupt the natural state of beings. Tolkien generally
tends to describe the result of wolf-corruption as wargs, but also as wolves. They appear for instance when attacking
the Fellowship at the foot of Caradhras. These are not normal wolves. Gandalf
calls their leader "Hound of Sauron", but that is probably a poetic
liberty, for no doubt these wargs were in the service of Saruman. Another predominant role is played by wargs and warg-riders in the slaying of Theodred,
son of Theoden (Unfinished Tales, The Battles of the Fords of the Isen). This
also, was at the bidding of Saruman.
It has been suggested that wargs
are intelligent creatures, having Fëar
(spirit). I don’t find enough evidence to sustain that suggestion, probably
caused by confusing wargs with werewolves.
are technically not wolves, but should be mentioned here for
completeness. The hounds of Oromë were born in Aman and are
creatures of light and high moral sense. Only one of them came to
Middle-earth. His nature and great adventures are described in the
article on Huan.
These are creatures of Morgoth, probably created as twisted counterparts
for the hounds of the Valar. They fight alongside the forces of evil in the
battles of Beleriand. There is no
mention of werewolves after the First Age. Two of them are known by name, Draugluin and Carcharoth. Also, Sauron had the ability to shapechange himself
into the form of a werewolf, but probably not his master's ability to actually
The name is Sindarin, meaning Blue (luin)
Wolf (draug). We should not take "blue"
too literally. Originally he is described as being pale and grey in The Lays of
Beleriand. He was the first and foremost of all the werewolves. He is called
sire of the werewolves of Angband.
In the 5th century of the First Age we find Draugluin as lieutenant
of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the great tower of werewolves led by Sauron. Once known as
Tol Sirion, the great watch-tower built by Felagund, it had turned into a place
of darkness and despair. Felagund has just been slain by a werewolf, and Beren
is the last surviving prisoner in the Tower. When Sauron hears the song of
Luthien, seeking her lover in the dungeons of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, he sends
Draugluin to take her captive. But Huan is there to protect her. "The battle of Huan and Draugluin was long
and fierce. Yet at length Draugluin escaped, and fleeing back to the tower he
died before Sauron's feet; and as he died he told his master 'Huan is
The fate of the Hound of the Valar was foretold: he would not be slain
but by the mightiest werewolf who ever walked the earth. Sauron
- seeking to fulfill the prophecy himself - shapechanges into a werewolf,
"the mightiest that had yet walked the earth". And thus befell
the battle of Huan of Valinor and Wolf-Sauron. But Huan beats Sauron and
Luthien takes over command of the tower.
Later Huan goes back to the tower and takes from there the hame of
Draugluin, and also the winged fell of Thuringwethil, the great vampire. He tells Luthien and Beren that their fate lies in passing the Black Gate to Angband, and disguises
them to that end in the hame and fell.
Thus it is that when Beren and Luthien reach the gates of Angband they
appear as Draugluin and Thuringwethil.
More and more Morgoth
had learned about great deeds of his enemies, and every time the name of Huan
kept occurring in the messages of his allies. And Morgoth knew the fate of
Huan. So he had elected one of the offspring of Draugluin, and fed that
werewolf himself (it is said in The Lay of Leithian: "on fairest flesh of Elves and Men"), and put his power upon
him. Ever that wolf lay at the feet of Morgoth, and the anguish of hell entered
into him. Carcharoth literally means
Knife-claw, but "Carcharoth, the Red
Maw, he is named in the tales of those days, and Anfauglir, the Jaws of
Thirst". And Carcharoth grew both in body and spirit, "surpassing all his race and kin, the
ghastly tribe of Draugluin" (Lay of Leithian).
Thus it came to pass, that when Beren - dressed as Draugluin - and
Luthien - clad as the vampire - reach at last the gate of Angband on their long
quest, they are met by Carcharoth, who is suspicious, for he has heard rumours
of the death of Draugluin. On that occasion Carcharoth is enchanted by Luthien,
commanding him to sleep: "O
woe-begotten spirit, fall now into dark oblivion, and forget for a while the
dreadful doom of life".
But he is quite awake when later Luthien and Beren try to escape
Angband, and he bites off Beren's hand wearing the Silmaril they took from
Morgoth's crown. Swallowing hand and stone, Carcharoth is overtaken by rage and
madness. Then Carcharoth indeed becomes the mightiest wolf that ever walked the
earth. And of all the terrors that ever came to Beleriand he was the worst, for
the power of the Silmaril was within him.
Carcharoth kills all and everything in his path, and threatens even the
outskirts of Doriath. King Thingol then orders the Hunt of the Wolf, and he
himself rides out together with Mablung, Beleg, Beren and Huan. But Luthien
stays in Menegroth, filled with forebodings of doom. The party find Carcharoth in a valley by the
Mablung knifes open the belly of Carcharoth and
retrieves the Silmaril, which he gives to Beren, who with his last breath
donates it to Thingol. And thus the fates of many were fulfilled.
been suggested that the werewolves - especially Draugluin - were Maiar.
seems to be insufficient evidence to either sustain or falsify that
idea. But Draugluin, Carcharoth, and Huan were foretold in the the
Music of Making (if not actually part of the choir) and thus their
fates were fixed and intertwined. In this sense they were unfree
creatures of magic.
of Carcharoth biting off the hand of Beren - as part of the Lay of Leithian one
of Tolkien's earliest concepts - might well have been inspired by the
Eddalieder, where Fenris the Wolf bites off the hand of Tyr.