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Thread: How powerful was Melkor?

  1. #1

    How powerful was Melkor?

    Greetings all.
    I have been reading through the Silmarillion and I notice that many of the first age heroes and villians are much more powerful than the heroes and villians in the 3rd age.
    Because of this I have been wondering how powerful Morgoth was when he began to take over Arda. I see Sauron as extremely powerful but how would he fare against Morgoth?
    Questions I ask are:
    -How skilled was Morgoth in hand to hand?
    -How powerful was he?
    -How skilled was he with "Magical" Powers?

    cheers.
    A tainted being.
    To Black Souled to let live.
    A face of Shroud He Holds.
    Remaining unnoticed behind his Helm.
    His Armour, leaking of a dark ooze.
    Dripping cries of lost souls.
    (Part 1)

  2. #2
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Morgoth was Sauron's boss. He was older, wiser, more powerful. He's basically Satan.

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    Chapter Master Nuada's Avatar
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Both Sauron and Melkor are Ainur spirits.
    There are two types of Ainur spirits. The Valar are greater Ainur, and the Maiar are lesser.

    Melkor is the most powerfull of all the Valar. Sauron is only a Maiar spirit, same as Gandalf.

    When the world is created by Eru, Melkor is the Valar that tries to change the song of creation.
    Haven't read it for a while, but i do remember all the Valar struggle to restrain Melkor, and Tulkas is the only one strong enough to tackle him

    Specific spells they never really go into. But there's the Dagor Bragollach (the battle of sudden flame), this involves a massive army of Noldor Elves outside Angband (Melkors fortress) and he kills most with flames/fumes, then dragons and balrogs finish them off.

    He also has a hand in creating most (possibly all) the evil creatures personally. He made the red maw into the size he became, so this suggests he can poor his malice into these creatures. He creates trolls in mockery of ents. He creates Balrogs from Maiar fire spirits. Orcs from elves, etc

    But he can't create anything new because he doesn't have the flame impresihable, he can only create creatues in mockery of those that already exist. He does actually go looking for the flame impresihable, or secret fire (you remember Gandalf says "I am a servant of the secret fire", this basically means he's a servant of Illuvatar or Eru... well this is the life-giving force that Eru uses to create Arda. Similar to a spark of life)
    Last edited by Nuada; 30-11-2009 at 00:26.

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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    One of the things consistent in discussing the servants of Eru is that while His power is limitless, their's is not. As time goes on, Melkor, Sauron and Saruman along with others 'invest' their power in objects- and never get it back. Granted, Saruman and Gandalf started with a lower base level than Melkor and Sauron, but without the Ring, Sauron is actually much, much weaker. Melkor, it was the same thing, he invested a lot in creating the Orcs and so many other things, that by the time the Third Age rolls around, he's a fraction of his original power
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Melkor as stated by Tolkien was the single most powerful being under Iluvatar. He was the most powerful of the Valar and had a share of the talents of all of the other Valar. He was multi-talented though he may not have been the most skilled in any single area.

    His prime contributions to the creation of the universe and Arda within it are the creation of evil, due to his music being in discord with the original theme as set forth by Iluvatar, and extremes of heat and cold. Tolkien's writings indicate Melkor was more of a "big sweeping ideas" type, and would have felt more at ease dealing with grand large scale things like a volcanic eruption rather than something small like flowers. Tolkien suggests such small creations were probably beneath Melkor's notice, and even if he were somehow to have had his attention drawn to them, he would only become angry and hate and want to destroy them since they were the products of thought other than his own.

    In keeping with Tolkien's themes of Evil being fissiparous and sterile, Melkor cannot create anything genuinely new. He can only twist and mock existing things. In his attempts to dominate his underlings, a portion of his power is invested in them. Likewise he also attempts to dominate the physical substance of Arda itself so a large part of his power is invested into the actual world. Only the sum total of all this power adds up to the original Melkor. That is why he ends up being defeated again and again by the other Valar, because his shrunken core, ie his Morgoth form, retains only a fragment of his original vast power. However if all his power were in his core form as originally in the beginning, he also cannot accomplish his desires of trying to dominate the world. Again this is in keeping with Tolkien's themes that power ends up being risked in order for it to accomplish anything.

    One key difference between Sauron and Morgoth/Melkor however is the fact that Melkor invested his power not just into a specific configuration of physical matter such as a specific ring of gold like Sauron did. The fundamental idea or "Platonic form" of certain things has been invested with Morgoth's power to varying degrees. Gold in particular was a substance and idea that Morgoth poured a lot of power into, explaining why gold arouses such greed and avarice in others. By contrast, other ideas that Morgoth had little interest in such as Water, is almost entirely free of his power. Since all of Arda has some fragment of Morgoth in it, it is also called Morgoth's Ring. Short of unmaking the world completely and all life on it, Morgoth's power cannot be removed as it is a part of the nature of Arda, but that is something the Valar cannot and will not do. That is why Morgoth is destined to return eventually, unlike Sauron, whose power has been scattered and dispersed beyond any hope of recovery with the destruction of the One Ring.

    One key difference between the Valar and Morgoth is the Valar can accept and still love Arda and the things within it even if they have a Morgoth element. Morgoth by contrast wanted it all to himself, and could not accept only his original allotted part of having a partial share in the world. That is why Tolkien wrote that Morgoth's goals were ultimately futile even if nobody had stopped him. He would have hated and attempted to destroy anything that he did not create completely (i.e. the entire world). However he could never really unmake the world even if he had raged and beaten the world into a formless mass, as it would still have remained a world in potential with the original ideas and creations of the other Valar still existing in potential. He would have still been unable to attain his desire of a world in which he created or dominated everything completely.
    Last edited by Iracundus; 30-11-2009 at 08:32.

  6. #6

    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Iracundus has given likely the best summary you'll get.

    I can't think of much to add.

    It's funny, since I'm currently re-reading the Silmarrillion, and I had the thought that the first parts of the book contain info any lover of the LOTR must have. These being:

    The true identity of Gandalf, (Olorin), and what he was (most wise and powerful of the Maiar)
    Just how Frackin powerful Galadriel really was, and how old.
    What the Balrogs were (evil equivalents of the Maiar).
    What a lucky SOB Sauron was, (surviving the fall of Melkor twice).
    If I'm wrong Im sure someone will correct me. Hell, even if Im right someone will correct me.
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Gandalf/Olorin was not the most powerful of the Maiar. That was Sauron. Again this fits with Tolkien's theme as it is the most powerful of the Valar and the most powerful of the Maiar that fall into evil as their power and pride make them want to rule or dominate others. Olorin was perhaps the most wise in understanding and feeling compassion for mortals but Saruman was smarter and more cunning than him. Again the theme repeats as it is the smartest and originally most powerful of the Istari that Falls.

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    Chapter Master Hellfury's Avatar
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Quote Originally Posted by Iracundus View Post
    Gandalf/Olorin was not the most powerful of the Maiar. That was Sauron.
    Agreed.

    I beleive Olorin was trepidatious about going to middle earth at the request of Manw to investigate Sauron's machinations because he was afraid of Sauron's might, admitting his weakness. He only went because Manw commanded him to.

    That is, if I recall the later chapters of the silmarillion correctly.
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  9. #9

    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Actually, the specific wording of the Silmarillion has Olorin as the wisest and greatest of the Maiar, although he rarely appeared in a recognisable form before the third age, preferring to be a guiding spirit to the elves in their earliest days.

    Like Melkor, Sauron diminished his power by creating things of power with it, but was more powerful than the sum of the parts when he had those items.
    If I'm wrong Im sure someone will correct me. Hell, even if Im right someone will correct me.
    There's plenty of room for all of God's creatures. Right next to the mashed potatoes.

    Jon 'Brimstone' Wilson... We will remember.

  10. #10

    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    I would have called Eonwe the greatest of the Maiar, after all he led the hosts of Aman against Morgoth's armies in the War of Wrath, and even Sauron acted humbly when he came before him.

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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Eonwe was herald of the Valar and acting as their representative. Sauron was a lone defeated supplicant on the losing side so of course he was humble before the victorious hosts of the enemy and their chosen spokesperson.

    However he was stronger than Gandalf/Olorin. Sauron's superiority is why Saruman advised joining with Sauron because there seemed no obvious way in which the Istari could contend with Sauron's might. It is also why Sauron's fear was that someone would use the Ring and thus potentially gain the power to overthrow him, something which nobody could do without a boost in power.


    The wasting away from evil is still apparent even with the Ring. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, gradually loses more of his abilities, such as the ability to assume a fair shape, or by the War of the Ring to assume any solid shape other than the burning Eye of Sauron.

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    Chapter Master Nuada's Avatar
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Quote Originally Posted by canucklhead View Post
    Actually, the specific wording of the Silmarillion has Olorin as the wisest and greatest of the Maiar.
    I can only find this quote for Olrin ...."Wisest of the Maiar was Olrin. He too dwelt in Lrien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna..."

    Olrin was supposed to be greatest of the Istari, but he was a humble character. Saruman was the first to arrive on Middle-Earth. He became jealous that Gandalf had an elven ring, it was Saruman that was the expert in rings of power.



    Sauron and Enw do have a scene in the Silmarillion.... Enw was the most skilled warrior among the Maiar. Sauron surrendered to Enw after the War of Wrath, but Enw commanded him to seek pardon before the Valar. Instead Sauron fled and hid from Enw, and remained in Middle-Earth.

    All the Maiar had different talents. Enw was the greatest in a battle, Gandalf was wise, Sauron could change into many forms and could appear fair and pleasing if he wished.
    Last edited by Nuada; 01-12-2009 at 17:34.

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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Quote Originally Posted by Iracundus View Post
    Sauron, like Morgoth before him, gradually loses more of his abilities, such as the ability to assume a fair shape, or by the War of the Ring to assume any solid shape other than the burning Eye of Sauron.

    That is actually incorrect, and it is an error that Peter Jackson made in directing the film trilogy as well. Sauron definitely had solid, physical form by the time of the War of the Ring.

    Gollum, for example, speaks of Sauron having four fingers on his Black Hand, a reference to the removal of the ring finger, in "The Black Gate is Closed"

    There are multiple references within the book itself to the possibility of Sauron coming bodily to a place, for example to the siege of Minas Tirith or to the Black Gates.

    In reference to Sauron's physical form towards the end of the LOTR, Tolkien wrote:

    'Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.'

    Tolkien also refers to the notion of Sauron's continual deaths and periods of re-forming:

    'It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Nmenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, that might be called the 'will' or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination).'


    The Red Eye is simply a symbolic magical representation of Sauron's consciousness/presence and his ability to perceive hidden or distant events.
    Last edited by DarkMatter2; 01-12-2009 at 23:43.

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    Chapter Master Nuada's Avatar
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    I'm glad you mentioned that that's exactly why i started the Sauron as an eye topic in this section.

    Frodo sees the lidless eye in the mirror of Galadriel. When Aragorn and company are outside the Black Gates they call out to Sauron, telling him to come forth. If he has no body, how can he?

    Tolkien does say that Sauron has a physical form in the Third Age, he wrote this ....."Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic" In Tolkiens illustrations he draws Sauron as a humanoid figure with black skin (as if burnt)

  15. #15

    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    That quote also continues to add that olorin at first moved formless among the elves, or clad as one of them, and none knew whence came the visions and inspirations.

    Later, in the third age, he became a friend to all children of Illuvatar, and any who spoke with him felt fear and hopelessness fade.

    As to the part of Olorin fearing to go to middle earth on the part of Manwe, he feared that he might be caught up in the tendency to interfere over much in the affairs, like Sauron.

    It is shown time and again that the first loss of Wisdom comes when the Wise stop counselling and begin leading. Saruman is the prime example.

    Olorin, (Gandalf) remains the wisest of the Maiar, as he waited until the direst need to take any action, other than to counsel and assist when asked.
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Eru is the supreme being

    The Ainur are his "angels"

    The greater Ainur are known as the Valar (sort of like the Seraphim or archangels) and the lesser Ainur are known as the Maiar (similar to lesser angels)

    Melkor was the most powerful of the Valar, he's a lot like Lucifer
    Manwe is comparable to the Archangel Michael

    Tulkas is the greatest warrior among the Valar, I think he outwrestled Melkor once

    Also there is Ungoliant

    After their flight from Valinor, Melkor gave her many gems of the Noldor, but withheld the Silmarils in his right hand. He refused to give them to the Great Spider to be devoured, for he desired them greatly. So great had Ungoliant's power grown through the consumption of the two trees and the Wells of Varda, that she had grown greater than Melkor and overpowered him.Ungoliant might have either slain Melkor or encaged him in her darkness in the ensuing battle, but Melkor gave a great cry of fear that echoed over all of Beleriand, including the deep pits of Angband. Hearing his cry, the Balrogs came and saved their master, scourging the spider with their whips and causing Ungoliant to flee to the Ered Gorgoroth in Beleriand.Whilst there, she gave birth to the lesser Giant Spiders, as well as various creatures infesting the Ered Gorgoroth, which came to be a place of horror. The dates of her existence are not precisely known; in The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor, we are told that she "went whither she would into the forgotten south of the world" shortly before the First Age, and that "some have said that she ended long ago, when in her uttermost famine she devoured herself at last." In contrast, a rough sketch of Erendil's voyages by Tolkien suggests that he slew Ungoliant in the south.[edit] OriginUngoliant's origin and nature is unclear. Within the Silmarillion, it is said she was an evil being from "Before the World" that took on the form of a spider. In the book Morgoth's Ring, which is somewhat later in date than The Silmarillion, and expands upon it somewhat, Ungoliant is explicitly referred to as a servant of Melkor who had abandoned him.[citation needed]The great spiders of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (including Shelob and the spiders encountered by Bilbo Baggins in Mirkwood) were descendants of Ungoliant.[1]

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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    I always thought of the Elves as one of the lower orders of Angels that descended to the mortal sphere.

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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    The elves were the first born. Their fate was to be tied to Arda, from the time of their awakening, until the ending. They were therefore most loved by the Valar, as they were most like them.

    They were, however, completely part of Arda, and not of the Ainur. They differed from men in that men had the gift of mortality, and passed beyond Arda when they left their lives. In the beginning, this seemed a curse in comparison to the lives of the Eldar, but as the ages of Arda passed, and the weariness of it began to weigh down the firstborn, they grew to envy the short passing of mortality, and to understand its gift.
    If I'm wrong Im sure someone will correct me. Hell, even if Im right someone will correct me.
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    Chapter Master Nuada's Avatar
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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    Quote Originally Posted by canucklhead View Post
    That quote also continues to add that olorin at first moved formless among the elves......etc.....
    Yeah i know, i was replying to something you said in a post.

    You said ....."Actually, the specific wording of the Silmarillion has Olorin as the wisest and the greatest of the Maiar"

    I can find where it says wisest, i couldn't find where it says Olorin was the greatest Maiar
    Last edited by Nuada; 05-12-2009 at 20:21.

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    Re: How powerful was Melkor?

    What do you mean by the term 'power'?

    Professor Tolkien's idea of power is possibly different from that of a wargamer.

    For example, Tulkas was considered the least powerful of the Valar yet he bested Melkor in combat.

    The mightiest of those Ainur who came into the World was in his beginning Melkor ..... Greatest in strength and deeds of prowess is Tulkas .... Enw, the banner-bearer and herald of Manw, whose might in arms is surpassed by none in Arda .... Wisest of the Maiar was Olrin. Quote taken from The Silmarillion Valaquenta.

    Fingolfin was considered the best warrior but Fanor was considered the mightiest Elf:

    Fanor was the mightiest in skill of word and of hand, more learned than his brothers; his spirit burned as a flame. Fingolfin was the strongest, most steadfast and the most valiant. Quote taken from The Silmarillion Chapter 5 Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldali.

    Fanor ... Thus ended the mightiest of the Noldor .... Quote taken from The Silmarillion Chapter 13 Of the return of the Noldor.
    'Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works' JRR Tolkien

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