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“The Elves far back in the Elder Days became divided into two main branches:  the West-elves (the Eldar) and the East-elves.  Of the latter kind were most of the elven-folk of Mirkwood and Lórien…” The Return of the King, p.468


The Eldar were those who lived beyond the Sea in the realm of Valinor.  There were three kindreds of Eldar, the Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Teleri.  The Grey-elves were those Eldar who, “coming to the shores of Middle-earth, had not passed over the Sea, but had lingered on the coasts.” (ROTK 468)


The most important of the Grey-elves was Galadriel.  She was the sister of Finrod Felagund, the King of Nargothrond.  (ROTK 468)

Lúthien:  She was the daughter of the great king Thingol Greycloak of Doriath.  With Beren she wrested the Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth.  She was of all the Elves most fair.  But she chose a mortal life and followed Beren, who she loved.  Her son was Dior.  She was the ancestor of Elros and Elrond, and so of Aragorn and of Arwen, who it is said resembled her. (Silmarillion 339)


Galadriel:  She was the sister of Finrod Felagund, the King of Nargothrond.  She was the Lady of Lothlórien and the wife of Celeborn.  Her daughter was Celebrían, the mother of Arwen and the wife of Elrond.  She was the bearer of the Ring Nenya.  (331)


Arwen:  She was the daughter of Elrond and Celebrían.  (RotK 383) It is said that she greatly resembled her ancestor, Lúthien.  (383) She wedded Aragorn Elessar and chose a mortal life.  (280) She died in the ruins of Lothlórien in the year 121 of the Fourth Age. (390)


Fëanor:  He was the greatest of the Noldor.  He was a craftsman and devised the Fëanorian script.  He was also the maker of the Silmarils, which were filled with the light of the Trees of Valinor. His name meant 'spirit of fire.' (Silmarillion 329)


Celebrimbor:  He was the grandson of Fëanor and the greatest smith of the Noldor.  He made the Three Rings and was the first to perceive Sauron's purpose.  He was slain by Sauron.  His name meant 'hand of silver.' (321)


Thingol:  He was the leader of the host of the Teleri. He was the husband of the Maia Melian and the father of Lúthien.  He was the king of Doriath, a hidden city. (350)


Gil-galad:  Gil-galad's name means 'star of radiance,' although Frodo says it means 'starlight.' (FotR 235) His true name was Ereinion.  He was the last High King of the Noldor.  He was slain in the battle of the Last Alliance. (Silmarillion 331-2)


Círdan:  His name means 'the shipwright.'  He was the keeper of the Grey Havens and the original keeper of the Ring of Fire, Narya.  (322)


Eärendil:  He was half-elven, the son of Idril and Tuor.  He was wedded to Elwing and he was the father of Elros and Elrond.  He sailed to Valinor to enlist the Valar in the war against Sauron.  He sails the sky with the Silmaril which Lúthien and Beren stole from Morgoth's crown.(325)


Turgon:  He was the king of the hidden city of Gondolin.  He was the father of Idril and the grandfather of Eärendil.  He was counted as most wise.  He perished when the orcs sacked Gondolin. (352)


Elrond:  He was the son of Eärendil and Elwing.  He was the father of Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir.  He was the standard-bearer of Gil-galad and carried Vilya, the Ring of Air, after him.  He was the Master of Imladris, or Rivendell.  His name means 'star-dome.' (327)



It is surprising to us, who often think of Men as "the measure of all things", to note that in Tolkien's mythology Men occupy a somewhat subordinate position.  They are not the worst, but neither are they the best.  The hierarchy of Middle-earth places them below the Elves but above the Dwarves. 


They are also mortal.  The Elves are practically immortal, but Tolkien ponders mortality and wonders if it is "a gift or a curse." 


Men are much more easily corrupted than Elves.  They have the potential for great deeds, but they also have the potential for great evil.  There are heroic Men, but the Men in general are not heroic. The kings of Men were given nine Rings because they were easily perverted. 


Perhaps Tolkien was influenced by his Catholicism.  The Christian "hierarchy of the universe" does not put men on top.  They are a little lower than the angels, though they have the potential to become higher. 


In the beginning of Eä there were three houses of Men known to the Eldar.  These were known as the Atani in Quenya and the Edain in Sindarin.  They were considered the High Men and were honored above those who became known to the Eldar later. From them came the Númenoreans and the Men of Gondor and Rohan.  (Silmarillion 318)

Beren:  He loved Lúthien Tinúviel.  For her sake he travelled to Angband and cut the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown.  He lost his hand there. He and Lúthien died but were allowed to return to Arda and share their lives and their fates. (320)


Elros:  He was the son of Eärendil and Elwing and the brother of Elrond.  He was the first King of Númenor.  He lived to a very old age, yet he was mortal and his descendents sometimes cursed him for his choice.  His name means 'star-foam.' (327)


Aragorn:  He was the son of Arathorn and the Heir of Isildur.  After his father’s death he was sent to live with Elrond where he was given the name Estel or “hope”.  He was told his true name and lineage when he was twenty.  (RotK 383)  He took the throne in 3019 T.A., when he was 88 and wedded Arwen Undomíel that same year.  (430)  He was the father of Eldarion and several daughters.  He died in Minas Tirith in 120 of the Fourth Age.  (435)  He was also called:


            Elessar-the Elfstone

            Telcontar-Strider (This was his family name after he  took the throne)


            Dunadan-Man of the West

            Thorongil-Eagle of the Star

            Wingfoot (487-495)



Tuor:  He was the son of Huor and Rían.  He was sent by Ulmo to warn Turgon of the approaching doom, but Turgon did not listen.  He wedded Idril, Turgon's daughter.  He was the father of Eärendil.  (Silmarillion 352)


Elendil:  He was descended from Eärendil and Elwing, though not in a direct line.  He escaped from the Drowning of Númenor and founded the two realms of Gondor and Arnor.  He was killed by Sauron at the battle of the Last Alliance. (326)


Isildur:  He was the elder son of Elendil and the Lord of Minas Tirith.  He cut the Ring from Sauron's finger and became the second Ringbearer (after Sauron).  He was slain by Orcs in the Gladden Fields when the Ring betrayed him. (327)


Denethor:  He was Steward of Gondor.  He was also the father of Boromir and Faramir.  He was a great and learned lore-master.  He died when he tried to set himself and Faramir on fire. (380-1)


Boromir:  He was the more beloved of his father though they were unalike.  He was a great captain and warrior of Gondor and delighted in strength of arms. He was killed by Orcs above the Falls of Rauros. (380-1)


Faramir:  He was the gentler brother.  He was well loved by the people, especially Beregond.  He was learned and kind.  Gandalf taught him much.  (380-1) After the crowning of King Elessar he was made Prince of Ithilien and wedded the Lady Éowyn of Rohan. (263-69)  He was Steward of Gondor.

The Rohirrim


The Rohirrim, or 'horse-masters' were Men from the lands in the central north of Middle-earth.  They were descended from the Edain.  They came to the aid of Gondor in 2510 of the Third Age. They then settled in Calenardhon and renamed it Rohan. (RotK 395-6)

Eorl:  He was called 'the Young' because his hair remained yellow, even when he was an old man.  He was the first leader of the Rohirrim known to the Gondorans.  He won the Battle of Celebrant and saved Gondor. (396)


Éowyn:  She was the daughter of Théodwyn and Éomund.  She killed the Chief Nazûl at the Battle of Pelennor Fields.  She wedded Faramir, son of Denethor and became the Lady of Ithilien. (398-9)


Éomer:  He was the son of Théodwyn and Éomund.  He was the King of Rohan after Théoden.  He wedded Lothíriel, daughter of Imrahil of Dol Amroth.  He was the father of Elfwine.  He ruled for sixty-five years, the second-longest reign in the history of Rohan. (398-9)


Théoden:  He was the son of Thengel, King of Rohan and Morwen of Lossarnach.  He had one son, Théodred, who died in 3019 T.A.  He was poisoned by Saruman and Wormtongue but restored to clarity and health by Gandalf.  He died in the Battle of Pelennor Fields. (398)



'Hobbits are an unobrtusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth:  a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favorite haunt...they are a little peole, smaller than Dwarves, less stout and stocky, that is, even when they are not actually much shorter.  Their height is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our the days of their peace and prosperity they were a merry folk.  They dressed in bright colors, being noticably fond of yellow and green; but they seldom wore shoes, since their feet had tough leathery soles and were clad in a thick curling hair." The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 19-20


Hobbits were generally unknown among the lore-masters and great ones of Middle-earth.  Gandalf was the first to appreciate them fully. 

Frodo: Frodo is probably the most famous hobbit.  He was the son of Drogo and Primula Baggins.  They drowned when he was young and his cousin Bilbo adopted him because they had the same birthday.  He was the master of Bag End after Bilbo.  He was the Ringbearer and took the Ring to Mordor to destroy it. (RotK 435)  Because of this he was given Arwen's place on the ships going to Valinor. (282)   He passed over the Sea in 3021--the last day of the Third Age. (431)


Bilbo:  He was the son of Bungo and Belladona Baggins. (435)  He was born in 2890 T.A. (422) He was the master of Bag End.  He was also the Ringfinder.  He went with Gandalf and the Dwarves to the Lonely Mountain where he fought in the Battle of Five Armies.  He passed over the Sea because of his long friendship with the Elves. (345)


Sam:  He was the son of Hamfast and Bell Gamgee. (438)  He was the gardener at Bag End and accompanied Frodo to Mordor.  He later became seven-time Mayor of the Shire. (453)  He was born in 2983 T.A., the same year as Faramir.  (424)  He was last seen in 61 F.A.  It is said (Tolkien-speak for this happened) that he too passed over the Sea because he was a Ringbearer, however briefly. (433)


Merry:  His true name was Meriadoc, but he was known as Merry.  He was the son of Esmeralda and Saradoc Brandybuck. (437)  He was one of the Fellowship.  He followed in the train of Théoden of Rohan.  He was at the Battle of Pelennor Fields where he helped Éowyn kill the Chief Nazgûl.  (127)  He later married Estella Bolger and became the Master of Buckland. (432)  He died in Gondor. (433)


Pippin:  His true name was Peregrin.  He was the son of Paladin and Eglantine Took. (436) He was one of the Fellowship.  He went to Minas Tirith with Gandalf where he became a soldier in Gondor's army. (39-48) He later became the Took and Thain and married Diamond of Long Cleve. (437) His son Faramir married Goldilocks Gamgee, Sam's daughter.



The Ents were the most ancient people surviving in the Third Age.  They were called Onodrim or Enyd--Ent was their name in Rohan. (RotK 472)   They were the "shepherds of the wood."  There were once Entwives and Entings, but the Entwives disappeared. (TTT 89)

Treebeard:  He is the best-known Ent.  His Elvish name was Fangorn.  He was the master of the forest of the same name.  He met Merry and Pippin there.  He organized the seige of Isengard.  (63-93)



"But of those unhappy ones who where ensnared by Melkor little is known...Yet this is held true by the wise...that all those [captured by Melkor] were put there into prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes.  For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make...And deep in their hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery." The Silmarillion, p. 50




"Maybe you have heard of Trolls?  They are mighty strong.  But Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves." The Two Towers, p.91

The Three Trolls:  These are the three trolls that we know most about.  They caught the Dwarves and Bilbo and were planning to cook them when Gandalf tricked them and turned them into stone when the sun rose.  Frodo and the Fellowship saw them. (FotR 252)



"They are a tough, thrawn race for the most part, secretive, laborious, retentive of the memory of injuries (and of benefits), lovers of stone, of gems, of things that take shape under the hands of the craftsmen rather than of things that live their own life." The Return of the King, p. 474


They are so secretive that they do not tell their true names to any except other Dwarves.  Their names are not even written on their tombs.


There are not many Dwarf women which has given rise to the erroneous belief that they spring from rocks. (RotK 411)

Gimli:  He was Gloín's son.  He was also one of the Fellowship and the only Dwarf. (411)  He was at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, Helm's Deep, and the Field of Comallen. (127)   It is said that he passed over the sea because of his great friendship with Legolas and because of his reverence for Galadriel, the only Dwarf to do so. (433)


Gloín:  He was one of the Dwarves who went with Thorin Oakenshield to the Lonely Mountain.  He was a cousin of Balin and Dwalin and died in 15 F.A. (413)



He was one of the seven Fathers of the Dwarves and lived for so long that he was called Durin the Deathless.  After him there were other Dwarves that looked so like him that they were called Durin as well. (413)


These are some other important characters in Middle-earth.
Tom Bombadil:  "Eldest, that's what I am.  Mark my words, my friends:  Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn...He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights." The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 168   Tom lived in the Old Forest with Goldberry.  He rescued the hobbits from Old Man Willow and took them to his house.
Goldberry:  She is called, "daughter of the River" (FOTR 159) When the hobbits first see her she is dressed in a ", green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of des; and her belt was of gold, saped like a chain of flag-lilies set with the pale-blue eyes of forget-me-nots." (FOTR 159)  She lives with Tom in the Old Forest.

Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Fellowship of the Ring.  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1955.

Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Two Towers.  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1955.

Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Return of the King.  New York, Ballantine Books, 1956.

Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Silmarillion.  Boston, New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 1977.

There are several abbreviations used on this page.  These are:
  • F.A.--Fourth Age
  • T.A.--Third Age
  • S.A.--Second Age