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Ungoliant: The First of the Free Agents

H

Harad

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There, beneath the sheer walls of the mountains and the cold dark sea, the shadows were
deepest and thickest in the world; and there in Avathar, secret and unknown, Ungoliant had made her abode. The Eldar knew not whence she came; but some have said that in ages long before she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the Kingdom of Manwë, and that in the beginning she was one of those that he corrupted to his service. But she had disowned her Master, desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness; and she fled to the
south, escaping the assaults of the Valar and the hunters of Oromë, for their vigilance had ever been to the north, and the south was long unheeded.
What was she? Maia, Valar, or something from beyond?
 

Elbereth

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Ungoliant was one of Tolkein's strange unexplained mysteries.

My theory is that Ungoliant happened as a result of Melkor's nasty corrupt music before the creation of the Arda...All of his rebelion and vengence manifested into a being...Ungoliant the spider. And therefore, her rebelion against Melkor, her creator, was inevitable. She is the living embodiment of Melkor's spirit, which could not be contained or controlled.
 
H

Harad

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Perhaps.

Its not clear that he created her, only corrupted her. Also she "descended from the darkness that lies about Arda" doesnt say whether she was in the darkness before Arda or not.

I prefer the idea that she was a free agent puttering around in the darkness. Melkor nosed around and found her and corrupted her--probably not a hard sell.
 

Merry

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I do not think that other spirits just appeared without being created, Eru had a clear theme that was sang, there would have been some history of her creation. I agree with Elbereth, Ungoliant was just one of those mysteries in Tolkeins works, just like good old Tom!!
 

Merry

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Lord Melkor (great name by the way), how do you come to that conclusion?
 
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Harad

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I do not think that other spirits just appeared without being created, Eru had a clear theme that was sang, there would have been some history of her creation. I agree with Elbereth, Ungoliant was just one of those mysteries
On the one hand a "clear theme" and on the other hand "mysterious." Nothing like having it both ways. I like that.
 

Merry

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Since I cannot explain the appearance of Ungoliant, and it is not clearly stated in the Sil, I can play the mysterious card in amongst the clear vision of Eru.
 

Tyaronumen

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Well, Lord Melkor's explanation that Ungoliant was a powerful Maia certainly makes more sense than any of the others offered thus far... Especially considering the source. :)
 
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Harad

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For the other powerful Maia--e.g. Balrogs or Sauron--we are told what they are. Not for Ungoliant.

Remember also that Shelob was a spawn (love that word!) of Ungoliant. What does does that make Shelob?
 

Lord Melkor

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Well we can divide all beings into four categories:

- Ainuri, primordial spirits

- Animals

- Children of Iluvatar

- Beasts of mine

First one makes most sense, I also believe that first eagles, dragons, werewolwes, wampires etc. were Maiar or had Maiar spirits inside them. It explains why 3rd era spiders, eagles, dragons etc were much weaker than their ancestors.
 
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Harad

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Thats a nice categorization but I dont know what category 1 represents: Maia, Vala, ? And I dont know that Melkor created anything, only twisted existing things.
 

Eonwe

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Well its like how I can't accept definitively that Bombadil is anything other than an Ainur (spirit from outside, powerful, either a Maia or Vala). So I would take the strong Maia theory. I always feel like it is a cop-out to just say nature-spirit or "part of the earth" or "essence of darkness". That's easy. If I was going to say that, I would say she embodies the everlasting darkness. But I don't. Is there a part of the book where JRRT talks about powerful spirits other than the Ainur? Only the TT White Rider, that I know of ("Sauron knows them not, they are older than he").

But she must be pretty powerful to make Melkor scream!
 

Grond

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We've had this argument before on another thread. My opinion is that they are beast of Middle-earth distorted by Melkor. Dragons are some poor lizard fed Melkor's evil elixirs and turned over the millenia into Dragons. Wolves into werewolves. You have Glaurung who sired Ancalagon. You have Drauglin who sired Carcharoth. You have Ungoliant who sired Shelob. I will not comment on the way this would happen if Maia were involved. JRRT never mentioned any affiliation of Dragons, Werewolves or Ungoliant as being Maia. It seems logical to me that he would have it they had been. He spent enough space describing Balrogs.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.:)
 
H

Harad

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I agree that there is no evidence of Ungoliant being a Maia. On the third hand there is no evidence of her being a beast of ME, either.
she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda
This sounds to me like she was an...eerie music plays...

Outsider. An Alien. From another Dee-mension.
 

elenya

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Jrad, that's the best theory I've heard but...if Iluvatar made all that was then what did he creat that Ungoliant came from? If we do conced that she's an alien then we also conced that there are other great forces before Iluvatar that created other things.
 
H

Harad

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But of Course.
Before the Music there was Dinner and after the Music there was Dancing. (Jrad?)
 

dgoof911

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she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda
If she was a spirit of Drakness in Arda, could is be possible, since Melkor created the evil drakness, that she was Maia with no form. Thus meaing her physical form was desroyed in the first wars with the Vala and Melkor and his servants? So then Melkor gave her from again as a Giant Spider.

Does this seem like some reasonable proof that she was a Maia?
 
H

Harad

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Then the pursuit was begun. and the earth shook beneath the host of Orome, and the fire that was stricken from the hooves of Nahar was the first light that returned to Valinor. But so soon as any came up with the Cloud of Ungoliant the riders of the Valar were blinded and dismayed, and they were scattered, and went they knew not whither; and the sound of the Valorama faltered and failed. And Tulkas was as one caught in a black net at night, and he stood powerless and beat the air in vain.
She would have to be one tough Maia to make Tulkas "powerless."
 

Gnashar_the_orc

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Ungoliant is a Maia

From my reference 'The illustrated guide to Tolkien' (which is quite a serious piece of work and I would highly recommend it to anyone), I have found that Ungoliant was in fact a Maia. Ungoliant started to breed with ordinary spiders which resulted into Shelob and her spawn in Mordor and Mirkwood.

P.S. What's great about this book is that it actually has maps showing the evolution of Arda, so you can actually were everything is geographically. The part of Middle-earth shown in the index of 'The Lord of the Rings' is actually quite small! I wonder what other monsters could exist at that time that are not mentioned! :)
 

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