An analysis of Orcs (now with two updates on page 3)

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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Sat Oct 18, 2003 8:33 pm

The posters on this board never seem to tire of talking about Orcs, and old questions like where they come from and where they are going, how they reproduce and what their different types are are debated with vigour every time they appear (which is often). hence, i have tried to bring together everything known about Orcs in this one analysis. Feel free to contadict me or suggest comments if necessary. I bring up some old issues here and some new ones, and have included threads where they are being debated.<BR><BR><strong>Synopsis</strong><BR><BR>I have always found Orcs interesting, because of the confusion relating to their origin, nature and fate and their numerous varieties. Here, I have attempted to assemble all information known for certain about the common questions people ask about Orcs, as well as some of my own theorizing on the subject.<BR><BR><strong>A Note on Sources</strong><BR><BR>For my analysis to work, I have taken the published Silmarillion to be a reasonably accurate description of the history of Middle Earth. I consider the following canonical sources: The Lord of the Rings (LotR or FotR, TTT, RotK), the Letters, the Silmarillion where is does not contradict LotR, Unfinished Tales (UT) where it does not contradict LotR, The History of Middle Earth (HoME) and the Hobbit where it does not contradict all previous sources. As I do not have access to the all important HoME X and HoME XII quotes from these sources have been copied and pasted from other threads. I have pasted all my reference threads below, and would like to include a general acknowledgement of the posters who typed up quotes so I could simply copy and paste them and who posted in these threads to help influence my decisions in relation to the matter at hand.<BR> <BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=20734#1' target=_blank>How are Orcs created and did they have free will?</a><BR><BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=23781#1' target=_blank>Are Orcs evil by nature?</a><BR><BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=62317#1' target=_blank>How is history kept among Orcs?</a><BR><BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=49662#1' target=_blank>What is the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?</a><BR><BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=70821#1' target=_blank>What happens to Orcs when they die?</a><BR><BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=50513' target=_blank>Are Orcs immortal?</a><BR><BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=20104#1' target=_blank>Are Orcs Immortal?</a><BR><BR><a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=58494#1' target=_blank>How were Uruk-hai created?</a><BR><BR><strong>A brief summary of findings</strong><BR><BR>Orcs were created in the ages of darkness by Melkor from corrupted beasts and maiar demons taking Orc form. They have no souls and are mortal, and are effectively intelligent beasts rather than sentient beings and are driven by the hate and wrath of Morgoth, his servants and his lingering corruption in Middle Earth. They come in many breeds and they are often developed by their masters to make them more powerful. They have many dialects of Orc speech that originated from the Valinorean used by maiar and the languages of lesser men and dwarves. In the second age, the black speech spread among them and the common speech followed it in the third. They reproduce fast, and follow powerful chieftans and captains. There is a considerable degree of organization between their tribes, even though they fight among themselves. In battle, Orcs are effective both through stealth and terror, and move fast and strike hard, but are weak on the defensive, against fortifications and if they are taken by surprise. <BR><BR><strong>Terminology</strong><BR><BR>Orc<BR>‘Orc’ is the term in the common speech for all creatures of Orc-kind. Hence, anything referred to as a Goblin, Orc or Uruk can be said to be an Orc. <BR><BR>Goblin<BR>‘Goblin’ is a term for Orc in the common speech. Generally, it is used to describe the smaller northern Orcs, although it can be used to describe all Orcs, such as where Saruman’s soldiers are called “goblin warriors of great size”. <BR>‘Hobgoblin’ only appears in the Hobbit to describe a large Goblin. <BR><BR>Uruk<BR>‘Uruk’ is the word in the black speech for Orc. Orcs refer to themselves as Uruks. The word ‘Uruk’, however, has since moved into the common speech to refer to large soldier Orcs. ‘Uruk-hai’ means ‘Orc-folk’. <BR><BR><strong>Orc Origins</strong><BR><BR>There are many and varied theories relating to the origin of the race of Orcs. These include Orcs are derived from elves, Orcs are derived from maiar, Orcs are derived from beasts and Orcs are bred from men or a combination of the above. There is evidence for and against all of these theories. What we do know, is that Orcs are corrupted from some existing source:<BR><BR><em> "I have represented at least the Orcs as pre-existing real beings on whom the Dark Lord has exerted the fullness of his power in remodelling and corrupting them, not making them" </em>(JRRT's letter to Peter Hastings, #153 in The Letters)<BR><BR>Orcs as elves:<BR><BR><em>But of those unhappy [elves] who were ensnared by Melkor little is known of a certainty. For who of the living has descended into the pits of Utumno, or has explored the darkness of the counsels of Melkor? Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressea, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison... "</em>(Of the Coming of the Elves", The Silmarillion)<BR><BR>Note here that the phase ‘Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressea’ is used, to suggest that this theory is not known to be true for certain. This is further supported by:<BR><BR><em>Though as for Orcs, the Eldar <strong>believed</strong> Morgoth had actually 'bred' them by capturing Men (and Elves) early and increasing to the utmost any corrupt tendencies they possessed.</em> (HomE X)(my emphasis)<BR><BR>However, the idea of Orcs as ruined Elves seems to be finally put to rest:<BR><BR><em> It also seems clear (see 'Finrod and Andreth') that though Melkor could utterly corrupt and ruin individuals, it is not possible to contemplate his absolute perversion of a whole people, or group of peoples, and his making that state heritable.(2) [Added later: This latter must (if a fact) be an act of Eru.] In that case Elves, as a source, are very unlikely. <BR>---<BR>'Alter this. Orcs are not Elvish'</em> (HoME X)<BR><BR>Orcs as Maiar:<BR><BR><em>In any case is it likely or possible that even the least of the Maiar would become Orcs? Yes: both outside Arda and in it, before the fall of Utumno. Melkor had corrupted many spirits -some great, as Sauron, or less so, as Balrogs. The least could have been primitive (and much more powerful and perilous) Orcs; but by practising when embodied procreation they would (cf. Melian) [become] more and more earthbound, unable to return to spirit-state (even demon-form), until released by death (killing), and they would dwindle in force. When released they would, of course, like Sauron, be 'damned': i.e. reduced to impotence, infinitely recessive: still hating but unable more and more to make it effective physically (or would not a very dwindled dead Orc-state be a poltergeist?).</em> (HoME X)<BR><BR>Tolkien plays with the idea here, but does not come to a certain conclusion about the technicalities. <BR><BR><em> Boldog, for instance, is a name that occurs many times in the tales of the War. But it is <strong>possible</strong> that Boldog was not a personal name, and either a title, or else the name of a kind of creature: the Orc-formed Maiar, only less formidable than the Balrogs. </em>(HoME v X, Myths transformed)(my empasis)<BR> <BR>Another unconfirmed possibility, but great Orcs as Maiar seems pretty good right now.<BR><BR>Another idea which may support this is from the Mines of Moria in FotR, where a flash of light erupts from ther helm of the great Orc-chief when Aragorn slays it, and such a spectacle is typical of a dying maiar (Sauron’s thunderstorm, Saruman’s mist). <BR><BR>Orcs as beasts:<BR><BR><em> "Orcs are beasts and Balrogs [are?] corrupted Maiar" from 'Late Writings', History of Middle Earth </em>( HoME) volume XII.<BR><BR>This doesn’t say for certain that Orcs originated from beasts, just that they are beasts. However, we can surmise that it implies that Orcs may have been among the beasts corrupted by Melkor in the age of darkness. <BR><BR>What is interesting in relation to this theory and the ‘Orcs as maiar’ theory is that it seems to be not uncommon for great animals to have maiar souls, if we assume that creatures such as Huan are maiar.<BR><BR>Orcs as men:<BR><BR><em> This then, as it may appear, was my father's final view of the question: Orcs were bred from Men, and if 'the conception in mind of the Orcs may go far back into the night of Melkor's thought' it was Sauron who, during the ages of Melkor's captivity in Aman, brought into being the black armies that were available to his Master when he returned. </em>(HoME 10)<BR><BR>This seems pretty final, but there is an obvious issue with chronology: Orcs had appeared in Beleriand before the rising of the sun, which is when men awoke, and Morgoth returned to Middle earth and the ‘black armies’ that were prepared for him during the ages of stars.<BR><BR>I know there is more material on this subject, relating to the manner that Morgoth corrupted men with and the idea that all men were Morgoth-worshipers in the beginning, but I can’t seem to find it. <BR><BR><strong>The Nature of Orcs</strong><BR><BR>Some questions that often come up in relation to Orcs are whether they have souls and what happens to them when they die. Firstly, there is evidence to suggest that Orcs do have souls:<BR><BR><em>And dying they would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End.</em> (HoME X)<BR><BR>Now, for them to go to Mandos, they must have a soul. However:<BR><BR><em> I think it must be assumed that 'talking' is not necessarily the sign of the possession of a 'rational soul' or fea. The Orcs were beasts of humanized shape (to mock Men and Elves) deliberately perverted I converted into a more close resemblance to Men. Their 'talking' was really reeling off 'records' set in them by Melkor. Even their rebellious critical words - he knew about them. Melkor taught them speech and as they bred they inherited this; and they had just as much independence as have, say, dogs or horses of their human masters. This talking was largely echoic (cf. parrots). In The Lord of the Rings Sauron is said to have devised a language for them.</em>(HoME X)<BR><BR>Here, Tolkien does not openly reject the idea of Orcs having souls, but states that intelligence is not conductive of a soul, as some pro-Orcish-fea arguments suggest, and seems to lean towards Orcs not having souls. However, if Orcs do not have souls, they should not posess free will or a sense of morality, but Orcs do posess both. <BR><BR><em> But if they 'fell', as the Diabolus Morgoth did, and started making things 'for himself, to be their Lord', these would then 'be', even if Morgoth broke the supreme ban against making other 'rational' creatures like Elves or Men. They would at least 'be' real physical realities in the physical world, however evil they might prove, even 'mocking' the Children of God. They would be Morgoth's greatest Sins, abuses of his highest privilege, and would be creatures begotten of Sin, and naturally bad. (I nearly wrote 'irredeemably bad'; but that would be going too far. Because by accepting or tolerating their making - necessary to their actual existence - even Orcs would become part of the World, which is God's and ultimately good.) But whether they could have 'souls' or 'spirits' seems a different question; and since in my myth at any rate I do not conceive of the making of souls or spirits </em> (Letter 153)<BR> <BR>When he talks about redemption, Tolkien seems to suggest that Orcs do have souls, but in the last sentence, he leans away from the idea, which he does further in:<BR><BR><em> But again - would Eru provide fear for such creatures? For the Eagles etc. perhaps. But not for Orcs.(6) </em>(HoME X)<BR><BR>If Morgoth cannot create souls for Orcs and Eru will not create souls for Orcs, then where would souls for new-born Orcs come from? This supports the soulless Orc theory.<BR><BR>The issue of free will is also important in the Orc soul debate, and it is suggested often that, if Orcs do not have souls and are beasts animated by the will of their masters, they could ot offer any rebellious thoughts and would not reatreat from battle, when both scenarios occour in Middle Earth.<BR><BR><em>See 'Melkor'. It will there be seen that the wills of Orcs and Balrogs etc. are part of Melkor's power 'dispersed'. Their spirit is one of hate. But hate is non-cooperative (except under direct fear). Hence the rebellions, mutinies, etc. when Morgoth seems far off. Orcs are beasts and Balrogs corrupted Maiar. Also (n.b.) Morgoth not Sauron is the source of Orc-wills. Sauron is just another (if greater) agent. Orcs can rebel against him without their own irremediable allegiance to evil (Morgoth). Aule wanted love but of course had no thought of dispersing his power. Only Eru can give love and independence. If a finite sub-creator tries to do this he really wants absolute loving obedience, but it turns into robotic servitude and becomes evil.</em>(HoME X)<BR><BR>In this quote, it is implied that Middle Earth itself is the source of power for the Orcs as Middle earth is corrupted by Morgoth and contains his power, and the Orcs are animated and driven by fear. Also:<BR><BR><em> "Morgoth not Sauron is the source of Orc-wills. Sauron is just another (if greater) agent. Orcs can rebel against him without losing their own irremediable allegiance to evil (Morgoth)."</em>( HoME X)<BR><BR>Personally, I believe that as Morgoth is a fundamental agent of chaos, his slaves will reflect this. Just as Morgoth spreads discord and corruption for no reason and seeks to destroy the works of the Valar without creating his own in their place, his minions will fight among themselves and not follow their master like puppets. This is a natural product of their relationship with Melkor and the corrupted Middle earth, and the fact that they are animated by fear and hate. <BR><BR>Another issue is that of Orc mortality.<BR><BR><em> Moreover, the Orcs continued to live and breed and to carry on their business of ravaging and plundering after Morgoth was overthrown. They had other characteristics of the Incarnates also. They had languages of their own, and spoke among themselves in various tongues according to differences of breed that were discernible among them. They needed food and drink, and rest, though many were by training as tough as Dwarves in enduring hardship. <strong>They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as the Edain.</strong></em> (HomE X)(My emphasis).<BR><BR>So Orcs are mortal, like men and beasts. This would further suggest that Orcs are mannish or bestial in origin. It would also suggest that Orcs do not have souls and cease to exist after death, but this contradicts the quote that states their souls are summoned to Mandos. One thing that must be dealt with here is the immortal-Orc argument. This quote is used to suggest that Shagrat and Gorbag remember times 80 years prior to the war of the ring, before Sauron’s return to Mordor.<BR> <BR><em>'It's going well, they say.'<BR><BR>'They would,' grunted Gorbag. 'We'll see. But anyway, if it does go well, there would be a lot more room. What d'you say? - if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere on our own with a few trusty lads, somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and no big bosses.'<BR><BR>'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'</em>(TTT)<BR><BR>Shagrat’s memory of ‘old times’ suggests that at one stage, he did live as a master of an Orc band, such as the ones that dwelt in the Misty Mountains and waylaid Thorin’s company. During the period after his return to Mordor, Sauron summoned evil things to him to serve him, and Shagrat and his followers must have taken up service with him some time in the sixty-odd years prior to the war of the ring. This means he might be about 100 years old or as young as 50, aged for a man for not impossibly old. It is also worth noting here that something musy have compelled him to join up with Sauron’s army, further suggesting that Orcs are soulless and driven by their masters. <BR><BR>There is another quote that suggests Orcs are immortal: <BR><BR><em>[Gorbag speaking] 'There's no grief in that; but think - there's someone loose hereabouts as is more dangerous than any other damned rebel that ever walked since the bad old times, since the great Siege.</em> (TTT)<BR><BR>It is commonly accepted from this quote that one, the great siege is the siege of Barad-dur at the end of the second age or the siege of Angband and two, Gorbag is speaking from memory. I, however, disagree with both points. Firstly, Gorbag suggests that the ’bad old times’ ended with the ‘great siege’. This would rule out the siege of Barad-dur, as one could hardly say things would have gotten better for Mordor Orcs after Sauron’s defeat. Also, assuming Orcs are immortal, the probability of a single Orc surviving the war of the jewels, the war of wrath and the destruction of Angband, the war of Sauron and the Elves and The Last Alliance, not to mention the constant fighting among Orcs as well as accident or disease to turn up in Mordor across the other side of Northrnwestern Middle earth is, for all practical purposes, nil. Therefore, I would suggest that the ‘great siege’ is, in fact, the siege of Minas Ithil from 2000-2002 TA. This event would have destroyed Gondor’s influence in the Morgul area, effectively ending the ‘bad old times’ and starting the ‘good old times’ when the Orcs were free to wander the mountains of shadow and the Morgul vale and raid Ithillien. As for the second point, I believe Gorbag is referring to hearsay here. I think it is quite probable that stories of the ‘bad old times’ and the siege of Minas Ithil would have been passed down among the Orcs of the Morgul vale area, and even preserved in writing in runes like those that are seen scrawled in ithillien. I could say ‘this could turn out to be the biggest conflict since the second world war’ and you could not assume that I was speaking from firsthand experience (and if you did, you would be wrong). <BR><BR>I do not think there is evidence to suggest that Orcs are immortal. <BR><BR>In conclusion, I would say that Orcs are bestial, maiar and possibly also mannish in origin, mortal and that they do not possess a soul.<BR><BR><strong>Orc types and development.</strong><BR><BR>Here, I am going to assume that the laws of genetics apply in Middle Earth. I am also going to assume that powerful ainu such as Melkor, Sauron and Saruman have some ability to ‘force’ certain developments to evolve in Orcs, or at least breed them selectivley. I justify this by noting that the Orcs in the service of Sauron and Saruman in the end of the third age were more powerful, faster and more sunlight resistant than the more independent northern Orcs, as can be seen the chapter III of TTT, ‘The Uruk-hai’. Therefore, the creation of different breeds of Orcs is a part-natural, part-artificial process. Another thing worth noting is that a major genocide of Orcs, such as the war of wrath, would cause major changes to their gene pool and change the course of their development. Note that I have generalized here and made up simple descriptive names to describe the breeds if none exist. <BR><BR>The first certain appearance of Orcs is in Beleriand during the ages of stars.<BR> <BR><em>And ere long evil creatures came even to Beleriand, over passes in the mountains…and among them were Orcs, who afterwards wrought ruin in Beleriand, but yet they were few and wary</em> (The Silmarillion)<BR><BR>As we do not know anything about the Orcs before this, we can trace their history backwards from here. They came ‘over passes in the mountains’ implying that they came over the blue mountains from Eriador. These would have been the descendants of the Orcs that survived the destruction of Untummno and other Orcs who had spread out through Middle Earth before the capture of Melkor. We don’t know exactly where Utummno was, nor do we know where the survivors would have had sheltered and multiplied, so we cannot know how far the Orcs had spread. Orcs seem to dislike forests, which would explain why they did not linger in Eriador (wooded at this time) and chose to spread into more open areas, and seeing the sun and moon were yet to appear they would not have needed to hide in mines in the mountains like their later day kin and could wander freely. Assuming Untummno lay roughly to the north of Rhovanion and Rhun, Orcs could have conceivably spread quite far across most of Middle Earth, although they seem to avoid the far south. We know practically nothing of what type of creatures the Orcs of Untummno were, and very little about the ones that were spreading throughout Middle Earth before the return of Morgoth, but I will classify them into a breed anyway.<BR><BR>Pre-Angband Orcs:<BR>These were ‘few and wary’ and probably became quickly sundered in many different tribes as they spread. The elves thought it conceivable that they were Avari who had become wild and savage, do thy must have been more like elves in appearance than the dwarves or wild beasts. They don’t seem to have been too advanced, and fell quickly to attacks by the Sindar, suggesting poor quality arms and weapons and a lack of organization, further implying that Orcs are dependant on their masters to drive them.<BR><BR>After Morgoth’s return, Orcs seemd to have assembled in Angband, where they multiplied and grew ‘strong and fell’ and were filled with a lust for ‘ruin and death’, before issuing under ‘clouds that Morgoth sent forth’ to assail the Sindar. These Orcs were ‘shod with iron and iron-shielded and bore great spears with broad blades’ and seemed to be, both in numbers and arms, a match for the Elves of Beleriand. <BR>These Orcs, however, prove no match for the Noldor of Aman, and in the second battle are driven back into Angband or slain. Also, they have zero tolerance to sunlight and flee underground at the rising of the sun, stalling Morgoth’s plans. Following the rising of the sun, Orcs would have begun to develop sunlight resistance, and those of Angband would have had to learn to cope with the bright swords and eyes of the Noldor.<BR><BR>Angband Orcs:<BR>We don’t hear of Orcs again until Dagor Aglareb, 50 years after the rising of the sun. We don’t hear much about them, except they seem to have overcome their dislike of natural light somewhat and now can stand against the Noldor in battle. It doesn’t help them, however, and they all fall to the swords, spears, axes and bows of the Eldar. We don’t know how much of Morgoth’s strength was represented in this battle, so I can’t say how much of an effect the annihilation of the Orc army would have had on Orc development in general. I would fancy there is not much difference between these Orcs and the ones that tried to invade Hithlum during the peace of Beleriand.<BR><BR>In the four hundred years of peace, not much seems to happen to the Orcs. In the pits of Angband, they would have probably been forced to eat each other to survive and their population would have increased slower than in the time before the battle of Beleriand or the Dagor Aglareb. They don’t seem to change much, either, trapped underground with Morgoth focusing on developing Dragons and other nasties with which to crush the Elves. However, four hundred years is a long time, so when the Dagor Bragollach comes, they would have been in terrible numbers and pretty annoyed at having been living in cramped holes for so long. This, combined with support from Dragon’s and Balrogs, bought about a victory for Morgoth. <BR><BR>The Orcs would have spread, multiplied and developed quickly following the Bragollach, and by the time of the Ninaeth, seem to have become rather powerful.<BR><BR>Great Angband Orcs:<BR>These Orcs march and fight elves in the open in the sunlight, so they are clearly more powerful than the Orcs that fled before the Noldor at the Dagor-nuin-Gilliath. It is interesting to note that the Orcs that capture Turin stop to camp at night rather than push on to Angband, so perhaps they are more comfortable during the day than at night, suggesting that Morgoth has created, during the last years of the war of the jewels, some form of Uruk or man-orc.<BR><BR>Regardless of their power, all of these great Orcs along with almost all of the Orcs of Angband were destroyed in the war of wrath, and these breeds of Orc cease to exist. There is a large gap in my knowledge during the second age, as no records or descriptions of Orcs can be found. For the first part of the age, probably until about 1500 SA the Orcs would have simply been trying to re-establish themselves in Middle earth and recover their numbers following the fall of Thangorodrim. I imagine that the ancestors of Northern and Mordorian Orcs would have appeared here. There would have been a massive period of development prior to the war of Sauron and the elves, another slack period in the dark years where new developments would not have been necessary and perhaps another period of development prior to the war of the Last Alliance. <BR><BR>Mordorian<BR>Some of the Pre-Angband Orcs must have spread to the south because there are Orcs available for Sauron to start creating a new army in around 1600 SA. Assuming that these Orcs are like the Orcs that are in Sauron’s service in the third age, we can identify a major breed of Orc unique to Mordor, developing in isolation from those of the mountains to the north. These southern Orcs are long-armed and hairy, and are described as being ‘apes’ by Ugluk. They fight in the open against elves so they must have some sunlight resistance, and are quite successful, spreading Sauron’s power over most of Middle Earth. Some must have survived the last Alliance and his in the mountains of the east, and they clearly breed quickly as there are tens of thousands ready to march within 100 years of Sauron’s return to Mordor. They are described as having the usual broad-headed spears and curved swords, and there appears to be smaller tracker varieties that use bows and larger captains. <BR><BR><em>…Grishnákh, a short crook-legged creature, very broad and with long arms that hung almost to the ground.</em>(TTT)<BR><BR><em>At that moment Pippin saw why some of the troop had been pointing eastward. From that direction there now came hoarse cries, and there was Grishnákh again, and at his back a couple of score of others like him: long-armed crook-legged Orcs. They had a red eye painted on their shields.</em> (TTT)<BR><BR><em>Out of the turret-door the smaller orc came flying. Behind him came Shagrat, a large orc with long arms that, as he ran crouching, reached to the ground.</em>(ROTK)<BR> <BR>Northern<BR>Some Orcs settled in the Misty Mountains at some stage during the first or second age, as there were Orcs ready to waylay isildur and the Dunedain at the Gladden fields and to make up the armies of Angmar., hence, they are probably the oldest surving breed in the third age:<BR><BR><em> …and many of the older tribes, such as those that still lingered in the north and in the misty mountains…</em>{LotR Appendix F)<BR><BR>These are the Orcs from the misty mountains, and are referred to as ‘maggots’ by Ugluk and often as goblins, or Moria goblins. They are small and stooped and dislike sunlight. They seem to be ruled by chieftans during interim periods between major times of dark lord’s power, much as their southern cousins must have been before the return of the Nazgul to Mordor. They seem to have developed their relationship with wolves by themselves, and some were certainly in the service of Saruman. There are many references to these coming in larger and smaller sizes:<BR><BR><em> for though victorious their losses had been great, and almost all of the <strong>great Orcs</strong> had fallen: they attempted no such attack again for long years after.</em>(UT)<BR><BR><em>The hobbits were left with the Isengarders: a grim dark band, four score at least of large, swart, slant-eyed Orcs with great bows and short broad-bladed swords. <strong>A few of the larger and bolder Northerners remained with them</strong>.</em><BR><BR>Uruks<BR>Uruks are a newer type of Orc, first appearing around 500 years before the war of the ring on the marches of Mordor. They are larger, stronger and more sunlight resistant than the lesser Orcs, whom they refer to as ‘snaga’. They are dark and use bows, spears and swords. There is no mention of Uruks before the third age, and it seems strange that neither Sauron nor Morgoth tried to develop a large fighting Orc before this time. They show more strength and sunlight resistance than smaller Orcs, and are certainly developed from Mordor Orcs. They still use the standard broad headed spear and scimitar, as the orc chieftan from Moria shows. <BR><BR>Uruk-hai<BR>The epitome of Orc development, developed by Saruman in the last 100 or so years of his reign. They are not affected by sunlight and are almost man-size. I believe that these are sometimes referred to as ‘goblin-men’ although I don’t believe that they are related to men, although it is possible. The term ‘almost man-high’ is somewhat ambiguous, although in the context it is used in it seems to suggest that the Uruk-hai are about 160 cm or 5’3”. This gives them, along with the advantage of being faster and stronger than smaller Orcs, the ability to use mannish weapons like longbows and straight swords, although they don’t appear to be that efficient in their use yet.<BR><BR><em> In the twilight he saw a large black Orc, probably Uglúk</em>(TTT)<BR><BR><em>The hobbits were left with the Isengarders: a grim dark band, four score at least of large, swart, slant-eyed Orcs with great bows and short broad-bladed swords.</em> (TTT)<BR><BR>Half-Orcs<BR>Created by Saruman in the last years of his reign, these are a cross between Orcs and men, and they come in more or less orc-like forms. I think it is possible that half-orcs appeared before the end of the third age, but they are not mentioned until Saruman’s war on Rohan. they are man-high and use great axes. <BR><BR><em>... Saruman seems to have meant to finish off the king and all his men with one final blow. He emptied Isengard. I saw the enemy go: endless lines of marching Orcs; and troops of them mounted on great wolves. And there were battalions of Men, too. Many of them carried torches, and in the flare I could see their faces. Most of them were ordinary men, rather tall and dark-haired, and grim but not particularly evil-looking. But there were some others that were horrible: <strong>man-high, but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed. Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree: only he was not so obviously orc-like as most of these were.</strong>'<BR><BR>'I thought of him too,' said Aragorn. 'We had many of <strong> these half-orcs</strong> to deal with at Helm's Deep ...</em>(TTT) <BR><BR>Note also some of the ruffians from the scouring.<BR><BR>And this completes my tally of all creatures of Orc-kind. There may be other Orcs living in the mountains of the east, but there is no mention of them and it is unlikely that Orcs would have crossed the plains of Rhun under the sun. <BR><BR>This is not complete or proved accurate by any means. For instance, there is no certainty that Uruk-hai do not have mannish blood and that half-Orcs are derived from Uruk-hai. But this is the major known breeds as I see them.<BR><BR><strong>Orc language, society and culture</strong><BR><BR>The language of Orcs is not a subject explored extensively in Tolkien’s writings, and most of what is notable can be surmised here:<BR><BR> <em> Orc is the form of the name that other races had for this foul people as it was in the language of Rohan. In Sindarin it was Orch. Related, no doubt, was the word Uruk of the black speech, although this was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time issued from Mordor and Isengard. The lesser kinds were called, especially by the Uruk-hai, snaga (slave).<BR>The Orcs were first bred by the dark power of the north in the elder days. <strong>It is said</strong> they had no language of their own, yet took what they could of other tongues and perverted it to their own liking; yet they made only brutal jargons, scarcely sufficient even for their own needs unless it were for curse and abuse. And these creatures, being filled with malice, hating even their own kind, quickly developed as many barbarous dialects as there were groups and settlements of their race, so that Orcish speech was of little use to them in intercourse between different tribes. <BR>So it was that in the third age Orcs used for communication between breed and breed the westron tongue; and many of the older tribes, such as those that still lingered in the north and in the misty mountains, had long used westron as their native language, though in such a fashion to make it hardly less unlovely than Orcish. … <strong>It is said</strong> that the black speech was devised by Sauron in the dark years, and that he desired to make it the language of all those that served him, but he failed in that purpose. From the black speech, however, were derived many of the words that were in the third age wide-spread among the Orcs…</em>(LotR Appendix F)(My emphasis)<BR><BR>Again, there is an indefinite statement about Orcs, this time about where there language came from. However, it seems likely that Orcs did not have a language of their own initaially and must have derived one from somewhere, further supporting the non-sentinent Orc theory. We no nothing of what was spoken in Utummno, but it is possible that Melkor and his maiar captains spoke a language akin, if not identical, to the Valinorean that would have been used on Almaren and later, in Valinor, and that this would have been the base for the Orcs first language. It would be unlikely that any words would have passes directly from the elves to the Orcs as there was never communication between these people except in the case of the thralls of Morgoth, so further words in Orc dialects would have come from either men or dwarves. The Easterlings already spoke in many tongues when they reached Beleriand, and these languages would have been heard extensively by the Angband Orcs, just as the Easterlings would have heared and probably learned some of the Orc speech. Contact between dwarves and Orcs would have come much later in the dark years in the east, and while the dwarves reluctance to teach Khuzdul would have made learning it difficult for the Orcs, some sounds from it would have probably been adopted. Throughout the dark years contact with other tribes of men would have furthered the Orc dialects. <BR><BR>The Black speech must have been created prior to the time of the forging of the one ring (c. 1600 SA) as it appears on the ring in the inscription. Therefore, it would probably have been widely used by the Orcs that Sauron used against Eregion, Imladris and Lindon in the war between Sauron and the elves, explaining how it could have spread quickly across Middle Earth. After the defeat of Sauron by the Numenorians, refuges from the Orc armies may have taken refuge with the Orcs of the misty mountains and the north, allowing the Black Speech to become part of the northern orc language. <BR><BR>The common speech originated around the Pelargir area, and spread quickly with the expansion of the realms in exile. It would have become the official language of Arnor and Gondor, and thus would have been used by the lesser men dwelling in the borders of these lands. It could have also come into use among the hillmen of Angmar, and passed to the Orcs from there. It could have also simultaneously been taken up by other Orc tribes who may have leaned it from dwarves or other men in the east. Being the only language commonly spoken among Orcs, it would have probably been kept in its original form, with local variants in accent ad vocabulary. <BR><BR>Just as the black speech decayed after long use by sundered orcs, so the common speech would if orcs used it for a long period of time and would no longer be of use I communication between different breeds and tribes.<BR><BR>Orcs do not have a ‘religion’ as such, instead, they worship their dark masters as gods. <BR><BR><em>…Sauron is also the god of his slaves.</em>(letters)<BR><BR>This worship seems simply to entail fear and obedience, as there is no mention or evidence of an Orcish place of worship (even though places of worship to Morgoth, like the temple of Sauron in Numenor, seem to be not unheard of among evil races) or birth, death and marriage customs among Orcs. An absence of customs relating to death would seem reasonable, as the main purpose of these customs is to mourn the deceased, celebrate their life and speed them on their way. The first two do not seem to be in the nature of Orcs and the last would be unnecessary as Ors appear to not have souls to speed anywhere. It is also unlikely that Orcs are ever educated in the existence of the Valar, Valinor and Eru, so they would not comprehend any advanced religious ideas. <BR><BR>Orc society seems to be structured around the following of chieftans and captains. These individuals seem to enjoy a good deal of respect among their followers, for instance:<BR><BR><em>Orcs will pursue foes for many leagues across the plains if they have a fallen captain to avenge. </em>(FotR)<BR><BR>It seems that captains are a matter of pride among Orc tribes, and their death must be taken as a great affront, which would explain why the Orcs pursued Thorin’s company and the Fellowship of the Ring, both of which were responsible for the slaying of a chieftan. Also, the Orcs in the service of Ugluk, Shagrat and Gorbag seem to follow their masters commands, even when the Orcs are known for their viciousness, squabbling and lack of unity. It also seems that there is a direct link between Orc captains and size, in that captains are usually larger than normal Orcs. This may be because captains are favoured and gain more food, or that the largest Orcs are usually chosen to be leaders, or a combination of both. Some positions of power seem to be hereditary, such as the leadership of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains, held by Azog and then his son Bolg. In this case, the leaders may be of a line of orcs that is larger, longer-lived and more cunning than the others. <BR><BR>There is no mention of Orc females and only a slight one from The Hobbit of infant Orcs, so we don’t know anything about Orc family structure. As the previous Azog-Bolg link shows, Orcs do recognize familial relationships which they make known to outsiders (Gandalf knew that Bolg was the son of Azog) and do not simply breed like insects. They appear to be mammalian in many characteristics (save their cold blood) so I will assume they give birth to live young. These young must be looked after, although the speed at which Orcs reproduce suggests either short gestation periods or the bearing of large litters, as well as a rapid growth to maturity. This short childhood would help explain why there are so few infant Orcs, and would also further suggest that Orcs are fundamentally bestial (While Humans take 20 odd years to reach maturity, other animals of similar or greater body size, such as tigers, take only 4). <BR><BR>There are two alternatives for female Orcs, either they stay in deep holds and mines and never emerge or they are so like the men in appearance and nature that they cannot be distinguished from them and issue forth to war with them. It is also possible that Orc females have only a set period of time each month that they are capable of conceiving and will not mate or act in a manner any different to the males outside this time, in the manner of cats. It would be interesting to know more about Orc females, such as their status in society, but nothing more is known or can even be guessed. <BR><BR>There is no mention anywhere of a major war between tribes or breeds of Orc, even though they fight constantly among themselves. Also, armies can be mustered quickly and moved swiftly and quietly, suggesting a degree of organization among the Orcish tribes.<BR><BR><em> Ever since the fall of the great goblin of the Misty Mountains the hatred of the race of dwarves had been rekindled to fury. Messangers passed two and from between their cities, colonies and strongholds; for they resolved now to win domination of the north.</em>(The Hobbit)<BR><BR>Besides this, there is also the case of the Uruk-hai of Isengard joining with the Orcs of the Misty Mountains for the attack on the fellowship, suggesting a degree of kinship among the Orcs, even though they have little love for each other. <BR><BR><strong>Orc warfare</strong><BR><BR>Orcs seem to go to war at the bidding of their masters, to gain revenge, to capture land or resources or to raid for plunder. I will deal with these circumstances individually.<BR><BR>Going to war for their masters:<BR>It is in this case that Orcs are at their most dangerous, as they will use advanced tactics and equipment and are often supported by more powerful soldiers such as Trolls. <BR><BR>Going to war for revenge:<BR>This seems to occur after a great captain is slain, and possibly justifies the Battle of the Five Armies.<BR><BR>Going to war for land or resources:<BR>After they were driven from the Misty Mountains in the war of dwarves and Orcs, the Orcs tried to establish themselves in the white mountains but were thwarted by the Rohirrim. Orcs seem to avoid this type of warfare, as it pits their warriors, unsupported, against enemies in hostile territory, often in the open.<BR><BR>Raids:<BR>Raids seem to be the most common reason for Orcs to go to war, as their native mountains would not support large populations. The Orcs seem to try and move swiftly, strike swiftly, and return to their holds. Orc raids troubled Beleriand after the Nirnaeth, and more recently the inhabitants of Eriador and Rhovanion, even as far from the mountains as the Shire. <BR><BR>Orc tactics:<BR>Orcs do not seem to use advanced tactics on their own, focusing on speed and surprise or simply overpowering enemies with numbers and fierceness. They can be stealthy in pursuit or ambush, but tend to rely on the terror created by noise and chaos where stealth and surprise is not necessary.<BR><BR>Some case examples:<BR><BR>The Battle of Beleriand<BR>Here, the Orcs are unsupported and operating in hostile territory. However, there is no sunlight to trouble them and they are numerous and well equipped, and filled with the wrath of Morgoth. They came swiftly and silently into Beleriand, and proved successful against lightly armoured opponents like the Green Elves. However, they proved unable to defeat the elves of Doriath and capture the walled havens. This shows that they are more dependant on massed charges and are not prepared for siege warfare. <BR><BR>The Battle under Stars (Dagor-nuin-Gilliath)<BR>The Orcs attack swiftly and silently again, but are unable to overcome the well armed Noldor in the open, and are also hunted through the mountains and woods, indicating that their armies are easily overcome if their momentum is broken. However, they send messangers swiftly, and soon assemble new hosts from the south. By marching their army through the gap of the Sirion, they indicate a lack of imagination; they are going to attack from the same direction as before. They clearly did not expect and ambush, and again are quickly defeated.<BR><BR>The Glorious Battle (Dagor Aglareb)<BR>The Orcs again show a lack of imagination by trying the same strategy that they did against Beleriand in the first battle, but are unprepared for the new defenses in the north and their attack fails. And once again, following the failure of their plan, they simply break apart and the Orcs are hunted down throughout Beleriand or slain in a chaotic retreat across Ard-Galen.<BR><BR>The Battle of the Sudden Flame (Dagor Bragollach)<BR>Morgoth uses the same strategy as before, but is this time successful through numbers and by supporting the orcs with Balrogs and Dragons. However, the Orcs still cannot take strong fortresses like the Barad Eithel and Himring and some land is lost to counterattacks, showing Orcs in the open are poor defenders.<BR><BR>The Battle of Unummbered Tears (Nirnaeth Arnoediad)<BR>This is notable mainly because of the use of a force of Orcs to draw the enemy out into the open. The success is due mainly to treachery over effective use of Orcs.<BR><BR>The War of Sauron and the Elves<BR>This war shows the three main characteristics of Orcish warfare. The Orcs move fast but are stalled by fortifications and fall back to a strong counterattack.<BR><BR>The battle of Azanubizar<BR>The Orcs chose to not use their advantage of high ground for defense but to attack downhill, showing they prefer to be offensive. Again, an enemy counterattack brings defeat.<BR><BR>The Battle of the fords of Isen<BR>Here, a shield wall thwarts the Orcs, and only by bringing up half-Orcs do they manage to break through. A final attack by warg riders at night defeats the riders of rohan. <BR><BR>The battle of the Hornburg<BR>The uruk-hai make initial attacks that fail. However, once they blast open the wall they break through, but are again stopped by the defenses. Despite their numerical superiority, a cavalry charge from the keep throws them back, and once Erkenbrand, Gandalf and the huorns arrive they break and flee.<BR><BR>The Battle of the Pelennor fields<BR>Here, the Orcs do not fall back immediately following a cavalry charge, but they are supported by Haradrim. However, it seems that they flee once Aragorn arrives, leaving the field to be held by men of Sauron’s service. <BR><BR>From these, I conclude that Orcs move quickly and hit hard, but are weak on the defensive, against fortifications and if they are taken by surprise. They are also weak against cavalry. <BR><BR><strong>Conclusion</strong><BR><BR>Orcs were created in the ages of darkness by Melkor from corrupted beasts and maiar demons taking Orc form. They have no souls and are mortal, and are effectively intelligent beasts rather than sentient beings and are driven by the hate and wrath of Morgoth, his servants and his lingering corruption in Middle Earth. They come in many breeds and they are often developed by their masters to make them more powerful. They have many dialects of Orc speech that originated from the Valinorean used by maiar and the languages of lesser men and dwarves. In the second age, the black speech spread among them and the common speech followed it in the third. They reproduce fast, and follow powerful chieftans and captains. There is a considerable degree of organization between their tribes, even though they fight among themselves. In battle, Orcs are effective both through stealth and terror, and move fast and strike hard, but are weak on the defensive, against fortifications and if they are taken by surprise.
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Postby Parmamaite » Sun Oct 19, 2003 6:02 am

That's an impressive post Lord Morningstar. There's really not much to add. <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Armenelos » Sun Oct 19, 2003 8:08 am

i have to agree. i'm sure there's a lot more that's been archived. maybe when that's all fixed we can find some more.
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Postby Greysorcerer » Sun Oct 19, 2003 8:51 am

That is definitely the greatest devotion I've seen concerning the YRCH!<BR><BR>My question about their behavior is more psychological. It would appear that even if orcs were (Saruman: "...twisted and multilated..."<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> would they not have freewill to choose to be mean and rotten? Could there not be - even at best - indifferent orcs that would pass up a chance to do a really nasty thing just for nastiness?<BR><BR>I believe that orcs, though cannibals, are indeed social creatures. Therefore, an inner part of them would seek out a way to evolve and grow and become stronger by learning and using social graces to interface with other races.<BR><BR>Mr. Tolkien kept the orc as a nasty thing that was blinded by rage and evil and therefore could not structure itself as a social animal. Yet, as we see in The Hobbit, when Thorin and Company were taken before the Great Goblin - they held court. It wasn't just - "Meat's back on the menu" sort of thing. The orcs actually, civilized, listened to what Thorin had to say about trespassing. Of course it ended badly with Gandalf coming in to save the hobbit and the dwarves - but the fact remains that there was some semblance of order and a social hierarchy. Orcs - to be chaotic - possess laws.<BR><BR>Therefore, I would chance to say that if given the void of Sauron's or Melkor's presence and influence, orcs would eventually - to some extent - become nationally active as tradesmen and diplomats.
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Postby Luthien_elentari » Sun Oct 19, 2003 10:00 am

Very impressive, Lord_Morningstar<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> But, as Armenelos pointed out, there's probably a wealth of archived information.<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>GreySorcerer: We have to take into account the fact that Tolkien changed several things between the Hobbit and LotR. There are inconsistencies that make it hard to decide which one "type" of orc is more valid...perhaps they are both equally valid. Or perhaps Tolkien intended for LotR orcs to be the final "version" of the orc.<BR><BR>Perhaps he even modified the orc's image in The Hobbit because it was a children's book. They appear to be much more "friendly" (well less cruel anyway) and more civilised.<BR><BR>Lord-morningstar adresses this aspect in his post<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Sun Oct 19, 2003 4:23 pm

Greysorceror<BR><i>My question about their behavior is more psychological. It would appear that even if orcs were (Saruman: "...twisted and multilated..." would they not have freewill to choose to be mean and rotten? Could there not be - even at best - indifferent orcs that would pass up a chance to do a really nasty thing just for nastiness?</i><BR><BR>Well, the Orcs would probably not be nasty just to be nasty, they are naturally violent, sadistic and hateful, but generally practical and would not do something if they were not ordered by their masters or got something out of it (even if only sadistic pleasure). This goes back to the absence of fea point: Orcs are bound to Morgoth’s will, whether through the earth or through an avatar such as Sauron. <BR><BR><i> Therefore, I would chance to say that if given the void of Sauron's or Melkor's presence and influence, orcs would eventually - to some extent - become nationally active as tradesmen and diplomats. </i><BR><BR>Although they naturally would try to develop their society to make things better for them, their hateful and chaotic natures would hinder this. Also, they are never free of Morgoth’s will as poured a portion of his natural power into them to corrupt them, and they are also bound to earth which is also corrupted by Morgoth. <BR><BR>Luthien_Elentari<BR><i> Perhaps he even modified the orc's image in The Hobbit because it was a children's book. They appear to be much more "friendly" (well less cruel anyway) and more civilised.</i><BR><BR>This is also possible, and inded likely.<BR><BR>One final thing: What do you people think of my great siege=siege of Minas ithil theory?
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Postby Mjolnir » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:45 am

Great post, Lord Morningstar! Very nice!<BR><BR>Cheers<BR><BR>Mjolnir
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:56 am

One additional thing, Shagrat() holds in <a href='http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=13&threadid=72345' target=_blank>another thread</a> (about page 3) that Shagrat and Grishnakh are Mordor Uruks, and I am feeling compelled to agree with him. So, is Grishnakh an Uruk?<BR><BR>Also, could the great siege be the siege of Minas Ithil?<BR>
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Postby Nár » Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:22 am

Excellent work Lord Morningstar! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>"So, is Grishnakh an Uruk?"<BR><BR>I suspect so; for example from the fact that Ugluk doesn't call him with the insulting term "snaga".
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Postby Frelga » Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:05 am

This is absolutely fascinating. I often wondered why Orcs are portraied in Hobbit and LOTR as utterly unredeemable creatures that should be hunted down and killed without remorse. They are never offered a second chance, unlike other villains including Saruman and Sauron himself.<BR><BR>For example, after the battle of Helm's Deep, the Riders make a truce with the Wild Men and set them to work, but Orcs are exterminated. Aragorn follows the same pattern after winning his battles. Treebeard in the siege of Isengard lets human servants of Saruman go after questioning, but no Orc gets out. <BR><BR>Not that I feel sorry for the poor misunderstood Orcs, but this does support the theory that Tolkien thought of them as no more then fierce beasts with no potential for moral development.
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Postby andurilwest » Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:48 pm

Uruks and Uruk-hai were different?<BR><BR>Tolkien's odd. He kept changing his ideas. Only people who read HoME would know the later developments in his mind.<BR><BR>Ah, but I guess he was revelling in the joys of "sub-creation"...
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Postby edgecurve » Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:02 pm

That was an amazing analysis of Orcs, very thorough. I've only recently found this forum and I am sure glad I have for info like this.<BR><BR>Orc culture was on my mind a few weeks ago when I posted a little <a href='http://www.edgecurve.com/journal/article.php?ID=157' target=_blank>theory about Orcs behavior on my website</a>. I was curious about socialization vs. genetics. I didn't really reach a conclusion but it seems that they are pretty much genetically bound to behave as they do. Anyway, thanks for the great reading!
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:42 pm

Thanks to all for the replies!<BR><BR>The question of born evil vs. raised as evil is one of the things that troubled me, so I developed the best answer that I could. I, too, was troubled that Orcs are slaughtered without pity, including ‘civilians’ (such as where orc-holds are destroyed) and sometimes in an atmosphere of fun (the Hornburg game with Legolas and Gimli) and that this slaughter is held to be noble and laudable (Legolas boasts about Gimli’s achievement of slaying fifty-odd Orcs at the hornburg). However, having Orcs as soulless extensions of Morgoth’s will makes this easier to handle. <BR><BR>Anyway, I don’t like to be pushy, but I have had only one response to the Grishnakh=Uruk theory and none to the Siege of Minas Ithil=Great siege theory. Any ideas? <BR><BR>Oh, and edgecurve, that little article was good reading! <BR>
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Postby Parmamaite » Sun Oct 26, 2003 1:13 am

<b>Lord Morningstar</b>:<BR><UL>The question of born evil vs. raised as evil is one of the things that troubled me, so I developed the best answer that I could. I, too, was troubled that Orcs are slaughtered without pity, including ‘civilians’ (such as where orc-holds are destroyed) and sometimes in an atmosphere of fun (the Hornburg game with Legolas and Gimli) and that this slaughter is held to be noble and laudable (Legolas boasts about Gimli’s achievement of slaying fifty-odd Orcs at the hornburg). However, having Orcs as soulless extensions of Morgoth’s will makes this easier to handle. </UL><BR>There's one exception to the pitiless killing of orcs. Faramir said that he wouldn't even trap an orc with treachery. I know it's not much, but I think it's the only mention of any kind of limit in the dealings with orcs.<BR><BR><BR>Your theory about the Great Siege being the siege of Minas Ithil sounds very probable, it seems a little strange that Gorbag should talk about the Siege of Barad-dur 3000 years before. Though I haven't made up my mind about it yet.
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Postby Dal » Sun Oct 26, 2003 1:38 am

Several times in the books it is told how many of the 'lesser' breeds of orc were drafted into fight in Saurons wars. The Larger, bolder Uruks of morder were either put in charge <BR>*The drivers of the grup Frodon and Sam fing themselves in on the road to baradur<BR>*Shagrats command over the smaller orcs such as snaga at the tower<BR>*The soldier orc with the tracker breed searching fro Frodo and Sam<BR>*'Some are large and evil. Black uruks of morder' Gandalf - Balins Tomb<BR><BR>With this id say Grishnakh was an Uruk. He was trusted enough by his superiors to be an agent of morder in Ugluks Co. Uruks seem to have a higher standard of loyalty to the Dark tower. Also he was big and strong enough to pick up the two hobbits and make a break for it. Aragorn refers to 'a large bold orc' making a bid to escape with the prisoners.<BR><BR><BR>The seige of Minas Ithil probably wasnt a great seige as in terms of length or numbers. 'The watch upon the borders of morder slept' suggesst a small garrison there. And wernt the Nazgul more directly involved as to cause fear the lessen the defenders? I honestly cant remember much about that off the top of my head.
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Postby Dal » Sun Oct 26, 2003 1:38 am

eeek double post
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Sun Oct 26, 2003 10:57 pm

Dal<BR><i>The seige of Minas Ithil probably wasnt a great seige as in terms of length or numbers.</i><BR><BR>Well, it did go for two years and involve the capture of Gondor’s 3rd largest city, and besides, in terms of the history of the Morgul area, it was the largest military conflict of the third age.<BR><BR>However, your points on Grishnakh are certainly valid. <BR>
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Postby scirocco » Sun Oct 26, 2003 11:06 pm

A most interesting post, <b>Lord Morningstar</b>. <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Another aspect of Orcs which sheds some light on whether or not they had souls and/or independent existences, comes from one of JRRT's very last notes, written only a few years before his death (given in HoME X).<BR><BR>In it, he suggests that Orcs were either "absorbed" or "not absorbed". The absorbed ones were those who were close by and under the direct control of Morgoth (or Sauron, I assume). This type:<BR><BR><OL>...would act like herds, obeying instantly, as if with one will, his commands even if ordered to sacrifice their lives in his service...</OL><BR>However, these were relatively few. The majority of Orcs were "not absorbed", being geographically distant from the source of power:<BR><BR><OL>Thus the greater part of the orks, though under his orders and the dark shadow of their fear of him, were only intermittently objects of his immediate thought and concern, and while that was removed they relapsed into independence and became conscious of their hatred of him and his tyranny...</OL><BR>JRRT points out that this sort of behaviour (independent action) is not what you would expect of "puppets" (who might be expected to stand still and do nothing while their master's eye was not on them, like Aule's Dwarves). The very fact that Tolkien felt it necessary to make this clarification between puppets and Orcs suggests that he wished to consider the possibility of independent will and thus, perhaps, a soul. And why not? At least for those Orcs bred from Men; why should corruption by Morgoth, Sauron or Saruman deprive such creatures of their souls?
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Postby Parmamaite » Sun Oct 26, 2003 11:51 pm

The reason why Tolkien wanted the orcs to be soulless, is that all souls come from Eru, and it is difficult (or impossible) to imagine that God would provide souls to irredeemable evil creatures. But if the orcs where redeemable they shouldn't be treated as they are by the good guys. They should be treated like Gollum or Saruman, they should be respected, in the hope that they might repent, and they should only be slain if absolutely necessary.<BR><BR><b>Lord Morningstar</b> explained it better than me in a former post:<BR><UL>The question of born evil vs. raised as evil is one of the things that troubled me, so I developed the best answer that I could. I, too, was troubled that Orcs are slaughtered without pity, including ‘civilians’ (such as where orc-holds are destroyed) and sometimes in an atmosphere of fun (the Hornburg game with Legolas and Gimli) and that this slaughter is held to be noble and laudable (Legolas boasts about Gimli’s achievement of slaying fifty-odd Orcs at the hornburg). However, having Orcs as soulless extensions of Morgoth’s will makes this easier to handle. </UL><BR>
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:16 am

My theory in relation to the soul issue is (from my analysis):<BR><BR><i>Personally, I believe that as Morgoth is a fundamental agent of chaos, his slaves will reflect this. Just as Morgoth spreads discord and corruption for no reason and seeks to destroy the works of the Valar without creating his own in their place, his minions will fight among themselves and not follow their master like puppets. This is a natural product of their relationship with Melkor and the corrupted Middle earth, and the fact that they are animated by fear and hate.</i><BR><BR>Basically, as the will of Morgoth is to corrupt and destroy, this is also the will of the Orcs. As Morgoth works against his own allies and even acts in a manner unbenificial to himself, such as with the stealing of the Silmarils ensuring the burning of his hand and a war of vengance with the Noldor, so the Orcs will also work against their allies and masters. Just as Morgoth is a sadist, so Orcs are sadists. <BR><BR>I think the calling of Elves, Men, Dwarves and Ents (and eagles?) as free peoples (as in Treebeards lists) is not simply because they are not under the shadow of Sauron (as this would exclude most men and some dwarves) but also because they have souls and free will, unlike the beasts (who are not sentinent) and the Orcs and Trolls (who are driven by the will of Morgoth). <BR>
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Postby scirocco » Mon Oct 27, 2003 6:58 am

There's certainly no simple answer to this question. Tolkien painted himself into something of a corner with it: if the Orcs were only beasts, how could they act so independently; and if they were not beasts, and possessed <i>fea</i>, how could they appear so irredeemably evil?<BR><BR>The "Orcs were beasts of humanized shape" quote dates from 1955. Fifteen years later, shortly before his death, Tolkien was writing the passage from <i>Myths Transformed</i> which I quoted earlier. This suggests to me that the more time went on, the more Tolkien emphasised the independent, non-puppet-like nature of the Orcs. <BR><BR><OL>They were indeed so corrupted that they were pitiless, and there was no cruelty or wickedness that they would not commit; but this was the corruption of independent wills...</OL><BR>I believe JRRT came to regret the one-dimensionality he had given the Orcs in <i>The Lord of the Rings</i>.<BR><BR>An independent will doesn't prove or disprove the existence of a soul, of course, but it's a better starting point for one than a beast. <BR><BR>It's also fairly clear that from Myths Transformed that Tolkien eventually came to regard the Orcs not just as one homogeneous breed, but made up of an unholy mixture of corrupted Maiar, Elves, Men and beasts. From the point of view of souls, it seems obvious that the Maiar orc leaders, being <i>ealar</i>, were embodied "souls" so to speak. And at the other end of the scale, the beast-Orcs certainly would not have possesed <i>fea</i>.<BR><BR>It's the bunch in the middle, perverted from Elves and Men, who are the problem. For if they possessed souls in the beginning, could Morgoth (and Sauron, who did much of the hands-on dirty work) actually remove their souls? Because if we are to assume they did not have souls, how were the souls removed? Something this fundamental seems to me beyond even the power of Morgoth.
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Tue Oct 28, 2003 12:49 am

Remember also, the giant spiders are corrupted beasts that have indepedant wills, though apparently not souls (although this is according to the Hobbit and must be taken with a grain of Sodium Chloride). I believe that no Orcs come from elves, with the majority being beasts and some being corrupted maiar, and possibly some from men. The Orcs from men issue I find a bit hard to comprehend, as while a first generation Orc would have a soul, a second generaton one wouldn't, as Eru wouldn't give it a soul.
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Postby turgonrocks! » Tue Dec 30, 2003 8:11 pm

Bumped for Moriquendi13 <BR>
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Postby maerantha » Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:30 pm

A long time ago, in a thread far, far away, I tried to reconcile the elvish origin of orcs with an outcome that would not require them to have souls: namely the elves were tortured to the point that they abandoned their bodies, and the demons (evil maiar) animated those bodies. The maiar were "engrafted" into the bodies and became corporeal, able to reproduce. Thus, you have sentient creatures that can reproduce, but they are a "mockery" of real children of Iluvitar. Their sentience is the image of Morgoth(Satan), not Eru (God). <BR><BR>Hybrid evil creatures. Because their demonic souls reflect fallen angelic souls, you see echoes of good even in them: nothing evil is original, evil can only mar and twist the good. Thus, the orcs have social order, have some (weak) notion of solidarity and comradeship, admire valor, all after a fashion, though they are essentially by nature cruel and evil.<BR><BR>Somewhere in this idea, I think, lies a workable answer. Plotwise, of course, orcs are the faceless horde of bad guys that can be slaughtered without raising any moral qualm. But it does make an interesting origins question when you think about it.<BR><BR>
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Postby northpolarbeorn » Fri Jan 02, 2004 11:34 pm

Do we need some philosophiocal excuse to slaughter orcs without moral qualms? Isn't it enough that they are the enemy soldiers of a tyrant? We can still enjoy WWII flicks without having to convince ourselves that the Nazi german soldiers lack souls. Legolas and Gimli's game might be in bad taste, but its not unusual for soldiers in the midst of battle. And there were plenty of Dunlendings at Helm's Deep too. Should we assume that L and G never harmed any of them or included them in their final tallies.<BR><BR>And while we're on the subject, do our heroes ever actually 'slaughter' any orcs outside of military combat? <BR><BR>npb
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Sat Jan 03, 2004 5:01 am

<i>Do we need some philosophiocal excuse to slaughter orcs without moral qualms?</i><BR><BR>Yes. <BR><BR><i>Isn't it enough that they are the enemy soldiers of a tyrant?</i><BR><BR>No. It is morally satisfactory, even desirable, in Middle Earth, to seek the extermination of the Orcs as a race. This implies that they cannot co-exist with the free peoples and the natural world. Would you justify the killing of every single German in 1945 (as some people did) because they voted the Nazis into power and many of them did their bidding? There is a difference. <BR><BR><i> And there were plenty of Dunlendings at Helm's Deep too. Should we assume that L and G never harmed any of them or included them in their final tallies.</i><BR><BR>Of course they killed Dunlendings, and on the Pelennor many Easterlings, Haradrim and Variags too. The point is, enemy humans are often captured and redeemed, while Orcs are only ever killed and no one suggests anything different. <BR><BR><i> And while we're on the subject, do our heroes ever actually 'slaughter' any orcs outside of military combat? </i><BR><BR>In the war of Dwarves and Orcs, the dwarves killed practically every Orc from Gundabad to the Gladden, and this would include ‘women’ and ‘children’. The Rohirrim did likewise when the Orcs tried to establish themselves in the White Mountains. When the Gondorians conquered Harad and Umbar, they didn’t massacre the local populations. <BR>
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Postby northpolarbeorn » Sun Jan 04, 2004 10:33 pm

Those actions merely question whether the dwarves and Rohirrim had souls.<BR><BR>As for never being shown mercy; the wood elves in "The <BR>Hobbit" are said to show mercy to all, even their enemies, which presumably included the orcs. Only the spiders of Mirkwood are singled out for exception.<BR><BR>
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Mon Jan 05, 2004 2:19 am

We know for certain that the dwarves and Rohirrim had souls, were sentient, and were generally good and noble.<BR><BR>Also, the Hobbit says all save the Spiders received mercy from the elves, but it never shows this, and there is no mention of captured Orcs after the battle of the five armies or at any other time in LotR, The Hobbit, The Sil or UT. <BR>
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Postby maerantha » Mon Jan 05, 2004 3:43 pm

Lord_Morningstar, what do you think of the elf bodies grafted with evil maiar theory I proposed a few posts up. By the way, congratulations on the encyclopedic treatise on orc studies you produced to open the thread. Very exhaustive work.
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Mon Jan 05, 2004 7:08 pm

Thanks for the comments, maerantha, most of what I eeded to comply that already existed on TORC, I just had to synthesise facts with my own theories (not that I copied and plagiarized or anything). I don’t know enough about the necromantic and corruptive powers of Morgoth to say yea or nay to your theory, but I can make a few comments. I don’t know how many lesser evil maiar existed at the time of the original corruption, but one can assume it was enough to animate the original Orcs.<BR><BR>As with any theory on Orc origins and fea, the problem arises when considering the second generation. If the elves fea were driven from their bodies, then the elves are clinically, biologically and theologically dead. This leads to several questions. Did Morgoth have the power make them become biologically and clinincally alive again by re-animating the dead elves (ie, they actually eat and reproduce) as opposed to just having animated undead beings along the lines of the Nazgul (who do not eat and cannot reproduce)? Do successive Orc generations also require corrupted maiar as souls? If so, that’s an awful lot of maiar, especially as, whenever an Orc dies the soul is lost. <BR><BR>I do not doubt that some Orcs were certainly embodied maiar (they were probably common in the beginning, as I doubt many more were created after the original spawning of Orcs) as with creatures such as Huan the hound. However, I am inclined to think that the Orcs are, in general, some form of corrupted beast. <BR><BR>Your theory does have me thinking though: If the Orcs are indeed, theologically dead, then killing them would have no moral implications. Interesting, I’ll have to think about that one. Maybe some other posters can offer their opinions? <BR>
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