Orcs

Mns Bjrkman

Also called: Orks, Goblins; Sindarin: Yrch (sg. Orch), Quenya (Valinorean): Urqui (sg. Urko), Quenya (Noldorin): Orqui or Orkor (sg. Orko), Adunaic: (sg.) Urku or Urkhu, Black Speech: Uruk (for lesser breeds: Snaga), Druedainic: Gorgun, Khuzdul: Rakhas (sg. Rukhs); all (or most of) these names stemming from Proto-Eldarin root *RUKU, "something that causes fear". Sindarin also Glamhoth: "host of tumult" {1}.

A race of evil beings, bred by Melkor in mockery of the Elves of Ilvatar. The first Orcs were probably bred out of Elves, although some may have been lesser corrupted Maiar. Later on the Orcs were undoubtably bred both out of Elves, Men, and Maiar {2}.

Activities of the Orcs: Throughout the First, Second, and Third Age, the Orcs supported Melkor, and later Sauron and Saruman, in all wars. They were the most numerous of the both Dark Lords' servants {3}.

Melkor's breeding of Orcs began before his chaining and was continued under that period, probably by his servant Sauron {4}. During that time the Orcs multiplied and in the Third Age of Melkor's chaining they attacked Beleriand in the first of the Wars of Beleriand {5}.

When Melkor was overthrown, tribes of Orcs managed to live on in the Misty Mountains and other places. Soon they founded or conquered the city of Gundabad in the north of the Mountains which became their capital.

After having been left in peace throughout the Second Age, the Orcs were multiplying again around 1300 TA, and troubled the Dwarves of the Misty Mountains. In 2747, a band of Orcs from Mount Gram under the command of Golfimbul attempted an attack on the Shire, which failed. In 2793, the war of the Dwarves and Orcs begun, caused by the murder of Thror in 2790 by the Orc-chieftain Azog who had taken over Moria at the command of Sauron. The war lasted six years and caused the Orc-tribes to diminish severely {6}. Many fled south to Rohan, where they caused troubles for many years {7}. Moria was laid free, but the weakened Dwarves never returned there {6}.

In 2941, the Orcs joined the Battle of Five Armies under the leading of Bolg son of Azog. In that battle, three quarters of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were destroyed {8}.

Some time after the year 2950 it was discovered that Saruman the White was breeding Orcs, which now started attacking Rohan. At the time, the Orcs were growing in numbers again, and in 2994 they destroyed Balin's colony in Moria under the command of the Balrog, and settled there once again.

The final beat against the Orcs was probably at the end of the War of the Ring, when Sauron was destroyed in 3019. Leaderless and helpless, the few remaining Orcs were scattered and slowly dwindled {9}.

Appearance: Though it seems to have been different kinds of Orcs, bred for differing purposes, all of them had some things in common. All Orcs were dark-skinned, short and squat, bow-legged, with squinty eyes and long arms and fangs. Most Orcs, excluding the Uruk-hai, were weakened by sunlight, and all preferred darkness. Under the right circumstances, Orcs were extremely persistent, and could walk long distances with hardly any rest {10}.

Most Orcs were short-lived, although some seem to have lived especially long. Bolg, for instance, must have been at least 142 years at the time of the Battle of Five Armies. One name that appears many times in the Wars of Beleriand is Boldog. But it is possible that Boldog was not a name, but a title, or perhaps the name of a Maia {11}.

Being very inventive, the Orcs created many weapons and torture-devices and had their own medicines which were very effective but had a burning taste {12}.

The Orcs hated everything, including themselves and their masters, and the only thing giving them any pleasure was doing malice. They had a special dread for anything that was "elvish" (especially in the later ages, when they remembered the deeds of the Noldor), and hated above all so-called "elf-magic". They could kill for little or no reason, and sometimes ate the flesh of their kin. It was when under the dominion of a Lord or in war that they showed the greatest co-operation, but then they were always controlled by fear of their masters. Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, had them swear an oath that appears in the Lay of Leithian. Though it is probably altered to fit the metric of the lay, and it has been translated into English, it should capture the original feeling of the oath:

    Death to light, to law, to love!
    Cursed be moon and stars above!
    May darkness everlasting old
    that waits outside in surges cold
    drown Manw, Varda, and the sun!
    May all in hatred be begun,
    and all in evil ended be
    in the moaning of the endless Sea!
     

Orcs wore foul clothes and large iron-clad shoes. They used many kinds of weapons, including scimitars, stabbing-swords and bows, and they were skillful with spears. In battle, they sometimes rode on Wolves, and were then referred to as Wolfriders {13}.

Languages: Orcs spoke their own tribal languages, together called Orkish. These were always corruptions of other languages and so different that the tribes could not understand each other. In the Second Age, Sauron tried to carry through a reform, using the Black Speech that he had constructed. Some Orcs under his command adopted the language, but the reform was never any success, though it had an influence on the other Orc-languages and all of Sauron's higher officers spoke it regularly. Between tribes the Orcs spoke Westron {14}.

Known Orcs:Boldog, captain of Angband in the first age {15}; Bolg, Azog and Golfimbul, orc-chieftains of the Misty Mountains {16}; Gorbag, captain of Minas Morgul; Shagrat, captain of the Tower of Cirith Ungol {17}; Grishnkh, captain of Barad-dr; Ugluk, Mauhr {10} and Snaga, soldiers of Isengard; Radbug, Lagduf and Muzgash, soldiers of Cirith Ungol {18}.

See also: Uruk-hai, Half-orcs

References
1. HME vol. 11 Quendi and Eldar Appendix C
2. Sil ch. 3, HME vol. 10 Myths Transformed VIII, X
3. Passim
4. HME vol. 10 Myths Transformed X
5. Sil ch. 10
6. LOTR vol. 3 Appendix A Durin's Folk
7. LOTR vol. 3 Appendix B The Third Age
8. Hob ch. 18
9. LOTR vol. 3 The Field of Cormallen
10. LOTR vol. 2 The Uruk-hai
11. HME vol. 10 Myths transformed X
12. Hob ch. 4, LOTR vol. 2 The Uruk-hai, The Tower of Cirith Ungol
13. Hob ch. 17, UT The Battles of the Fords of Isen
14. LOTR vol. 3 Appendix F Of Other Races
15. HME vol. 3 The Lay of Leithian
16. Hob ch. 17
17. LOTR vol. 2 The Choices of Master Samwise
18. LOTR vol. 2 The Tower of Cirith Ungol


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