‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’: Who Is Morgoth?

Editor’s note: The below article contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Middle-earth Lore.

From the very first episode, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power sets Sauron as the big threat Middle-earth will have to face during the Second Age of Arda, the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien. However, the series also underlines how the world is still recovering from a great war against Morgoth, the Dark Enemy of all creation. In fact, Sauron was only a general to Morgoth who rallied the troops of dark creatures after the Dark Enemy’s defeat. But who is Morgoth exactly? And how could he almost destroy Middle-earth? Now that The Rings of Power is available on Prime Video, let’s discuss what happened long before the series starts.

In the Beginning, There was Melkor

In Tolkien’s cosmology, there’s only one God, Eru, a being responsible for all creation. The first things Eru, also called Ilúvatar, ever created were divinities to serve him, spirits who lived together with Ilúvatar long before time even existed. These beings were called the Ainur, and were part of Eru’s plan to bring existence and life into the Void of the universe. As it happens, Eru asks the Ainur to play him a song following a theme he sets. Each Ainur contributes differently to this song, and only one Ainur, Melkor, tries to play his own tune in disobedience. This first song would materialize as a vision of a world filled with life, Arda, and even Melkor’s dissonance is revealed to be part of Eru’s plans.

While the vision of Arda enchants the Ainur, Eru soon explains that their job will be to make the world a reality, using their powers to bring Arda into existence. And so, a few Ainur are sent into the Void to create Arda, and those are known as the Valar. Melkor also follows his siblings, ashamed for being humiliated by Eru, and enraged about the fact that God was creating the world for Elves and Men, and not for himself. So, since the very beginning of existence, Melkor worked to destroy everything the other Valar built. Unable to create anything original, Melkor used his powers to corrupt all that he touched, bringing to life dark creatures that are twisted versions of all good things in the lands.

Melkor is the one responsible for the existence of Balrogs, for instance. The Valar were not alone when they came to Arda and started building the world, as they were followed by lesser Ainur that became known as Maiar. The Balrogs are Maiar that Melkor corrupted, turning fire spirits into demons filled with rage. Even Sauron is a Maia that got seduced by Melkor’s promises of power. Melkor is also responsible for creating the Orcs, a race born from tortured and mutilated Elves. So, basically, any evil creature that roams the world comes from Melkor, with very few exceptions. But it wouldn’t be until the First Age of Arda that this Valar would be known as Morgoth, which in the Sindarin language means “Dark Enemy.”

Morgoth Is Born

The name Morgoth was coined by the Elves after Melkor attacked Valinor, the land of the Valar, destroying the Trees of Valinor and stealing the Silmarils for himself. The theft of the Silmarils would make the Noldor Elves declare war on Morgoth and anyone who tried to take these special gems, leading to the many battles that are known as the War of the Jewels. So, it’s fair to say that Morgoth’s greed and envy led to the ruin of the people of Middle-Earth. And the War of the Jewels was so brutal that an entire piece of the continent would sink in the sea before Morgoth was defeated. That’s right, Morgoth was so powerful that the conflict that ended with his defeat led to the destruction of a huge landmass. That’s one of the reasons why Arda’s map changes so much across history, as Morgoth’s meddling with the world always leads to unfathomable destruction.

At the end of the War of the Jewels, Morgoth is captured and locked away in the Void, behind the Door of Night. However, Morgoth is prophesied to return someday, bringing the end times with him. During this final war, Morgoth will finally be slain, and the world will be remade in perfection by Eru, without evil. Unfortunately, for the moment, Middle-earth still needs to deal with the long shadow cast by Morgoth, with his general Sauron taking over his place as the commander of a legion of monsters.

The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are streaming now on Prime Video. New episodes become available every Friday.

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