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Old 01-05-2009, 01:53 PM   #1
Andsigil
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╦arendil and Ancalagon

So, I've read The Silmarillion several times now, and I can't figure out one thing: Just how did ╦arendil defeat Ancalagon?

Tolkien is very vague on this: ╦arendil flies in with Eagles to battle dragons, the fight ensues (with ╦arendil flying around the outskirts, glowing, and roaring his heart out with lethal encouragement?), Ancalagon enters, ╦arendil shines with "white flame", and Ancalagon is.... um... dead.

(Enchanted) arrows and/or bolts of "Vala-lightning" are what I assume he used. But I can't be sure. For all I know he could have impaled Ancalagon with a sharpened prow, jumped off, slit the dragon's throat, and backflipped to the safety of Vingilot.

This is one of the most disappointing scenes in all of Tolkien's writing for me. Here had a chance to write about a terrific smash-up, and he reduced it to: ╦arendil shows up, ╦arendil glows, Ancalagon dies. I wish Tolkien had been more descriptive in this passage like he was about the battle between Fingolfin and Morgoth.

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Last edited by Andsigil; 01-05-2009 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andsigil View Post
This is one of the most disappointing scenes in all of Tolkien's writing for me. Here had a chance to write about a terrific smash-up, and he reduced it to: ╦arendil shows up, ╦arendil glows, Ancalagon dies. I wish Tolkien had been more descriptive in this passage like he was about the battle between Fingolfin and Morgoth.

To be fair, that entire chapter in the published Silmarillion is basically bald reconstruction from old outlines and the like on Christopher Tolkien's part. Tolkien fails to give us an indepth account of that at any point in his life... which, as you note, is a great disappointment.

Given that Eńrendil bore a Silmaril, if I had to speculate, the obvious answer would seem to be that the Jem of FŰanor probably played a role--and the "white light" might be connected thereto. Exactly how Eńrendil used the Silmaril is another question--but we do know that the touch of the Holy Jewels is painful to evil. As the greatest of all dragons, with the cognomen of "the Black", it seems reasonable to speculate that Ancalagon might have found the touch of the Silmaril especially painful.
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:51 PM   #3
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Intriguing question, assuming that Vingilot carried neither phasers nor photon torpedoes... Catapults, maybe?

But seriously, if I had to kill a flying dragon in mid-air, I'd go for the wings. A couple of burning arrows should do the trick.
On the other hand, the more heroic thing would probably be for Earendil to stand on the prow with a spear in hand and wait for Ancalagon to present the soft spot on his belly that every decent dragon's supposed to have.

Great picture, by the way, but incorrect in the way the ship is represented, as we are told by Bilbo in Rivendell that
Quote:
...no shaven oar
nor sail she bore on silver mast
but was propelled by 'wings immortal' made by Elbereth herself.

PS. Formendacil, you posted while I was still writing. Actually, I like your idea better than mine!
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:00 PM   #4
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Silmaril

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
To be fair, that entire chapter in the published Silmarillion is basically bald reconstruction from old outlines and the like on Christopher Tolkien's part. Tolkien fails to give us an indepth account of that at any point in his life... which, as you note, is a great disappointment.

Given that Eńrendil bore a Silmaril, if I had to speculate, the obvious answer would seem to be that the Jem of FŰanor probably played a role--and the "white light" might be connected thereto. Exactly how Eńrendil used the Silmaril is another question--but we do know that the touch of the Holy Jewels is painful to evil. As the greatest of all dragons, with the cognomen of "the Black", it seems reasonable to speculate that Ancalagon might have found the touch of the Silmaril especially painful.
Formendacil, I like your theory very much.

Another possibility is, perhaps he defeated him with a word.

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Old 01-05-2009, 09:54 PM   #5
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Is the statement about Ancalogon's fall destroying Thangorodrim literal or hyperbole? He would have to have been massive beyond belief to shatter three mountain peaks with his fall.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:09 AM   #6
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OF course it's literal. He was the hottest dragon ever.

Seriously, what destroys black fortresses, isn't so much a big explosion, as the reduction or destruction of the black power itself.

When the ring was unmade, the black gates fell, the black tower fell... all because of a little itty bitty ring.
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Old 01-06-2009, 11:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Given that Eńrendil bore a Silmaril, if I had to speculate, the obvious answer would seem to be that the Jem of FŰanor probably played a role--and the "white light" might be connected thereto. Exactly how Eńrendil used the Silmaril is another question--but we do know that the touch of the Holy Jewels is painful to evil. As the greatest of all dragons, with the cognomen of "the Black", it seems reasonable to speculate that Ancalagon might have found the touch of the Silmaril especially painful.
I imagine it would be a bit like Sam vs. Shelob in Cirith Ungol, except that he could fly (by the boat) and the silmaril was much more deadly to evil.

Just look at what happened with Sam:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TT, The choices of master Samwise
As if his indomitable spirit had set its potency in motion, the glass blazed suddenly like a white torch in his hand. It flamed like a star that leaping from the firmament sears the dark air with intolerable light. No such terror out of heaven had ever burned in Shelob's face before. The beams of it entered into her wounded head and scored it with unbearable pain, and the dreadful infection of light spread from eye to eye. She fell back beating the air with her forelegs, her sight blasted by inner lightnings, her mind in agony. Then turning her maimed head away, she rolled aside and began to crawl, claw by claw, towards the opening in the dark cliff behind.
Just think: If that's what the power of a little of the trapped light of ╦arendil's star does, imagine what the real thing does, imagine what the Silmaril, the source of its light can do.

Standard dark-creature-slaying, I think.

Also, when Ungoliant is mentioned, she "weaves webs of darkness" or something to that effect, and you can see that se is thea sort of primeval spirit of darkness. And as Ancalagon (also associated with Morgoth) was called "the Black" this certainly suggest that not just his colour is black, but the very essence of his being.

And I'm sure however much more powerful Ancalagon was to Shelob, the Silmaril, the source of the light of which only a tiny, tiny fraction could do such a thing to Shelob would still have a similar, if not much worse effect on him.
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