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Hello, this question has really been bugging me on the back of my mind for quite awhile now , so i was hoping this place could give me an answer to my question.

My question is, how the heck do the orcs and uruk-hai (whom if you think about it, are really just a more resiliant strain of orc) of middle-earth reproduce? I have read the LOTR trilogy and in one of the books it states that they worm themselves like maggots out of the ground. This is portrayed in the movies also so to me it makes sense.

However...Uruk-hai are said to be a crossbreed/hybrid of orcs and men. But this is confusing because humans reproduce sexually (man+woman=babies) meaning orcs probably have the "tools" needed for regular reproduction in order to produce hybrids, but no mention of female orcs or orc children is given. So why do orcs come from gross egg-sac things in the mud if they can make babies like any other species? The entire subject of how Tolkien's orcs reproduce is very confusing and unclear to me.

So does anyone think they could possibly give me an answer to clear up my confusion? I'd really appreciate it.
Hello. Good question!

My reading of Tolkine's works suggest that Orcs reproduce like Mortals and Elves: sexually. However, I have never seen a canon reference to a femlae Orc.

Do you have a cite handy for the passage that says they came out of the ground? I would be curious to see it. Regards - Chathol-linn
I don't remember reading in LOTR that they come out of the ground like worms. I belive the movies only make it look like they are grown in pods, not born, so they could have Saruman create an army of live, grown Uruks in a hurry.

Only Eru can give life, as seem with Aulë and his dwarves. Aulë really wanted them to live, but they where mindless puppets untill Eru gave them life. Morgoth must have created the orcs from some of Erus creations, since they can speak and act on their own. That also means that they have to be born the way all of us are born.

Male and female orcs might be as hard to seperate from each other as the dwarves are. Maybe the orc women are hidden away. Maybe they are fighting equally with the men. Maybe there is one (or a few) hidden and protected queen orc(s) that pours out babies like a queen bee. What an sight that could be. *shiver*
Actually the more that i think about it, the more i begin to think that line that states orcs come from the ground is something i read off of another message board or Lotr fansite than a line in the books. It's been a very long time since i finished the books, and plus with the movies i could have mistaken that line for a line in the book.

However. Your imputs so far have been very enlightening. Also, I think i found something that proves that Orcs reproduce the same way we do. I found a line from the book the The Silmarillion that goes like this;
"For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar."
The children of Iluvatar are men and elves, whom we all know reproduce sexually. Therefore the Orcs probably do as well.

Also, conscidering that Orcs are fallen elves who were twisted and darkened by Morgoth the dark lord. Perhaps it is possible that after their transformation, they retained their sexual organs and methods of reproduction (?). If this is the case, than Peter Jackson's protrayl of Orc reproduction is way out there, or there's a detail in the works of Tolkien that i've overlooked.


Lets keep the discussion going and see what other people think of the subect. Smoke Smilie
orcs spawn, that's all i know... nothing more, nothing less....
I'm pretty sure I have seen mention of "Breeding Pits" in a number of places in Tolkien's books. I'm pretty sure Orcs breed sexually, but I imagine they hide their females away in these breeding pits where perhaps only the stronger males have access to them.

What PJ did in the film is incorrect. Even Melkor did not have the power to create life, so Saruman would have no hope. Just a cinematic trick to explain how Saruman managed to raise an army so quickly.
Quote:
What PJ did in the film is incorrect. Even Melkor did not have the power to create life, so Saruman would have no hope. Just a cinematic trick to explain how Saruman managed to raise an army so quickly.
I agree with that; however, what we have seen in PJ's movies may have been the output of cloning in glorified petrie dishes. By starting out with a live egg, from a stable of female orcs, and adding a cell or a two from a normally cross-bred Uruk-hai he could probably get a production line going. That's how I think it is done in those vats and tanks in all the Sci-Fi movies. Teacher Smilie
Quote:
Male and female orcs might be as hard to seperate from each other as the dwarves are. Maybe the orc women are hidden away. Maybe they are fighting equally with the men. Maybe there is one (or a few) hidden and protected queen orc(s) that pours out babies like a queen bee. What an sight that could be. *shiver*

I have read suggestions that either Gorbag or Shagrat was a female Orc, and that they actually were lovers. There is some material pointing in that direction, but nothing substantial :

Quote:
'They would.' grunted Gorbag. `We'll see. But anyway, if it does go well, there should 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.'
'Ah! ' said Shagrat. `Like old times.'

Interesting theory, anyhow.

I just don't think Orc women just stayed home making banners for their absent Lords, like some Middle-Earth women... most Orc women would be like horrifying, evil Éowyns... (maybe that's why Faramir explains to Frodo that he even dislikes killing an Orc ;-) ).
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Maybe there is one (or a few) hidden and protected queen orc(s) that pours out babies like a queen bee. What an sight that could be. *shiver*


Funny you should say that, Amarie. There is a sentence in one of JRRT's letters about orcs and their corruption etc...

Quote:
There might be other 'makings' all the same which were more like puppets filled (only at a distance) with their maker's mind and will, or ant-like operating under direction of a queen-centre.
I was thinking the same thing. Tolkien also mentions orcs as mades. This might support the idea that orcs breed like insects (maybe Antz indeed with a queen)

By The Way, that queen must be nasty, man.

Edited by Amarie. I suggest you take a look at the website rules
Click here
Quote:
There might be other 'makings' all the same which were more like puppets filled (only at a distance) with their maker's mind and will, or ant-like operating under direction of a queen-centre.


I think that reference to operating in an ant-like fashion is supposed to explain how orcs live and are controlled rather than how they breed. In this case Melkor (and later Sauron) represent the Queen-mind which controls the nest.
My last post did nto save. I don't want to retype it.

Orcmale looks like orcfemale.
orcmale+orcfemale= orckid
orckid digs burrow in breeding pit
grows in breeding pit
orcs probably don not have good parent, child relationships.
I believe it is pretty clearly explained somewhere that Morgoth created orcs by torturing elves, hobbits, dwarves, etc until they became twisted and evil (so, obviously, they probably could reproduce just like the creatures they were made from). As to Peter Jackson's depiction of the creation of the Uruk Hai, there are mentions of Saruman creating them in "pits" of some sort, probably in a similar fashion to how Morgoth created orcs. He took some orcs and messed them up. Then they became stronger. They can probably still have reproduce.

You need to watch your language. Here is a link to the rules. Website rules Moderator Smilie

They reproduced like anything else. Melkor could not create.  He bred Orcs by mixing Elves, Dwarves, and Men together genetically with murderous things he found in the jungles of the Dark Lands.  He probably injected Dragon genetic material as well, since some Orcs had a scaly look.  Similarly, Trolls were produced by breeding Ents with Stone Giants (these being one of Aule's less-good ideas).  Melkor and Sauron (and later Saruman) were genetic engineers; it was the only way they could make new things for their purposes.  Melkor bred Dragons from dinosaurs, possibly injecting them with Balrog genetic material.  The Pods in the movie were just Accellerated Growth Pods, probably an innovation of Saruman.  Orc females were most likely numerous, greatly resembling males; no doubt they fought with no distinction being made amongst them.  Fighting females were probably sterilized to prevent impregnation while on campaign.  Breeders stayed in the Pits to churn out new Orcs.  Maybe there were male Drones as well.  Orc Imps (young Orcs) are mentioned in "The Hobbit."  Melkor did not spontaneously generate Orcs, he did not twist existing individuals into Orcs (Orcs looked nothing like anything else), he utilized interspecial breeding to create a new type.  For souls he used the souls of evil Elves, Dwarves and Men; these would rather be reincarnated into Orc flesh than suffer the Dungeons of Mandos or the coldness of the Void.  It is clear that each Orc was possessed by an evil Ainu (the weakest sort were legion), which made them fight in a reckless, suicidal fashion.  The  violent things from the jungle that Melkor used for Orc-breeding were probably much like the australopithecines of this universe; the missing links occasionally committed acts of genocide, as the archeological record shows.

When I was living in Doriath, I once heard a young Noldo Elf ask his father: "Tatya, if an Elf and a Dwarf had a child, what would it look like?"  "You'll be fighting them shortly," was the parent's terse reply. 

Is anyone else imagining Orc courting rituals involving prettily wrapped bunches of severed limbs and tacky rip off imitation rings of power? Awww, so cute!

I suppose one asking this question is likely going to get the same answer as, 'Who or what was Tom Bombadil?'  And the answer would be, the Professor didn't write it in detail, so none will ever know and not in much detail either, just left up to the reader.  But I would have thought reproducing would be the same as the elves as they once were, it's just with all that went on in Middle-Earth, the focuses were not on the orcs for us to read, but the free people's instead.

JRRT stated in a letter that there must have been orc-women (in case that's a factor for some).

And we know that Saruman bred Men with Orcs, resulting in the Half-orcs -- thus it would seem that Men can breed with orcs and produce offspring. Tolkien even once referred to a scenario possibly resulting in sterility in Myths Transformed text VIII! 

For  myself, I see no great reason for JRRT to digress into more detail here

The concept that the Valar were able to "make" beings that were in some way like puppets is correct.  Aule was able to create the Dwarves, however there life force was controlled only by Aule himself, with the Dwarf fathers only able to move or talk when controlled by Aule himself.  We know that Eru granted the Dwarves self fulfilled life through his grace and because he believed that Aule had created them only out of love and not out of mockery.  Melkor, in the beginning would have had the same power and Tolkien does state that the orcs and trolls early on were only able to stand direct sunlight when their masters thoughts were with them.  This of course would mean that Melkor would have needed to be very busy controlling hundreds of thousands of his soldiers constantly leaving little time for his other devious and cruel adventures.  I think that the orcs and trolls were a mixture of base creation, mixing of races and sorcery. Melkor after all was the greatest of the Valar in the beginning.  Its a true sign of evil that he is able to bypass and break rules.  Sauron of course inherited a lot of his orcs and fell creatures from Melkor.  We must also remember that the corrupted Elves, used to make orcs, would also be imortal, leaving tens of thousands of years free for breeding.

Orcs created from corrupted Elves is not a given however, and Tolkien even questioned himself on the matter of 'immortality' if he decided to use Elves as 'stock'.

While Tolkien was indecisive about stock, he is clear that there were orc-women and notes that orcs reproduced as the Children of God did -- thus sexually -- or if not, what else could JRRT have meant by that?

And we know about Saruman's breeding program, and surely Men reproduce sexually! JRRT also noted that for Maiar-orcs, the act of procreation -- as Melian with Thingol resulting in Luthien -- would make the Maiar-orcs more bound to their orcish physical forms.

 

It's one thing to quibble with one of the strands involved, but in my opinion all of Tolkien's later description taken together is pretty strong and easily fits with sexual reproduction for orcs. 

Some how I find this thread so depressing and so fallen and ugly. It is like watching a beautiful car drive by with lovely happy people within and suddenly they are struck and are crushed and dying and all is become ugly and hideous and I have to look away and weep.

If Orcs were just twisted men, and elves and dwarves who had been tortured by Morgoth, then how, if they do reproduce sexually, would they have little orc babies? Wouldn't they just have a baby human, elf, or dwarf? Torture, no matter how severe, wouldn't turn you into another creature altogether.

 

EDIT:  Unless of course, Morgoth could tamper with the DNA as part of the torture process.....Interesting thought there.

I think it's heavily implied that Morgoth did more than "just" torture the Elves he captured for the reasons you point out.

Tolkien did muse about -- at least at the point when he wrote the following --  Morgoth being able to corrupt beings in such measure that the corrupted state became heritable.

'(...) 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 (...) In that case Elves, as a source, are very unlikely.'
 

JRRT, Myths Transformed, Morgoth's Ring 


 But he appears to have accepted this later in any event, as the corrupted state was still heritable when Men were considered as the main stock.

leelee said: "Some how I find this thread so depressing and so fallen and ugly. It is like watching a beautiful car drive by with lovely happy people within and suddenly they are struck and are crushed and dying and all is become ugly and hideous and I have to look away and weep. "

I'm not quite sure what you mean, leelee. Are orcs driving the other car? I'm really lost here.

goblin queen in the hobbit     seemed to have feelings for dead goblins when the weapons of the "13" dwarves were captured in the misty mountains  and she was slain by gandalf witj glambring

 

 

 

                                                               Son_of _Smaug

"Within the deepest pits of Utumno, in the first age of stars, it is said Melkor committed his greatest blasphemy. For in that time he captued many of the newly risen race of elves and took them to his dungeons, and with hidious acts of torture he made ruined and terrible forms of life. From these he bred a goblin race of slaves who were as loathsome as the elves were fair. These were the orcs. (...)

More quickly than any other beings of Arda their progeny came forth from the spawning pits."

 

Source: "A Tolkien Bestiary" - By David Day

Yes but David Day is merely presenting what is found in the 1977 Silmarillion, where it's said by the Wise of Eressea [at least] that Orcs were made from captured Elves.

The fuller story is much more complicated however

This idea [Orcs thought to be from twisted Elves in origin] is only one of many ideas that Tolkien considered in his lifetime.

"The fuller story is much more complicated however"

Please explain. And add a source to your information so I can learn more about it! Big Smile Smilie

 

- Bel

One should not believe/listen to David Day... Thart's all I know

Here's something I wrote up to show how Tolkien changed his mind about the origins of orcs, again and again, over the years. Below I try to represent this in 'outline' form. It's likely not complete but if anyone has trouble sleeping at night, reading the following might help.

I tried to note the notable!

In the following, quotes from Tolkien should be in italic type, and otherwise you might have to trust that I've described something well enough and without a sneaky opinion working its way in.

______

1916-17 (Fall of Gondolin, later read at Exeter College in 1920): Melko made the Orcs 'bred of subterranean heats and slime' and they were the 'foul broodlings of Melko'

1920s: Tolkien was largely concerned with poetry in these years. His poetry includes references to orcs, but not necessarily any that indicate origin. Or that is, I'm too lazy at the moment to try any find any such references.

1930 (Qenta Noldorinwa): the Dark Lord now makes Orcs 'of stone' with 'hearts of hatred'

Mid to late 1930s: (Quenta Silmarillion) Melkor still makes Orcs: 'yet the Orcs were not made until he had looked upon the Elves.' (...) 'The Orcs Morgoth made in envy and mockery of the Elves, and they were made of stone, but their hearts of hatred.'

1940s and finishing up The Lord of the Rings:

Tolkien, perhaps while writing The Lord of the Rings, possibly shifts from Morgoth creating Orcs to Morgoth needing to pervert something already living, as Frodo thinks might be the case, although right now I'm unable to exactly date this passage from Frodo (The Tower of Cirith Ungol);

'No, they eat and drink Sam. The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don't think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them;...'

Appendix F merely states that the orcs were first 'bred' by the Dark Power in the Elder Days. Also Treebeard notes a few things that might speak to chronology, but I'll ignore these here.

Early 1950s: in The Annals of Aman as first written Melkor still 'made' orcs from something -- but the idea now enters 'Silmarillion related texts' that Melkor cannot create a true living being, as the Elf Pengolodh will argue -- and a darker tale is noted among the Wise of Eressea, one that says Morgoth captured and perverted Elves, twisting them into orcs.

Christopher Tolkien chose this idea for the 1977 Silmarillion -- along with other texts from this 'phase' of writing incidentally.

1954: in both letter 144 and (draft) letter 153 Tolkien essentially explains that Morgoth cannot create a spirit, and the orcs are corruptions -- leaving open the possibility of other kinds of makings, which would be puppet-like by comparison.

Later 1950s (or around this time anyway): Tolkien will question whether it could be true that Orcs were actually Elves in origin, and if they could be 'immortal' if so, for example, and he writes various origins in order to figure out things. I'll call these (collectively) the Myths Transformed orc related essays, and use Christopher Tolkien's numbering of the texts. The various ideas include:

A) Orcs possibly created out of the discords of the Music (text VII). Tolkien writes: 'Hence Orcs? Part of the Elf-Man idea gone wrong. Though as for Orcs the Eldar believed that Morgoth had actually 'bred' them by capturing Men (and Elves) early and increasing to the utmost any corrupt tendencies they possessed.'

B) Orcs created from beasts; also some Maiar early on (text VIII) -- possibly an Elvish element too, but seemingly JRRT then reverts to orcs simply being perverted beasts.

C) Orcs from Elves (probably later from Men), some Maiar early on (text IX)

D) Orcs created from Men, some Maiar early on (text X) in this essay, soon after Morgoth's return he will have a great number of Orcs to command -- as it was left to Sauron to produce great numbers of Orcs (from Men) while Morgoth was in captivity. Tolkien is aware that he will need to adjust the existing chronology in order to allow the possibility of this origin from Men.

1969 or later: two notes on Orcs now accompany one copy of text X -- that is, the Orcs from Men essay (or D above)

1) one of these notes carries a statement that denies an essential conception found in D -- and I have tried to explain this conception under D above -- the denial hails from the detail that this later note suggests Morgoth had great numbers of Orcs at the height of his power and still after his return from captivity. And to muddy things further here, this may be a draft version for a variant passage that does not include this detail!

2) this short note concerns the spelling of the word orc: here Tolkien notes that he will spell it ork, just as he had noted in text IX (or C above), where Orcs were from Elves [and 'probably later also of Men'].

I think Christopher Tolkien's point with these notes is that they might throw some measure of doubt upon the seemingly 'final' idea that 'regular Orcs' were bred from Men (text X). That said, there is another late text which appears to have Elves stating that Men are the source for Orcs:

Late text (lacks date other than final period of Tolkien's writings): author's note (note 5) to The Druedain:

'To the unfriendly who, not knowing them well, declared that Morgoth must have bred the Orcs from such a stock the Eldar answered: 'Doubtless Morgoth, since he can make no living thing, bred Orcs from various kinds of Men, but the Druedain must have escaped his shadow;...'

I can't really tell if this description is later or earlier than the two notes dated 1969 or later.

In my opinion Tolkien at least seems headed for the idea that Orcs were created from Men, although he never himself published much more than that the Orcs were made in mockery of the Elves (at least Treebeard says this much in the book) -- which as we see, need not necessarily mean they were made from Elves in any case.

__________

Again this is my 'short version'  indecision

Christopher Tolkien picked one idea for the constructed Silmarillion of course, but he has no way of knowing if his father would have ultimately chosen this origin...

...  although the choice is well enough made in my opinion, considering that it is presented as a belief [of the Wise of Eressea, yes, but even they were not themselves first hand witnesses to the pits of Angband], and that it agrees well enough with the chronology Christopher Tolkien was also choosing.

CJRT did not present his father's 'final' decision here, and again, he chose an idea that worked well enough in conjunction with other texts he and Guy Kay were also choosing for the one volume version of the Silmarillion.

Sorry about the length!

I don't want to think about Orc body parts, but good question. Quite similar to one that I had which was ....how would gollum have kids? To answer the Orc question, I think that they may get a prisoner female and have fun......then saruman will come and take the ugly baby away and raise it. But there are many ways this could be done. I personally would not want to think about it, because they are really really really really really really really realllllllyyyyyyy ugly!

Gollum was essentially a Hobbit so I assume he was capable of having children.

Orcs reproduce sexually -- male orcs with female orcs -- so there is no need of capturing a female woman to produce an orc child (if that's what you meant).

Not to be a party pooper but I agree with Smeagol, I'd rather not think of Orcs having "fun" with anyone, female orcs or prisoners.

If you don't want to imagine this about orcs, then you might appreciate what I left out about text VIII above, which concerns beasts. This text:

B) Orcs created from beasts; also some Maiar early on (text VIII) -- possibly an Elvish element too, but seemingly JRRT then reverts to orcs simply being perverted beasts.

 

So I won't mention it now either. Brevity can sometimes be good Wink Smilie

Thanks Galin. Ha! If orcs are simply perverted beasts, then I personally know a lot of "orcs" at my school!

All one must do is think back to Azog the Defiler, ruler of Moria for a time. Tolkien specifically says Azog had a son, Bolg. Clearly Azog did not grow Bolg from grime and dirt. Azog must have copulated with a female Orc at some point.

I agree, but in the past some have argued that to call Bolg the 'son' of Azog (no 'defiler' in the books of course) need not mean that he was actually the physical progeny of Azog.

Even Brego has argued -- or at least implied that it has been left vague anyway --  that Dwarves don't necessarily have 'sons' in the usual way...

... although I disagree with that too Smile Smilie

 

The statement that orcs bred in the manner of the Children of Eru tells us that Orcs had sex and produced offspring in the 'usual' way (at least generally speaking), and I think that the 'son' of Azog should thus be taken in the usual way... and JRRT's letter confirming female orcs is just a nice dressing to help confirm it all. 

And hello!

I'm sure that professor Tolkien would be very proud that we are spending our time discussing orc reproduction instead of talking about Gandalf or Galadriel.

I was always under the impression that the first orcs were made by Morgoth by his manipulating somehow the genetic makeup of Elvish prisoners by mixing them with whatever came to hand as the way of mocking and torturing the Firstborn.  He was a Vala afterall and the way I interpreted the Sil was that he couldn't create life but he could take a creation of Illuvator and distort it in ways unthinkable.  I never gave it much thought, but kinda had it in the back of my mind that he was taking all of the early forms of beasts and eventually Men, and experimenting with them.

 

And I like to think the Professor would be on top of all of these responses and putting us on more paths to understanding MiddleEarth.

heh heh. I meant no offense. I was merely making a joke. Im as interested in this as anyone.

Based off a pod cast by Tolkien Professor, he speculates that the Uruk Kia are the result of Saruman's putting the orcs to force themselves on slave women (ie rape). This fits well into the Tolkien ideal of darkness=evil, and it fits perfectly with the cannon about Iluvitar and creating life.

Love your history lessons Galin!! Since Galin made all of the references I knew of plus some, I don't want to hunt down quotes right now, so please refer to his post. It's long, but very interesting. And also, at this point the thread is speculation because the bottom line is we'll never know what The Prof would've ended up with. So, yeah...

I've heard of some, but not all, of those theories Galin mentioned. Of them all, I personally think the finished version makes the most sense but has one fatal flaw that Galin mentioned....dwarves. Several redeeming factors too, but we'll get to those in a minute. So if only Eru was able to create life, then how did Aule create seven dwarves? They were stated as being afraid, which means they had some semblance of consciousness/mental capacity. So why was Melkor unable to create life of his own? Well...*deep breath in*

Ea. When life itself was merely subjective. Obviously this was before it all, so these were not....normal lands. The soil was fresh, the pallate was clear, the "sky" was the limit. And of course Aule was a master creator, unlike Melkor who was more of a jack of all trades, so Aule must have had some knowledge of creation Melkor did not. Kind of like how some scientist somewhere can create a talking robot and even though we know how to do a google search, most of us wouldn't even know where to start. So of course Melkor was in ME at the time of creation and didn't even know what the first children of Illuvatar would look like. BUT, interestingly enough, he had control of "spies," who reported to him when they discovered the elves. These were probably birds or mice of some sort. And of course we were told beasts in ME already existed in Valinor and those that appeared afterwards were corrupted, such as the crebain (Saruman's bird spies). Point being Melkor already had the ability to bend a living creature to his will but never officially created these "spies."

Two other fun twists...trolls and balrogs (my favorite!). Really the only reference we have to troll origins is from Treebeard, who said something along the lines of how they were corrupted ents. There's no way Morgoth was able to grow talking/walking trees which were thousands of years old within Angband, especially considering plants need water/light to grow. Don't forget this was "magical" water which sort of...enhanced life (Merry and Pippin becoming taller, talking trees etc). Of course The Hobbit explains sunlight turns trolls into the stone to which they were made from. Now this doesn't necessarily mean they just popped out of stone, but were arguably turned into monstrous beasts ENCASED within rock that never knew light, especially considering they were created within a mountain. Similar to how balrogs are believed to be corrupted maiar, who like the orcs/trolls, were twisted by fire and shadow. Looking at the Istari, Melian, Sauron etc, maiar had no specific look but tended to be more humanlike. So a balrog could perhaps be someone like Gandalf surrounded in a barrier of fire and shadow. Thus, they were not born of darkness, but forced into it.

So here we have four different established instances where Morgoth corrupted already living creatures. Beasts, maiar, ents, and elves. Thus, it seems pretty obvious orcs were neither "born" of Morgoth nor do they spring from the ground ("which of course is ridiculous!" -Gimli, LOTR movies). Perhaps if the dwarves were not afraid, one could argue Morgoth created life by instilling emotions into rock or fire/shadow. But that's not the case. So when comparing evidence, the corruption theory has the most weight. As much as I LOVE Tolkien's early writings, A LOT of it was changed. So to assume the "truth" is something he wrote possibly decades before writing another version that was then published is sort of....stretching it, in my opinion.

Last point is Ungoliant. Granted nobody really knows what she was, possibly a maiar but not known for sure. So how was she able to spawn her children? Like most of Ungoliant, this I still can't figure out, which is why she's my favorite character.

On that note and as for reproduction itself, since it's said they do reproduce sexually, I always assumed orcs were kind of like spiders. There was one or two female orcs deep within the caves that controlled all reproduction. She probably even ate some of them afterwards. Gross, I know.

And one way I always look at it is Chris isn't some stranger who found Tolkien's works in the trash can. I'm sure he'd been studying and following his father's work for much of his life, as well as unlimited access to most everything Tolkien wrote. So I'm sure he had more than sufficient reasoning for choosing the corrupted elf path, opposed to throwing them all in a jar and choosing at random. Thus, I like his version and think it makes the most sense.

*and exhale*  Smile Smilie

But note it was Eru who gave Aule's Dwarves true life, and until that time they were 'puppets' without free will. Also, noting part of the information from my post above...

1954: in both letter 144 and (draft) letter 153 Tolkien essentially explains that Morgoth cannot create a spirit, and the orcs are corruptions -- leaving open the possibility of other kinds of makings, which would be puppet-like by comparison.

Meaning, even when (early 1950s) Tolkien had decided that Morgoth could not create a spirit, he still left open the possibility of puppet-like creations, as Aule had made.

That said I haven't researched whether or not Tolkien definitively rejected this 'puppet' notion later, with respect to Melkor -- especially before he infused so much of his power into the physical substance of Arda.

So I'm sure he [Christopher Tolkien] had more than sufficient reasoning for choosing the corrupted elf path, opposed to throwing them all in a jar and choosing at random. Thus, I like his version and think it makes the most sense.

While it's true Christopher Tolkien doesn't say, I think the reason is arguably twofold: the origin of orcs being from corrupted Elves is not related as a certainty but rather as the opinion of characters within the story, characters who were not first hand witnesses of course. 

And perhaps more importantly, it meant that Christopher Tolkien could also choose a chronology that already existed in a version of The Silmarillion that was 'somewhat completed' [at the time anyway] -- one in which orcs appear before Men awaken.

Tolkien did adjust the chronology when he wanted Men to become the source for orcs, but he never went back and rewrote the Silmarillion over again with this chronology fully in place. Moreover, a chronology in which Men awoke much earlier was wound up with the notion of the Sun existing before the Elves awoke, which had arguably become the Elvish version of things, while the story that the Sun came from a Tree [and Men awoke after it arose] had become a Mannish myth.

With this choice Christopher Tolkien could thus preserve, in a sense, the external truth that he knew existed: that orcs created from Elves wasn't necessarily true. If these two factors are the reason, that is. I can't think of any other possible reasons at the moment, in any event.

Really the only reference we have to troll origins is from Treebeard, who said something along the lines of how they were corrupted ents.

All Treebeard says is that Trolls were made in mockery of Ents -- and we can see that Tolkien himself would write [at one point] that orcs were made in mockery of Elves, but were not, in fact, made from corrupted Elves at this point.

One does not need to begin with an Ent to make something intended to be a mockery of an Ent.

What exactly do you mean by giving the dwarves "true" life? I don't recall reading anywhere they were merely puppets. They were given knowledge by Aule so he could teach them his crafts. So we know they have that. And like I said, they showed fear when Aule raised his hammer to destroy them, which means they understood joy, which means they were anything but lifeless puppets.

"While it's true Christopher Tolkien doesn't say, I think the reason is arguably twofold: the origin of orcs being from corrupted Elves is not related as a certainty but rather as the opinion of characters within the story, characters who were not first hand witnesses of course."

I do like this though. However that gives the impression everything is subjective.  Which I guess with Tolkien you could argue it is.

I'm not gonna lie man, and no offense, but I can't always tell if you're....arguing with me or agreeing or just sharing. And I know I'm not the only one who shares this sentiment. I think you're merely giving another perspective, but it's done with such assertion it's like you're trying to prove me wrong instead of inform. I like to think that's just the way you write though. Anyways, much of what you said is true but purely speculation on what is a possibility based on a subtle reference written years before the official publication. I also don't think it makes much sense to make men the origin of orcs, since then we wouldn't have an enemy for the elves. I wouldn't be surprised if Tolkien thought the same thing.

And I think the wording of orcs being made in mockery of the elves by being corrupted/enslaved elves pretty strongly implies the same would be done with trolls/ents. You say "at this point," so I assume you're again referring to previous writings and not what's published in The Silmarillion. Of course we have almost no information on that so it's hard to say anything for sure, but it seems kind of....unfair to use near identical wording but have completely different intentions with no explanation. Not to mention it wouldn't make sense for Melkor to be able to literally create trolls in mockery of something that looks/acts/functions completely different and not orcs or balrogs, particularly when we already know Morgoth is in the business of corrupting living creatures, like his spies, and more particularly those of the Vala.

Based off a pod cast by Tolkien Professor, he speculates that the Uruk Kia are the result of Saruman's putting the orcs to force themselves on slave women (ie rape).

May I ask: who speculates this? In other words, who is the 'he' here?

The question of whether or not the Uruk-hai are the result of interbreeding still remains unanswered as far as I know, but my personal theory is that the Uruk-hai [which we know means 'Orc-folk' according to Tolkien himself] are well trained soldier orcs...

... and the 'half-orcs' are the result of breeding Orcs and Men.

What exactly do you mean by giving the dwarves "true" life? I don't recall reading anywhere they were merely puppets. Like I said, they showed fear when Aule raised his hammer to destroy them, which means they understood joy, which means they were anything but lifeless puppets.

Of Aule And Yavanna

Eru to Aule

'For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?'

Eru then tells Aule that the Dwarves flinching is a sign that he [Eru] has given these Dwarves a life of their own.

I do like this though. However that gives the impression everything is subjective. Which I guess with Tolkien you could argue it is.

True, but in my opinion here Tolkien goes a little further with this concept than the sometimes employed 'It is said...'

'But of those unhappy ones who were snared 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...'

 

To me that's a notable 'warning' of sorts, despite that the Wise of Eressea are probably wise.

I'm not gonna lie man, and no offense, but I can't always tell if you're....arguing with me or agreeing or just sharing. And I know I'm not the only one who shares this sentiment. I think you're merely giving another perspective, but it's done with such assertion it's like you're trying to prove me wrong instead of inform. I like to think that's just the way you write though.

Smile Smilie

Anyways, much of what you said is true but purely speculation on what is a possibility based on a subtle reference written years before the official publication. I also don't think it makes much sense to make men the origin of orcs, since then we wouldn't have an enemy for the elves. I wouldn't be surprised if Tolkien thought the same thing.

But if Men were the source, generally speaking we would still have Orcs as an enemy for Elves. Not to mention Maiar-orcs very early on. No?

And I think the wording of orcs being made in mockery of the elves by being corrupted/enslaved elves pretty strongly implies the same would be done with trolls/ents. You say "at the time," so I assume you're again referring to previous writings and not what's published in The Silmarillion.

Yes but even Tolkien didn't think 'made in mockery' of something meant [or necessarily meant] made from that something, and we can prove this with Elves.

Christopher Tolkien went to great pains to provide external chronology where he could, and there is a stage where the orcs were made in mockery of Elves but yet were not made from Elves.

I thought I would look at this a little closer anyway, as I'm bored at the moment and there is a very interesting chronological detail with respect to Treebeard's statement:

 'You do not know, perhaps, how strong we are. Maybe you have heard of Trolls? They are mighty strong. But Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves. We are stronger than Trolls. We are made of the bones of the earth...'

Not only are Trolls said to be 'counterfeits' but what was the origin of the orcs at the time Tolkien wrote this line? We can't read the author's mind of course, but we know that when he wrote this statement in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien's existing Silmarillion actually said this about Orcs:

'... and he brought into being the race of the Orcs, and they grew and multiplied in the bowels of the earth. These Orcs Morgoth made in envy and mockery of the Elves, and they were made of stone, but their hearts of hatred.'

So arguably that is what Treebeard meant: made in mockery, yes, but not made from Elves, and so Trolls were not necessarily made from Ents either. Christopher Tolkien would note in Morgoth's Ring (AAm refers to the Annals of Aman, and QS to Quenta Silmarillion):

'The origin of the orcs: In QS (62) the idea had already arisen that the orcs originated in mockery of the Elves, but not yet that the Orcs were in any other way associated with them: they were a 'creation' of Morgoth's own, 'made of stone' and he brought them into being when he returned to Middle-earth.'

'As AAm was first written (see notes 5 - 7 above) this view still held; the word 'made' was still used -- though not the words 'made of stone'. But in Elfwine's note that follows...'

So Christopher Tolkien notes that in the early 1950s --  thus after The Lord of the Rings was 'finished' but not yet published, and at a time when Tolkien went back to writing about the Elder Days -- and despite what Frodo had said to Sam in The Lord of the Rings about orcs being perversions of something  --  at first Tolkien still 'held' to the idea that Orcs were a creation of Morgoth's, not a perversion of some race.

Of course the very next stage is Elfwine's note, which introduces the idea to the Silmarillion that the Wise of Eressea told a darker tale: that Morgoth, since he could not make true life, must have perverted Elves into Orcs.

This is the 'big switch' now entering the texts of the Elder Days: Melkor must pervert some other living creature to create orcs, not 'make' them out of stone or whatever. He cannot simply create Balrogs either, and they will become corrupted Maiar. And the 'early' idea [early within this new context anyway] for orcs is that Melkor perverts captured Elves, or at least this is the 'darker tale' noted by Elfwine.

It is only now that Treebeard's statement takes on new meaning, or at least a meaning beyond what he actually says. And it is only when the reader plugs in the description from Christopher Tolkien's constructed Silmarillion that leads to the belief that Treebeard means that Orcs were not only made in mockery of Elves, but also made from Elves.

But the author can look at what he had published versus what he had not, and Treebeard had not locked Tolkien into the idea of Elves being the original stock, so JRRT was free to further consider other ideas, as noted above.

In other words, looking at it from the author's perspective, Treebeard can still mean what he arguably originally meant -- that orcs and trolls are mockeries, but what they are made from is still a mystery and Tolkien is still free to invent their origins.

Nice research Galin. As Tolkien wrote the books the stories and ideas evolved over time. It is difficult to determine the precise origins of orcs from these texts due to this evolution. However, surely logic should prevail? When Aule, just as powerful a creator as Melkor, tried to create and give life to the dwarves, he only succeeded in making mindless puppets. It took Iluvater to breath life into them before they became independent living beings. Surely then, using that argument alone, Melkor could not have created orcs and trolls from lifeless material if they were not to be just mindless puppets under his direct control. It could be argued that orcs and trolls only functioned when controlled by a greater power, but in my opinion the orcish armies falling into disarray when Melkor/Sauron were defeated was more a matter of having lost their leadership they no longer followed their orders and sank into unorganised squabbling and infighting. This is different to becoming mindless puppets as Aule's dwarves would have been.

To me, this logic implies, whether it is written or not, that Melkor must have corrupted something already living to make the orcs rather than just creating them himself. The question then becomes, what did he corrupt to make the orcs? I had always thought Elves. There is the argument, however, that if he created them from Elves, wouldn't orcs be immortal? Not necessarily. When he spread his essence through Middle Earth as Morgoth's Ring, the effect was corrosive over time on the Elves. They grew weary, tired and began to fade. If his diffused essence had that power, surely he had the power to corrupt the immortal bodies of his orcs into mortal ones. Maybe all that twisting and corruption of their flesh made their bodies mortal, leaving their fea to go to the Halls of Mandos once they died?

Someone posted above that orcs were possibly made from corrupted Men. My memory's failing me, but weren't orcs around before Men awoke? If Melkor had stumbled upon them before they awoke and corrupted them, wouldn't he have corrupted them all? In that case there would have been no Men. I personally don't think Men were involved until Saruman possibly crossed orcs with Men to create Uruk-hai.

So could orcs have just been beasts? What defines a beast in Tolkien's world and what are Maian spirits? I always believed Balrogs, Ents, Eagles and possibly Huan were Maian spirits. What about Melkor's werewolves? Did Tolkien's beasts have intelligence enough for speech, or was that limited to the Valar, Maiar and the Children? I read somewhere that the early orcs were Maian spirits, but that would surely restrict their number. So could the orcs just have been beasts that Melkor had corrupted? They don't seem all that intelligent, although they can speak and are cunning. I think that still puts them above any animals I can think of in the world today.

More questions than answers I'm afraid, but maybe some food for thought.

What an interesting question. I assume, orcs being a tortured form of Elves just reproduce like Elves are, via having lil wee orcs, hehehe. Not a pleasant thought but then again orc women must look like their men, so for them they probably look smexy and all that.

Same probably with the Uruks, once there were enough around after Saruman's breeding plans.

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