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Thread: Week 13 - Orcs

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Tolkien's Letters #144
Orcs ( the word is as far as I am concerned actually derived from Old English orc 'demon', but only because of its phonetic suitability) are nowhere clearly stated to be of any particular origin. But since they are servants fo the Dark Power, and later of Sauron, neither of whom could or would, produce living things, they must be 'corruptions'. They are not based on direct experience of mine; but owe, I suppose, a good deal to the goblin tradition ( goblin is used as a translation in The Hobbit where orc only occurs once, I think), especially as it appears in George MacDonald, except for the soft feet which I never believed in. The name has the form orch (pl. yrch) in Sindarin and uruk in the Black Speech.

Tolkien's Letter #153
As for other points. I think I agree about the 'creation by evil'. But you are more free with the work 'creation' than I am. Treebeard does not say that the Dark Lord 'created' Tolls and Orcs. He says he 'made' them in counterfeit of certain creatures pre-existing. There is, to me, a wide gulf between the two statements, so wide that Treebeard's statement could (in my world) have possible been true. It is not true actually of the Orcs - who are fundamentally a race of 'rational incarnate' creatures, though horribly corrupted, if no more so than many Men to be met today.

Tolkien Letter #153
The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make real new things of its own. I don't think it gave life to the Orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them. In the legends of the Elder Days it is suggested that the Diabolus subjugated and corrupted some of the earliest Elves, before they had ever heard of the 'gods', let alone of God.

The Orcs neither trust nor can be trusted because of the evil that has made them.
They are loyal (so to speak, as this is through fear) only to their master, Sauron or Saruman. This is evident when they had captured Merry and Pippin and arguments ensued as to which orders were to be followed.

The Silmarillion Chapter 3 Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor:
But of those unhappy ones 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, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes.For the Orcs had life and mutliplied after the manner of the Children of Illuvatar; and naught that had life of its own, not the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindale before the Beginning:so say the wise. And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Iluvatar.

If the Orcs are corrupted elves, does this mean that they are immortal?

See you Sunday 9pm GMT (4 pm ET) in Bilbos-study.

[Edited on 5/1/2003 by Rednell]
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hello there.
Hi Nell
ok, I am here, sorry
hi ya Val and Grondy, and Nell (again)
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hi Val
welcome Dalton9267
hi Dalton9267
Val, do you have a copy of Morgoth's Ring?
ill brb
Back... Yes, I do Nell
Shucks that is one of the ones I don't have. #10, 11, & 12
I just notised our Book list only has 9 of the HOME
books listed
i gtg
later all
Do I need it?
bye Dalton9267, nice chatting with you
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bue Dalton
As I was researching the Orcs, it was mentioned serveral
times as a resource
I haven't read it yet. Only got it for christmas
Val, I finished your quiz.
this one was pretty easy, compared to the others.
only had probs with 2 questions
you got 50 out of 50 then?
I think so
I hope
Anyway, I think we will start the discussion and hopefully
more will join us later.
It's the easy ones that usually cause people to
ok, I am just a spectator today.
What is the nature of the Orc?
Ugly, brutal, mean, nasty, greedy, cowardly miserable
good summary Val
lack ambition
not very intellegent but cunning
I think they were quite loyal to their masters, Grondy.
Albeit out of fear.
But through fear rather than love
yes, that is why they argued about which orders were to be
followed with Merry and Pippen
good point, Mellie
What were orcs?
corrupted elves,
Corrupted elves
corrupted tellari
wow, I had the same answer as val. yeah
Which leads me to wonder if they are immortal as were the
Maybe if they could keep themselves alive long enough
I wondered the same thing.
I think they lost their immortality when they were
that is an interesting point, Grondy.
It is only a guess though
why would that happen? I mean immortaliy does not
necessaily make some one good
we have yet to here of any long lived orcs
I think eventually Sauron interbred Men with the Orcs as
well, so that some would lose immortality.
Elves are tighed to the earth, which I think gives
them their immortality. If that bond was severed it would reduce
their lifespan
That is an excellant point, Valedhelgwath.
But I thought the reason that we never heard of long lived
orcs was because the kept getting killed.
The Orcs have no bond with the earth at all. In fact they
pretty much disregard it all together.
not that their life span had been shortened, but if they
were interbred with men that would make sense.
Morgoth corrupted most eleven features out of them.
Immortality would be something he would change too I think
that is true nell. they do disregard the earth.
I haven't been able to verify that with any of my sources,
Mel, but I am lead to believe that Morgoth's Ring covers that
that probably is true Mellie, the getting killed part,
but the odds are a few would live
Do you see the Orcs as a reflection of the worst qualities
of man?
whooops, right.
They are everything we see as being negative in our
and the opposites of the best of Elves
Ok, Val, I understand that , and it sounds right if the
elven features were corrupted out of them, then so would the
importaity. I am going to have to get Morgoth's Ring as my next
those are good points. perhaps that is why we hate orcs so
much and love the elves.
Grondmaster, which makes sense if they are a corruption of
the Elves.
very good point, Mellis.
yes that does sound right
They are so negative in their attributes... the
question should be, do they have any redeeming features at all
and being interbred with men gives the the worst of
our characteristics too
none that i can find
that is a good question Valedhelgwath.
What is your response to that?
Apart from their physical hardiness, none
What would have happened to the Orcs after the Ring was
I kinda liked the little snuffler, the tracker hunting
Frodo and Sam in Mordor
but we only see the bad, what if an orc, was not raised
with other orcs, but under the influence of the elves,or good men.
would we then be able to find any redeeming qualitites?
A valid question, Mellie
Maybe if they were raised from an early age
after the ring was destroyed do you thing the corruption
would fade eventually and we could see the redeeming qualities?
I was thinking like an infant, found on a battle field. or
something. are there female orc. we never hear about them
They would band together with a leader of the pack
being the biggest and they would eventually be hunted down
I think after the ring was destroyed they would lose
any resemblance they had of leadership and they would be hunted
into extinction
well, they would not have a master to fear so maybe they
would become more ambitious
and perhapse the good could be brought back into them.
I think they would be totally lost
They were rational being, Valedhelgwath, so they could
develop leadership qualities
if something can be corrupted, then can't the reverse be
true as well?
sorry I just like to find good in all, I can be quite naive
at times
Perhaps their ugly physical appearance would be more of a
barrier for them.
They lived for a long while in the mountains under
their own leadership, but they were always strongest when a
powerful Morgoth or Sauron was around
it is a good trait to have Mellie
but some don't judge on appearance, it is what is inside,
if they also possible that if they started getting morals that it
would be reflected in their outward appearance as well.
Even Gandalf expressed sympathy for the Orcs.
Their way of life meant the biggest and meanest got
to breed. Genetically that made those traits dominant... Under
different circumstances that could be bred out of them
thanks grondy
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Welcome Taz
i would like to think so too val
hi Taz
* Taz bows
hi Taz
But it would take a kindly person to take the
challenge of doing that Val
afternoon Taz
I propose Mellie then
Gandalf felt more pity for the Orcs who were raised in
evil and denied free choice than he felt for Denethor who dabbled
in evil by his own choice.
so there are kindly elves in Middle Earth as well as
hobbits i would like to believe that it could be done,
Thanks val, I would love the challange
So where the orcs created by selective breeding or
through some other foul art... their genetic code must have been
altered, although JRR would not have known much about DNA
excactly, so if they were taken out of the evil
environment, then it is possible, right?
actually in the movie it looks almost as if they are
It was done with mirrors, er Magic
I think it was done the old fashioned way
yes, it was really nasty they way they showed it in the
that takes us back to female orcs.
if it was done the old fashioned way
like raiseing cattle
well, they were not "created" by Morgoth so he would have
to have bred them somehow. What powers did Morgoth have to do
such a thing?
I always thought they had breeding pits deep
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well, Tolkien says they multiplied in the same fashion as
men, so there must have been female and children orcs.
that is what I thought too, Val, but how? were there
females? sorry? I just don't get it i guess
welcome Ikarus
welcome Ikarus
then why do we not hear about them? were they not as evil?
or perhaps like dwarves, they looked just like the men?
I think the females were kept in pits like cattle
and were accessable for the strongest males
ok, I can accept that Val
and if they lost their immortality they would breed
more often than Elves
That makes sense
That is a very good point Grondy
I will drop the subject now. you guys have answered my
questions very well
especially the immortality now grondy
and Morgoth, Sauron, and Saruman had many many years
to develop their herds
yes they did, I don't think we get a real sense of how
many years they had.
yes, they were truly immortal, and intelligent, so they
learned from their mistakes and perfected their dark arts.
Breeding underground keeps them hidden from view too
yes, that it would
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Like ants, whole armies suddenly appear from nowhere
welcome Ghan-buri-Ghan
Hi G-b-G
Hi Ghan
Thanks Mellie! Hi all
welcome Grondmaster
Well this is the White Council LOL
I mean Ghan-buri-Ghan
Gotcha Thanks, Nell
We are studying Orcs today
now I read somewhere, not sure if it was Tolkien, or one of
Matthew's stories, but someone found an orc village and there were
females and childern. could that have been Turin or Tour or
In the Hobbit, perhaps Mellie.
I kinda think that it might have been something Matthew
wrote...scratch that
Orc children are mentioned in The Hobbit. Orcs are only
mentioned once in the Hobbit.
My knowledge only covers LOTR, Hobbit and
Silmarillion> Never came across orc villages yet
ok, so I am getting stories mixed up
Well I had better go to sleep ready for work tomorrow, night
I think Val's theory makes sense for Sauron and Saruman's
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like I said to nell earlier, I have not actually read the
assignment, I guess that is why I am asking so many questions
There is some confusion in the film about Uruk-hai.
You get the impression that Uruks were halforc half man, this is
not the case
i think it does too Nell
The uruks were first bred by Sauron and were strong
orcs. Sarumen then crossed these with Men
and that is why the sun did not bother them
The question arises, why did Iluvatar allow Morgoth's orcs
to live
It was said to be the deed that most upset him
Morgoth did not create orcs out of nothing -- he
had no power to do that. He corrupted elves I think
I got the impression that Iluvatar could not control
Morgoth, but yet is was still all part of his plan, for the second
That is right Ghan
Yes, Mellie. Eru allows rebellion to overcome it in
the second music
It was part of his Iluvatar's music
The Valar were all different aspects of Eru's
thoughts. Hate and malice are emotions too and have to be
so, is that why the orc were allowed to live, to show the
power of Iluvatar to all later
I think so mellie
whatever bad came the music tended to bend it towards
good in the end
good point
Yes, i have to agree, Val, all emotions have to be
At the end of the First Great Music, Ea reaches its
full destiny how Eru envisaged it from the start
Although hate and malice are conscious choices
against the natural "good" values that teh Valar represent
I guess that is the same in the Christian beliefs as well,
and why God gave us free will. to choose and show his power as
Thus Melkor becomes Morgoth
And why his power weakens over time too
sorry this is not a discussion of religion.
Eru must stop lending him strength when he uses it
to rebel
yes I have to agree that his power does weaken, ohhhh, I
like that last statement Val
I think Tolkien's own beliefs are central to
understanding his world, though not a religious tract, as it were
It is the same story Mellie, just differnent
Yeah Spot on Val
I think you and Grondy are right Ghan-buri-Ghan
So are the Orcs part of the scheme?
If they are corrupted, they are still firstborn
Tolkien constantly repeats the theme of evil
becoming weaker and more petty. Like saruman's descent freom
powerful traitor to petty ruler of a corrupted Shire
I am not sure Val, it would seem so.
hmmm, good point Ghan-buri-Ghan
But if they were hurtful to Eru, they could not be
part of his theme. At the realisation of Ea, either they become
elves once more or they become extinct
There could be a corner of Mandos set aside for the
Orcs and Tolkien just didn't write about it
There's something similar to the doctrine of
original sin when the Avari refuse the call to the West. I assume
that elves of that group were candidates for Morgoth's abductions
Many elves had been abducted before then though
True, even from Cuievenen (SP?)
When Orome first met them, many ran in fear from him
because they thought he was the Black Rider
hmmm, i am thinking about all of this, very interesting
they were decieved by Melkor, Val
and they did, and Morgoth had already abducted some of the
elves at that point
oops Melkor he was not yet Morgoth
He began his work very early
But I think a key element of Tolkien's morality is
that evil is a conscious choice or its result
before man entered the scene
He found the Elves before the other Valar did
hes he did. the early elves disappeared and never
returned, so the others were scared of Orome
I assume he was the Black Rider
When did Morgoth first seduce maiar to his cause?
Before entering Ea
Thus he had minions from the beginning
Actually during the playing of the music
Yes, Ghan-buri-Ghan i believe you are correct, morality is
a is a conscious choise. that makes a lot of sense. I think
Tolkien did an excellent job demonstrating that
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Yes, Melkor disguised himself as Orome and did many
mis-deeds to spread hate and discontent
It's pretty central to Catholic views but really
nicely played out in the tales of Middle Earth
Because at that time he was the Valar he most feared
part of that was probably the abduction of Elves to
turn into Orcs
yes, during the fist play of the music, and even more
during the 2nd, and more during the 3rd, so by the time they
entered Ea, he had lost of allies
He also found allies when he was searching the Void
for the Flame Imperishable
I guess that made it easier to corrutp the elves with
several other allies
yes, I had forgotten about that.
I always felt that the orcs, though cruel, did not
have the scope of evil of the corrupted Ainur. They seem more like
brigands than ultimate evil in their speech
They were not evil by choice.
Back to the Hall of Mandos theme...If orc spirits
did go there, would they be orc or elf?
They didn't really have free will to comit good
hehehheeh, thanks Ghan-buri-Ghan, that goes back to what I
was saying earlier about there is a chance to redeem the orcs if
taken out of the evil environment
Yes, there is an implication that the slavish
followers are less evil than their leaders
There is a question of whether they even understand
sub-eld I believe, Val
To them, what they do is normal
Evil is a relative term
hmmm, good question Val, I think they would be orc for a
while but if they started to understand the difference between
good and evil would turn back to elves
what they do is just the nature of the Orc beast
I think a Catholic might see evil as an absolute,
And so, by the realisation of Ea at the end of the
music, they would be their true elven selves again
us catholics see evil just like normal people
something tangible, and yet intangible
yes, that is true, Dalton9267
But would the Orcs not be forgiven because their evil
deeds are not by choice but by a form of "insanity" and hence be
admitted to Mandos.
but we are to be viewing evil in the light of
Tolkien's world
they would have to realize what they are doing as wrong
Point, Grondy
Redemption is another strong theme in Tolkien's
stories as well
I thinks, if we go from a Christian point of view, then
once they repent, they would be forgiven, but I am not sure about
in Middle Earth. Tolkien tried to leave his Catholism out of the
yes, Mellie. Tolkien states that.
I think they would go to the Halls of Mandos... They
would spend a long time there though, depending how bad they had
been...some might get out early if they were seen as being victims
we have to think of his works from a standpoint that he
made no references to this world at all
which he adamantly states
Good points, Nell and Dalton
but yet he does have a strong view of redemption in his
I also think Val is right
I do to.
and eventually becoming more and more elf like again
Were the Orcs a necessary evil for man to defeat to come
into their inheritance of Middle Earth.
and until they were let out they would be separated
from the Elven spirits dwelling there
I think at the End they would become elven
again...At the End Ea reaches its true climax as Eru forsaw it
Inevitably, it was Eru's design to create a perfect
world and erase the marring of Arda
I agree Val
Yes, Orcs were part of the Man's tempereing process
so if they become more and move elvish would their
appearance change as the whole orc changed too?
In this case, Nell, I don't think so. They wer
something the elves had to overcome before they could leave Middle
That is a very good point, Val.
Elves and Orcs disappeared around the same time
hmmm, good point Val. I did not realize that.
They were the elvish dark side so to speak... they
were an elvish problem
sort of like the monster rejoining in ther movie "Dark
So the Orcs are brought back to the fold again.
as Elves
did the orcs disappear because the ring was destroyed?
I think so eventually
Perhaps not the ring, but Sauron
ok, I like the Dark Crystal reference. that puts it back
into perspective
but not directly, Mellie
ok, thanks Grondy
They were left leaderless
I think maybe the sons of Elrond would hang around
until the last of them had been rounded up and then they would
join their father
that is my thinking too, Val
It would seem Ilvutar had a lot of loose ends to tie up
before Men were left to rule ME
That's the problem when you leave your minions to do
your work for you
ok, another question, kinda on/off subject. After the ring
was destroyed, Sauron was, and later Saurman was killed all the
other evil beings had no leader, what happend to them? with out
guidence would they become good too?
how true.
and give all of them "free will"
I think most of them would be killed while the good
guys pressed their advantage, Mellie
Tolkien addresses that in Letter #337, Mellie
so with the "free will" would they make the good moral
choices, or just revert back to what was comfortable and what they
some of the men would mend their ways
Is that one of the ones you posted Nell?
ok, I will check it out. I have the book in the other room
no, but I will post it now for you
cheers...I must get that book
post it after the class in the thread, Nell.
'but that almost certainly a restlessness would appear
bout then, owning to the (it seems) invitable boredom of Men with
the good: there would be secret societies practising dark cults,
and "orc-cults" among adolescents'
hmmm, interesting. sounds just like the times we live in
today outside of ME
I will post it with fewer typos.
Adolescents hey, they always get the blame
I need to read more to keep up with you guys! LOL
What do you recommend after Silmarillion?
some are good some are bad
Maybe the Unfinished Tales
Adlecence is a time of conflict and conflict
usually results in evil
It explains the Sil in more detail
I like Unfinished tales and the Book of Lost Tales 1 &2
this will end the class discussion.