Other names: Alkar (‘the Radiant’), Bauglir (‘The Constrainer’), Belegurth (‘The Great Death’), ‘The Enemy’, ‘The Strong’, ‘The Eldest Power’, ‘The Master’, ‘The Black God’, ‘King of the World’, ‘The Shadow’, Demon of Dark
Melkor was the firstborn of the Ainur, and he was given the greatest gifts of knowledge and power, as well as a share in all the powers of his brethren. Being impatient with Ilúvatar, Melkor desired to create, and he searched the Void for the Flame Imperishable. When Ilúvatur orchestrated the Music of the Ainur, Melkor started to interweave his own themes into Ilúvatur’s patterns in order to increase the power and the glory of his own part of the harmony. His brash and violent tunes caused discord through the rest of the melodies.
Melkor was rebuked by Ilúvatur, and he became filled with shame – but out of his shame came anger, and he kept secret his dreams of ruling and being called ‘Master’. When the Valar began their labours in Arda, Melkor took a leading role, but he meddled in all that was made, turning each of their creations to his own desires. He took a visible form – though because of the hatred burning in him, his form was dark and terrible, with a majesty and power greater than that of the other Valar. The light in his eyes was like a flame that withered with heat and pierced with cold.
Melkor still wanted mastery over the world, and he told the other Valar that Arda would be his own kingdom. Manwë, Melkor’s brother in the eyes of Ilúvatur, refused to accept this and started the first conflict between Melkor and the other Valar for the dominion of Arda. At the end of those lengthy wars, Melkor fled before the wrath of Tulkas, and hid in the outer darkness.
After the creation of the Lamps of the Valar, while the Valar were feasting, Melkor returned to Middle Earth in secrecy and built the stronghold of Utumno. His evil blighted the land and so the Valar became aware of him, but he delayed their onslaught by destroying the Lamps of the Valar. He then retreated to Utumno, during which time the Two Trees of Valinor were grown. Melkor created Angband to serve as a line of defence against the Valar, and there he created and armed an army.
When the elves awoke, Melkor appeared as a Dark Rider both to sow mistrust of Oromë and to capture elves who he then tortured and corupted into Orcs (according to early versions of Tolkien’s work).
The Valar at last became concerned for the elves and assaulted Melkor. Utumno was eventually destroyed during the Battle of the Powers. In the ruined fortress, Tulkas wrestled with Melkor, subdued him, then bound him with Angainor – a chain that Aulë had created. Melkor was carried back to Valinor and was sentenced to spending three ages captive and alone in the Halls of Mandos.
After three ages, Melkor put on a fair countenance in front of the Valar, and so deceived Manwë, who could not comprehend evil. Melkor was forced to remain in Valimar, and while there, he began to desire the Silmarils. Also while in Valinor, he took his revenge on the Eldar, whom he saw as the agents of his downfall. He feigned love for the elves and offered to pass on his hidden lore – into which he included lies and false council. The Noldor delighted in his offer, and listened to words that maybe they should never have heard. Of all the elves who listened to Melkor, Fëanor became the most seriously damaged and twisted.
When Fëanor perceived Melkor’s evil purposes, the Vala fled, permanently assuming his old form of the Dark Lord. Enlisting the aid of Ungoliant, Melkor returned to Valinor during a time of festival. Melkor wounded each of the Two Trees of Valinor with his spear, and Ungoliant drank their saps and poisoned the trees. Melkor and Ungoliant then went to the dwelling of Fëanor in Formenos, slaying Finwë the father of Fëanor and taking the Silmarils. At this time he was named Morgoth by Fëanor and was known by that name ever after.
Melkor fulfilled part of his bargain with Ungoliant, but he would not surrender the Silmarils. Ungoliant attacked him, and Melkor summoned his Balrogs and drove her away.
After leaving Formenos, Morgoth went to the ruins of Angband, and delved new vaults and dungeons underneath the peaks of Thangorodrim. He forged himself a crown of iron, set the Silmarils in it, and named himself King of the World. However, his hands were burned by the Silmarils, and they remained black and painful ever after.
Melkor defended the Silmarils from the wrath of the elves and corrupted some of the newly awakened men. Being dismayed by the light of the Moon, which he had unsuccessfully assaulted, and by the light of the Sun, Melkor was partially defeated by the Noldor and he was besieged in Angband. After building up his forces, he later assaulted the besieging elves and defeated them. In the midst of this battle, the Dagor Bragollach, Fingolfin challenged Morgoth to single combat, wounding him seven times, and slashing his foot with Ringil. After his wounding, Morgoth crushed Fingolfin to death with his mace, Grond, took the body and went to throw it to his wolves, but Thorondor, the King of Eagles, swept down and bore off the body, having first cut Morgoth’s face. After that day, Morgoth always limped, the scar from Thorondor’s slash was ever there, and the pain of his wounds never ceased.
After the Fall of Fingolfin, Beren and Lúthien entered Morgoth’s stronghold and stole a Silmaril. Nevertheless, soon after Morgoth still triumphed over the Eldar and the Edain in the Fifth Battle, the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, partially through the treachery of men. Not only did Morgoth win the Battle, but he also managed to cause fear and hatred among the different groups of Men and Elves.
The next major onslaught of Morgoth on Middle Earth was made possible through Maeglin who revealed the location of Gondolin under torture. Morgoth then assaulted the city with his Balrogs, Orcs, Dragons and wolves and left Gondolin ruined and burning.
After this triumph, Morgoth was so full of pride that he did not believe that anyone would dare to bring war to him. However, on the request of Eärendil, the host of the Valar came again to Middle Earth and met Morgoth in war in the Great Battle. Morgoth’s fortresses were ruined, and his evil hosts defeated. When the Valar finally fought through to him, he again begged for pardon, but was bound with Angainor, and the two remaining Silmarils were taken from his crown.
The Valar thrust Morgoth into the Timeless Void through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World. While Morgoth was cast out of the World, his influence lived on through the Ages. Many of his creatures lived on past the destruction of Angband and so did the capacity for malice and hatred that he had sowed in the hearts of elves and men.
Melkor (old form Melkórë) meant “He who Arises in Might” in Quenya.