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light_of_purity
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Post Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: November 30, 2002 08:50
Light of purity: began this thread way back in 2002. It ran for only a few posts, but I thought we might like to chew it over again, now that so many more are familiar with HoME and Tolkien’s later thoughts on the orcs. I have summarised the few posts there were and you can take it from there. The original questions were:

What could make a pure being turn into something so horrible?
If they were elves did they turn into Orcs by their own choice?
Do Orcs have enough free will, to not be evil?
If an Elf can turn evil can an Orc be good?
Of course it's not as plain as good Orc, bad Orc- but could an Orc love, :heart: and help others :hug: , and feel uncorrupted happiness? :rolling:

Ringhilwen wrote contrasting orcs with the Hindu Rakshasas, (ED: but the hindu concept of good/evil is complex and intimately tied to “karma” so we could get a bit bogged down there)

Gilraen: said that after the "mutilating and torturing" of elves perhaps there was nothing elvish left in them- they were completely under Melkor's power, with evil ingrained and literally in their blood.

Pervyorcfancier felt that since Orcs were raised and taught by one another... Do they even know what evil and good are? They may think that Elves are the evil creatures of Middle-Earth. Serving in fear, they would be afraid to use any free will they did have. Ainulindale: also mentioned this. They hate the master they serve, but his lies have made them afraid

K felt that orcs simply didn’t have the emotional energy to resist and quoted from LotR
He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace
Firebird wondered What IS free will exactly?.. could the will to be good have been removed. Was anything powerful enough to do that (ED: What a terrible thought!)

Finally Aule referred us to Myths Transformed, Volume 10 of the HoME series, Morgoth's Ring. and said that while many points within these essays disagree with each other, if there's one constant, it's that Orcs were totally subservient to the will of Melkor, and later, even more so to the will of Sauron. Thus possibly the only thing that can be said with near assuredness about the Orcs – is that they did not possess any self-actualized free will.

ED: There are several draft essays, as Tolkien explores his thoughts (and gets himself and us into a bit of a muddle) Among Tolkien’s original ideas was that orcs had once been elves who had fled when Orome came to them, and were captured by Melkor. THis was stated in theSilmarillion. Since Christopher Tolkien assembled the Silmarillion for publishing, he has found many more notes and drafts which show Tolkien’s changing concept of their origin. He never quite settled these concepts in his mind.

OK ... off you go!

[Edited on 7/7/2007 by cirdaneth]
Dolwen
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: May 26, 2007 06:12
Great topic to bump cirdaneth. I agree with the explanations above. After years upon years of being tortured by Morgoth the orcs became their own species and I doubt there was very little if any of the qualities of the elves left in them. Question from above: "What could make a pure being turn into something so horrible?" I would say that with enough time and enough torture even the strongest of wills can eventually be broken and once that happens Morgoth could make them into whatever he wanted. They would never oppose him. Although they were afraid of him and despised him, they didn't dare go against him. Fear is very powerful. Like was said above they were raised and taught by one another, that is the only way they knew. Perhaps if they were to be positively influenced by someone of a good nature they could become good too. Kind of a nurture vs. nature thing. I always kind of went with Tolkien's original thoughts on the elves becoming orcs. He said that none of the Valar had the ability to make living beings of their own. Even Aule could only make the dwarves live by his own will, it was Iluvatar that had to give them life of their own. So how could Melkor create these beings on his own unless they were elves first, corrupted maia (like the balrogs) or Iluvatar gave them life like he did with the dwarves.
I would love to hear others thoughts on the elves becoming orcs.
cirdaneth
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: May 26, 2007 07:46
Tolkien realised in time that orcs could not have been bred purely from corrupted elves. His eventual idea seems to my understanding at least, to have been as follows: -

Before he entered Middle Earth, or even Ea, Morgoth corrupted to his service many minor Maiar, who, like Melian, were able to assume living bodies and mate with elves, probably females, whom he had captured and made his thralls. Thralldom is a form of bondage where someone is mesmerised by fear so that they forget all else. They would not even dare to grieve themselves to death. (Almost too horrible to contemplate! No wonder it was seen as his most evil work.)

The offspring would inherit the corruption of the original Maiar, and a faulty imprint of the elf bodies, or even an imprint suggested to them by Morgoth. Since elf bodies are maintained by will and memory, the corruption of their wills would leave them totally suggestible to Morgoth’s plans for them. Thus the breeding program began.

Various races of men were later added to the mix and I would suspect that the Uruk Hai included stock from Eastern and Southern races who were large, strong, and accustomed to bright sunlight and heat.
Dwarflord
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: May 26, 2007 10:44
I think you are right about the Uruk Hai. That would explain their physical appearance and their being used to sunlight and heat.
Maedhros
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: May 27, 2007 03:19
I have no idea how somebody who read Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed came to the conclusion that the Orcs did not have free will! The exact opposite is the case, Tolkien makes it abundantly clear in his later writings at Orcs did indeed have free will. To be sure, Morgoth and Sauron could dominate Orcs to the point where they would behave like herds, effectively removing the free will of the Orcs, but this was the exception, not the norm!

Regarding the Uruk-hai, I am of the opinion that they were not the result of cross-breeding. In The Two Towers, they attribute their resistance to the Sun and other superior traits to training, scorning the Northerners as "half-trained".
Ilandir
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: May 27, 2007 10:29
Regarding the Uruk-hai, I am of the opinion that they were not the result of cross-breeding.
they attribute their resistance to the Sun
Well I guess this attribute gives quite good proof that they were crossed with GoblinMen - Men having no such weakness to the Sun and probably such characteristic was present in the Uruk-Hai genetics. I think they didn't resist the Sun just through hard training - refering to your quote Maedhros -
and other superior traits to training, scorning the Northerners as "half-trained".




[Edited on 28/5/2007 by Ilandir]
Maedhros
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: May 28, 2007 04:38
Sorry, but I don't see how you thinking that such-and-such wouldn't be the case makes it untrue and thus gives 'quite good proof' to the contrary.

In TTT, the quote to which I referred to, the Uruk-hai say:

' But what are we going to do at sunrise?' said some of the Northerners.
'Go on running,' said Ugluk. 'What do you think? Sit on the grass and wait for the Whiteskins to join the picnic?'
'But we can't run in the sunlight.'
'You'll run with me behind you,' said Ugluk. 'Run! Or you'll never see your beloved holes again. By the White Hand! What's the use of sending out mountain-maggots on a trip, only half-trained. Run, curse you! Run while the night lasts!'


Ugluk certainly thinks that it's his training that allows him to endure the sun better than others. And later in the chapter, we see most of the Northerners breaking off and running - albeit not at their fastest - in the sun (since they are overtaken in the afternoon). And other Orcs that were NOT Uruk-hai - Grishnakh's company and some of the Northerners that remained with Ugluk, are running just fine with the Uruk-hai.

All this serves only to reinforce the idea that it was training, not genetics, which gave the Uruk-hai their resistance to the sun.

And in HoMe X: Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed, Tolkien talks about Saruman's mixing of Orcs and Men, but a word that it noticeably absent is "Uruk-hai". Coincidence?

p.s. - The "Goblin-men" are a figment of PJ's imagination. In the books Saruman bred Orcs and Men. Since Orcs are the same thing as Goblins, "Goblin-men" would be, as Tolkien tells in Morgoth's Ring, the result of an interbreeding program (he terms them Orc-men and Man-orcs, NOT Uruk-hai).
Ilandir
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: May 28, 2007 09:42
Still that doesn't prove anything. What type of training did they undergo? And why wasn't it applied to Sauron's orcs aswell? Why go through all the hastle of creating large fumes of smoke to cover the sunlight for his orcs to pass? And in your opinion, if the Orc-Men referred to by Tolkien in 'Morgoth's Ring' aren't Uruk-hai, then how are the Uruk-Hai created?

And in HoMe X: Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed, Tolkien talks about Saruman's mixing of Orcs and Men, but a word that it noticeably absent is "Uruk-hai".
But that's because Tolkien barely named them Uruk-hai. In the Two Towers he calls them Great Orcs. Only once or twice are they called 'Uruk-hai' - example, when Ugluk says: "we are the fighting uruk-hai".

I'm sorry. I still stick to my idea of the cross-breedings Saruman underwent.

[Edited on 28/5/2007 by Ilandir]

[Edited on 28/5/2007 by Ilandir]
Drauglin
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: June 06, 2007 05:49
Well, I haven't read HoME 10 so I could be a bit out of line here, but I'd like to mention that in the Tale of Years (and a few posts on this site) it is stated that Uruk-Hai attackde Osgilliath out of Mordor years before Saruman had an army. Perhaps the Uruks are a way of distinguishing different types of orcs, whose 'tribse are numerous'. Ugluk's calling the northerners 'mountain folk' could also point to this.
Maedhros
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: June 08, 2007 10:26
Ilandir,

I don't know what sort of training the Uruk-hai underwent, but neither do I see it as an issue. The fact is that they themselves brag about their training, and in UT they are described as being "heavily armed but trained to move at great speed for many miles" (UT, Battle sof the Fords of Isen). Also to note is that in the Battles of Fords of Isen is the following quote:

though they fought desperately they were driven from the Fords along the line of the Isen with the Uruks in pursuit.

As soon as the enemy had gained possession of the eastern end of the Fords there appeared a company of men or Orc-men (evidently dispatched for the purpose)....


Note that Tolkien differentiates between the two - there are the Uruks, and there are the Orc-men, and Tolkien is consistent in his use of each.

And regardless of the number of times that they are called "Uruk-hai", the term had been coined and Tolkien knew it and what it referred to. And in spite of this, when Tolkien talks about Saruman's breeding program, he does not mention Uruks or Uruk-hai at all, and CT makes absolutely no comment of such either.

As for how the Uruk-hai came about if not for Saruman's crossbreeding - in my opinion it was selective breeding. The larger and stronger Orcs were bred together by their masters and over time created a breed of great size and strength. As Drauglin mentioned, Uruks existed long before Saruman's breeding program began. And again, when Tolkien was talking of Saruman's breeding program, the text seems to imply that only he was doing this, not Sauron or his minions.

Stick to your belief that the Uruks are crossbreeds if you like, but like I mentioned before, just because you want something to be so doesn't make it so. The evidence is stacked rather heavily against you.
Ilandir
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: June 09, 2007 04:44
Note that Tolkien differentiates between the two - there are the Uruks, and there are the Orc-men, and Tolkien is consistent in his use of each.
To be honest, I was just about to begin that chapter and now I think I understand your point Maedhros. My wrong. Sorry! Thanks for clearing it out though and thanks to you aswell Drauglin.

Stick to your belief that the Uruks are crossbreeds if you like, but like I mentioned before, just because you want something to be so doesn't make it so. The evidence is stacked rather heavily against you
Ok ok. I didn't mean anything. I wasn't offensive. All I did was trying to explain what I believed (just my opinion). I just said that thanks to you guys I've change my mind regards this matter. No need to be annoyed ... hehe

[Edited on 9/6/2007 by Ilandir]
Maedhros
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: June 09, 2007 08:43
Yes yes, no hard feelings, I assure you. I've just had to deal with a lot of people (on a different site) who, when faced with overwhelming evidence, simply dig in their heels.

And my last comment wasn't intended as angst - I know that there are people who have a certain notion in mind and like viewing the books that way, regardless of how likely it is (I must confess to being that way myself at times).

[Edited on 6/9/2007 by Maedhros]
Ilandir
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: June 09, 2007 10:11
Hehe no problem!

cirdaneth
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: July 07, 2007 11:54
ED: This post of 2005 by PotbellyHairyfoot copied from another thread
PB 29 12 05 I've given trying to figure what the original Orcs were bred from but I'm sure that by the Third Age they contained the ''blood'', along with whatever they used as original stock, of both men and Elves. I also see a parallel between the different types of Orcs( tall strong fighters, short tracking' sniffers ec.) and the way we bred different types of dogs from the original wolvish stock.

Though orcs were bred by Melkor, Saruman, and Sauron, they didn't all remain in their service. In the Third Age, the 'Capital' or headquarters for the Orcs could be considered to be in Mount Gundabad, which they stole from the Dwarves ( part of the reason the dwarves hate the Orcs so much). I think that those Orcs lived pretty much indepent of the ' controlling wizards' etc. They probably raised their families there mainly, with possibly a second independent colony set up in Moria. (Sauron and Saruman each likely had their own subservient colonies also.) Just as wild dogs tend to breed back to a typical size and shape, these orcs were probably unspecialized and resembled the original Orc stock.

I don't have any of the books here with me( Starbucks) but I also recall reading that the Orcs, Trolls and other evil minions were less eager to follow their orders when the 'bosses weren't around to watch them. That was made obvious with the rebellion in the two groups of Orcs that carried Merry and Pippin, the Orcs that captured frod, and the team that tracked Frod and Sam briefly in Mordor( until one shot the other)


[Edited on 8/7/2007 by cirdaneth]
Maedhros
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: July 08, 2007 12:05
ED: Maedhros, here is your post of July 06, salvaged from elsewhere ~ Cirdaneth

Ilandir
,

Men would be (according to the written theory - I take issue with it myself) 'on time' to be the source for Orcs because Tolkien envisioned them waking FAR earlier than in the timeline of CT's Silmarillion. To the tune of: during or perhaps shortly before the Great March of the Elves. It's hard to determine when exactly it woudl be place (in relation to other events of the time, namely: The Elves' March and Morgoth's Chaining), because Tolkien wrote that Men must awake far earlier to account for their variety and advancement at the time of meeting Felagund, and to account for their fall. In some cases Tolkien writes that Men must have awoken while Morgoth was still unchained, in other statements he tells that their awakening would be during or - according to the most liberal loremasters (these being internal 'loremasters') - not long before the Great March.

This doesn't quite make sense though: Why would the Valar endanger the Elves by having them start marching if Melkor had not been chained? (Perhaps that's why some 'loremasters' place it not long before the Great March?). However, in the same text Tolkien also says that even the most liberally early estimates place the awakening of Men at such a date that their being the (original) source for Orcs is impossible!

And another facet is that Sauron was still in Angband, and Tolkien viewed him as being capable of continuing the breeding process of Orcs, so long as Melkor had begun it or provided the 'blueprints', per se.

Anyway, I got on a tangent - the base point is that Men awake far before CT's Silmarillion tells.

Dreamdeer ,

I think you underestimate Myths Transformed. I'm not sure if you have read the essays or not, but it is more than just "hemming and hawing" about the origin of Orcs. There are several essays dedicated exclusivly to the matter. Tolkien was seriously considering it, posing questions to himself and the like. Myths Transformed is packed with conviction and intent to find a suitable origin for Orcs.

Yes, Tolkien for a while considered that Orcs were indeed corrupted from Elves. For some time before that he had considered that Melkor had animated them from stone/mud. Tolkien didn't publish the Silmarillion, so it cannot be taken as a final authority on its content. True, it is not as 'romantic' to have the greatest race corrupted to produce the most vile one, but to claim Orcs were bred from Elves based on that would be imposing our views and opinions on to Tolkien, who was very clear that Elves were not the source for Orcs.

It might 'feel' better with Elves as the source, but it certainly does not 'fit' better. The Elvish origin fits better than some theories, yes, but not all, and given Tolkien's clear-cut stance, if there is a better fitting theory than the Elvish one (of which there are two: Mannish and Discord), then we should take it.

And just for the record: CT's Silmarillion does not explicitly suggest the Elvish origin. If you look carefully, it is also perfectly in line with the Discord Theory, which I personally view as the most suitable theory.

[Edited on 8/7/2007 by cirdaneth]
cirdaneth
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: July 08, 2007 12:19
ED: ... and this is Atalante_Star from 2005 quoting the Tolkiens from HoME - also relevant here.
[...]Those who believe that the Orcs were bred from kind of Men, captured and perverted by Melkor, assert that it was impossible for the Quendi to have known of Orcs before the Separation and the departure of the Eldar. For though the time of the awakening of Men is not known, even the calculations of the loremasters that place it earliest do not assign it a date long before the Great March began, certainly not long enough before it to allow for the corruption of Men into Orcs.

[...]But though Men may take comfort in this, the theory remains nonetheless the most probable. In accords with all that is known of Melkor, and of the nature and behavior of Orcs -- and of Men. Melkor was impotent to produce any living thing, but skilled in the corruption of things that did not proceed from himself, if he could dominate them. But if he had indeed attempted to make creatures of his own in imitation or mockery of the Incarnates, he would, like Aule, only have succeeded in producing puppets: his creatures would have acted only while the attention of his will was upon them, and they would have shown no reluctance to execute any command of his, even if it were to destroy themselves.

[...][Christopher notes:] This then, as it may appear, was my father's final view of the question: Orcs were bred from Men, and if 'the conception in mind of the Orcs may go far back into the night of Melkor's thought' it was Sauron who, during the ages of Melkor's captivity in Aman, brought into being the black armies that were available to his Master when he returned.
Grifo
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: September 02, 2007 03:07
The offspring would inherit the corruption of the original Maiar, and a faulty imprint of the elf bodies, or even an imprint suggested to them by Morgoth. Since elf bodies are maintained by will and memory, the corruption of their wills would leave them totally suggestible to Morgoth’s plans for them. Thus the breeding program began.

Various races of men were later added to the mix and I would suspect that the Uruk Hai included stock from Eastern and Southern races who were large, strong, and accustomed to bright sunlight and heat.


I indeed think that it's more like some kind of evil biological experiment than an actual change of form of an individual. Never in the books Tolkien said something about an individual Elf who changed into an orc. He did say something about that Elves slowly turned into Orcs due to Melkor's long time of torturing and evilness brought upon them. But that doesn't mean we're talking about individuals right? Could very well mean the 'group' of Elves he captured and used for breeding (or whatever). I wonder though how Melkor could have turned Maiar into both Balrogs and Dragons, was his evil mastery that great?

As for the Uruk-Hai. I'm not sure at all, but I thought I read somewhere (LOTR?) that the Uruk-Hai were a mixed breed of the strongest, biggest and tallest Orcs with the Goblin species. I always wondered how the Uruk-Hai had become bigger than normal orcs, while the Goblins were actually far shorter than even dwarfs.
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: September 04, 2007 09:26
Knowing of Tolkien's religious beliefs, I'd be surprised if he "created" beings that had no Free Will.

Ilandir
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: February 11, 2010 06:14
I'm actually researching on this subject to write an article about Orc Origins/Life; hehe ....
cirdaneth
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: August 04, 2010 09:11
Bump!
Elthir
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: January 22, 2011 05:23
As for the Uruk-Hai. I'm not sure at all, but I thought I read somewhere (LOTR?) that the Uruk-Hai were a mixed breed of the strongest, biggest and tallest Orcs with the Goblin species. I always wondered how the Uruk-Hai had become bigger than normal orcs, while the Goblins were actually far shorter than even dwarfs.


Incidentally 'goblins' and orcs are the same thing. Regarding size, even Saruman's Uruks are referred to as 'goblin-soldiers' in The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit notes that there were big goblins.

'Out jumped the goblins, big goblins, great ugly-looking goblins, lots of goblins, before you can say rocks and blocks.'

Over Hill And Under Hill


'Goblin' is just modern English. There is no difference, at least not within Tolkien's story, between beings denoted by modern English 'Elves' and the word Quendi for example.

I like to use the example of 'dog' and German hund -- because there are various kinds and sizes of dogs (as with orcs), but if one simply translates German hund into modern English we get 'dog' -- not a specific kind, or size of dog. A 'goblin' is not a kind of orc but a word used to translate orc.
cirdaneth
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Post RE: Orclife 1. - Origins and Free Will
on: January 22, 2011 05:51
Well said Elthir!
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