The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Race
Meaning
A sickness of greed and selfishness associated with Dragons, and especially with treasure they have hoarded over time

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  • Updated 27 March 2016
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Dragon-sickness

The power of Dragon-hoarded gold

"...he did not reckon with the power that gold has upon which a dragon has long brooded..."
The Hobbit 15
The Gathering of the Clouds

The Dragons of Middle-earth were greedy of gold, and they sought out hoards wherever they could, to keep and guard for themselves. Famously this was the cause of Smaug's descent on Erebor; lured by the immense wealth of the Dwarves who lived there, he sacked the Lonely Mountain and gathered its treasure in the Great Hall of Thráin.

Smaug dwelt within Erebor for a hundred and seventy-one years until he was eventually slain by Bard the Bowman. In that time, however, the gold on which he had lain had grown heavy with the Dragon-sickness, a sickness that affected those who came into contact with it. The Dragon-sickness was first1 seen in Thorin Oakenshield, when he refused to provide for the slayer of the Dragon or his people.

The Dragon-sickness affected some more than others, and its effects were especially powerful on those who were already greedy and selfish. The most extreme case of this was the Master of Lake-town, who was given a part of Smaug's hoard to help in the rebuilding of Lake-town. Instead the Master took the gold and fled into the Waste, eventually dying of starvation.


Notes

1

In fact, Thorin's may not be the earliest documented case of Dragon-sickness: the story of Fram of the Éothéod also shows all the symptoms. Fram slew the Dragon Scatha and recovered that Dragon's hoard, which was claimed by the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains. Like Thorin, Fram contemptuously refused the give up any part of the gold, and was said to have been slain by the Dwarves.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 27 March 2016
  • This entry is complete

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