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  • Updated 23 November 2013
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Great Siege

One of two long sieges in the history of Middle-earth

A siege referred to by Gorbag, an Orc of Mordor, as belonging to 'the bad old times',1 but otherwise not identified with certainty. The term must presumably refer to either the Siege of Barad-dûr at the end of the Second Age, or the Siege of Angband during the First. Given that Gorbag and his companion Shagrat were speaking on the borders of Mordor, the natural presumption is that he had in mind the Siege of Barad-dûr during the War of the Last Alliance, which was fought in that region. However, there is room for either interpretation.

Gorbag's rather ambiguous turn of phrase could be taken to suggest that the Great Siege was something he and Shagrat personally remembered. This would be remarkable indeed, given that it took place three thousand years earlier, and would imply that Orcs were remarkably long-lived. However, there is good reason to doubt that this was Tolkien's intention: other sources, such as comments in volume 10 of The History of Middle-earth, refer to the short lives of Orcs. Apart from that, Gorbag is identified as an Uruk, and we know that the Uruks didn't appear out of Mordor until the year III 2475, long after the War of the Last Alliance. All things considered, Gorbag must surely be making a historical reference here, rather than describing something he had personally experienced.



The Two Towers IV 10, The Choices of Master Samwise

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