The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Presumably (though not certainly) bred in Angband with the other fire-drakes in the late First Age; slain III 2941
Race
Division
Pronunciation
smowg ('ow' as in 'now')
Meaning
'squeezed through a hole'1
Titles

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  • Updated 20 January 2002
  • This entry is complete
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"My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!"
Smaug's description of himself
from The Hobbit 12 Inside Information

Smaug was the last of the great fire-drakes2, and said to be the greatest dragon of his time. At some time during the twenty-eighth century of the Third Age, he came to hear of the immense wealth held by the Dwarves of Erebor. Where he came from we do not know for certain, but in the year III 2770 he descended in fire on the Lonely Mountain, destroying the Dwarf-kingdom and the nearby township of Dale.

Gathering together the treasures of the Dwarves, he formed himself an immense bed of gold and jewels and settled within the ruined halls of Erebor. Slowly the years and decades passed, until the people of the Long Lake to the south had almost forgotten the Dragon of Erebor and Smaug imagined himself unassailable.

Then, one day in the October of III 2941, one hundred and seventy-one years after his arrival in Erebor, Smaug awoke to find his treasure disturbed. Of all that mountain of wealth, he noticed with rage that a single two-handled cup had been taken. He could not have imagined that the loss of that cup signalled his own imminent downfall; Thorin, the heir of the King under the Mountain that Smaug had driven from his halls those many years before, had returned to reclaim his kingdom. With him came Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit with a magical Ring with which he had invisibly removed that single cup from Smaug's treasure.

In his anger, the dragon flew from his halls, scorching and breaking the mountainside. Thorin, Bilbo and their companions were sealed in a hidden tunnel, and at last the frustrated Smaug gave up his attack on the mountain. Realizing that they must have had help from Lake-town to the south, he set out to punish the Men of the Lake instead.

That was to be Smaug's last flight. Bilbo had managed to discover an open patch in the dragon's armour, and word of this had been carried to Lake-town. In particular, it reached the heir of another of Smaug's victims, Bard, the descendant of Girion of Dale. Bard shot Smaug with an arrow, and though Lake-town was devastated in his attack and fall, the dragon was defeated. In years to come, beneath the waters of the lake his mighty bones could be seen, and the jewels that had lined his hide: the last remains of the greatest dragon of his age.


Notes

1

This peculiar derivation is explained in a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien written in 1938: 'The dragon bears as a name - a pseudonym - the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole: a low philological jest.'

2

Smaug was the last great fire-drake, but not the last of all. After his death, others of like kind apparently still survived in the World, but none came close to Smaug in power.

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