The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Origins
First appeared from Angband, c. I 265
Race
Pronunciation
ooroo'lohki
Meaning
'fire serpents'
Other Names

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 8 April 2000
  • This entry is complete

Urulóki

The Fire-drakes

Glaurung, first of the Urulóki

The fire-drakes; dragons who breathed fire. Glaurung, Father of Dragons, was the first of these. He first appeared in the middle of the First Age, but the urulóki certainly survived the downfall of their master, Morgoth.

Ancalagon apparently belonged to this kind1, and Smaug, the great fire-breathing dragon that sacked Erebor, seems to have been the last of the great urulóki. Other lesser types apparently survived to the end of the Third Age and beyond2.


Singular Difficulties

'Morgoth loosed upon the people of Narog the great host that he had long prepared; and Glaurung the Urulóki passed over Anfauglith...'

This description of Glaurung contains a subtle peculiarity: urulóki is a plural, not a singular form, and doesn't seem to fit here (as if the sentence said, 'Glaurung the dragons'). The original manuscript for this section reads:

'Later in the year, having gathered his strength and completed his design, Morgoth at last loosed his assault upon Nargothrond. Glaurung the Urulókë passed over the Anfauglith...'
Commentary to §277 of The Grey Annals
in The War of the Jewels
(The History of Middle-earth vol XI)
(our emphasis)

Here, J.R.R. Tolkien uses the singular urulókë, which seems to fit much more easily into the sentence.

The reasons for this change are mysterious. Conceivably, the published Silmarillion is in error, and should read 'Glaurung the Urulókë'. It's equally possible, though, that Christopher Tolkien had good reasons for making the change - perhaps he had access to material unknown to us, or simply wanted to avoid confusing the reader (since the plural form occurs earlier in the Silmarillion).

Notes

1

Some sources prefer to exclude flying dragons like Ancalagon from the urulóki. Tolkien himself gives us no solid details on this point, so there is no clear basis for classification. The use of Elvish lókë, 'serpent', might seem to suggest a flightless creature, but English dragon (originally Greek drakon) carries exactly the same meaning. Hence 'dragon', 'drake', 'serpent' and the related 'worm' can be used interchangeably when referring to these creatures, and say nothing about their appearance.

2

In The Fellowship of the Ring I 2 The Shadow of the Past, Gandalf tells Frodo that, since the passing of Smaug, '...there is not now any dragon left on earth in which the old fire is hot enough...', so at least some dragons of this kind must have remained on Earth at that time.

See also...

Fire-drakes, Serpents

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1997-2000. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.