The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien

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  • Updated 7 March 2021
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Ancient Darkness

The primordial void surrounding Arda

A name used by Sauron for the vast darkness of the Outer Void that surrounded the World of Arda. Arda was held protected from the Ancient Darkness by the Walls of World, which formed a great surrounding globe of crystal. It was through the Door of Night in these Walls that the Valar cast Morgoth at the end of the First Age, exiling him into the Ancient Darkness to keep the World safe from his evil.

In this the Valar only partially succeeded, as Morgoth's follower Sauron took up his master's mantle and became a Dark Lord in his own right. In Númenor he whispered secrets to King Ar-Pharazôn, and it is from accounts of their discussions that the term 'Ancient Darkness' comes. Sauron twisted the truth in his claims to the King (he said, for instance, that Melkor Morgoth should be worshipped as the lord of the Ancient Darkness, whereas it was more properly his prison). As such, though we know from other sources that the Outer Void did indeed surround the World, it is hard to be sure how much of Sauron's account of the Ancient Darkness can be fully trusted. Another of his claims, for example, was that the World was created out of the Ancient Darkness, which might conceivably be true, but is neither supported nor specifically denied by other sources.


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  • Updated 7 March 2021
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