An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor
Orlando Bloom as Legolas
in the New Line Cinema film
Legolas by Inger Edelfeldt
Little is known about Legolas's early life. His date of birth is not known, though he made some vague references to his age:
"It [Fangorn] is old, very old," said the Elf. "So old that almost I feel young again, as I have not felt since I journeyed with you children."Based on these comments it would appear that Legolas was at least several hundred years old at the time of the War of the Ring, and possibly even several thousand, but an exact age cannot be determined. The age attributed to the character of Legolas in Peter Jackson's film version of The Lord of the Rings is 2,931; however, this figure has no basis in the text.
The Two Towers: "The White Rider," p. 94
"Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then," said Legolas, "and but a little while does that seem to us."
The Two Towers: "The King of the Golden Hall," p. 111
"These are the strangest trees that ever I saw," he said; "and I have seen many an oak grow from acorn to ruinous age."
The Two Towers: "The Road to Isengard," p. 152
It should also be noted that in The Book of Lost Tales II, an Elf named Legolas Greenleaf was present at the Fall of Gondolin in the First Age. But this Elf was of the Noldor and went to Tol Eressea where he remained and thus was almost certainly not the same as Legolas of the Fellowship.
Legolas was tall, lithe, and very strong. He had great vitality and was resistant to injury, hardship, and fatigue.
Legolas was a Silvan Elf of Sindarin descent. His father Thranduil was one of the Sindar who had come from Lindon sometime before the year 1000 of the Second Age. The Elves of Mirkwood were mainly Silvan, or Wood-Elves, and Legolas identified himself as one of the Silvan folk. It is not known who Legolas's mother was, and some have speculated that she may have been a Silvan Elf, but there is no textual basis for this theory.
Legolas's father Thranduil had imprisoned Thorin Oakenshield and his Dwarf companions when they passed through Mirkwood on the way to the Lonely Mountain in 2941 of the Third Age. Thranduil also met Bilbo Baggins, to whom he gave the name "Elf-friend," and he fought in the Battle of the Five Armies. It is not known whether Legolas was involved in these events.
On March 21, 3017, Aragorn brought Gollum to Mirkwood to be held captive and questioned about his hunt for Bilbo and the One Ring. Gollum was guarded day and night, but the Elves took pity on him and allowed him to climb a tree that stood alone. One night in June of 3018, Gollum refused to come down. The Wood-Elves were then attacked by Orcs and Gollum escaped in the confusion.
Legolas was sent to Rivendell to inform Elrond of Gollum's escape. On October 25, he attended the Council of Elrond, where it was decided that the One Ring had to be taken to Mordor and destroyed. Frodo Baggins volunteered for this task, and Legolas was chosen to represent the Elves in the Fellowship that was to accompany the Ring-bearer. The Fellowship left Rivendell on December 25, 3018.
The Fellowship was prevented from crossing the Misty Mountains at the Redhorn Gate by a blizzard. Legolas was able to walk upon the snow and find the edge of the storm. He reported back to his companions that they did not have much further to go to dig their way out.
Gandalf suggested an alternate route under the mountains through the Mines of Moria. Legolas was against the idea, for although the Elves of Eregion had at one time traded with the Dwarves of Khazad-dum, evil had been awoken there and Moria now had an evil reputation. But the Fellowship's decision was forced when they were attacked by Wargs. Legolas slew many with his arrows, and the Fellowship made their way quickly to the West-gate of Moria.
The West-gate had once been the site of commerce between the Elves and the Dwarves. Both Legolas and Gimli denied that their people were responsible for the rift between the two races. Gandalf urged the Elf and the Dwarf to remain friends for he needed their help.
The journey through Moria took several days. In the Chamber of Mazarbul on January 15, they discovered the tomb of Balin, who had led an ill-fated expedition to Moria thirty years earlier. Then the Fellowship was attacked by Orcs. Legolas shot two through the throat, and altogether his companions slew thirteen. The Orcs retreated and the Fellowship fled. Legolas had to drag Gimli away from his kinsman Balin's tomb.
At the Bridge of Khazad-dum, Legolas saw a creature of shadow and flame approaching and realized that it was a Balrog. Gandalf told the others to flee and he fought with the Balrog until they both fell into the abyss.
The Fellowship made their way towards the woods of Lothlorien. Legolas realized that Frodo and Sam were lagging behind, and they stopped to tend the Hobbits' injuries. At last they came to the eaves of the Golden Wood. Legolas had never been to Lothlorien, but he had heard that Elves still dwelled there guarded by a secret power.
By the Nimrodel, Legolas sang of the Elf-maiden for whom the stream was named. He then began to climb one of the mallorn trees seeking shelter for his companions, but a voice speaking in Elvish from high in the branches stopped him. The Elves were border wardens of Lothlorien, and they had heard Legolas singing and recognized him as one of their Northern kindred. They asked him to climb up with Frodo to their flet.
The leader introduced himself as Haldir and Legolas told him who his companions were. Haldir was not pleased to learn that one of them was a Dwarf. After questioning Legolas he agreed that Gimli could remain, but cautioned Legolas to keep an eye on him.
The next day, Gimli balked at being the only member of the Fellowship who had to wear a blindfold through the woods. The Dwarf said he would agree if Legolas wore one too, and the Elf replied, "A plague on Dwarves and their stiff necks!" (FotR, p. 362) At last Aragorn convinced them to compromise, and the entire Fellowship went blindfolded, though Legolas was unhappy.
"Alas for the folly of these days!" said Legolas. "Here all are enemies of the one Enemy, and yet I must walk blind, while the sun is merry in the woodland under leaves of gold!"At Caras Galadhon on January 17, the Fellowship was brought before Celeborn and Galadriel, the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood. The Fellowship stayed in Lothlorien for a month. The Elves of Lothlorien sang laments for Gandalf, but Legolas would not interpret them for the others for he was still grieving the Wizard's loss. Legolas spent much time among the Elves, yet he also took Gimli with him and the two began to form a bond of friendship that surprised their companions.
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Lothlorien," p. 362
The Fellowship left Lothlorien on February 16. Legolas received a bow of the Galadhrim and a quiver of arrows from the Lady Galadriel. They set out down the Anduin, and Legolas shared a boat with Gimli. The Dwarf wept at his parting from Galadriel and wondered why he had come on the quest. Legolas comforted his friend.
"Alas for us all! And for all that walk the world in these after-days. For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream. But I count you blessed, Gimli son of Gloin: for your loss you suffer of your own free will, and you might have chosen otherwise. But you have not forsaken your companions, and the least reward that you shall have is that the memory of Lothlorien shall remain ever clear and unstained in your heart, and shall neither fade nor grow stale."On the night of February 23, Orcs fired arrows at the Fellowship from the eastern shore. Then a great shadow passed overhead, blotting out the stars, and fear touched the hearts of the Fellowship. Legolas fired at the shadow and there was a cry as it fell out of the sky. The Elf did not know what he had hit, but Frodo sensed that the thing that had flown overhead was one of the Nazgul. As it turned out, Legolas had killed one of the Fell Beasts used by the Nazgul as mounts, though its rider had survived.
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Farewell to Lorien," p. 395
At Amon Hen on February 26, it was time to decide their next course. Frodo went off alone to decide what to do. Legolas suggested that they help Frodo by voting on the matter, saying that he would vote to go to Minas Tirith, but that in the end he would go where Frodo chose: "It would be faithless now to say farewell." (FotR, p. 419)
But then Boromir told them that he and Frodo had argued and that Frodo had vanished. The members of the Fellowship went off in different directions searching for him. Legolas and Gimli encountered Orcs in the woods and slew many, but then they heard Boromir sound the Great Horn. They came to his aid too late, for he had been slain defending Merry and Pippin.
Aragorn determined that Frodo and Sam had set out for Mordor and that Merry and Pippin had been taken towards Isengard. He decided that they should pursue the Orcs who had captured the two young Hobbits. Legolas said that they must not leave Boromir's corpse for the carrion, so they sent his body down the Anduin in a boat.
They then set out at a swift pace and traveled 45 leagues across the plains of Rohan in less than four days. Legolas did not need to sleep, and he was reluctant to stop and rest. He urged his companions onward, saying, "The thought of those merry young folk driven like cattle burns my heart." (TTT, p. 27)
Legolas's keen eyes were able to see their enemies' trail for a great distance across the plains. On the morning of the fourth day, he saw a group of horsemen approaching them from five leagues distance. They were Riders of Rohan led by Eomer, the Third Marshal of the Mark, who demanded to know their business. When Gimli and Eomer nearly came to blows over a perceived slight of Galadriel, Legolas came swiftly to his friend's defense, but Aragorn intervened.
Aragorn declared himself to be Isildur's Heir, and it appeared to Legolas that a white flame shone on Aragorn's brow like a crown. Eomer listened to their tale and gave them horses to speed them on their way. Legolas was mounted on Arod without saddle or rein, and Gimli sat behind him uneasily.
Eomer had said that his Riders had slain all the Orcs, and when the Three Hunters reached the burning pile of corpses near the edge of Fangorn they found no trace of the Hobbits. That night they saw a strange old man by their campfire, and then their horses ran off. Legolas said that horses had not sounded terrified but as if they had met an old friend.
The next morning, the Hobbits' trail led them into Fangorn Forest. Legolas had heard legends among his people that the Onodrim, or Ents, lived there long ago. The forest felt old to him and full of memory. He perceived that the woods were not evil, though there were dark patches, but there was a watchfulness and anger, for the forest had suffered.
Then Legolas caught a glimpse of an old man in a grey cloak walking through the trees. They thought at first it was Saruman, but then the old man threw off his cloak and Legolas recognized him as Gandalf. The Wizard told them of his fight with the Balrog and his return as Gandalf the White. He brought messages from Galadriel, who said to Legolas:
"Legolas Greenleaf long under treeLegolas was surprised and intrigued when Gandalf told them that Merry and Pippin were safe with an Ent named Treebeard and that the Ents were rising against Saruman, who had destroyed many trees in the forest. Gandalf then told the Three Hunters that their business now lay in Rohan and that they must make for Edoras with all speed. When Shadowfax came at Gandalf's call, the horses Arod and Hasufel came with him, for Shadowfax was their chieftain and it was he that Legolas had heard them meeting in the night.
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more."
The Two Towers: "The White Rider," p. 106
At Edoras, Gandalf convinced King Theoden to ride to war against Saruman. Legolas was arrayed in mail by the Rohirrim and rode with them. At the Battle of Helm's Deep on the night of March 3-4, Saruman's army of 10,000 launched an assault upon the Rohirrim. Legolas was kept busy with his bow and his long knife. In the end he had slain forty-one Orcs, but Gimli beat his count by one.
At dawn Gandalf arrived with Erkenbrand and 1,000 Riders. Looking out, Legolas was amazed to see that a forest had sprung up in the dale overnight. The Orcs fled into the forest and were never seen again. Later when Legolas rode through the forest on the way to Isengard, he felt a great wrath from the trees - which he later learned were Huorns from Fangorn - and looking back he saw eyes among their branches. He nearly turned back, but was stopped by Gimli and Gandalf. Still Legolas hoped to go one day to Fangorn, and Gimli agreed to go with him if Legolas would come to see the Glittering Caves that lay behind Helm's Deep.
The Three Hunters were reunited with Merry and Pippin at Isengard on March 5, and Legolas also met Treebeard. A parley was held with Saruman and Gandalf broke the traitor's staff and cast him out of the Order of Wizards.
The next day, Aragorn decided to take the Paths of the Dead to the southern coast, for he had looked into the palantir of Orthanc and had seen that the Corsairs posed a threat to Minas Tirith. Legolas chose to accompany him, saying that he did not fear the Dead. Arod balked at the Dark Door, but Legolas soothed the horse and led him through. Gimli was also deeply afraid but he followed his friend.
At the Stone of Erech, Aragorn called upon the Dead to fulfill their oath, and they proceeded to Pelargir where they seized the ships of the Corsairs. There Legolas heard the cry of seagulls, and though he had not yet seen the Sea he felt a longing for it as Galadriel had foretold. For a moment he forgot the war, but he held fast to the commitment he had made and went on.
Legolas and Gimli sailed with Aragorn up the Anduin and arrived in Minas Tirith on March 15 during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. After the battle was won, the Elf and the Dwarf went into the city seeking Merry and Pippin. Legolas noted that more gardens were needed and pledged that his people would bring birds and trees once Aragorn was crowned King. When Legolas met Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, he bowed for he recognized in Imrahil the blood of the people of Nimrodel from Lothlorien long ago.
The Captains of the West decided to march to the Black Gate and engage the Enemy in an attempt to distract Sauron long enough for the Ring-bearer to fulfill his quest. Legolas chose to go with them, both as a representative of the Elves of Mirkwood and out of love for Aragorn. The Host of the West arrived at the Black Gate on March 25 and they fought the forces of Sauron in the Battle of the Morannon until at last the Ring was destroyed and the realm of Sauron was ended.
The Fellowship was reunited at the celebrations on the Field of Cormallen and Legolas wandered happily in the woods of Ithilien. He decided that he would settle there with some of his people if Thranduil would permit it.
Aragorn was crowned King on May 1 and the Fellowship remained in Minas Tirith until after his wedding to Arwen on Mid-year's Day. The Fellowship left Minas Tirith on July 22. When they arrived at Helm's Deep, Legolas accompanied Gimli into the Glittering Caves as he had promised and the Elf was left speechless by what he saw. At Isengard, the pair said farewell to their companions and went to visit Fangorn.
Legolas brought Elves from the Woodland Realm to Ithilien, and the land that had fallen to neglect under the shadow of Mordor bloomed once more under their care. But ever did Legolas hear the call of the Sea coming up the Great River. When Aragorn died in the year 120 of the Fourth Age, Legolas decided to follow his heart. He built a grey ship and set sail down the Anduin. It is said that his great friend Gimli accompanied him, and that together the last two members of the Fellowship left Middle-earth and sailed over the Sea into the West.
Legolas's hair color is not stated anywhere in the text of The Lord of the Rings. There is one vague description that might be taken to mean that Legolas had dark hair.
Frodo looked up at the Elf standing tall above him, as he gazed into the night, seeking a mark to shoot at. His head was dark, crowned with sharp white stars that glittered in the black pools of the sky behind.However, this passage is ambiguous because Frodo may only have seen the silhouette of the Elf's head in the dark night.
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Great River," p. 403
In The Hobbit, Legolas's father Thranduil is described as having golden hair:
... at the head of a long line of feasters sat a woodland king with a crown of leaves upon his golden hair ...If this passage is considered accurate, then Legolas may have inherited golden hair from his father.
The Hobbit:"Flies and Spiders," p. 165
Elven hair color is addressed in a comment in the Appendices:
They [the Quendi] were a race high and beautiful, the older Children of the world, and among them the Eldar were as kings, who are now gone: the People of the Great Journey, the People of the Stars. They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finarfin ...This passage is frequently taken to mean that the only Elves with golden hair were those of the House of Finarfin and that since Legolas was of Sindarin descent, he should not have golden hair but be dark haired. However, in Christopher Tolkien's commentary on "The Cottage of Lost Play" in The Book of Lost Tales I, he suggests that this stricture on golden hair did not apply to all Elves, but only to the Noldor (who were originally called Gnomes):
Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings: Part II, "On Translation," p. 415-16
In the last paragraph of Appendix F as published the reference to 'Gnomes' [for Noldor] was removed, and replaced by a passage explaining the use of the word Elves to translate Quendi and Eldar ... This passage - referring to the Quendi as a whole - continues however with the same words as in the draft: 'They were a race high and beautiful, and among them the Eldar were as kings, who are now gone: the People of the Great Journey, the People of the Stars. They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finrod [later corrected to Finarfin] ...' Thus these words describing characters of face and hair were actually written of the Noldor only, and not of all the Eldar: indeed the Vanyar had golden hair, and it was from Finarfin's Vanyarin mother Indis that he, and Finrod Felagund and Galadriel his children, had their golden hair that marked them out among the princes of the Noldor.If this is correct, then the comment about Elven hair color from Appendix F does not apply to the Sindarin Elves, who were a group of the Eldar separate from the Noldor, and thus it could be possible that some among them might have had golden hair.
The Book of Lost Tales I: "The Cottage of Lost Play" (commentary), p. 44
There is another clue on the appearance of Sindarin Elves in a reference to the origin of the name Sindar, which means "the Grey" or "the Grey-Elves":
The Loremasters also supposed that reference was made to the hair of the Sindar. Elwe himself had long and beautiful hair of silver hue, but this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwe (as in the case of Cirdan). In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe.This passages states that the majority of the Sindar were dark-haired, but it also allows that there were exceptions in the case of silver-haired Sindar. Thus it seems possible that there might also have been exceptions of Sindar with golden hair, such as Thranduil.
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "Quendi and Eldar," p. 384
In the end there is no definitive word on the color of Legolas's hair, be it dark, golden, or otherwise.
March 21: Aragorn brings Gollum to Mirkwood for questioning.
June 20: Gollum escapes from captivity.
August: Gollum's trail is lost. Legolas is sent to Rivendell with the news of Gollum's escape sometime afterwards.
October 25: Legolas attends the Council of Elrond.
December 18: Legolas is chosen
to represent the Elves in the Fellowship.
December 25: The Fellowship leaves Rivendell
January 11-12: A blizzard
prevents the Fellowship from crossing the pass of Caradhras.
January 13: The Fellowship is attacked by Wargs. They decide to go through the Mines of Moria.
January 15: The Fellowship is attacked by Orcs. They flee to the Bridge of Khazad-dum where Gandalf confronts the Balrog and falls into the abyss. On the edge of Lothlorien, Legolas speaks with Haldir, who agrees to lead them into the woods.
January 17: The Fellowship is brought before Galadriel and Celeborn.
February 16: The Fellowship
February 23: Legolas shoots a Fell Beast ridden by one of the Nazgul.
February 26: The Breaking of the Fellowship. Legolas accompanies Aragorn and Gimli in pursuit of the Uruk-hai who captured Merry and Pippin.
February 30: The Three Hunters meet Eomer.
March 1: The Three Hunters
are reunited with Gandalf in Fangorn and learn that Merry and Pippin are
March 2: Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn arrive at Edoras and ride to war against Saruman with King Theoden.
March 3-4: Battle of Helm's Deep.
March 5: The Three Hunters are reunited with Merry and Pippin at Isengard. Parley with Saruman.
March 8: Legolas and Gimli follow Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead.
March 13: Aragorn and his followers and the Dead seize the Corsairs' ships at Pelargir. Legolas hears seagulls and begins to long for the Sea.
March 15: Aragorn and his followers arrive at Minas Tirith during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
March 18: The Host of the West sets out from Minas Tirith to the Black Gate.
March 25: The Host of the West fights the forces of Sauron until the Ring is destroyed and Sauron's realm falls.
April 8: The Fellowship is reunited on the Field of Cormallen. Legolas decides to settle in Ithilien.
May 1: Aragorn is crowned King.
July 22: The Fellowship leaves Minas Tirith.
August 19: Legolas goes with
Gimli to visit the Glittering Caves.
August 22: Legolas and Gimli part from their friends and go to Fangorn.
Death of Aragorn. Legolas departs over the Sea and it is said that Gimli accompanied him.
He is sometimes referred to as Legolas Greenleaf. Greenleaf is not a surname but simply a translation of Legolas into the Common Speech.
Family tree of Legolas
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Durin's Folk" gives information on Legolas's life after the War of the Ring.
The History of Middle-earth, vol. II, The Book of Lost Tales Part Two: "The History of Eriol or Aelfwine," p. 327 includes a physical description of Legolas.
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