Glaurung (ˈɡlaʊ.ruŋ) is a dragon of the legendary by British writer J. R. R. Tolkien. He appears primarily in the posthumous works The Silmarillion (1977), Unfinished Tales and Legends (1980), and Children of Húrin (2007), as well as in most of the books in The History of Middle-earth series dealing with the First Age.

Considered the father of all dragons, he is in the service of Morgoth, and participates in three of the great battles of Beleriand between Morgoth and the Noldorin kingdoms: Dagor Aglareb, Dagor Bragollach and Nírnaeth Arnoediad. He also participates in the attack and destruction of the elven kingdom of Nargothrond.

He is then confronted with Túrin, son of Húrin who has been cursed by Morgoth. He participates fully in the curse by bewitching Túrin and immobilizing him while his beloved Finduilas is taken captive. He also dissuades him from seeking her out by making him fear for the lives of his mother Morwen and sister Nienor.

Later, the dragon meets them both and makes Morwen disappear in the mist while he bewitches Nienor and makes her lose her memory. The girl is discovered by her brother whom she had never met, falls in love with him, marries him and becomes pregnant. Glaurung then decides to attack the forest of Brethil where the couple lives.

Túrin, wanting to protect his new family, pierces him. As he dies, Glaurung gives Nienor back his memory and reveals the truth about her relationship with Túrin, precipitating his suicide and that of his brother.

Glaurung is one of the most malevolent characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's work, and is inspired by the dragons of the Norse sagas, particularly Fafnir, from the Völsunga saga.

Glaurung's Features


Glaurung is a golden dragon without wings, unlike most other dragons described by Tolkien, such as Smaug and Ancalagon. He can breathe fire, his gaze can freeze his victims and with his words he can make his victims do what he wants. He is the father of dragons.

Names and titles

Glaurung (also spelled Glórund, Glórung or Glómund depending on the era) is a Sindarin name whose Quenya equivalent would be Undolaurë or Laurundo, deriving from the Qenyarin root laure "golden", in connection with the color of his body. Glaurung is also called "Great Worm ", "Worm of Morgoth ", "Great Worm of Angband " and "Gold-worm of Angband ". He is also called the "first of the Urulóki ".

In the Book of Lost Tales, he is called Foalókë, from the Qenya foa "greedily accumulated treasure" and lókë "serpent ". In The Lays of Beleriand, it is mentioned as "insatiable worm of greed ".

History of Glaurung

Glaurung first appeared at the siege of Angband, which followed the third battle of Beleriand, Dagor Aglareb, in the year 260 of the First Age. In view of his size, Glaurung is very young at the time: indeed, the dragons imagined by Tolkien grow throughout their lives.

He goes out to lead a surprise attack on the Noldorin troops. Being the first dragon to appear in Middle-earth, he makes a great impression on his enemies; but once the surprise is over, Glaurung is put to flight by a group of mounted archers, led by Prince ñoldo Fingon; the Elves win the battle. Glaurung then remains locked up for two hundred years in the fortress of Angband, long besieged by the free peoples.

Having reached a certain maturity, Glaurung is a key element in the next battle, Dagor Bragollach, in the year 455. Although he is a primitive dragon, only able to crawl, he is very powerful; he leads one of the three divisions launched by Morgoth in the battle, the one that opposes the Elves of the house of Fëanor.

Like Morgoth's other two armies, Glaurung emerges victorious, breaking through the defenses and penetrating the eastern forces of Beleriand. The first legends about this reptile are born in Beleriand following these events.

Glaurung then appears in the fifth and final battle, the one that sees the defeat of the Noldor, Nírnaeth Arnoediad. He comes out of the fortress of Angband, accompanied by several small dragons, to prevent the armies of Fingon and Turgon from joining, just before the Easterners betray the Elves.

The Dwarves succeed in surrounding the dragon, which proves to be sensitive to their axes; Glaurung crushes Azaghâl, the king of Belegost, but in dying, the latter inflicts a wound on the dragon which forces it to leave the battlefield.

After Túrin has made the kingdom of Nargothrond visible to his enemies, Morgoth sends an army there. This army, led by Glaurung, arrives in the autumn of 495. The battle takes place on the plains of Tumhalad, north of the city. Túrin is the only one who knows how to resist the dragon, but he abandons the battle to take Gwindor seriously wounded.

While rushing to save the captives from the Orcs, Túrin is caught by the powerful gaze of Glaurung and is immobilized, transfixed, while Finduilas is carried away, shouting his name.

The dragon deceives him into believing that his mother Morwen and sister Nienor are suffering in Dor-lómin, and Túrin abandons Finduilas to go in search of his own. Morgoth's armies take and sack the city, and Glaurung settles in Nargothrond, surrounded by treasures.

Morwen and Nienor were living in Doriath, but when news of the destruction of Nargothrond reaches them, they leave without caution to seek Túrin, without listening to the advice of King Thingol; Mablung accompanies them, as well as a company of Elves. Glaurung goes down to the river and attacks the company, killing six of the nine Elves and making the others flee.

Morwen is lost, but Nienor meets the dragon at the top of Amon Ethir. She is bewitched by it, forgetting her past. Mablung finds her, as well as the Elves who survived the attack, and they take the road to Doriath. However, a company of Orcs attacks them and scatters them, and Nienor finds herself wandering in the forest of Brethil.

dessin au crayon de couleur, des arbres verts et un chemin au centre, où un homme brun vêtu d'une tunique noire donne la main à une femme blonde en robe blanche et bleue

Several years later, when Túrin has found refuge in the forest of Brethil under the name of Turambar, and married his sister Nienor (under the name of Níniel), Glaurung decides to finish off Húrin's family, and heads north through the forest.

While crossing the Teiglin gorge, at the place called Cabed-en-Aras, Túrin mortally wounds him by piercing him from bottom to top. His death dissipates the spells he had cast against Túrin and Nienor, who become aware of their incest and commit suicide.

Glaurung's Conception and evolution

Tolkien began writing what would become the story of Túrin and Glaurung between 1914 and 1919 . The text is then entitled "Turambar and the Foalókë" and is part of the Lost Tales edited by Christopher Tolkien. In this first version, the story is already very similar to what it will become later.

The first appearance of the dragon occurs during the attack on the city that will become Nargothrond. He is then named Glórund and is described as "a great worm whose scales were of polished bronze and whose breath was flames and smoke mixed together". A footnote indicates the existence of two other names, Laurundo and Undolaurë in Qenya.

In his commentary on this text, Christopher Tolkien notes that the name Glórund is already present in the Tale of Tinúviel, which precedes the text of Turambar, but that it is in the latter that the name was introduced.

Christopher points out that at this point there is no evidence that Glórund played a role in the earlier events of the story, nor that he can be considered the father of all dragons, as is the case in the later versions. Similarly, in this version, Glórund's words, when he hypnotizes Túrin, are "less subtle and ingeniously false" than later.

This is also true of his encounter with Túrin, when he is not allowed to see him. This is also true of his encounter with Mavwin, which has less of a "terrifying dimension" than in The Silmarillion. The name of the dragon evolves once again in the years 1925-1930, during the writing of the "Sketch of Mythology" of 1926, when the form Glórung is introduced.

This is followed by the variant Glómund in the Leithian Lai , and in the Qenta Noldorinwa. In the latter text, the idea that Glómund is the father of all dragons appears for the first time.

The final name Glaurung appears in The Grey Annals in the early 1950s, along with the term Urulóki "fire-serpents. In the published version of The Silmarillion as well as in The Children of Húrin, it is this latter version of the name that was favored by Christopher Tolkien.

Glaurung's Inspirations

Túrin's killing of Glaurung is fully modeled on "Sigurð's killing of the dragon Fafnir" in the Völsunga saga. Gurthang, the sword Túrin uses to kill Glaurung, is a reforged sword, like the Gram sword Sigurð uses; Fafnir is also malicious, and like Glaurung possesses a power of paralysis; in dying, the one reveals a disastrous future, the other the truth about incest.

In Norse legend, Sigurð recovers the "helmet of terror" after the dragon's death; Tolkien also features a helmet in his story, called the Dragon's Helmet of Dor-lómin, originally forged for Azaghâl.

Tolkien's story has also been compared, both in plot and style, to Henry Rider Haggard's The Saga of Eric Brighteyes, an epic novel about the adventures of a Viking in the tenth century, published in 1890.

Criticism and analysis of Glaurung

According to Rateliff, Glaurung is the most malevolent of Tolkien's dragons, "preferring to inflict misery rather than engage in direct destruction, as when he bewitches Túrin and Nienor rather than simply killing them."

Glaurung is also the one who has had the greatest impact on Tolkien's legendarium, participating not only in the story of Túrin, but taking an active part in two of the six battles of Beleriand: Dagor Bragollach and Nírnaeth Arnoediad, precisely those that Morgoth won.

In these battles, Glaurung is the one who has the greatest impact on the legendarium. In these battles, Glaurung is used as "a war machine, a weapon, a tool for a great power, Morgoth," unlike Smaug who is "an independent being.

In the 1977 Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien omits the remark, contained in The War of the Jewels, that if Azaghâl had possessed a sword rather than a knife to pierce Glaurung, the Noldor would have been rid of a great future enemy.

The gaze plays an important role in Tolkien's work, as we see for example with the "eye" of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. This role also comes into play in Glaurung, who is able to control and trap his enemies through his eyes, as is the case with Túrin and Nienor. It is traditional to avoid looking into the eyes of dragons, but Tolkien has extended this principle in line with various other stories in his universe.

According to Gergely Nagy, the fight between Sam and Arachne in The Lord of the Rings is a reminiscence of Túrin's murder of Glaurung. The parallel is reinforced by an explicit reference to Túrin and the dragons. "But Arachne was not the only one:

"But Arachne was not like the dragons: she had no other sensitive point than her eyes. The blade scratched her with a terrible blow, but its hideous folds could not be pierced by any human force, even if Elves or Dwarves had forged the steel, or the hand of Beren or Túrin had handled it.

- J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Glaurung Adaptations

The stories in which Glaurung appears have not been adapted for radio or film. Nevertheless, he has inspired illustrators, such as Ted Nasmith , Catherine Karina Chmiel , Jef Murray or John Howe.

J. R. R. Tolkien himself produced a watercolour of Glaurung, dated 1927, entitled "Glaurung sets forth to seek Túrin", which was published in The Silmarillion Calendar of 1978.

Glaurung appears in the Middle-earth role-playing game, in the creature supplement, where his name is translated as Golden Gloom.